The Cosby Show will go down in history as one of the great sitcoms of all time. It represents everything that is right in America. A fun-loving dad who is also a devoted husband, some knucklehead kids with really good hearts, and a lot of good ol’ fashioned fun. For years Bill Cosby cultivated the image of being a wholesome comedian – a guy who endorsed Jello and didn’t curse during his standup comedy.
But it turns out Bill Cosby isn’t the wholesome guy we thought he was. In recent weeks, many women have come forward with disturbing accusations of drug rape and sexual assault. These accusations aren’t new, but they’ve grown in number and in intensity over the last several weeks. I grieve to think of the trauma these women have experienced, and pray that God heals and restores them.
I’ve got to admit: hearing these things about Bill Cosby is confusing, disturbing, disappointing, and even a bit surprising. I mean, we’re talking about Bill “Cliff Huxtable” Cosby! The guy who has the funny dance moves and gives his kids chocolate cake for breakfast and tells stories about his brother, Russell.
But should I really be surprised by what I’m hearing? Should I be shocked every time one of my favorite celebrities turns out to have some really nasty skeletons in his closet? Should I be shocked and disappointed that Mel Gibson is a raging anti-semite, Michael Richards (Kramer) is a furious racist, Chris Martin (Coldplay) can’t keep his marriage together, and Jim Henson was a serial adulterer?
I don’t think so.
Romans 1:28-31 describes every person who doesn’t know Jesus:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
The longer a person refuses to acknowledge God as king, the more God gives that person over to a debased mind. A mind that is bent on doing terrible, evil things. A mind that leads a person to do what should never be done. A man with a debased mind drugs women and then rapes them. A man with a debased mind repeatedly unleashes terrible racial slurs. A woman with a debased mind strips naked for music videos.
By nature, every person is filled with “all manner of unrighteousness”. All manner of debased, disturbing, vile things. All manner evil inventions. Bill Cosby has acted just as God predicted he would act. God isn’t surprised by Bill’s actions.
Of course, if Bill Cosby is just as evil as God predicted, then God can also rescue Bill Cosby from his own wickedness! That’s the beauty of the gospel. We’re all worse than we thought, and Jesus is a greater Savior than we could have imagined!
Bill and I are in the same boat. I’m a sinner with no righteousness of my own. Without Christ, I too would be indulging in all sorts of repulsive behavior. But the gospel saved me, and it can save Bill Cosby and Michael Richards and Mel Gibson. We’re sinners. Jesus came to save sinners. Therefore we always have hope.
So what are we to make of Bill Cosby? We don’t shake our heads in shock or disappointment. We do appropriately grieve over the sin he has committed. He has massively hurt many women, and it is right to grieve for them. We don’t write Bill Cosby off as a nasty perv who should be shunned forever. We do pray that God would rescue him from his sexual slavery. We don’t look down in self-righteousness on Bill Cosby. We do humbly thank God for rescuing us from the clutches of sin.
I don’t know if I can watch The Cosby Show anymore. The juxtaposition of Cliff Huxtable versus the real Bill Cosby is too jarring. I’m sad that I can’t introduce my kids to the fun of Cliff Huxtable. But I can pray in faith for Bill Cosby, knowing that God can save a sexually deviant old man just as much as he can save anyone else.