WHO ARE YOU ADAM? : EXPLORATIONS OF MALE SPIRITUALITY
INSTRUCTOR: ANTHONY L. BENNETT, D. MIN.
BY STEVEN C. SPAIN
The Black Ministries Program offers this course with the intention to “reexamine the traditional definitions of manhood and what it means to be male in the midst of emerging female voices.” This course explores perspectives of Male Spirituality, and Sexuality from an Afro-American as well as Euro-American and other multicultural, ethnic, and gender perspectives.
“We are Spiritual Beings having Human Experiences
Believers serving in ministry are expected to connect intellectually and spiritually with all kinds of people, and anger is likely to surface in highly emotional circumstances; therefore, men are especially urged to get in touch with our own feelings and to practice operating in any state of mind and not step out of bounds with potential new converts as well as with seasoned believers. Anger: in a quote from “Developing Our Hearts for God” I write: “Anger distracts, it is a diversion from reality, an escape from what must be done. Anger can be like a fantasy that saps our energy and shames us even to ourselves. Sometimes anger brings clarity and vision and sometimes it blinds us. In anger we see the truth and, we lose sight of the truth (Developing, 8, Spain).”
I have to admit that my anger is somewhat subdued regarding all of the police shootings of young black men. I think that deep down I do not really think that I can make a difference. Even though in the back of my mind I know that empathy and godly care and concern is the path and is at least one method to going through with someone who may be experiencing a tragedy such as those shootings. I know that just being ‘willing to die for a friend’ literally and figuratively, is God’s will for me, I can be a ram in the bush for someone in need.
In “Beneath the Rage In Ferguson” by A. L. Bennett
What am I to do with my anger as a black man in America? Black men need to be mindful of the changing times in America. With terrorism on the rise, the already dormant state of America’s old antebellum institutionalized form of racism is able to find a platform to reenter society under guises of economics, global relations, politics etc. A safe state of mind to operate in these arena’s is to “Acknowledge my grief/loneliness” to quell any potential transference of my negative or defensive emotions to an already fearful Caucasian population.
As I recognize my need for communication with others in the workplace and in my community I feel like must always compartmentalize my personal needs to ensure protection. I will pray continually for spiritual guidance to be able to put God’s will first and trust that my own needs will be met in the right time.
Confronting my grief helps me to “experience my emotions” in a way that allows for ministry to others through a conduit of intimacy. To be more effective in ministry I first must be healed of my own trauma; “Facing my reality is the only way that I can “separate reality from my fantasies” and stand in faith from day to day with persistence and determination to attain right standing with God, and become an effective minister.
As I develop my Heart to serve I am, by becoming a doer of the Word, I am “overcoming my pain and or loneliness.” I am about to pursue a ministry assignment as Deacon in Messiah Baptist Church this will be my second term of service as a deacon. I know that all believers are called to service wherever thy are needed. Consequently, learning and knowing my place in my country, in my community will help me advise and counsel that much more, and then my ministry will be an effective one, one that will bring glory to God and help edify and build up the saints.
According to Bennett and in the eyes of men in this class… Spirituality connotes, “God, faith, prayer, church, women etc. Sexuality – conversely addresses intercourse, (women, men?) intimacy (closeness), partnership, gratification, power, control.
Bennett: God gives us spirituality and sexuality, he says that, ‘satan blinds us to this concept. Also spirituality and sexuality are connected through intimacy, with God/spouse/partner.’ ‘Before the fall, man was perfect, fully whole, and mature and as scripture alludes to, Adam and Eve were not enough – we needed a Savior, Jesus Christ makes us perfect through reconciliation.
Through reconciliation as a black man in America I can start at home to build on my relationships within the reconciliation process. I can begin to restore understanding regarding my health status, my age circumstance, my employment predicament (or lack of), also my place in ministry. Reconciliation means “to restore understanding between people after hostility, displeasure, or disagreement.” (www.christianyou.net).
As I think of these issues more and more I see that I can make a difference. If I buy into the concept of Emmanuel, then I know that by faith I can go forward in victory to inform, persuade, propose, and influence even out there in the world beyond my little place here at home.
If I exert [power over] my own mind by seeking God first and in faith believe that all the other necessities will be added to me I will succeed. If direct satanesque ideas to the Word of God [power under], I will not only achieve biblical-spirituality but become an overcomer in in the process.
Now I am ready to exercise God’s ‘[power-with] my spouse, congregation/Pastor, towards my community, and the world at large.
In conclusion, I must be an example of the concept that exemplifies the fact that I am a “spiritual person having a human experience; I am spiritual and sexual simultaneously and therefore made in God’s image! Therefore I can have a clear conscience about being spiritual person as well as a sexual one.
How can I connect my Spirituality with my Sexuality?
I can begin the process by learning to reminisce about my life with my Dad to share with my son one day, and with young men in my life, church and community.
What I think the author is saying in this chapter of ‘Handbook,’ is that he experienced a void between he and his father even though his dad would share his “intellect”, his ideas about race, and culture, but would not reveal his vulnerable side (Handbook, 70).”
The author’s memories triggered similar ones in me. My question becomes “Is it wholeness?” Is living with parents that are from the Jim Crow era, who raised families with little or nothing, who taught principles from their life that they were not allowed to learn in school, who were spiritually inclined yet in their marriages they sought out other extra marital activities. Are these people whole? What about me, if I were not in need of answers to questions like these would I even need to study the Lord? Would I have “arrived” as Paul stated that he had not yet arrived?
What I think is that the Lord lets humanity experience life in some cases in His wrath, and in other times in His grace. I think that spiritually my major function is to seek God in as many experiences as I can and fix my attitude to serve Him through Christ, for the uplifting of others however that my be possible. As far as sexuality goes I need to remember whose that I am; sexuality for me must qualify as a higher attribute; it must become a factor that does not debase me and my partner (my wife) but elevates me to a place where appreciation for God’s blessings shines through.
This important to me in that knowing God for one’s self overrides the act of sexual lovemaking; so in times where age, health or circumstance (incarceration) are detrimental factors, I will still be able to be intimate with God, through prayer, study, and actions that signify His presence. I can still be intimate with my wife and family, through praying together and operating in the ‘worldly ministries’ which is taking care of home or being there for them.
In closing, This class has made me aware of the importance of ‘wholeness,’ it brought to light concepts such a connectedness, issues for Black men such as sexuality, and how political activism today are important and essential for potential church leaders, but the most important is knowing myself in regards to these issues and gaining skill in sharing and communicating with others about them. At church I can serve with conviction that is founded on experience from relatives who shared their past and from my own experiences and those of the others who shared their testimony with me.