Monday, September 27, 2010
Happy Monday everyone!
I’ve neglected writing a blog on the Bishop Eddie Long sex scandal for a week now, mainly for two reasons. 1) I tend to stay away from potentially polarizing subjects such as ones having to do with religion or politics, and 2) this scandal comes as no surprise to me. Not that I believe all men and women of God are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but I also know that men and women of the cloth are human beings first – flaws and all.
I really didn’t know much about Eddie Long before all this happened. The only time I heard him speak anything remotely close to a sermon was when he appeared in Tyler Perry’s film Daddy’s Little Girls. Other than that, nothing. I don’t really pay much attention to televangelists or those who preside over megachurches. There just seems to be something wrong with blinged out bishops and pimped out pastors. I’ve been to a couple of megachurches and something just didn’t sit right with me. I understand that a congregation has to financially support the church in order for it to grow, and I believe pastors, reverends, bishops – whatever you call them – deserve to be compensated for their counsel and good work.
But if the pastor is rockin’ diamonds and platinum jewelry, and living in a mansion when that money could go to the homeless, then I have a problem with that.
But this isn’t about my disdain for meganchurches and ministers who push Bentleys. It’s about people who worship pastors more than they do the Lord. I understand that we seek understanding from our ministers, and that our relationship with God is closely tied to the church and those who lead it. We long for that union with God – and in standing in a crowded arena filled with hundreds/thousands of other folks and the Spirit – we have no other purpose than attracting the attention, admiration and love of God through the person who is delivering the sermon.
But in seeking a relationship with God, I believe some get lost – not realizing that the relationship you seek with God is within – not in pleasing your pastor. Many people give tons of money to the church to support their pastors thinking that this is the path to riches and prosperity. But the source of love you seek with God is within, and once you tap into that, you will find a source of love sufficient to fulfill your needs, attract your greatest good fortune and create abundant happiness in your life.
We can all be dazzled by charismatic speakers, charming orators, people who lift our spirits with the rise and fall of their voices. This isn’t to say that you should go to some boring church with a boring minister who carefully maps out your salvation by conditioning you to attend mass, or a praise shouting Baptist church, Bible study every Saturday or singing in the church choir. I’m not here to intellectually defend my faith, or anyone else’s, or tell you not to have faith in your spiritual advisers. I’ve gone to church all my life, learned all the teachings and lessons of the Bible and have loved all of my pastors dearly. But the truth is, in all my years of religious training and in all the sermons preached every Sunday, the one thing I’ve taken from it all is that we only come to God when we seek HIM, not please those who are in the world. That moment of awakening is internal, and once you know who God is, you know who You are…and they are one.
Who knows if Bishop Long is guilty or innocent of the charges filed against him. It doesn’t look too good for him, but we should all be innocent until proven guilty. His press conference, if you want to call it that, gave us no answers as to his guilt or innocence. We just know that he’s going to fight the charges against him. His congregation supported him, which is to be expected.
But we should know that just as Long said himself, he’s not perfect. We put our spiritual advisers on a pedestal and believe they can do no wrong. We don’t believe that they can be hypocrites, preaching against homosexuality while they themselves are engaging in homosexual behavior. We turn a blind eye to issues involving the black church, such as homosexuality, because the pastor says it’s wrong. We think that because he has a wife and children, he can’t be gay. As our counselor, we believe he would never steer us wrong.
But a pastor who would take your money to floss with isn’t above such things if you ask me. And while the age of sexual consent is 16 in Georgia, this doesn’t mean that he is above abusing his power as a man of God. I don’t care if he’s gay, but I do have a problem with hypocrisy and abuse of power, authority and trust.
A pastor’s purpose is to point us in the direction towards enlightenment. Pastors, ministers, reverends, bishops, priests, imams, rabbis, sages, seers, mystics – they all suggest various paths to the realization of God…and whatever awakens us to consciousness of the Spirit should be the sole concern of these wise teachers. We share in the divinity of God and echo the teachings of all enlightened souls and saints down through the ages who tell us that we and the Father are one - and that the God you seek is not in a man, but is the one you discover in yourself.