The Black Church and the Incessant Focus on Homosexuality

Same-Sex Marriage

From the beginning of this piece, I want to make it clear that I’m a strong supporter of traditional marriage and support marriage as it has been traditionally defined: marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman.  Many Black churches, however, are acting like there aren’t any other sins mentioned in the bible save homosexuality.  Homosexuality is a sin.  My problem with many Black preachers, however, is with their choice to devote too much of their time to preaching and discussing homosexuality.  When they do this, they make it appear that they think one of the greatest problems in the Black Church and the Black community is homosexuality.  I want this article to disabuse many Black preachers of their belief that homosexuality is one of the greatest problems in the Black Church and Black community.

With the Black unemployment rate at 13.2%, Black preachers must begin to focus their sermons, teachings, and discussions on economic uplift.  Concentrating on homosexuality isn’t going to get your congregations the jobs they need.  Many of those in the Black community that Black preachers are attempting to reach don’t see their primary problem to be homosexuality; they see the fact they’re unemployed as far more important than their sexual orientation and the sexual orientation of others.  Black preachers cannot honestly say they’re unaware of the economic problems of their congregants and community.  They see their unpleasant economic realities in the offering plates.

Why, then, do many Black preachers continue to concentrate on homosexuality when economic problems are far more pressing?  They know many of the members of their congregations are going to be pleased with harsh condemnations of homosexuals, considering it appeals to many of their members’ homophobic mindsets.  A typical response to a Black preacher speaking on the issue of homosexuality is as follows: “Girl, Pastor really preached today.  Did you hear him talk about them “faggots” and “sissies”? Child, them gay folks just nasty and going to Hell!”  While it’s true that if homosexuals do not repent of their sins they will inevitably go to Hell, language used to discuss homosexuals must still reflect true Christian love (agape).  Please explain how calling people disparaging names like “faggot” and “sissy” evinces agape.  It doesn’t!  Many Black preachers gain high acclaim (and even fame) for how aggressively they preach against homosexuality, and, as reward to them, they have large church memberships and lucrative financial dividends that end up in the offering plates.  In a number of Black churches, preaching about homosexuality simply sells—just as sex sells in postmodern American popular culture.

When millions of Black babies are aborted each year, why won’t more Black preachers discuss this vexing phenomenon?  The main reason they don’t is they are unwilling to run the risk of upsetting the numerous women who have had abortions who sit in their congregations.

Some of the most prevalent and important sins in the Black Church today are envy, division, unforgiveness, gossiping, and lying.  It seems, however, that many Black preachers don’t want to invest critical time to these issues because they see those sins to be more complicated and less attractive.  The aforementioned sins are the sins that significantly impair the witness of Christians.  When those who are unsaved see Christians who are struggling with envy, division, unforgiveness, gossiping, and/or lying, unsaved people don’t desire to hear what they have to say.

I’ve never seen so much envy in the Black Church as it is today.  Envy is a more damaging sin confronting the Black Church than is homosexuality.  When Black preachers start to addressing envy more, especially the envy in their churches, I will begin to believe they’re truly serious about getting people to live lives not dominated by sin.

I do contend that it’s important for the Black Church to offer a powerful response to the increasingly successful promotion of same-sex marriage (or marriage equality), but Black preachers shouldn’t let this become their main focus.  Most of these same Black preachers voted for President Obama, who publicly articulated his support for gay marriage.  On Sundays, many Black preachers are zealously condemning homosexuality, but are still swooning over a President diametrically opposed to their support of traditional marriage. 

It’s time for many Black preachers to return to an intellectual, Socratic, imaginative, forward-thinking and prophetic sermonic tradition that produced prodigious Black preachers like Reverend C.L. Franklin, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison                

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13 comments

  1. You know there’s an author/teacher/theologian that you would love to read. I was fortunate enough to have her as a teacher in college. She spends a great deal of time discussing the Black church’s attitude on the body and on sexuality and how that relates to their culture and past. She’s phenomenal. Kelly Brown Douglas is her name.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CEMQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yale.edu%2Fdivinity%2Fpublications%2Freflections%2Fspring06%2F12_17.pdf&ei=F4avUcWMPJK84APpjoDQAQ&usg=AFQjCNGlF0hkiiPww2eAYpQYVT-xhPN-Kg&sig2=gy3s4A0UYu71dQZP0xE2Xg&bvm=bv.47380653,d.dmg

    Blessings on your journey.

    1. and instead of condemning the homosexuals, why not try to help them. Preaching against and constantly bashing them won’t do anything but turn them away. And it has been my belief that a lot of the ‘preachers’ that preach against it are part taking in it just like the rest of them.

      1. What we agree on is that condemning homosexuals will not change them. Many preachers have to realize that it’s only the love of Jesus that will change folks; therefore, offer them the love of Jesus and then watch folks change from their sinful ways.

  2. I’ve learned a lot of preachers and black congregations tailor the church dynamic to “Amen Value” where its only to get a false respond to reassure themselves of doing a substantial job and the truth of the matter is… projection. There are many sins in the bible that church folks live in but as long as you have one that is more popular and don’t apply to you then you have a sort of scapegoat.

    Churches aren’t supporting their congregations, neighborhood nor youth. However they expect for numbers to go up. I just feel like church is suppose to be a place of refuge, solace and inspiration.

    Even if you are going to talk about homosexuality understand it don’t condemn it.

    1. Excellent points! I think too many Black churches have become obsessed with homosexuality, stemming from the hypermasculinity of many of their Black preachers. As you stated, they are looking for that “Amen Value.” Church is supposed to be a place where a person can find hope and improvement, but this is not going to happen when many churches continue to beat up on people instead of loving them, as the bible commands them to do. I embrace everyone, except racists because ain’t nobody got time for that. As you stated, many churches are abandoning working with the youth and their neighborhoods. The members received salvation to show service and not to persecute homosexuals. Thank you very much for the great response!

  3. One of the reasons I believe for this focus is the appearance of the sin, quite frankly most sins are unseen, envy isnt always visible, we might not always know who is cheating on who, or who doesnt tithe, but we do know (yes stigma and very superficial) sometimes who is gay by their dress or actions. I think its just easier to focus on something you can look down on from a certain level and see in your congregation. Just like the news there are trends and hot topics, homosexuality is the hot topic as of right now.

    1. The dominant problem is most preachers and pastors fail to deal with the sin nature instead of picking and choosing which sins they want to address. When you pick and choose which sins you will address, you cheapen the Gospel. Most preachers and pastors are picking and choosing winners through which sins they constantly choose to address. What needs to happen is all pastors and preachers need to teach and preach the Gospel of Grace. Grace empowers people not to sin and causes them to have a distaste for sin. Teaching and preaching the Gospel of Grace truly addresses sin in its totality.

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