by: Terrence A. Merkerson
Before we jump into this and I offend anymore, I want to be crystal-clear about what my intention is here.
• This is not an attack on God or the Christian faith.
• This is not an attack on Christianity.
• This is certainly not an attack on God.
• This is not an attack on the way anyone chooses to live their life.
• This IS a critique on the paradox of traditional Christian values.
• This IS a critique on the selective use of the Bible.
• This IS a critique on the Bible, itself.
I usually try to avoid debating over religion, but dialogue is healthy, as long as it is done with taste and mutual respect.
Yesterday, an interview of Russell Wilson created quite the stir. Russell Wilson, Super Bowl Champion Quarterback and all-around nice guy, commented on his relationship with, Grammy Award-wining singer-songwriter, Ciara (yes, Ciara has a Grammy) during a moment in an interview with the Rock Church. Wilson spoke endearingly of his new girlfriend and expressed that they are abstaining from sex. All good right? Ehhh… not so much. There are a couple of things that he said that raised the brow of some people, myself included. Wilson stated:
“… I’ll never forget: She was on tour, she was traveling, and I was looking at her in the mirror. I was sitting in the dressing room, and she was getting ready to go, about 15 minutes before she went on stage. And she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her.’ And I was like, ‘Really? Right now?’
“He goes, ‘I want you and need you to lead her.’”
Those comments led many Christian men and women to fall head-over-cleats in love with Wilson, and justifiably so. Russell Wilson really seems to be a good, well-intentioned guy, but that does not exempt him of criticism.
Christianity is deeply rooted in patriarchy and encourages the submission of women to men. What has always surprised and sometimes confused me is how invested some women are in this form or patriarchy. The desire to be “led” by a man, in the Christian interpretation, is a noble, yet troubling concept. The Bible suggests that it is the man’s role to lead the woman and his family and the woman’s role to be submissive to the man. There is a glaring problem with that interpretation.
The Bible is a religious text, written by men that has been conformed and edited over thousands of years, in the interest of patriarchy and dominance, hence its many different versions and interpretations. The Bible has been used to justify heinous acts of violence, discrimination and brutality, in the name of God, throughout history, yet literalist Christians still follow, what has clearly proven itself to be, an objectively written document that has been used subjectively far too often. To rest upon the laurel of this document and another man’s interpretation of it is misguided and actually kind of lazy. I was victim of this myself at one time. The best thing that ever happened to me was having my Christianity challenged and I believe that challenge strengthened my relationship with the Creator and led me to be more critical of practices of religion. That’s enough about the concept of religion and the Bible, let’s get into its application in this instance.
Wilson’s comments have been criticized by some because of the patriarchal nature in which he expressed his purpose in Ciara’s life. I am confident that salvation comes from God through Christ, not sure were Russell comes into that equation. I believe that people can be placed in our lives for a divine purpose, but under no circumstances do I believe that a man is any more responsible or religiously inclined to take the spiritual lead in a relationship than a woman. The issue here is not so much what he said or what he meant, it is more about what that ideology is rooted in. A man who loves God can also be patriarchal and chauvinistic in his view of women, both religiously and secularly. As men we must be careful to not become too invested in that stem of the ideology and women should also be careful in choosing to support their own submission. Ladies and gentlemen, we are ALL equal here (at least we should be) with equal access to our individual faith. A genuine relationship with God can also be an ill-advised one. I believe that the many evangelists, preachers and men of God who preach that homosexuals can be “healed” of their sexual identity, women should not be allowed in the pulpit, a woman’s body is the property of her husband and identify Jesus Christ as a blue-eyed white man with long brown hair (regardless of what history and geography tells us), are well-intentioned, but they are also likely misinformed. God bless them.
Gandhi once expressed that he likes Christ, but he does not like Christians because Christians are so unlike Christ. The Christian faith relies so heavily on the Bible to direct the course of the religion, but many Christians are selective on when they choose to live “biblically.” In my many years of due-diligence, I have had conversations with many devote Christians to understand the application and rationalization of their beliefs. In many of those conversations, their positions are evasive and typically always lead back to them saying something along the lines of, “well, the bible says so.” Many Christians become unreasonably defensive and dismissive in defense of their beliefs, which I can understand and overlook, but it does not seem to be very “Christ-like”. As much as we attempt to extract the secular from the religious, they are very much intertwined and we must all be more responsible in the ways in which we apply them both.
Religion and spirituality are directly related but vastly dissimilar and we often get the two muddled. Belief what you wish, it is your religious and spiritual right. I will offer you nothing but the utmost respect and understanding for doing so, but be diligent and critical while on your religious and spiritual journey. Be cautious in application of the Bible, that’s some pretty dangerous stuff when misinterpreted and misapplied (as history has shown us). Remember that religion is a human-created institution. It is fallible and inconsistent. It’s OK to sip the Kool-Aid, just don’t guzzle it. (Because that’s a sin, right?)
Terrence Merkerson is the Founder & Creator of Avenue Fifteen. Terrence earned Bachelor’s Degrees in both Political Science and Gender/Race Studies from the University of Alabama. Terrence also completed Graduate School at the University of Alabama earning a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies.
He currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA.