Jermaine Jakes, the 29 year old son of Bishop TD Jakes of international televangelist fame, was arrested in early January for indecent exposure. Mainstream media is reporting that on January 3, 2009, Dallas police officers were working undercover in a city park after receiving complaints of sexual activity going on there after dark. Jakes and some friends arrived and made their way to a wooded area in the park. The undercover officers followed them and the police report alleges that Jakes turned, faced them with his genitals exposed, and proceeded to pleasure himself while making eye contact with one of the undercover officers. He was detained at the scene and released on his own recogniscence.
First, let me say that I truly am praying for the Jakes family at this time. As a PK (Preacher’s Kid), I am well aware of the ultra bright spotlight that is cast upon the Pastor’s Family including her/his children. It is a dynamic that can put undue pressure on the PK to live up to the standard of expectation placed upon them by the very public life of their pastoring or ministering parent. I cannot imagine what Jermaine is feeling at this time. His family is not “just another pastor’s family.” The stage that they are on is so vast, that I’m sure he is hearing it and has heard it from all corners of the globe. There are no small mistakes at that level of christian celebrity. In response, His parents have done what you would expect any parents of adult children to do. They are publicly standing by their son -as they should – even while acknowledging their displeasure with his actions.
That said, I think there are a number of ways that this unfortunate situation can turn out to be a help for the Body of Christ. We can springboard as a Faith Community off of this specific incident into meaningful discussion around issues that in the long run may prove to help us along our collective spiritual journey.
First, some media outlets are reporting that Jermaine Jakes is Bishop TD Jakes STEPSON! Of that, I had no idea. I certainly respect the Jakes family’s right to privacy, however, at the same time, knowing that there are millions of Blended Families (what used to be called “step-families) in this country; I wonder why Bishop Jakes has not to this point devoted more attention to this family dynamic. Not suggesting that he needs to address every issue out there, but this one is close to heart and home for him. Blended Families encounter a number of issues during the process of coming together and being together that can at times put tremendous strain on all involved. It takes work to make a Blended Family work! I speak from experience as a member of a Blended Family. With all that Bishop Jakes’ ministry has done in the area of family/relationships, I’m fairly confident that he would have much to contribute if he chose to devote some ministry focus to this issue.
Second, this specific incident presents yet another opportunity to address healthy sexuality founded on spiritual understanding. In a culture that is saturated with sex, I am of the opinion that our society needs appropriate and safe avenues to process what they are being programmed into embracing. A couple of years ago rapper, Killer Mike & Big Boi, released a song called A.D.I.D.A.S. – “All Day I Dream About Sex.” That’s no surprise. Sex is everywhere! And I am of the opinion that safe avenues for spiritually grounded counsel and support needs to be everywhere as well…and not just for our youth, but for adults too. (Ask Ted Haggard)
Finally, The Dallas Voice is reporting that the two undercover officers were male and that this actually was an undercover, gay-sex sting. Of course, this raises the well-worn issue of homosexuality and the church. If this report by the Dallas Voice is accurate and Jermaine Jakes is homosexual or trying to find resolve in his sexuality; it presents an opportunity for the church to revisit this issue. The goal in revisiting the issue could be broadened and probably should be broadened. For too long, the conversation has focused squarely around whether or not people believe that the Bible condones or forbids homosexual relations. But perhaps, if we change the question and make it one that asks, “On what terms or in what ways should the church and the gay community be in relationship with one another?” That moves beyond the combatant posture and forces all involved to dare imagine how we might be in community with one another, despite our differences, under the gaze of an Almighty God who created us all. Jermaine Jakes being in the middle of all of this actually presents an opportunity for the more malicious voices, in the church especially, to reconsider the presentation of their perspective, unless those voices find no tension in demonizing the son of America’s Best Preacher (according to Time Magazine). The vitriol must be checked on all sides if we are to make meaningful strides in this area.
Again, while unfortunate to say the least, the arrest of Jermaine Jakes presents an opportunity for the Christian Faith Community to grow – that is if we make swift departure from what has been our customary practice (a practice that is shared by other Faith communities as well) of quickly sweeping these types of things under the rug. My prayer is that we begin to deal with the elephants in the room and there is no better time to begin than right now.