By / Jun 4

President Joe Biden recently issued an official proclamation declaring June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. “I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Biden, “to celebrate the great diversity of the American people, and to wave their flags of pride high.”

The sexual identities “Pride Month” intends to celebrate run contrary to the pattern of God’s design for human sexuality as expressed in Scripture and revealed through nature. According to article 28 of the Baptist Faith & Message, marriage — which is defined as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime” — is the sole biblical “framework for intimate companionship” and “channel of sexual expression.” As witnessed by President Biden’s proclamation, in recent decades the LGBTQ movement has gained wide acceptance in our culture.

Here is what you should know about LGBTQ Pride Month. 

What is Pride Month?

In the United States, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month occurs in the month of June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots, which occurred in New York City from June 28 to July 3, 1969, helped launch the social and political movement known as “gay liberation.” 

The Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, was a tavern operated by the Genovese crime family. The bar lacked a liquor license and violated many of the city’s health and safety codes (it didn’t have running water and the toilets frequently overflowed), which made it the frequent target of law enforcement. The mafia owners reportedly paid almost $9,000 a month (in 2021 dollars) in bribes to the local police, yet were still raided about once a month. 

At 1:20 a.m. on June 28, six police officers attempted to close the bar. About 200 patrons resisted, and a crowd of 500 gathered outside. When the crowd became violent, the police officers barricaded themselves inside the establishment. Rioters threw rocks and bricks and attempted to burn down the building to kill the police inside. A SWAT team quelled that disturbance, but two days later an even more violent riot broke out as thousands of protesters clashed with police. (Despite the violence and attempted murder against police, President Obama made the Stonewall Inn a national monument in 2016, and the NYPD police commissioner issued an apology on behalf of the police force in 2019.)

A year later, gay activists in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles organized marches to honor the riots and promote “gay liberation.” The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm. By 1972 the marches were occurring in more than a dozen cities across the U.S. Since then, they have become ubiquitous in the U.S. and in other Western countries. 

Why is the rainbow flag associated with LGBT Pride?

The rainbow LGBT flag was a creation of Gilbert Baker, a designer and gay rights activist, who created the flag in 1978 as a new symbol for the gay libertarion movement. The original flag had eight colors, each of which had a representative meaning. “Pink is for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun,” said Baker. “Green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity, and purple for the spirit. I like to think of those elements as in every person, everyone shares that.” Most of the flags today have only six colors, with the pink and turquoise removed.

Christians recognize the rainbow as the sign of God’s covenant with Noah. Where the LGBTQ movement has appropriated the sign of the rainbow as a symbol of affirmation or pride, the Bible reveals that the rainbow is meant to be a sign of deliverance from judgement. As Erik Raymond has written: “The God of the Bible owns the distinct honor, as he has long used the rainbow to illustrate his loving demonstration of mercy instead of judgment! God the loving Creator was angered by humanity’s rebellion against his will & so therefore justly demonstrated his judgment upon their sin. In Genesis 6 the Scriptures teach that instead of giving mankind what they deserve for their rebellion, he chose to save some from destruction. The mercy & faithfulness of God was demonstrated by the beautiful rainbow that filled the sky.”

Is Pride Month an official U.S. commemoration?

Three presidents have issued official proclamations commemorating Pride Month: Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2000; Barack Obama from 2009 to 2016; and Joe Biden in 2021. Donald Trump became the first Republican president to acknowledge Pride Month in 2019, though he did not issue an official proclamation.

A related commemoration occurs in October, with LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. 

Why has LGBT Pride become embraced by corporations?

During the month of June, it’s nearly impossible to find a large American corporation that is not engaged in promoting Pride Month. There is disagreement about whether the promotional activities are merely attempting to appeal to consumers or if something more nefarious is behind the marketing.

The practice is sometimes criticized as “pinkwashing,” a term used to describe the action of using gay-related issues in positive ways in order to distract attention from negative actions by an organization, country, or government. Regardless, Pride Month has become a massive cultural phenomenon that is impossible to ignore. And those who refuse to acknowledge or affirm LGBTQ causes will likely face even greater social pressure to do so in the years ahead. As Joe Carter has written: “Today, the American people fly a rainbow flag, wear an ‘ally’ pin, or change their social media avatars to show they observe LGBT Pride Month. In doing so, they show they’ve bent the knee to the LGBT cause and will not incur their wrath that will be poured out those who are not ‘affirming.’”

What is the purpose of LGBT Pride Month?

From its inception, the LGBT Pride movement has been about “sexual liberation.” As the prominent LGBT magazine The Advocate wrote in 2018, 

From its roots, Pride was a political act. And so is having the kind of sex we want to have with who we want to have it. That was a rebellion against the institution of monogamy and ideas about women as property. . . . Pride is the antidote to efforts to control and limit sex — which politicians are still trying to do.

For decades, Pride events have been frequently criticized (even by some LGBT activists) for overt displays of sexuality and championing of causal promiscuity. But as Alex Abad-Santos of Vox writes, that’s part of the point of Pride. “Queer history is often about resistance to norms and embracing radical existence,” he writes, “so engaging in respectability politics—the idea that marginalized groups need to behave or act in a certain way to validate the compassion shown toward them—flies in the face of those goals.”

For these reasons, it is all the more important for Christians to prepare their hearts and minds to stand against the tide of the LGBTQ movement. Christians must model Christlikeness as we bear witness to the truth of the gospel and about the beauty of God’s design for humanity. And we must do so without anger or fear, but with love, charity, and grace.

By / Jun 4

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a Christian response to Pride Month, a major leadership change in Israel, and recent news involving the ERLC. They also cover new ERLC content including a critical abortion case headed to the Supreme Court, questions about content moderation on social media, and one city’s approach to combatting abortion through local ordinances.

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. 100 Years since the Tulsa Race Massacre. Churches are leading on racial unity.
  2. June is “Pride” Month. How should Christians think about that?
  3. A major shake-up in Israel’s national leadership. What’s that mean for the Biden Administration?
  4. A leaked letter from Russell Moore sparks conversations within the SBC about race and sexual abuse.

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Love your church: This engaging book by Tony Merida explores what church is, why it’s exciting to be a part of it, and why it’s worthy of our love and commitment. | Find out more about this book at thegoodbook.com

By / May 2

In our family, I’ve been the primary cook the past 17 years. I enjoy cooking and baking, and have happily served in that role. Over the past few years, my oldest daughter has also developed an interest in baking. As I’ve sought to transfer my limited skills to her, we’ve enjoyed making cakes and cookies and some dinners together.

Already at age 14, her skills are surpassing mine. One Saturday morning, I woke up to the smell of delicious homemade cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. Even though the recipe I’ve always used called for pre-made dough, my daughter had decided to make her dough from scratch.

“How did you know how to make these?” I asked in disbelief as I looked at the beautifully spiraled cinnamon bread.

“I just found a recipe in your cookbook and followed it.”

What a sweet reminder that my skills are not indispensable—the very person I was trying to teach and pass them off to was now teaching me.

Lessons from the Promised Land

Moses had done an amazing job leading the Israelites for 40 years. He had persevered through their complaining, interceded for them when God’s anger was hot, and led them to the very border of the Promised Land. But due to his failure to obey God in one particular, weighty moment, he would not be allowed to enter Canaan. As we’ve seen, however, Moses was not angry or bitter. In fact, he demonstrated much compassion when he asked the Lord to appoint his replacement—another man to go before the Israelites as their shepherd (Num. 27:16-17).

Pride says, Everything will fall apart if I’m not involved!

Humility says, Things could probably start to run even better without me.

In response, the Lord appointed Joshua, one of only two men from the original group of Israelites who were able to enter Canaan. Moses was to commission Joshua by laying his hand on him before Eleazer the priest and the congregation. He was to transfer some of his authority to Joshua so that all the people would obey him.

“And Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and made him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole congregation, and he laid his hands on him and commissioned him as the Lord directed through Moses” (Num. 27:22-23). What a beautiful example of a ministry continuing with a new leader in place.

Oftentimes, we’re tempted to think things will fall apart if we’re removed from the equation. We’re afraid to give up control and trust that someone else can finish the task just as well, if not better, than we can. I see myself doing this whenever I fail to allow my kids to do certain chores because I think they won’t be done well enough. I’m just going to unload the dishwasher because the kids do it wrong every time. I’d better clean the floor myself or it will still be dirty.

It can happen at work when we don’t ask for help on a big project, exhausting ourselves with long hours because we fear others wouldn’t be as thorough. And it can happen
 in our ministries when we don’t invest the time to raise 
up new leaders because we think there isn’t anyone else qualified for the job. I can’t step down from leading Bible studies because there is no one else to do it well! This kind of thinking stems from pride and can often rob us of needed rest, as well as rob others of opportunities to serve.

Pride says, Everything will fall apart if I’m not involved!

Humility says, Things could probably start to run even better without me.

Humility in the face of change

Moses demonstrated amazing humility as he submitted to God’s plan for a transfer of leadership without grumbling or self-pity. Moses trusted that he was not an indispensable leader.

Joshua, for his part, was deemed “a man in whom is the Spirit” (Num. 27:18). He was an obedient follower of God, even when everyone around him was rebelling. And God rewarded him for his faithfulness.

God’s purposes will stand despite changes in leadership. Human beings are merely God’s chosen vessels to carry out his plans, by the power he supplies. So, here are a few practical ways to help you let go of control and remind you of God’s bigger plan:

  1. Acknowledge your limitations. Are you constantly stressed? Do you take on too many things? Be willing to step back and evaluate your heart. The first step to releasing control is recognizing that you can’t do everything yourself.
  2. Pray for new leaders.  Whether you’re leading a ministry in your church, running a business, or raising the next generation, be diligent to ask God to raise up capable, new leaders. Keep your eyes open for those who are ready to be given new responsibilities and trust that God is able to do more than you ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).
  3. Train others. It takes time to invest in people. Often we can resort to doing everything ourselves because it seems more efficient. But in the long run, we’re making things more difficult by not passing along our skills to others. More can be accomplished when we’re willing to equip others to share the load.
  4. Delegate responsibility. Assign specific chores to your children each week. Be willing to give your new employee a chance to spread their wings. Ask the woman passionate about Bible study to lead the next women’s study. Look for ways to offload the tasks on your plate while providing others new opportunities to serve.
  5. Encourage others. A humble heart can see many blessings, even when things are done differently than how you had previously done them.  Be the biggest cheerleader for those around you beginning new endeavors. Seek to be a help and resource to them. Be generous with praise and gratitude.
  6. Rest. Do you take time to rest? Or are you constantly working on the next thing, fearing the world won’t go on without finishing your to-do list? Finding time to intentionally rest each week, and putting aside work and chores, is a means of trusting the Lord is in control. He can accomplish his purposes without you. Lay your burdens on the cross (Matt. 11:28-30).

Editor's note: This article was adapted from Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life.

By / Apr 21

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World.

Chuck Colson was weeping. Not muffled crying—these were wracking sobs. The man whose life revolved around political theater, the need to perform and posture in order to gain position, was not acting. He was distraught.

This was not normal for a man who lived his life from strength to strength. By the time he was forty, Colson had amassed an enviable chest of life victories won by his blend of bravado, determination, and talent. He was not driven only by conquest. Colson was a conservative, a man who followed his gut, and a patriot to the point that he would die for his country.

Colson was also motivated by a powerful sense of pride. He wanted to win. Specifically, he wanted his enterprises and projects and candidates to win, and he went well beyond expectations in this pursuit. This was especially true in Colson’s role as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon, a role he filled from 1969 to 1973. He cut corners, feelings, and did whatever was necessary in his eyes to fulfill his duty to the president.

Colson was not amoral by any stretch, and later press coverage would exaggerate his role in the Watergate affair. Yet here was the essential reality: Colson fit the stereotype of the Nixon White House in the early 1970s. He was a shrewd, successful, and tough political operator. He was fearless, he idealized Nixon, and like the ex-Marine that he was, he went to great lengths to meet and exceed the charge given him by his leader.

Colson was by no means the key participant in numerous unsavory schemes that later came to light. He was, however, a vital and outspoken part of the Nixon administration. This led, in the mid-1970s, to his professional undoing. It also prompted this moment in his car on the road to Dover, Massachusetts, in which for the first time he realized that before the bar of divine justice, he was guilty.

Colson saw his existence in God-centered terms. He now recognized that he was not a “good person,” as one naturally thinks. He was a sinner, accountable to a holy God who had created him and given him all he had. Yet to this point, Chuck had not thanked his Creator, nor sought to know him and honor him. He had instead ignored God, shutting out the central truth of life. This amounted not simply to neglect. It left Chuck “unclean,” a remarkable summation. God was holy; Chuck was not. He was shot through with pride, condemned by his sinfulness, and without any hope of his own.

Here was a crisis Colson could not solve. There was no explanation to give. There was no story to plant. There were no political wheels to turn. Chuck Colson, forty-two years of age, famous the country over, wealthy and accomplished, the conqueror of a challenging background and too many other trials to count, had come to the end of himself. The sense of the divine had once been a flicker. Now it was a blinding light, enveloping Colson, exposing him, undoing him.

As Colson considered his sin, he wept so hard that he could not drive. As he wrote thirty-five years later, “I was crying too hard—and I was not one to ever cry. I spent an hour calling out to God. I did not even know the right words. I simply knew that I wanted Him. And I knew for certain that the God who created the universe heard my cry.” These were not tears of “sadness,” however, but “tears of relief.” As Colson cried, he prayed, over and over, Take me. The man who had evaded even the thought of the Almighty now begged to be his possession.

Chuck Colson was not ruined by Watergate. He was ruined by the gospel of Jesus Christ, which hunted him like a hound of heaven and claimed him when he was at his most vulnerable. He was not looking for God, but God was looking for him. Colson did not simply check the box beside the name “Jesus Christ” on a list of religious options and then go about his life. As he pondered the weight of this event, he saw that he had to turn away from his old self. He had to renounce devious ways. He was forced, most of all, to look his pride in the face. He had a heart of darkness, and his only hope was divine grace.