As we jump into 2019, we are unfortunately familiar with tragic headlines. Checking your Twitter feed or listening to the day’s news will almost certainly involve learning something that makes your heart sink. Today is no exception as our news feeds are filled with reactions to R. Kelly’s horrific acts of sexual abuse.
Because stories like this one are becoming tragically commonplace, it’s tempting to shake our heads in contempt and just move on with life. I was recently struck by a question a pastor asked his congregation. The question is this: “What moves you?” Perhaps even more to the point, do you still have the capacity to be moved by human suffering and evil? Have you become so accustomed to horrific headlines that your heart no longer breaks at such revelations? This question prompts me to stop, to pray and to reflect. Lord, what do you want to teach me?
Evil is more prevalent than you think. We know about R. Kelly’s evil and heartless actions because he is famous, yet the horrific sexual exploitation of women, boys and girls happens in quiet neighborhoods, busy cities and suburban churches every day. I have heard too many heart-wrenching stories from people you will never see on television whose abusers are living seemingly normal lives to believe that the #MeToo movement is overblown. If anything, we have no concept of the wave of evil that is destroying lives in our present day, all around us. I guarantee you that in your sphere of friends, fellow Christians and co-workers, there are men and women who silently suffer from present or past sexual abuse but don’t know how to reach out for help.
There are no faceless victims. Psychologist Dan Allender states that sexual abuse has a tremendous return on investment for evil. One night, one encounter, even a few minutes of sexual violation can leave both victims and perpetrators in a torrent of shame, pain, confusion and grief that cripples them relationally and spiritually for a lifetime. With the onslaught of #MeToo revelations, we can begin to normalize victimization. If you have been sexually traumatized as a child or adult, I am so sorry! Your pain is not discounted because it may not have been as violent as another victim’s story. I urge you to grieve and to seek healing. And for the Christian community, may we never become so accustomed to #MeToo stories that we fail to weep and minister to the one person in front of us who has been wounded by evil.
If you give the devil an inch, he will take it all. We can all agree that we hate the evil represented by what R. Kelly has done to so many women. However, we often yawn at the evil that opens the door to sexual violation and exploitation. Just a few years ago, how many of us flocked to read or watch Fifty Shades of Grey, a sexually explicit romance story involving a “red room of pain” and BDSM? Our culture (including the Christian culture) has conceded the territory of sexuality to worldly, secular thought. Let’s remember that Satan himself is the prince of this world, yet he disguises himself as an angel of light. When we kick God out of our sex lives, we essentially give that ground to evil. Encouraging just a little bit of pornography or hooking up sets us up for the mentality that we can have, therefore should take, whatever our lust desires. You might think it’s a stretch to link seemingly benign acts like casual sex and porn to what is documented in Surviving R. Kelly, but evil takes ground with seemingly small concessions. It’s far more acceptable to lament the abusive result of the #MeToo movement than it is to teach sexual morality. Yet the two are forever intertwined. It’s not enough to compassionately care about victims. We must also confront the compromises we make that give Satan power in our lives. When we elevate humanity as our own moral authority, evil will win.
Many of us are sexual atheists, meaning that we don’t acknowledge God’s authority within our sexual choices and beliefs. I’m sad to realize that this growing trend will inevitably result in more stories like R. Kelly’s, some hitting the news but most forever unspoken. But here’s what I know. There is no darkness that the truth of Jesus Christ cannot expel. My greatest joy in this work is hearing stories from men and women like you who share about how even one nugget of God’s truth has propelled you on a journey of healing and redemption. Authentic Intimacy is not just a teaching ministry. It is a growing community of men and women who determine to offer hope to a hurting and confused world.
Will you take a moment to let your heart be moved? First by the pain caused by evil, but then by God’s invitation to be part of his redeeming work?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Follow up Resources
- Podcast: #218: Rethinking Sexuality in Your Life
- Podcast: #160: Why God Created You To Be Sexual