We make messes. We all do. We fail. We disappoint others, and even ourselves. We wreck havoc in our own lives, and in the lives of the people who look up to us. All of us do, to varying degrees.
Some failures are subtle incidents of inappropriateness. Others are blaring actions of hedonistic behavior, exhibiting no regard for anyone else, only our own self-satisfaction.
Some failures are secretive. Others are headlines.
Some failures hurt people a little bit. Others wreck lives.
Some people get caught. Others don’t.
Some own up to their failure. Others remain in denial as long as possible.
We are all contradictions. There is a longing to meet legitimate human needs in illegitimate ways in all of us. And there is a measure of deception, even in those who seem to be the most transparent.
That’s part of being human. It is arrogant delusion to deny it.
Bill Cosby has done a lot of good things as “America’s Dad,” an actor, a comedian, a generous philanthropist, and an insightful commentator on the state of society.
But he is also apparently a repeated sexual abuser of several women who used his fame, charm, and drugs for sexual encounters.
Tchividjian was a rising star in the Christian community, a great speaker, a champion of grace, and pastor of the late D. James Kennedy’s church in Coral Ridge, Florida. He is also a good-looking dude, who happens to be Billy Graham’s grandson. (If you have all of that going for you. It does matter if you have a weird name.) Apparently, his wife had an affair, then he had an affair, and finally, he resigned as pastor.
Our first reaction is shock. Almost disbelief. Except we have seen it so many times before. We think, “But he was so talented, had such a great image, and did so much good.”
I don’t know all of the details. Very few do. It seems like Tullian owned his sin, and Cosby is still holding out.
Some of this behavior might have been just a slip, where one thing led to another.
I knew a pastor who had an affair with his best friend’s wife, but went on to rebuild his marriage.
Some of the behavior may have become an addiction, or a lifestyle.
What I do know is, we all screw up. Only he who is without sin can cast stones. Of course, most people will cast stones anyway, because these guys got caught doing something worse, or different, than their (our) own personal failures.
One more thing, God’s grace, lived out in Christ is a whole lot bigger than these failures, and ours too.
Where does that leave us?
- An unwillingness to either ignore personal responsibility, or excuse the poor judgment that left a wide swath of broken lives behind
- A compassion for the victims
- A refusal to join the rock throwing mob
- A heart of love and compassion for the one whose sin was revealed (We are a little different, and a lot alike.)
- Some love and compassion for ourselves, because that’s God’s way
- An utter amazement of God’s grace, because we know our own heart
- A heart that is humbled, loved, and loving
I encountered a firestorm of response to this post on social media. Here is my final comment comment I posted on social media about this post:
By all accounts, Cosby is a hypocritical, serial rapist, who should be brought to justice. His victims should be vindicated and he should be punished. It is a horrible offense.
This post was not written to in anyway minimize Cosby’s crime, or compare it to the pastor who had the affair. I certainly did not intend to be insensitive to women, especially those who have been victimized by rape. What I wrote was intended to be a commentary on the human condition, and the need for God’s grace on the part of all of us, writer and reader, included.
A less virulent response, and an inquiry as to what I was saying, rather than accusing me of what you thought I was saying, would have been appreciated, and provided for a much better conversation.
Comments were replete with how Cosby is predatory monster. There were, however, no comments about Tchividjian’s affair(s). I was condemned for making light of violence against women and kicked out of a Facebook group. No one admitted their own sin or the tendency of the human beings to be duplicitous. All of that tells me that I am an absolutely horrible communicator or else there are a lot of self-righteous rock throwers who cast their stone in the name of women’s rights and social justice. That seems like the ultimate hypocrisy to me.