Stupid "Torah Boring"

So today I start a short series on the stupid things people do in the name of God. Short not for lack of material. The list is long so I will have to be selective. From “Christians” who protest at the funeral of soldiers killed in the Iraq War to pastors who promote a Koran-burning ceremony to bombing abortion clinics to starting the Crusades to wrapping someone in a scroll purported to be the Torah and proclaiming him “king,” there is no end to this!

This last week was just too much. Bishop Eddie Long, at one time pastor of a 25,000 member congregation, got himself wrapped in a lot more than the Torah when he decided to be part of a bizarre ritual declaring him “king.” Read the story here and watch the CNN video.

Now, mind you, this is a man who should be quietly ruminating on the implications of the recent developments in his life and ministry. Four young men accused him of sexual coercion and before the case went to trial, he settled out of court. Why did he settle? We have the right to ask. His wife asked and apparently didn’t get satisfaction. She filed for divorce last year.

So why would you subject yourself to a ridiculous pageant which was bound to evoke strong reactions from everyone with even a bit of common sense about their head? Maybe because the man is dying to cut the slate clean. He wants to turn the clock back and once again be the man of power and reputation that he once was. He wants to get all the little pieces of the broken vase, glue them together, and by a stroke of magic make the vase whole again. But is this how God sees him?

The “Rabbi” who did the shameful did seems to think so. This man is born again, he proclaimed. He is a king. But the king in the Old Testament was supposed to be a servant to the people. Sure, God warned the people of Israel that the king would place demands upon them, but God’s king was supposed to be humble. And Jesus’ model of piousness was to put the interests of others before your own. And the Bible is full of injunctions about how even though God forgives sins, there are always adverse consequences to rebellion.

“Bishop” Long is wrong and he ought to be ashamed of himself. He apologized to the Anti-Defamation League and the apology was accepted. I am glad for that, but if I take his apology seriously, it means that either  he is stupid or he thinks all the rest of us are.

I still wonder: how can these self-proclaimed “servants of God” live with themselves? I wish they would know how much they are embarrassing God and how much people like me and others have to come after them and try to clean up the mess they have left behind.

Here is a possible contribution Bishop Long and his favorite “Rabbi” made last week: because of their stupidity, several people may have turned away from the God of the Bible. Shame on you both!

Ivanildo C. Trindade