My spirit is on high alert and I am deeply disturbed.
The events of this past week have been enough to rock many Christians, particularly those of New Birth, to the core. What are they to believe if their very own Bishop Eddie Long has been accused of sexual indiscretion to the extent that has been reported in the news all week?
I say, is their faith in God or in this man whom my brother called an ostentatious fool for his parade of jewelry, private jets, bentleys, and a lavish lifestyle earned on the backs of his 25,000 member congregation who faithfully tithed their goods? Is this the image of a man of God? Is this truly a shepherd after God's own heart?
My sons are 16, 22, and 23 !/2. There was a time in my life, as a divorced mother, that I wanted them to have a positive male role model. Would I have enrolled them in the LongFellows Academy had I lived in Atlanta 15 years ago, before I met my now husband? Would I have been persuaded by the teachings of sexual abstinence, integrity, and financial savvy? Would I have wanted my sons to be among positive role models who spoke an uncompromising word and courted the world's stage?
This morning, my spirit is deeply disturbed and I have a mother's angst to protect the four young men who dared to endure public scrutiny to take back their lives. I can't imagine the amount of strength it took for these babies, they are only 20 and 21, to decide that enough is enough. They spoke out. And I suspect there are many more.
The issue for me is not if Long engaged in homosexual acts with these young men, who at 17 and 18 were not able to withstand his charisma and sexual advances coded as spiritual bonding. The issue is that he abused his position and trust as Pastor, leader, shepherd. In that position, he was entrusted with the spiritual development of many in guiding them to a real and deep relationship with Jesus Christ. It was not for self aggrandizement, which is what Long accomplished in his twenty years.
Greed knows no end. He sought political power with his vehement rhetoric against homosexuality and siding with the right-wing evangelical movement that ties religion and politics together in the Bible Belt.
Long could not get enough.
He is the face of a sin that has permeated the church, the black church, the community for ages. The sin is not in fornication - heterosexual or homosexual - but the sin is in hypocrisy.
He stood in that pulpit and spoke forcefully against these men-to-men and women-to-women acts to the point of calling for their death. To the point of alienating an entire community in Atlanta and the world. To the point of doing a march against this. And all the while, engaging in these acts himself with impressionable young men.
There are LGBT people in the black community. Always have been. From the flamboyant choir director on the piano that my youth group used to giggle about back when I was a teen to the ones suffering silently in the church that condemns them. Whether it is a sin or not, I can say that God does love them, that our community should not scorn them. If it is wrong, like ANY.OTHER.SIN, then we should love them to wholeness.
Otherwise, we are not preaching and teaching the wholeness of the Gospel.
The Gospel, remember that? The one that Jesus left the Scribes and Pharisees to go among the people. Jesus walked with nothing and told his disciples to do the same. Jesus, the one buried in a borrowed tomb because he did not amass wealthy like these so-called-preachers do today.
My spirit is disturbed.
Me, the one who left the church because of all the abuse of power I saw and witnessed in my 20 years of calling Christ my savior. Me, the one who was told over and how how I was called to minister the word but was just not "ready yet" because I was waiting on the power of some pastor to give me the okay that I was "anointed" enough and "elevated" enough (in other words, that I had given my last dime and time and enough money to his ministry that he would now ordain me to do the work but only if I gave more time and money and loyalty to him, not to Jesus). Me, the one who knows the power of the charisma of these preachers - black and white - who prey on people's desire to be right with God, to know Christ, and to do his will.
My spirit is disturbed.
And I pray. And I prayed. And I went into my spirit and felt this ball of air in my gut, my soul, that cries out to protect these four Davids, these four sons who dared to speak out against that Goliath.
In my heart, I cover them, and I see the Holy Spirit spreading his Wings over these four men.
Yes, the members of New Birth Baptist Church in Lithonia Georgia are in collective shock, disbelief, and confusion. How could they follow someone who would do such things? Their faith has been rocked to the core. Their hearts want to believe he is innocent and therefore they engaged in every cheer and chant imaginable this morning when Bishop Long stood before them this morning and proclaimed himself David. But when the shock goes away, when the reality will descend upon them, their faith will be rocked, their belief will be questioned, and I hope they will find true faith and salvation in Jesus Christ, and not in this man.
I pray that this is a wake up call.
I pray we rally around the truth, no matter who hurtful or disturbing it is. Then, I pray, we, the body of Christ, seek THE TRUTH and stop being enticed by this prosperity gospel that has ruined the lives of many, black and white, who only wanted to know Christ.
Like sheep, led astray. The Good Shepherd is standing there, ready to comfort and heal. And HE does not need a Bentley to do it.