A viral video of an Oklahoma pastor wiping his spit on a man's face as part of a shocking sermon illustration sparked controversy on social media Monday over its appropriateness – not to mention its lack of hygiene.
The video shows Michael Todd of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla., spitting multiple times in his hand before he rubs it across the forehead, cheeks and eyelids of a man standing on stage. The man was his brother, Brentom Todd.
During a sermon illustration, Pastor Mike Todd spits in his hand multiple times, then rubs it all over the face of a congregant.— Bad Preacher Clips™ (@BadSermons) January 17, 2022
Sermon aired January 16, 2022.#BadPreacherClips
Pastor Mike Todd
Tulsa, Oklahoma#PastorMikeTodd#MichaelTodd pic.twitter.com/eRcon8urXV
Todd was preaching from Mark 8, where Jesus healed a blind man. The chapter says Jesus "had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him."
The video sparked dozens of news stories, including ones in TMZ and the British newspaper The Independent.
At the moment he wiped spit on the man's face, he was making a point: "receiving vision from God might get nasty." Following God, the pastor said, may require selling much-beloved possessions.
"This is where most people would not face Jesus anymore," the pastor said, before wiping the spit on the man's face. The action drew gasps from the audience. "What most people would do is turn away. ... What I'm telling you is just as he's physically standing here, knowing what's coming, God's saying. 'Can you physically and spiritually and emotionally be able to stay in when getting the vision or receiving it might get nasty?'"
The church's Facebook page thanked Brentom for taking part in the illustration.
"We are so grateful for Pastor Mike's and Brentom's obedience to God, allowing themselves to be used, so God's children can clearly receive His word," the Facebook page said, according to The Tulsa World. "We pray that as you seek God, He gives you clear vision, and you always remember that."
Social media users were mostly critical of the illustration.
"If your pastor rubs spit on your face … find a new pastor," Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie wrote on Twitter.
If your pastor rubs spit on your face (looking at you, Mike Todd), find a new pastor.— Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie (@RevChuckCurrie) January 17, 2022
"It's okay to acknowledge a gross mistake was made and move on," one person wrote on the pastor's Twitter timeline. "You're a great Pastor and leader, and what happened doesn't define you, but public acknowledgment is necessary, I think."
It’s okay to acknowledge a gross mistake was made and move on. You’re a great Pastor and leader and what happened doesn’t define you but public acknowledgment is necessary I think.— C L A R E N C E (@clarencelinear) January 17, 2022
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.