Alrighty. Now that I’m refreshed and ready to go, it’s back to the keyboard…
I was having a running dialogue with my colleague over at Independent Conservative about tithing, and the discussion turned towards pulpit pimps and how they exploit their followers. We started talking about the concept of spiritual fatherhood – and how it’s bastardized in the church, so I decided that this subject needed to be addressed on this blog.
Who’s Your Daddy?
First, the overall concept of spiritual fatherhood is doctrinally sound WHEN USED IN THE FULL CONTEXT OF THE GOSPEL. When a pastor first introduces someone to Christ, it’s their obligation to present the true and living Savior, and to instruct the new convert in righteous living so that they grow mature in the Word for themselves – and so that they can disciple someone else someday.
Today’s pimps simply use it as a tool to further drag their congregants into submission to them. They always point to 1 Corinthians 4:15-16:
15For if you were to have countless (A)tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in (B)Christ Jesus I (C)became your father through the (D)gospel. 16Therefore I exhort you, be (E)imitators of me.
But, like a good pimp, they don’t give the total context of scripture – only the part that benefits them:
Servants of Christ
2In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
3But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.
5Therefore (F)do not go on passing judgment before [a]the time, but wait (G)until the Lord comes who will both (H)bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s (I)praise will come to him from God.
6Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed (J)what is written, so that no one of you will (K)become arrogant (L)in behalf of one against the other.
7For who regards you as superior? (M)What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
8You are (N)already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.
11To this present hour we are both (T)hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;
13when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have (X)become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
16Therefore I exhort you, be (AE)imitators of me.
17For this reason I (AF)have sent to you (AG)Timothy, who is my (AH)beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, (AI)just as I teach everywhere in every church.
20For the kingdom of God does (AO)not consist in words but in power.
21What do you desire? (AP)Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?
Paul was speaking of spiritual fatherhood in the context that he was the one that introduced them to Jesus Christ, thus making them “babes” in Christ. Therefore, he exhorted them to imitate him because he strove to passionately pursue and imitate Christ.
“What about Timothy, and Silas, etc.” you ask? Good question. This is another area of scripture that the pimps butcher in order to garner submission to them. Timothy never called Paul his “spiritual father” – although Paul does refer to Timothy as his “beloved and faithful child (or son) in the Lord“. Paul goes on to say that Timothy “will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17).
Notice Paul said that Timothy would continue in the sound teaching of the Gospel for the glory of God – not so that the sheep would continue to be coerced into submitting to Paul (even in his absence).
It’s the common practice of a pimp to flatter you about your potential, break you down so that you’re dependent on him, and slowly build you up so that you are an exact replica of his philosophy – all the while surrendering your hard earned money to him.
Some are good at it, others are clumsy yet effective, but the results are always the same – you submit.
I’ve seen grown men refer to their pastors as “daddy” or “dad” – much like a prostitute addresses her pimp. Not only have I seen it, I’ve participated in it.
The argument could be made that this bastardized “father-son” exploitation is rampant in the black church because of the lack of fathers in black homes. I can see that perspective. I had a fractured relationship with my own father. Sure, he was in our home but he was emotionally unavailable. I first bought into the “daddy” concept while seeking healing for the relationship with my biological father (we’re fine now), and I found comfort in the concept of a “spiritual father” who was charismatic and (I thought) had God’s ear.
I’m a grown man with an MBA, but I fell for it – hook, line, and sinker.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’ve repented for my error in submitting to a flawed man (and men) as though he were the manifestation of Christ Himself.
The truth is that anyone who is searching for a sense of belonging is susceptible – especially if the first stop in your search isn’t the Word of God.
The next time your pimp stands behind the book-board to preach submission to him, or declares that he is your spiritual father (especially if he doesn’t even remotely resemble Christ in his actions), quietly turn your bible to Matthew 23:8-12, read it slowly, close your bible – AND RUN AS FAST AND AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN.
Also, visit Kwesi over at SCREAM for another look at the abuse of pastoral authority.