When I first received the request to interview Kevin Edwards, I wasn't sure what to think. Kevin is a member of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta Ga., home of the recently defamed pastor, Bishop Eddie Long. I found out that Kevin has been a member of New Birth for the past 10 years and has been an active member of the choir for quite some time. I was also told that he has a tremendous amount of loyalty to Bishop Eddie Long Long.
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I let Nyshia Taylor do the interview (which is below). Nyshia is a promising young journalism student at Morehead State University in Kentucky.
During Nyshia's interview with Edwards, I heard something I didn't expect. Rather than being an unapologetic and unconditional supporter of Long's integrity, Edwards was actually quite balanced. While he's quick to admit that he loves Bishop Long, he has a wait-and-see attitude about the allegations. He says that the young men sound compelling in their public statements and that there is a possibility that some unfortunate incidents may have occurred. But he also makes sure that Nyshia and the AOL Black Voices audience understand that he loves and respects Bishop Eddie Long, and that his respect won't be diminished, in spite of any pending revelations. Agree or disagree with him, at least Edwards is keeping it real when it comes to understanding that a person who might have done bad things is not necessarily a bad person in every context.
One of the most compelling points made by Mr. Edwards came right out of the bible. Edwards says that he is adamantly against homosexuality and that the bible preaches against it. He also says that homosexuality is a sin. But he also made the very interesting point that all sins are equal in the eyes of God, which implies that almost anyone in the church who sins is just as bad as the gay man standing next to them. This would seem to argue that in the eyes of Kevin Edwards and perhaps many other members of the church, there's no legitimate reason to ostracize homosexuals as if they are worse than the other sinners filling up the pews of the church.
On one hand, the point was quite clever and interesting. As the son of a pastor myself, it reminds me of the intellectual acrobatics that many Christians must endure in order to justify a wide array of unGodly activities, while simultaneously arguing that they are in good standing with the church. In fact, there are people who go to church every Sunday and engage in some of the nastiest, most unethical behavior imaginable. But many of these individuals are the first to condemn someone else for not coming to church and will gladly thump a bible verse on you to show how sanctified they are.
On the other hand, I see Edwards' remark as somewhat representative of the pressures that the black church can put on the intellectual freedom of its members. Before children even have a chance to choose for themselves, their religion is chosen for them. Therefore, nearly every aspect of our humanity must be justified by a bible verse or validated by a religious leader in order for us to accept it. My point is that, while most of us can't understand homosexuality (myself included), the fact is that it exists. No, it's not always because you were molested, perverted, crazy or undisciplined. It could be because you are simply human and born that way. As much as some hate to admit it, God made gay people too.
Let's pull our heads out of the sand and start being realistic. This is all just silly. Listen to the interview with Kevin Edwards below:
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.