The most recent salvo in the tired, trite racial newlywed lame game is the CNN piece, “Does the Black Church Keep Black Women Single?”, written in response to a blog post on Surviving Dating. My answer is yes, d’oh! So does the white Pentecostal and evangelical church, but of course that’s not the subject of the piece.
So why am I upset? Well, for starters, I think the subject is complicated, asinine, and fraught at the same time. I should know. After all, I wrote a book about African-American women, and found that many of the women I studied in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) historically either had outlived their husbands, been divorced, or were too busy doing church work to be tied down to a husband. Having a husband meant that they could not give their ultimate all for the number one man on most African-American womens’ lips, and it’s not Denzel. It’s Jesus.
For many women in churches like COGIC, being in love with Jesus means that most other men, whether desirable as a husband or not, stood in the way of the number one relationship. One person I interviewed even had a name for it: “being loosed” from your husband to do the Lord’s work. “Being loosed” could happen because the husband left because the wife was at church too much, they divorced, or the husband died. Others were in horrible marriages, often with physical and emotional abuse involved. Some never married. Yet the church held to the belief that marriage was the most important, desirable state. If a woman was not married, someone was either praying or fasting for her husband to come, or introducing her to any man who walked through the door.
My book covered the years 1912-1964. What is the problem in the 21st century?