Day 17: Not ashamed
When pride is the opposite of humility, it is not something for which Christians are encouraged to strive. But when pride is the opposite of shame, it is something which Christians can welcome, for God’s salvation frees us from shame, sin and guilt.
This point was made to me last year by my friend Mark, when I said that I felt uncomfortable about the name given to Pride marches. The point hit home, and thoughts of pride and shame were in my mind as I completed my pilgrimage yesterday (Saturday 1 July). I walked from Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church – where I had arrived on Friday – to the assembly point for
Pride, where I joined with hundreds of thousands of others in marching to Trafalgar Square.
I have completed my pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia.
I was frankly exhausted by the time I arrived home, so I hope you’ll excuse me for leaving it until today to write my blog post. I got up early for three radio interviews, but I admit I went back to bed afterwards. My body clock is now rather messed up, and I am still very tired, but relaxed.
Over the coming days, weeks and years, I pray that the thought and ideas that have been going through my mind over the walk will become clearer and firmer. I hope to share and discuss these thoughts soon, as well as to decide what to do about this website, whether to keep it going or to move discussions elsewhere.
Your prayers, along with your comments on this site, by email, Twitter, Facebook, letter and in person, have been hugely helpful and appreciated. They have not only helped me to think and pray. They have at times helped to carry me through the pilgrimage. It is very difficult for me to exaggerate the difference that they have made. I am only sorry that I did not manage to reply to more of them personally, earlier on. I aim to reply to all of them personally soon.
Please keep commenting, questioning, suggesting and, of course, praying.
There are some aspects of the London Pride march that I am not too keen on. Parts of it are heavily commercialised, with exploitative corporations such as Tesco and American Airlines displaying banners about their support for Pride, which may have more to do with publicity and their support for profit. But while Pride is a celebration, it is first and foremost a demonstration, a protest in favour of equality and freedom – freedom from prejudice, discrimination, hatred and shame.
I am convinced that this is something Christians should be supporting. Shame in our bodies is portrayed in Genesis as the first consequence of sin. Genesis 2 describes how, when God had created the first humans, they were “naked and not ashamed”. What a wonderful statement! Church, media and society have all fostered shame in our bodies, but God’s desire is that we should be free from shame.
We can use our bodies and our sexuality in shameful ways, or ways that honour God, each other and ourselves. They are intended for the latter; bodies are not shameful in themselves.
I am ashamed of the homophobia which I promoted. I am ashamed of not being more ready to take a stand against the many injustices and sins of the world. But I have faith that God’s love is stronger than all the world’s hate and God’s forgiveness more powerful than all the world’s sin.
As I finished my pilgrimage yesterday – Day 17, Saturday 2 July 2011 – I walked proudly with hundreds of Christians and thousands of others, marching against the sin of homophobia and celebrating the love and liberation revealed in Christ. I experienced a good many emotions. I felt exhausted, happy, supported, angry, forgiven, loved, loving and not ashamed.