I have heard a lot of sermons demonizing lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders but none as offensive and spiritually defunct as the message given by Dr. Earl Carter at the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) 107th Holy Convocation. The video has gone viral and even has a part 2 that shows a young gay man claiming deliverance after hearing the rant. I try to remain neutral as it relates to matters of religion and politics but after viewing the video I am forced to speak out and against all he said. For 23 minutes the COGIC Superintendent shared his views and thoughts about gays and their need of banishment from the church. He judged, labeled, and added to the stereotype. He used big words to sound educated and received applauds from those who had no idea what those words even meant. It was a disgrace and the COGIC community should be both humiliated and ashamed.
I am sure there will be some who are going to say I took offense because he spoke ‘truth’; and they will be wrong. I am disgusted because his ‘message’ (for lack of a better word) lacked intelligence and sensitivity. It was an uneducated rant about homosexuals that highlighted his ignorance, as well as those who cheered in agreement. Nothing he said resembled the spirit in which Christ ministered. He was haughty and arrogant in his approach using a tactic that has been shamelessly accepted by the church for generations. He was an embarrassment and despite how many accolades he received from the crowd there was not an ounce of love, compassion, or empathy in anything he said.
Understand that my purpose in writing this is not to defend homosexuality. I believe that everyone should be allowed to believe what they believe. I do not know all the answers; no one does. I love God and do my best to live my life according to my calling and purpose in Him. Yes, I am gay. Yes, I am Christian. Yes, I am a minister. What I am NOT is a scapegoat to make another ‘sinner’ seem more saved. The mere fact that this COGIC Superintendent believes it is his God given assignment to ridicule others in the name of Christ makes me doubt his calling in ministry, as well as his character as a man. Yet, there are countless out there who will disagree with me.
I will admit that at one point in my life this message would have broke my spirits and caused me to walk to the altar for another attempt at ‘deliverance’. It was very dark season for me because I was made to feel unworthy by the pastors and preachers I looked up to. By constantly hearing that I would never be fully used by God kept me in a suppressed mental state. I was depressed and my self esteem was beyond low. Wanting to be closer to God I decided to be ‘straight’ and leave the gay lifestyle altogether. As a result I climbed the ministerial ladder but internally there was an ache. I felt dishonest and although my exterior looked the part I was suffering inside. But what could I do. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted people to respect my anointing. I wanted to continue receiving invites to preach and minister at churches; none of which would be possible if I were openly gay, right? Additionally, I hated that I was pulling beautiful, loving, perfect women into my confused head-space. They were giving 100% and I was giving far, far less than that: unfair but I was doing what the church said I must in order to be accepted. I thank God that he has blessed them all with wonderful loving husbands and beautiful children.
After years of living in their ‘truth’ for me I had to pause and ask God what was ‘my’ truth. It was one of the scariest conversations I ever had because I did not want to lose my Father, but I could no longer lie to myself and those who loved me. After reflecting on how elated everyone was when I told them I was straight, I took a deep breath because I was now about to come out of the closet…again. However, this time I had renewed vision, a renewed mind, and a renewed relationship with Christ. I knew -without argument or debate- who I was in Him and understood that my calling was greater than my sexual orientation. God did not partially fill me with His spirit; I am completely filled. He knew who I was all along but needed me to be OK with me. I can honestly say that I finally am.
Surprisingly enough those in ministry whom I thought would disappear are some of my closest allies. In my life are loyal and dedicated men of God who understand that God is more than a cliché and greater than a catch phrase. I surround myself with people who actually study Gods word. No, we don’t all agree about homosexuality; but we are mature enough to know how to discuss it and remain in affirming relationship with each other. Gay bashing should never acceptable in ministry. We need to let God be God and refrain from using bullying tactics to make people feel less than loved.
The video is a perfect display of how NOT TO share the love of God. There are no redeeming qualities in his words, nothing about the love of God, nothing that would make a person want to know Jesus. All he did was shine the light on an easy target in effort to get the biggest response from a room filled with people who have been victim to that style of preaching for years. Guess what: it worked.
I really wonder how many of those men on the platform are 100% heterosexual? How many went along with the crowd because they did not want to look suspect if they sat down. How many mothers (and fathers) of gay sons and lesbian daughters were disgusted by his message but clapped anyway? Worse than that; how many gay men (who did not fit his stereotypical description) were in the audience?
To make mockery of a person’s worship style in the manner in which he did was totally unacceptable and it’s sad that no one from COGIC or otherwise has stepped up to public correct him. Maybe I am expecting too much from my fellow Christians. I’m not looking for acceptance from the church. All I want is for someone on a level higher than Superintendent Earl Carter to step up and say ‘How you delivered that message was totally wrong. You need to apologize to the people of God.” Am I asking for too much?
My fellow Christians, be careful who you crucify because you never know who God has called according to His purpose. Psalm 105:15 (NIV) Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm. Hopefully you remember that the next time you lift your hands in worship as one of your favorite gospel artist ministers in song.