home
RSS
Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?
Delman Coates at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church is among a minority of black ministers in Maryland who have endorsed gay rights.
May 12th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Some people wonder if the black church will punish President Barack Obama for announcing support for same-sex marriage.

Here’s another question:

Why would the black church cite scripture to exclude gays when a similar approach to the Bible was used to enslave their ancestors?

“It’s so unfortunate,” says James Cone, one the nation’s most influential black theologians and author of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

“The literal approach to scripture was used to enslave black people,” he says. “I’ve said many times in black churches that the black church is on the wrong side of history on this. It’s so sad because they were on the right side of history in their own struggle.”

Call it historical irony: Black church leaders arguing against same-sex marriage are making some of the same arguments that supporters of slavery made in the 18th and 19th centuries, some historians say. Both groups adopted a literal reading of the Bible to justify withholding basic rights from a particular group.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Opposition to gay rights is not the standard position of all black churches. Still, while several predominately white mainline denominations have officially accepted gays and lesbians in various forms, the vast majority of black churches still consider homosexuality a sin.

Black church leaders recently helped lead a successful drive to amend North Carolina’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The Rev. Fred Robinson, a black pastor in Charlotte, says most black churchgoers aren’t hypocrites. They take scripture, and sin, seriously.

“Black people are not confused,” Robinson says. “If you look at the scriptures that oppose homosexuality, Old and New Testament, they are clearer cut than the ones people used to justify slavery.”

Yet there are other factors beyond the Bible that shape the black church’s resistance to same-sex marriage.

“It’s more than scripture – it’s history, culture, how we were raised,” says the Rev. Tim McDonald, founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council.

Some black church leaders are still fighting hard just to persuade straight black couples to marry. Accepting same-sex marriage when so many black households lack a husband and wife makes McDonald uneasy.

“I am not comfortable performing a wedding ceremony of the same sex,” says McDonald, an Obama supporter. “That’s just where I am.”

Some black pastors, however, embrace a literal approach to the Bible not just to exclude gays but to get rid of competition, says Edward Blum, a San Diego State University historian.

Some black pastors cite New Testament passages such as Paul’s demand that women keep silent in churches to argue against black women in the pulpit.

That argument is harder to make when black women’s energy and donations form the backbone of the black church, Blum says, but some still get away with it.

“The biblical literalist reading has kept male leadership in power in a church that is hugely female,” Blum says. “It keeps power in men’s hands.”

The one book that mattered

Black churches also embrace a literal reading of the scripture because of its unique history, says Blum, author of “W.E.B. DuBois, American Prophet.”

During slavery and segregation, many blacks saw the Bible as the one document they could trust. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, state and local laws – all found some way to ignore their humanity, Blum says.

The Bible, though, was one book that told them that they weren’t slaves or three-fifths of a person, Blum says.

It said they were children of God.

“Throughout the 18th and 19th century, what document could they trust?” Blum says. “When the Bible says it’s so, it’s something that black people believed they could trust.”

Their enemies, though, used that same veneration of the Bible against them. Slaveholders had a simple but powerful argument when critics challenged them: Trust the Bible.

They cited scriptures such as Ephesians 6:5. (“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling. ...”) And they said Jesus preached against many sins, but never against slavery.

Since the Bible is infallible, and scripture sanctions slavery, it must be part of God’s order, slaveholders concluded.

“Slavery is everywhere in the Bible,” Blum says. “When Americans who were in favor of slavery defended it with the Bible, they had a treasure trove of clear biblical passages that accepted enslavement.”

Blum says abolitionists found it difficult to mount an effective counterargument. They couldn’t just say trust the Bible. They preached another approach to scriptures.

They said you couldn’t enslave people based on the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. (Obama cited the Golden Rule and his Christian faith in supporting same-sex marriage).

“The abolitionist turned to the ethics and spirit of the Bible,” Blum says. “They were theological modernists before modernism.”

And what are black clergy and churchgoers today when they cite the Bible to oppose same-sex marriage?

Robinson, the North Carolina pastor, says they’re not homophobes.

“It says in the Bible that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God,” he says. “How do you explain that one away? A lot of honest Christians are not trying to hate homosexuals. They’re saying that if I take the Bible seriously, I’m not sure I can say it’s right.”

Robinson says that some opposition to homosexuality is actually based in compassion:

“If I’m concerned about your soul, I have to tell you the truth in love.”

Cone, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, says black churchgoers opposed to same-sex marriage are instead mimicking their ancestors’ oppressors.

“I tell some people, ‘These people were against you.’ They would have lynched you. How are you going to now join them and help them lynch somebody else?’”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics

soundoff (4,348 Responses)
  1. Gennie Broro

    Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was looking for! "Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them. My mother cleans them." by Rita Rudner.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  2. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    June 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • TROLL ALERT

      click the report abuse link to get rid of this TROLL, hopefully soon they'll block their IP address so they can't post this garbage anymore!

      June 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Nation of Judah/ Israel now

    Help!!!! Someone has stolen the Tribe of Judah, and it means praise!!!
    What is going on? We don't have much time; our captivity is all most up!
    Someone is leading the church astray!!!! Help us lead the babies back, the wolves are taking them to the slaughter!!!
    Meet us today to defend the faith and correct the predators!!!
    We need the Pastors, Prophets and Evangelist to help us defend the faith
    Today- 6/10/2012 @ 6: 30 eastern standard time 1-323-784-3647.
    We only have 50 slots available for response. 150 conference calls that can only listen in, so please be prompt!
    We have several blog comentators attending the show and we need your feedback so please attend

    June 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  4. ShawShakeRedemp

    The Bible was MISused to enslave us!!! There is no MISuse or error for any Christian of any color to stand in opposition of gay marriage according to the Bible! James Cone is just bad teacher of the Bible no matter how scholarly he may come! He preaches a divisive Gospel of hate! If asked if he believed the Bible was the Word of God I most definitely believe he would say NO!

    May 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  5. WhoCares

    This reporter has left a bit confused. What does black churches have to do with the election. Who cares if Obama is supporting gay marriage. Who cares if black churches don't agree with his decision. Bottom line: Christians DO NOT and WILL NOT support gay marriage regardless of the congregation's race. I grew up attending evangelical churches and they are all the same. They use the bible to teach hate and say it god's word. FYI, every Black person in American DID NOT vote for Obama so let's not make this about race and please focus on the religious aspect surrounding this issue.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  6. Kindness

    A thought to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome .

    May 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Your all smart people . I tell the truth."

      LMAO! Your all smart people . I tell the truth. = EGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  7. Larry R

    The article is half correct. There are many Black religious leaders who gay and refuse to come out of the closet. They preach against same gender marriage and all the while live a lie. How can one be such a hypocrite?

    May 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  8. John

    I hate all minorities, gays, and atheists. If it was up to me I would have them all killed so the Christian and Jewish people could live without fear of persecution.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  9. dexnew

    Blake, you have limited knowledge of the Bible - and the little that you have is distorted, at best .Stop repeating what you have heard others say and do some research on your own.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  10. whatajoke

    Glad to see African-Americans standing for righteousness and their faith in God. I sincerely hope they reconsider their support of the leftist, marxist Democratic Party.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • buck cameron

      I need only repeat your sign in name, seems apt for you.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  11. Ikramuddin Akbar

    @JAMEST297
    Thanks for honoring the degree ! And why not sir, go out in a stormy weather when lightning is striking around and be struck! hah, mother nature was yelling at you “Be home sonny you will be killed ,don’t come out, its my rule” Some hidden gifts of God like electricity and speed are to be used cautiously and accordingly .Put your naked finger on an open live wire and see the result, while driving increase your speed to see your girlfriend and than see the result, you would probably , God forbid ,end at a cemetery Men and women in particular emanate gravity, that they have been soaked in, for each others . There is a girl in a home crossed the border of puberty, parents waiting for a handsome young man to give her hands to him, she needs to loose her virginity (don’t say its not natural) and someone introduces a gay to that family, would he be welcomed ,would that be natural! Remove the ovaries of that girl, mothers should start aborting fetuses in their wombs as soon as they are told its girl, why should they produce girls. Market today is of Gays .Long live Gaybama.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  12. Emmsy

    People that want Obama re-elected are pulling out all of the stops! It's disgusting. People who honor Gods Word will not fall for it.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Mike

      Wait. What? How does an article on Black Churches showing a level of hypocrisy about gay marriage equate to wanting to re-elect Obama?

      May 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @ Emmsy
      People that follow your god’s word will fall for anything.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • david

      God's WORD (or Gospel) according to which denomination or interpretation ?

      May 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  13. n8263

    Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law in America.

    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religious superstition and deny others civil rights.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Bob the Janitor

      Sharia law is immoral...any fool who follows it should be tossed into a vat filled with the blood of swine.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  14. Keith

    Black church? Where can i find this "black church" referenced anywhere in the bible? The word Church is used 80 times in the KJV, and not one single time was a race or color ever attached to the word church. John Blake, please clarify. What scriptures speak of a black church in the bible?

    May 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @Keith
      You’re an idiot.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  15. Jamest297

    What we now know is that the colored people officially say it is OK for gays to get married. If it's OK with them, it should be OK for the rest of us too!

    May 20, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • momoya

      "colored people" ?!?!? Why the antiquated terminology?. I think that the term "colored" dropped out of favor about twenty-five years back or so?

      Also, it seems fairly ra cist to me to say that if one "race" of people agree on a thing, it must be right..

      Also, it seems fairly stupid to say that an entire race of people agree on an issue that is this divided..

      But I presume that you already knew you were a racist.

      May 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • 3ilogik

      You don't know squat ! Real Black Men don't go to church because we know it's BS ! AND we definetely do not support gays or their lifestyle. Somehow the SHEEPLE who are involved with the other BS ! Systematic Lying Political system has gotten Blacks classified as pro gay or these so called Black political interest groups tie into gay issues without The Strong BlackMan's participation, Because of course we don't go to ANY churches to get pimped. IN OTHER WORDS UNTIL WE NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS LYING ASS SYSTEM THAT CAN CONJURE UP WHATEVER STATISTIC THEY WANT TO GIVE ACCEPTANCE TO THEIR EVIL LIFESTYLE REGARDLESS OF OUR TRUE OPINION.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  16. Elissa Lopez

    I think the government is trying 2 pretend like they care about our GOD and us as people when in reality the dont give Crap about anyone except when they get their next paycheck n theyre trying 2 make US people turn against each other when we need 2 come together before they take more control of us ..

    May 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • buck cameron

      Amen

      May 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  17. DCU Secular & Sceptic Society

    I think that blog ppst is really quite good gets to the heart of the issue. We should stand up and be counted in our number who will point out the bible an an unethical judgmental book that has been used to torture and kill millions.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  18. Patrick

    We have known for years that many whites got the they are all the same gene (after all why else would poor whites fight to keep poor blacks from voting in politicians that benefit poor people?) Now its in our face some blacks got the very same gene. Sorry guys no moral high ground for you! Disgusting is very much an understatement. My whole adult life and much of my childhood I fought for equal rights for all. Now some I fought for and defended have stabbed me in the back. I have still defeated the "they are all the same gene" within myself. I simple do not hold all blacks or all my fellow Christians accountable for the actions of some that are blindly led by the very same evil spirits that held their ancestors in slavery, in a country that claimed to be free. We are not all the same and most of us older gay men just want to be able to cement a relationship with someone we can love. WHO IS REALLY EVIL??????? God does not make mistakes and he put gay people on earth. What human has the right to judge what god willed using a translated book?????????????? King James himself was gay, and if greed worshipers did not hold his lover hostage in France he would never had allowed the King James bible to be published with the missed translations they wished. Its very true do some research!

    May 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • fred

      Patrick
      Do you think that you would become a Christian if all reference to ho-mo$exuality was never in the Bible? It is very natural for people to judge and sort others out so as to position themselves Jesus blasted those judging others, looking down on others because of perceived sin, priests and religious leaders because of their exclusive temple rights and laws, proud religious types that due to pride thought of themselves better than others, etc.
      What is your objection to asking Christ into your life and starting that relationship you want?

      May 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Jamest297

      Since dog does not make mistakes, how do you explain that he also puts Muslims on earth?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  19. enoch vull

    Like how the DEMOCRATS tried to block the CIVIL RIGHTS BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't stand the reasoning of the e-rag.

    May 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • buck cameron

      You do know that THOSE democrats (or dixicrats as they were called.) left the party because Johnson got the civil rights bill passed, They became todays southern republicans. Well, now you know.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  20. Ikramuddin Akbar

    @informed or rather De formed! You dont know the meaning of my name since you are a bloke. It is better to appear with an elegant real name than being a coward and remain in disguise. Do you know to speak or answer someone. Be sane.

    May 18, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • Patrick

      What does your name mean?

      May 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.