Over this past weekend accusations of sexual misconduct were made against Jesse Lacy, frontman of the band Brand New. Not long after Lacy released a statement, not addressing the specific accusations or the victim in question, but acknowledging he has a history of sexual addiction, which led him to take advantage of numerous women and to be unfaithful in most all of his relationships.
Brand New is one of my favorite bands of all time. Their album The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me is one I’ve regarded as the best album of the 2000s and possible my favorite album of all time. Subsequently Jesse Lacy is someone I considered to hero to some degree. The accusations against him were devastating to me. I didn’t need his statement to know they were true, as a vast majority of sexual abuse accusations are true statistically. The victims in these situations should always, always be given the benefit of the doubt. Lacy’s statement simply confirmed the truth and gave some clarity to it. Sadly this is all too common. Men in positions of power taking advantage of women. Lately, there seems to be a steady flow of accusations being made, particularly against men in the entertainment industry. On one hand I’m glad these women are finally feeling empowered to speak out, on the other hand it’s heartbreaking to think of how these women have been hurt, and to think of the many more out there who haven’t spoken up. So what do we do?
Coming at this from a Christian perspective I want to make a couple things clear. First, we are all sinners, we all fall short, none of us can claim to be superior to another in this regard. Secondly, no one is beyond redemption. That being said, there are certain sins that are systemic and particularly destructive and there should be an effort to put a stop to those things. One of those is the abuse of power that leads to sexual violence against others. The reason this is so sinister is that it strips the victims of their humanity, it leaves them powerless, hopeless, and physically and emotionally scared in a way that many of us can’t imagine. Also, we live in on a culture that gives the benefit of the doubt to those in power. Victims of sexual violence often aren’t believed and are placed with the burden of proof. So when we think of these abusers, usually men in positions of power; Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, Jessy Lacy, to name a few, how do we respond? In the examples I gave, these men are beloved entertainers, they’ve produced art that we love, art that’s moved us, made us smile, given us fond memories. And now what?
For me, I’m not sure I can listen to Brand New’s music again… maybe someday, but I’m not sure. I just know I don’t want to to shrug my shoulders and say, oh well. I don’t want what these men did to be okay, or just written off and forgotten about. A couple nights ago I read a post by Jason Tate who runs the music site chorus.fm (formerly absolutepunk.net). He too is a huge Brand New fan and he wrote about his thoughts on the recent events and something he said really resonated with me, “…I don’t want to contribute to the normalization of acts like this. If we just go on, everything that happened fades to the back of everyone’s memory. There’s no accountability…” Like I said before, these men aren’t beyond redemption and none of us are better than them, but again, what they’ve done is incredibly destructive and it’s important we don’t normalize that kind of behavior. We need to stand up and say, this is not okay, and it needs to stop. I’m not sure what that looks like exactly, but for me right now, it means no longer supporting a band I once loved. It means not supporting systems or individuals who perpetuate sexual violence. As a father it means raising my sons to respect women, and to see all human beings as Children of God and who are all made in His image. To teach against objectification in a world where it’s rampant. And it means praying for those who’ve been hurt. That they would find healing, peace, rest, and forgiveness for those who have hurt them. And to pray for the abusers. That they would be accountable to their actions, seek forgiveness from those they’ve hurt and seek forgiveness for themselves.
One quick closing thought. This isn’t something that is exclusive to entertainers, athletes, and politicians. This is happening in our own communities, which is all the more reason there needs to be accountability.