Pride is Christian, haughtiness isn't
This weekend is pride weekend in Fredericksburg, which means Old Mill Park and downtown will fill up on Saturday morning and afternoon and evening with people celebrating LGBTQ+ identity, and that is something for which we can be glad and grateful, even as Christians.
It's no secret that LGBTQ+ people have for a long time been the targets of Christian scorn and condemnation. The Christian criticisms of LGBTQ+ can be as many and as varied as LGBTQ+ people themselves, but the most common trope is that the bible stands against Pride itself as a sin.
Proverbs 16:18 says Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Even further, we know from popular culture too that Pride is classified as one of the seven deadly sins (although those seven deadly sins are not classified in scripture). So what are we to think about all of this?
Well first, something interesting is happening in the psalm. As a form of poetry, the psalm is practicing a literary technique called 'parallelism' where phrases are repeated using synonyms so as to build out their meaning. Proverbs does this often:
Pride goeth before destruction
a haughty spirit [goeth] before a fall
Proverbs equates Pride with a haughtiness of spirit. Proverbs is saying that an unfounded sense of superiority and a contempt for the inferior goes before a fall, which is something we could probably all name a handful of examples of having witnessed.
We know from our lives that Pride is not something inherently bad -- you can be proud of your work or of your house, you can be proud of your family or your spouse or of your kids (and you should be!). You can be proud of a home renovation project or a piece of art that you made or the sales quota you made last month. Plenty of people are proud of the lives they've built for themselves.
Merriam-Webster also define pride as this: reasonable self-esteem, confidence and satisfaction in oneself: SELF-RESPECT. In the face of so much condemnation and scorn, and in the face of so much cultural controversy, gay and lesbian and transgender people having a reasonable self-esteem seems like arrogance. As Christians, we must contend with the fact that everyone is made in the image of God (everyone!) and that mere fact means that we are all deserving of the love and the care referred to in the Greatest Commandment. That is a confidence that we all should hold onto -- no matter what the world says to us or about us, we are deserving of love and care simply because we simply exist. That isn't the haughtiness warned against in Proverbs -- it is simply a very normal, and called for, Christian pride.