Read Time: 3 Minutes 34 Seconds
You probably already heard that Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of 10,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, defended abortion from his pulpit last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision. Bryant said on June 26—ironically during a baby dedication at the mega-church—that the high court’s ruling “declared war on women in this nation.”
Last week, Bryant continued his tirade by asking Black churches to stop opposing abortion. “Christianity is in and of itself pro-choice, but we don’t say anything because a lot of Black churches are white evangelicals in drag,” Bryant said on The Cool Soror Podcast.
If you watched Bryant’s infamous baby dedication ceremony in June, you’ll know that the most shocking thing about it was not Bryant’s anti-biblical comments, but the fact that so many people in the auditorium were clapping and nodding their approval. Congregants who were dressed up for church were actually applauding the pastor after he announced that God approves of killing unborn babies.
Welcome to 2022, when false prophets receive standing ovations from church members.
I don’t have any expectation that Bryant will change his opinions because of me, but I’m not going to be silent about this travesty. Too many Christians today are sitting on their hands. Like the bystanders who video crimes with their phones instead of protecting victims, we tend to stand around and watch when heretics prey on vulnerable people.
The crisis involving Jamal Bryant reminds me of three important truths:
1. Abortion is not a political issue. We’ve become so polarized today—Democrats v. Republicans, liberals v. conservatives—we can’t think straight. Our biases have compromised our judgment. So many pastors today straddle the fence by nuancing their views on abortion; we like to say that a “pro-life” Christian should also be against violence, war and poverty. I agree we should work to stop such things. But if we make speeches about “justice” while suggesting, “Um, you know, like maybe it’s okay to use a suction machine to murder a baby during the third trimester,” we are moral cowards.
Shame on Rev. Bryant for twisting and perverting God’s character by using political talking points in a Sunday sermon. Shame on him for calling good evil and evil good. Shame on any pastor who has ever mischaracterized our holy God by suggesting that He does not care for and defend the helpless and the voiceless. Jesus said: “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14). If you dare to justify the killing of children, you are in full agreement with the antichrist spirit.
2. Pastors should be disciplined for blatant sin. Rev. Bryant is no stranger to controversy. In 2009, when he was the pastor of Empowerment Temple A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, his wife, Gizelle Bryant, divorced him because of adultery. In court documents, she described him as “cruel” and said he engaged in “excessively vicious conduct.” Yet the A.M.E. Church didn’t discipline Bryant.
Bryant didn’t hide his shortcomings. He called his divorce a “Damascus Road wake-up call,” and admitted that pride was involved in his downfall. Because of the scandal he said he lost 17 pounds and was in therapy for a year.
But the question remains: Why did the A.M.E. Church refuse to take any disciplinary action when Scripture requires this? Why did they not require a leave of absence so he could go through a full recovery process? Bryant continued in his pulpit, and then in 2018 he ended up taking the position as pastor of New Birth in Atlanta—a congregation that had already endured a horrific scandal with its previous pastor, Bishop Eddie Long, who died in 2017 after he battled allegations of sexual abuse.
3. Christians must develop stronger discernment. The apostle Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Those words were written more than 2,000 years ago, but they are as relevant today as ever.
We are witnessing a new wave of ear-ticklers and deceivers. Beware when God’s prophets begin to sound exactly like the prophets of worldly culture. Don’t follow preachers who leave the narrow road of holiness to follow the broad road of popularity and political correctness. And pray that Bryant and others like him will turn back to God’s Word before it’s too late.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years and now serves as senior contributing editor. He directs the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org), an international ministry that protects women and girls from gender-based violence. His latest books are “Follow Me” and “Let’s Go Deeper” (Charisma House).
J. Lee Grady is an author, award-winning journalist and ordained minister. He served as a news writer and magazine editor for many years before launching into full-time ministry.
Lee is the author of six books, including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, 10 Lies Men Believe and Fearless Daughters of the Bible. His years at Charisma magazine also gave him a unique perspective of the Spirit-filled church and led him to write The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and Set My Heart on Fire, which is a Bible study on the work of the Holy Spirit.