Friday, October 22, 2010

Dead children, and the church did not say a mumbling word?

Tony Campolo said it best "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."
While these words are harsh, and while they are as a sledgehammer to a brick wall I would like to take it further, over the course of the last two weeks more than ten teenagers (kids, babies really) took their own lives and the church as usual is silent. Scary thing silence it can signal ones complicity in an act, heinous or otherwise. It can speak to duplicity, silence is one of the tools in our arsenal that really should not be looked to. Its usage lends courage to cowards and abusers who would take advantage of the people of God. Saying nothing about the deaths of these children should bring about conviction and repentance to a church that too long has allowed itself to be prostituted. We say we speak and stand for Christ. Would He be silent about this issue? Are we so tragically blind to the way that God sees those kids, and others like them that we will continue to stand idly by and say and do nothing, well I cannot say we have done nothing. Fox news claims that they speak for “christians” in this country as does the republican party. Here is what one of them said recently that the teens committing suicide were “grossly overreacting”. Be that as it may, why is it that no one, not Creflo, not, Thomas Dexter, not even Eddie, or any other stalwart leaders in the black church have offered anything of note to try and stem the tide of this latest incursion of the enemy to our nation? What is even more indicative of the cowardice in the pulpit, Ken Hagin, Rod Parsley, and not even Joel Osteen have said anything. Silence on issues such as these, really do lend themselves to acceptance of the hopelessness that these kids apparently face daily. When Martin King Jr. was jailed in Birmingham, he could have listened to his peers in the ministry and said and done nothing in light of their discouragement of his actions. Instead he spoke truth to power and penned the “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” In it he makes the following statement “I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes”. Once again we have an multiple issues that have been dropped on our doorsteps, teen suicide, homosexuality, and bullying. We appear to not want to deal with the deaths of these kids, nor do we want to contend with the fact that there are real disparities between how gays are treated and how those of us who are raging heterosexuals are dealt with in society.
If Christ died for us all, then for the church that should be enough to advocate, and yes agitate for them. I am not saying I agree with same sex marriage, but look at the underlaying reasons for the push. For many its access to many of the things that hetero couples take for granted. I leave that for you to explore. I do not agree with same sex marriage, but I understand why it is desired. We have lost ten children to the lie that suicide is the way out. Isn’t it time we spoke up, even when our so called leaders will not. Is it not enough that these children lost their lives due to the way society has looked at them, and says that it does it in the name of the Lord? Isn’t it time that the church, the real church stood up, and took its role back? I close by paraphrasing Dr. Campolo, I hope that those of you who read this prove me wrong…..
In the past month ten children committed suicide because they were bullied for being gay. Most of you who read this may or may not care all that much. I dare you if you are reading this, to prove me wrong…

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The money or the people, just how desparate are we?

Is it the money or the people? Simple question but deep at the same time, it is a question at the heart of every pastor and in the mind of every person in the pews. I sat in church this afternoon, and watched an announcement about a women’s conference, (No, I am not against women’s conferences, nor am I against women serving in leadership positions. I know the difference between eternal truths and cultural standards, shame; many who have been through theological training apparently have allowed prejudice and foolishness to cloud their judgment about such things, but I digress)…
The conference was not what caught my attention it was the fact that this conference while it is free, apparently to enjoy a meal at the conference is not… If you wish to eat at this conference it will cost you 35 dollars to enjoy a breakfast and a lunch. That is exactly 17.50 per meal. Now some would say that it is a reasonable cost and that those who want to attend and eat should have no problem paying the cost to do so. All things being equal I would agree with such sentiment however in 2010, all things are not equal… We live in a time of high unemployment, and people not having enough money it seems to pay their mortgages, people are losing their homes, and in some cases having to have to choose between eating and keeping a roof over their heads, in some cases the choice is much starker than that, choosing to eat, or getting medications to prolong their lives or to improve their quality of life. Here is my question, if we claim that we have this great treasure locked up in earthen vessels, why is it that we seem to have a bad habit of making people that we claim to help suffer in the name of the Lord, and yet be okay with it? Why is it that we place choices on the people of God that common sense would dictate that we dare not? I can tell you this, there will be people at this conference that will pay the money to eat and wind up 35 dollars short paying a bill. People are hungry, and yes people are desperate, and when we do things like this, we take advantage of their desperation. I wonder what it will take for us to not do that?

Eddie Long and the Black Church

I was sitting here at work and just read how Bishop Long now has five lawsuits to deal with questioning his sexuality, and whether or not he used his authoritative position to coerce young men into sex. Here’s the thing from my viewpoint, Eddie having done it or not is not the question, the question is when are we in the black church going to stop treating homosexuality as some special sin that needs to be dealt with harsher than any other sin? The problem as I see it is this, here is a man who has supposedly preached the truth about homosexuality, and now he is being accused of being the very thing he has preached against, is It just me, or does anyone else see the irony in all this. Jesus stated that the same judgment we put out there, will be used against us later on. Are homosexuals really the enemy, or is there something afoot here that demands our attention in ways that we may not be willing to deal with, out of fear?
Did Christ die for them as well? Did He suffer bleed and die for them as well? Is this sin worse than any other? Why do preachers single this one out more so than any other? Why do we feel that of we love them, we condone their behavior? Why do we feel that we cannot show the love of Christ to them, why do we live in fear of them? When will we finally be the church?
I find it shocking, not exemplary or prolific that preachers preach about homosexuality more than they do about any other sin. What should be shocking is that we do not hear as much about adultery, theft, greed, or the church’s dirty little secrets, masturbation, and pornography. We are willing to support a Constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage, but sadly in the church the stats when it comes to the state of marriage are just as bad as those outside the church. We have preachers holding conferences about the state of marriage, and some of them have jump offs.
I think it’s time to stop the hypocrisy, and move towards truth and reason. Yes there are homosexuals in the church, and yes there are some who are outside of the church. How we treat them is a testament of how the gospel has changed our lives. How we advocate on their behalf is a show of how Christ weeps over the souls of men who are disenfranchised by society because they are different. Christ advocated for people who were societal outcasts, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and drunks all flocked to Christ, they were not repelled by him. They were repelled by the religious leaders that Christ often berated due to their lack of vision and insight as to what was more important than just following the law. Why is it that when we do church, people are not attracted to the Christ that we show, but rather repelled by it. Could it be that the thing we portray is not an accurate portrayal? Could it be that our sanctimony is just that, sanctimonious but lacking in any real depth? We are here to serve, not to be served, this world does not have to conform to us, remember the conforming is done by those who actually know Christ. Those who are without need not apply unless they are willing to give their lives over. Preachers and laity alike forget that the epistles were written not for those who do not live their lives for the Lord, but rather for those who have already surrendered and answered the call to the cross. Until we recognize that the church is not the guardian of morality, nor is she to beat people down because they sin. They are sinners, its part of their job description and some are more efficient at it than others. Christ’s example was to love them, His loving them did not condone their activities, nor did it excuse them. His love convicted them not with condemning words but in showing them His love He was able to win them. It’s sad that we have forgotten how powerful a force Love really is…..