BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #8: The Danger of Keeping Family Secrets


Welcome to BCNN1’s The Gospel According to Greenleaf Podcast #8. The title for today’s episode is The Danger of Keeping Family Secrets

Greenleaf is indeed a show about the inner workings of a black megachurch, but it is also just as much a show about the inner workings of a traditional black family. One of the negative aspects that has been passed down through the generations of black families in America is the keeping of secrets. Somehow, our forebears believed that it was best not to tell some things. They had sayings like: “You tell a little, and you keep a little to yourself,” and “There are some things you just ought to take to the grave.”

The problem with the keeping of secrets in the family is, of course, that one day, the secret gets out and the family has a mess on its hands. The older people in the family may have thought they were protecting the younger people. But, as it commonly turns out, the young people are more hurt by the fact that they were lied to and kept in the dark than they are about the secret that the older folks are trying to hide. I recall when I turned eighteen, my dear grandmother Tempie who I was close to just out of the blue one day, while sitting on her front porch told me that my dad had another son before me. I was shocked because my parents nor anyone else in my family had ever told me about this older brother that I had never seen.

While several secrets have been hinted at throughout the first ten episodes of Greenleaf, we are now beginning to see the damage that those secrets are doing to individual members of the extended family and to the family as a whole. Grace finally reveals the results of her investigation into Mac’s serial child molestation. Lady Mae, who suspected that something was going on wrong with her brother, struggles to keep it together. Bishop James Greenleaf is so guilt-stricken after seeing the testimony of one of Mac’s victims that he gets his gun and shoots Mac inside the church. Grace’s daughter, Sophia, wants to know why her mother didn’t warn her about Mac. At dinner, Charity wonders why everyone seems to be keeping secrets from her and openly accuses her mother of not doing anything to stop Mac.

At the risk of sounding trite, it appears that the Greenleaf family should have taken heed to the old maxim, “Honesty is the best policy.” When you are honest with your family members about negative things that happened in the past or secrets that are being carried on in the present, you open the door for healing, truthfulness, forgiveness, and restoration. Those who cling to secrets will discover the truth of Jesus’ words in Luke 12:2: “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.”

Dr. Suzanne Handler, writing in Psychology Central, lists these 5 detrimental effects of family secrets:

1. Keeping secrets can destroy relationships, especially marriages.

2. Keeping secrets can negatively affect children’s lives. Children are extremely perceptive and may become alarmed or anxious if they sense something of a serious nature is being hidden from them.

3. Keeping secrets can cause suspicion and resentment. Trust is severely compromised when family members learn that a secret, especially one that is compounded by a lie, has been hidden from them.

4. Keeping secrets can create a false sense of reality. When children are eventually told the truth, either by a parent, or even worse by someone outside the family, their world may feel shattered. Secrets’ impact on children can be profound, regardless of their age. Parents who habitually keep secrets from their children should keep in mind the possibility that such behavior could very well be repeated in future generations.

5. Keeping secrets can cause illness. Keeping traumatic secrets can result in excessive stress and guilt for the person carrying the burden of knowledge. Physical symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, backaches, and digestive problems often occur when disturbing secrets are internalized, rather than shared, especially over a long period of time.

Many families, in the church and outside of the church, would do well to sit down and tell the truth to each other about the past and the present. If they desire to have freedom, open communication, and healthy relationships, honesty and sharing each other’s burdens is a must. As Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

In closing, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can be forgiven of your sins and begin a relationship with God today.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Now that is bad news, but here is the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

May God bless you, and I hope that you will join us next time for The Gospel According to Greenleaf.

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