who Jesus wants to lead the church

straight white men cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Straight White Men” by nakedpastor David Hayward

Jesus didn’t say this but by the way the church behaves you’d think he did.

Actually, what inspired this cartoon is a BBC article I read this morning titled Cleveland abductions: Do white victims get more attention?. The writer, Tara McKelvey, claims that nearly half of those abducted in the USA are not white, but the news coverage certainly does not reflect it. She quotes McIlwain, a researcher, who says: “Our national ideal of who is vulnerable – and who holds victim status – are those who are white and female.” The ideal rescuer is also white. A similar opinion can be read in CNN’s article, We’re obsessed when it’s white women in trouble.

I wonder if the church’s ideal of who is saved, who is loved by God and who leads the church is white but not female. When we think of who is at the center of the church, its theology and its activity, do we imagine straight white men? Some would argue that we don’t even have to imagine it at all because it is indeed the reality. I know some women engaged in the theological conversation who agree.

It is a source of great frustration because even though women, people of color, and people of various sexual orientations and identities are raising their voices and sometimes being heard, those at the control center are straight white men who may be or pretend to be sympathetic to their voices but are unable or unwilling to change the landscape because they’re hopelessly entangled in it. How does one extricate themselves from a system that is so well established and so interwoven with their very identities and roles? It’s like asking white people to return the land to the indigenous people and walk away.

It’s not just a matter of giving up the wheel but of changing vehicles. It is radical and seems impossible, but it must be done.

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  • Racism. Racism. Racism. Racism.

    This is why people of all colors, races, and genders and sexual orientations come to America in droves. because it is so racist.

    What a joke.

  • I have no idea Steve what you mean by this? What the heck does this have to do with my post?

  • bintalshamsa

    If that’s all that you grasped from the article, then you are in very poor shape. SMH

  • I don’t know…I think the church definitely believes Jesus came to save all people, but only in order to turn them into the equivalent of straight white men. Whatever else a person is will be erased as soon as they say the Magic Words to buy their salvation.

  • I think the churches theme, “come as you are” can be a bold faced lie. They are words that sound loving and forgiving, but people soon realize that they are just words and not backed up by action.

    This can be true of gender, race, personality, pasts, culture’s. If you don’t conform to a suburban, white, middle class lifestyle, you aren’t going to fit in as easily in the evangelical church.
    It’s just an opinion, and one I’ve based on experience’s I had and witnessed.


  • You highlight racism in your post and you wonder why I bring it up?

    Give me a break.

  • Pat68

    As a Clevelander, I can say that Amanda (who is white) and Gina (who is Hispanic) got a lot of attention, but that is primarily due to the efforts of their families and community activists. Michelle Knight (who is white), I don’t even recall hearing about her disappearance, but it is becoming clear that her family unit is somewhat broken and I think she struggled with mental and emotional issues even before the kidnapping.

    I would have to agree with your assessment though, David, re: whites getting preferential treatment overall. I think that those who tend to get ignored are either people of color or those who are disenfranchised, regardless of the color of their skin. Our society can be very dismissive of those who don’t fit a particular mold and I have experienced this firsthand as an African-American woman. Either, you’re ignored because you’re poor and uneducated, or in my case, treated with suspicion because you don’t fit that mold. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and I am thankful for those who treat people like human beings regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.

  • Oh, I forgot, Steve, that America is free of racism because there are a lot of different races there.

  • I like that Amy… turn them into swm

  • i agree Esther.

  • Ya… my post is a generalization. I agree. I think we also agree that generalizations are generalizations because they are generally true.

  • the larger evanjellyfishical-everybody goes but nobody is a part of-church certainly lies about that. But the more intimate church, the church of individuals that seek grace and extend love from Christ don’t really act like that. It was true in the first century and it’s true today… Paul calls out the elitist favoritism and hypocricy of Peter just like we boldy proclaim the law of the spirit and the gospel of grace.

    We welcome anyone into the life giving hope of glory in Christ… black white, male female, jew gentile, straight gay, rough and smooth. That is the real gospel the one that doesn’t get splattered across megachurch websites and TBN. There is plenty of room at the table and there is an open invitation.

  • Al Cruise

    Very true, but it can be done, it is difficult. You have to let love lead the way, that is key, you can’t get in front of of it with silly rules and theologies. We have run a service for 7 years, and have seen many amazing things.

  • Gary

    So what’s got your panties in such a knot on this Steve? Seems like if you have a point to make it would be much more beneficial to simply make it rather than stand on the side and throw smelly shit bombs on David’s blog.

  • klhayes

    So do you have an explanation as to why this phenomenon occurs?

  • mhelbert

    Exactly. I watched a video of Richard Twiss who stated that the indigenous people of North America have been told that Jesus loves them…but, hates their ceremonies and their dance and their drums and their….
    All are welcome as they are, but none are welcome to stay as they are.

  • klhayes

    While things have changed in America, we need to remember out history is rooted in racism and the ideal. Religion is a part of that as Native Americans and Africa slaves were forced to become Christian.

    I am reminded of the schools used to “civilize” Native Americans. Children were forcibly removed from tehir homes, not allowed to speak their native language and Christianized without their parents’ permission. I believe the slogan was “Kill the Indian to save the man.”

    And to the this day, there is tension between light-skinned and dark-skinned Blacks (again a lot better but still there). Dark skinned black people have told me I will never be able to experience what they experience (being followed around in a store, etc.) b/c I am light. It never even occurred to me that I would be treated better and that is wrong. I know that being light-skinned is desirable in India as well. They have dating sites that list skin tone.

    We don’t think about these things day in and day out but they are there. I don’t assume that anyone is racist, but many of us have been conditioned to believe that their is a certain, desired look/standard of beauty. And it is there because there is a historical background that has set that foundation. It’s time to destroy that foundation.

  • klhayes

    Yelling “racism” is an attempt to silence you…glad it didn’t 🙂

  • takes more than that! 😉