Starting last Thursday night, the public became privy to, as the Washington Post so wittily put it, “a spiritual saga that only religion could produce.”
On Thursday, Vanessa Long, wife of embattled pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Bishop Eddie Long, filed for divorce from her husband of 21 years. The couple has three children together and another child from Long’s previous marriage.
In her petition, Mrs. Long indicated that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that there was “no hope of reconciliation of the parties.” The document noted the couple is “currently living in a bona fide state of separation.” Mrs. Long asked the court for temporary and permanent alimony, as well as attorneys’ fees and an equitable division of marital and non-marital property.
The split comes more than a year after allegations in 2010 that Rev. Long lured four young men into sexual relationships. Long, who once described homosexuality as a “spiritual abortion,” settled the cases, but has never admitted any wrongdoing.
The public largely greeted news of Mrs. Long’s divorce petition with affirmations — “It’s about dang time!” — and unsurprised queries: “What took so long?”
But by Friday afternoon, New Birth sent out a press release saying Mrs. Long had withdrawn her divorce papers, and the marriage was back on.
“I love my husband,” Mrs. Long wrote. “I believe in him and admire his strength and courage. My filing followed years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me… My husband and I have mutually agreed to find healing from these attacks. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time.”
Rev. Long added, “Vanessa and I are working together in seeking God’s will in our current circumstances.”
By Friday night, Mrs. Long had flip-flopped — yes, again. Her attorney announced, “Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly; however, she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.”
On Sunday morning, Rev. Long announced to his New Birth congregation that he was taking time off from the church — but not stepping down as pastor — to focus on his family. Rev. Long’s spokesperson declined to say how long the pastor’s sabbatical would last.
With all due respect, I need Rev. and Mrs. Long to have several seats. Of course, the decision to end a marriage is not one at all to be taken lightly. If you don’t know what to do, pray, sit still and remain silent until you do. If you’re going to leave, go with God. If you’re going to stay, may God watch over you.
And if you’re going to go public?
Lawd. I need the antics of two grown folk with children not to beat the Kim Kardashian world record for bad-decision making. Be resolute in your choice before you go making a mockery of yourselves, and your church, by auditioning on the national stage for the season finale of “As The Pew Turns.”
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk