The John Gray scandal is painful to watch. In African American preaching circles, it seems to be “socially acceptable” for male preachers to have multiple side chicks because they really “love” their wife – they just have needs. We all need compassion and forgiveness daily. I’m grateful for it. However, I’m emotionally drained when I see the pressure that is placed on African American women to be “Proverbs 31 women” when men can’t even exhibit enough self-control to resist temptation.
Why is this narrative of suffering concerning the African American woman and the African American man so normative? The only person I’ll willingly suffer for is Jesus Christ. Are “we” as African American women that desperate for love that we will raise another woman’s badly behaved boy? Again, why is this the narrative?
Ok, here is my second set of questions.
Whose teaching the men how to be “men”? We have plenty of services that teach you how to shout, wear garments, be a better Pastor, but who is teaching African American men how to be a man of one wife? I understand the epidemic of “fatherlessness” both biologically and spiritually, but is this a good enough excuse? I love African American men, I honor them, but I’m no fool. The worst thing a man could ever do to me is show me their immaturity, especially as it relates to self-control and promiscuity. At some point, all boys have to become men and it's unfair to drag a woman through that evolution if it involves mistreatment, dishonor, fornication, abuse, jealousy.. etc.
Nothing is attractive about a man (or woman) having a high body count WHILE MARRIED. Spare me the “let’s normalize loose sex” talk. To hear a man brag about smashing a female while married is disgusting, but it happens. To hear a hear a man brag amount talking to multiple females when he string along old faithful... despicable. It takes two… and of course, only a certain type of woman is satisfied with being a side chick.
This type of “struggle love” is not an ingredient necessary for the survival and progression of African American women. Men, you can’t debate me all day long. However, the fact that a man would even attempt to defend their promiscuity should indicate how disconnected they are from honoring God with their body, mind, soul, and spirit. We all make mistakes, but this right here is a behavioral issue. Period.
I remember the moment I overheard the guy I was dating make a sexually lucid comment about a woman walking by to his friend at a group outing. The only reason I didn’t smack the ___ out of him was because there were other people around that didn’t hear his comment and if I reacted the way I wanted to, they fully wouldn’t understand my anger. I calmly walked out of the building because if I didn’t, I was going take my hand across his face so he could remember the moment.
I walked out the building, called my therapist, she told me address the situation when I was calmer. I walked around the building, then came and took my seat. A few days later, I addressed it in the most sanctified way ever, but trust – I brought all of the smoke and fire. I’m not stupid enough to think that men won’t admire beauty, I just expected Christian men to honor their commitment to God. I told my closest friend about this experience, she said, “Yea, that was disrespectful, but Dee… that’s normal”.
WHY IS IT NORMAL?
I expect hormonal boys to whisper loosely about the girls in their school. I expect non-Christian men to have multiple sexual partners that they pass around. But I had such an expectation of honor... it just blew my mind. I do understand that everyone, including Christian Leaders, will make mistakes. However, John Gray's situation is just a small piece of this pie. These men know what they are doing is wrong, but when they find friends to sin with together, it's cool, right? Thankfully, quite a few Christian leaders have been open about their promiscuities/moral failures and we can see their progress. Praise God! Let the records show that their lives are suppose to serve as warnings, not models or something to aspire to.
What would happen if we, as African American women (all women), only tolerated what we deserved?
How many of couples would still be married?
Wait, how many of us would even be in relationships or entanglements?
Is it wishful thinking for a woman to desire to be loved properly?
I’m not saying that Jesus Christ is the only person I want to sleep with, but where is the reverence for the statues of God and the honor of women? I understand pagans and why they don’t practice monogamy. But Christian men? Preachers of the gospel? I see why so many affluent woman prefer to be single and with a vibrator. Tolerating the tantrums, immaturity, and shenanigans of an underdeveloped man is emotional labor that does not come with a salary.
Here’s the bigger question, is the suffering "in love" worth it?
For some, Black women are not afforded the luxury of experiencing a good relationship. Black women are not worthy of beautiful love stories that we see on Hallmark or Lifetime. Successful love stories for Black women seemed to be marked solely by our ability to endure suffering and continue to stand with partners who demean, abuse and cheat on us with grace…. And then apologize, cry, buy us a few gifts, and finally do better.
When two humans get together, love immediately becomes imperfect. However, I do not think it’s wrong to still expect men to honor their wives the same way they honor Christ. Isn’t this biblical? Even in romantic relationships, honor is still necessary… it’s foundational.
African American women are taught to present themselves with dignity and class. We are expected to be educated, saved and freaky, relatable but taken. As an African American woman that expects to be loved well, I know I’ve tolerated more than I should have. I regret it. But now that I know better, it’s so liberating, I feel the release to be loved well and I won’t except less. So as I conclude, let me be clear:
Suffering is not a “right of passage” for African American women to be loved properly.
If you’re reading this, and you’ve experienced infidelity, I acknowledge your pain. I know that experience was heart wrenching, but I’m so glad you’ve survived it. If it’s still painful to process, there is no judgement here. But I assure you, God can heal all things.
If you’re reading this and you’re struggling in your relationship, you’re not an anomaly. If you need professional help, seek it. I’ve learned that one conversation can heal your entire soul. Conversations are healing. Keep having conversations. Sometimes, healing comes in pieces, but one day you’ll be whole.
If you’re reading this and you’re ready to struggle in a relationship, learn how to communicate now lol. Seriously, you’re worth real love. Not “struggle love” where you have to be mistreated first. I’m not going to promise you that there won’t be offense, but I pray for you to experience a love that outweighs all of the bad days.
Black women deserve to experience a real love.