The Grace Card

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace in light of the newly ignited outrage towards R. Kelly. It’s amazing how much repressed anger a documentary can unearth.

I totally get it, though.

The sexual misconduct that R. Kelly has been charged with is heinous. As the father of two beautiful and precious daughters, I find myself particularly disgusted by the whole thing. I can’t even stomach the thought of my babies being in the situations that those young girls were in.

Having said that, there are a few consistent reactions that I noticed, particularly on social media.

There are those in full sympathy and support of the victims, screaming in outrage at not only R. Kelly, but the many people around him who knowingly (or unknowingly) enabled his behavior.

There are also those who have purposed in their hearts to “mute” the man, deleting his songs from their playlists…or in the case of fellow musicians, removing any trace of collaboration with him.

Others have been quick to point out the hypocrisy of anyone who would point a finger at R. Kelly, citing several other male celebrities, preachers included, that have been accused of similar crimes, but not condemned nearly as much in the court of public opinion.

And then there are those who are actually coming to Kelly’s defense, pointing out that he himself was abused, that his music is still good regardless of his behavior, and that he needs grace just like the rest of us.

There it is…the grace card.

I know that phrase sounds eerily like another phrase that describes the idea of bringing a certain controversial factor into a situation too quickly. The wordplay was intentional, and here’s why.

I think there are times when we play the grace card too quickly.

I’m not denying the dire need for grace for even the most wretched of people. I would consider myself first on that list.

But let’s stop and think about something for a moment. How must the victims of R. Kelly feel when they see posts defending the man who preyed on them…and has yet to even apologize for it? How do victims of any sexual abuse feel when people they don’t even know are so quick to speak up for the victimizer?

Extending grace is essential…but it does not mean that we skip holding people accountable for what they’ve done. Even God’s grace, though it covers our sin, doesn’t cover it up. If anything, it empowers us to own up to our transgressions, no matter how awful.

Speaking of awful, I pray that the victims in this awful situation can somehow find healing in the midst of it. I can only imagine how hard it must be for them.

And yes, I do pray that R. Kelly will someday find the same grace and mercy that I have found in Jesus…but after he has repented to the victims and come to grips with his actions.

And I pray that we as a society, especially the church, will learn to play the grace card at the right time more consistently.