Dear Pastor, You're Not Filled With Love, Light And The Word of God, You HAVE A God Complex

Dear Pastor, You're Not Filled With Love, Light And The Word of God, You HAVE A God Complex

...and I really mean that.

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I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I stepped foot in a black church to worship, but easily I could say it was around twenty years ago.

I didn't stop going because I hated the people or the music. And I definitely didn't stop going because I lost my faith, although I do have major questions that no one has been able to answer. I stopped going because it occurred to me that I would get more out of reading scripture myself than I would listen to "lessons" interpreted through the lens of someone who held their own major biases and traumas.

For many of us, at least the ones who don't follow Pastor Joel Osteen, the first time we heard Pastor John Gray speak was when part of one of his sermons was Instagramed by singer, Ciara. Well, this was the first and the last time I needed to hear anything this pastor had to say.

The sermon, or at least part of the sermon, was supposed to be on how lonely, single, women could get a keep a man. *side eye* As if there aren't enough men going around informing women that we are the problem in relationships that don't work out and how we are "womaning" wrong because we don't cook, clean and bare-foot Contessa enough like the good ole days when we didn't have the right to vote and had to put on pantyhose before going out in public.

Anyway, after playfully intimating the pain felt by lonely women, Pastor Gray's offered his answer for why single women can't get a man and how coupled women DID get their men. It was simple, yet completely misogynist as usual. After offering his interpretation of Proverbs 18:22, he went on to say, "a "wife" is not the presence of a ring, it's the presence of your character," and "too many women want to be married, but you're living in the spirit of girlfriend." Ask the Lord to deliver you from that spirit [of 'girlfriend'], and carry yourself like you're already taken, and I promise you, when you carry yourself like a wife, a husband will find you," he said. Meaning, cover up your tits, watch your tone, be a good girl and then a man will come. Not necessarily the right man for you, but surely a man who thinks you might-could-be the right woman for him. Because women shouldn't have preferences, types or individual needs like men do, so a man that says he's a "good guy" should be enough.

And once this man comes, be monogamous, even if he isn't, cook for him because a mans hands should never touch a pot or a pan, clean for him even though a grown man should know how to clean his own damn house, be his emotion support for all of his traumas even when he is too emotionally stunted and manly to do the same for you, sacrifice your wants and dreams to help him achieve his, do all the things that a "wife" should do for a husband who is giving those things back to her, and maybe he will marry you. But if not, come back to church to hear me repeat this sermon about how you are "womaning" wrong.

He completely mocked and then manipulated the experience felt by women who are hurting, while also arguing that married women have somehow found a way to make themselves more "worthy" to a man, and that being a single woman is "less than."

"There is no such thing as having the "spirit of a girlfriend," or carrying yourself "like a wife." It's just another iteration of the sexist dichotomy and hierarchy of women, the same tired Madonna-whore complex: the good kind of woman vs. the bad kind."

But I guess the sermon to men about the "spirit of a boyfriend," or how to carry themselves "like a husband" is coming sometime in the new year.


Youtube comment on Pastor John Gray


Pastor John Gray recently and unfortunately caught my eye again while on "Sister Circle." Apparently, he wrote a book about how he became a man despite having a shitty dad and loving his mommy too much. While talking to two of the ladies on the panel who were uncomfortable gobbling up everything he had to say, Gray went on to talk about how his wife helped him become the man he is today. Which could be sweet, however, what he described was, in fact, the age-old tale of men emotionally abusing their wives in order to use them as stepping stones for the own personal growth.

Now, let me say that I myself have never been married, but I suspect most people go into marriage seeing it as a partnership. So how is it that Pastor Gray can say on national TV that his "wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children" and how he has caused his wife emotional suffering for the last 8 years, and we applaud with "awe and go "what a strong woman she is!" How, sway? Let me say this, a black woman's worth is not based on upon how much pain she can endure. Her ability to be a "good wife" is not dependent on how you can nearly kill her with your untreated mental illnesses, emotional shortcomings, oppression, self-servingness, failures, lying, cheating, instabilities, and toxic masculinity.

He then went on to say that he married a woman too sizes too big and that he needed to grow into her. No, sir. You needed to grow into a man and come correct before you got down on one knee. It is not a woman's job to finish raising you. It's is your own job to pick up where your parents left off. When is the last time you heard of a man "birthing" his wife? Never. When is the last time you heard a wife speak about how much she had put her husband through emotionally while she lived with untreated traumas and he didn't leave her? Never. Because men don't do that shit, and for good reason.

If you were confused, women are human beings too. And in the words of Janet Jackson, what have you done for her lately?

Another servant of the Lord caught my eye recently. Pastor Antonio Rocquemore. Pastor Rocquemore seemed to have misinterpreted his calling. In reality, he was asked to preach the word of God to the masses using love, light, rainbows and all that, but I think instead of filling out the resume for "pastor," he actually clicked on "bouncer." For some reason, this man of God found it his duty to kick a trans-woman out of the Lord's house. Granted from the footage it is clear he mistook the Lord's House for "[his] church."

Now, to be fair, most Black people don't necessarily see homophobia or transphobia as a bad thing. In fact, most see queerness, in its many forms, as a government conspiracy aimed to destroy the black family. (The previous sentence was not a hyperbole) That being said, wouldn't black clergymen feel even more inclined to pastor to the queer? Of course not, because we live in a twilight zone, where we alienate people based on their sexual preferences that aren't our business, to begin with, and then humiliate them in front of a community who pretend they have lived their lives for the Lord.

Forget the bit where the Lord says, "come as you are" in his various ways. The argument again is that you shouldn't be welcome in a church for living the way "some people live," but when did we start ranking sins? If the queer shouldn't be allowed in church, then neither should the divorced, the murders, the thieves, the fornicators, the liars. Oh, but then not only would the church be empty, but there'd be no one to preach...

Over the centuries, many people have perverted the word of God. The Christian religion has been stolen, interpreted, re-written, and manipulated. And if Black people think they have had no hand in this, they are wrong. Black churches are sexist and homophobia af.

Dear Black Clergy, Ya'll ain't shit.

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I'm Tired Of Trendy Christianity

Life with Jesus is so much more than one big coffee break.
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Okay, you're a Christian. After all, you have all of the tools you need.

You have your densely highlighted and underlined Bible, your Eno, your Chacos, your Patagonia backpack and of course, your beloved Camelbak or Nalgene water bottle that is covered in name-brand stickers.

Your days consist of going outside, chilling in your Eno and blasting "Oceans" by Hillsong and "Good, Good Father" by Chris Tomlin. Your room is decorated with lots of inspirational quotes, maps with variations of "send me" close by and probably some pictures of your last mission trip. Your Instagram page is full of pictures of your friends that are "gems," captions of how thankful you are for certain things and pictures of the last country you visited that say "take me back."

Oh, and you might have a tattoo in Greek.

Okay, if you know me, you know that I literally just described myself. So, when I say what I'm about to, I'm not bashing anyone at all. I am guilty of all of these things and God has really laid these things on my heart that I've found myself doing time after time.

It seems that in the time we live in, if you're going to be a Christian, you have to have all of the right things, and I'm tired of it. Christianity is not about having a certain look or personality, but about having a deep, meaningful relationship with Christ. I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about what being in a relationship with Christ actually looks like. I'm here to tell you that it's not anything like what I described.

Being in a relationship with Christ is not easy, and it's certainly not the most trendy thing out there (maybe on your college campus, but not in the real world.) It's about surrendering everything you have to a God who sent his son to be crucified for things you've done wrong.

It's more than just drinking designer coffee and Bible journaling and "being intentional."

It's about finding peace and joy in spending time with our creator. I know a lot of people just like me who fit the stereotype perfectly who have some of the deepest, most meaningful relationships with Christ, but I also know a lot of people who fit the stereotype who are just faking it.

I'm so tired of people who do not know Christ thinking that they have to have a certain look or personality about them and it hinders them from running into the loving arms of Jesus. We've made Christianity a club, and that's not okay. We have taken God's beauty and grace and made a fad out of it.

So, friends, I'm not saying that we can't have these things and still be Christians (because honestly, I like the way I live life with these things I've been given, and this is just who I am,) but I am saying that having these things are not what makes us Christians. So, be careful how you live out your walk.

Are you just doing it to be trendy, or do you have a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ?

Walking with Jesus is more than just a big coffee break.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr/Psalm Thirty Seven Four

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I'm A Christian Who Practices Yoga And That's Okay

Yoga and Jesus: Is it possible?

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I have a confession: I am a Christian who practices yoga daily. I even teach it twice a week. It may not seem like a big deal, but to some, my yoga practice is considered demonic or blasphemous to my faith. I understand why other Christians hold this belief. Yoga is rooted in the Hindu and Buddhist tradition. Christians do not believe in actively practicing any other religion but Christianity, and monotheistic doctrine is 100% scriptural.

But, it is important to remember that in today's Western culture, many of the specifically religious parts of yoga have been stripped to offer a more inclusive approach to the exercises. To be honest, I have never attended a yoga class in which I felt pressured to conform to the ways of another religion. Yoga teachers see the melting pot of races and religions that walk into the studio every day and know that they have to make class inclusive or they won't have any students! I like to compare yoga to the Christmas tree. Christmas trees definitely have pagan origins, but Christians across America put up a Christmas tree to celebrate Jesus' birth. Although we are aware of the original purpose of the tree, we are also aware that such old traditions mean very little to society today. Yoga is a similar situation.

Most Christians who practice yoga know of its origins but also understand that hundreds of years have separated the practice from its original intent.

When I take a yoga class, I have a very specific mindset that I try to enter each time I approach the mat. This has very little to do with "altering my spiritual state." It's more about making sure that I'm getting the most out of each stretch and breath physically so that I am maintaining emotional regulation. All of these benefits, of course, extend to my spiritual life as well. Because my Christian walk is a part of everything I do, Christ has really, truly blessed me in my yoga practice. When I'm going through a flow, I pray, I seek answers, I ask questions. I get to focus on how God holds together all of my operating systems: physical, mental and spiritual.

Yoga is literally medicine. Doctors are starting to prescribe it like a pill. Here are just a few of the countless benefits of having a regular yoga practice:

- increased flexibility

- more effective circulation

- weight loss

- boosts immunity

- better focus

- increased oxygen intake

- sinus relief

- depression/anxiety relief (lots of serotonin!)

- better posture

- natural pain relief (even for menstrual aches and pains!)

- improved metabolism

- lowers blood sugar

- supports connective tissue

-maintains the nervous system

- releases physical and emotional tension

- relieves drug withdrawal symptoms

- prevents loss of bone and cartilage

- increased strength

- relieves insomnia and other sleep problems

For me and millions of others, the amazing benefits of yoga happen not because of calling on any other deity, but because of the strengthening and relaxation that happens when you go through the physical act of yoga. Of course, this physical positivity changes my emotions and spiritual posture with God, but for the better! I walk away physically invigorated, emotionally purged and spiritually more in tune with my Father's voice.

I think that's a really cool thing to experience, but it's not for everyone, and that's okay! If you're a Christian and do not feel inclined to start a yoga practice, that is valid! No true yogi would ever try and force a practice on anyone! But, it's hard to see a lot of my Christian friends bash yoga as "a practice from Hell" or "a way to open up portals" when it's been a Godsend for so many people ailing from things they never thought they would find relief from.

God, through the redemptive grace of Christ, is in the business of making all things new (Revelation 21:5). He can turn ashes into something of magnificent beauty, and I believe He can do it with yoga. Looking back, I can see how God has given me discernment with my practice to know how to worship and serve my God in yoga without compromising my heart in the process. Because of God's clear direction in my life, maintaining my spiritual integrity in yoga has not been hard.

I totally understand that an 800-word article may not change anyone's mind, and that's okay! I just ask everyone who might disagree with me to take into account not only all that I have said, but all that God says in Scripture, and use discernment to make a decision for yourself. I think that's really the heart of yoga today: asking others to consider a different way of observing life while staying completely true to themselves and what they believe.

Blessings.

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