William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr., born on July 12, 1937, is in trouble with man, and with God. An American stand-up comedian, actor, author, activist, and philanthropist, Mr. Cosby has entertained the world for decades with his humor and insight into human behavior. But for all these years, Mr. Cosby tried to conceal an addiction to deviant sexual behavior that hurt himself and many others.
The indisputable evidence is finally in the public domain that Mr. Cosby is an alleged serial rapist. His method of operation, based on his own court deposition, was to buy drugs that would subdue his victim to the point that he could have his way with them without resistance. When any of his victims protested his behavior, after realizing what had been done to them, Mr. Cosby, through his defense team, and faithful supporters, portrayed each victim as a star-struck gold digger, an aspiring model, or actress, trying to use him to advance their own career, or a consenting adult. He, of course, was totally innocent of any evil or indecent behavior.
While the judicial system sorts out who is telling the truth, and what the penalty should be, if any, in the court of public opinion Mr. Cosby is receiving a severe rebuke. It appears to be justly deserved. Certainly Mr. Cosby has brought shame to himself, and sadness to the hearts of millions, who have enjoyed his humor and acting skills for many years.
The irony is that a specific message Mr. Cosby has articulated, especially within the black community, is not wrong. Anyone who has viewed his “Pound Cake” speech in 2004 at an NAACP event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, knows that Mr. Cosby has the right message for this generation. Cosby exhorted his fellow African Americans to stop blaming racism for irresponsible fathers, single mothers, sloppy dress habits reflected in low-slung pants, drug abuse, and failure to get an education. What Mr. Cosby was telling his targeted audience was that African Americans should act in a decent and moral way and life will be better. It was the right message, but Mr. Cosby has proven to be the wrong messenger.
The life of Bill Cosby now becomes a teachable moment for all who are concerned about moral issues.
First, the heart of Mr. Cosby, like every heart, is desperately wicked, if the truth were told. The Bible says that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). The Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). You and I are as guilty of sin in the sight of God as Mr. Cosby. Our sins might be different, they may not be recognized as heinous as his, but they are in the eyes of a holy and righteous God. Even our “good works” are described as “filthy rags” in His sight when offered as a form of human good (Isa. 64:6). Because this is true, individuals need to be forgiven by God, and saved from the penalty and pollution of sin. Christ is set forth in the Bible as the Saviour of the World.
Second, the heart of Mr. Cosby, like every heart, can compartmentalize itself, thereby allowing sin to reign at times in the soul, and find an outward expression. Because humans can compartmentalize their behavior, the San Francisco City Council can show no remorse over their sanctuary policy that led to the needless slaughter of Kate Steinle on July 6, 2015.
“How many dead people does it take?” asked Mr. Watters, before an immoral and unjust practice of harboring illegal aliens is reversed? Because humans can compartmentalize their behavior, the American public can turn blind eyes to the fact that America is the leading maker, and exporter of child pornography. Because humans can compartmentalize their behavior, over a million babies are destroyed in the wombs of American women each year.
Third, ironically, though the human heart can compartmentalize itself, though the heart of every person is deceitful, and desperately wicked before God (Jer. 17:9), there is a moral dimension to the soul that cannot be suppressed. Why did Mr. Cosby want to do television shows that promoted family values? Why did Mr. Cosby speak on moral issues for decades, to audiences large and small? The answer is simple.
Despite the best efforts of godless men such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Richard Dawkins, this is a moral universe. Man is made in the image of God. No matter how severely the image of God in man has been marred, there is a sense of “oughtness” that reigns. There is a sense of right, and wrong.
The world knows the sexually deviant behaviour of Bill Cosby is wrong, just as much as Bill Cosby knows that single mothers are not the divine idea for a good home, and that young people who chose to rob and do drugs are wrong, and should be told to be different. All of this behavior is wrong, because God has said it is wrong, in His Word, the Bible, through His ministers of the gospel, and through the natural order of life. When there is ambivalence, abandonment, or compartmentalizing of morality, individuals get hurt. There is a moral dimension to the soul that cannot be completely destroyed from the heart.
Finally, Bill Cosby reminds individuals that credibility is just as important as what is being communicated. The world desperately needs an authentic voice to speak on matters of morality. That voice should be the voice of the church universal. Christ has entrusted to the church the right to rule, and to mediate on behalf of a lost world groping in spiritual darkness. He has made “us”, Christians, to be “kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6). Therefore, it is imperative that the church have not only the right message in the gospel, but be the right messenger through a sanctified life. The right message necessitates the right messenger for credibility. Otherwise, Christians will be charged with hypocrisy, like Mr. Cosby.