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good girl syndrome

good girl syndrome

MISS BLOSSIE – I just thought you were the kind of girl who would make better choices.

RACHEL – Kind of girl?  What kind of girl?

MISS BLOSSIE – A good girl who understands that God made sex to only be between . . .


MISS BLOSSIE – I’m not comfortable with your tone.

RACHEL – And I’m not comfortable with your judgment. I suppose I do agree with your pastor, in principle.  It sounds like a really good idea.  But that’s all it is – a really good idea. (pause)  You’re not helping and neither is the Church.

MISS BLOSSIE – So you settle? (clears her throat) The scripture says to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.  Rachel, you have to trust that GOD has a divine plan for your life, one that you want deep down inside.

RACHEL – Sounds like an Easter speech.


RACHEL – Nothing.

And so the conversation goes between Miss Blossie, a church and community icon, and her play niece, Rachel – after Miss Blossie discovers Rachel consuming her unmarried lover in Miss Blossie’s kitchen.

Janelle Harris’ Washington Post article, “Pastors tell black women to be passive and wait for love. I don’t believe in that.”, reminds me of the “good girl syndrome,” explored in several convesations in my play, no ordinary sunday, like the one above between Miss Blossie and Rachel. Being passive and waiting for love is based on the outdated interpretation of Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV), “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Now, no doubt if one finds a loving life partner, that is a beautiful blessing. The problem is when this scripture is interpreted to be a mandate for the only way a couple can come together in love and commitment.

Pastors and other faith leaders completely disservice women when they insist on a biblical foundation for gender-based subservience. Have they not understood, overlooked or denied that the bible also describes a loving life commitment that results from a woman’s advances? Naomi schools Ruth in the fine art of oral seduction that so impresses Boaz, that he is compelled to make Ruth his wife.

Ladies, when you plead with God for your Boaz, do you know what you’re actually asking for? (Ruth 3)

(c) 2016, candi dugas, llc

Featured image: – abstract goodluck art greeting card

all the voices

all the voices


No justice or equality movement has ever succeeded without the voices that come from the “other side.”

Christianity had the Apostle Paul. Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement had “white” people. The Feminist Movement had/has men. The war on poverty still needs the wealthy and transgender folks need more help from gays, lesbians and straight people.

I was a bit suspicious at first and I cannot say that I’m utterly convinced now, but I’m at least encouraged by what I hear coming from Pastor E. Dewey Smith as he continues to publicly share that he’s rethinking his theology about sexuality and faith. His conservative voice bearing witness to what liberals and progressives already know, is priceless.

pastor e dewey smith

Pastor E. Dewey Smith and congregation praying for Singer Angie Stone at House of Hope Atlanta. Image:

Last weekend he participated in a gathering at Princeton University via its Black Church Studies program, “Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space.” The gathering was inspired by the viral hashtag, #BlackChurchSex.

During the conference he said in about 4 years, some studies report that 50-55% of African American women will never get married. “Do we really expect these women to lead celibate lives?” Then he challenged that the way we currently read the bible enslaves women and reinforces a pimpish theology. Pastor Smith offered that our churches must begin to give people space to grow, think and recognize that the bible doesn’t have the answer to all our questions. WOW! How’s that for ‪#‎BlackChurchSex‬??? (as reported by a Facebook friend of mine that attended the conference)

We don’t listen to every voice. Having as many different kinds of voices as possible that can advocate a realistic message of freedom in a grounded context of faith will greatly assist the church – the Black church – in having meaningful conversations which improve our holistic health as followers of Yeshua.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

re lgbtq: a straight minister’s personal path of understanding

re lgbtq: a straight minister’s personal path of understanding

UPDATED 3 January 2016

“Why God Is Not a Bully”

Helpful references:

Homosexuality was never a big issue in my family as a child – one way or the other. Maybe ’cause like in most African American families such issues were simply not discussed. (Does the silence make it a big issue?) Despite having LGBTQ family members, which made it a relevant and needed conversation, we never talked about it. However, I do recall hearing close family members utter disparaging comments about gay men whom we saw in public (e.g., grocery store, college football games, etc.). I remember being very uncomfortable with the particular disgust and despicably tinged venom with which they commented about the men. When I looked at the focus of my family’s prejudice, I sensed about the men what I can best describe as discomfort – maybe even pain. Perhaps it was from the incredible struggle to be themselves in a society and subculture that disdains their very ontology.

This memory stirs a recollection of the testimony of a clergywoman as she struggled with her sexual orientation. Her story recounts a time of standing in front of a mirror, confident of her call to professional ministry, yet pleading to G~d for forgiveness for being lesbian. She cried out, “G~d, I’m so sorry!” Reading her story was heartbreaking. I cannot imagine asking G~d to forgive me for being black or for being a woman – for being exactly who I am, how I was born, for something I cannot change. Ahhh, for something G~d created me to be 😉 . . .

representing an enlightened path of understanding

representing an enlightened path of understanding


The family members to whom I refer were older and would babysit me until I became old enough to babysit their children. Hanging out with them was no different than hanging out with my straight relatives. They cared well for me, loved me, took me to fun places where I could play – generally spoiled me like most only children who are the youngest in their extended families for years at a time. Ya know, important stuff! 😉 What makes them “different” has no bearing on the critical parts of loving and living as family.

Where I learned to meditate and practice being in G~d’s manifested presence was a wonderfully vibrant and socially conservative ministry. I cringe today when I remember the culture, recalling the countless times preachers proclaimed, “G~d created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Wow. How did hearing that powerful proclamation make our LGBTQ congregation members feel? (I know they were there – most closeted, 1 or 2 not.) Yet this ministry had a strong influence on me, to the point that I accepted their anti-gay rhetoric for a time – love the sinner and hate the sin. So I came up with this oppressing theory. A person can be gay; s/he just has to be celibate for a lifetime. That would be her/his cross to bear. We all have crosses, right? No – wrong, twisted perspective. Thank G~d for G~d’s forgiveness of my meantime, immature ignorance.


When I accepted my call to professional ministry, I had an almost obsessive concern with getting the right understanding of G~d and theology. I wanted to be right. I wanted my teachings and sermons to be right. The very first thing I learned in my very first class, Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is that there is no such thing as the right anything. At first I found the lack of right to be quite disturbing, disconcerting. Yet what I knew for sure was not only G~d’s call, but G~d’s call to my particular seminary. So, whatever questions or confusion I had would eventually be answered and clarified. Not only am I today in a place of peaceful understanding that there isn’t any universal right, I get that the lack of it does not lead necessarily to chaos and ambiguity. That it does lead there is a great fear among those who cling to numerous rules and order to provide what is essentially a false sense of security through exclusivity. Rather, truth and reality live most purely in the respected freedom of difference and diversity.

A few years after seminary, some event or news story sparked a question within me about what is right concerning homosexuality. I sought G~d for an answer, as I do with any question for which I don’t have an explanation. For some time, G~d’s answer to me was the kind of silence I know to mean, “Not now.” I didn’t get my answer until it was time. And G~d’s response happened over a course of years – through recalling my childhood experiences; meeting, getting to know, and coming to love some wonderful people beyond my family who happen to be LGBTQ; reading literature, including the Bible, addressing this topic; and reasoning out all of this. (Wesleyan scholars recognize this process as The Quadrilateral.)


The Bible is a relevant, inspirational, potentially living testimony of G~d’s interaction with a certain group of humanity during certain periods of time. It can be “useful for teaching . . . and training.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NRSV) Whether it lives and whether it is useful depends on our perspectives, worldviews, interpretation, and application. It is not the Word of G~d in the sense that it is an unfiltered dictation of G~d’s voice to 2012 human ears, minds, and hearts. Therefore I tend to resist biblical debates aimed to establish the right side of an argument. My exegesis of a scripture or pericope to support my position can still directly oppose another’s exegesis of the same scripture or pericope.

For example, the part of the story of Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-11, NRSV) that we have historically considered to be an indictment against homosexuality is actually about hospitality, or the lack of it. The male residents of the city objected to Lot’s display of hospitality to the male visitors of Sodom (the angels). Their objection manifested in their demand to Lot to bring the male visitors to them so that they could have sex with them. This is a despicable act because of the view of women at the time. Part of women’s lower role in that society is the fact that she receives penetration in sexual positions. The fact that the man is the penetrator was part of what made him superior. So this act was the ultimate show of disrespect that the male residents could show the male visitors – put them in the position of a woman. It is interesting that in most of the conservatively moral objections to the characters’ behavior in this story we don’t hear of the horror that Lot offered the male residents his virgin daughters to appease their anger and desire to be inhospitable. Given the marrying ages of young women at that time and that his daughters were virgins, have we thought about how young they likely were?!?


This question returns us to my seminary quest as described earlier in this post. It also leads me to a determination that a sacred text (the Bible) alone is an insufficient resource for making decisions. I must also include my intellect/knowledge, my ability to reason, and my contemporary experience – with a spirit of discernment operating throughout all of them.

Now, may I share some frustration (and anger)?

I struggle writing this post, feeling like every word choice, that every turn of phrase is filled with heterosexual privilege and unintended offense to my LGBTQ sisters and brothers.

To even pen this post, to feel like there’s a need to explain, defend, support, add my voice to a debate over the inclusion of people is some craziness. To say we love the sinner and hate the sin doesn’t cut it, not with most of us and not regarding an aspect of a person’s being as intimate and as integral as sexuality. To characterize living out one’s sense of love and attraction to another as a choice that is somehow intrinsically different from our own just because of how that choice appears is incredibly demeaning, condescending, and abusive. Whom we love is often not a choice – who we are never is. How can sincere love choices ever be considered a sin, like coveting, lying, stealing, or killing?

“‘[Love] the Lord your G~d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: ‘[Love] your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV)

So, then, the choice, determination, etc. not to love is the actual sin – the actual separation from G~d.

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

Churches and politicians, take note: Disrespect women, and they will leave. – The Washington Post

“Feminism’s Final Frontier? Religion.”

Part of me responds to Ms. Miller’s reporting of the limitations placed upon women in Christian churches with thoughts that

muslim women

ISHARA S.KODIKARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES - “In churches (and synagogues and mosques) across the land, women are still treated as second-class citizens,” Miller writes.

her presentation exaggerates the current status of women in leadership, particularly among clergy. Afterall, Ms. Miller – or her editors – choose a picture of Muslim women for this article, a rather stereotypical choice of female suppression (at least our western-Christianized perspective) within a faith system. The article seems to have a Christian slant; it needs more information about women in mosques and synagogues to be balanced – if the image of Muslim women leads its way.

Or perhaps my thoughts of exaggeration are clouded by my networks which are full of female clergy making serious contributions to our faith. The seminaries I’ve attended have 50+% women as students. But then I remember that women may hold advanced theological degrees and may be ordained, but consistently and more often than men are called to or are appointed to the most challenging communities – if not impossible – to pastor. And then when they revitalize the community, a male pastor and his picture perfect family replace her. I also recall images of lay leadership teams being comprised of mostly – if not all – men with a sea of women sitting in the pews or serving as ushers and cooks.

I don’t know if it’s our final frontier, but it is certainly territory to be tamed.

Churches and politicians, take note: Disrespect women, and they will leave. – The Washington Post.

tell the church 2 butt out?

Or any community of faith/belief? What is the Church’s role in our lives, especially in our bedrooms (or wherever we engage in sex)? What is it that it’s supposed to be doing with and for the people – within or beyond its walls?

“The Church needs to remember its boundaries when it comes to getting into people’s lives.”

Even I was shocked to hear this powerfully fervent declaration from a third-year seminary student attending the public presentation of my doctoral research. I’d asked the audience’s thoughts about traditional Church teachings that support a familiar adage, “A man won’t buy the cow if he can get the milk for free.” That was her response.

What’s the Church’s place, then, in our lives?

Until I read Hunting the Divine Fox: Images and Mystery in Christian Faith by Robert Farrar Capon, I’d never given its role that much thought. I accepted whatever my family and Sunday school teachers taught me. As I grew, I had my issues with the Church, but I suppose I thought they were my own to work out. I’d never considered that the Church may be operating in ways beyond G~d’s intention or its authorized reach. From Capon’s work I began to agree that the only thing the Church ought to be doing is helping to point people toward G~d. That’s all.

If this is the boundary, then all the preaching, teaching, and other activities that condemn and cajole unmarried people into celibacy and abstinence are misplaced. These are decisions people need to make for themselves. The Church should supply them with the necessary [objective] information and tools to make their own choices, be available to listen, discuss, etc. – if requested – and then – “butt out.” Huh? How well would this ideology sit with the church leaders you know? 😉

As Christians we tend to refer to Yeshua’s (Jesus) examples. Soooo . . .

What did Yeshua say?

Yeshua taught kin-dom principles.  Then he empowered individuals by affirming that it was their faith and their choices which created the healing, peace, etc. that they sought. “Do you want to be well?” “Daughter, your faith has made you whole.” The deciding factor was not the establishment’s [Church] self-wielding authority – nor the individual’s allegiance to it.

In his sermon Sunday (3.11.12), “The Fractals of our Faith,” Rev. David Anderson Hooker celebrated the crumbling of two establishments under their own weight – the penal institution and the American education system. If they crumble, he argued, then we get a chance to rebuild them. There is no renovation; they are beyond repair. Hooker added, “And the Church is dying on the vine.” I don’t disagree with this metaphor, but the image I see is more like the one he painted of the institutions. I see the Church crumbling too, under its own weight of self-wielding authority that has become a massive power machine operating outside of its boundaries.

crumbling church

Photo credit: David Torke,

Honestly this is the fractured and fractal “holy” foundation that supports the people who seek to control women’s bodies and their decisions about sex and sexuality. We can become angry at the voice-boxes or we can turn our attention to what’s at the heart of the matter – our faith, our beliefs, our sacred texts, our traditions, our communities of faith, our interpretations, and our appropriations. Dare we women challenge the Church’s role and authority? Absolutely and only we can do it. If we look hard enough with the right tools, there are plenty of examples in our sacred texts. The Shulammite in Song of Songs has become my greatest heroine, boldly going after the man whom her “soul loves” (Songs 3:1-2) and declaring at the end of her story, “My vineyard (my genitals), my very own, is for myself . . .” (Songs 8:12).

So, I guess, yeah – to the Church – “butt out!”

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

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