Two weeks ago while the historically black Pentecostal denomination of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) held their annual 102nd Holy Convocation in Memphis, Tennessee, apparently Donnie McClurkin, the gospel recording artist and ordained elder in the COGIC church took the microphone on the move of the Holy Spirit and became utterly transparent. What transpired over the next 25-30 minutes or so was a ramble that was infused with testimony, confessional church dogma and homophobia.
Seriously, I don’t know where to start with it.
I will say this, Donnie was truly speaking from his context.
First of all there is the confessional approach to the biblical text that asserts the notion that the Bible is infallible and for many there is the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. The former alluding to the definite spirit of the biblical text, the latter making the claim that there is no error and more or less the idea that we should still be following the Levitcal and Deuteronomic codes in the Old Testament. As far as COGICs are concerned their church doctrine and statement of faith declares it to be infallible, but as typical Pentecostals and conservative church is concerned, they really operate on the spectrum somewhere between infallible and inerrant. So, naturally, if Paul, in Romans one makes this reference against homosexuality, then why wouldn’t Donnie speak out against it? And what better place to it than at the Youth Department’s service?
Donnie does a great job of upholding the tenets of the COGIC.
But also Donnie is speaking through the context of being abused. This presents a whole other set of problems that no one in the blogosphere I heard really deal with. I read the article on Rod 2.0 and another blog post from fellow blogger Luvvie who is known for her rants. The author Rod, from Rod 2.0 is an openly gay male so of course he had issues with the blatant homophobia that was spewed from McClurkin’s mouth. And both he and Luvvie have made the assertion that indeed McClurkin isn’t delivered from anything.
Well, I guess that latter part is up for debate.
But since I’m not attached to his hip, I really can’t speak on that, can I?
What I will say is that concerning his abuse is that presumably, the church knew about it and did nothing. Or even if it wasn’t the church per se, someone connected to the church and did nothing about it. What’s at issue here is a cycle of silence that Donnie is attempting to break. On that level, I can thoroughly appreciate that he broached the subject, but rather addressing the church’s silence in the face of known child abuse , he decided to use it as a platform to spew some rant and ramble that was really an invective against homosexuals.
He made the claim about “being real” and that was indeed addressing the young people’s concerns about keeping it real. Aside from that being a lie from the pits of hell, keeping it real with young people is when there is an open dialogue with them; not yet again another preacher yelling at them from the pulpit! The pastoral care in me kicked in full gear as I was watching this. What adults, particularly those of the Pentecostal persuasion tend to forget is that open dialogue from young persons does not come from simply saying “you know you can tell me anything” once or twice and certainly not from the preacher yelling invectives at the young people.
Then he said “I don’t eat sugar, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want sugar.”
To me that kind of debunks his main argument that he was indeed delivered from homosexuality which goes at the thrust of my major contention with a church’s stance on homosexuality. Apparently many Pentecostals believe that homosexuality is a choice, or even moreso a spirit–an evil spirit in fact. An evil spirit that must be prayed out, tarried out, worshipped out or even cast out.
Just ask Jeffrey.
Honestly, I really can’t wrap my mind around the rationale behind that. I personally believe people are born gay. I understand that in the context of the belief of the sovereignty of God–that God knows what’s going to happen before it happens. God already knew what you were going to do before you do it. Well what about free will and choice some might say? My response to that is evidenced by McClurkin’s sugar analogy. Just because you don’t act on something doesn’t mean that you’re indeed delivered. I’m of the opinion that true deliverance (wow, whatever that really means) is probably when you can go back into a situation and not even be tempted. As long as you’re being tempted, you’re just merely self-sacrificing your own personal urges.
Actually, I’m rather hedonistic in some regards with this. My own personal stipulations are to not bring harm to yourself or others in the process. As long as you’re being safe with what you do, by all means, have fun. Even Martin Luther said “Sin, boldly!”
This what Donnie did, please believe was not a sermon. This was a rant and invective that was laced with homophobia that furthered poisoned the minds of church leaders against embracing homosexuals into the church. Honestly, what sane thinking gay person would want to be a part of that foolishness? How can you preach such radical conservatism and then get mad when those same people you claim to love don’t want to join the church–and then get mad at progressive denominations such as the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists and various Episcopal churches that welcome and ordain homosexuals? Donnie further closed the minds of an already closed minded people.
And then at the end, he compounded my confusion as if that was possible by saying that the only people allowed to lay hands were the ones who didn’t have a “struggle” and only those who were “pure.”
Again this points to one of my other issues not just with Pentecostal denominations but with the church in general, black and white. I’m just really concerned about our preoccupation with sexual issues–specifically homosexuality. Ask some people the biggest problem facing the church is sexual immorality–specifically homosexuality. We act as though all of these other issues addressing the church with the plethora of other communal injustices that we’re dealing with are non-existent to the personal piety concerns. Again, we act as though a gay person is an ineffective witness. That gayness means that they can’t preach. Or that gayness means that they can’t serve as an usher.
Essentially what the churches are doing is being complicit in the “downlow” black male culture that exists because they don’t feel enough of a comfort zone that exists in various facets of society. Why would a black male, or black female, want to come out of the closet in a church setting that doesn’t affirm their lifestyle. The church appears to be okay with a “downlow” lifestyle of any sort sexual or non-sexual that keeps the taboo act in secret just to save face to the people who are doing the same thing in their own privacy.
Donnie was hurt as a young child, and sadly he has equated homosexuality with child abuse and child predators. He has so internalized this problem and believed in “Jaaayyyyyzus” to work it out that if you watch in the third clip, he actually apologizes on behalf of the ones who abused him! How hurt must one be for them to feel that they must apologize and excuse the one’s who did the abuse?!!?!?
Lord, we have a long way to go.
So I say, please ignore Donnie McClurkin and this rant he gave. He’s a hurt individual who hasn’t worked out his own issues.
Father, forgive him, for he knew not what he said.
So after watching the YouTube clips, what say ye?
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL