Cosby and the Charges of Rape or Our Society and Villainy

In recent months Bill Cosby has been vilified by the media based on accusations made against him by a number of women reporting that he had drugged and raped them. This past week, Cosby’s wife stated that the man she knows is not the man the media is making him out to be. She is standing by her husband in the midst of these accusations.

The media has worked very hard to turn public opinion against Bill Cosby in these matters. However, it seems that this is not always the case.

In 1977, Roman Polanski, a film director, was accused of raping a 13 year-old during a photo shoot. When he was awaiting his final sentencing after accepting a plea bargain, he fled to France. He was arrested again in 2009, but was later released. He has not been back to the United States since 1978. However, a number of Hollywood Actors have come to his defense amidst the charges. He has even had a successful career directing films since he plead guilty to raping a 13-year-old. Notable  films have included: The Pianist (2002), he acted in Rush Hour 3 (2007), and The Ghost Writer (2010).

So what is the difference between Polanski and Cosby?

Perhaps it is that Cosby has repeatedly taken a stand for high moral values. He has branded himself as a family man. He has told African Americans that they need to be the change they want to see in this society. And now, he appears to be a charlatan.

Polanski on the other hand never pretended to be this great pillar of virtue. For that matter, neither did Phil Spector who was convicted of murder in 2009, yet people still continue to listen to music he produced and arranged.

In the last two months, two democrats were arrested on charges of rape. The first, a staffer who worked for Joe Lieberman, pleaded guilty and received 5 years of probation. This is not a typical sentencing and the story barely made the news.

The second, was a donor to Obama’s campaign and a member of the President’s National Finance Council. He is the first person the President sees when he flies into Oregon, and he has been on board Air Force One. His name is Terry Bean and his charges are against a minor. This person is also a lawyer who has been working to champion gay rights.

I am not saying Obama knew what this guy was doing or that other champions of gay rights approve of his actions, but again, this story barely even made the news.

Again, I think it has to do with the fact that these men never promised to be champions of virtue. When someone sets himself up to be such, the fall is always harder. I believe this is why the country judges ministers on a stricter basis than they do regular business men.

But what do these stories say about us as a society? What do they say about our moral aptitude? What do they say about Christianity? And what does the Bible say about these stories?

Make no mistake, the Bible is very clear that rape is wrong. But our society has on many occasions tended to punish the victims of abuse. It has also attempted to vilify some and not others seemingly when convenient. It seems that the crime is less horrific if the victimizer knows the right people.

When did doing what was right become a matter of taste?

As Christians, we have a responsibility to stand for the truth. A responsibility to speak for those without a voice. We must also be patient and wait to get the facts before we pick sides. Cosby may be guilty, but he may not be guilty. We don’t know all the facts, and the news certainly does not present them in an unbiased manner.

If Cosby is guilty, he should go to jail. But this should not tarnish his entire career. Certain evil choices we make should not define our entire lives. Polanski was wrong to rape a 13 year old; he was wrong to flee the country, but The Pianist is one of the best films of the last 15 years.

Bean was wrong for raping a 15 year-old boy, but that does not mean he knows nothing of finance.

We need to pray for our country. Pray for its moral compass. Pray for the truth to be heard in the news, on television, and from our pulpits. We need to stand for virtue, and we ourselves need to love virtue and be characterized by it in our lives.

***I would like to thank my friend Adam Jones for bringing to mind the connection of Polanski with the situation regarding Bill Cosby.

Tattoos

Is it ok for Christians to get tattoos?

Tattoos are an interesting topic because many people want them and most people get them as reminders of things they believe or things they have been through. Each tattoo tells a story.

Getting tattoos can can cause conflicts in families, especially when teenagers want them and their parents do not want them to get one.  First, if you are not old enough to get a tattoo, you should not get one without your parents consent.  Second,it is not a good idea to get a tattoo in order to spite or upset someone else.

What does the Bible say about tattoos?

The only verse in the Christian Bible that mentions tattoos is Leviticus 19:28. This verse forbids getting a tattoo.  However, the verse forbids getting a tattoo because tattoos were still primarily given in witchcraft ceremonies at that time.  The Jews were not to get tattoos, because they were to worship no other gods. If a Jew at the time received a tattoo, it would have been because he or she was participating in a religious ceremony to someone other than their God.  Today tattoos are not strictly associated with religious practices, though they can be.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law in which this verse is given.  Therefore, as long as the tattoo you want to get is not of something that is opposed to Christian beliefs, there is no problem with getting it.

Before getting a tattoo you may still want to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Will you be happy with having this tattoo for the rest of your life?
  2. Will the area of your body where it is change, could it cause the tattoo to expand or sag?
  3. Is the design of tattoo something that you would not be ashamed of in front of others (parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers, employers, neighbors, your kids, etc.).

If it passes the test then the tattoo may be something you would really enjoy.  If not, then you should probably not get that particular tattoo. Just don’t rush into making any decisions that you will regret later.

How should Christians practice tolerance?

Tolerance is the practice of keeping a fair or objective attitude towards practices or beliefs that one does not necessarily agree with. Issues where people are expected to be tolerant include cultural practices and traditions, religions, races, gender roles, and nationalities.

We often assume that being tolerant of something with which we disagree is the equivalent of accepting it. This is not the case. In reality, we are agreeing that those who have different views than our own have the right to those views.

What does the Bible say about tolerance?

Concerning the eating of food Paul told the church in Rome that they should tolerate differences of opinion as do as they are convicted.

Romans 14:1-4 reads, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?”

Here the message is clear that there must be room for disagreement about certain practices within the faith that are to be tolerated.

However, the Bible also speaks of throwing false teachers out of the church.

Practically speaking, Christians should allow for certain disagreements in their congregations as they are related to non-essential matters.

Certain issues include whether we believe Christ will come back before or after the tribulation, whether the earth was created in 6 literal 24 hour days or whether each day is a longer period of time, and whether or not the gift of tongues is still valid today. The church should not tolerate false teachings such as the idea that Jesus was not the incarnate God, or that we cannot be saved without doing specific good works.

Though these false beliefs are not to be tolerated within the church, it is clear that some people will choose to believe these things. So we can agree that people have the right to believe that Jesus was not God, we can agree that people have the right to teach those theories, but we can still refuse to allow those theories to carry weight in the church.

It is easy to explain how the church is to deal with issues relating to church, but it is not as easy to deal with the issues that relate to the culture.

Christians do not believe in the practice of abortion, or euthanasia. They do not believe in the use of recreational drugs. Christians do not believe that people of the same gender should be married. It is acceptable to argue that those who practice Christianity must abstain from these practices, but Christians must be willing to treat fairly those outside of the church who disagree. We must not demonize people for having different beliefs, even if we do not accept those beliefs.

At the same time, those who believe that certain practices regarding abortion or euthanasia should be legal have no right to to tell Christians that they cannot disagree, because that would be intolerant of them. Likewise, those who believe that people of the same gender should be allowed to marry have no right to force Christian ministers to perform the wedding ceremonies.

Tolerance is not acceptance, but rather it is staying objective. Those who do not believe in abortion must remain civil towards those who do. Those who do believe in abortion must remain civil towards those who do not.

We must be willing to live at peace with our differences. We have every right to vocally share our positions and to take our concerns to the government, but we do not have the right to require everyone to confirm their thinking to our own.

I cannot require that all Christians embrace a literal 6 day creation, but I can dialogue with those who hold different views. They may raise questions I have not thought about. I may raise questions they have not thought about. Through our differences, we can help each other learn more and grow in our own beliefs. When dialogue is replaced with slander and mean spirited actions, dialogue is stifled and no one becomes better for it.

I accept that other people hold different views than I do on a number of issues. They have every right to think as they do. I have every right to think as I do.

Christians must live by their convictions and share them with the world. They must also be willing to dialogue with those of different convictions for the good of all people.

What are your thoughts on the issue of tolerance?