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« Training up little barbarians | Main | Justice Fellowship head featured on ’Religion & Ethics Newsweekly’ »

September 21, 2007

When bad things happen to good examples

Bynum

The attack in a hotel parking lot here last month was remarkable not only because the victim, Juanita Bynum, is the most prominent black female television evangelist in the country, who is pals with Oprah, admired by Aretha, and who recently signed on to campaign for Obama.

It was shocking, especially to legions of women who had latched onto her message that only chastity and self-respect would bring true love, because the attacker who choked, stomped and kicked her, Ms. Bynum said, was her husband.

According to The New York Times, many of the faithful have been thrown for a loop by what happened to Bynum precisely because she was their inspiration, someone whose example helped them go against the grain of a sex-obsessed world. Her happily-ever-after marriage after a long struggle as a Christian single woman made many women feel that things could turn out all right for them. But things didn't turn out all right for her.

“She’s a powerful trailblazer,” said Shayne Lee, a sociologist of religion at Tulane University who closely follows what has become known as the neo-Pentecostal movement, which emphasizes self-improvement and prosperity over social issues like poverty and crime. “She resonated with so many people because sex is out there in a way that I don’t think any other preacher, or any other black preacher, has tapped into on a grand scale.”

The assault, Dr. Lee said, is a challenge to Ms. Bynum’s credibility: “Maybe she’s been living a lie all these years.”

That interpretation hardly seems fair to Bynum, who, it seems, did try to practice what she preached. And let's face it, most of us look for role models, needing to know that someone's been where we are and made it through. We know that God is sufficient to meet all our needs, yet still we search for that visible reminder that we instinctively seem to need.

But then, what happens when that prop gets knocked out from under us?

I don't know -- that's why I'm asking. What do you think?

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Comments

Patricia

No matter what, don't shoot the messenger. We are constantly criticizing the people who dare to get out of the mainstream and make a statement about purity. My life was horrific, but I still believe it could have been better if I had made the right choices. Don't make excuses for me because there are none.

Steve (SBK)

(From the title I thought this was going to be an English lesson... oh well)

- It doesn't seem fair, to me, to accuse Ms. Bynum of 'living a lie' (like accusing someone who advocates healthy food of choking on a carrot... or something).

- I was listening to the Sermon on the Mount on the way to work this morning... and Chapter 6 (of Matthew) always makes me re-evaluate my priorities. Ultimately, we shouldn't prop our hopes on ourselves, or other people, but on God. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

...Do unto others...
...you know how to give good gifts...
...where moth and rust do not destroy...

Where is our value? Where is our hope? I'm not saying we won't have troubles... but we have faith (including obedience), and hope... and love.

Lee

Gina, we only need one Way, one Truth and one Life. If any other human being was truly successful, especially on the basis of principles, we'd have two Ways. Or, with one Way, we'd have a non-divine human who was identical to Jesus.

I think this explains James 4:6.

And though I'm sorry for Ms. Bynum, I think it should be ultimately helpful for those who would otherwise be tempted to turn her into their "own personal Jesus Christ". (cf. "The Matrix")

labrialumn

Who is expecting perfection in a fallen world?

I am somewhat skeptical of Mrs. Bynum, due to her associations and commitments mentioned in the article, which suggest that at best, she has an incomplete Christian worldview. Being in a movement that emphasizes self-improvement and prosperity over Biblical concerns, if the article is correct, doesn't add any confidence.

Chris Clukey

No one who helps Barack Obama in his quest to become President is a "good example." Good for her that she promotes abstinence and marriage, but her chosen candidate believes that sexual convenience is so important that young children should have to die a horrible death for it. Bynum either doesn't care about that or lacks discernment.

Russell

It is sad and she did not deserve what happend to her. We must be very careful who we marry.
We have to stop putting these ministers too high they are human not The Creator.
Things like this happens when we let famous ministers become our god.
These ministers like her need to stop showcasing and preach The TRUTH and not their truth.
This is just the tip of the iceberg there will be more fallout of others.

Bottom line it is left up to you to seek The CREATOR by reading HIS WORD.

Donice Reiss

Shouldn't have happened but remember there is always 3 sides to a story. His, Her's and then the truth.

Let's not be so quit to judge him and praise her. One thing I have learned in my life is that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. And we may never know. There is nothing different about these two people but that their lives are very public. Please pray for both of them.

peace
donice

Adina

It is never easy being a person many look up to as a role model. Sometimes it's a role we choose; sometimes it's a role given to us as people gather around. I do not know this lady, but from my own personal experience, much more is learned from a person by how they walk through the trials and difficulties. Her message (and the message of my life) can speak more (or less) of God's goodness by how we respond in life's trials. This woman needs our prayers. And we (me included) need to remember that no person should be put on a pedestal. We can learn from *anyone*. Whether they live rightly or wrongly.

Today, I see a woman who needs friends to gather around. To face this trouble alone is difficult. To face this trouble under the focus of the media, more difficult.

I read a book once called "The Tale of Three Kings". One king (David) had the heart of God. Another (Saul) had a heart against the things of God. A third was somewhere in between. Over and over again it said,
No one ever really knows whether someone is a David or a Saul. Only God knows for sure, and [God] rarely ever tells.

Let's learn from Juanita Bynum. It's my hope that I will show more compassion than judgment, for I, too, have spoken strongly of what I believe and what I hope for ... but I haven't lived that ideal without tripping up and falling short.

But God can redeem. I think He does it often. We surrender to Him, and He gets the glory as we say "GOD helped me."

Blessings, Juanita Bynum. Many, many blessings. May God give you courage and strength to follow Him each day.

Gary

I haven't closely followed this story, but it seems to me that Ms. Bynum is not the failure - her husband is.
Given that, I think we can assume that her particular views should not be disparaged because of this incident.
What I'm interested in seeing is if she can or is willing to salvage this relationship under God's example of reconciliation. Is she truly willing to make ALL attempts to return to her husband's side, or will she boot the bum in the quise of "saving face"? WIll she put her efforts into saving her marriage (thus becoming a true witness for God) or will she file for divorce in order to free herself from this supposed "weight" dragging down her career?

G

Grizzly Mom

Regarding Gary’s comment, would he “salvage this relationship under God's example of reconciliation. and make all attempts to return to her husband's side...becoming a true witness of God" with someone as much bigger than him as Juanita’s husband is of her, wanted to reconcile with him?

Common sense says you wouldn’t tell a person to go back to a physically abusive relationship …..unless they were married because “divorce is a sin.” Is beating a sin? Is allowing yourself to be beat one? Is modeling that men beat women to your children a sin? Is telling women to return to abusive men a sin? If someone you loved had been beaten you would probably think so. I can't imagine Jesus telling women to return to abusive men.

As a state certified police instructor I know that most domestic violence is committed by men who have a history of abusing multiple partners, that have a history of being abused. Premature sexual intimacy, which is a huge problem in our society, is also a pattern for these relationships. Ms Bynam admitted to having problems in both of these areas. Unfortunately, those who hold stereotypical male/female role views experience the most abuse. This is a big problem in the church, because we preach so strongly against divorce and for forgiveness, sometimes when it is not the most loving, wise and couragous thing to do. We need to stop preaching reactionary bible verses and create a culture where violence toward the less powerful is sin, and teach women to choose better relationships.

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