My People Perish For Lack of Knowledge: The Cautionary Tale of Eddie Long

Fair warning: I may make a lot of people angry with what I have to say, but I have to say it. The Bible tells us we are to “preach the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and that after some of Jesus’ sermons, some said “this was a hard teaching” and “many followed Him no more” (John 6:60, 66). I invite you to pick up your Bible and study this for yourself, because in the Old Testament, God tells us through the prophet Hosea (Hosea 4:6) that, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” We still do.

The Black community is at a great cross-road in our evolution as a people. We’ve gotten away from some of the core issues that made us strong, and kept us strong throughout slavery, the civil rights movement, and other milestones in our history. If we are to progress, we must return to those principles. Through a series of blog posts, I hope to explore what I think are some of our most pressing problems, and what we can do to surmount them. I will begin with the foundation: our spirituality.

Today, in Atlanta, it was expected that a man named Eddie Long would “step down” as “Bishop” at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church amid rumors of sexual misconduct with young male congregants.

I have often stated that I do not like the term, “The Black Church” because Jesus purchased His church, and “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Further, Acts 10:34 says God is “not One to show partiality.” I only use the term to describe an historical and cultural institution, not a spiritual one. That is my first issue as I discuss the things that plague our community: We have to get back to our spiritual roots and stop putting men (and women) in the place of God.

It has been alleged that Mr. Long had these male parishioners call him “Daddy.” He is also called “Bishop,” but what does God call him? To be a “bishop” (note the small b), an office also translated “pastor, elder or overseer” (note that none have capital letters!), the Bible tells us:

1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishopmust be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (Titus 1:5-9).

We entrust our souls to people who do not teach what the Bible says. We give them inflated titles that are not found in Scripture, or are a perversion of Scripture — such as capitalizing them to make some sort of “title” rather than an office held. This goes for titles such as:

Father: “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9).

Reverend: 9He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name (Psalm 111:9). Please note that this is the only time the word “reverend” is used in the Bible, and it does not refer to a title, but rather an attribute of God Himself.

My point in this is: We have got to stop merely “showing up” to church and feeding off of what we are told by mere mortals. The Bible tells us:

21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21; KJV)

11Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11, NKJV).

Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15; American King James Version)

How many times have I heard in the Black community, “My Pastor said…?” Our salvation is not by osmosis (nor, as President Obama posits, is it collective). We will each be judged for our own works (John 12:48), thus, we have to study for ourselves and apply that knowledge to ourselves. We perish for lack of knowledge.

We must stop treating the church as a social institution, or a fashion show. Not that there is anything wrong with dressing our best for God, but when we put emphasis on the outward, we do so to our own detriment. 1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us:

3 Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

We’ve got to stop just showing up for special “holy days” like Easter and Christmas — how would we like it if God only answered our prayers two days out of the year? — We owe Him our best service!

We have to get back to the word. We’ve got to talk our values, walk our values and vote our values. We cannot put mere men — Eddie Long, whether or not the allegations are true or [insert name of your favorite preacher or “Pastor” here] — up on a pedestal. My grandfather taught me that only One ever walked perfectly in this world, and He is the One who died for His church and He is the One we should emulate: Jesus.

Next up in this series: No Wedding, No Womb: Out of Wedlock Births in the Black Community.

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About Marie Stroughter

The traditional bio for Marie Stroughter would be: “Loving wife to hubby of over 20 years, and homeschooling mom to three adorable kids (and one spunky cat!).” Getting a little bolder would be to say that she is an adoptive mom of two, and a freelance writer and copyeditor. Unique factoids might include: social media addict….uh, maven, avid knitter and Founding Mama of her local knitting Guild, and a devotee of all things gadgety. The rabble-rousing version would read: “Marie Stroughter is the activist mom turned co-founder of African-American Conservatives, and, the opinionated, no-holds-barred host of the African-American Conservatives radio show carried on Blog Talk Radio, and, From The Right Radio where she chats weekly with political movers and shakers like Karl Rove, Steve Forbes, Michelle Malkin, Star Parker, Newt Gingrich, Senator Jim DeMint, and other conservative all-stars and rising stars in addition to her contributor status with Breitbart.com and the iVillage #iVoices and iVote projects.” But the latter would be a run-on sentence, so we’ll stick with the others. [wink]
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Join the discussion!
Marcia J says:

Black folks never asked to be separate when attending a place of fellowship – the separation came via the status quo’. It is not cultural differences which separate Blacks and Whites within the body of Christ it is and has always been White supremacy and bigotry.
I do agree man in general places too much emphasis on tittles and positions and the church unfortunately has followed their lead

Jaz says:

I so glad that I found your site. I totally agree with everything that you are saying. Most people don’t read there bibles, so they don’t know what it really says. We need to stop participating in churchs that we know are feeding us spiritual garbage. Our participation keeps the whole system of spiritual death operating. Those pastors who we know are wrong need to be held accountable for their actions by the saints in the church. In my opinion they need to be sat down, if they refuse to repent and change their ways.. As you stated, having a relationship with God is what helped our ancestors through hard times; they weren’t playing church. They wanted immediate results towards change and they got it because they applied action with their faith. Most of us have faith in God, but we also need to apply works to our faith. It ain’t going to get better because we believe that it will, we must have works too. It’s such a shame that we perish because we refuse to hear the truth in God’s words, and we refuse to desire to know more about God and his word. God bless you for speaking the truth without fear.

AACONS says:

Thank you! –M.

jackie says:

thank you for such a wonderful article i book marked this page and will definitely be coming back to learn more as i believe there are certain that may be present in other churches, but there are backgrounds of black people that other nationalities or races don’t have and as such the word has a meaning differently and alike in certain areas. all of it is the word but in its application it does help to understand the background of the black people as a whole and the history that shaped our way of thinking and accepting God for who he is.

Judy says:

Thoroughly enjoyed!!!!

Nicholas Wanambisi says:

This is quite educative. We perish because of lack of knowledge! I am so much blessed by this article the boldness of content and approach. Be blessed most abundantly.

Patricia says:

I so appreciate your statement that Christ died for His Church, not “the Black Church” or any other demographic church. When we first seek His will, in humility, and put away racial or other agendas, we will be one, as He prayed for us to be. We all need to get into His Word–no matter what skin color! Thank you so much for your article!

Tom DeLaMater says:

Very good article, to God be the glory, and I agree with the person who said this applies to all churches. I have been in the Philippines for a little over 4 years, and see that as many churches here are as lacking in knowledge of God as are many in the USA./ I hope to bring a message next Sunday about, as the New Living Translation puts it, “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” Thank you for your service.

help someone along than to point to a place you have never been!

I understand that we , people of God have a responsibility to live by example ,( living sacrifice). So many are looking for an excuse not to follow Christ; unfortunately they find it in the uncommitted . There is a big difference between the saved and the sanctified.It is better to grab a hand

Sedric says:

Good article. So, how do we get back. Back to our roots or better yet to the truth of the gospel. 2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It’s easy to go to church and listen to some else speak to us about God. We know thtat that person cannot do anything to us. What we do forget is that that person is a spoke person for The Creator. Not that he is The Creator, but that he is giving information directly form God himself (based on biblical infortmation vs self information). My point is we are stiffnecked people, who’s sheppard may not be God, but Satan and the world.

Lena says:

I appreciate Truth!

Jon2010 says:

When God made that statement, He refered particularly to “A People” who have lost sight of His Glory and Power. This “People” is inclusive of “YOU.” I wish you could look through the mirror and judge the person you see there first.

tracy says:

i agree with Constance… “Lack of Knowledge” should resonate with people of ALL skintones.
people simply don’t seem to nurture a personal relationship with God the way our ancestors did. they relied upon it. it was integral in their lives.

Russell says:

Thanks for speaking so frankly about issues that are prevalent in many of our black churches. I greatly appreciate your use of scripture to support your thoughts. I agree with your commentary.

Stay strong in the Lord!

admin says:

Thank you for your comment!

Constance says:

I would llike to say I commend your for speaking the truth. Not just black churches, but people in general no longer want to live this word they want to feed their flesh instead of crucifying their flesh daily as the word saids we should do. God bless you and keep feeding God’s people the truth.

admin says:

Thank you for your kind words!

Bernard says:

I was searching text for “My people perish…” and saw your site in my list of responses. I am glad that I took the time out to review your input. I wholeheartedly concur with your thesis. I plan on checking back with your site as often as I am able.

In HIS name.

admin says:

Thank you for your kind words, Bernard!

SoulBrother says:

“We have to get back to the word. We’ve got to talk our values, walk our values and vote our values”.

Unless your voter values involve greed, corruption, lies, manipulation, spin, (insert the sin here_____) then I’d leave politics out of the equation.

Bro. Paul says:

From the top of your website:
I invite you to pick up your Bible and study this for yourself, because in the Old Testament, God tells us through the prophet Hosea (Hosea 4:6) that, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.”

Where do you see this??? I have heard it said that way so many times but when I looked for myself it does not say that.
God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”

admin says:

It depends on the version of the Bible that you are using. I’ve seen/heard it both ways. Do “perish” and “destroyed” mean the same thing? In this context, it would appear so.

Melissa Glidden says:

Thought provoking and to the core of what everyone and anyone may identify. Thanks, and looking forward to your next entry.
Meliss

Larry J Sims says:

Having ministered in a so called black church, I found that being black was more important then the true of the gospel. I also found that the church book of discipline carried more weight than the Bible. I left after God showed me the extreme bondage my people are in. I believe and it is sad to say that some people in the black church would follow the satan as long as he made them feel good. I pray they wake up before it is to late.

AACONS says:

Michael, Ephesians 5 says, “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and

    gave himself up for her

, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”

However, your point is well taken when we clarify that the church is not the physical building that we worship in, but it is the people made up of the kingdom. In that sense, Jesus did die for the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), His people — His bride — namely those of us who have obeyed the gospel call and have become His children through the new birth (Acts 2:38). –M.