Each week when we meet for Confirmation Class here at Grace I am constantly in awe of the four young women who will be Confirmed in May of this year. They are thoughtful, intelligent, witty, creative, beautiful, wonderful, caring individuals. I admire each of them for their commitment to attend classes and their willingness to be open with each other and me about what is going on in their lives.
Yesterday, I thought a lot about these young women, and all of the young girls in our congregation, the surrounding community, and the world. You see, I spent this past Sunday evening like many around the world; watching the Grammy Awards. I am a pop culture fiend. I love a good awards show with a fantastic red carpet preview beforehand filled with beautiful, quirky, and sometimes ugly fashion. In my opinion, this year’s Grammys were much better than recent year’s because there was a lot of singing. In years past I would often get bored a quarter of the way through the Grammys because there was way too much talking at a microphone and not enough singing. But this year’s show did not disappoint. Bruce Springsteen, Adele, the Beach Boys, The Civil Wars, the Foo Fighters – just plain ol’ GOOD singing!
But, I must also say that this year’s Grammy Awards made me sick. Every time Chris Brown got up on that flashy stage to “sing” and dance and the crowd went crazy my stomach lurched. When he received the 2012 award for Best R & B album I changed the channel.
It was only three years ago when Chris Brown got angry at his girlfriend, pop superstar Rihanna, on the eve of the Grammys and ended up taking out his frustrations on her face. Rihanna went to the hospital for treatment and then later to the LAPD. The disturbing photos of this abuse were immediately leaked all over the internet. Brown ended up turning himself in the next day, was booked, and then released on $50,000. Later in that year, he was sentenced to five years probation and 180 hours of community service.
Should Chris Brown receive forgiveness? Yes. Should he be given the opportunity to move forward, to show the world that he has sought treatment, that he will never do something like this again? Yes.
However, it seems as though the music industry (and much of society) has decided to sweep his horrendous actions under the rug, and along with it, a young woman who was abused.
When word of the attack was first brought to the light, many celebrities were asked about the incident. The lack of support for Rihanna was absurd. Most celebrities were silent. But when they did speak, there were no statements made about the long-term emotional trauma of domestic abuse. No one spoke out about the statistics that show that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. (1) No one said anything about how young women between the ages of 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal partner violence. (2) Instead, comments like this were made:
“They’re both young and beautiful people, and that’s it.” – Mary J. Blige
“I know both of them well. They’re young, and all we can do is pray for them at this point.” Nia Long
“I have no comment on that. That’s not my relationship. I think they’re both great people.” – Lindsay Lohan
Last week, Grammy Executive Producer Ken Erlich, said in an interview, “We’re glad to have him [Chris Brown] back. I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”
I’m sorry… Come again? THE GRAMMYS WERE THE VICTIM OF WHAT HAPPENED???
This is not okay. Neither are the Twitter postings by young girls that appeared during Brown’s performance that night inviting him to hit them. Tweets like this one, “Not gonna lie… I think I’d let Chris Brown beat me.” (There are more than 25 similar postings on Twitter from other young women.)
Where have we gone wrong? Even if those postings were an attempt at being funny, this is incredibly disturbing. Our daughters, sisters, nieces, friends are worth so much more than this.
Today is Valentine’s Day; a day that celebrates love with flowers, candies, and candlelit dinners. One of the most popular love scriptures comes from 1 Corinthians. Many who are “churched” and “un-churched” can quote those three popular verses that have been sewn on to throw pillows, embossed on greeting cards, and spoken at many a wedding ceremony: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Love does not hit. Love does not kick. Love does not disrespect. Love does not demean. Love does not belittle. Love does not destroy. The church needs to preach this. The church needs to teach this. The church needs to live this. Because the celebrities I (and many other young women) like to read about and watch and listen to have gone mum on the subject.
The young women in our lives need to know what love is. They need to know they are God’s precious and beloved children and should be treated in such a way. I hope and pray that the girls I meet with every week for an hour come to know this deep within their beings and that they will be able to teach their friends, sisters, cousins, teammates the same.
I also hope and pray that those who suffer from domestic violence, either emotional or physical or both, may find help, hope, and healing. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please contact My Sisters’ Place at 1-800-298-7233 (http://mysistersplaceny.org) or The Lutheran Counseling Center at 1-800-317-1173 (http://www.lccny.org/).
Let us pray. Loving God, whose Son was both victim and victor, we cry to you for those who suffer abuse. Be with them in their confusion and pain. Heal the wounds of body and mind; break open the prisons of fear, self-doubt, and despair; and strengthen them to face the future with faith, hope, and courage. Work through us, that we may reach out to them with your divine love, that they be made whole in body, mind, and spirit, through the healing touch of Christ. Amen.
(1) Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).
(2) U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence in the United States,” December 2006.