About that sermon on the Black Church’s hypocrisy

by D Frederick Sparks

Georgia pastor E. Dewey Smith’s sermon about the Black Church and homosexuality has gone viral.  In the sermon, Smith deems it hypocritical for Christians to condemn homosexuality based on verses in Leviticus without also adhering to the other Levitical injunctions against eating shellfish and wearing blended fabrics.  He also speaks to the large gay presence in the black church, particularly in the “music ministry”, which I wrote about a few years back here, and how it is also a manifestation of hypocrisy to use the talents of queer people while condemning them.

The pastor’s words have been lauded by many for their frankness and  for the call for greater compassion when dealing with gays in the black church. I’ve even seen it declared a great stand for “gay rights.”

For me it doesn’t go that far.  There’s a difference between calling out the black church for hypocrisy, and affirming that there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful about same-sex attraction and same sex relationships.  This “that sin is no greater than anyone else’s sin” accommodation is neither revolutionary nor novel; I’ve seen and heard it offered for years as a rationalization by black gay Christians and others who still love them in spite of their “sin”.  Personally it has allowed for me to, at my choice, maintain relationships with loved ones, despite the degree to which it requires the acceptance of what one commentator has recently dubbed “mild homophobia“.  And against the backdrop of the conservative stance of the Black Church on issues of sexuality, it certainly seems progressive by comparison, though less so than the stance of other Christian churches and denominations that are known as “reconciled ministries” which fully accept the whole experience of gay Christians.

I don’t know very much about Pastor Smith. I don’t know what his thoughts are on homosexuality beyond the hypocrisy analysis.  From what I have read about him briefly, he seems highly intelligent, and devoted to a more compassionate manifestation of religious faith; when a fellow pastor committed suicide, Pastor Smith condemned assertions that the deceased pastor earned eternal damnation through that sad act.  And to the extent that his exhortations call for and lead to less dehumanization of gays in the black church, his words deserve the credit they are receiving.  But they should be kept in context, and consideration must be given to how a particular religious experience or viewpoint either does or does not affirm the entirety of a gay Christian.

About that sermon on the Black Church’s hypocrisy

4 thoughts on “About that sermon on the Black Church’s hypocrisy

  1. 1

    Nice article, I think you have touched on something we are seeing everywhere with a lot of leaders. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place, the people that put them in power and what they know is right. Take Obamas resent visit to Kenya where he touched on gay rights in a very unconvincing manner. It was made clear to everyone that the interests the majority outweigh the rights of the majority.
    What we have to realize is these are not our leaders so we cannot expect them to represent us. This is something I think all these leaders understand and you are pointing out here. They represent the people that put them in power so it is not in their best interest to misrepresent them. I my family I’m the only atheist so if we vote I would not expect a leader that would represent me in any way.
    There is something happening however and though these leaders don’t go far enough there is something pushing them.

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