“We are not a vulgar culture,” said Bill Cosby in a speech at Tuskegee University earlier this month.
Dr. Cosby, the well-known actor and comedian, was the featured speaker at the Homecoming for Tuskegee the first week-end in November. He was obviously the object of affection from the friendly audience as he approached the lectern in his doctoral regalia while they snapped pictures with their cameras, cell phones and tablets. When he removed his gown to reveal a Tuskegee sweat suit the crowd roared their approval.
Cosby, who is known for his support of Tuskegee and other historically black colleges, emphasized education and appreciation for learning. “College is not founded on football helmets, basketball and baseball cleats,” emphasized Cosby. Instead he talked about how education could improve black communities.
The importance of academics, however, was not Cosby’s only message. As he has many times in the past, Cosby talked about their culture. Core values. And behavior. He said that he wanted to see a shift in youth culture.
In praising the university’s Golden Voices Choir, which performed before his address, Cosby contrasted the choir’s music with the “vulgarity” that has become associated with rap and hip-hop music.
“I want you to understand, in that choir, you heard the use of the human voice to sing. We’re not a vulgar culture. We are being attacked. We are being attacked by people who are making money off of us,” said Cosby as he railed against the vulgar lyrics in much of today’s music.
“I don’t want to support anybody who’s going to teach my grandchildren how to curse.”
“Vulgarity is not our culture. It never has been. Hard work has been our culture.”
Bill Cosby is right. There needs to be a shift in society. To do that, he says young people must respect themselves. Children must be disciplined. And women must be honored and respected.
Cosby says, “Where is the stupidity of calling the female…your sister, your whatever, somebody else’s sister, and then for your sisters to hear it, and get up and dance to it. What’s wrong with you?”
When Dr. Cosby finished his powerful message, the audience gave him an enthusiastic standing ovation. Bill Cosby’s speech was not widely reported in mainstream media.
Of course, his message is a familiar one that he has repeated often. And to criticism in some circles from African-American civil rights leaders. As I read excerpts from his speech, I thought the message was not only appropriate for black youth, but all youth. The cultural concerns not only apply to African-American communities, but to all communities.
Dr. Cosby’s message is a Biblically based message. God doesn’t want us to be a vulgar culture. The Christian culture is a “holy calling.” We are not to be conformed to this world, but changed. Transformed. Different. The Bible clearly calls on us to rise above the putridly of coarse and crass culture.
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out-of-place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph. 5:3-4).
The Bible teaches respect for women (1 Tim. 5:2). Godly instruction for children (Eph. 6;4). A leading, loving husband and father influence in the family (Eph 5:22-33). And the important role of the wife and mother in the home (Titus 2:1-5). And the virtue and value of self-reliance and hard work (2 Thess. 3:6-12).
As the culture wars continue to rage in this country, I am grateful for celebrities like Bill Cosby who are not afraid to speak out against vulgarity, irresponsibility, and laziness. May all who call themselves Christians use whatever platform we possess to stand for Truth. And more importantly, let us live it!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman