The Decline of Shame in America

“I only need one,” boasted Bill Cosby, as he waited in a small third-floor conference room that he called “my dressing room.”

It is reported that through his recent trial for drugging and raping Andrea Constand, a former Temple University Basketball Manager, that Cosby was confident in a mistrial.

It turns out that Cosby was correct. The rape trial ended in a hung jury last week.

In a rambling monologue to a New York Post reporter who managed to get inside Cosby’s “dressing room,” the 79-year-old Cosby talked about race, meeting Nelson Mandela, his wife, grandchildren, and performing again.

I can’t wait to get back out there because I have a lot to say. There’s still so much to be said,” he’d say.

“It’s in the bones,” he’d continue. “In the blood.”

Post reporter, Stacy Brown wrote, “As deliberations continued to drag, he’d muse again on what turned out to be a great hunch.”

“Only need one,” he’d say. “And if it’s just one, I hope that one holds on.”

Interestingly, Cosby never talked about the allegations against him by dozens of women. Or demonstrated any regret, remorse, or contrition for his actions. Instead, he insisted sexual relations with these women were consensual.

For those my age and older, do you remember when adultery was actually a crime in this country? And, of course, homosexual behavior was also illegal. Those days are a dim memory as our country is on the fast track in the race toward Sodom and Gomorrah.

Cosby’s casual tone reminds me of the apostle Paul’s description of the insolent, immoral antinomians of his day, “whose glory is in their shame” (Phil.3:19).

Shame seems to be dead in America today.

Think former Governor John Rowland of Connecticut. Ex-California Gray Davis. Former President Bill Clinton. And more recently Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Add to this the scores of politicians who haven’t been convicted or caught. Talking heads who regularly lie and deceive the public they’re supposed to inform. And entertainers whose acts are filled with profanity, vulgarity, lasciviousness.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of those in ancient Judah who committed abomination and were not ashamed and couldn’t even blush (Jer. 8:12). The Bible recounts the sins of the Gentile world in Romans 1 whose debased minds were given to vile passions. There was no shame as they perverted the glory of God. Rather they gloried in their debauchery.

First century Christians were not exempt from the immoral influence of their age, as evidenced by Paul’s stinging rebuke to the Corinthian church. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn.”

So, our era of sin without shame is no exception. It’s a sad lot of the human condition. Its sorry state just seems, at least to some of us, to have worsened in our lifetime.

But our challenge is not “to curse the darkness,” but to light a candle” in a world that’s a moral mess. We can live “soberly, righteousness and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

Furthermore, let us not become too enamored with our favorite entertainer, politician, or celebrity that we either justify sinful behavior or worse yet find ourselves taking pleasure in their ungodly indulgences.

While shame may be on the decline in our culture, may we, as God’s holy people, never lose our sense of shame at those things that break the heart of God.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



Filed under America, Morality

4 responses to “The Decline of Shame in America

  1. Ken, thanks for another thought-provoking of post. Sometimes shame is a healthy response, and discomfort with that shame is a good motivator to change behavior. Peace and grace to you.

  2. Pam Mcginness

    I love you dearly, Ken, but is it not a case of “He said, she said?”
    There are no witness?

    • I appreciate that Pam. However, I wasn’t judging his guilt or innocence in the case. But the fact that he admits to adultery and seems to show no remorse for cheating on his wife. Whether guilty or innocent of the legal charges. He’s morally wrong!

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