Do I Stay Single Like Jesus Or Do I Call Tyrone?

April 23, 2012  |  

There’s a new book by North Philadelphia Pastor Jomo K. Johnson titled Call Tyrone: Why Black Women Should Remain Single Or… that’s causing a little buzz around the Internet. The book comes from the same preacher who wrote the controversial 2010 article, How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely, in which he talks about single christian women being exploited by men in the church, which is why I find this book that appears to do the same so interesting.

What Pastor Johnson claims is a new perspective on the traumatic life of the single black christian woman sounds no different from the Think Like a Man types that we’ve already blown through and dismissed—if you couldn’t already figure that out from the title. At first, the pastor gives this description of the book:

“First and foremost, [I] have a desire to inform and educate all women that they are precious and priceless in the sight of God,” he said. “Because of that, a woman shouldn’t lower herself in any way. In the book what I seek to do is exalt and extol the value of singleness; how it can be a gift of God [and] how it is a blessed gift. The Lord Jesus was single, and he was able to embrace his singleness and use it for the purpose of ministry. I also point to women in history who have given their lives in singleness and really thought to serve others. Singleness is something that the Bible really condones and promotes.”

But somewhere around the end he begins to encourage women to date interracially and then claims the book isn’t only for the lonely female types on the front pew:

“This book also serves as a wake-up call to African-American men who aren’t taking care of their own lives, [and] who aren’t seeking to be faithful or responsible to African-American women in their community.”

I’m pretty sure if none of us were born with fingers or toes we would still have more extremities than the number of men who are going to pick up a book titled Call Tyrone that is giving advice to black women about dating. If this pastor really wanted to help single women in the church find some husbands how about writing a book and engaging in some outreach to get those brothers inside the sanctuary.

Too often the church is guilty of sending mixed messages about being a single woman in church. I’ve often half-facetiously joked with the girls in my age group at the church I grew up in that if I get to be 35 and unmarried I’m just going to stop coming to church. It wouldn’t be because I couldn’t stand to be alone it would be because I couldn’t stand to be one of the women I see now who are singled out like a Beyonce single ladies video and hooked up with the one single man who enters the church every year. You can’t tell women not to be upset about being alone because we’re designed for companionship, then tell them it’s a blessing to be single like Jesus, and then act as though if they don’t throw themselves naked on the altar when the gates of heaven open and a single man happens to wander his way into a pew they’re not right.

I’ve seen the instances of the same five or six women being hooked up with the same brother over and over again. The matchmaking attempts are shameless and they won’t hesitate to throw you under the bus. Within one minute of being two feet from a single man someone will run up on him saying, Hi this is X, she’s single. You should go out. If there’s nothingbad about being single what’s with the sense of urgency to marry a woman off every chance they get? There seems to be an assumption that women aren’t just checking their watches in church to see when the preacher will be done with his sermon, they must also be watching their biological clocks tick toc by.

Simply going by the description this pastor has given of his own book I see no separation from the Steve Harvey ilk which is a shame. It would be refreshing for someone to only focus on the benefits of being a single woman and the rewards to your ministry. All you have to do is look at 1 Corinthians chapter 7 to read Paul’s thoughts on that. But somehow with this effort the group that is supposed to be set apart from the rest of the world sounds just like it, mimicking the same old tired meme about dating outside of one’s race while making assumptions about everyone’s desire to get married. I guess Pastor Johnson didn’t get the memo that we left that in 2011.

It completely makes sense that this preacher would write a book for women, that’s the audience in his pews every Sunday, but he certainly gets no points in my book while focusing on the flock instead of the sheep that got away. There’s a reason there aren’t any single men in the church and maybe Steve Harvey, Pastor Johnson, and Michael Baisden can put their heads together on that issue and the rest will fall into place.

Do you think the church places too much emphasis trying to hook up single women while telling them be content in the same breath?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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