Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and Mammon

Sometimes, beloved, the attraction of wealth, the lure of financial benefit makes us do irrational things. Yes, we need money. We want to get paid. We want some money. And there are those in the church who are handicapped by the love of money. And as the Word says, the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). The word Mammon in the text is defined by Webster’s as material wealth or possession especially as having a debasing influence. Debasing is to lower the value of or reputation of someone or something or to make someone or something less respected.

I’ve observed and heard the news as 100 Black pastors gathered to meet with Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The announcement of this meeting ignited a firestorm of controversy in our community as folk assumed and prognosticated that perhaps these pastors were money hungry and preparing to fleece the flock. Some folks, if not most, objected to even entertaining a meeting with Mr. Trump because of the tenor of his rhetoric. He’s a racist, some say. He’s too abrasive and offensive others say. Others saw the meeting as yet another example of how the black church, in their opinion, is selling the black community out, fleecing the flock, ripping us off. After all, they say, why would the pastors meet with a man who spews racially charged venom and espouses overtly racist perspectives except to go behind closed doors and get paid. Mammon.

Others say that “Trump is not who the media portrays him to be” while even others say yes, let’s wait and see what comes out of the meeting. Indeed Black America is not this monolithic segment of society. Black America is not following one and only one train of political thought. There are a variety perspectives and opinions. The Black Pastors are not going to influence the entire population of Black America.

From the start, this story vexed my spirit because the first headlines trumpeted and proclaimed that these 100 were endorsing Trump. This endorsement was a hard pill to swallow for many if not most in the Black community. It felt as if this 100 were bought and paid for. Others would say this was another example of “Pimp Preachers” who would sell out the well being of their congregations and communities for the almighty dollar.

Soon after the endorsement headlines came the correction. The 100 were meeting with Trump and not endorsing him. Ok, now that was better, sort of. Then the headlines came that Trump had cancelled the meeting. Shortly afterwards another headline – the meeting is on again. Then it was off again. It was an absolute mess. The pastors called it a “miscommunication” but the public was getting restless, angry and very critical. Social Media was afire with displeasure. Yes, The influence of the black church, the reputation of the pastors were being reduced and denigrated right before our very eyes and in the community’s court of public opinion. Debased.

In the end, a meeting and press conference was hastily held and I am still trying to assess its purpose. What were the goals and objectives? What was the agenda?

After the meeting I began to see the sound bytes and news inserts that featured pastors who were in attendance. Preachers struggling to wax philosophical about the content of the gathering. But these interviews only underscored and contributed to the debasing of the office of the pastor and the influence of the black church. It is clear that they went into the meeting without a clear agenda. No platform. It was freestyle rooted in ego. And some of the pastors who spoke on national news platforms to defend and explain the meeting were probably excellent preachers, however they obviously had no community development experience or perspective. No urban policy exposure. No social justice experience. The news reports were full of empty rhetoric and shallow cliches.

So I began to contemplate this spectacle and wondered  where Jesus was in the pastors movement. What does the word say about this?

It’s my opinion that the pulpit is not the proper place to advance political endorsements. Indeed the Black Church should present itself available, present and active in the pursuit of social justice. The church can be a catalyst to institute programs which will enhance economic justice and be committed to alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the kingdom of God. For me, the pulpit is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ – the risen savior. But when it comes to politics we should inspire and encourage the people to exercise the hard fought right to vote. However, we should abstain from the telling the people who to vote for. Even if it wasnt true, the appearance of this meeting is that the pastors were seeking a financial consideration in exchange for political support. After all, Trump did say he would “remember them”. Mammon.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks for all men, for kings, and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of GOD, our savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yes, we are instructed to pray and intercede for everyone even politicians for it is them that we count on to maintain law and order in this society so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives. This, the scripture says is good and acceptable in the sight of the LORD. And Jesus said in Matthew 22:21 to render, therefore to Ceasar what is Ceasars and to God the things that are God’s.

Even as we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, we are still encourage to abide by the laws of this society and as such we can participate and have a voice in society. In this area, the Black Church is central. It is the beacon of hope, the voice of reason, the lightning rod of liberation in our struggle against social and political oppression. Or at least that was our reputation. We follow the teachings of Jesus to establish a peaceful march towards equality in this nation. A peaceful march in spite of unmitigated violence and hatred against our people. Our struggle has been like Jesus’ walk on earth. They hated Jesus. They sought to kill him. Silence Him. Yet Jesus kept preaching, walking in love. These days headlines are full with those who would hate us even unto death, yet we walk in love.

They tried to trick and discredit Jesus. In Matthew 22:15-40, Jesus had become so popular and influential that the Pharisees threw some trickeration in the game seeking to find a way to discredit Jesus. They sought to trick him into doing crimes so egregious it would require a death sentence. Likewise there are those who would seek to kill us, discredit us and annihilate us yet we still excel, build, achieve and create in love. Still we rise!!! Our community is being deceived into thinking that we are less than unwanted. We are tricked into promoting violence, misogyny and wanton sexual immorality that discredits our place at the table of equality in America.

The church today is tricked by the lure of TV, and materialism,the trappings and titles that lead men towards the love of money, which is the root of all evil.

The people look to religious leaders for peace, order and insight to their spiritual lives. In Church economics, this is the point of currency exchange. Crassly spoken, the people will pay to know and learn what GOD thinks. They will pay to be inspired by the word of GOD. This “payment” is the support of the church. The support of the work of the LORD. This is just. And there are biblical guidelines as to how the church goer should pay and how the church leader should steward the money. Yes, the people must support the work of the church. But sometimes money becomes the main thing that the church leader focuses on. He or she becomes a lover of money. Likewise some leaders become so consumed with power that they appoint themselves as the voice of a population of people. A voice that can influence votes, be a catalyst of action for the candidates. Be subject to the candidates behest, thus serving the candidates or political leader and not the true head of the Christian State – GOD. This is religious oppression.

Oppression because the church leaders are called to a meeting with a political candidate who thinks that the flock carries political opinions like the church leader or they believe the church leaders can influence the flock to embrace the ideology of said candidate. And the benefit of promoting the candidates ideology is money. After all I’ve observed, I believe the attraction of wealth and the lure of financial benefit draws the pastors to Donald Trump. Mammon.

We have to use religion to inspire love, grace and mercy. The prophet proclaimed  “Is not this fast I choose to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free. And that you break every yoke.. ” We are here to facilitate spiritual freedom.

When Jesus boldly claimed to be the messiah in the synagogue in Luke 4:18 as he shares that he is come to proclaim liberty to the captives and set at liberty those who are oppressed.  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…  Freedom!

As Ministers of the gospel there is more at stake than politics. When Jesus speaks of liberation is liberation of the soul – of the core essence of his people. To present ourselves as the one voice of the people, a person who can influence and cause the Body of Christ to vote a certain way is to inflict religious oppression on the people and this is not what Jesus wants us for us. We are God’s people so we live by the spirit not the law.

In the end, we have to pursue social justice. We have to promote love and peace in our communities. We have to let our light so shine so that the community will know that Jesus is love. That we are a beacon of hope. A beacon of hope. A catalyst for Freedom. To move forward in a private meeting with one who on the outside appears to be against the very essence of your struggle for equality in this country, one who would return to the breaking of your spirit without an agenda, without preparation is to present yourselves as lovers of money. We  cannot serve God and Mammon.

Trump and the Pastors? A debased influence.

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I am still outraged that George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin. I am suspect of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws. I am convinced that mandatory sentencing guidelines are overly harsh in most cases and affect black folk and other minorities disproportionately. And while I reeled from the news of Zimmerman’s acquittal, I was hit in the gut again by the news that Marissa Alexander faced decades in jail as she defended herself from an abusive mate. Her defense rested on the controversial Stand Your Ground Law after she fired a warning shot near or at her abusive husband. Marissa claims she was protecting herself from another attack at the hands of her man. She “stood her ground”. Instead of Justice, Marissa was sentenced to 20 years in prison, igniting a firestorm of objection and protest across the country, particularly from black Americans still reeling from the Zimmerman verdict.

The anger I felt as this woman’s picture was showing up time and again in my social media timelines, usually accompanied by the headline or status update that all she was doing was defending herself against an abusive male. I saw images of an innocent mother. That’s somebody’s sister…. another innocent sista trapped in an abusive relationship… There are so many stories like this in our community, I was thinking…. I was like dag.. yet another brotha beating down his woman…. I had sympathy for Marissa…. Compassion. I joined in the voices that said “INJUSTICE!! DISCRIMINATION!!! UNFAIR!!! Yes. On the surface, it appears that Marissa would be yet another black person unjustly consumed by the court system in America. A fact made worse because the case is in Florida.

Then I began to seek the facts. Facts that reveal why Marissa’s Stand Your Ground defense was turned away at pre-trial hearings. Facts that also demonstrate why Marissa was convicted on multiple charges and sentenced to a mandatory 20 years. After only 12 minutes of deliberation, the jury convicted Marissa of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. (Click here to read the actual court documents) So then what happened?? How did we get to this point???

(Note: As of June 10, a retrial was postponed to December, while the state learns if the New Warning Shot bill will be passed or not)

On July 31, 2010, Marissa left her newborn child in the hospital days after giving birth to visit the home of Rico Gray, her husband. The couple had gotten married in May, but Marissa had not lived with Rico for two months prior to the shooting incident. When she got there, Rico wasn’t home so she parked her car in the garage and waited. She spent the night but Rico did not come home until the morning along with his two sons. Sounds like everything is cool, because they all sat down and had breakfast. Everything is great. But then Marissa gave her phone to Rico so he could see pics of their newborn who was still in the hospital. She gave him the phone and then got up to go to the restroom. Rico found text message conversations between Marissa and her Ex. Rico got mad and confronted her as to whether the baby was even his. You know that set it off, right? And so it was on…. Rico prevented Marissa from leaving the bathroom at first, but she managed to get around him and exited. According to experts, this is where the Stand Your Ground laws went awry.

Marissa’s actions at this point made the difference. Marissa exited the restroom and went to the master bedroom. Rico left the bedroom and headed to the living room. His sons were there. Marissa then leaves the bedroom, walks past Rico and the kids, straight to her car where she got a gun from her glovebox. She came back into the kitchen and pointed it at all three(Rico and his two sons). Rico put his hands in the air but Marissa fired anyway narrowly missing Rico’s head and sending a bullet through the kitchen and into the ceiling of the living room….. dayum!!!! Rico got the heck outta there with his sons and called 911. Marissa stayed at the house but never did call 911. It should be noted here that Rico did have a history of abuse against Marissa and other chicks. One such incident sent Marissa to the hospital with head injuries after he shoved her into a bathtub.    Court Record of Gray's 2009 Domestic Battery ArrestIn the following legal actions, they decide to depose Rico. And wouldn’t you know it.. the couple is now conspiring to keep the laws out of their business. Rico said he had all but threatened to kill Marissa. He said she couldn’t leave the house through the garage because it was broken and that she never pointed a gun at him or his kids. But that was a completely different account than what he gave to the cops. Then, after swearing in court that she would have no contact with Rico, she continued to see him. In fact, when the court dismissed Marissa’s Stand Your Ground defense, the judge noted that not only did Marissa continue to see Rico even after swearing not to, Rico and her discussed what Rico should say during the deposition!!!! Shady…

Rico says he lied in his deposition to protect Marissa. Further, after Marissa was convicted and sentenced to 20 years, she requested a retrial. At that hearing, Rico said he never threatened to kill her and said he begged and pleaded for his life when she had the gun. To make things worse, while she was out on bail and awaiting trial from the shooting charges, Marissa was arrested for domestic battery against Rico. Apparently she came to drop off their child at the house and they started arguing because he would not allow her to stay overnight. Police were called but Marissa had fled the scene. But not before she left Rico with a swollen eye and bloodied.  Po- Po caught up with Marissa about an hour later and of course Marissa claimed to not know what “this was all about” – she had an alibi. But as he police kept questioning her, the story changed with Marissa claiming that in fact she had gone to Rico’s house but he attacked her with his fists because she wouldn’t stay overnight. But Marissa had no visible injuries….Marissa Alexander's December 2010 Arrest Report Marissa was arrested and her bail revoked.

Needless to say, Marissa’s case has a lot of issues. She had choices when she felt she was in “life threatening danger” – leave through the front door, back door or garage. She stayed in the house and although she and Rico said the garage was broken, police were not able to confirm.

Marissa says it was only a warning shot, but she shot at Rico, narrowly missing him. The fact that she shot at him and did not hit him in the body presents the argument that she wasn’t trying to kill him so why fire at all. She was never in life threatening danger. She never called the police. If she was in fear for her life, she should have dialed 911.

She kept returning to the house even after the court ordered her not to. She did not fear Rico as she had previously claimed.

The last arrest for Domestic violence while she was out on bail coupled with the fact that she lied to police about even being there demonstrates that she was not in fear of her life…..

In the end, this case is sad. It is the story of a tragic and, in my opinion trifling couple with severe anger issues. Marissa clearly has issues within this relationship. Rico clearly has violence issues. But they keep seeing each other… They keep trying to protect one another… Thier relationship is a messy mess and now Marissa will have to do major time for her actions. The pictures we see with the status sentences and twitter updates present an entirely different picture of this woman. We are led to say poor Marissa…. but in fact, this relationship was a mess. Clearly Marissa is not some helpless victim of domestic violence. They maintained a messy, violent relationship. Abusers of one another. They clearly need anger management and mental health counseling.

Now I am not saying the sentence isn’t too harsh. I am all for seeking justice where injustice has been applied. I am saying that I need to sit this one out and see how it shakes out. I am saying that besides whatever the courts are going to do with Marissa, this couple needs mental health and anger management treatment. This dysfunctional relationship has caused a world of pain.

Marissa Alexander. A symbol of American injustice? not so fast is what I say…. I wish her luck…. It’s all unfortunate. But this one? Not so fast…..

I am, like some, if not most of you, perplexed, profoundly disappointed, positively angered, and even peeved at the verdict in the George Zimmerman Trial. Yes. I understand that the prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, Zimmerman’s intention to kill Trayvon in cold blood. Based on the circumstances as I have come to understand them, Zimmerman saw a young black teen dressed in the urban fashion of the day – the hoodie – walking through hs neighborhood. He assumed Trayvon Martin was up to no good, even calling 911 to report this “suspicious” person. Zimmerman follows him even after the authorities admonish him to cease. He confronts the young man, a struggle ensues and in the end, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is dead. Shot point-blank by George Zimmerman. Now, this sounds like a murder to me. But yet, the jury did not, or could not see it this way. Not Guilty. A justifiable homicide perpetrated in self-defense.

Brothers and Sisters, it seems that everywhere we go, we have to prove our right to be there. We still have to possess a “pass” to be in a place and time. Even President Barack Obama has been challenged as to his “place” in American history. Remember the “birther movement”? Trayvon was killed because he was apparently “not in his place” as interpreted by George Zimmerman. There is great disagreement on this point, mostly along racial lines. Most blacks say that Trayvon was profiled. Most whites will say that George had a right to question confront and even kill Trayvon because of his erred assessment that Trayvon did not belong in that area. They will say that George had a right to “stand his ground” based on his assumption of danger. A fatal assumption. A tragic error in judgement.

And so, we’ve seen the masses of the people take to the streets…. angry. protesting. civilly disobedient. To borrow an old civil rights adage, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yet the Word lets us know that George Zimmerman is not getting off…

“Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back” Proverbs 28:17

‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

And so, as Christians, we need to stand down.

Now I am not at all suggesting that we abandon the fight against social injustice. After all, the struggle continues but always to God be the Glory…. and Black folk know all too well about assumptions and how it can lead to egregious circumstances, hurt feelings and irreparable social damage. I am saying that while we stand down, the consciousness of the nation has demanded dialogue and introspect among the citizens thus you may consider this a situational analysis from a Christian perspective.

How many times, brothers, have you walked onto the elevator and the white women clutch even the more tightly, her purse? How many times have you, while on your way to a meeting or presentation, have you been mistaken for the bellboy, maitre’ D’, security, waiter, attendant et. al…. How many times have you been followed – with a pocket full of money- in the mall….. How many.. O how many times have you been pulled over by Johnny Law because they assumed you were in the wrong area or up to no good? Or at work, where your so-called white friends make those jokes about black people and then look you dead in the eye and explain to you that you’re different and they are not talking about you.  Assumptions.

Profiling is a reality to black men…. The responsible black father of sons would be remiss if he did not have the talk about how to conduct themselves with the police… It is as important as the inevitable “sex talk”…. Because as my mother would say at each victory of the civil rights movement, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”…. I am not saying we hold hate in our hearts. As followers of Jesus we are mandated to “Love ye one to another”. I am saying that as we move about this world, we must be aware that even in this day and age, even as there is a black man and his family in the White House,  folk still make assumptions based on race. Yes, beloved, you can adjudicate and make or change laws, but you cannot change the hearts of people.

And then again, beloved isn’t it amazing that even as we protest, jump up and down and scream against profiling, that we are the biggest profilers on the earth?? Oh you know how we get… My brothers see one another in the street and we give the side eye, looking each other up and down, making sure we are “right”…. Sisters cutting their eyes at one another saying “who do she think she is” all because sisters dress is cut a certain way or her hair is done or the eye shadow color is different than hers….. Reality shows are now taking our profiling tendencies and broadcasting them across the world for all to see that black folk are the champions of profiling and assumption….

We profile one another based on skin color. Light skin, dark skin…. how is it that the darker brethren are made to feel inferior to those black folk who have lighter skin…. Some of y’all don’t want your daughter to marry Tyrone…. it doesnt matter that he is top of the class… has a job… is drug free… is not a hoodlum or a thug… no not at all, he may have it going on except for one thing… he’s too dark. Yes, we profile based on skin color, geography, what kind of car we drive or not…. frat or no… soror or no… we profile even unto the hair texture and style we choose to wear…. Black people are the consummate profilers of black people and our assumptions derived from that profile are in alot of cases even more hurtful and more deadly than that of the police and our white brethren. Fatal assumptions.

Black folk are killing each other in droves based on profiles… assumptions…. you wear red so I gotta kill you because I wear blue. I have to shoot you because you live on the south side and I live on the north side. Our profiles of one another are making the funeral man very busy and very rich… The hood is full of mothers who, like Sabryna Fulton, have lost a son to gun violence. The only difference is that an assumption by black folk lead to the tragic loss of life. Mothers are seeking justice. Mother’s are asking where is the march for the killing of my own son at the hands of his own????  Why is the outrage so strong when the “other man” profiles and life is lost. Our sons were also profiled… assumptions were made and the result is fatal. The only difference is that the perpetrator was another black man….. Where is Justice?

“Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions will be wicked madness” – Ecclesiastes 10:13

In the church,  where you would think folk are more sensitive to the hurtful nature of false assumptions, we are prolific profilers. We make hurtful assumptions based on appearance and even worse, gossip innuendos. We hoop, holler and dance every week. We walk around all deep but cannot even lend a helping hand in the name of Christian charity because we are too busy profiling and assuming the worse in people.  I heard a story about a pastor who was assigned a new church…. thousands of members…. On the Sunday when he was to be introduced to the congregation, he decided to dress like a homeless man. He came to church early and sat around watching the congregants arrive. He got up, walked around to shake hands… no one would shake his hands… He asked for some change for food… no one would reach in their pocket to help…. Some congregants whispered behind his back…. others looked on his clothing in severe disdain.. others just straight laughed…… Church got started and the choir sang songs….. then the assistant pastor takes the mic. He announces that they have a new pastor and asked the congregation to stand and welcome their new man of God….. As the congregation stood, they opened with thunderous applause – applause that began to fade when they saw the “homeless” man walking toward the podium. By the time he reached the mic, the entire church was stone cold silent. The pastor stood at the podium, surveyed his new congregation and began his message with Matthew 24: 42 -51

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He also shared Hebrews 13:2 -Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Would you profile Jesus? “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32. Would you look upon his face and make assumptions based on your assessment of how you think he should look? His hair? his clothes, the way he walked??? The color of his skin???

That assumption could be fatal for your soul……

ImageI am glad that President Barack Obama has been re-elected. I mean I am elated!!! I did my part throughout the campaign. We registered more than 1800 voters through the activities of the radio station. When CNN projected that President Obama would keep the Oval Office for another four years, I was very happy. I was a street reporter for the station broadcasting live from the Savoy. It was our official Election Watch Party. The club exploded into celebratory pandemonium at the news. I too was enormously pleased.

This feeling was a little different than the euphoria and emotional feeling that overwhelmed me in 2008. Back then, the notion of a black President, to this child of the civil rights movement, was a dream come true. A black President was the ultimate pillar of “We shall Overcome” and the other torch songs and messages we would hear over my lifetime. I was moved to tears at the news of the Election of Barack Obama.

This time, I was elated, but focused on the issues that Mr. Obama has to face. I know that our nation is at a philosophical crossroads. The country is different. Our nation has to adopt philosophies that match the essence of the people. President Obama understands this. Mitt Romney represented the return to a philosophy that has no place in America these days. The consciousness of America has changed.

I have never been a fan of Mitt’s, however, both of his runs for the office have caused me to question the theology of Mormonism. I have an understanding that the faith has racist theological precepts. But now, they way, are no longer a part of the faith as the received a “revelation” in 1978 that abolished most of their racist policies. But for me I wonder if Mitt at his core still holds dear to those precepts as they are faith based opinions drilled into him from childhood.

Be that as it may, I felt that Mr. Romney was ill-informed on most issues particularly about foreign policy. It is impossible to have a clue about the face of the world today. The nature of being the Commander in Chief in such a time as this has many pitfalls and situations. Even President Obama got a wake up call immediately after his election in 2008. He had distinct and clear ideas on how to handle Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the book “Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward, President Obama had to have frank and honest talk with the military and intelligence communities in order to adapt and re-focus his vision for those conflicts based on the realities of the situation. Mitt has a lot to learn in this area.

Economically, Mr. Romney blames President Obama for an economy which is severely damaged from Bush policies. In the economic hallways, there is a philosophical war going. on… The Middle Class is the battlefield. Whether Mr. Romney understands the Middle Class is questionable at best.

In the end, we got in those polls. We moved to our conscience. And now Mr. Obama has four more years. This is the best decision for the nation.

By now, you know about the POTUS acknowledgement of same-sex marriage as a viable right in America. And you know that there has been a LOT of conversation about how the church, particularly the black church, reacts to the news. I wanted to share the official statement from my denomination. Here is the full text of their official statement:

COGIC Presiding Bishop and General Board Elaborate on Existing Same Sex Policy
Posted on 17 May 2012

Official Statement
of the
Church of God in Christ, Inc.
Regarding Same Sex Marriages and Civil Unions

The President’s position regarding “same-sex marriage” has set off a “firestorm,” unlike any other debate in our civil society, perhaps, since the civil rights unrest of the mid-20th century. The advocacy for same-sex marriage, while in conflict with our nation’s long-standing moral posture, has indeed, created opportunity for the Church to communicate our unequivocal position about God’s design and foundation for humanity, the biblical mandate for heterosexuality through the bonds of matrimony and, the centuries-old understanding of the only acceptable means of procreation, habitation, and the establishment of the family.

The President suggests same sex relationships and male-female relationships committed to by oath before God and/or witnesses, where formal documents are signed before a civil or ecclesiastical figure. It further implies that both are equally good and valuable. In addition to this, it suggests that both equally contribute to the good and advancement of a society. From a fundamental view of scripture, the same word should not be used to describe both same sex and heterosexual relationships.
Fundamentally, traditionally, and historically, marriage has functioned to unite a man and women together in facing the challenges of life, to sanctify sexual involvement, to authorize the conception of children, provide an environment for the protection and development of offspring and to strengthen and sustain the family unit. Historically, the sexual coming together of husband and wife produces children who are the fruit of both their bodies and are united by blood to their brothers and sisters. This coming together of husband and wife is the means by which the world has been populated, and the human race sustained.

A husband, wife and children are the bedrock of a society which also mirrors the universal Church as a microcosm, or domestic church, out of which God’s values are modeled, nurtured, and disciplined. This divinely-inspired family framework, pronounced in Old and New Testament scripture, is without compromise. To tamper with the foundation is to disrupt the order God intended. This order is the intended structure by which all humanity is expected to govern their lives.

The human body is designed by God as male and female to anatomically accommodate individuals of the opposite sex in the conception, bearing, and nurture of children; the human body is unquestionably designed to accommodate individuals of the opposite sex, not of the same sex.

The Holy Bible, which is the authoritative Word of God, clearly prohibits sexual relations between members of the same sex. Though it does not isolate intercourse between individuals of the same sex as the only sin, it designates this and a series of other activities as sinful behavior from which the Christian is to abstain
1 Cor 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. NKJV (See also: Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; and 1 Timothy 1:8).
The Bible indicates that there is nothing that can excuse or eliminate the sinfulness of sexual involvement between individuals of the same sex. Neither so called “marriage vows”, civil unions, nor homosexual drives or passions are recognized by the Bible as justifications or acceptable excuses or rationale for sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Sinful desires and inclinations must be resisted and overcome by the power of God in Christ Jesus, and by power of the Holy Spirit who strengthens our minds and our wills.

Our vocabularies are made up of thousands of words because there are so many distinctive entities and concepts to be referred to. Each word designates a category of entities which are unique to that word. Specific words are most useful when they reflect identical images, and when they do not create conflicting or unclear images in the mind of the speaker and the hearer. The Bible defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6). To define marriage otherwise is to dilute and destroy its usefulness as a word which denotes what is highest and best about human society.

While we are committed to proclaim and support the tenants of the Bible, and also to persuade others to do so, we recognize that in a free and democratic society morality cannot be legislated. We oppose violence and discrimination against individuals or groups because of sexual orientation. We do not feel that it is necessary to legalize same sex marriage to provide the civil benefits and civil rights to all regardless of sexual orientation. We proclaim the value and worth of every human being regardless of sexual orientation.
But, we passionately and unapologetically, defend the right of faith communities to maintain the integrity of their message, mission and identity. We welcome to the church all people who seek to serve and know God and His Word.

And so the consciousness of Los Angeles is reflecting on the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Actually, it wasn’t really a riot as it was civil unrest… a rebellion…. insurrection…. a violent reaction to an injustice dealt to the community by the State of California.

It’s actually hard to believe its been 20 years since we heard the verdict of “not guilty” for the Los Angeles Police Officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King. The verdict was unbelievable. We saw – the nation saw – the world saw videotaped evidence of the beating. It was clear that the officers used undue force. But a jury saw something else and The City exploded into a great ball of fire, violence and gunplay that left 54 dead and 3000 injured. Thousands of businesses were burned down in the wake of folks anger. Truck Driver Reginald Denny was beaten unconscious,  live on television, an image that remains an indelible icon for one of the most violent seasons in Los Angeles history.

While the beating of Rodney King  and the subsequent acquittal of the involved officers was certainly the spark that ignited the violence, the atmosphere of the City was ripe for such an explosion. Consider this timeline of events in the City:

March 3, 1991: Rodney King is brutally beaten by Los Angeles Police officers. The incident is captured on videotape by George Holliday who takes it to the police but they dismiss him. He then takes it to KTLA Channel 5 who broadcast the incident in its entirety and the scene becomes an international media sensation. The community is outraged.

March 16, 1991, La Tasha Harlins, a 15 year old teenager was shot and killed by Soon Ja Du a Korean store owner. Du claimed LaTasha had stolen a bottle of orange juice. They tussled and Du shot LaTasha dead…
The community calls the shooting racially motivated as there have been tremendous tensions between blacks and Koreans.

November 15, 1991: Soon Ja Du is convicted of voluntary manslaughter and does not receive any jail time. Another case involving a dog getting beat nearly to death delivers a thirty-day jail sentence for the perpetrator. The contrasts sends a disturbing message to the community that a dog’s life is worth more than the life of a black child. The community is outraged.

April 29, 1992: Officers Stacy Koon, Laurence Powell, Ted Briseno and Timothy Wind were acquitted of all charges stemming from their beating of Rodney King…. Incensed by the murder and subsequent miscarriage of justice in the case of LaTasha Harlins combined with the unimaginable verdicts in the Rodney King Beatings…. Los Angeles exploded.

It was a surreal time. I work at a radio station that stood alone as a voice of reason trying to provide information and comfort to the hurting people of Los Angeles. The station braved the streets to provide eyewitness accounts of what was happening in the City during the unrest. Fires raged…. looting overtook the consciousness of the people. The nation watched in horror as Reginald Denny was beaten nearly to death by an angry group of people on the corner of Florence and Normandie… The station was an important voice in the midst of anarchy.

I remember trying to maintain a normal life. Taking care of business and making my deadlines. I remember having visitors from New York City. They wanted to get some coverage for a new artist they were promoting. We met in the valley. heck, no violence there. But we opted for lunch at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood. As we entered Hollywood, police were everywhere. checkpoints, military…. it was like  scene from a movie. We made a quick turn to avoid some other cars blocking our way – a maneuver that would not have even gotten a police officers attention in normal days, but LA was burning and the police were on one…. they jumped into action, swerving to cut us off and running us up onto the sidewalk. They hopped out of their cars with guns drawn.. get out get out of the car right now!!!! we complied. It was a harrowing experience…. After searching us, they released us apologizing and telling us to have a good day…. Sign of the times…

And so 20 years later… are we a better city? In some ways yes. In some ways no….. Even though some institutions have brought to bear a solid consciousness of community development, even though the police department has gone through great lengths to repair relationships in the community and even though some policies have changed for the supposed better, we still find evidence that a black life means nothing…. I say you can change the policies and regulations, but it’s hard to change the hearts of men…. and so we continue to promote love…. love conquers all and brings peace into our hearts and subsequently into our communities……. Can we all just get along?

And so we see how the freedom of expression can make a difference in America. The rallies and marching. The civil discourse. The public rhetoric has caused the system in Sanford, Fl. to finally file charges against George Zimmerman. He faces 2nd degree murder charges for shooting Trayvon Martin. We pray that the facts come out and justice is truly served.

I am so glad that the authorities in Sanford Fl. came to this wise decision. Yet, I am sad that we exert so much fervor and energy to protest this shooting at the hands of a white (hispanic) man, but we seem lackadaisical when it comes down understanding or making a stand against black on black murder. According to a Department of Justice Report, close to 94% of all black murders came at the hand of another black. And in most of those murders, the victims are 13-29 years old. So the cliche that we are losing our young black men is absolutely true.

In Los Angeles, I am feeling an increase in murder against our young black men. Where’s the outrage? And if we have outrage, how do we express it in a meaningful way.  Now, I don’t think going to the streets with picket signs is going to help this issue. Violent offenders in the hood have nothing to lose or gain from our voices being raised on the picket line. But yet, something needs to be done.

Oh there are those who would deny this tragic trend. But yet. When you go to a concert, isn’t there an uneasy feeling in the back of your mind that some violence would break out. When you walk to the store, aren’t you wary? I am. I am vigilant to the nth degree. Sometimes when I see a young black man, I am wondering if he will be the one to start some sh**… This is the reality of living in the ‘hood. So what do we do?

For me, the healing begins in the home. A strong family consciousness needs to be instilled in the homes of the ‘hood. Fathers stay home and raise your boys. Teach them how to be men. Responsible. Protective. Proud of their families and their communities. Churches. Stand up more vociferously for the preservation of men. Sometimes, y’all really try to make us feel guilty for being men. But we need to be uplifted. Not eviscerated. We need support. We need education. Help us help our young black boys.

In the final analysis, Trayvon’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman is indeed tragic. It exposes the nature of some people’s perception of the black male. The hoodie can get you killed. Saggin’ can get you profiled. But at the same time, young blacks are killing other blacks. Over colors, tennis shoes, sometimes for no reason….  What do we say about that? and how do we stop it.