If I should disappear in the coming week, this particular post is to blame. This entry will begin to expose the game. If you fall for it after reading this, that’s on you. I came into ministry almost 15 years ago wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, and wearing rose-tinted lenses. Well, I ain’t the same girl no more.
The congregation to which I belonged was led by a minister members and non-members alike referred to flippantly as a pimp. He had an effusive personality, dressed sharply, and had a slick manner about him. Little did I know that Rev. really was a pimp. He was also known to line up women for any preacher new to town, just looking for something new on the side, or who just plain couldn’t get laid. A little-known secret to the lay person is that ecstatic energy resulting from the preaching moment is very similar to sexual arousal. It is not uncommon for pastors to line up some for the visiting revivalist to get him through the week.
Let’s get back to my story. So Rev. sees this 20-something young woman who happens to also be reasonably attractive and pulled together, now under his charge. She represented new blood for the kingdom, but to Rev. she was an addition to his stable.
So what’s the first thing a good pimp must do to a new addition to his stable? He must control her mind. He must play on her vulnerabilities. And ultimately, he must get paid. I didn’t learn that in church; I learned that reading Iceberg Slim. Whatever the case, I knew the game, but did not know it was being played like that in the church. The word of God says Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). The church is beating the world at its own game and God is not happy.
Things came to a head when I was applying to seminary. I knew I could not be focused at home in Washington, DC because I knew where trouble was and trouble knew me well. Rev. ordered me to remain local so he could keep an eye on me. I responded that I felt the Lord leading me away from home and invited him to be in prayer with me on the issue. To my surprise, he flat-out refused. I had to return to the word which orders believers do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1. Listening to his sermons with my spiritual ear from that point forward left a lot to be desired so I began seeking spiritual direction and sustenance elsewhere.
The following three years became an intense battle of the wills. The man who wanted to be my spiritual father could not handle that I, unlike many women around him, did not have the daddy issues that are common in the black community. My father has always been an active and present part of my life and not even he could control my mind. To add insult to injury, I also defied the opportunities Rev. presented to hook up with men. That called his pimping credentials into question. He threatened that people would say that I was a lesbian if I didn’t make myself available sexually. Well, there was far too much evidence out there already to the contrary. However, at that point, I had committed to celibacy and the panties were off limits.
My anger did not intensify over my battle with Rev. I became enraged as I learned how common my plight was, how many sisters actually did sleep for their papers, and how the church turned a blind eye to it. After quitting my job, moving to Atlanta to attend the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and devoting my head and heart to pursuing the high calling, I could not get a gig as a substitute Sunday School teacher because Rev. blackballed me. No one in the denomination would go up against him because he had too much power. My letters to his denominational superiors went unanswered because “he packs them in and brings in too much money.” It was not about right or wrong. The church’s passivity became a matter of protecting their own self-interests. I was told: “If this becomes well-known, people will get turned off.” “If I support you, my ministry would suffer.” “Oh no, I’d never preach again.” They left me and my ministry for dead.
It continues to astound me that people who are well-acquainted with my personal plight or the plight of those who have experienced the persistent hypocrisy of the church have the gall to criticize us for being angry. Jesus said: Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a den of thieves. (Mark 11:17). Jesus was not particularly happy when he said this about the defilement of the temple. A preacher friend once said “if Jesus ever cussed one time, this was the day.” I beg to differ. I think he cussed. A lot.