Bishop Eddie Long: A Wake Up Call to Each One of UsTuesday, September 28th 2010 @ 10:21 AM
As you may have heard, one of the top news makers and most shocking stories this past week has been the homosexual allegations leveled against one of the world's most popular and controversial black televangelists, Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.
Bishop Long may be a celebrity pastor, but he is also a man who is not unfamiliar with controversy.
The Bishop, who is known for spearheading the charge of "men becoming men" through his preaching, teaching, books and school, has caused many to raise their eyebrows over the years.
A bit about the Bishop. It has been widely reported that Bishop Eddie Long drives around in a $350,000 Bentley, has sported two expensive Rolex watches on television - one on each wrist - travels around the world in a private jet and stays at the most expensive and luxurious hotels - hotels many of us could only dream of staying in. He has been known at times to take his "entourage" of family, friends and business partners with him when he travels.
The Bishop's home, many say, is not only expensive - but beyond breathtaking. He is known to openly lead an extremely expensive, over-the-top, lavish lifestyle. Quite the contrast to Jesus Christ who Himself said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20 KJV)
Controversial and troubling photos have recently emerged, disturbing many, of Bishop Long posing in a mirror with his cell phone, taking pictures of himself after he worked out - showing off his body, posing in a tight spandex shirt and shorts. People say this is something sensual and proud they would expect from a teenager - not a man of God.
Like Oprah Winfrey on her talk show, Long has been known to give away money, cars, expensive jewelry and clothing to random church members during church services -- many say enticing more people to come to the church in hopes of being the recipients of his generosity. The Bishop has been known to pay for college tuition for people, secure them jobs - and even put them on the church's payroll.
Bishop Long is easily able to support this kind of lifestyle through his multi-million dollar income throughout the years through various sources.
As Senior Pastor of one of America's largest, major mega-churches claiming over 30,000 members, some say he deserves every single penny gets. Others disagree.
Simply watch any of his services on television or even Youtube.com and watch as people from all over the congregation walk up to the stage while he is preaching and throw money at his feet. Sometimes, when the stage starts to get covered with cash and checks, large baskets are brought out and the coffers are quickly filled.
Bishop Long is one of a handful of prosperity preachers and televangelists whose wealth and lavish lifestyles came into question and was investigated by Senator Charles Grassley (IA) several years back. Grassley believed some of these televangelists were bilking their followers out of money in order to support their over-the-top lifestyles - and greed.
Yet Bishop's Long's controversial wealth and prosperity is not what is in question here. It's his moral integrity.
Long has regularly preached against the sin of homosexuality for many years. He has been an outspoken and staunch supporter of the traditional family and has publicly declared his opposition to homosexual sin, "gay" marriage and more.
Yet now, many of Long's detractors are charging that the controversial Bishop has preached so virulently against the sin of homosexuality for one reason and one reason alone: that he himself has been secretly struggling with homosexuality and living an adulterous homosexual lifestyle.
Four young black men have all come forward and claimed beginning around the ages of 17, Bishop Eddie Long seduced and coerced them all into homosexual affairs. I read the official legal complaints from several of the men myself and I have to say these documents are not only disturbing, but seem to be extremely damning as well. The court documents depict the Bishop as a monster and a homosexual predator.
Without question, whether innocent or guilty, Bishop Eddie Long has serious trouble on his hands.
These former members of his congregation or school state that when they were younger, and lacking a father-figure in their lives, Long "stepped up to the plate" and befriended them. He would personally call them and text them continually. The Bishop gave them money, jewelry, cars, paid for college tuition and even flew them around the world, taking them with him on many events and overnight trips. Long even introduced them to many Hollywood celebrities, as Long pals around with celebrities himself - including President Obama.
While some say that Long stepped over the line by becoming such close friends with these young men - it tragically goes even further.
Court documents claim that Long not only shared hotel rooms with these boys - but his bed. The sexual acts that were allegedly committed by Bishop Long with these boys in the court documents are something I can't even repeat here. The allegations are shocking to say the least, all spelled out in detail and as I said, very damming.
But the question is: are they true?
You may remember the Ted Haggard story - a well known evangelical Christian who also headed a major mega-church himself in Colorado several years ago. Several men came publicly forward and accused Haggard - who preached against the sin of homosexuality - of having ongoing homosexual adulterous affairs with them (one actually being a paid male prostitute) and did many unspeakable things with them, which included watching homosexual pornography and even smoking crystal meth.
Ted Haggard initially came out in the media denying all of the charges - until more accusers publicly stepped forward and the evidence mounted - which of course forced Haggard to admit the truth and step down from ministry.
Haggard was guilty as charged. The empire Haggard built came crashing down. Another major minister and ministry had fallen from grace.
Now, it seems we may be at that same door once again: a minister with major money, popularity and power who seems to "have it all" - may lose it all, if found guilty as charged.
I have been carefully following this story ever since it broke, watching each step as it has developed. Bishop Long remained silent for the entire week and "lawyered-up" until making his first appearance and public statement this past Sunday to his church family.
But I will be honest here - and some may not like what I'm about to say.
The man I saw come out on stage - with his second wife in hand - for the first time since the allegations were made was NOT a humble man at all. In fact, he was quite the opposite.
Watch the video for yourself on Youtube.com. Long came out and for over seven or eight minutes walked back and forth on the platform soaking in the rousing applause, as he smiled and looked into the cheering, screaming and adoring thousands and thousands of people in his stadium-like church. Bishop Eddie Long - the superstar.
When he began to speak, with every sentence he made, he received standing ovations and applause over and over again.
Yet before Long spoke to the specific allegations, he "preached" on when troubling times come - some said trying to eerily skirt the issue at hand.
They say traffic at the church that day was backed up for miles as thousands came to hear if the Bishop would admit to the charges and step down, or deny and fight them.
When he finally did address the charges - as brief as it was, if you listened carefully, Long neither denied nor admitted guilt. He simply told his "people" that he is "not a perfect man" and that he was "not the man they are claiming I am on television" and that he would "fight this."
Fight what? The charges against him -- or a struggle with homosexual sin?
And then, some say arrogantly, the Bishop compared himself to David fighting Goliath, telling a once again cheering and screaming crowd "..and I have still have five stones, and I haven't thrown one of them yet." He told the congregation he would let the law try the case - not the public - and he walked off stage with his wife's hand clutched in his.
Let me be blunt. If I was in the Bishop's shoes and people made FALSE allegations against me in the public the way that these were made (official press conference which many networks broadcast) I would have been out in the media IMMEDIATELY telling the world the allegations were FALSE and that these individuals were LYING. I would do everything in my power to stand up for myself - and bring the truth to the light IMMEDIATELY. I would also go the fullest extent the law provided to prosecute my false accusers.
So having said all that I have said, having read all that I have read, and having seen all that I have seen, I have to say things look pretty damning for Bishop Eddie Long. However, thank God for America's legal system, as the Bishop is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
As a brother in Christ, I pray that these allegations against Bishop Eddie Long are FALSE and that the truth will quickly come to the light. At the same time, I call on Bishop Long to be honest and to be a man of integrity as HE has taught and called so many other men to be.
Should any of these allegations prove to be true, biblically, Bishop Eddie Long should step down from ministry immediately, repent and ask for forgiveness of everyone involved - including the victims, their families, his wife and family, his church family - and yes, the world - as he has a worldwide ministry. And no doubt, severe consequences, I am sure, will be levied against him, the church, his school and possibly others.
The healing process will also need to begin for all - including Long - and he will need to deal with many issues, including the sin of homosexuality, adultery and more.
And if these allegations are proven to be false, as I hope they will, his accusers will need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and be punished for bringing such major shame and disgrace to a man many people love and respect.
The Lord knows the truth - and I KNOW the truth WILL come to the light. And I believe it will happen much sooner than we may think. One side in this case is the victimizer, and the other - the victim.
But which is which?
In the meantime, I believe we should all pray for everyone involved - and that the truth be exposed as soon as possible.
I also believe there are some imporftant lessons and applications we can all learn from this story, even as it unfolds - as I always say, But for the grace of God, there go we...
Christians need to be a people of integrity. (Psalm 1)We need to be the same exact person we are in public and around others as we are in private. We may be able to fool "man" - but we will never fool God. The Lord sees what we do in secret and He knows the caverns and secret places of our heart.
We need to flee not only from evil, but from the appearance of evil. (1 Peter 3:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, James 4:7) As Christians, the world looks at us and every single thing we do with a fish-eye. The world needs to see that Christians are indeed a "different" people - a godly people, following after our Lord. Our testimonies need to remain pure - above reproach. We should NEVER be in a place or situation that would bring shame to ourselves, to our families or to the cross of Christ - or even give appearance of such.
Be ye separate. (2 Corinthians 6:17) We need to be a people of separation - to separate ourselves from worldliness and all the vanity and false hope it offers. If the Lord blesses you with money, riches, fame - or anything of the sort - praise be to God. But beware and be humble and use it for HIS glory - not your own. However, as the Bible says, we should NEVER seek after or lust after money, wealth, riches or fame. It has been the downfall of many, many great people. Man cannot serve two masters - he will love one and hate the other. We cannot love both money and God, for the love of money is the root of all evil. We need to store up riches in heaven, not here on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt.
Be ye holy, as I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16) God calls His children to a much higher standard than those who don't know Christ - a standard that wars against the flesh continually. We need to be holy in all that we say and do - because God commands us to.
Be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)Which one of us is without sin? If you think you are, then the Bible says you are deceiving yourself. If you are struggling with or entertaining secret sin - expose it now. Confess it to the Lord. Share your struggle with a loved one, a friend, or your pastor. Sin can start off as a toe hold, then a foot-hold and finally become a stronghold in your life. Stop it and expose it NOW before the Lord exposes it for you. The Bible is clear - sin may be pleasurable for a season. However, in the end, it will bring forth death. Whatever is done in the dark WILL be exposed in the light.
Repent and ask for forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) Jesus Christ is our Mediator before our Heavenly Father. If you are struggling with sin, turn from it today and ask for forgiveness from the Lord - in Jesus' name. Confide in a brother or sister in the Lord and seek help. Remember, He is faithful and just to forgive us of all sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Lift up and restore those overtaken in sin. (Galatians 6:1) Many times, Christians are great at "shooting their own." Rather than swinging down the hammer over someone's head who may be overtaken in sin - those who are spiritual, are called to restore that brother and sister and help them in any and every way they can - stand by their side and walk through this dark time with them, ministering to them and lifting them up in prayer. Sure, there may be consequences for that individual, but we are to be there to help them through whatever they are going through.
In summary, let's lift up Bishop Eddie Long and his accusers/potential victims in prayer. Let's pray for the truth to be swiftly made known and that God's justice and mercy will be served. Let's also pray for the Lord's healing and forgiveness to all involved. As the church, we have been through many trials and tribulations throughout time. Many a great leader has fallen, proving sin is stronger than we think. Let us never put our faith, hope or trust in a "man" who is sinful, but in Jesus Christ - the Lord Who never changes and is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) ~ Stephen Bennett