Is the Power of the Gospel Strong Enough to Change the Plight of The African American Community?

Photo by Grant Blankenship

Photo by Grant Blankenship

A resolution for the condition of the African American Community

Part 1

In my introduction, I asked three questions to serve as a guide for my argument to the plight of the African American community.  "What has happened to us?"  Why is it that we lead the nation in almost every negative statistic?  Is the power of the gospel strong enough to change the plight of the African American community?  Let’s begin with the first two questions. “What has happened to us?”  “Why is it that we lead the nation in almost every negative statistic? 

I will argue that the answer to the first two questions is that the African American community is suffering from a serious spiritual crisis. 

Practically every single problem has its origin in a spiritual issue.  For years, African Americans have been known for being connected to the Christian church.  In times, past life was lived around the church.   However, living a Christ-centered life denies that connection.   Christ-centered living is where first there is a genuine commitment to Jesus Christ, and then all decisions and actions are governed by that commitment.  That commitment to Jesus and Christ-centered life are passed on through teaching, discipleship, and modeling by those who have made that commitment.  It is passed on to each generation.  The real truth is that as a people, we do not know what it truly means to live life in dependence on Jesus and to filter all of life through the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have talked the religious talk for years, but we have not lived out the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. This spiritual issue, pardon me, crisis, is in Christian churches across America but the black church specifically.  Why should we start with the black church? 

1 Peter 4:17-18 states this.  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

In our earlier history, we expressed some faith in Jesus and Almighty God whom we believed had the power to deliver us out of the oppression and discrimination perpetrated on us.  This faith became a basis and driving force for our liberation.  As God opened doors for us, African Americans began receiving more justice, equity and became a bigger part of the democratic process, (I’m not insinuating that we have arrived).  We began looking more and more to the government and democracy and less and less to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We did the same thing that Israel did when they rejected their God for a king.  They wanted to be like other people in the land.   We began looking to the government “for our change.” The government became our god and the drug of faith, “the real crack” of the African American community.  What does dependence on the government and democracy have to do with the spiritual issues in the African American community?  You also might be asking if dependence on the government is one of our problems, then why am I indicting the black church?  Let’s walk through our social history and spiritual demise starting with the entitlement program.   

The entitlement program was designed to prevent families experiencing unfavorable circumstances from going under completely.  The entitlement program, on the one hand, is a good program in regards to its intent.  On the other hand, in its structure and design, it has become one of the most destructive elements for the black community because it continually facilitates the breaking up of the family structure designed by God.  For example, in times past a woman could not receive assistance from the government if she was married.  For women to get help for themselves and their children the incentive giving them by the government (whether intentional or not) encouraged people to do away with the basic family structure that God set up between a husband and wife. 

Why is this a spiritual issue and an indictment on the black church?  Two things come to mind.  The first thing is the change of the family structure by limiting homes to a single parent.  When God designed marriage between a man and a woman, he said that it was "very good."  The second and an even most identifiable issue is the removal of men as the primary protectors, providers, role models, and mentors of young boys who will one day become fathers.  Jesus said this in Matthew 12:29. “Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.”  Over the years as the single-parent-families continue to rise, and husbands and fathers are no longer present in the homes, African Americans are being plundered by the many ills of society.  We are now raising angry children who have little or no respect for parents, authorities, themselves, or life.  Respect for these aspects are instilled in children primarily by fathers.  As a result of more women becoming the primary provider in the home through their qualifications for government assistance, many young boys grow up to be males who’ve learned to depend on women and government as opposed to leading and fending for themselves.  Many men won’t commit to a lifetime of marriage because their lady can get a check from the government.  Women are now the men in the homes, and the men are now fulfilling the role of women.  African American families have been seriously damaged because the roles of men have been degraded by a government system that promotes dependency. The entitlement program in its present state contributes greatly to the demise of African American families, and our own churches have yet to address it.  Many of the people on these programs are in our churches but are not being taught God's design for the family.  They are not being taught how to depend on Jesus and not to become a slave to the government.  Even from the pulpit our preachers lead our people in supporting political candidates that promise more government programs.  African American preachers and their congregations are more committed to the Democratic Party than they are to Jesus Christ.  African Americans know that these programs in their present state promote irresponsibility and the deterioration of our families yet our churches as a whole never address Christ-centered living that can lead one to more responsible living void of government dependence.  African American churches must be called into account and repentance for failing our people in this manner.  The family structure is the backbone of a strong community, city, state, or nation, and the African American community.  The following statistics show the effects of our misguided faith in looking to the government instead of Jesus to meet our needs.

More than 72% of all babies born in the African-American community are born to unwed mothers

Children from single-parent families are more prone than children from two-parent families to use drugs, be gang members, be expelled from school, be committed to reform institutions, and become juvenile murderers.

Single parenthood inevitably reduces the amount of time a child has in interaction with someone who is attentive to the child's needs, including the provision of moral guidance and discipline. According to a 1993 Metropolitan Life Survey, "Violence in America's Public Schools," 71 percent of teachers and 90 percent of law enforcement officials state that the lack of parental supervision at home is a major factor that contributes to the violence in schools. Sixty-one percent of elementary students and 76 percent of secondary children agree with this assessment. 

75% of children/adolescents in chemical dependency hospitals are from single-parent families. 

63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.

 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless  homes.

 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. 

47% of all single parent families are impoverished. 

The highest number of dropouts comes from single parent families.

A survey of 108 rapists undertaken by Raymond A. Knight and Robert A. Prentky revealed the 60 percent came from female-headed homes. 70 percent of those describable as 'violent' came from female-headed homes. 80 percent of those motivated by 'displaced anger' came from female-headed (single-parent) homes. Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families.

So then I refer back to my argument.  The African American community is suffering from a serious spiritual crisis.  This spiritual crisis over time resulted in the breakdown of the family.  This crisis can only be resolved by means of gospel living.  Right now, more than ever African American Churches must repent of indulging in simple emotional fervor, religious jargon, and hype and begin addressing the problems of our community from the perspective of the gospel.  The gospel of Jesus Christ changes the hearts of our people which is where all of our ills originate.  The gospel addresses the plight of our people from the perspective of the cross and all that Jesus came into this world to do for all mankind.  Whenever we come to the cross and live from the cross people change, families are strengthened, communities change, and we have a better society in which we play a vital role.  The gospel has the power to change us!  The spotlight is on the black church to lead its people in living out the gospel.  This is the first step to changing the plight of the African American community.

With much love and concern for Black Folks,

Pastor Lawrence Robinson