Sunday, November 11, 2007

Column: Church Fights

If Jesus Christ would show up in some of our churches, would He shed tears and walk out the door?
Once upon a time, church sanctuaries were treated as hallowed ground and the ordained clergy representing God and the people of God were viewed as the best examples of godly living.
Today, a demonic spirit of sexual perversion, prosperity blindness and power-tripping is creating a sense of shame and cynicism among rank and file Christians that is actually driving some from the pews.
For example weeks after Atlanta police and witnesses report how Bishop Thomas Weeks savagely chocked, kicked in the stomach and stomped his televangelist wife, Juanita Bynum in a hotel parking lot, the bishop is still in his pulpit at Global Destiny church.
As sad as this situation is, it provides a golden opportunity for preachers to deal with domestic violence in their own congregations. In America, every three minutes a woman is beaten, every five minutes a woman is raped and every ten minutes a child is molested.
These facts should provide much-needed real-life substance for preachers to rock the house with sermons against female-abuse, wife-beating and rape. But if pastors are beating their wives, having sex and babies out of wedlock in their own churches how can an atmosphere of respect for the Biblical mandates against adultery and violence against women be preached. Instead offending pastors and preachers hide behind sermons casting influential women as Jezebels and texts calling on women to be submissive—even if their spouses are skirt-chasing lunatics and fools.
The bishop acting like the wife-bashing Ike Turner or Mike Tyson is being widely discussed in beauty shops. In fact, the new name for domestic violence is “doing the Bishop Weeks,” as if it is a boxing match like Muhammad Ali’s Thriller in Manila.
Weeks, of course, is not the only spiritual leader scandalizing his office through violence. Click on the Internet’s You Tube and witness the brawl outside the St. James AME church in St. Paul, Minn. In this episode, church leaders angered over “the lack of people skills and mismanagement of church funds” locked the Rev. Hubert Armstrong from church properties. A confrontation ensued where a middle-aged female trustee smacked Armstrong and the portly pastor punched her with a solid right jab.
Other instances on You Tube show children fighting in the sanctuaries as dispassionate adults look on and a priest angrily throwing holy water on a woman. These sordid scenes give the impression that bar-room or playground behavior is acceptable for churches.
It’s not only the violence on the part of certain spiritual leaders but also sexually explicit gutter-type language that is creeping into sermons at the excuse of “keeping it real,” and examples of immoral conduct by pastors that are also causing grave concern.
Recently in a large Pentecostal church in Washington DC, a visiting preacher shocked many when he unashamedly used the offensive, vulgar “p” word during his sermon when describing a relationship with his wife. In Baltimore, a huge bill-board touting empowerment shows off a young AME preacher and his wife. But the talk on the East Coast and on Internet sites is about his impregnating yet another woman at his church.
Not only do these instances of preachers acting badly offend principles of holiness and respect for Bible-based living, they create bad examples for other preachers who can point to those offenders as their role-models, who are not taken to task for their outrageous behavior.
In addition, a can of worms has been opened by well-respected pastors Dennis and Christine Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church in Anacostia, MD deciding to perform same-sex union ceremonies and preaching that “homosexuality is not a sin,” despite the many scriptural references to the contrary.
One parishioner, Martha Battle, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, that she didn’t mind Covenant's outreach to gays at first, because "everybody needs to be saved." But now, "straight people are leaving and gay people are coming in," said Battle, who left the church with her 13-year-old grandson after the Wileys began performing same-sex union ceremonies. "They're taking over. I'm sick to my stomach over this mess. It's not right. Why should we have to leave and let them come in and take over the church?”
The Bible I read declares both adultery and homosexuality as sins. But now, since some preachers are saying homosexuality is not a sin some parishioners are concluding that neither are adultery and “shacking,” and are using this re-writing of Scripture as the basis for returning to their old sinful lifestyles.
In a nutshell, certain offensives conduct shows that some pastors need prayer, deliverance and spiritual counseling even more so than their parishioners. All pastors, of course, are not in error, but those that are may one day see that not only are parishioners leaving the church, but God, himself.
Dr. Reynolds is an adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Divinity, Howard, author of several books, including “Out of Hell & Living Well: Healing From the Inside Out,” and is the religion editor for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.


Anonymous said...

I have seen this "foul spirit" building in churches for many years. It has saddened and hurt me to the core. I have come to feel my prayers are like 'beating against a firece wind'. It's difficult to hide my dissapointment when I find myself in yet another new church, (trying to find one with a holy pastor). I have had pastors to sneer at me during a service; some just feel indifferent toward me. But some of them actually resent my presence. I have finally settled for a small, church, with a sincere, elderly pastor, but there's no "fire" in the services. I literally "l-o-n-g" for the rapture of the church.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and both you and Wright have proven once again, that the preachers of today are not to be trusted or desired. You all seem to be turning away from the Word of God, to your own selfish beliefs, whereas you can do anything and say anything and run and hide in the pulpit.