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Pride and tolerance

  • 28 July 2022
There has been much said in recent days about the refusal of a group of Manly Sea Eagles footballers to wear a special Pride jersey for a match against the Sydney Roosters. After the Pride initiative was announced, a group of seven players came forward to express their concerns about the lack of consultation. Those players are now boycotting the match, saying that wearing the jumper would clash with their religious and cultural views. The match and event will still go ahead, and the players have been asked not to attend for security reasons.

 There is understandably much unhappiness about the players’ actions. The purpose of the Pride event was described as ‘respecting diversity and inclusion for all’. Refusing to wear the Pride jersey, to many, feels like a fundamental rejection of all that the symbol stands for, which includes worthwhile social progress and greater recognition and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people across society in recent years.

Reading commentary around this issue, however, one gets the sense that this is very much a litmus test. One either endorses Pride, and by extension the dignity and rights of LGBTIQ+ people, or one doesn’t endorse Pride, and by extension doesn’t respect the dignity and rights of LGBTIQ+ people. The boycotting players have been labelled as hypocrites (for taking a stand on this issue and not, for example, gambling or domestic violence) and even hateful for their actions. Many say they would be happy to see them sacked from the club entirely, and it’s not unlikely that the players will be subject to abuse from the crowd when (and if) they return.

It seems to me, though, that the attitudes of the Manly players deserve more consideration than this. A deeper look at Christian thought with regards to sexuality and sexual ethics shows there’s nuance at play that many don’t seem to appreciate.   

'Pride advocacy clashes with Christian thinking by prioritising, and indeed centering, people as sexual beings. For LGBTIQ+ people, this is a reaction to a very real ‘de-centering’ of their experiences that continues to take place in mainstream society.' 

One of the reasons people are attracted to Christian sexual ethics is because it doesn’t make sex a priority. It’s role is not dissimilar to that of eating. Sex is something that can and should be personally pleasurable, but that’s not the main reason for it. Rather, it’s a gift that’s given to us by God for