Joshua Saint Germain
November 19, 2018
Elizabeth von Uhl
From The Bible’s Mouth
The transcript you will read has been edited for clarity, and consists of a dialogue between myself and Head Pastor Lyonel of my Church. The central focus of the interview was to have the Pastor give me an understanding of why the church lacks female preachers, as well as explaining the church’s seating arrangements that seemingly separate by gender. The interview touched on a number of topics which included discussion about Christian denominations, “new age” American ideologies, and biblical quotes about women.
For nearly my entire life, I have been attending churches with little to no care about the behaviors and beliefs that were held within these institutions. But through field site observations that I’ve recently conducted in October, I have been able to notice some questionable behavior that exists not only within the church I currently attend, but churches I’ve attended in the past. Such behavior includes pastors being married more than once despite it being considered biblically immoral, the lack female pastors within churches I have attended, and the seating arrangements within those churches. Motivated by this required homework assignment, I decided to conduct an interview with the Head Pastor of my church, Pastor Lyonel, who also happens to be my father.
The interview took place on a Sunday night in our church, in which my father had just come home from attending the service of another church. I first saw him enter through a door upstairs into the main house. He carried a suitcase in his left hand and bible in his right, and wore a brown blazer and pants, an orange dress shirt, a yellow tie, and brown shoes. As I approached him to ask permission for conducting an interview, he began to yawn, in which I interpreted as an indicator of how tired he was from preaching that night. He also had bags under his eyes, but baggy eyes is a facial feature that I happen to possess frequently, especially during the time of the interview. After I asked for permission to interview him, he wanted me to clarify if this interview was being conducted for school, and I assured him that it was. He then agreed to the interview, and suggest that we head downstairs into church because he would rather be questioned about the church there. We entered into the church, sat at the chairs nearest to the entrance of the church, and began the interview.
Although he may have came home tired, he seemed to get more and more interested in participating in conversation as I continued to ask more questions. His voice started out very tired and sluggish, but gradually became louder as I asked for explanations the different church denominations. His facial and hand expressions became progressively wider and more vivid, and he even stood up at one point, grabbed a bible and began citing verses to me. Although I planned to stay for only 15 minutes or so, it ended up taking near 40 minutes, mainly because he decided to give me a history lesson on what the “Holy Spirit” it and what it means to his denomination. “The Church is a religious institution of God’s laws”, he says, “Being that the contents of God’s law in the Bible are different that the world, I can’t participate in some of what the world does.” This was in response to when I asked him about the differences between America’s current policies and values and his own Christian values. It is a statement that shows some sort of understanding that his faith may be perceived as something other than normal, now that America is continuing becoming more liberal society.
The following is a segment of an audio recorded dialogue between myself and Pastor Lyonel.
Pastor Lyonel: The Different Beliefs between the Church and America
00:00:00: [Beginning of recorded material]
Interviewer: Say it again, Say it again?
00:00:04: Pastor Lyonel: The Church is a religious institution where, you know, God’s believers come together and worship the creator of the Universe, and I honestly believe it. Being that the Bible’s content is different than what the world is telling [unintelligible] and telling you to do. What the Bible tells you is God’s laws, God’s will, and things that are related to God. When the world is telling you that you can go out and drink and it’s not a problem, you can have as many women if you are a man. You can’t have as many woman as you can when the Bible tells you that you can have just one, you have to have one woman, you know, someone whom you have to marry with and only have one girlfriend, you know. If you are a God believer, you have to go according to the Bible’s principles. And knowing that you are living in the world, but you cannot always do what the world is telling you to do. It is better to say that you cannot always do because there you have to follow the rules, you know, if you are living in a civilized society you have to follow the rules. You know, you cannot disrespect police officers, that something that you can’t do. You have to go to school, get educated, get a job, work, you know, have respect, be respectful towards your boss or superior, but at the same time you have to follow what the Bible tells you to do.
00:04:10 Pastor Lyonel: There are three forms of God, God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus was one of them, God the Son, and he gives us more than what the Old Testament has been telling us, understand that? [Unintelligible]
00:04:43 [Abrupt end of recorded material]
Pastor Lyonel: On Women Preaching In Churches
Interviewer: Why aren’t women allowed to preach in churches?
Pastor Lyonel: Well, some denominations don’t allow it, like the Seventh Day Adventists. Some denominations allow it, it depends on how they see women pastors through the Bible.
Interviewer: Does our denomination allow women to preach?
Pastor Lyonel: As a Pentecostal pastor, I believe that women can preach, only if there are no male pastors around.
Interviewer: What does it mean to be Pentecostal?
Pastor Lyonel: Pentecostal believers think that the Holy Spirit is a living entity that expresses itself through your body by speaking in tongues, preaching, praying, or anything in the church. The bible says that before you do anything, you have to be in the control of the Holy Spirit.
Interviewer: Why don’t other denominations follow the rules in the bible?
Pastor Lyonel: [Laughs] Listen Josh, it’s not about following rules, to understand what is written in the Bible, you need to have the Holy Spirit and pray to God for the guidelines. People who read the Bible will have different understanding of what’s said in the Bible. Those are little differences which makes up the denominations, the most important thing is that we all believe in God, and that Jesus is the son of God. Those little differences are called décor, or decorations. It is hard to follow everything in the Bible, but you try your best. Every Christian must try to follow what is said in the Bible.
Interviewer: Have you ever seen a women pastor before?
Pastor Lyonel: Yes, yes, I’ve seen before. Remember Sister Ravin? She used to preach. 25 years ago, it was extremely rarely to see a female pastor but they are a lot more prevalent now.
Interviewer: She was a pastor? I didn’t see her in a long time, and she didn’t really preach a lot. Would there be any problems with having more female pastors in our church?
Pastor Lyonel: The Bible says that if there are no female pastors in a certain church, then a woman can preach. But if there is a male pastor present, then only he can preach.
Interviewer: So that’s why we don’t have women preachers?
Pastor Lyonel: Because of our denomination, and what the Bible says
Interviewer: But why is it that other churches and other denominations have female pastors on T.V. every Sunday?
Pastor Lyonel: Some churches have different views on women in the church and some like to twist biblical passages, but I believe that according to the apostle Paul, if there is a male pastor present, woman must be quiet.
Pastor Lyonel: We are going through a time where women feel like they can do everything, but that isn’t the case in my church. And it is also a time where they talk of women’s emancipation, and women are being offered more opportunities to do more things. Jesus and Paul clearly stated that if there is a male pastor present then women must be quiet. But in this country where women are free, they tend to not respect these rules as much. It is like a new age movement where women are allowed to do more things, and I understand that, but in the Bible and the church it doesn’t change. They cannot bring that evolved mentality into my church, and I’m fighting so that it doesn’t happen. But I am thinking about giving women a special day to be celebrated and maybe preach, but you will not see that every Sunday.
Interviewer: Are women in our church interested in learning about the Bible? Or are they not allowed to?
Pastor Lyonel: A lot of women are flooding into Bible seminars and theological colleges, because it’s the “new age”. It’s hard to say, but I don’t know that the women in our church like to come to bible study to learn about the word of God.
Interviewer: Okay. So why aren’t men and women allowed to sit together in our church? By the way, I interviewed Pastor Ardesh today and he said that he believes that we will be able to allow more female pastors to preach as the church gets bigger.
Pastor Lyonel: No, no, no, I have to disagree with Ardesh one that one. Some churches don’t accept women and men to sit together, it’s called a Church organogram, search it up.
Interviewer: Well, alright. I guess will.
[End of recorded material]
Conducting the interview helped me confirms assumptions about the church that I wasn’t able to during field site observations. I was questioning the seating arrangements and the lack of female preachers in the church, and I assumed that it was because of simple religious belief. I knew that there were verses in the Bible that appeared to be restrictive upon women, and that somehow my father would be able to cite one to me as justification. Being that I’m aware of the current political climate in America, I understand that my father may be more protective of his religious views now more than ever, which is probably why he addressed women in this American “new age”. Most importantly, I was able to finally learn what denomination my church was through the interview, and what the denomination believes in.