Dear Salvation Army: Serving Water and Cookies at Gay Pride Parade…

First of all, I have to tell you that I am very reluctant to ponder anything on this topic because it seems to be quite the hot button topic, and as of late many harsh things have been said from various perspectives.  I offer you this pondering as simply an objective observer and I will do my very best to present both sides of the conversation.  My approach to this pondering has, and always will be with grace and love…okay, here goes:

Recently on social media, The Salvation Army in Metro Chicago (in conjunction with CFOT) posted photos of Salvationists serving refreshments to people while they participated in the gay pride parade in the Wrigleyville/Boystown area of Chicago.

serveThe Facts…
What began 15 years ago as a means to offer kindness and grace to pride participants, has in some ways become quite a polarizing topic.  The location of the College for Officers Training in Chicago is directly in a predominantly gay and alternative lifestyle community.  Thus, this is the neighborhood Cadets and members of the CFOT staff do evangelism within.  Sadly though, on social media conversation threads, individuals have criticized and questioned the motives of those who distributed the water and cookies.  Some have asked, “Does serving these items mean that The Salvation Army is now condoning or accepting these alternative lifestyles?”  While others who are on the other end of the ideological range are simply flabbergasted by harsh comments and the overall sense of harsh criticism.

Questions to Ponder…
Does this type of event, which offers water and cookies, condone alternative lifestyles or is this simply an act of kindness and grace?  Is this, as some have angrily inferred, just another way for progressives to push this agenda of acceptance, or are we in need of more of these intentional, public acts of kindness to ALL people from ALL walks of life?

The Murky Waters…
The current position of The Salvation Army on the topic of Same-sex attraction and/or marriage is fairly common, but in a number of places in the Army the views on LGBT seems to be a murky water of ambiguity and inconsistency.

My Take…
We must be very careful not to become finger pointers and look down our noses like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day.   They (the Pharisees) even witnessed Jesus’ disciples picking grain on Sabbath and about lost their ever-lovin’ minds.  The key, before any kind of discerning thought of judgement should be to soberly consider the state of our own hearts first.

Secondly, I think we as a Church (or Movement)  can be so quick to criticize without first trying to understand and ask the important questions.  We are far too quick to jump to conclusions and slow to consider what we might do in our own communities to provide such acts of kindness to the whosoever.

Lastly, how do we convey the grace of God to those we meet?  Are we to throw our bibles at people who do not live as we do by quoting scripture AT them?  Or do we show compassion, hope and grace to anyone who is willing to receive it?  Is there an intersecting line here that cannot be crossed?  Where does compassion and acts of kindness end and acceptance of lifestyle begin?  Is there a place when we might become stronger together instead of divided (division is perhaps what Satan would love to see in our Army)?  If so, how do we get to this point of unity within our courageous acts of compassion?

Conversely, how do we approach family?
By this I mean – I know Officers in The Salvation Army who have children who are either gay or in an alternative lifestyle.  How do we approach family in this context?  We (as people) can be so quick to assume that this subject is black and white, but it is much more complicated than that!  How we convey compassion and grace has to be wisely consider for fear of alienating our families and loved ones.

I know that this topic is a rather complicated and sensitive one, and can cause polarizing opinions and often brings out the worst in people, but please do not use this pondering as fodder for your case.  Our army is much broader than any one person’s view, opinion or agenda.  But here’s my take – Let’s err on the side of grace and compassion and leave the judgement to the One who will eventually judge us all.  Let’s support one another’s ministries including ministries into alternative lifestyle neighborhoods.  Let’s offer support to officers and staff who strive to live out the “without discrimination” from our mission statement.  Let us strive to live out holiness in how we love and serve in our neighborhoods and mission fields.  From this place, the Lord can and will impart His wisdom and guidance.

-Something more for our Army to ponder today.

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19 Comments

  1. I would rather take the water and cookies (or more substancial refreshment) to the Fire Station or Police HQ (et.al.) and serve the brave individuals on duty – including those who are gay, female, or mentally challenged, if there are any on duty – than to an event deliberately planned to promote a certain lifestyle.
    I feel the same way about a political rally: the Army should not be there to serve the crowd because the crowd is there for a partisan reason. If the arena of the political rally collapses, then the Army should get there as quickly as possible, of course.

  2. I think the major issue for me was the use of the facebook page, which says that The Salvation Army is proud to be part of the parade and uses the hashtag pride. My understanding is that the Army is there to offer love, which we should. But the facebook page for the Chicago division gives the vibe that we support the purpose of the parade. The parade seeks to normalize homosexual practice which is sinful. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to point anyone to something that puts people into spiritual bondage.

  3. The assumption is that anyone who questions them doing this is being mean and angry. But I don’t think that’s the case. It’s OK to ask if this might be a concern. You suggested that some were “harsh” and “mean.” While the other end of the spectrum is apparently just flabbergasted by the mean harsh comments. But you didn’t mention the people who want the army to switch it’s view on marriage all together. Or the people who attack anyone who dares to question what Chicago did. People who want to stand for the truth of scripture aren’t mean or evil for wanting to defend God’s view of marriage. Just putting that out there. These aren’t mean or bad people who want to ensure the army stays true to the scriptures.

  4. I’m a little taken aback by it…since it hasn’t been that long (or is it still going on?) that the Salvation Army fought for the right to deny their social services to LGBTQ people, asking for the ability to legally discriminate against the very people they are trying to give cookies and water to…but whatever, free cookies are nice

    1. What is your source for this claim? It is my understanding that The Salvation Army does and always has offered social service assistance to anyone seeking it with no regard for their gender, religion, sexual preferances or anything else

  5. A lot of misinformation here. As Larry said, not the best venue, especially given the nature of the parade. As Scott said, it was the wording in the article that raises questions. And as Justin said, you fall back on the caricature painted by the LGBT community, that anyone who disagrees with them hates them.

    Then there is more misinformation by Rachel. The Salvation Army does not attempt to deny social services to LGBTQ people, it does seek, within the religious activities, to choose to follow scriptural principles on marriage and leadership. It is interesting that she notes the inconsistency that you avoid mentioning.

  6. As an officer attending the Brengle Holiness Symposium during the time the parade was happening, many of my fellow session mates went to share with those along the parade. As followers of Christ, our command is to love God and love others. There was and is no motivation beyond that. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Having heard testimonies about what happened along that route, you would be surprised to hear how those simple acts, done in love, spoke to many within the community around the CFOT. There are people trapped in darkness all around us. Our call is to be light and love.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s that love that brings people like me to JESUS! A salvationist shared that same compassion with me in ohio, leading me and my husband to Jesus! Thanks for the LOVE to my husband, the Lgbt community, and I!

  7. Thank you for your perspective as it speaks to who the Salvation Army really is. I think Brett DeMichael said it best, we are called to love period. There is nothing after that saying certain groups, certain sins, nothing. We are called to love.

  8. I went to Brengle over 25 years ago in Chicago. It was not a pretty sight. Fowl language on a portable pa and some nudity and some unmentionables. Hopefully it is not that bad these days. As Salvationists we serve. I have mixed feelings concerning what messages are sent out by pictures and statements. What reason are we there? Water and cookies? Fine. What about a few small brochures or NT’s and perhaps more of sharing “God’s love”. When do we separate from what is displayed around us and when do we remain at the “scene”.

  9. As a proud salvationist, I LOVE this idea! We have to remember that God loves EVERYONE! We ALL sin! John 3:16 say WHOMEVER not just you or You! Why not try to show kindness to the Lgbt community, and bring them to jesus?! It will be GOD’S judgment wether it’s a sin! Our job’s are to bring people to God by kindness like Jesus did! I left the church. I thought God hated me and didn’t love me. I was outcasted from my family, friends, bullys at school, teachers, the church, and even GOD! I’ve had 6 suicide attempts! BUT..God brought me a salvationist named Cathy. She showed me love and friendship regardless! She even was in our wedding party! I eventually came to church when I was at rock bottom with my pass. Their I found ALL of the people in the church loved and treated me just the same! It’s not about “Is it a sin or not” it’s about the LOVE that brought me to JESUS! Showing these people love is EXACTLY what they need, and what God wants! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Bravo! Thanks for the varying perspectives, it is always good to weigh up and then, on balance, come to a personal position. It was mentioned by the author about officers whose children gay or may be living an alternative lifestyle apart from what is deemed to be the only acceptable biblically based norm. What about the many soldiers and officers around the world, the USA included, who are openly or closetted gay, bi sexual, whether celibate or not? I realise that in certain parts of the world a more conservative fundamentalist view prevails over a generally more progressive liberal parts, even in the Salvation Army with it’s universal regulations. Some of my finest, Godly people, including local officers, were not perse hetero sexual by nature and being.

  11. As a queer person who works at The Salvation Army, I think it’s awesome that Corps are reaching out to the LGBTQ community. I am currently researching ways for our Corps to do that (which is how I came across this blog post). To those who are questioning the “why” of showing up at a Gay Pride event: I believe that Jesus met all people where they were. I hope I continue to see bridges being built between The Salvation Army and the LGBTQ community.

    Keep up the awesome blog posts – I’m an excited new follower of your words.

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