SILENCE = CONSENT

Relevance

I no longer feel comfortable with organized religion. It’s nothing against Christianity as an ideal or any religion for that matter.  It’s just, I feel that the black church as we know it is either dead or on life support at best, and there is no need to resuscitate.  I am at a point in my life where after doing research, and living most of my life within the institution, I am beginning to wonder, other than being a quick moneymaker for people with pimp mentality, is the church really relevant?  Is the black church as we know it really relevant as far as building communities of strong people?

The church has become a social network I’ve often called a “religious country club/cult of personality.  I think one of the easiest ways for a black man with any type of charisma or leadership ability to get credibility is to say he’s a pastor.  Nowadays is not just good enough to be a pastor, you have to be a Bishop or Apostle.  That’s where we get into the danger, because if all these young men and women who are “called” to be bishops and apostles, and they are not going to do anything different, but continue the sickness they’ve been taught, what good is it to anybody to have a church on every corner, led by bishops and/or apostles who have twelve members each?

And this is not just a problem with the mainstream church.  It’s the problem with these so-called gay affirming churches as well.  They look like Church of God in Christ, they sound like the Apostolics, they behave like Catholics and Baptists, they have your methods like the Methodists, but the only thing different is, “over here it’s okay for people to say that they’re gay.” You can come to church with your lover and not be judged.  Other than that, they’re just like the churches they came from.   So are they really doing any good?  Or are they just continuing the same emotional and spiritual damage that the mainstream church has been perpetrating for so long?

For many of us who have fled the mainstream church to find sanctuary in the churches on the margins, the most hurtful experiences we’ve had in church is at the hand of gay clergy. When the oppressed becomes the oppressor, they are more dangerous than the person who oppressed them.  It’s sad to think we’re no different from the white slave owners who oppressed and abused our ancestors in the name of GOD.  And we think we are really doing a good thing!

I think the church at its core, at its very foundation was evil from the get-go.  Don’t think for a moment that you can get good fruit from a bad tree. The things that are taught, and how scripture is manipulated is so damaging that the effects are irreversible.  The organized church has had every opportunity to evolve into a place of social responsibility. Clergy has had every chance to preach and live the truth.  Ministers have Sunday after Sunday to teach how we ALL are inextricably connected to GOD as our life force, and that is what makes us equal.  Yet consistently we hear false religious rhetoric while people die hungering and thirsting for the truth.

All my life, I’ve tried to be that nice, politically correct Christian guy that that tried to work within the system. I wanted to be a part of it, but the more I tried to fit in, the more they push back and say I don’t fit in.  In fact, the only way I could fit in is to do what they say, as they say it, how they say it, and deny myself.   What I got from the mainstream church is that I’m going to hell.  Yet I could serve in the church, and I could sing in the choir.  But in the end, because I’m openly a same gender loving man, and I refuse to “turn from my wicked ways,” I’m going to hell.  In my experience, the affirming Church has been even more elitist. It’s more classist.  To some extent, it’s worse than the mainstream church because you can’t even go to an affirming church and serve in ministry unless you are “qualified.”

Can the church really preach liberation without living social justice?  The church really doesn’t believe that everybody is created equal, and everybody can experience liberty in Jesus as they are if it doesn’t.  Look at how they don’t want to engage either the unchurched or people who don’t necessarily believe like they believe.  Church folks often don’t want to have seemingly difficult conversations with people who at their core that gays and lesbians are going to hell.  They are more comfortable preaching to the choir and surrounding themselves with people who think like them, act like them, and talk like them.  If the church is going to make any ground toward true liberation for all people, it cannot be afraid to engage people who believe differently.  If we could learn to communicate with one another, we might discover that our differences are not meant to separate us, but be teacher to us.  We may find that we are more alike than we are different.  Then we will be able to work together to heal the ills of our community and continue in the great legacy our ancestors left for us.

There is just something my grandfather used to say when I asked him I told him that I was called to preach.  He said, “you know when you are called to ministry when you cannot help it.  You try to run from it like Jonah but something inside you won’t let you go.  Your desire is to serve people and show them the love of GOD.”  The church has to go back to the place where we are asking the world, “How can I help you?” instead of saying “you’re going to hell unless you convert.”  Sometimes, I think we miss our blessing by standing in judgement in an attempt to make ourselves feel important and trying to be right.  The real joy of ministry is having the opportunity to serve people.  Our joy is in trying to enrich the lives of everyone we meet by showing them the love of GOD.  The church, affirming churches and mainstream alike, has the opportunity to really change the world for the better.  Hopefully, it will not die before realizing its true calling.

 

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