12 August 2010

Black (and other) women (and others), dating, the world, compromise - and so much more!

by Dan Phillips

Over at my digs, yesterday I ran a post titled Black women in church: non-religious writers opine.  It reflected on an article from an odd source for me (CNN), which looks at the issue of the preponderence of women in black churches, and of how hard it is for them to find black men who share their convictions.

This hits on a number of issues that should, to my mind, be fond to Pyro readers:
  • Marriage and dating
  • Standards in mate-selection
  • Philosophy of church ministry
  • The world telling Christians what we should do
  • Mainstream media views of church ministry
  • Race and the church
  • The very concept of {insert skin-color here} churches

I've been puzzled by choices of focus churches make. As we search for a local church, one close-by assembly about which we'd heard some good things had an ethnic name: imagine your own, but it was something like Russian Baptist Church, Chinese Baptist Church, Black Baptist Church. I was stunned by the concept leaders who presumably have Colossians 3:11 in their Bibles deliberately choosing such a name. In fact, I almost wrote the leadership - then decided there was no point.

So, as I'm tending to some necessary family-business, I'd like to invite you to
  1. Read that post
  2. Broaden the pool with my dearly-loved regulars in adding your thoughts on it, there or here
Could be fun and profitable. Make it so!

Dan Phillips's signature

30 comments:

Tom said...

Quick (not necessarily profound) thoughts:

1) Church going women outnumbering church going men isn't a new trend in white or black churches.

2) Some blame this trend on the feminization of the worship service. Too much touchy feely, sappy emoting. Too much emphasis on felt needs. Not enough grunting, creeds, doctrine, grunting, etc.

3) Men have been told pretty much all their lives not to be men. Women, on the other hand, have been told pretty much all their lives to be men.

4) Single women who have a baby daddy (or multiple baby daddies) and who go to church regularly aren't much better off than their baby daddy(ies) who stay(s) at home. In other words, they be going to church, but are they really living any differently?

Tom

Merrilee Stevenson said...

[crickets chirping]

Where'd everyone else go?

stratagem said...

Bless you, Dan, you courageous soul, daring to touch the third rail of race. Well done.

Reading the post, it seems to me that this suggestion:
Disciple everyone in the church, male and female alike.
...may actually be being done, which is what is driving the (unregenerate) formerly-churchgoing men from the church. The same thing happens in white churches.

It seems to me that the solution is for black Christian women to forget about marrying black men who are unregenerate, and instead they should focus on marrying Christian men in general - be they black, white, or other races.

It's not the solution to go chasing after partiers in hopes of ending up unequally yoked in terms of belief, which is surely a worse fate than being unequally yoked in terms of something that doesn't matter all that much (race).

Which leads me to conclude in agreement with you, that racist churches of all races must be called to repentance and stop balkanizing the Faith.

Bill Honsberger said...

One of the truly ugly church growth (Hybels in this case) "methods" is that of homogenous congregations. People like being with people like themselves. Well duh to that! I guess that whole Gentile/Jew thing that Paul and Peter had to deal with could have been averted with just some proper druckerian applications...
What is worse, is that I grew up for a while in a part of the country where this wasn't strategy - it was sin. Now we have come full circle. How pathetic.
At least I can listen to the first two Chicago albums and find solace...

donsands said...

"Think what we will, but act like everyone else. Act like the world."

Ain't that the truth.

Good post. Skin color doesn't really matter, does it. People's hearts all look the same, desperately wicked Jer. 17:9. Even after God has changed a heart of granite to flesh our hearts are tainted, it's that remnant of sin that we won't crush totally until we die and leave this world, the devil, and our flesh.

I like to say I'm color-blind to the point, that all men and women are the same in Christ Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28, and yet I acknowledge the different tendencies and cultural flavors we have, even when we are one in Christ.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I agree with stragegem:

...instead they should focus on marrying Christian men in general - be they black, white, or other races.

That would have been the most sensible thing to have read at the conclusion of the CNN article!

I think there are a lot of things swirling around the racial issues in our country (one wonders if this is such an issue in England or in Canada), and this article displays the tips of the ice burg:

There is an abundance of prideful self-righteousness (can't find someone good enough for me).

There is an abundance of unwillingness to yield to pastors/elders/authoritarian church leaders (some men won't go to be under the authority of another alpha-male).

There is a weak position on Scripture (questioning what it means to be un-equally yoked, procreative fornication, and even Who is ultimately the head of the church.)

I think that last one is the biggest one that brings about all the other issues. If there is no authority in the Scriptures, we essentially all do what we think is righteous in our own eyes, and then wonder why all the problems.

~Mark said...

There's an old saying that "God is colorblind", but He isn't. That would imply that He can't see the rather obvious ways He created many of us with different skin colors/tones.

Since God creates us with different looks there must be some reason to it. No matter what that reason though, we are not permitted to segregate along lines of color or in the case of many of my European friends, country of origin.

The reason we've come to accept segregated churches in non-segregated areas is the same reason we feel like homosexuality is a "condition" which must be approached "with care and understanding" and we devote whole ministries to it:

Many of us have been conditioned by the culture to accept less than the best under the guise of "understanding" because so many who didn't understand and were legitimately jerks came before us and exist among us.

I don't have to accept the continued existence of an institution known as the "Black Church" in the United States to recognize that America still runs red with racism.

stratagem said...

I think the uncomfortableness that people of different races have with each other is generally more due to cultural discomfort than racism. There is a certain insecurity that comes from not knowing a culture; you don't understand their humor, or have as much appreciation for anything else related to the other society. So you are a lone ranger to a certain degree, at least for a while, if you step outside your own culture. That's especially true in America given the vast cultural differences between white and black cultures that exist in many places. Hence, people flock together in groups that are familiar. It's not evil, it's not even necessarily racism, it's just human nature. That's why there's the "black church" and the "white church" just as there are bars that are also populated by one group or another.

As Christians we've got to try harder than the world to overcome this tendency.

donsands said...

"There's an old saying that "God is colorblind", but He isn't. That would imply that He can't see the rather obvious ways He created many of us with different skin colors/tones."

No it doesn't I don't think. I was thinking of the movie "A Patch of Blue", which makes the whole point. There certainly is prejudice in America. But to say: "America still runs red with racism."

And there is prejudice on both sides.

I don't understand a lot, to be honest.
So, I am simply sharing my heart, and willing to learn.
I simply want the truth, the whole truth. Or as much as we can honestly know about this very sensitive subject.

~Mark said...

There certainly is prejudice in America. But to say: "America still runs red with racism."

~Still waitin' for you to finish your thought brother. By the way, before you do, I have in my life been beaten unconscious by 2 separate groups of white men for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they told me so. Also, the news reports still reveal a violent racism alive and well in the USA.

"And there is prejudice on both sides."

~That is almost accurate. The only problem with it is that there aren't only 2 sides. More accurate to say every group has some racists within and even the best of us can be prejudiced at times even if we rule over that tendency in our lives.

Paul L said...

Interesting article. If you read the original blog post by Deborrah Cooper, it becomes clear that her problem isn't just with the gender disparity in black chruches. She seems offended that black women in churches are leading their lives according to Biblical morality rather than the nostrums of left-wing feminism.

For example, she writes, "Going to church is not going to broaden your horizons, make you more tolerant and accepting of all God’s children, nor is it going to encourage you to be free of the chains of patriarchy and oppression of your feminine energy."

DJP said...

Thanks, Paul. Don't know whether you'd noticed, but Deborrah herself (presumably) weighed in over in my blog's meta.

donsands said...

"More accurate to say every group has some racists within and even the best of us can be prejudiced at times even if we rule over that tendency in our lives."-Mark

Good statement.

Hate to hear that you beaten like that. I hope they caught those who did and threw them in jail.

I actually meant to ask a question: "America still runs red with racism?"

My thinking was after Martin Luther King made his stance for freedom, and spoke the truth with love about the unrighteous way things were, that since then it has become better.

I grew up here in Baltimore, and lived very near an Amusement Park, that forbid blacks. And a swimming club as well.
I have shared how it used to be with my grandsons, and told them about the protests I saw.
They seem bewildered really. And I think it's because much has changed.

I actually went and posted a rather crude post about this.

Thanks for the interaction. Lord bless.

http://dlsands.blogspot.com/2010/08/gwyn-oak-amusement-park-some-great.html

Sir Aaron said...

broaden the pool? Certainly everyone who reads here reads your blog too, Dan!

DJP said...

I average around a third of the daily traffic, visitswise.

Sir Aaron said...

One has to wonder...if the reason that so many black women are single is because they go to Church too much, then there must be an equal number of single black men, right? And are those single black men swearing off sexual relations?

Sir Aaron said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better Dan, I always visit your site before coming here each day. At least always on Fridays. ;P

~Mark said...

"Hate to hear that you beaten like that. I hope they caught those who did and threw them in jail."

~Nope. Neither time. In fact, I know where about half of them still live.

I think the biggest change in racism in this country was the end of its institutionalized form except that only eliminated the sanctioned violence. Now it's still legal but is hailed as making the sides "even".

I appreciate you taking an interest though! Here's something I put together tonight as these thoughts played on my head and spirit: http://christianlivin.blogspot.com/2010/08/its-time-to-eliminate-black-church-in.html

Barbara said...

Sir Aaron,

As one who lives and works surrounded by and immersed in the "Black Church" culture, the patriarchy that the author is offended by is something that she is right to be offended by. It is the oppressive, ego-centric form of "leadership", the kind that for way too many people is the only kind of "male headship" that they know. They know nothing of the Gospel-centered kind of servant leadership. It's a culture, and it's a syncretistic culture. So the single men are for the most part out doin' their thing and the women are right to not want a part of that but their choices are limited - either stay single or take on the caricature with the (physical or verbal) rolling pin and ready herself for the battle. Because external morality and the kind of mesh of works-righteousness and prosperity theology espoused by the "Black Church" in this woman's area (she's in my neck of the woods, more or less) leaves people lost and enslaved to their sin, living in hell while they slide to hell in a sea of self-righteousness.

But the land is dry and thirsty and those I've had the opportunity to live out the gospel with and proclaim it to and discuss the Scritpures with, I gotta tell you - I've seen miracles happen with them as they come into new life. So the author has the right diagnosis, but the wrong prescription. What they need is the gospel. And if she visits over here and reads this, I have pointed out in Dan's meta on his blog three faithful, Gospel-centered churches with humble, godly pastors of color local to her and eager to reach out to women like her who have been enslaved to a culture and who now are frustrated by it.

DJP said...

~Mark, to your post at your blog: amen, brother!

(Though, on second thought, if a low-melanin writer had titled a post as you did, it could come across very different! Until he read the post, that is.)

Deb said...

A couple of thoughts, for what they're worth:

The variety of segregated churches that you mention -- Black, Chinese, Russian, etc -- are not altogether parallel. The primary reason for most Chinese and Korean churches, as examples, is because of language. Now if those particular churches are driven and motivated to provide a cultural cave, where the congregants are never exposed to Western culture or engaged in the communities where they live, then yes of course that would be sinful. This is a very different situation from Black churches, which do not have a significant language barrier.

Second thought, I'll need to find the research for you, but I was surprised to learn that members of black churches give double digits more than other protestant churches, including evangelical/ traditional (not just mainline). Of course, this could be the whole prosperity gospel thing.

And that the 'defection rate' from one generation to the next is the lowest in the Black church among all religious faiths in this country.

(note; Both of those surveys came from reformed bloggers I need to look them up again).

Matt said...

Tom,

I'm surprised (well, maybe not really) that no one picked up on your thoughts. I think the feminization of the church is very much the issue (most specifically point #3).

While going through some old hymns recently, I was struck by the militant language of some of the old songs that we no longer sing: "Onward Christian Soldiers", "Lead On, O King Eternal", even "Be Thou My Vision" -- we never sing the third verse "Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,". We have virtually expunged all talk of the spiritual warfare from the church.

Now this next point is almost certain to catch a lot of flak, but I think it must be said. We have taken an exacto knife to the Bible and removed 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. I know many commentators (including MacArthur) write off this passage as being cultural, but they are wrong. Flat wrong.

When you examine this passage (about women having head coverings), the reasons given for it are universal (men are the head of the women, for the sake of the angels who have no culture). The covering is not hair -- other wise it wouldn't make the distinction about hair and covering AND all men would need to be shaved. ;-)

And it most certainly is NOT cultural. When are we EVER given a command based on culture. If anything, the Bible is counter-cultural as this command would have been in Corinth, where in their "freedom", women rejected the cultural norm of head coverings (much like we have done today). Until very recently, women always wore head coverings in church throughout church history. It is only since World War II that this practice has gone away.

The final clincher is verse 16 which must be read in context with the question asked in verse 13: "Is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? ... If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God."

Now am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Big sins start small. By ignoring this command of a physical display of submission, we have allowed the reversal of roles to permeate the church. To reinstitute this practice would be a good first step to restoring the proper balance to the church.

DJP said...

Deb, I don't know how a church that NAMES ITSELF after one particular niche can be other than a "cave," or worse.

Sir Aaron said...

Barbara:

I'll cede your point since it's not relevant to my current question. If there are so many single black women, then there must be an equal or near equal number of single black men. So what do these single black men do? Are they not as lonely? Or are they getting what they want without the prerequisite ties?

Sir Aaron said...

Yikes. Talk about opening a huge can of worms.

Matt said...

Sir Aaron,

If you are referring to my post, yes, you are right. But we need to start attacking this root of sin in the church.

Consider this: when was the last time you actually heard a refutation or critical analysis of Beth Moore's ministry? It is not because there is no reason to do so. The only article I have seen about her was in Discerning Reader by the female author. I encourage you to read it:

http://www.discerningreader.com/book-reviews/get-out-of-that-pit

Beth Moore is incredibly popular among evangelical women today, and what she is preaching is a false doctrine, a subtle perversion (whether purposeful or not) of the truth that I believe will destroy the church if left unchecked. But none of the men of the church dare stand up against her (at least, none that I have seen). Why? Because they fear the women of the church.

It is time for men to take charge of the church again. If this means that we lose half of our congregations, then so be it. Statistics show that less than 10% of those people sitting in the pews on an average Sunday morning are actually Christian. To lose have our congregation would be a good start to getting down to the real Church, those who are truly washed by the blood of the lamb.

This may be getting off topic, but I believe the shifting of spiritual leadership is a very large part of the problem leading to the issues discussed above.

~Mark said...

The primary reason for most Chinese and Korean churches, as examples, is because of language. Now if those particular churches are driven and motivated to provide a cultural cave, where the congregants are never exposed to Western culture or engaged in the communities where they live, then yes of course that would be sinful.

~That is true, unfortunately in my experience (which includes the reports from several friends who work in situations specifically designed to acclimate Asian newcomers to America) these churches do tend to move quickly and far away from focusing on "move 'em in, move 'em out" and do become repositories.

I used to really like the idea of having that place of native tongue worship until I realized how often this happens.

(Though, on second thought, if a low-melanin writer had titled a post as you did, it could come across very different! Until he read the post, that is.)

~I know, that's why I figured I'd take advantage of my ability to pull the restraints! ;)

DJP said...

... these churches do tend to move quickly and far away from focusing on "move 'em in, move 'em out" and do become repositories.

Word.

And if they cared nothing for assimilating into and building up the culture of their new country, they should at least be moved as missionaries to that country to learn its language, and not to stay off in a culture-cave.

Barbara said...

Sir Aaron,

I did address it, albeit in some degree of jargon trying not to be too crass, when I said that

It's a culture, and it's a syncretistic culture. So the single men are for the most part out doin' their thing and the women are right to not want a part of that but their choices are limited - either stay single or take on the caricature with the (physical or verbal) rolling pin and ready herself for the battle. Because external morality and the kind of mesh of works-righteousness and prosperity theology espoused by the "Black Church" in this woman's area (she's in my neck of the woods, more or less) leaves people lost and enslaved to their sin, living in hell while they slide to hell in a sea of self-righteousness.

That's the choice the women have because they (men and women) are not being taught, shown, nor otherwise introduced to the whole Gospel according to Scripture.

Sir Aaron said...

Yeah, Matt, no way no how am I going to get into an argument about head coverings. Not. Going. To. Happen.