A couple of months ago, I signed up for this app called ROHO. Basically, every morning ROHO, which was created by a Black man, texts me the link to sermons from ministers all over the country. All of them are good, quite good and a great way for me to start the day off with my mind focused on the right things.
One morning, after clicking on the link, I saw that today’s sermon came courtesy of Pastor Jamal Bryant. Immediately, all the stories we’ve covered about Jamal Bryant flashed through my head. Adultery, alleged sex with a minor, “these hoes ain’t loyal.”
I didn’t know if I’d be able to enjoy a message from Bryant with all of the scandal I associated with his name. But for one reason or another, I decided to listen anyway.
And the sermon was better than good, it was excellent. Titled “I Am Significant,” it was about knowing who you are in God and allowing that knowledge to shape your life and help you follow your dreams. If you need to hear a message like that, I would suggest you listen.
After I listened, I understood why after his scandal, people were still flocking to his church. I understood why the women in his church were literally running when he said “These hoes ain’t loyal.” (It wouldn’t have been me but I understand it.) As church folk say, he’s anointed. And I thought, you know just because he messed up, doesn’t mean he should no longer be allowed to exercise his gift. As Christians we’re supposed to see ourselves in everyone else, love them in spite of themselves and forgive. And it seems like Bryant’s congregation was able to do just that. That’s Christianity in practice.
But according to recent headlines, and a few seemingly credible receipts, it would seem that Bryant still needs to put some other Christian principles into action, particularly if he’s going to continue standing in front of his congregation and Christians across this country, representing God and His word.
If you haven’t heard, Bryant allegedly fathered a child out of wedlock.
According to The Christian Post, Bryant had a sexual relationship with 34-year-old California woman, Latoya Shawntee Odom. Odom told Obnoxious Television that during the course of her relationship with Bryant, she got pregnant. She claimed that when Bryant learned of the pregnancy, he asked her to get an abortion but she refused and gave birth last July to a now 10-month-old John Karston Bryant.
With Bryant’s past, there are a quite a few women who could be persuaded to step forward with these types of allegations. But Odom also came forward with paternity test results from LB Genetics.
The last page of the results said:
“The alleged father, Jamal Harrison Bryant, cannot be excluded as the biological father of the child, John Karston Bryant, since they share genetic markers. Using the above systems, the probability of paternity is 99.9999%, as compared to an untested, unrelated man of the Black population…”
With his name swirling around yet again, Bryant took to his Periscope to address Odom’s allegations.
The broadcast has since expired but the words were recorded and continue to live on the internet. After saying that his lawyers have advised him not to share details with the public, he said:
Over the last week, a lot has been said and a lot has been suggested and like you I was thrown into a tailspin. I had to shut down for a minute so that my response would not be that of a man but be priestly as a man of God. To that end, let me say to you I am one of those rare people who are flawed with character. That with all of my issues I don’t run from them I stand right next to them. Those of you who have been with me you are fully aware that some eight, nine years now, I went through a divorce and claimed all of it my responsibility. The worst mistake you can ever make is to repeat the exact same mistake.
The last time I went through something, I shut down, wouldn’t talk to anybody, tried to in fact deal with it all by myself but I understand that there is strength in numbers. The issues, pertaining and surrounding the allegations are in the middle of a legal discourse that preclude me from going into any depth to talk about it. But let me say to you, while many things have been said about me, running is not one of them, I stand on God’s word that he is my battle-ax and my butler and I bear witness His grace is sufficient and his mercy endures.
Thank God He’s merciful for Bryant and for the rest of us too. I’m not here to sit low and still have the nerve to look down on others. We all fall short. Still, I believe God’s messengers are held to a higher standard because they bear the greater responsibility of fostering spiritual growth and development. If Pastor Bryant is as anointed as I believe him to be, there’s no doubt that God has been speaking to him about his temptation. And since it’s something he hadn’t dealt with yet, it might be time for him to retreat from the public eye and spend more private time with God, getting stronger in his spirituality.
Every time Bryant’s name has been in the news for something less than holy, he’s attempted to defend himself in the public eye, calling out news outlets and whatnot. Years later, it’s evident that there was more pressing, more personal, spiritual work that needed to be done and apologies he needed to offer instead of being so concerned about public opinion and “rumors.”
I don’t say that to mean he should never preach again. Because he does have a gift from God. And the Bible is full of people who’ve messed up and have gone on to do great things for the Lord. Jamal Bryant could be one of those people. But it would appear that there are some steps that need to be taken before that reemergence can happen.
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