I’ve been thinking lately about the things we let pass us by. Things we really want, we are actually meant to have, but we settle because we are too afraid to trust God in the process of him providing his purpose in our blessing. I’m not regretting anything, but today’s Sunday sermon reminded me of a few things about being trusting enough to just go for it. In Numbers 13:30 Caleb speaks and tells the people “we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” They just viewed the land flowing with milk and honey, but started giving excuses why they couldn’t take it over. Ever seen an opportunity but talked yourself out of the blessing? Like “I’m not smart enough”, or “I don’t have the money now”. Or maybe “I don’t have the time to put into that project” which is tailor-made for you to begin creating your own work schedule.” God always sees the bigger picture before we do. So when he tells us to go, do, and step out on faith, and we pout and insist on giving him excuses, we are judging his promises. I love how the Pastor put it today. He simply said, if we really have a relationship with God, we ought to act like we expect him to work on our behalf. We ought to continue to praise him even when we are unsure of what the outcome is. I raise my hand and admit guilt because sometimes I forget that God’s promises pertain to me especially when things aren’t going like I expect them too. My finances still aren’t where I need to be especially after 6 months earlier in the year of freelancing (because of job loss)and having sporadic work. But the thing is, that time was simply a distraction from God’s promise to be Jehovah Jireh. This year more than ever has taught me to focus and not get distracted by what’s going on around me. The uncertainty, the loneliness, could easily take over and force me to start fending for myself. But God has given me clear direction. And it’s never been to give my opinion about his word or the direction he’s leading me.
Today, the instruction was to own the land. Not question God, not give my two cents about it, and certainly not try to go behind His back and design my own “CandyLand” that looks like what I think is best. In other words, stop looking at my abilities and assuming I can’t write as well as others, can’t create a healthy relationship again, and can’t overcome my own issues with self-doubt. God never asked me my thoughts about any of that. He really didn’t. What he did ask me to do what to stop looking my abilities but start looking at abilities of the God I worship. I’m not opposed to receiving God’s blessings in my life and I thank him that even when my perspective is off , he’s willing to correct my vision. So, I don’t see my obstacles as giants anymore, but more like the tiny grasshoppers that I can easily overcome by simply following God’s hand and move around them.
Black Women. Unprotected Sex. Faithful in church. Christlike. Love the Lord. Pure in heart. Still having Sex.
HIV is killing the Black community one by one as the CDC reports the highest HIV + rates exist in the Black community. Black Americans account for only 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet they account for 52 percent of all new HIV infections each year. We are at risk more than any other group. Obviously, this is a social issue that could easily be addressed by the cornerstone of our community, the Black Church. Why? Because black women make up the largest populations in the predominantly black church settings. An article written by Theola Labbe’-Debose indicates that ‘black women are the most religious people in the nation.’ But with that comes the quandary of faith and sexuality. The elephant in the room. That thing. That belief. That church folk don’t have sex. Right? But admitting that church going members are sexually active is almost acknowledging that what’s taught scripturally is not being received. HIV is a touchy subject because initially, the assumption was it’s a gay man’s disease. With 52 percent of heterosexual women testing positive, nothing could be further from the truth. One in five people (adolescents and adults) in the United States are unaware that they are infected with the virus. So, the blind folded dance continues. Many churches (in general) are aware that many of their members are not abstinent, but find themselves in the precarious position of addressing safe sex or ignoring the reality of risky behaviors and praying one day their choices will change.
I’d like to challenge the notion that HIV is a social issue worth addressing and propose that the church is the perfect place to do so. It’s clear that the majority of Black women use their faith as a strength regardless of denomination. So, it stands that women who are carrying the HIV virus may be in your pew on Sunday morning. While we don’t expect teachings about sexuality to change, we also must acknowledge the risk Black women place themselves in when sleeping with men without protection, without regard for their self-esteem or physical health.
Questions to think about:
Would you willingly get tested in a church setting for HIV instead of going to a clinic?
Would you support your church creating a ministry devoted to those who suffer with HIV but are thriving in spite of the disease?
Would you have compassion for someone with HIV just the same as a member with cancer?
While your pastor, spiritual leader may not agree with risky sexual behaviors (as he shouldn’t), would he consider tailoring sermons to teach the need for “knowing your status?” as a part of honoring the body God gave you?
Bravo to the churches who are getting involved and tackling the heavy topic of HIV and not shrinking from the stigma that sex shouldn’t be discussed in church. If you’re a woman of faith, you may sit next to a member who is HIV positive. They may have even contracted it from another member sitting in another pew. Married couples are at risk if there is an issue of monogamy. It’s risky to connect the two topics of sexuality with spirituality but I’d rather have folk uncomfortable for an hour or so than living with a disease that will change the course of their lives. And if risky sexual behaviors is a constant for Black women, perhaps there needs to be more talk why the faith we cling so heavily too for our hopes and dreams, fades away when sex comes into the picture.