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The Black Church, Obama, & Gay Marriage

While I plan to get deeper into this particular subject, I felt it important to at least engage, albeit briefly, on the subject matter.

The Earth cracked, just a bit, for many Black pastors and Christians when President Obama announced he was in support of gay marriage. This tore open a slice in the gender constructs within Black cultural milieus that has, especially in Christian circles, gone unengaged with for decades.  Sexuality, sexual orientation, its twin cousin gender performance is a continual issue for many Black Christians. The idea of how do I act as a man; how do I act as woman; role performance; femininity; masculinity; sexual awareness, are all issues that tend to be seen as very binary for Black Christians—generally speaking.

For example, you are either having sex within marriage, in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship or you are “sinning.” Therefore, when the President made his announcement it caused a deep stir for many Blacks—just go to Twitter or Facebook and take in the heated—at times even destructive—arguments that are occurring. Everything from complete support to renouncing Obama as both a president and Christian are being had.

Now, this is not to say that other ethnic groups are not also debating and discussing this very issue as the LGBTQ discussion is far from over with among Evangelical Christians. However for Blacks, this comes at a time when the election is very important, the continuing significance of race is a growing concern especially with the coming Obama campaign, and the struggle to maintain a voice in the public sphere for Blacks is dwindling (See here how a Black UCLA professor is dealing the racist tendencies toward him). Therefore, many Black Christians would appear to be in tension between their “Biblical beliefs” and their “political views.

For me, the bigger issue is this: it is overdue that we put away the binary arguments of sexuality and engage with the very real issues of sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual development, and sexual role performance within the Black community which has gone overlooked for far too long. Moreover, it is high time that our arguments move beyond the basic understanding of the Bible and move to see the grander historical, cultural, and social context in which the Bible was written in. As Anthea Butler reminds us, “It is high time to for the leaders of the black church to ‘put away childish things’ and to engage in a real conversation about sexuality, same-sex marriage, and the homophobia embedded in the black church community. Pontificating and posturing props up preachers, and does little to edify congregations.” I cannot say it any better.

I am about loving my neighbor as Christ commanded me to do. I am about equality for all—regardless of whether I agree with them or not. I am about engaging with conflict and being ok with disagreement. I am about diverse and vast views of the Bible while still maintaining my spiritual journey with God. And I am about the spiritual ethos laid out by Billy Graham at the 1996 inaugural luncheon of then President Bill Clinton when a reporter asked him why he was in the presence of an obvious “sinner” such as Clinton; Graham stated: “It is God’s job to judge. The Holy Spirits job to convict. And my job to love. I’m here doing my job.”

I leave you with that as you ponder these videos moving forward.

 

Comments

THANK YOU for a thoughtful, honest post about this topic! I appreciate your willingness to name realities going on within the church and the African-American community, as well as the insistence that we should *have* these conversations, speak into confusing or taboo topics, and we still remain biblical people who love others b/c we get marching orders from One above and beyond the polarizing conversations already taking place around us. Very timely and wise words!

Liz,
Thank you. It is overwhelming how much hate there is from Christians on this issue. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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About
Daniel White Hodge, PhD, a Hip Hop scholar & cultural theorist focuses on race relations, film, cultural trends, and spirituality. His book, The Soul Of Hip Hop (IVP) deals with the theological gospel of Hip Hop culture & its people.


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