You’ve probably heard Kim Burrell’s name mentioned more in the last week than you have in the last year. Kim would likely rather it be for her contribution to the soundtrack of the movie Hidden Figures, than for her now infamous anti-gay sermon that recently went viral. If you have no clue of who Kim Burrell is or what I’m talking about, she’s an African American gospel singer from Houston, Texas and founder of The Love & Liberty Fellowship Pentecostal Overcoming Holy Church, where she serves as Senior Eldress/Overseer-Bishop. It’s also apparently where she serves condemnation for same-gender loving people.
While I do not personally agree with Burrell’s message, there are many who do who have questioned the backlash she’s received – noting her right to free speech, her “valid” interpretation of the Bible, and the failure of other christians to cover Kim with grace and love as our fellow sister in Christ. Here are a few thoughts of my own:
- Although speech and religion are free in this country, the consequences for how we use those freedoms can be costly. It’s no different from a racist losing their job for publicly making racists statements which is fully within their constitutional right. This type of free speech is no less eligible for scrutiny because it happened in a church or is ostensibly based on of the Bible. Everything that is biblical is not necessarily ethical or moral or just. There are justifications for slavery, racism, polygamy, misogyny, and rape – all in the Bible. Hence, the necessity for a new covenant to redeem the old. Thank you Jesus.
- Kim isn’t preaching anything atypical of what you’ll hear from many pulpits across the world unfortunately, she just has a higher profile and therefore a greater level of responsibility and accountability for her words. Moreover, her celebrity can largely be attributed to the very people she condemned in her sermon. There isn’t a gospel song that has been sung without the contribution of a member of the LGBTQI community – this is my opinion but I’d bet my life on it. Kim knows this and has used it to her advantage, hence her scheduled, but now cancelled appearance on Ellen – the gayest person on daytime television. The gays are cool as long as they are a personal asset, but perverted when they aren’t.
- Love is transactional. Everyone is deserving of love according to Christ, but the very reason Christ existed as man is because we were not and are not Him and never will be. People give love to those whom they receive love from. It’s a transaction. My christianity tells me to love everyone, even my enemy – and for that there should be space to love Kim and cover her as a fellow Christian. However the reality is she said nothing that came from a place of love or compassion, therefore she’s not being shown any right now. She’s broken, we’re broken, and so is our exchange of love.
- Sin is a condition, not an act. We were born into the condition of sin. Our very existence is sinful. There is nothing we can do about it – Christ took care of what we couldn’t and still can’t. Therefore, there is no particular act that makes my sin less or more than the next persons. Our condition is all the same. That doesn’t mean preachers shouldn’t preach about sin. I’m not a fan of ministries, like Joel Osteen’s for example, that never address sin. When we fail to address sin we fail to address humanity. But I am equally against the preaching of hand-picked transgressions that conveniently excuse the sins of the preacher while they weaponize their words to marginalize certain groups of people that we the people have deemed unacceptable in God’s sight. If you want to admonish hand-picked sins on Sunday morning, pick your own. Bottom line, we all suffer from the same sinful condition. It’s innate within us, not something we create or eliminate within us.
- Sex less. Less sex. Love more. More love. Often times when people of faith speak about the “sin of homosexuality” it’s ALWAYS about the act of sex being outside of the natural order and never about the beautiful love two people can share for one another. One of the reasons I prefer the label “same-gender loving” as opposed to “homoSEXual” is because it makes the focus less about sex and more about love. When we look at it from a perspective of people loving other people, I can’t think of anything more Christ-like.
While I’m certain of what Christ says about all peoples (to love them), for those of you determined to pervert the word of God to do anything but love people, know this: when judgement comes, it’s a better chance that your God will say, “Now I didn’t tell you to love people THAT much, but you loved as I commanded, so come on in,” rather than, “You didn’t love people enough, but I’ll let you in – I guess. Maybe.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather God tell me I loved people too much rather than not enough. You can gamble with your salvation if you want, but I’m not taking any chances in this life or the next. Love is in, anit-love is out. #UBtheCURE