In a recent sermon posted on YouTube called, “I’m My Enemy’s Worst Nightmare,” Dr. Jamal H. Bryant quoted a song by troubled R&B singer, Chris Brown, when Bryant exclaimed, “These hoes aint loyal!”
While his congregation responded enthusiastically at the time, Bryant has come under fire from others outside of his church for referring to women as “hoes,” once the Tom Joyner Morning Show got ahold of the clip. Bryant took to Twitter to defend himself, arguing that the original YouTube clip posted by a church attendee was only 40 seconds long, and therefore out of context:
— jamalbryant (@jamalhbryant) June 4, 2014
Well, now I’ve watched the whole 29-minute clip he provided and now I’m “mad whole.”
First, the “context,” that Bryant refers to in his tweets is possibly worse than quoting the lyric. In “context,” Bryant’s meandering sermon makes reference to the plight of Black women and the church, in general, in such disturbing ways that make “These hoes aint loyal!” an almost obvious climax.
He starts the sermon by trying to prove that “the ‘enemy’ longs to destroy Black boys and detain Black girls,” by referencing Boko Haram’s killing of Black school boys early this year and kidnapping more than 300 girls two months ago.
Let Bryant tell it, “The enemy, in his attempt at diabolical chivalry, won’t outright destroy women, as much as he will try to suppress their imagination.” It’s a shame Bryant wasn’t around to explain the rules of ‘diabolical chivalry’ to the killers of Renisha McBride, Hadiya Pendleton, Kasandra Perkins and the countless Black women who have been brutalized and destroyed by ‘the enemy’ in this country since slavery.
For Bryant, Black women are a secondary target, the ones ‘the enemy’ goes after only if he can’t get to his real prize, Black men. He makes reference to this when he speaks about the surging number of Black women in prison, the “fastest-growing prison population,” in the country, “not for violent charges…but for refusing to testify against their men.” Sounds like Black women are “loyal” to their men, even to their own detriment. This is only one of many contradictions in Bryant’s sermon.
Much like ‘the enemy,’ Bryant seems to believe that women exist purely to play a role in men’s lives. But because he’s heaping what appears to be his genuine praise on “godly” women by expressing the benefits that they can bring their husbands, (e.g., “[Men should have] enough confidence to not be insecure and threatened about the woman God sent you; when she speaks, she’s speaking from the voice of God for what she sees over your life.”) the rampant sexism and backhandedness of his compliments may be easy to miss. Or not.
“Now we come to churches that are just feminized with a church full of women. But you’ve got a mosque full of men. It says not that they are not spiritual, but they want a place of discipline and order and focus. Men do not want to come to church just for an emotional outpour of “turn to your neighbor” without giving me any instruction, any direction, or any information. Men are thinkers where women are feelers.”
WHUT. Surely this is another out-of-context moment.
“Y’all are getting ready to miss this here. It (WHO IS ‘IT’?!) does not say that women do not think, but women are more emotional than men are.”
Well, that clears it up.
So, now we know that, according to Bryant, the scientific analysis of why Black men have left the Christian church and converted to Islam while Black women remain is because the Black Christian church has devolved into a den of superficial whooping and hollering, a place for female emotional outpouring that leaves its parishioners with no instruction, direction or information: an ideal place for these hormonal, intellectually-challenged womenfolk.
Funny how the majority of these aimless churches Bryant is decrying are led solely by Black men. I at least agree with Bryant on one point: it’s definitely time for a change.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also address the homophobia in this sermon. While criticizing the shouting that occurs in churches, (and throughout his entire sermon!! Am I the only one who hears the shouting?! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!) Bryant concludes that it is the “Westernized” worship experience that encourages everybody to “‘shout and sashay, because we’ve made the church comfortable for men not to be men, but to be sanctified sissies, [which make men question] How [can I go] to a place where I can love God but no longer be a man?’
“But God says, ‘I am raising up real men (emphasis mine) who understand that I do not have to disavow my masculinity in order to embrace my spirituality. I know y’all don’t like it, but I’m not supposed to be politically correct, I’m supposed to be Biblically correct.”
And the male and female crowd gets to shouting. Again. I can’t even deal with this.
When Bryant talks about the “Westernized” worship experience, does he mean West Africa? Because many of our faith traditions, including our vocal expressions of praise and worship are largely influenced by West African tradition, cause slavery. And while we’re being “biblically correct,” I’ll bring up Acts 10, which recounts the time after Jesus’s ascension to Heaven, when Peter was preaching to a multitude of people and the Holy Spirit descended on the crowd for the first time and all the people began praising God and speaking in tongues. That’s one of many biblical references for why Pentecostal and other denominations of Christians worship vocally, in church, and in private—sexual orientation notwithstanding.
But with how dismissive he is of women (and men who express emotions that are not, I guess, rage and aggression, or whatever emotions he thinks men are allowed to feel and still “be a man”), it is no wonder he thought “hoes aint loyal” was a cute and accurate way to sum up his admonition of men who leave their “godly” wives for these unloyal “side-chick hoes”:
“An anointed woman of God…is not dreaming about a man…an anointed woman of God dreams for her man. So when she’s really connected to who you are, she begins to dream about what she sees you accomplishing, what she sees you becoming, and you, with your silly self, go run off with a side-chick, who don’t have no anointing. …The problem with Pilate [who didn’t listen to his wife when she said not to allow Jesus to be killed by the crowd] is the problem with a lot of men. He didn’t know what he had. Had Pilate listened to the woman he had, his life would’ve been better. … …Every sister elbow another sister and say, ‘He should’ve listened!’ Every brother tap another brother and say, ‘I should’ve listened to her!’ Old saints, y’all forgive me, but I’ve got to tell you, these hoes aint loyal!”
And there we have it, the “context.”
But the real context of this sermon is not actually in the sermon at all, but is in Bryant’s own history. He admitted to having an affair with one of those “side-chicks,” which led his wife to divorce him and scandalized his ministry and his family. In 2010, he wrote a book about his mistake with the apparent aim of trying to help others avoid the temptation that he had fallen into. But whatever he learned from that situation was not enough.
He still seems to think that there are two kinds of women, loyal “godly wives” and disloyal “side chick hoes,” and I wonder where he got the confidence.
Men who destroy their own families by cheating should be the last to admonish anyone for their lack of loyalty, especially not the uncommitted women who play a role in married men’s affairs. And especially after committing adultery—and simply being a Christian and pastor—Bryant should be the first to know that people do not fit into either/or categories, that human beings are complex and extremely flawed, and women are no exception.
Instead, Bryant should focus all of his energy on being loyal to the congregants God has sent his way, whether they be thieves, adulterers, lesbians, gays, outwardly expressive women or outwardly expressive men. All belong to God and all deserve to be edified, encouraged, educated and ushered into the presence of God and His love when they walk into church, not to be met with the same derisions that exist in the world.
There is absolutely no context within which “hoes” should be uttered—to raucous applause, may I add—in the pulpit, unless the pastor is decrying the sexist patriarchy and the labels it creates for women, to deride, shame and silence them.
It’s not a healthy way to think about any woman. Parishioners should be wary of any pastor who would stand in a place as sacred as a pulpit and validate calling women that ugly, sexist word and perpetuating a dangerous and patriarchal idea about what constitutes “loyalty” in women.
Brooke Obie is Editor-at-Large for EBONY.com and writes a spiritual life column. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeObie.