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.