The Bishop Eddie Long sex scandal is on heavy rotation in the media and it has highlighted issues within the Christian community that we stand to make better through an open dialogue and a better understanding of why the Christian church – African American churches in particular – are a breeding ground for these types of scandals.
One of the issues that is at the forefront of many conversations regarding Bishop Long is the belief that he should have been honest about his predilection for homosexual encounters. Somehow, many Christians are confusing the issue of homosexuality with that of a pedophilic predator. They are not the same. A homosexual man is attracted to men (not boys) while a pedophilic predator has a desire to have sexual interaction with those who are not adults – whether a particular state considers them as such or not. They are not interchangeable or one in the same. The allegations against Bishop Long would classify him as a pedophile and not [just] a homosexual man. The gender of the victims of pedophile predators should not be the issue we focus on;. We should be outraged by the abuse of minors.
The second issue at hand in Christian churches is that we have set the stage for deception. We, in effect, have created an environment where homosexuals must operate like covert operatives to survive or avoid ridicule and shame. There is virtually no other sin – or perceived sin – in the Christian church that gets more attention, judgment and scorn, than homosexuality. A womanizer will come to the Lord, be saved and carry the cross (or temptation) and desire of sleeping with multiple women and we would see that individual as just another flawed Christian who is seeking salvation and the Lord, but when admitted homosexuals come to the Lord they are expected to be saved AND never feel the desire or temptation for what their alleged sin was. The Bible does not preach about being homosexual, the Bible speaks of man not sleeping with mankind as he does with women, which simply means that you can FEEL the urges and have that urge be your cross to bear and temptation to have until the second coming of Christ, but so long as you are victorious in your battle to refrain from sleeping with men and engaging in homosexual behavior, you are saved. Somehow, the Christian church believes that to PROVE you have been freed from the homosexual “demons’ you must now feel romantic attraction for the opposite sex and hopefully marry a woman, proving you are a changed man. A homosexual man who becomes saved appears to have the cloud of doubt surrounding his sexuality follow him until his dying day – not quite the environment a homosexual man can live down. Which brings us to the “why” so many men choose to keep the issue of their homosexuality a secret from the church, their family and unfortunately, the women they marry in the hopes of throwing off the dogs who persecute them; to be an honest, saved and struggling Christian homosexual is to wear a Scarlet letter of shame in the Christian church.
The third and most important issue is that sin is sin. God doesn’t having a hotter place in hell for homosexuals than he does for the liars of the world. No one sin is greater in the eyes of the Lord than another, so the belief that we should focus on homosexuality is ironic and sad. Certainly there are sins within the confines of our church walls – namely, predatory behavior toward our children – that merit our vigilance and prudent caution. Once we can understand that we are ALL sinners and fall short of God, we can stop the process of singling out any one sin or one sinner.
The Christian church is often faced with damaging disasters and scandals – sometimes perpetrated by those in a position of power and responsibility. We hear the voices of many in the congregation say that they wish(ed) that the alleged fallen man of God had been honest with himself and his flock to avoid the pending humiliation. The truth is that we as children of God need to be honest with ourselves first and accept that we sometimes CREATE an environment that punishes honesty and is vicious toward betrayal; A catch 22 of sorts. We want you to be honest with us and tell us what is wrong with you, but if you do we will tear you a new one.
Let’s be honest with ourselves and accept that if we want folks to tell us who they really are; what their weaknesses may be; and reveal their shortcomings, we cannot stand in judgment of them; we have to stand as Christ did and help guide them to a path of righteousness through prayer and the realization that no one walking on this earth is without sin and that no sin holds more weight than another in the eyes of our Lord.
Keep passin’ the open windows…