Happy New Year and all that good stuff.
It's the year of our Lord 2019, and I've been trying to start it off right by fasting, praying and unplugging from media, social or otherwise. I've been trying to quiet voices of distraction to get in tune with the voice of the Lord. My focus has been to hear less of pop culture and more of Jesus.
But try as I might, it has been a bit of a challenge because everywhere I turn, I've been hearing about R. Kelly. Friends, family, coworkers, church community members, strangers have all been asking, "Have you seen Surviving R. Kelly?"
No, I haven’t seen it; I don’t plan on seeing it, but I sure have heard about it. And without ever watching one minute of it, I believe it. Every word.
If you, unlike me, have been able to escape the pop culture chatter and have no idea what I'm talking about, Surviving R. Kelly is the dream hampton directed documentary that includes the stories of victims who have survived abuse, sexual and otherwise, at the hands of the R & B artist.
Now, let me be clear: I am not using the words “alleged stories”. I am not leaving room for benefit of the doubt that these things didn’t happen. I am referring to these women as victims and I speak about the situations as if they happened the way these women described because like I said, I believe it and I believe them.
Why do I believe it and them? How can I be so sure? Because Robert Kelly, Rruh for short, has sung, written, commented and gyrated about his exploits for his entire career. He has behaved the way of which he is accused in plain sight. He even refers to himself as the “Pied Piper,” assuming the name of the fairy-tale creeper who lured little children away from a village with his music. He hasn’t hidden his pervy, predatorial behavior, ever. He’s been bold and upfront about it; we the public have just ignored it until now because his musical genius made us “Happy People” who wanted to “Bump & Grind”. I know it’s true. You know it’s true. We know it’s true.
But for some ungodly reason there are large groups of people fighting tooth and nail to prove R. Kelly’s innocence. There are people, in this year of our Lord 2019, still living in a cult of denial referring to these women as liars, and claiming they are just “hoes” trying to “come up,” claiming the 12-year-olds he molested were just “fast” little girls who “dated” an older man, claiming they’re just after publicity and ratings. All in the year of our Lord 2019.
And while all of that seems problematic in and of itself, an added layer of problematic-ness has been the sheer number of men, the sheer number of “Christian” men, who have made similar statements in support of R. Kelly and his line of thinking.
“Why was she being all fast though? Chicks be out here trying to cause men to fall.”
Statements like these let me know there is a clear culture of men who, like R. Kelly, are card-carrying members of the He-Man Woman Haters Club and their misogyny is showing. And some of these men seem to hold the thinking that the Bible supports their viewpoints because of its call to women to be modest (1 Timothy 2:9). And while that may be a biblical imperative for women, misogyny is not a biblical imperative for men.
The Old Testament had some strict laws. Yes. Women were second-class citizens in the society of the Bible. Yes.
But every time you see Jesus interact with a woman in the Bible, it was always countercultural and always with love and respect:
When a crowd wanted to stone a woman that was caught in the act of adultery, he responded: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
When the woman with an issue of blood, which according to Jewish law meant she couldn’t be touched by anyone until her flow dried up, touched him, he told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace" (Luke 8:48).
When he encountered a woman, who was a member of a racial class with whom Jews were not supposed to interact, he spoke to her and offered himself as the Messiah (John 4:26).
When he rose from the dead, the first person he appeared to and gave his gospel charge to tell others that he was alive was a woman who was a former prostitute (John 20:16).
Jesus honored women. Jesus respected women. Jesus listened to and believed women. He didn’t slut-shame them and call them names even when they were entangled in sexual sins. He looked past that and had compassion on them, understood the society that impacted them and offered them different treatment.
And the Bible calls for men to do the same. The biblical imperative for men to “treat older women as you would your mother and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters” (1 Timothy 5:2), is the very opposite of misogyny.
So basically, if you’re a Christian man who is in any way supporting R. Kelly, thinking like he thinks and blaming, shaming or ridiculing his victims, you’re following the Pied Piper and not Jesus of the Bible, bruh.
He Man Woman Haters Club