Blacks must address the problems infecting and affecting black communities and handle the issues seriously and sincerely. Many of these problems center around moral values that were once readily available and abundant among black Americans. Now they are increasingly becoming rare.
When dealing with this moral crisis, there should be a focused and concentrated effort, originating within black churches, that renews hearts and minds. This renewal should focus on Christian moral values as the answer to the pervading psychological ills that now afflict black America.
That blacks need spiritual, social, and economic renewal is no secret. A specific segment of blacks has succumbed to behaviors that most would label as counterproductive and undignified. Frankly, these behaviors are embarrassing and morally disturbing.
Worse, these behaviors are seen and accepted as “culturally authentic.”
Under the current societal trappings of “tolerance,” “diversity,” and moral relativism, blacks have willingly relinquished the painful but necessary process of self-critique. This behavioral and spiritual deficiency leads black culture to define “authenticity” as comporting oneself with stereotypes that the generations of our grandparents and great-grandparents sought to avoid and overcome. In other condescending terms, this “authenticity” is often equated with “acting black.”
In assessing the situation, we can conclude that the black church has failed in its moral and spiritual obligation of leadership because, despite the many claims to the contrary, the behavioral effects and cultural degradation are now too abundant to ignore.
Of course, not all black churches have failed. Collectively, however, churches have failed black America.
Further, many well-meaning white people, Christian and non-Christian alike, also are silently complicit in this failure due to fear of reprisals such as being labeled “racists,” “bigots,” or “insensitive.” In refusing to speak out and condemn unacceptable behaviors, these people passively accept and legitimize a form of conduct they would vigorously oppose if it came from someone within their family.
Recognizing the impotence of so many black churches, we must assume that many black ministers evade discussions of personal and communal sin. Sermons regarding the guilt and shame of socially self-limiting and damaging behaviors don’t contain the potent condemnation they once did. It’s a self-evident truth predicated upon the preponderance of harmful activity proliferating within black culture.
These activities represent spiritual captivity, meaning black churches must address the need for moral redemption.
The first enslavement of our community was apparent — it was an existential reality recognized by blacks. It was challenged as a moral evil and, eventually, was abolished. Unwanted, it was still an accepted reality.
This second slavery, when fully understood, is much more reprehensible than the first. Though American blacks are physically free, their spirits and minds are still bound, even though the generations of blacks living in America today are among the freest blacks ever in history.
I’m angry and sad that a community whose heritage and dignity once coalesced around the lordship of Jesus and his church has allowed itself to come to this. This apparent timidity of the black pulpit — in not correctly teaching the gospel of truth and not holding congregations to a higher standard of personal and communal morality — has had disastrous effects.
We know the black church’s power, as evidenced by history. The black church sustained generations of blacks during periods of American history when society was much more intolerant and unbecoming than it is now. It fostered an elevated character level that included “blessing one’s enemy” while “turning the other cheek,” even when circumstances made it exceptionally difficult.
Blacks must realize that our cultural redemption won’t come from the tip of a pen of a liberal politician. It certainly won’t come from leveraging white guilt. It will come by returning to the biblical values contained in the Christian faith of their fathers, facilitated by a church that bears witness in the pulpit.