Bowl of grits with butter
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According to “them inner-nets” there’s a great debate regarding which belongs on grits: salt or sugar. When I heard about this supposed war between two camps, I just assumed it was some Qanon-level crazy fake news conspiracy talk. But to my shock and dismay, there actually are people on both sides—Team Salt and Team Sugar—going at it online and at family gatherings, arguing about which one tastes better on grits.

Recognizing that logic alone would not be enough to permanently squash this debate, I’ve decided to employ my Masters of Divinity education earned at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (class of ’98), to offer a definitive spiritual answer, and put this maddening back-and-forth to rest, and let the world know that the Great I AM approves of only salt on grits. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so.

Check it out…

#7: Sermon on the Mount

Do you remember in the Bible when Jesus is preaching “The Sermon on the Mount” and he tells his hurting and downtrodden fellow Hebrews, “You are the sugar of the earth”? Of course you don’t remember that, because Jesus never said any yackity-dock like that. Bruh Jesus knew that salt was the superior seasoning. When he wanted to lift up the spirits of his people who were being oppressed and mistreated by the colonizing Romans, Jesus spoke the language of the people. They knew how fundamentally valuable salt was. They knew salt was the great preserving agent that allowed food to “keep” and not spoil. So, when the Black Messiah told them, “You are the salt of the earth,” he was saying, “No matter what those hater Romans say, you are the best of the best. You give life its seasoning. And you know better than to put something other than salt on those foods valuable to you… like grits.” The Messiah has spoken.

#6: Dominion

In the Book of Genesis, God gave humanity “dominion” over all of creation. People with a god-complex, who think the world revolves around them and that they can treat people any kind of way to get what they want, view “dominion” as giving them free rein to act a fool and to dominate and control and oppress others so they can have their way. However, people who recognize that we were created to be in community with each other and are charged to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated, view the word “dominion” in the way it was intended—to take responsibility for God’s creation, not to “lord” over it for personal amusement and profit. This divine call upon humanity to have dominion, to be responsible caretakers of this planet, is an obvious call to put salt on grits (the responsible choice) rather than sugar (the frivolous, carefree, self-centered option). Praise God!

#5: It is Good

Also in the Book of Genesis, the Alpha and the Omega is creating the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the vegetation on the earth, etc. And after every aspect of creation, God says, “It is good.” Then God creates humanity, and says “It’s very good,” just like the Almighty did when trying salt on grits: “That’s not only good, that’s very good!” Lord, Lord!

#4: The Maccabees

When Jesus and others of his time were growing up, their heroes were a group of folk referred to as “The Maccabees.” The Maccabees trace their origins to the high priest of a sleepy, country, farming town called Modein, roughly 200 or so years before Jesus was born. That priest/farmer was named Mattathias. Mattathias knew that trouble was brewing in Judea.

The Greeks, precursors to the Romans, were on a mission to “Hellenize” the Hebrews. In other words, the Greeks, known as possessing the most powerful army in the known world at the time, wanted to conquer any and all lands and people as possible and force them to accept Greek ways, laws, customs, etc. They did so by marching on cities and communities and giving the people two choices: 1) bow down and accept the Greek gods and ways (thus denouncing their own faith) or 2) die a horrible death after experiencing unimaginable torture.

The Greek forces went town-to-town terrorizing, torturing and killing those who refused to bow down. Of course, many Hebrews did submit and renounce their God (the one who delivered their ancestors out of bondage in Egypt). Some Hebrews managed to escape the horrors and ran to other towns screaming a warning of Greek terror headed their way. Mattathias knew it was just a matter of time before the Greeks arrived in Modein.

And finally, that day came. The Greek king’s commissioner arrived with a handful of troops and said to Mattathias, “You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. Be the first to step forward and conform to the king’s decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be honored with gold and silver and many presents.” In other words, “Mattathias, you can make this easy on everyone. If you submit to the king’s decree and sacrifice a pig on the altar of Zeus, everyone else in this town will do the same; and no one will have to get hurt. Plus, we’ll hook you and your family up with 30 pieces of silver.”

Mattathias, who scriptures say possessed a righteous zeal for the Lord, told that commissioner, “Even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obey him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, I, my sons and my brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances. As for the king’s orders, we will not follow them. We will not swerve from our own religion either to right or to left.” In other words, “Hell naw, playah.”

Mattathias and his sons and brothers (poor farmers) eventually went to war with the Greeks, the most powerful fighting force in the land, and battled them for 25 years to a standstill. The Maccabees’ willingness to put their lives on the line for their God and their people made Mattathias and his sons (one of them named Judas Maccabeaus, from which the name/title Maccabee comes) heroes for generations of Hebrews. Parents named their children after Mattathias and his sons. Parents hoped and prayed their offspring possessed that same kind of courageous faith in the face of danger and madness as the Maccabees.

The reason most Christians haven’t heard of the Maccabees, is because they lived during what’s called the Intertestamental Period (the decades between what’s covered in the Old and New Testaments) and because the holy books that record their story are only available in a few versions of the Bible, like the Jerusalem Bible. But their tales of faith calling God’s people to fight against oppression were edited out of other versions of the Bible (like the King James Version, for example). But the Maccabees’ story resonated so strongly with the Hebrews of Jesus’ time that over half his disciples had the same names of Mattathias (Matthew) and his sons.

What does all this have to do with salt or sugar on grits? Everything! For, the courage and faith displayed by the Maccabees when facing the mighty Greek army is the same courageous faith that the Almighty is calling us to exhibit today to say no to the king’s commissioner, no to selling out, no to oppression… and no to sugar on grits; and to instead honor the faith of our ancestors who said salt—and only salt—goes on grits. Hallelujah!    

#3: What I Can Do You Can Do and Even Greater Things

According to scripture, Jesus expected a lot out of his followers (his disciples and those who claim to be his followers today). But many believers and their pastors have grown way more comfortable putting everything on Jesus, as if we as believers have no role to play in our own lives. But Jesus wasn’t about having his followers put everything on him, and waiting for him to do for them, what God gave them the power and ability to do for themselves.

How do I know this? Because in John 14:12, Jesus tells his Disciples just that: “What I can do, you can do, and even greater things shall you do.” In Mark 9:19 (also Matthew 17:17) Jesus basically cusses out his disciples for expecting him to do everything and themselves not being able to heal. You remember the story. The parent takes his sick child to the disciples, and requests healing. They fail. The father then takes his son to Jesus, who heals the child, and says to the disciples (who weren’t there), “You faithless, unbelieving and perverse generation. How much longer must I be with you?”

You know how we cuss folk out who aren’t physically in front of us. We do that all the time. That’s what Jesus was doing… out of frustration.

Later, the Disciples approached Jesus and asked him why they weren’t able to heal the boy. And he tells them, “Because you have no faith… If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Jesus saw the Godpower and inner divinity in his people. And he worked to help give sight to the blind so his people could see the power they each possessed. That’s why one of his most repeated lines was “The kingdom of God is within you.” The power you’re looking for, the healing you’re looking for, the direction you’re looking for, the leader you’re waiting for… it’s in YOU!” And because Jesus knew we have the power in us, if only we’re bold enough to tap into it, he expected us to use that power to fight oppression and mistreatment, and to just say no to sugar on grits. Preach, preacher!

#2: Jael

Jael is one of the heroes of the Old Testament. And FYI, the Old Testament is one of the most revolutionary and gangsta books on earth. Jael (or Yael) is known as the heroine who delivered Israel from the army of King Jabin of Canaan in the Book of Judges. Sisera was the commander of the Canaanite army, and he was on the run after the Hebrews defeated Sisera’s troops. Capturing Sisera was viewed as an act that would guarantee victory for the Hebrews. Sisera saw some tents and ducked in one of them to hide from the Hebrew troops who were tracking him.

In that tent was the soul sister Jael, who knew exactly who Sisera was. She made sure he was comfortable, and encouraged him to take a nap. When Sisera went to sleep the Bible says Jael drove a tent peg (stake) through Sisera’s skull. I told you the Old Testament was gangsta. And for “capturing” the dreaded Canaanite commander Jael became a legend, celebrated by the Hebrews from that day to the present. Jael had the courage put an end to the person viewed as the lead oppressor of her people.

According to countless health professionals today, sugar is one of the biggest culprits to the health outcomes for Black people. Will you have the courage of Jael to “end” sugar before it hurts any more of our people? You can start by keeping it off your grits, and doing the sensible and spiritual thing—using salt. And you don’t even have to “peg” anyone to be heroic.

#1: Choose This Day Life or Death

One of the books of the Bible most often quoted by Jesus was the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is one of the first five books of the Bible and is referred to as “The Law.” When Moses and Jesus and the many prophets referred to “The Law,” they were referring to those five books, and oftentimes, referring directly to Deuteronomy. It was just that important to how the Hebrews believed God called them to live their lives. Deuteronomy 30:19 basically summarized the point and intention of entire five books: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

“The Law” was supposed to be the guide for how the Hebrews were to live in accordance to God’s will. And though some preachers today say that the New Testament trumps the Old, and replaces it as a better, more updated version of a spiritual life guide, Jesus begged to differ.

In Matthew 5:17 (also Luke 16:17) Jesus tells all those who accused him of trying to place himself above and beyond the spiritual traditions and teachings of the Hebrew people, Do not think that I have come to abolish (destroy) the law, or the prophets. I have come not to abolish, but to fulfill.” Now, did Jesus challenge the religious big-wigs when they wanted to make words on paper more important than human life? Yes. Was Jesus a rebel, who pushed believers out of their dogmatic comfort zones? Absolutely. But even all the ways he operated out of the traditional confines of the Hebrew religious rules, he never wavered from the basics—we must dedicate our lives to living in a way that reflects the will of God. And for Jesus, that meant preaching good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind and liberation for those in chains.

However, the Sadducees and Pharisees (Hebrew religious big-wigs) were so into the “letter of the law” that they squeezed all the humanity out of it. For them, if they saw “the poor,” “the blind” or ”those in chains” in need of help on the sabbath, they would refuse to lend a hand—choosing rather to follow the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the Law. And for Jesus, it was/is the spirit that gives life. The spirit of Deuteronomy 30:19 is about making the right choices—choosing life rather than death, blessings over than curses. That spirit means applying that logic to all situations.

What does all this have to do with Negroes on TikTok arguing about salt or sugar on grits? Well, the adult human body naturally contains roughly 250 grams of salt. Sodium (basically salt) enables the transmission of nerve impulses around the body. It is an electrolyte, like Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium; it regulates the electrical charges moving in and out of the cells in the body. So, it’s safe to say that salt literally gives life. In fact, without salt in your body, there is no life. The human body also contains sugar—roughly four grams. That equals less than a teaspoon. So, the way the Great I AM configured our biology, salt was/is a gazillion times more important to life (and blessings) than sugar. So, when you’re about to eat a hot, steaming bowl of the good stuff (grits), the spirit of the law says choose life, choose blessings, choose salt.

But then again, the Lord turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt; so, what do I know?

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...