For S.T. My apologies for the delay.
Yours truly has been asked her opinion of a story in the news about Pastor Marvin Winans' refusal to bless the two year-old child of an unwed mother in a church dedication ceremony for two year-old children. The story states that the offer was made to bless the child outside of the dedication ceremony but not as part of it.
My response might surprise you.
Out-of-wedlock births present a problem for the black community, a large portion of which is steeped in religion and cultural beliefs. How do you celebrate the child of unwed parents without approving the means by which he or she arrived?
I would not pretend to tell the leader of a church how to run that church. I would not even think about telling Pastor Winans that he should do something he feels his faith compels him not to do. I do, however, think he missed a teaching moment and an opportunity to bring an entire family closer to God.
If I were Pastor Winans, I would have blessed the child and taught the child's parents. I would have required a meeting with both of them as a condition of having the child participate in the dedication ceremony. I would not have told them that they were wrong. I would not have shamed them. Instead, I would have explained what Pastor Winans must have believed was God's divine plan in requiring two parents to make a child and how a blessed union was God's way of making sure children would be taken care of. I would have asked why they hadn't married, and I would have put them in a support group for single parents to help them not make any more children out of wedlock. Most important, I would have tried to use the dedication ceremony as an opportunity to bring the entire family closer to God, to know His love AND His forgiveness.
In other words, I wouldn't have wielded my faith as a weapon of rectitude, but as a weapon of love and redemption. But hey, that's just me. I was raised to believe that a child is a blessing from God no matter how he or she gets here.
So there you have it -- BWB's response.