Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with this Bishop Eddie Long story. I kind of ignored it at first but as the media blitz continued I began to read more and more. The more I read, the more dishearthened I got about what is actually going on in these churches. I gawked at the pictures that were posted of him posing in workout gear and my heart saddened as I looked at videos of his accusers crying out for his attention and apology. Patiently I waited to hear what his response would be because the evidence in the media was becoming overwhelming. As the circus continued, in my opinion, Bishop Long failed to rise to the occasion that Sunday morning and give any clear answers to the allegations. His answer was vague and ambiguous without any outright denial of being guilty. Looking at him and his pompous answer made me look at my own spiritual following and question whether we are allowing these ministers to get away with heinous acts and not be held accountable. We get up and shout in their defense without looking at the possible people they may have hurt, or get the facts to make a just decision for ourselves.
I, too, am guilty of defending my minister tooth or nail without really investigating the accusations. I’ve called his accusers “liars” and went to bat for him claiming he was a modern-day “David”; a man with flaws but still a man of God. I didn’t have the concrete facts, but I wanted to believe he was in the right. Doing so, however, allows these people to skate through the accountability for any wrong doing; and not, publicly or privately, get the proper help they need to address any “sickness” they have, whether it be women, men, or children. For years I’ve struggled with this denial and prayed about it because I wanted to believe in the good and not accept the reality. I’m not saying that anyone should be guilty before tried but I am saying that where there is smoke, there may be fire. Don’t count out any possibilities before making your own judgement based on the facts at hand. No one is perfect but when you have a congregation of people who look to a minister for guidance there can not be blatant hypocrisy that is masked to protect anyone. Because when the truth is revealed, then that hypocrisy damages more people than that minister’s reputation. As long as the minister apologizes for his illicit behavior and seeks the counsel needed to stop his actions; only then the church and people will begin to heal. Otherwise, the gloom of pietism will loom over that church and its leadership.
I’ve always thought that God wanted us to use or own discernment with scripture, with interpretation, and with motive. Being sheep without questioning what we are thought doesn’t give you understanding of who God is and what Jesus’ mission was. For Christians, Jesus was always questioning the powers to be to seek answers or for them to be culpable for any blasphemous actions performed under the cloak of God. We will not be condemned for doing the same. I, personally, do not condemn any other religion, belief, or creed. I just honor the belief of good. Jesus was a man who lived a moral code of conduct. Whether you believe in him or not, his lifestyle was an exemplary of good. Many people call themselves Christian and do not do Christian like things. Believing in a faith, but not trying to implement the philosophy of goodwill which is thought by that faith defeats the purpose of your belief. We all stumble and we all fall but we can’t consistently use the notion of repentance to clear our conscience of our behavior. Doing things because you know in Christianity you will be forgiven is not the right way to live and many people abuse that sacrament. My last thought to all is to try and be a great person; love others, be kind and helpful, and never shy away from making someone happy by your deeds. Making that your mantra without all the other bells and whistles is as simple as apple pie.
There are so many aspects to this issue I don’t know where to begin…but let’s start here! We are a lackadaisical people! Our churches are reflecting our character…We do not “study to show ourselves approved” II Tim 2:15…; we ride on the coat tails of our parents faith, our knowledge of “John 3;16” (the quote) and the charisma of our pastors, preachers, bishops etc… The “Bible” is the hand book for living and we keep watering it down to justify not only our short comings but the excuse the behavior of those who govern us thus making it “not so bad”…IT IS BAD…IT IS ABHORRENT! I watch a bishop who governs in north west Baltimore explain his illegitimate children away by claiming “he is but human”…WE ALL READY KNOW THAT..SO ARE WE! God’s WORD says that those who desire to lead the church BEWARE! There will be a GREATER accounting! I Tim chap 3…. I was absolutely appalled at the way in which his congregation responded…excusing his behavior as “just being a man” I really think we do that so that we can later use that same excuse in our own lives “I’m just human” or “well look at pastor so and so”, “he’s a pastor”… We just don’t take our faith seriously and lack a true fear of God! I can’t tell you how many time I’ve watch “church goers” inability to defend what they believe or even why they believe it!
The evidence is overwhelming in the Long case, however in concern for the church body step away from the pulpit; take you 3.7 million dollar salary and sit down for a minute. It ain’t his doing alone….we vote blindly for our leaders…for crying out loud..Martin O’Malley walked out on a town meeting with city residents because the questions got tough yet we propelled him into the Governors office… We have bishops driving 250,000.00 cars when we have poor and destitute in their flock yet we except that “my congregation wanted it for me!”
It started with us…it will end with us!
Very well said, Maurice.
Yes, I agree with your feelings on how we as sheep in the flock want to protect our leadership. The strength in a church is going to be determined when it is under fire, not when things are going good. I have experienced some issues within my church where our leadership was at odds over a business venture that was ongoing within the church that was questionable. Since I have always had a strong bond with our church leadership, I wanted defend our leader decisions in spite the fact that they were possibly unethical. In the case of Eddie Long, it appears from what has been presented that he has some major issues with his sexuality. I truly want to assume that he is not guilty of any wrong doings, but after reading the reports and listening to some of his highlighted sermons broadcasted in the news it appears that he may have some issues. The boys in question were of an age that they should have had a very clear understanding of their sexuality, so them saying that he took advantage of him is not a totally true statement. I’m concerned with their mental well being after going through such a long period of sexual exportation, but I think they fully understood that the behaviors they were engaging in were inappropriate. At age 15, 16, 17, 18 I had and very good understanding of right and wrong. I wasn’t the man I am today then, but my sense of self worth and value had already been established.
Many years ago I was a member of a very well known African American church in Baltimore city. The Pastor is known internationally. I respected him so much I couldn’t believe that a Man of God with that level of following could he engaging in such acts. In my mind I felt like I would have been able to sense an unbalance in my pastor, since I had attended that church since its inception. When I was started to hear about some of his indiscretions, and then he decided to tell the entire congregation the truth about his infidelity and extramarital affairs I was shocked and never stepped foot back into his church again. I felt betrayed, because I feel like as a pastor you take the lives of your members into yours hands and you must treat those lives you are responsible for with great care to ensure they remain protected. When a pastor is engaging in UnGodly behavior it weakens his strength, which in-turn weakens his flock. I still watch him on TV, for his teachings but I don’t think that as a Man of God I can follow him a one of his flock. I will still watch Eddie Long on TV, because I learn from his teachings and I enjoys learning I consider information a Mental Muscle Builder.