Last week, Demetria Lucas D’Oyley penned a column for Essence asking why yet again the church was running to cape for Jamal Bryant in his latest Misadventures of Wayward Penis. She asks, with all sincerity, “Yet a pastor can allegedly impregnate a woman that isn’t his wife and there’s a stampede of folks willing to defend him?”
She compared the phenomenon to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner and his dick pic-gate.
Weiner continued his campaign, but public interest had plummeted. He lost the primary with five percent of the vote. The people had spoken. Sharing penis pictures— twice— was not tolerable from a politician. So how is sharing penis— twice— tolerable from a pastor?
Well, Demetria, I’d love to tell you why. People, particularly the Black church, rush to defend Bryant for the same reason they criticized Erica Campbell for wearing the infamous white dress. The same reason that tongues wag about Juanita Bynum being elevated to Bishop after having divorced her second husband (despite the fact that she divorced him to save herself from abuse). For the same reason that the Purity Movement is dominated in leadership and participation by women. The same reason that women are taught to dress to prevent rape and men aren’t taught to not rape. The same reason that women are ostracized in churches across the country for evidence of their sex lives (e.g. having a child) while men are seemingly given a pass.
The church continues to hold women responsible for men’s lack of self-control.
The church continues to ingrain a mentality in its female parishioners to regard their bodies as a dangerous thing of beauty. The church has convinced women that their body, their sexual being, is both a temptation or distraction for weak men and a reward for just, faithful men. Modesty, and its by-product of sexual abstinence, is preached as a benchmark for spiritual maturity in women so it becomes a matter rooted in shame. Christian women are practicing modesty in hiding their bodies because they want to be seen as good women and spiritually mature Christians in order to avoid the public shame heaped upon them by their church family when they step out of line.
You’d think this would cause women to be more sensitive to other women but, nope! Women of the church are often most critically vocal about the actions of another woman. Women were first to eviscerate Megan Good for being married to a minister and still showing up to a red carpet event dressed in her normal revealing attire. Women of the church told Erica Campbell “THIS IS NOT OKAY. Yes, you are a beautiful, curvy woman…but NO MA’AM YOU ARE SINGING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. Saints…smh COME ON,” for wearing a dress that covered every sexual (and sexualized) part of her body but hugged her God-given curves. Women continue to criticize the sexuality of other women for “taking their minds off the gospel and onto ungodly things.” Imagine that: women being held liable for the irresponsibility of another full grown person over whose actions they have no control.
The Church will almost always protect Jamal Bryant & men like him.
Unfortunately there’s no need to imagine it. We see it happening right before our eyes in the caping of the church for Jamal Bryant yet again. Maleness is privileged and exalted in the church. Jamal is excused because he is a man of God, pure and simple. The women into whose love pocket he’s repeatedly fallen and procreated are to blame for tempting Pastor Bryant. Unlike women, his maleness means that he cannot be discarded by the church due to repeated careless sexual decisions. The women should have known that he is a pastor and should have kept him from choosing to fall into sexual sin. The women should have helped him find strength in his time of weakness instead of causing him to submit to the desires of his flesh. It is an unspoken, yet profoundly understood, code of conduct within the church. The promiscuity of women that causes men of God to falter is why Jamal Bryant was excused for quoting Chris Brown “these hoes ain’t loyal” in 2014.
Is it a load of bulls**t? Absolutely. Yet, it is the explanation as to what’s happening. And it will continue to happen even when the next pastor is thrust into the spotlight and his infidelities are exposed. Women will continue to face ostracism, shame, and disfellowship. The men? Well, what can I say? The love of sexism continues to cover a multitude of sin. Internalized misogyny and patriarchal worship is a helluva drug and the church refuses to discontinue its prescription.