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'Greenleaf' Experiences Backlash Over the Infidelity and Alcohol Use of the Memphis Church Leaders

Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, author, and former newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psychology and Biblical studies

Lady Mae drinking wine

Lady Mae drinking wine

Pastors wives speak out

There has been a quiet but growing backlash related to some of the vices portrayed on the television series Greenleaf. The show is popular in the ratings but behind the scene, there are some women who are disturbed by how they and their husbands are being represented. In several Facebook groups, a number of First Ladies are speaking out to say that not all Pastors and their wives live as the Bishop and Lady Mae. This is not about the lavish lifestyle but the fact that the megachurch pastor and his wife drink alcoholic beverages frequently. Several first ladies also commented that they and their husbands had been faithful to each other and all their children born in wedlock. This is a reference to the fact that Lady Mae had an affair and Grace does not belong to her spouse. These women who are sharing this testimony are not being holier than thou or trying to sound perfect. They are simply letting people know that adultery and alcohol are not the norm for every first family.

Bishop with a drink in hand

Bishop with a drink in hand

Drinking is not forbidden in the Bible

I grew up in a home where no one drank, but I had friends whose parents did have alcoholic beverages in the home. Whenever our pastor was coming for a visit the liquor would be hidden. Those in the neighborhood who smoked would put away their ashtrays when the pastor came to call. The Bible does not forbid drinking but there are a lot of pastors who don't and prefer their parishioners did not as well. The notion that spiritual leaders should not drink probably comes from I Timothy 3:1-3.

1. This is a true saying if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

Some people interpret this verse to mean not given to a lot of drinking or not getting drunk because of Titus chapter 2.

1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

There is also Paul admonishing Timothy to drink a "little wine" for his stomach's sake. I Timothy 5:23. There is also Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; The issue seems to be getting drunk rather than drinking, but many people think it best not to drink at all.

Alcohol in the Bishop's home.

Alcohol in the Bishop's home.

Image is everything

Pastors and First Ladies are human and make mistakes like everyone else. The Bible does admonish those in leadership positions to lead by example. Greenleaf seems to want to emphasize that those who oversee churches are flawed but in doing so it may cause some to believe adultery and drunkenness is OK. There is no person who floats on a cloud and every marriage has its ups and downs. Greenleaf creator Craig Wright and Executive producer Oprah Winfrey have based this show on their personal experiences but they do not represent everyone. I know pastors and First Ladies like those who spoke out on Facebook. They have remained faithful to their spouse and have chosen to live sober lives without alcohol. No one should pretend to be anything they are not, but church leaders, especially pastors and their wives are held to higher standards than the people they serve. It is important to keep in mind that Greenleaf is a show that two people put together and is not indicative of every church, Pastors, or First Lady. Several of the women who spoke out on Facebook also pointed out that their churches were not about money, greed, and wheeling and dealing. Likewise, there were others who commented saying they had been in churches that were run exactly the way the Greenleaf family does it. The bottom line for all believers in Christ is to represent Him well and not do anything that would cause another to stumble. I'm reminded of a testimony that a woman gave several decades ago. She was a social worker who had a problem with drinking too much. She said one night she was at a club and was so drunk she fell on the floor. Later, one of her clients came to her office and said she had been in the club that night and seen how drunk the social worker was. The client said she wanted another caseworker because how could this woman help her when both were in the club doing the same thing. This young woman had assumed that the college-educated individual who was out in charge of her was held to a higher standard. She was disappointed to see that the caseworker was no different than she was. The image she had was not what the reality turned out to be.

Lady Mae and her baby daddy

Lady Mae and her baby daddy

Live for the Lord and don't mimmick others

I recall a young minister who liked to point out what other preachers or Biblical characters got away with. I always told him that they will answer to the Lord for themselves and so would he. I advised him not to try certain things just because it looks like someone else is doing it because we don't know when and how God will deal with us personally. The Greenleaf family may indeed be an exact replica of pastors and their families that Craig Wright and Oprah have known. This does not prove that the Lord condones such behavior or that He would allow you to get away from it. Television should not paint Pastors and First ladies as saints, but neither should it reveal all their personal details. Babes in Christ, who know no better could get into a lot of trouble emulating the Greenleaf family. Others will use this TV program to condone behaviors they know the Lord wants them to discontinue. Bishop Greenleaf and Lady Mae are fictional characters and no one should look to them as proof that it's OK to cheat on your spouse and have a child or drink to excess. I for one am thankful for the First Ladies speaking out to say that they live a different life. We should all strive to please the Lord based on His word, rather than copying the behavior of others. The danger in all of this is people becoming complacent with sin and seeing nothing wrong with adultery or excess drinking. Some may use these television characters to justify and continue their own behavior.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on July 17, 2020:

Thank you.

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on July 17, 2020:

Television shows have impacts (positive and negative) in our lives, therefore we need to know who we are. One of the things that stand out a mature mind is the person has studied to know him/herself, when the babes are still trying different things, mature minds would hardly do. Nice work.

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