When preachers pontificate too much from on High about the sins of homosexual sex, the cautionary tale is to be careful of what you say, because your words invariable will come back to bite you, as we are seeing with Bishop Eddie Long.
Called by the Southern Poverty Law Center as â€śone of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement,â€ť it came as a surprise, sending seismic shock waves across the African American church community, when news broke about Longâ€™s alleged sexcapdes with two male teenagers, followed immediately by a third allegation, while they were enrolled in his ministry for teen boys.
Long is a flamboyant man. As one of the Black Churchâ€™s prominent pastors of â€śprosperity gospelâ€ť his â€śbling- blingâ€ť theology unabashedly flashes not only his Gucci sunglasses, gold necklaces, and Rolex watches, but also unapologetically flashes his muscular physique in the latest tight-fitting spandex workout togs. Long has been rumored, for some time, to be gay.
And for those inside of Longâ€™s stained-glass closet at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church they have known of the bishopâ€™s penchant for pubescent boys, he calls â€śspiritual sons.â€ť
Sadly, however, Long, like too many African American ministers on the â€śdown lowâ€ť, has erected his bully pulpit denouncing gays while using his clerical authority to court and to covet them.
His infamous anti-gay march in December 2004 titled â€śStop the Silence, â€ť denouncing same-sex marriage Long stated, â€śIn essence, God made Eve to help Adam replenish the earth. Woman has the canalâ€¦everything else is an exitâ€¦ Cloning, Homosexuality and Lesbianism are spiritual abortions. Homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man.â€ť
Longâ€™s is not alone- to be gay or rumored to be gay- in denouncing homosexuality.
For example, speaking at the November 2009 Church of God in Christâ€™s 102nd Holy Convocation International Youth Department Worship Service, Pastor Donnie McClurkin told his audience, â€śGod did not call you to such perversions. Your only hope is Jesus Christ. Were it not for this Jesus I would be a homosexual today. This God is a deliverer.â€ť
The poster boy for African American ex-gay ministries attributed his homosexuality to being raped twice as a child, first at age eight at his brotherâ€™s funeral by his uncle, and then at age thirteen by his cousin, his uncleâ€™s son. Confusing, however, same-gender sexual violence as homosexuality, McClurkin misinterpreted the molestation as the reason for his gay sexual orientation. McClurkin â€śtesti-liesâ€ť that his cure was done by a deliverance from God and a restoration of his manhood by becoming the biological father of a child.
Another example, Bishop T. D. Jakes, the internationally known African American evangelical star dubbed as the black Billy Graham. His ranting
against homosexuality came back to bite him in January 2009 in the form of his oldest sonâ€™s, Jermaine Jakes, arrest in a sex sting for openly soliciting gay sex from an undercover vice detective in a public park just a few blocks from his church, The Potterâ€™s House, a 30,000 member megachurch in Dallas, Texas.
Bishop Jakes is now tight-lipped on the topic of homosexuality, because Jakeâ€™s sonâ€™s arrest has the African American LGBTQ community abuzz with rumors resurfacing his sexuality.
In September 2005 activists Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick kicked off a five-part series, â€śOuting Black Pastors,â€ť on their respective websites, querying publicly whether prominent pastors in the black community, like Bishops T.D. Jakes, Donnie McClurkin and Eddie Long, who constantly rail against LGBTQ people, were actually struggling with their own sexual orientation.
The mess Long now finds himself in is emblematic of the Black Churchâ€™s down low (DL) â€śpolitic of silenceâ€ť concerning sexuality.
J.L. King who became the countryâ€™s poster boy by exposing the behavior in his best-seller, On The Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of â€śStraightâ€ť Black Men Who Sleep with Men stated, not surprisingly, that many of his partners were churchmen. â€śThere are gospel conventions throughout the nation for churches. There is one for ushers, Sunday school departments, music departments and ministers . . . These events allow men to meet men and to have sex while away from their hometowns. Many midnight concerts turn into affairs where brothers are cruising each other. Iâ€™ve been there, seen it and done it,â€ť King states in his book.
Many African-American men on the DL say there are two salient features that contribute to this subculture â€” white gay culture and the Black Churchh
The Black Churchâ€™s conservative gender roles and anti-gay theology create a hidden homosocial community of DL male clerics who find camaraderie at black pastors or at all-male conferences where Long took his spiritual sons.
Long has not created the homophobic climate in the Black Church but he has certainly contributed to it.
With a membership of over 25,000 Longâ€™s church is the largest African American megachurch in the Southeast. And as the largest it can begin, with his sex scandal, to effect change by embracing a liberating, healthy and holistic understanding of human sexuality.
And in so doing, Long would be creating a model of pastoral care not only for heterosexuals or homosexuals, but most importatnly one for him.