“I have five rocks, and I haven’t thrown any yet,” I listened as Eddie Long rallied the masses. He used an old story to portray himself as the victim. Like David confronted with a massive Goliath, Long pleaded with his mega-congregation to support him in a battle waged to destroy his empire.
He hasn’t thrown rocks yet. I was saddened by the usage of this metaphor. I was moved more by what wasn’t said than with what Long preached. I was prepared for his claim that this is spiritual warfare pitting good versus evil. I’m not shocked that he positioned his spiritual army to stand with him as he approached the giant in the court of law.
Those rocks waiting to be thrown trouble me. Should we affirm the shedding of spiritual blood among those hurting enough to file a lawsuit? Have the people calling for the death of these young men forgotten that they are members of the family with spirits in need of ministry? Has Long become so entrenched in his own quest to be liberated that he is willing to do anything to prove his innocence? Is this the image of the crucified Christ who stood before his own court of law?
In a previous blog posting, I challenged readers to consider the distinction between king and prophet. Long’s response places this conversation within a working framework. Kings fight while prophets humbly endure. Prophets seek ways to teach beyond the intentions of others while kings seek to punish those who come against the kingdom. In other words, kings throw rocks.
There is a theological truth that is spoken within Quaker thought. Quakers contend the spark of God is present within all of us. The work of the kingdom is to seek the presence of God in others-no matter how deviant they become. The challenge of people of faith is to find the good and to minister to it, even when doing so leaves us broken due to the manipulation and abuse coming from those we love. It is the loving response of the people of God that stands as witness to the transformative power of the resurrected Christ.
We are challenged to love those who despitefully use us. We are asked to humbly seek ways to impact the lives of those desirous of our destruction. Long’s response to throw rocks bears witness of a deeper theological mandate. Long, and the members of his congregation, are positioned to protect the kingdom. They will do so in the court of justice rather than in the court of love. They will throw rocks to further humiliate these young men.
No word was uttered regarding the need for the church to prayerfully seek ways to minister to the brokenness created by this scandal. There was no word of forgiveness, no word of the love that should be shown for those who filed the lawsuit. These are family members hurt enough to bring voice to their pain. The congregation has chosen to stand by their king and daddy, and to blame these young men for falsely accusing the man they worship.
This dynamic should not surprise any of us. It’s what transpires when a child accuses an adult of abuse. We are quick to come to the defense of the father or mother, aunt or uncle, friend or minister. The victim is ostracized as the family defends the character of the person accused. This is classic family dynamics. The thing that makes it different is the family, in this case, is the church.
One would think Long would use the message of Christ to guide him in handling this matter. That’s hard to do when you have made yourself into a king.
Prepare for the slingshot.