I have a confession to make: I’ve never understood the vehement opposition that the black church has to gay marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what the bible has to say on the matter, but since when did every Christian live according to the bible? I mean, seriously, would you take a lie detector test and answer the question, “Do most Christians try their best to live according to the bible?” The answer to that question might get you struck down by lightning.
The other day, while analyzing the strong reaction of many black churches to President Obama’s decision to endorse gay marriage, something hit me: It’s OK to be gay and even to be gay within the walls of the black church. The key is that you simply can’t be gay in public.
OK, before you go nuts, just hear me out on this one. Everybody knows at least one gay choir director. A lot of us know about gay pastors like Bishop Eddie Long, many of whom run in packs with other gay preachers who condemn homosexuality on Sundays and are snapping and switchin in the club on Friday nights. There are also the brothers on the down low, who speak of their hatred of homosexuality primarily because their attraction to other men is the part of themselves that they hate the most.
Most of us know what happens in many black churches across America, and we are aware of the blatant hypocrisy. But this doesn’t mean that every Christian is a fraud or that church is meaningless; rather, it means that we are imperfect human beings seeking to live by standards that we sometimes fail to meet. Most of us accept these imperfections, which is why parishioners continue to love Deacon Smith, even if we can’t ever imagine him making love to a woman.
The black church has always been forced to accept homosexuality within its ranks. The problem, it seems, is when gay people are actually proud of being gay. When they want to kiss, hold hands, get married and secure equal rights, that can be too much for some black Christians to bear. Hypocrisy is easy to manage if you can keep it snug within your subconscious, but it’s painful to deal with when it slaps you in the face. For some, gay pride is like showing off your fat belly in a halter top or going outside without makeup: People don’t fault you for your “condition,” but might become upset that you aren’t ashamed of it. That’s where all of those “interesting” gay-corrective classes come from…..they just want to help you get well.
So, my conclusion? For some people, homosexuality can be compared to using the bathroom: We know that it happens on a regular basis, but no one wants to see you do it in the street. By asking devout Christians to support a politician who openly promotes an activity (gay marriage) that the bible clearly states to be a one way ticket to hell, Obama is asking many Christians to sign off on their own spiritual death certificate. This one is going to be tough to pull off.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and autho of the forthcoming book, “The RAPP Sheet: Rising Above Psychological Poison. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.