11And there was a woman there who for eighteen years had had an [f]infirmity caused by a spirit ([g]a demon of sickness). She was [h]bent completely forward and utterly unable to straighten herself up or to [i]look upward.
12And when Jesus saw her, He called [her to Him] and said to her, Woman, you are released from your infirmity!
13Then He laid [His] hands on her, and instantly she was made straight, and she [j]recognized and thanked and praised God.
14But the [k]leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the crowd, There are six days on which work ought to be done; so come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.(A)
15But the Lord replied to him, saying, You playactors (hypocrites)! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead it out to water it?
16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?
17Even as He said this, all His opponents were put to shame, and all the people were rejoicing over all the glorious things that were being done by Him.
This is one of those pesky times when you think you have a scripture all picked out that would serve your purpose and you realize that it doesn’t say what you thought it said (how humbling) but as you read it, you realize that it fits still the topic at hand (it’s all good). When I started this series, I wrote about three differing scenarios that illustrate some of the many viewpoints that single black women face in their journey through this thing called life. The scenario I’d like to tackle today is the issue of the “black church” and it’s attitude towards single black women.
Sometime during the summer, a fellow blogger and twitter acquaintance of mine wrote an article charging the “black church” with the state of “keeping black women single”. And depending on you ask, some agreed with her, others, not so much. Before I tell you my thoughts about whether not I personally fault “black church” as a whole, I have an illustration I’d like to show you first. It’s concerning our heroine in the above scripture. As you notice, a demon has her bound. So bound that she’s bent over and can’t lift her head to look up and see the world around her. And she’s been in this state for EIGHTEEN YEARS!!! Jesus takes one look at her and says to her “Woman, you are released from your infirmity!” (for the King James fans “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” in keeping with the book by Bishop T.D. Jakes with the same name). In verse 14 of this text the ruler of the ruler of the synagogue is indignant over Jesus healing her on the sabbath (sometimes even a leader can hate on you). To which Jesus replied “You playactors (hypocrites)! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead it out to water it?And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?
Now you may wonder why I would choose to use this scripture about a women being bound by a demon of infirmity in conjunction with my single sisters. Am referring to singleness as a state of bondage?? Of course not. I’m single and do believe that once a person commits to enjoying the rich rewards that come with their “gift of singleness” there’s no more rewarding time in the life of a believing person. However what if I wanted to be married and felt like it was held up by some type of interference????? Hmmmm…. What if I thought “the church” was the reason for this “hold up”???? Hmmmm…. You see one the promises of the gospel message is that the oppressed should be delivered (Luke 4 :18). Like Jesus stated above about our heroine paraphrasing ” Doesn’t she, being a child of covenant, have a right to be set free???” After all this poor woman had bowed over for EIGHTEEN YEARS!!!!” And she obviously knew there was a problem or she wouldn’t have presented herself to Jesus in the first place. Marinate on that thought while I move on…..
Let me first answer that while I don’t agree that “black church” all by itself keeps black women single, some have suggested that certain teachings are the problem (not being “unequally yoked with an unbeliever”, not having sex until marriage, among others). But anyone who is saved and seen the consequences of just these two violations, alone can attest to the fact that the fallout from compromising God’s standards for our sexuality and marriage standards is enough to keep a person single the rest of their life. As Joyce Myer has stated “There’s nothing in heaven that is better than a good marriage, but there’s nothing in hell that is worse than a bad one”. Notice I said “God’s standard” and the “black church’s ” standard. The two are not always synonymous. They should be. But they aren’t and that’s part of the problem. The other part of the problem is the one I am addressing today.
Let me start by saying that it really makes me wince when I hear people say “black church” because ALL Christians are a part of the Body/Bride of Christ which includes being part of THE CHURCH (the ecclesia or “called out ones”)universal. So no matter whose membership role you’re on, you are a member of a worldwide organization whose membership is ever increasing and is not part of this present world. Anyway, reigning in my inner preacher, to just say nonchalantly that black church doesn’t keep black women single is just as bad as saying it does. Why, because both are blanket statements that don’t take in to account that even though we are part of the universal church, each assembly is different . So because one assembly has a healthy relationship with its Pastor/ leader doesn’t mean every assembly has that testimony. And every unhealthy assembly ain’t black!!! Many women of all ethnic persuasions complain about these same issues. And no I don’t believe the answer is to leave church as Ms. Cooper stated in her article. First of all, not all single women of any particular persuasion are feeling “pressed” to marry. Secondly, when a child thinks the answer to problems at home is to runaway from that home, I’m tempted to investigate that home to make sure that child ain’t being abused (yeah I said it). Everyone who leaves home ain’t leaving out of rebellion. Some conditions in some homes are so unbearable that some children need to be placed elsewhere (foster care, adopted out, what have you). Such as the church. Some church atmospheres are so oppressive and corrupt that even a beautiful thing like getting married can become a power struggle (know this firsthand, unfortunately). It ought not to be among the seed of Abraham.
Like our heroine in the above scripture, many women feel “bound” because they want to marry and feel as though they are being “kept single.” In some cases it may be that they are marrying “beneath their privilege” (it ain’t God’s best person or situation for them). In some cases however, it’s the work of a dysfunctional home environment (Pastor too controlling or worse). The beautiful thing about Jesus (the author and finisher our faith) is that He truly is the answer to all of our problems. Just like He was able to bring healing our above heroine, He can bring healing to this situation as well. I’m going address how in my next post next week. I’m going to discuss another issue that is concerning me in the whole Single Black Woman Conundrum .