I have written an open letter to Bill Cosby. As penning open letters is a longstanding tradition, I feel honor bound as a “man of letters” to write this. Plus, some of the best literature ever written are open letters. The Bible is an open letter from God to all of us. The Declaration of Independence is a Dear George open letter to England. I am no Moses or Thomas Jefferson, but Mr. Cosby, you should read this.
I see you yawning, Mr. Cosby. You may ignore this and all the other letters you are getting, but that only delays the inevitable. Maybe this will help you read further: I am not here to bash you.
I want to encourage you.
I’m not going to recount all the accusations against you. I am not going to be your judge, or tell how I watched you on television and now I’m disappointed. I am not going to accuse you of being a hypocrite for endorsing family values and then engaging in really awful conduct. I am not going to brand you as a bad role model for young black men.
I am not going to speak for the sixteen women who say you violated them, drugged them, raped them. Andrea Constand, Tamara Green, Beth Ferrier, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, Linda Joy Traitz, Janice Dickinson, Carla Ferrigno, Louisa Moritz, Theresa Serignese, Kristina Ruehli, Renita Chaney Hill, Angela Leslie, Victoria Valentino, Jewel Allison and Angela Leslie can speak for themselves.
I am not going to dissect their stories and try to determine what’s true and what’s not. I am not going to attempt to goad you into a response, or heap condemnation or shame on you.
I am going to encourage you.
Here’s one obvious encouragement: you know the truth. Mr. Cosby, you know exactly what happened. You know and remember with great clarity each of the events and how they unfolded. Nobody else in the whole world knows the whole truth about Bill Cosby, but you know.
The truth is a powerful weapon. In fact, it’s the most powerful weapon in the universe. Physicists and philosophers spend lifetimes trying to arrive at it. There are only two true witnesses to your life, and one of them is you. You have the truth within you, and you are the only one who can make your own words line up with it.
Another encouragement: it doesn’t matter what anyone says about you, if it’s not the truth. If the truth is inside you, then people can accuse you of being Charles Manson, Pol Pot and Genghis Khan but you know you’re not. But the truth cuts both ways. If your own words don’t witness to the truth inside you, you’re just lying about yourself. Lying about yourself doesn’t help anyone, starting with Bill Cosby. The worst lie you can tell is to yourself, because you know you can’t believe it.
Be encouraged, because you can always tell the truth. Standing in a mirror, whatever the truth is, say it.
I promised I wouldn’t judge you. And I won’t. But if you stand in the mirror and say that each of these sixteen women are lying, to build their own publicity or for whatever reason, that every single one of these accusers is making up a story, do you believe it? Because nobody else believes it.
If that’s the truth, then you can stand tall and say it, and believe yourself saying it. But in public, you haven’t said much to make anyone else believe it. An innocent man first has to know that he’s innocent and believe himself when he says it. I don’t see you doing that.
Be encouraged because you know the truth, and there’s one other who knows the truth.
I don’t know if you are a religious man. I don’t know what you really believe about God and the afterlife, and the Bible. You at least know the story of Noah because your comedy bit about him is pretty hilarious. But we’re not talking about Sunday school stories, are we? We’re talking about your eternal soul. This isn’t about me saying you’re a liar or not. The fact is, you know if you’re a liar. And God knows if you’re a liar.
You and God, that’s a quorum. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians:
…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
One day all truth will be revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and His return to earth. It doesn’t matter what else is known about you or what you believe about Jesus. Upon His coming, whether you want to believe or not, you’re going to have to deal with it.
John wrote in Revelation:
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
When Jesus comes back, it will be to judge. I am not judging. He is. If you carry a lie to your grave, you don’t get to come back and make it right. If Jesus comes while you’re alive, you don’t get a do-over. Overcoming means getting over it, now, when you’re alive.
Mr. Cosby, if everything you say is the truth, and everyone else is lying, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you are carrying the truth inside you, and living a lie, you have an enormous problem.
A life-controlling problem.
A soul-destroying problem.
I want to encourage you. You are 77 years old. Most of the world doesn’t live that long. Most of the world doesn’t live as well as you have. But if you are carrying a lie through many decades, it has eaten away at you. It has made you hollow inside. It has caused you unbearable pain and agony.
Relieve yourself of the burden. It’s okay. You can tell the truth. God will help you.
Here’s the biggest encouragement of all: God loves you, Mr. Cosby. Jesus Christ died for you on the cross. He bore the burden of your sins, and my sins, and all of our sins. But for you, He died and took the punishment. Why would you ever want to hold on to that punishment when you don’t need to?
Whether you really have defiled these women or not is irrelevant. Jesus died for that sin. Whether you really have carried a lie for 40 years is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant today is that you may still be carrying it. If you carry it to your grave, the truth is still known, and it will stand as a millstone around your soul until you are judged.
Jesus will forgive you for being a rapist. Jesus will forgive you for being a liar. People may not forgive you; you may be a pariah among men. You may see your whole life’s work and influence crumble like a sand castle in the tide. You may see your name become a scourge and every work you did in your life turn to ash.
But you will stand clean before God.
You will stand clean before yourself in the mirror.
Mr. Cosby, you can be clean. I know you want to, deep down in your soul, you want to live the truth of your life before God and man.
There is still time for you to be clean.
If you are already clean and everything you are saying is true, then let me be one of the first to commend you and tell you God will reward you for being an overcomer in the face of such horrible accusations. But, truthfully, sir, I don’t believe it.
I don’t think you believe it.
Mr. Cosby, please, for the sake of your soul, come clean and tell the truth. Be the man God called you to be. Go into eternity forgiven and right with God, with truth on your side. It’s your choice, but there really isn’t a choice in this.
There’s really isn’t.