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Bishop Eddie Long Controversy Should Not Destroy Faith in Church

by Todd A. Smith

Pastor Does Not Mean Perfect

 

                  

            Allegations that Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, coerced four males into sexual relationships are riveting the nation.  Some have even said if the allegations facing Bishop Eddie Long are true it will rock the entire Black church with catastrophic consequences.

            For years, many critics of the church have said that the imperfections of church leaders are what keep them out of the church completely.  Many believe if the person delivering the message has skeletons in their closet than why should they listen to the message he/she is delivering?

            This approach to worship is totally misguided if you are at church service to serve God and not the pastor.

            Pastors like Bishop Eddie Long are simply the messengers, given the assignment to teach the congregation about the Word of God.  Should they be role models, definitely.  But should we expect perfection? In my opinion, we should definitely not because perfection is not possible.

            Church seems to be the only place where people expect perfection, even though not attending church does not really negatively affect the pastor, just the parishioner. 

If a journalism professor is not the perfect journalist, should it stop a student from attending class?  No, because even though that professor may not be the perfect journalist, he/she can teach someone the skills needed to be a better journalist.  If we choose to stop attending class for this reason or any reason it only adversely affects us, not the professor.

            If our boss is not doing as good a job as we think he/she should, do we simply stop going to work?  No, because that would adversely affect the money that we earn making it extremely difficult to pay our bills and take care of our family.  We might begin looking for a new job, but an intelligent person would not stop working because that person knows the consequences.

            Furthermore, if we are unhappy about the way the government is spending tax payer dollars, do we simply stop paying taxes?  No, because we know that could possibly lead to our incarceration.

            So, if we do not stop doing those things because the people around us are not perfect or we disagree with them, why should we stop attending church because pastors like Bishop Eddie Long are imperfect creations like all of us or we disagree with some of their actions?

            Additionally, we should not rush to judge Bishop Eddie Long until the cases have been adjudicated and we should not rush out of the doors of the church when we discover the imperfections of the church.  The Bible describes the church as the “people of God,” and all people whether they attend worship or not are far from perfect.

            Bishop Eddie Long stated in his address to parishioners of New Birth, that he is under attack.  I will take it a step further and say that the entire church is under attack from people on the inside as well as people on the outside.

            Whenever the church is mentioned in the media, the coverage usually centers on a controversy and not the countless acts of charity and compassion that congregations engage in on a daily basis.

            Ralph Douglas West, pastor/founder of The Church Without Walls in Houston, often says the church does enough community service and goodwill to fill every news cycle every day.  It is just unfortunate, that critics only pay attention to its bad press and not its benevolence.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men's Magazine.

This article was published on Wednesday 29 September, 2010.
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