We recently came across a piece CNN did asking the question “Does the black church keep black women single?”. It was quite interesting and thought provoking on many levels. This piece was done based on an article written by Deborrah Cooper, relationship advice columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. Cooper feels that the black church has been the main reason black women have been and continue to be single. She argues that “rigid beliefs constructed by the black church are blinding black women in their search for love”. For example, she talks about the fact that in her opinion many christian black women feel a man is not “equally yoked” if he does not attend church every Sunday and is thereby eliminated as a potential date or mate. She also asserts & we quote: “It is my belief that the Black church, structured around traditional gender roles which makes women submissive and inferior to men, greatly limits females. Single black women sitting in church every Sunday are being subtly brianwashed, soothed and placated into waiting without demand for what they want to magically come to them.”
Cooper says that the man in the below video is “a prime example of the true reason that there are so many single, never married black women in the United States-black churches”.
We think she has something here. We think that there are definitely church environments in the black community that have clearly defined roles for women that subjugate women and serve to ultimately oppress rather than empower women. I am amazed, at times, at how much I’ve observed black folks (women & men alike) participate in their church experience more like it’s a select club than a place to truly examine spiritual principles and their practical application. I have to admit that sometimes the automatic agreement from church -goers when engaged in worship, bible study, etc. makes it difficult (and sometimes nearly impossible) for people to question that which they may not agree with/understand or offer up a perspective that’s different from an age old perspective or view in the black church community. At the same time, we think Cooper is making a sweeping generalization here that she seems to be far too smart for. Contrary to what many would like to believe, the black church is NOT a monolithic institution that we should feel free to throw all of Black America’s problems on. For example, there are many black churches with men in leadership that lift up and celebrate women in true and authentic leadership positions. There are also many congregations with women at the head who do not espouse limiting and suppressive doctrine from their pulpits. These churches endeavor to ask the difficult questions, listen to all of the answers, take responsibility for their part in the problems, and challenge us as individuals to ultimately take ownership of our own relationship with God (not the church or a social construct) so that we can grow and develop spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and morally. At the end of the day both (meaning the black church & black women) have contributed to the “Black Single Women” epidemic in our community. However, we believe it is ultimately up to black women to choose for themselves what they will let take residence in their minds and hearts. At the end of the day we are always responsible for ourselves.
What thoughts & feelings come up for you on this? We really want to hear from you on this issue. Leave a comment or submit a video response and we’ll post it on our site.
To read the full CNN article click here.