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PRIDE Month 2021 – Okay then…

Well, the world around us has once again declared this “PRIDE Month,” and instead of simply ignoring or focusing on something else, we’re embracing it this year from a biblical perspective. Okay then, it’s PRIDE month; here we go.

Hear and give ear; be not PROUD, for the Lord has spoken. – Jeremiah 13:15

First of all, let’s begin by setting aside the specific LGBTQ+ issues that seem to be front and center of what this PRIDE is being sourced IN. The initial problem is that – at a conceptual level – the idea is toxic and unbiblical. Lifting up “pride” as something to celebrate (or a foundation upon which to build said celebration) is in opposition to the message of the Bible.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the PROUD but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God… 1 Peter 5:5-6

Opposed, indeed. Likewise, Jesus himself doesn’t mince words when it comes to pride either, and godly men from Martin Luther to C.S. Lewis have echoed His unyielding truth.

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, SEXUAL IMMORALITY, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, PRIDE, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. – Mark 7:21-23

“Pride is a spiritual cancer… it is PRIDE which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.” – C.S. Lewis

The “god” of this world is riches, pleasure and PRIDE. – Martin Luther

Now, I know some people will try to object here and say “well, but “PRIDE” month is not about pride…” which is foolish for several reasons, least of which is: if the word you choose for your month and movement isn’t the right word, what were you thinking? That’s like saying “parachute pants month is about skinny jeans”. Sorry, not buying it (or parachute pants or skinny jeans for that matter). But the argument goes something like this: it tries to pigeon-hole pride (the word) as being “holier-than-thou” and claims instead that PRIDE (the movement) is just about celebrating who and how and what you are. Okay, let’s run with that… who and how and what are ALL of us according to God’s Word?

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… – Romans 3:23

All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one. – Romans 3:12

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. – Isaiah 64:6

Well, I guess we have a lot to be proud of, huh? Oh, wait…

PRIDE goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18

The message of the gospel, clearly outlined in the Bible, does NOT begin with people who should have “PRIDE of self” in any manner, way, shape or form. Even being made “in the image and likeness of God” (as Genesis tells us) has been forever marred by the fall of man into sin, to the point of all mankind deserving condemnation and eternal damnation in hell (that is, if we believe the teaching of Jesus). So while the pride being preached during PRIDE month may not be the “lording it over others, I’m better than you” kind of haughtiness, it is STILL an excessive sense of self-worth and worthiness in one’s own mind; it is a pride in self (and worse – but we’ll get to that). This is a huge problem, again to the Bible and bible scholars:

Let us watch against PRIDE in every shape – PRIDE of intellect, PRIDE of wealth, PRIDE in our own goodness, PRIDE in our own deserts. Nothing is so likely to keep a man out of heaven, and prevent him seeing Christ, as PRIDE. So long as we think we are something, we shall never be saved.” – J.C. Ryle

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and PRIDE of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:16-17

“PRIDE may be set down as “the sin” of human nature.” – Charles Spurgeon

Pride isn’t just antithetical to the gospel and the Christian life, it’s self-worship. And worse than that, as church fathers have pointed out, it’s literally satanic.

“It was PRIDE that changed angels into devils…” – Augustine

Through PRIDE the devil became the devil. PRIDE leads to every vice, it’s the complete anti-God state of mind.” – C. S. Lewis

Should I take “PRIDE” in the fact that I’m created in the image of God? No, because since conception it’s been distorted and in my sin I’ve perverted it. I can be grateful, and in fact I should first be fearful; I should not “accept myself” – the clown mirror mockery I make of God in my sinfulness. I should be ashamed, not proud. And I should love God and my neighbor enough to NOT be content with where I am – or trumpet where I am- but rather strive harder to represent Christ better and call others out of that damning place of self-worth and worship.

The problem with modern mantras in much of milquetoast American Christianity is that they talk a LOT about being “made in God’s image” but gloss over our depravity and sin. They say “Jesus loves everybody” when one of the first things Jesus preached was “REPENT” (i.e. turn from sin) and believe in the gospel. He loved us enough to tell us how absolutely necessary that is in terms of being reconciled to God and coming under the grace of Christ.

Jesus did not say “I love you, so hey… you do you, and let your freak flag fly.”

Unfortunately, some wolves in shepherd’s clothing have crept into the church and Christian community, voices that preach bumper sticker theology like “God loves us in the middle of our sin” and “He accepts us AS WE ARE.” These phrases sound right to immature ears, but that’s because they’ve been twisted, in the same way Satan used scripture to tempt Jesus himself.

For the record, “I love you JUST the way you AAAAAARE…” is from BILLY Joel, not the Book of Joel.

Got Questions (a great website, by the way) explains this concept well:
“…as you are” is sometimes misunderstood and misapplied in today’s church… [they] take the grace of God and turn it into licentiousness (Jude 1:4) by teaching that it makes no difference how you live, as long as you believe. If you come to Christ in an illicit relationship, some say Christ will accept you just as you are and sanctify that relationship… This may be a popular message, but it directly contradicts Scripture which clearly says that these things from our past lives should be left behind and that our former friends will think us strange for doing so (1 Peter 4:3–4). Romans 13:13 commands us to walk honestly, or decently, no longer participating in the licentious lifestyle of the world. Galatians 5:13 says that we are called to liberty, but that we cannot use liberty “for an occasion to the flesh,” excusing our continued sins.

 PRIDE is a barrier to all spiritual progress.” – Harry Ironside

Some will then try to shoot disconnected verse arrows like “God shows His love for us in that while WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “See? He loves us IN our sin, as we ARE! And we’re ALL sinners, so…” sorry, but that’s playing Twister with context and content. For one, these arguments usually tend to deemphasize or skip the gory, horrific COST Jesus paid on the cross for sin (for those who repent and believe). They say a blanket “God loves you” and let that notion hang in people’s minds as if it’s some kind of warm, fuzzy feeling or emotional disposition God had/has toward us, when the REAL truth about love is John 3:16: For THIS is HOW God loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God performed the greatest act of love by sending Jesus Christ, who died a hellish death for how unacceptable and unworthy and unrespectable we are. He forged a singular path by which we may be saved from His wrath, which we justly deserve! Unless we are truly in Christ (not just claiming belief, but bearing fruit of repentance) what exactly do we have to be proud of? And even if we are in Christ, we are not proud in ourselves… we get to be proud of Jesus’ completed work of salvation on our (undeserving) behalf! Notice below these verses and context of God’s disposition that these people tend to overlook in relation to God’s attitude toward those IN their sin, pridefully owning it as part of “who they are” with boldness, confidence and no repentance:

  1. God hates the workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5)
  2. God hates the wicked (Psalm 11:5)
  3. God hates the sacrifices of the wicked (Proverbs 15:8)
  4. God hates the ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:9)
  5. God hates the thoughts of the wicked (Proverbs 15:26)
  6. God hates feet that make haste to run to evil (Proverbs 6:18)

(list courtesy of Tim Challies: for more on a fully rounded, biblical view of God that IS love but ALSO righteous Wrath including hatred, check out his full article and more).

The reality of the gospel begins with the fear of the Lord (the beginning of wisdom and knowledge) because we deserve nothing more than His righteous hatred. Yes, God hates. Theological nitpickers will try to argue for God’s love in “common grace” (hey, that wonderful sunshine yesterday fell on Christians AND non-Christians!) and it’s true, sure… but that shared kindness is fleeting in light of an eternity of torment apart from repentance and a declared state by God himself in terms of being his “enemies”. Ultimnately, purveyors of a gospel about God that glosses over these things are about as earnest as that Simpsons episode with an overmedicated Mr. Burns:

Here’s the stark reality: God loved me DESPITE my sin, calls me OUT of that sin, and NEVER says to accept or embrace myself where I am at if scripture deems it to be sin. Self-acceptance? Sorry, Jesus preached self-denial:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? – Matthew 16:24-26

WORTHY of being loved? NO… in fact Romans 5:8 applied correctly tells us me I was loved “while I was yet a sinner” – in other words, despite how UNWORTHY I was! At a base level, Christians should simply not be selling pride in SELF… and especially not when the focus of that pride is a false and distorted identity or practices that the Bible clearly defines as sin. Pride in and of itself isn’t healthy or helpful, and pride IN our sin specifically is damnable. Perhaps worse than a general pride in SELF is pride in SIN… literally lifting up as proud something God specifically has said is shameful (and opposed to Him).

Essentially, PRIDE is a ‘my will’ rather than ‘thy will’ approach to life.” – Ezra Taft Benson

Notice we still haven’t even broached the issue of specific sins being lifted up during PRIDE month. Because on the one hand, the specific sins are a secondary issue. Lauding ANY sinful disposition, desire, or behavior as acceptable, identity, or even “God-pleasing” is utterly condemnable. Furthermore, PRIDE month lifts up more than one sin: there’s a lot of letters and a plus and we’re not going to get into ALL of it here. Want to look at the Bible and Sexuality? Here’s more:

But the problem remains: the call (or let’s just admit it: the demand) of PRIDE month is often couched in terms of “being loving”… and yet in this case the word “loving” is defined (read: restricted) only in terms of “acceptance”. And endorsement. The problem is, that is NOT the love of our Great Commission as Christians by a long shot:

It is not loving to allow a person to remain stuck in sin. It is not hateful to tell a person he or she is in sin. In fact, the exact opposites are true. Sin leads to death (James 1:15), and we love the sinner by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We hate the sin by refusing to condone, ignore, or excuse it. – from gotquestions

So finally, to the main focus we see in PRIDE month, we will say this: does God approve of homosexuality? No. Can a person truly be a Christian and at the same time a practicing homosexual? According to 1 Corinthians 6:9, no. However… All sin is offensive to God. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that will keep a person from the kingdom of God.  Romans 1:26-27 teaches explicitly that homosexuality is a result of a continual rebellion against God… the Bible tells us that God “gives them over,” to these desires.

This is exactly what we’re seeing in terms of PRIDE month, a literal “giving over”. Instead of saying there are sinful desires and struggles that we can sympathize with (but which need to be struggled against and rejected by God’s grace) the exact opposite is championed: the message is “we’re NOT going to be ashamed of it, but actually proud of sinful dispositions and lifestyles, lifting up and lauding these things as glorious and to be celebrated, and to which everyone must give endorsement and tacit approval!” And this attitude, frankly, is WORSE than the specific sins we might be talking about. The apostle Paul rightly condemns this:

“Though they know God’s righteous decree… they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” – Romans 1:32

The worst part of PRIDE month isn’t people living LGBTQ+ lifestyles… that happens all year round, not just in June. What’s happening this month is the lauding of those things, the trumpeting of them as virtuous, literally the giving of “approval to those who practice them”. The net effect is it makes those in habitual, unrepentant sin feel content and justified, absolutely comfortable in their state, supplying them with false hope and false assurance.

The PROUD one shall stumble and fall, with none to raise him up, and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all that is around him. – Jeremiah 50:32

And it’s tragic enough that this damning doctrine comes from the culture all around us (though pretty much to be expected) but it’s utterly heartbreaking when it comes from those who claim Christ and particularly those who assume to teach and preach and inculcate in others what is an absolutely false gospel. Sad but true, God’s Word TOLD us these people would show up:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. – 2 timothy 4:3-4

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who… create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. – Romans 16:17

Friends, when someone says you can have your cake and eat it too, you know it’s too good to be true.
When someone says you can keep your sin and Jesus too, flee that doctrine of the devil immediately.

These people may sound nice, saying things like “accept yourself as you are, respect yourself for who you are, see the image of God within you… be PROUD of who HE has made you…” all the while allowing you to ignorantly believe you don’t need to repent, that you don’t need to put desires and behaviors in your life “to death” as scripture says, and that you can hold ON to those things as identity, “given over” to your sin instead of giving your life to Christ and finding identity in Him and Him alone. You can often spot these people because the emphasis is on “god loves YOU (emphasis you) instead of “GOD loved you in JESUS, repent and believe”. There will be a recurring emphasis on “loving YOURSELF”. About that:

…understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be LOVERS OF SELF, lovers of money, PROUD, arrogant… – 2 timothy 3:1-3

Pride month is false teaching, plain and simple. It’s cultural indoctrination, and the false teachers have shown up in our midst: in churches throughout America (even our own denomination) and for some of us in our families and friendships. Our prayers are with you, because worse than practitioners of sin, they are leading others into sin, teaching and even claiming to speak for God, saying that sin is not sin. Be certain, that “god” spoken of is not the real Jesus; it is an idol of PRIDE and self, with a plastic “buddy-christ” giving a thumbs up and hoisting a rainbow for something other than the covenant God intended it for.

This is a test for Christians in the 21st century: will we stand firm for the truth despite the clanging clarion call of the world, the politically correct attitude du jour, the cancel culture, and more? Or will we cave to the wisdom of the world and the satanic lies of PRIDE that have been with us since the garden to join the parade?

To all those legitimately struggling with same sex attraction, gender dysphoria, and other temptations that Pride Month would call celebration, I’d like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re in a cacophonous culture that is spewing false, even contradictory, information about who you are. I’m sorry that the loudest chorus of voices is telling you to give up, to stop listening to that little voice deep down that tells you something is wrong and embrace your brokenness as wholeness, to claim sinfulness as salvation, that up is down and left is right. To write off your conscience as “archaic cultural norms” instead of embracing the ancient Truth: we were ALL born wrong. We have ALL lived wrong, and only in one person can it be made right again… the only exceptional exception who was never wrong. And that may mean we ALL have to sacrifice errant desires in varied portions in this troubled life as we seek healing from this person, Jesus our Great Physician.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:24-25

I’m even MORE sorry… that on top of this deafening chorus some people claiming to be Christians lay claim to this Great Physician… but tell us all we need to do is hang out around His hospital and we’ll be fine… that He just exists to complement us on how amazing and healthy we are, rather than telling us how desperately sick we are and in need of treatment. And surgery. A new heart. New desires. Boils lanced. Sins sutured. Born again.

“The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” – Zig Ziglar

I’m sorry the voice of bold, biblical, actual followers of Jesus seems so muted by comparison in our nation today, but I also know that God uses the weak things to shame the strong, for those who put their trust in Him: for those who put no pride in themselves. Listen to that little voice of conviction; don’t let the clamor of parades and social media hashtags drown it out. Pride Month pushes pomp and circumstance in an attempt to convince us that the Emperor’s new clothes not only look “fabulous”, but that the Emperor is “all of us”. Yet somewhere under the manufactured, mass-merchandised pride propaganda machine, we know (like the Emperor, and like Adam) we are naked and ashamed.

And only PRIDE’s counteragent – the humbling truth of the gospel – can truly cover us and give us peace.

As long as you are PROUD, you cannot know God. – C. S. Lewis

One’s PRIDE will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. – Proverbs 29:23

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the PROUD but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God 1 Peter 5:5-6

Soli Deo Gloria,

James Harleman