Let me not cast any stones, not even the first one. But ranting online this morning about the ways that the discussion of Barack Obama’s changed stance on same sex marriage has cast the Black Church and the Black Community as a monolith nearly clarified for me what I find annoying about discussions related to black everything in popular culture.
If the community is still a monolith (which it isn’t) then no one has to do the work of finding out just how diverse the individuals who make up said community are. It is a way of denying their humanity – collectively and individually.
That said, I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of Christians who do things that aren’t Biblical. But this is a false conundrum because having sex as a single person if you’re saved is explicitly a no-no for Christians. But so is judging others. And not tithing. And a host of other ugly things that folks have no trouble doing.
Many Christian youths who signed abstinence pledges or wore purity rings reach a crossroad as young adults. They are faced with upholding Biblical principles against sex outside of marriage during an era when the average age of first marriage creeps toward 30. Celibacy may be even tougher for singles who have splashed around in the pool of fornication long before dedicating their lives to Christ. More are asking, “Am I really condemning my soul to eternal damnation by getting my freak on Saturday night and praising the Lord on Sunday morning?” As many as 80 percent of young unmarried Christians have had sex, according to Relevant, a magazine for Christians aged 18 to 30.
So, let’s do some quick math, because you know — that’s my favorite subject.
One hundred million unmarried people. About 12 percent of those are black folks. So, about 10 million black people, let’s say. Eighty-five percent of them identify as Christian. Less than 50 percent are married. What’s that – about 2 million, give or take? (That’s a low estimate. From a journalist. Who doesn’t really like math and never took statistics.)
I guess I wonder about the voices of the single and celibate who aren’t sure they even want to get married. Because if you’re not sure that God is calling you to get married, that seems about as plausible as declaring yourself a practicing and devout Christian and saying you think it’s cool with Jesus if you just let this one thing slip, right? I mean, what is the point of going all in if you’re not really going all in? (I did not mean that as a pun.)
And another thing. Sex is at the heart of so much shame in the black community. Part of the reason that’s the case is because of the shaming of churches around pervasive behavior. You know there are women getting infected with HIV/AIDS in your pews, on your watch, and all you can do is gesture in the direction of what the Bible says? The Bible also says a lot of things that people forget about when it is convenient for them.