Bill Cosby and Our Fall From Grace

“What?” I shouted, swerving and almost sending my SUV careening into the ditch.

Quickly recovering control of my vehicle and pulled onto the shoulder of the road.

I just there, silent and stunned!

America’s Dad, a worldwide hero, Bill Cosby, imprisoned. He had just been sentenced to three to ten years for drugging and raping a woman!

Once our childhood hero, Bill Cosby’s name was pure gold. Now, his life symbolizes the need for pure connection.

Hero Gone Rogue

Bill Cosby was my childhood hero.  I had grown to love his cartoons, educational shows, audio and his video stand-up routines. Finally, I appreciated his two landmark, culture-shifting shows: “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World”.

Although I deeply loved and respected Bill Cosby, I don’t in any way endorse his criminal acts towards women. My support and love for Bill Cosby are for—were for, rather—the positive childhood memories. The transformational experiences I had were valuable. At one point, the word “Bill Cosby” was pure gold.

However, I can no longer watch, read, or listen to anything to which he is associated. The taint of his heinous crimes against so many women ring in my spiritual ears.

The Original Sin-ner

Spiritually, there was another superstar whose life and existence took a similar and surprising fall from stardom. His was not just worldwide. His stardom and resulting precipitous plummet was the sound heard across the entire universe! Lucifer, originally created by God, to serve Him, one day just got tired and made the decision to fall. God, through His prophet, Isaiah, gives us insight into how and why this happened in Isaiah 14:12-15.

Now you might think that my comparison of Bill Cosby and the devil is inappropriate. Others will likely think “he totally nailed it!”

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No Easy Solutions

My goal is not to make a judgment call about Bill Cosby’s character. And, really, we should all be praying for him, his family as well as the many women and families whose lives he destroyed, but I am comparing the reason why they both fell. In one word that reason would be the reason why we all fall, pride.

The reason why we all fall, just as Lucifer did, ends and begins with sin and pride. “I” being the center of it all.

I’ve heard it said that people who suffer from both pride and sin suffer from an “I” problem. At their core, both words have the letter “I” in the middle of them. Both represent and define someone who is focused only on what they want, prize, and desire —to the exclusion of all others.

Pride’s Antidote

So how do we not give in to selfishness and pride?

Jesus, in speaking with His disciples as a group for the last time, gave them instructions in John 15: 1-11. He basically told them (like nine times) how to stay safe and secure from the sinfulness of selfishness. He pleaded with them. Stay connected to Him. I know that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I can’t miss Jesus’s point: if you want to stay saved and safe from sin and all it’s consequences, stay connected to Jesus!

How to Get and Remain?

I recently heard a preacher say, “You can’t remain where you’ve never been.” Once you’ve gotten connected (1 John 1:9), just stay there. No matter what kind of good or bad things happen to you, stay connected to Him. Not to other people or to stuff, but to Him. Many of the things that we’re connected to aren’t bad (Christian/inspirational resources, family, friends), but they’re not Jesus. They can’t give you eternal life. Only Jesus can do that.

God’s Cleaning Secrets

Connecting with Jesus is an all-day thing with me. I’m so messed up that I need to have a living and constant connection with Him. But often, life gets in the way and I’m not able to sit and talk with Him as I want. Therefore, I find that the end of the day is a great time for me to re-connect with Him and basically unload on Him.

In our daily attempts to walk with God, to know and love Him better, to love others as He loves us, we don’t want anything—including us—to get in the way of that. When we knowingly get out of step with Him (Galatians 5:16, 25), we immediately confess our sin, ask Him to forgive us and consciously decide to stop breaking our relationship. It is not unlike sweeping up those things that we can see; but what about those things that we do during the day that we’re not consciously aware of—those things that aren’t so readily visible?

Promise of Power over Pride

The answer is the spiritual disciplines of silence, stillness, confession and repentance. They are a wonderful way to daily renew your mind (Romans 12:1) and spirit and get you focused on experiencing God’s best in your life.

If you do this every day, habitually, day in and day out, I promise you, not only will you be able to stay spiritually connected, but you—and more importantly, God, will like the fact that you won’t fall from His grace.

 

 




Not Normal

sinister side-effect of sexual assault is the corruption of an individual’s very essence. Their soul, their core, their being. I’m not being theological with the terms here. I’m reaching for the words that describe what it means to be a human being at our crux. That’s where the wounds of sexual violence fester, and the prospect of complete waste and devastation hardens.

Last year’s self-reported, sexual abuse declaration of survival, #MeToo, spread around the globe with lightning speed. One study sought to measure the “me toos” and discovered the rates of even sexual harassment were breathtaking. The rates of unwanted sexual contact are so pervasive, one could argue it is normal. It is in and out of churches, affects men and women and children, seniors, and at a shocking rate—the disabled—people who are vulnerable to caregivers, people who have little voice, and people for whom society at large pays little attention. 

According to Vox.com, Stop Street Harassment’s survey released in February 2018, disclosed that 81% of women have been sexually harassed, while 43% of men report being sexually harassed at some point in their lives. Gay and bisexual men report higher rates of sexual harassment than straight men.

Further “normalizing” the problem is the heterogeneous nature of the perpetrators. Rarely, strangers, they are often trusted family members or friends. They are seemingly well-adjusted, fully functioning members of society who find it normal, and simply rationalize their violent behaviors away. According to the University of Michigan, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the risks come at any time of the day, and the perpetrators are operating under any number of rape myths, erroneous ideas about sexual roles, beliefs, or they are operating under the sanction of all-male peer groups, or they are operating under an often correct assumption that they will not face sanctions. Normal.

“[M]ost men who violate women’s spaces, rights and bodies sexually would not meet clinical diagnostic criteria as either sociopaths or sexual deviants,” wrote Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., author of the novel The Good Psychologist in a Psychology Today blog. “Most violence against women is committed by normative people—around campus, at work, or on the base. This raises the possibility that the violence they perpetrate appears, in context, normative to them.”

Balance that “normative violation” with the spectrum of effects for victims. The anxiety, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the enduring sense of worthlessness and self-blame cling to the inner core of each sufferer. Of interest to us, moreover, is the spiritual distortion taught and indelibly received by the sexual invasion.

Most of all, their question is, who is God, and where was He when this happened to me?

The spiritual dimension is very much affected, according to Sue Mcgrath, author of Healing the Ravaged Soul: Tending the Spiritual Wound of Child Sexual Abuse. During her 14 year counseling and then subsequent spiritual guidance career, Mcgrath’s clients who suffered sexual abuse questioned everything from their own personhood, their capacity to be saved, and the availability of God’s grace, faith, goodness and holiness. They wondered, “where is the justice in the world?” “Where are the consequences in this world?” Most of all, their question is, who is God, and where was He when this happened to me?

This is where we can step in, to answer questions and model God’s attentiveness. Not to take matters into our own hands, things are too far gone for trying to mete out mob justice or adopt some system of honor violence. After all, today’s predator very likely may have been yesterday’s prey. Today’s evil perpetrator, may have been yesterday’s innocent sufferer. And, ironically, honor violence can target the one who was violated.

No, we must start at the point of education. Educate families, churches, schools, neighborhoods, said Houston based marriage and family counselor Wilma Kirk Lee. Make sure the bathrooms at church are stocked with abuse hotline numbers, she said. Then make sure we encourage the “victims” to seek therapeutic intervention. “Our churches, the black community [in general, doesn’t] do therapists because we’re not crazy,” said Kirk Lee. “Spiritual people will tell you, ‘all you need to do is pray,’ but not so. You need some help. You need to know it’s not your fault. You can’t learn that on your own.”

I hope that in the process—we can reintroduce to people a God who understands their context, knows how to—and will indeed—mete out lasting justice, and indeed, His heart is wrapped up in theirs.




Selfish Struggle Between Pain and Pleasure

Campus Sexual Assault And The Lessons We Should Be Learning

Since Cain killed Abel there has been a continuous struggle regarding the line that should be drawn between one person’s pleasure and another’s pain.

Even the most selfish person should consider:

1) any pain another may experience due to the pleasure he seeks, and

2) any pain he or she may endure as a result of the pleasure he or she experiences.

Lives have been totally ruined as a consequence of driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Lives have been ruined while participating in illicit activities. Even selfish considerations could wisely lead to avoidance of such.   Wise and thoughtful considerations beyond self would increase the unlikely-hood of participation in such illicit and potentially dangerous activities. Human suffering around the world, the absence of peace, the spread of poverty, disease, and every other ill from refugees to accidents and hatred could be seriously diminished if not eliminated.

Stanford Student Brock Turner And “20 Minutes Of Action”

Recently, a young man was caught in the act of raping and assaulting a young lady who was unconscious or perhaps inebriated. He tried to flee the scene but was apprehended by others more thoughtful and compassionate.

When the judge sentenced him to six months in county jail, the punishment was compared to the few minutes of pleasure,  as though a few minutes of punishment would have been sufficient for his few minutes of pleasure.

“Widespread outrage has erupted over a California judge’s decision to give a former Stanford University swimmer a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman,” observed CNN’s Ashley Fantz. “Critics are blasting the decision as far too lenient.”

According to the CNN report, the young victim wrote a letter detailing the horrible treatment and process she endured before the assailant could be prosecuted. She reportedly felt physically violated all over again with shots, multiple swabs, and a camera for humiliating photos.

“After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”

Curing The Selfishness Before It’s a Problem

The problem of these crimes against young women on university campuses is too serious to be further ignored by police, prosecutors, college administrators, families, and community leaders. A Washington Post-Kaiser poll released in June 2015 found that 1 in 5 women say they were sexually assaulted while in college. Statistics within the Criminal Justice System suggest the system needs prosecution or at a minimum, overhauling. Consider the following criminal justice system statistics: Out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free.”

Too little “justice pain” will continue the results of too little gain in the way of reduction of these crimes. Our institutions, especially families, churches, schools, and even judges have a far greater responsibility than they have exercised. It is not about pleasure. It is about saving our children from victimization and perpetration.

Curing this after-the-fact is good, but prevention before-the-fact is far better. Too many brains with tremendous potential have not been utilized to the extent possible. Some could have solved problems of the community or the world. Caring adults, professionals and family members, could have made the difference. Dropouts could have become graduates. Problem children could have become problem solvers. Critics could have become mentors and everyone could have become someone’s best friend.

The lives of victims and perpetrators can be virtually destroyed, wrecked forever by a simple failure to stop and think. To consider just the pleasure is not thinking. Teach them to think about the pain and what they can gain.




Say It Ain’t So, Bill

Amid developments involving Bill Cosby’s alleged sexual misconduct and assaults, former admirers of “America’s Dad” have to reconcile with the truth, but which truth?

The impossible had happened. Hero and all-time favorite of baseball lovers everywhere, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, had been indicted for doing something no fan can forgive—throwing a World Series. In 1919, he along with several of his Chicago White Sox teammates were accused of accepting $5000 each for turning their backs on their team right when they needed them most.

The next year, a grand jury made its decision. Guilty as charged. A reporter for the Chicago Daily News wrote what can best be described as a regretful tribute headline for his article on the fateful decision. “Say It Ain’t So, Joe,” announced to the world that a hero had fallen.

Recently, I found myself saying the same thing, except the name had been changed. With a heart heavy with sadness, I moaned, “Say it ain’t so, Bill. Say it ain’t so.”

Bill Cosby brought a breath of fresh air to 1980s television. We fell in love with the Huxtable family and enjoyed their adventures (and misadventures) through eight seasons of “Must See TV.” Claire, Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy came into our living rooms and made us laugh, cry, be inspired, and wonder. But, it was the father figure, Dr. Clifford Huxtable that kept everything together. Wise, insightful, childlike, fun-loving, romantic, and passionate, Cliff moved an entire generation of young people to do more, reach further, remain honest, respect others, and work hard to accomplish their dreams.

Fat Albert and Cosby accusers
More than 50 women have accused the former “America’s Dad” of sexually molesting them and several cases are in varying stages of investigation or litigation. So now what do we do with Cliff Huxtable and Fat Albert?

But, it seems, there was a problem. According to an ever-growing number of women, the man behind the character of Dr. Clifford Huxtable wasn’t following his own scripts. The kind-hearted sitcom physician would have banned someone with that reputation from coming anywhere near his family. As of this writing, Bill Cosby is out on a million dollar bail bond after being charged with a felony in connection with rape accusations brought against him. His career, his reputation, his standing in the community, has vanished. He is facing years of court battles and possible prison.

Say it ain’t so, Bill.

When a Hero Falls

So, what do you do when a hero falls; when a man or woman you’ve looked up to, admired, even patterned your life or career after, turns up so horribly flawed? What do you do with their past inspiration, motivation, and even words of encouragement and support?

The answer is found where many answers reside—in God’s Word.

Hot-headed Moses kills an Egyptian guard and runs to the desert to escape the law only to find God waiting for him there, sitting serenely in a burning bush, offering him the important job of saving a nation of slaves (Exodus 3). What?

Shepherd-boy-turned-king David does Bill Cosby one better. He sends the husband of the woman after whom he was lusting (slept with and impregnated) to certain death in battle. All this in order to clear the way for his romantic advances on the grieving widow. In time, God would describe this immoral fellow as “a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). Excuse me?

The well-seasoned thief, dying on a Roman cross for crimes he did commit, is told by Jesus who is dying beside him for crimes He didn’t commit, “You will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Come again?

Saul, blinded by a heavenly light on the road to Damascus, is challenged to make a slight adjustment to his career path. He’s told to stop killing Christian converts and to begin creating them (Acts 26:14). Really?

And then there’s you, and me. We know what we are. We know what we’ve done. We know that if God held His standard of excellence too high, we’d both be out of the running.

But something very interesting happens when God connects with a human being. Who we are, what we’ve done, all of our mistakes and missteps and errors in judgment and downright foolishness falls by the wayside. God sees something we don’t. He sees truth in us. And sin can’t tarnish truth.

Master of the Mix

Satan himself told the truth when it suited him. He was the master of mixing truth with error in such a way that the end result generated absolute train wrecks in the lives of those willing to heed his ramblings. When Eve explained that she’d been instructed by God not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the Garden of Eden on fear of death, Satan quickly responds, “You will not certainly die” (lie) … “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (truth) (Geneses 3:4, 5, NIV).

We all know how well that turned out.

But the point is that truth is truth no matter who’s saying it. It can fall from the lips of a saint or a sinner and still remain just as powerful, correct, and life changing.

When Moses lifted his hand above the waters of the Red Sea—a hand bloodstained by a murder he’d committed years before—the waves still parted. When David wrote his songs of praise and supplication with the same hand he used to write the deadly marching orders for his neighbor’s husband, the beauty of God’s character still shone through. The thief on the cross, his destructive, evil-doing hands nailed to a plank of wood, allowed truth to change his eternal destiny on the spot. Search-and-destroy Saul allowed his hands to lose their grip on the sword of persecution and pick up a quill to write life-changing letters to the early Christian church under his new pen name Paul.

Speaking Truth

Which brings us back to Bill Cosby. For eight years, he (and his skillful team of writers) spoke truth on the Bill Cosby Show. He—along with the other actors—identified and glorified so much of what was good and noble and pure in this world. We laughed, we cried, we wondered and were inspired, not by a sin-filled man, but by the truth he demonstrated through the character he played week after week.

Knowing this, we have an opportunity to accomplish even more than this tragically tarnished celebrity. The truth we preach and teach and share can become the truth we are. We can read the script and then live it, enjoying the eternal rewards of allowing God’s message to transform us from the inside out. Our hands, soiled by sin, can be instrumental in saving one more soul. Ours.

See our related articles regarding personal reporting and rape crisis and biblical accountability for added perspective.