Happy PrideJune greeting
Pride goeth before destruction.Proverbs 16: 18
What’s a Christian to do? Along with greed, gluttony, and boasting, pride has been called a sin for millennia. Although Aristotle thought it was a virtue. And anyone who loves James Brown knows the chant, “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.” Plus, June is Pride Month in our area and in many of our churches, for LGBTQ+ family and friends. So what’s a Christian to do: is pride our friend or our foe?
Well, define the problem, to begin. Because the word “pride” doesn’t exist the same way in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English. In Hebrew the issue is arrogance (which is a male noun, just so you know). It comes from putting yourself above others (from another male noun, for height). In Greek the issue is haughty disdain (OK — this is a feminine noun). It’s a self-destructive vanity. It is the type of hubris that is the opposite of humility, or as Alexander Pope said, “the never-failing vice of fools.” TMI?
And why does this matter? Because pride is condemned in several places in scripture as well as classic theology. And arrogant, haughty, vain, destructive behavior is no reflection of Christianity. But pride has a whole other side.
Back to Aristotle for a moment: He said that pride makes us worthy of great things. Carl Rogers and Jean Illsley Clarke point out that pride reveals that we are worthy, lovable, and invited to express self-love (as Jesus said, first). And James Brown had that chant, encouraging a generation.
So what? Well, here at NHCC we’ve been through a few tough years. It would be easy to be depressed or concerned or worried (none of which are sins). Or, comparing ourselves to others, we could even get a little haughty, because we’ve made it through these tough years. Perhaps it is better to go with Jesus and Aristotle and count our blessings, recognize the gifts we’ve been given, admit that in a church community none of us have come this far alone — we’re together, and have a bit of pride: the sort that reminds us we are worthy of great things so that we undertake them.
Our next year calls us to some great things. Our church school. Our choir. Our community work for housing equity. Our mission program beyond our walls. Our faithful, Biblical, progressive Christian voice, when so many others express a different course. And our support for each other.
To my own pastor’s mind little is better than Black pride. Few things are more important than LGBTQ+ pride. And not because these are current political questions. Because they are all through the scripture, the means and manner of Jesus, and the heart of our faith. Or as Paul said (and remember, few people were more prickly than Paul), “Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16) So what we seek and preach at NHCC is to be worthy of God, proud in the Spirit’s presence, and ready for work.
Questions? I’m here all month.