Bill Cosby, Sexual Temptation and the Problem of the “Micro Yes”

Bill CosbyRecently, I had a conversation with a friend about a problem his firm was having getting people to take action on social media posts. Specifically, they were trying to get more folks to sign up for a free course. So, they decided to do a test. Instead of asking someone to sign up for the course first, which was a bigger commitment, they decided to ask them to do something smaller, like click to agree with a statement. Then, after they would do this, they would be asked to sign up for the free course.

After analyzing the results of this new two-step approach, they noticed a dramatic increase in the number of folks who signed up to take the free course. When I suggested that this seemed a bit counter intuitive, my friend offered that getting folks to say yes to a small request, which he called a “micro yes,” made them much more likely to say yes to a more significant commitment.

In any case, my friend’s explanation was top of mind later when I had a discussion with someone about Bill Cosby’s guilty verdict for sexual assault. I had been a fan of Cosby for many years. You see, I became a father when I was 20 years old in the early 1980s, right around the time The Cosby Show came on the air. As a black father, who grew up without a dad and didn’t have a good role model for married fatherhood, I was drawn to the show. Of course, I knew that Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable was fictional but the principles that the character modeled were real and timeless. And, now because it’s difficult to separate the character Cosby played on TV from the criminal character he displayed in his private life, reruns of The Cosby Show have been taken off the air on most stations. Consequently, countless young “fatherless” fathers, like I was, will never learn the important fathering principles I did.

That said, as I considered Cosby’s considerable and troubling fall from grace, I could not help but wonder how it happened. Then, it dawned on me.

Cosby was snared by his own “micro yes.”

You see, the Bible reminds us that lustful temptations are real and common.  In fact, 1 Corinthians 10:13, says, “No temptation will overtake you, except what is common to mankind.” So, we will be tested daily to give in to all types of lustful and evil temptations.  Alas, temptation is part of the human condition.

In other words, since the devil is craftier than the best social media marketer, he will present us with a small temptation first that requires a micro yes because if we take this bait, we will be much more likely to say yes to a larger and more destructive temptation later.  And, there is no doubt that this is what Cosby allowed to happen in his life over many years. These micro yeses became macro yeses that destroyed him and hurt many others, even those who love him dearly.

But, thankfully, 1 Corinthians 10:13 continues and says, “And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But, when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  So, there is hope–provided that we take the way out that a loving God makes available to us. Moreover, there is a lesson in Bill Cosby’s example that is fit for an episode of The Cosby Show. When we allow God to be the center of our lives and seek to live according to His principles rather than the lust of our flesh, he equips us with a supernatural ability, a powerful “micro no.” And, as we continue to say no to small temptations, we will be much less likely to face the consequences of succumbing to the big ones.

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