Bill Cosby is one of my favorite comedians. In fact, he is a favorite for many in part because his themes are exaggerations of situations which are common to more humans cross culturally. For example, his album, To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With resonated those of us who had shared a room with our siblings as we remembered drawing an imaginary line down the center of the room to keep our brother or sister on “their side” (the door was usually on “my side). His description of “the belt” is hysterical and yet seemed to describe the implement of punishment as I sometimes thought of it myself as a child.
Bill Cosby has also been able to incorporate religious themes with equal ease into his routines. Of course, one of his first was Noah. Another one I really like is a description of the sin nature all humans are born with and is titled, “Brain Damage”. It is better demonstrating the problem than one might hear in most churches. Drawing on experiences with his kids, he describes how he explains to them not to touch certain things. Asks if they understand and they affirm that they do. He turns away and they do exactly what they were told not to do. He asks, “Why did you touch that?” and their response is, (all parents can repeat with me) “I don’t know.” In the end of the routine he draws in Adam, Eve and God and comments that if it happened to God what hope to we have in avoiding this. God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, asked if they understood, they said yes, God “turned His back,” they ate the fruit, He asked why they did that and they replied something equal to, “I don’t know.”
As a result of so little teaching or at least so little good teaching, is done on this issue today, believers and unbelievers tend to go in one of two directions. Sometimes they begin going in one direction and then end up rejecting something that was false but embracing something that is equally false in its place. In a sense, the church sets up many to embrace sin. What do I mean by that? I recently picked up a small tract in a truck stop which read:
Want to become a NEW YOU? With the old bad habits gone instantly, as though you never had a desire for them? The name JESUS was given because He came to save us FROM OUR SINS, (Matthew Ch. 1). CHRIST means, an IDEAL TYPE OF HUMANITY, AND THE EXAMPLE way of life. Tired of the way you’re living? By yourself you can’t stop committing sin. Is your mind truly made up for a change in your life? What’s hard to us is EASY to God, and turns all our sin habits into passing memories. “Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (scripture, KJV). That can happen to you THIS VERY DAY. Ask God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and be saved, cleansed and forgiven TODAY! With NO DESIRE for what you know is wrong
The idea that God takes away our sinful desires is a fairly common one. There is a category difference between God cleansing us from our sin, and taking away our desire to sin. The first is eliminating the consequences of our sin and giving us peace with Him. The second is removing our sin nature or our desire to sin. The Apostle Paul soundly refutes this idea in Romans 7 where he writes about the struggle between the 2 natures he has as a believers. We find him telling the young pastor Timothy to “flee from youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22) he doesn’t say that as a believer he will no longer have lusts (desires).
The idea that sinful desires will be eliminated as a believer gives birth to guilt and a strong orientation towards works in an effort to please God. Perhaps even as a way of getting His attention to remind Him that “He promised” to eliminate those desires. This is the way of legalism.
The other primary direction is that one abandons the battle against sin and embraces sin. This shows up in two ways. Sometimes it is simply to walk away from any attempt once it is realized that the sinful nature is still very much alive and active. “I tried, God rejected me by not taking away those desires so I will live any way I want.” The other is a sort of self-deception which springs from the idea that “God wants us happy.” Now, before anyone gets me wrong, God doesn’t want us to be miserable but His first priority is not our happiness but our holiness. Those who end up on the “God wants me happy” motif tend to embrace sin as a good thing. Someone has an affair they can (and do) claim that they weren’t happy in their marriage, God wants them to be happy and gave them this new person. This is reminiscent of the conversation in the garden. God asked Adam why he ate and he blamed God, “It was the woman YOU gave me.”
This plays itself out in the area of homosexuality. Often time’s sin is simply the perversion of something which God created as good. Humans were created as sexual beings. It is for procreation and mutual enjoyment in certain conditions, i.e. the bonds of matrimony. One man, one woman who are joined together as one for life. Someone comes to the conclusion that they have desires for others of the same gender. They come to understand to act on those desires is sin. They are taught or led to believe that God will remove all sinful desires, they still desire sex with members of the same gender and “realize” that since God wants them happy, He hasn’t removed their desires that this is not sin but a gift of God because “He made them this way.”
We lose a tremendous amount of credibility in culture and the church when we are less than honest with the Scriptures and about the human condition. Simply because a percentage of the population has desires for sexual relations with others of their same gender is really no argument that the behavior should be normalized and granted status equal with normal sexual behavior. This would include homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia and a host of other “sexual preferences.” If you come to faith in Christ, God may not remove the particular desires you struggle with but take heart, you are in Good company. Moses chose to suffer “ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:25-26)