It was Last June…
I was a relatively new salesman at a large liquor, wine, and beer warehouse. I was a new Seminary Student, a known Christian among my peers, and I had no idea what the climate would be in this particular store come Pride Month.
For almost every holiday, the company provided pins for us to wear on our shirts. I am not completely sure if it was company mandated to wear these pins, but there seemed to be an understanding that we needed to. Naturally, on June 1st, upon walking into the store at a grizzly 5 a.m, I saw a rainbow bushel of grapes sitting on the counter by the computer where we clock in for the day. These were pins that we were told we should wear for the month to celebrate Pride Month. There were huge amounts of merchandise that had to be moved and stocked that were all geared towards celebrating human sexuality and all that it has to offer.
And on that day, I decided to not wear the pin.
While Nothing Happened That Was Out of the Ordinary…
I know for many followers of Jesus around the country, they will find themselves staring down the gauntlet of their employment, and making a decision on whether they take a stand and “refuse the pin” or put it on under the pressure of their employer. I was blessed to have managers who did not care too much, yet to my fellow Christ Followers who will have no such luxury, this is for you.
The Principle of 1 Peter
I think in the midst of this kind of decision, we should reflect on what Peter wrote to the Church. In this letter, he is writing to Christians who are suffering greatly for their faith. They are watching their friends get thrown to wild animals and beasts, be burdened heavily by authorities, be persecuted and handed over by their family members, and are in a situation where hope seems lost. In the midst of this, Peter gives them this important charge:
“Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
– 1 Peter 3:13-17
To my fellow Christians around the world, you may actually be seeing some similar situations as Peter’s original audience. These reflection points may be of use to you as well, and know that I am praying for you, your church community (if you have one), and your family to know Christ to make Him known. I am praying for strength for you as you undergo so many trials that I can not imagine.
For my American Christian Friends here in the States and in the West, here are things to reflect on:
1. Who is Your Lord?
- What we see in 1 Peter 3:13-17 is the charge to revere Christ as Lord of our lives. At the heart of the Gospel is God loving us before we loved Him. He sent Christ to die in our place and to take the punishment and debt of sin that we owed. God laid His justice on His Son (who took this justice willingly I should add) so that we didn’t have to. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have confidence that His words and teachings are true and that by putting our faith in Him and Him alone, we are saved for eternity.
- Our Lord is not our 401K, our employers, our siblings, our friends, our families, our spouses, our checking accounts, our job security, or our customers. Our Lord is Christ. And by revering Him as Lord, we are paying attention to His teachings.
- As a part of His teachings, marriage comes up multiple times. The one that sticks out here is when He addresses the issue of divorce in Matthew 19. He reiterates the standard for marriage: One Man, One Woman, One Lifetime. For someone to say that Jesus never taught about marriage is either uninformed, misinformed, or lying. Be gentle and always assume uninformed. A simple “Have you considered Matthew 19…” to the challenge may suffice.
2. We are Rewarded for Suffering
- Our faith is often tested as genuine when we face trials. Sickness, death, harsher taxes, unfair treatment by authorities, societal ostracization, and of course, discrimination for the sake of Christ all fall under the category of a trial. In this case, you may be called a bigot, be demoted, have your faith mocked, lose your job, be screamed at by your inclusive and tolerant neighbors, have your children taken away from you (due to the “gender-affirming care” crowd), or even be attacked physically. Do not be afraid. Remember to keep your eyes on Christ. The cross is so much bigger than any weapon that man can create. Nothing can separate us from the love of God and all things work for the good of those who Love Him (Romans 8: 28, 35-39). Because of the cross and the resurrection, we have a hope that surpasses all cares and worries that this world can bring. Keep pressing on. Stand firm.
- Churches Be Ready: Prepare your Care Ministries. Prepare your checkbooks. Prepare your time and energy. For when your congregants lose their jobs for taking a stand, we must be ready to serve our communities. We must be ready to shepherd and help and care for those who are hurting. We must be ready to mobilize.’
- Don’t seek suffering. Do not go about your day looking to pick a fight. Don’t go out of your way to offend without cause. Stand firm in the truth without making the truth more offensive than what it is.
3. Be Ready to Give an Answer… Gently and Patiently
- First, you should pray. Pray for your neighbors, your enemies, your family members, and your friends. Take time to pray for those in the LGBTQ community and pray for those who are struggling with their sexuality. Pray for your heart and your mind and that you are clear in your conviction and why.
- You’re going to get questions. You will need answers. The company you work for is likely going to ask why you are disobeying orders. And your friends and family members may challenge your convictions based on the teachings of Jesus. Say this (knowing that it may not make a difference) to your employer if pressed: “I know that as a company we seek to be inclusive and tolerant of all walks of life. I am a Christian. And based on the teachings of Jesus regarding marriage being between one man and one woman for a lifetime, I cannot support the LGBTQ movement in our culture. I hope that you will be inclusive and tolerant of me the same as you are of this community.” In order to equip your mind with some substance around the topic, check these books out: Is God Anti-Gay by Sam Allberry and When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment by Ryan T. Anderson.
- We are called to be gentle and respectful. If you are pressed about why you are making the statement above, give them the reason. “Jesus came to die for us and by believing in Him we are free from sin and death forever. He rose from the dead proving His divinity and vindicating His claims. How could I not follow Him?”
4. Be Willing to Suffer
- Remember the World is against us because it is against Him (John 15:18-20). Do not be surprised if you are mistreated for your conviction. Our culture is becoming ever more hostile and it will only continue. Keep pressing. And know that as you suffer for Christ, you are taking part in the suffering of Christ.
- Remember that You are not Alone. There are thousands if not millions of Christians in the West that are making the same stance that you are. Find them, share your story, seek this community, and, more than anything, fall at the feet of Jesus and cast your cares and burdens to Him.
This month for some may prove to be a huge challenge. But I am praying for the Holy Spirit to empower you and strengthen you to stand firm, and to love others well with grace and truth. Remember, Christ is Lord, we are His Sheep, and we follow His lead.
When faced with the difficult decision: Pray, take a deep breath… and Don’t Wear the Pin.