Cosby Case: A Clergy Lesson?

As a child of the 1980s, I grew up with the Huxtables.

I imagined Vanessa, Theo, Rudy, Denise and Olivia were my siblings and I adored Clair and Heathcliff.

I think my favorite episode was the one where mom and dad Huxtable busted Vanessa for missing her curfew and lying to them so she could be with her boyfriend Jeremy. The couple re-arranges their living room furniture to situate the couch facing the front door. When Vanessa arrives home, she opens the door and there's mom and dad.

Clair Huxtable hilariously halts her daughter from falling further into the "abyss of untruth" while her husband tells Vanessa, "I want the boy."

Much to Vanessa's horror, her parents invite Jeremy over for a heart-to-heart. The parents explain their position to the young man as Vanessa calls out to him from exile (her upstairs bedroom). In the end, Dr. Huxtable takes Jeremy into the family kitchen for an apple and a reality check on the consequences of teenagers lying to their parents.

Dr. Huxtable is the best television father ever in my opinion.

He imparts wisdom. He demonstrates love. He provides sound, moral guidance.

For an hour a week, I followed him. I learned from him. I trusted him. I believed in him.

I think this is what is most heartbreaking about the scandal now facing Bill Cosby. It's the revelation that Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable and Bill Cosby are not one in the same.

The Cosby Show, in the end, was just a show. Bill Cosby is just an actor.

I think there is a lesson here for clergy.

Every week, preachers around the world proclaim messages in worship services that last about an hour. We try to impart wisdom, demonstrate love and offer moral guidance.

I think we can learn a lot from Bill Cosby.

There is more to worship than performance. We are called to lead lives of worship, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Rom. 12:1).

In the end, we are all human. We fail. We sin. We disappoint God and others.

The Christian life is not always an easy one. Clergy are continuously scrutinized and often held to unrealistic standards.

We need to strive for holiness, though. We are called to be more than performers. We are called to be faithful disciples of Christ. We are called to point others to God through our words and deeds.

What's at stake for us is more than our popularity and reputations. What's at stake is more than disappointing those who trust in us. What's at stake is a very serious matter: Damaging the relationship others have with God. I wonder how many people have rejected the Church because of the hypocrisy of Christian leaders who profess God from pulpits then lead lives contrary to the Gospel message.

Today, I am lifting up Bill Cosby in prayer. I'm also lifting up those who lead the Church. Lord, help us to be holy as you are holy.