Homophobia and Sexism in Black churches push Black millennials away.

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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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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A Note To My Dearest Son or Daughter, You Are Loved

An important letter to the people struggling; from a God who adores you.

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To my dearest son or daughter,

Please know you are so loved. I see your eyes reading this; feeling far away from my words. I see how it hurts you to feel this distance between us. But know I am here with you even in your valleys; even in your seasons of pain and struggle. I am here in the right now. I realize the days can drag on and the nights can feel so lonely and empty. But please know I am with you, and I am present in loving you. Even when you may not feel me. I pay careful attention to all of your hurt, and I recognize all of your pain. I hurt with you. I see it. It does not go unnoticed.

You do not go unnoticed.

As hard as this may be to understand, it is all a part of something so much bigger than I have planned for you. YOU are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. I know difficult times make it hard for you to see that, but I am right here. I never leave. You have to believe that. And I need you to trust me. Even in your darkest moments, wait for my voice. Listen, and I will guide you. Let your spirit rest and pay close attention to all the ways I speak to your heart.

Amidst all the chaos, I can be hard to hear. But if you'll take a minute to breathe and quietly listen, you'll start to hear from me again. Just simply seek me and you'll find me. That's it. I never leave. I'm here. My love is always with you. My attention is always on you. I spend every day thinking of you. Waiting for you. Do you not see it in all the little things I show you? All the small gestures that stand out among the rest? Those are from me. Those are gentle reminders that I'm currently listening to you and loving you.

You just have to trust me.

You have to trust me through it. I know that can be hard for you to do; I know our journey together has been a difficult one. I know at times it's been long and seemingly hopeless. But you haven't given up and neither have I. We are a team. We have to work together to continue towards the hope that lies ahead. The joy that lies ahead. The promises that I have for you. Because I chose you and created you to be something incredibly special in this world, and I need you to keep fighting. I chose you to be a warrior through all the pain and adversary. I chose you to be strong, courageous, and persistent.

And you are.

I made you that way.

And the future that I have planned for you is something bright and fruitful. It is full of happiness and hope. It is overflowing with love and fulfillment. And I picked you, especially for this future. I made sure it was everything that you so desperately needed and wanted; I made sure it would always be enough. Because I love you and care for you. Because I want nothing but the absolute best for you. Because I listen. Because I'm here. Because your struggles and pain do not go unnoticed, and they matter to me. You matter to me. Your existence matters to me. Because for a little while, child, you must understand hurt to appreciate joy.

Because your hurt will either shape you or break you. And you are given the freedom to decide which that will be. With me, you will be shaped. You will be loved. There will be a purpose for your pain. You will fully appreciate joy. You will grow strong. There is victory. But with this world, you will be broken. You will be deceived. You will be treated far less than you deserve. It will drag you to the finish line and leave you to suffer. There will be no prize. Your pain will yield no joy. Your false idea of happiness will be destructive and disappointing. Because I am the only one who can truly provide it. This world cannot.

Loving me through your hurt is the only way to assure an outcome I can always promise you: Healing. Happiness. Rest. Fulfillment. Purpose. Peace. Joy. And because you continue to seek me through your struggles, I know that you quietly yearn for these things. You want to fill the emptiness.

You want to feel my closeness. You desire my kind, nurturing the heart. But here is why you are reading this: so you can finally understand that I desire you just as much, but more. I long for your love. I deeply cherish you. Everything you want, I promise you will find with me. That's why you feel the urge to know me so well; because I complete the piece of you that is missing. It's a God-shaped hole that only I can fill. Because I designed it that way. Your heart was made in my likeness. That's the reason you've continued loving others as I call you to do REGARDLESS of your hurt; because that is my sole purpose for you.

That is why even through your brokenness, you see the world in a beautiful way. That is why I created you with such a significant heart and soul. To love others as I do. To share my promises. To spread my warmth. To seek goodness. That is a gift I purposefully instilled in you for one significant reason: because love is my most important feature, and I trusted you with it. Love is what binds us all together as one. Love is what fixes the things that are broken.

Love is what allowed me to give my son to your world; even when this world rejected him.

It's what allowed me to watch him suffer to save you. Because even when you are broken and hurting, love will fix you. My love will fix you. It's the only thing in this world able to heal your heart to the fullest extent and fill all your emptiness. Nothing else can do this but me. So, I know you are hurting, and I know life can be painful. Your struggles can be disheartening. But please don't lose me in the chaos. Don't give up. Stay close by my side and TRUST ME. Trust my process. Trust that the things you feel are preparing you for a unique purpose that I have planned specifically for you — a purpose that you who are reading this was carefully created for. A purpose only you can beautifully accomplish.

Trust that your trials will grow your strength and prove your loyalty to me; and that your loyalty will be rewarded. Trust that I love you beyond measure and that you are never alone. You call to me and I'm here. Seek me and you will find me. Talk and I will listen. You are loved beyond comprehension, my child. Always. And I treasure you. I long for your heart and devotion. You are cherished to the highest extent. So please never think differently. Because I could never begin to describe all the ways that I adore you. You were made with eternity in mind. I wanted you forever. And I still do. Even though, for a short time, you must hurt here.

And that is OK.

Because with me, you will always be OK.

You will always be taken care of. You will always have shelter. So you must trust me through it. I'm right here. This place is dark without me. I am the only light. You must follow it. Understand that you cannot measure your worldly struggles next to my love; because this world is broken and will never lack pain. There will always be trials. You will always hurt. But my love in comparison will win every single time. My love will beat it. And that will never change. Refuge in me means healing. It means triumph and peace. It means joy. Your sorrow will be cured through me. Please give me your pain. I will gladly take it. I will gladly carry it. Because I love you. Because I painted the skies for you and created the mountains for you to admire. I made this world beautiful for you to enjoy.

If I didn't love you so infinitely, I wouldn't have taken the time to design things specifically for your own appreciation and pleasure. I wanted to give you the delights of your heart. I created the things that you love and filled you with that want for them. I gave you your caring soul and strong mind. I gave you your courageous heart. I gave you worldly desires that provide you joy and satisfaction. I gave you wonderful people to adore. I gave you those things for you to enjoy. Because I love you. Because I care about you. Because I wish nothing more than for you to be happy. And I would never want this life full of disappointment and sorrow to ever trick you into believing that I am not right here beside you, loving you. Rooting for you. Helping you. Guiding your steps. That I do not have your best interest at heart. That I do not care for your existence. Because your existence was purposeful. It was planned.

You are special to me.

I wanted you; I've always wanted you. I knew your impact on this world way before you came into it. I saw your potential ages before I created you. I decided on your purpose. I designed your heart. You are such an important addition to the piece of hope that I bring to this world. Because your worth is in me. Your love is in me. And you will change lives because of me. I can't wait to watch you continue discovering the purpose I have for you. The purpose that is unique to your story, unique to your pain, and unique to your life. Because it's enormous. It's so extremely special. It will reach nations and shift boundaries. And I planned it. So please trust me. Never forget that when you feel alone, I'm here to love you. I'm here to comfort you. I'm here to heal you. You say the word, and your pain is mine. No more burdens. No more shame. No more guilt. I'm here to take it all. You just have to let me.

Because I need you, and you need me too.

Which is why I'll be waiting right here until you're ready.

God

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