Op/Ed By Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds
An Overstatement? Could be. But there is much dissatisfaction within Black church circles that many of their leaders are remaining silent and accepting of the U.S. Supreme Court’s scandalous redefinition of marriage.
Also there is silence as more politicians legalize marijuana, as the slaughter of Christians in Africa and the Middle East heightens and as Blacks die by the thousands at the hands of other Blacks. Inside the churches souls are being saved; praise and worship is inspirational and the preached Word generally ensures the congregants that better and more prosperous days are ahead.
But, is that it? Shouldn’t the church be more prophetic in speaking truth to power? Shouldn’t the preachers be the headlights instead of the taillights on moral and social issues in our community? In these crisis-infected times is there nothing to be done or said differently than what is going on within the four walls of our churches?
How dare the Supreme Court ignore thousands of years of marriage as a sacred sacrament and covenant between male and female. For those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, the definition of marriage was clearly established in the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam, He declared, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He then created Eve from Adam and brought her to him with the words: “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24-25. Those words were also repeated in the New Testament.
The first wedding was sacred and repeated in ceremonies between male and females down through the ages. In addition, the Bible repeatedly condemns homosexuality—as well as adultery—as sins that without repentance could deny entrance into heaven. The Court cannot change those laws any more than it can turn a donkey into a frog.
The same-sex issue is a landmark decision that can change the character of our nation for decades to come. Textbooks are being re-written with children having two men as “husbands” and two women as “wives.” Teachers are already being told they have to teach same-sex parents as “normal” or lose their jobs. Homosexuality, transgender, unisex are being touted in the media as the “cool” thing to be. It is not too much of a leap that a male with a husband will become president of the United States in our lifetime.
Far too few preachers preach sermons on what the Bible says about homosexuality—as well as adultery and “shacking.” That presents a problem because the American Bible Society says more than 77 percent of those studied think the nation’s morality is headed downhill but only one in five read the Bible regularity. So if the preachers don’t preach nor defend the Word, people look to the amoral crowd – Hollywood, the media and the biblical illiterate for guidance.
There are other issues where the silence among church leaders is deafening. In Washington, DC. one of the first major actions of the new mayor Muriel Bowser was to help legalize marijuana. Scientific studies show pot as a “gate-way” drug that opens the door to the more serious addictions to crack and heroin use. And now the approval of pot has morphed into an upswing in the sale of synthetic drugs which is resulting in dangerous violent incidences. Unfortunately once again the push back on drugs from clergy—Blacks and White alike – is minuscule.
As Christians in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, are being beheaded, slaughtered there is no massive outcry from clergy for President Obama and the United Nation to use their power to find solutions. Must we wait until ISIS and the Boko Haram train their sights on Christians in the USA to take action?
With the steady stream of children and other civilians being murdered in our major cities, churches should be calling for revival, more prayer and spiritual power to chase the demonic onslaught of homicide out of our communities? Maybe churches should declare neighborhoods the new mission fields and dispatch evangelists, prayer warriors and worship leaders to street corner tent services to change hearts and souls.
Why are so many pressing issues in our Black communities going unaddressed and unexamined by many who preach Jesus Christ? Is the social justice ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dead?
Marvin McMickle, in his book “Where Have all the Prophets gone?” blames an overzealous preoccupation with praise and worship, a narrow view of patriotism and personal enrichment themes. I would also add the fear of losing federal funds and tithes, not wanting to be involved in politics, or not seeing social justice issues as their calling or being afraid to go against popular culture.
There are many reasons for the silence from the pulpits, some honorable, other questionable. Yet when you look how drugs and murder entered schools after the Court chased prayer out of schools, you wonder what will be the result of the Court once again crossing the line between the separation of church and state with so little push back from people of faith.
The Court does not have to have the final word on same-sex marriage. Legal segregation under Plessy v. Ferguson was the law of the land for more than 50 years until the hard work of Atty. Thurgood Marshall and his team worked to overturn it through Brown vs. the Board of Education.
My hope is that the best answer from our churches to the crises of our time will not be to look the other way and stay hidden in the closet.
Dr. Barbara Reynolds is an ordained elder, professional journalist, and author of seven books.