Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Orville Taylor | Thou shalt not call my woman a whore

Published:Sunday | June 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I felt like calling Pastor Gino Jennings a little dictator, but I couldn't get past the first syllable. Over the past few years, he has caught my attention with the brash and uncompromising posture that he takes regarding what 'the scriptures say'.

Fundamentally, I take no issue with any man or woman who sticks close to his or her holy book and attempts to live or preach by it. Indeed, we have too many 'by-faith' Christians who can't show any knowledge of the most important book in their lives. As a result, they retreat to a tired "the Bible says". And of the few who can cite specific chapters or verses, only a very small percentage can tell who was being addressed and what the context was.

This kind of sheep-like behaviour allows pastors to trample over their minds and sow seeds of their own values. It is not unusual for pastors to pull or preach sermons with quotes from Shakespeare. Even worse, there are occasions when entire bouts of the 'Word' are based on a cryptic 'biblical' reference, which exists only in the mind of the imaginative preacher. One such example is when they lament young people becoming promiscuous and less responsible, thus 'children having children'.

As I have said countless times, the only places in the Bible where there is reference to the wave of juvenile pregnancies is in the third book of Chronicles and in Psalms 159. The truth is, ignorance is bliss, and there are many happy sheep who are totally oblivious to the presence of canis lupus, the wolf.

One has to be a blind sheep to comfortably and diligently pay the mortgage of a rich pastor or buy him a new Lamborghini, or in the case of American Jesse Duplantis, to purchase a US$54m jet to minister, especially bearing in mind that Jesus spoke unequivocally about the likelihood of rich men entering into heaven.

The prosperity gospel is a paradox because the gospel is not about prosperity on earth. Everyone knows the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Earlier in Luke 6:24, he warned, "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort." If there were any doubts, the appropriately named Pastor Creflo Dollar should read Luke 16:13, which says, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Then in the most poignant of his teachings, Matthew 19:24 declared, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." This is one of my all-time verses, and gave me comfort that as a young, ambitious but poor man, squeezing through the needle eye was a more likely prospect for me than my rich friends. Given this dichotomy, the rich man's tight hold on his wealth prevents him from entering, even through the back door. Titus 1:7, which perfectly pinpoints the needle-eye reference for pastors, states that they should not "try to get rich by cheating others".

Paul, who used to be known as Saul, speaking in the spirit and not for himself as he often did, told Timothy about the love of money being the root of all evil.

Do not be mistaken. I am not saying that one should not pursue money or wealth. Far from the truth. But I am neither Jesus nor a pastor, and there are other things that I like, which are not approved in the strict sense of the Bible.

Pastors have a responsibility to not only be faithful to their scriptures, which, for me, is actually the gospel and not the 'scripture' referred to in the New Testament. They must be truthful, and importantly, treat people as they would want to be treated. Those are not my words. The man who the organised religious leaders nailed up on a T sign said so unequivocally.

Second, they must also distinguish between when they are speaking from their doctrinal or opinionated position and not as if they are channelling the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

In the saga where Mr Vegas tried to hold his Heads High while Jennings was killing him with the no, the pastor was neither bowing nor acceding to his request to play the tape.

In this video clip, Jennings described women who wore lipstick, make-up, fake hair, and other beauty enhancements as prostitutes. To the category, he added references to females with their breasts out, those showing their imprinted 'birth canals', which an eagle-eyed pastor couldn't help but notice. It was unambiguous.

Finally, he said that if any of those features described the wives of clergymen, they were married to "hoes". Vegas did an eponymous song 16 years ago, and he knows what a ho is.

Apart from the deep offence my lipstick- and make-up-wearing, braid-toting believers in Jesus must feel, Jennings has no scriptural basis based on the teachings of the Lord to say that it is unchristian or sinful to not dress humbly. Inasmuch as 1 Peter 3:3 teaches that "... adornment must not be merely external; braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewellery, or putting on dresses;" this simply means that dressing up has no impact on one's salvation.

Of course, dressing in pseudo-nakedness is another. In any event, dressing modestly is what is being taught. Why does Jennings suit up like a rich capitalist or lawyer? By the way, did he read John 7:24, which says, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment"?

Finally, can someone tell me why a truth-loving pastor would advertise a lie that he agreed to clash with Rev Carla Dunbar and Vegas? He knows the Bible better than I do. There are many verses that describe one who does such things.

- Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, and author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.