Me and the R. Kelly Sex Tape
WARNING! THIS POST HAS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE THAT MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME READERS
It was October 2001, my second year at Sheridan College. I was in the computer lab when my friend came by with the R. Kelly sex tape on his IBM laptop. Yep, it was Robert Kelly all right. Did I know the girls were underage? Yes. Did I care? Nope. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Five months later the Best of Both Worlds album came out; a collaboration between the greatest rapper at the time, Jay-Z and the greatest R&B singer, songwriter and producer of the previous decade, R. Kelly. By then, I’d forgotten all about the girl from the tape. On January 3, 2019 the Surviving R. Kelly docu-series aired and the girl I’d forgotten about from the sex tape came back into my life, but this time, she had a name and a voice. As Christian men, it is a good thing that we turn our heads away from certain news and tabloid scandals for the sake of holiness but may I ask you to momentarily turn your attention to this issue.
R. Kelly has been accused of numerous sexual misconduct allegations with minors over the years. His short lived marriage to his 15 year old protégé Aaliyah when he was 27 in 1994, him urinating on a 14 year-old girl in a 2002 sex tape, and the present numerous allegations against him by women who he allegedly held against their will in his home are just a few. Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct allegations came as a surprise to most people. However, R. Kelly’s allegations were not news to those of us who are fans of his music and have followed his career closely over the past 20+ years. He has been making sexually explicit hits for years from “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” by Aaliyah in 1994 to rap legend Notorious B.I.G. “ F#cking you tonight” (1997) all the way to present "Show Ya P*#sy" by the Migoes and Juicy J (2013) to "Juicy Booty" by Chris Brown and Jhené Aiko (2017) I grew up a fan of R. Kelly. His songs were a “must play” at all the neighborhood block parties, school dances, weddings and even Church functions, he was a legend. Flat-out his music has raised a generation. Now numerous artists have apologized for working with R. Kelly, but none have apologized for their misogynistic videos and “rapey” lyrics that dehumanize women. The fact that R. Kelly was able to have these ongoing affairs for so long with no one in his entourage or the industry intervening deserves our attention. It should remind us of the perversity of sin, especially when it relates to our relationships with the females in or lives. I see two examples of masculinity gone wrong, in this ordeal, the sexual manipulator (R. Kelly) and the coward (The industry) that fails to protect women.
Now some women may say, “no man can ever take advantage of me and I don’t need a man’s protection.” To them I say, “praise God”, but there are those that do want and need protection. They often are the little girls who need their father to tell them they’re beautiful and someone to be a physical presence when a smooth talking young or old man comes to the door. Feminism has fooled some Christian men into thinking that passivity is a virtue when in actuality it is a cancer that eats away at the biblical calling of men.
Men are not animals that have evolved over time by giving in to our sexual appetites. Romans 5:14 says, “Adam was a type of the one who was to come.” This type was Jesus Christ, who is the anti-type to Adam’s type. Jesus is the true definition of humanity and what it means to be a man, righteous and self-sacrificing. We fail women when we act in either a manipulative or cowardly way. Manipulative, when we act like the serpent, who calculates his deception by isolating women from their support system, getting them to second guess themselves and offering false promises. Or, we can be cowardly like Adam, who failed to protect Eve by choosing not to intervene when he saw her in danger, but participated alongside her. Our Lord never took advantage of women. Whether it was the woman caught in the act of adultery, the woman at the well who had been with multiple men, or the woman who worshiped him by washing his feet with her hair. We can be better men to the females in our lives. The same spirit that dwells in you dwells in Christ. As a result, we can turn from our womanizing and cowardly ways.
I wasn’t a Christian in 2001 but now I’m able to see how I have contributed to the mistreatment of women, either through manipulation or being afraid to stand up to predatory behavior. As a man, R. Kelly failed these girls when he let his lust get the best of him. The men in his entourage failed them when they were afraid to confront him. But this is no different then what sometimes happens in the church. R. Kelly used his fame to manipulate young ladies into sexual relations. Christian men sometimes use the hope of the gospel to manipulate women into sex. The same music industry that denounces R. Kelly endorses the perversity that made him famous. Black male music says black girls don’t matter. We can’t save the world but we can help the women in our sphere of influence maintain and possibly restore the trust they have in men by modeling Christ. This ensures that young ladies not only know what a healthy relationship with a man looks like but more importantly, what one with Jesus looks like.