Who Are They Anyway?
Most if not all of the U. S. of A knows who the Duggars are. If not, they have at least probably heard of the television reality show 19 Kids and Counting. To date it has been a wholesome, God-glorifying show about a large and still growing Christian family....until now.
As many of you know, a controversy has arisen regarding the eldest son of the Duggar clan Josh. There has been yet another media frenzy as everyone reels about the idea of sin existing in this wholesome, some might say "holier than thou" TV family. I must admit that while I knew who they were, I have never really had the time to follow the show. I just knew that they were a Christian family who were living out their Christian convictions for all the world to see and seemed to be doing it pretty well. With all of the reality trash available to watch these days, I am happy for anything that has "family friendly" much less Christian listed as an adjective to describe it. Thankfully, this show had both.
So Why Write About It
I had heard about this controversy via FB of course and was a little curious, but the idea of writing about it had not even crossed my mind. Then someone at work, who is a fellow brother in the Lord and follows this blog at least some of the time, asked me what I thought and pretty much told me He would be waiting to read what I write on my blog about it. He had a few thoughts that intrigued me so here we are. There are two thoughts that are in the frame of questions which I would like to address. First, "How should we respond to the facts revealed?" The second question is, "Do or did the Duggars now have any right to speak to other moral issues when they have had issues themselves?" I don't know how terribly profound this will be but here we go.
How Should We Respond?
A number of people seemed to enjoy a response to this story that is found on the website of The Christian Post. You can find that link here. This is a loving, solid, biblical response to the concerns. I would like to add a few thoughts before moving on to the next question.
There is a lot going around about the facts and everyone has an opinion. There are many judgements being made upon what happened, how it was handled, and how disgusting and disappointing it is. Many blog posts and articles have been written, some more fair minded than others. To be sure, it is unfortunate that anyone had to experience being violated or being the violator. This is something which, no matter how forgiven he is and no matter how much grace he is given by others, he will always live with the memory of in this life. Something he will always wish he had done differently. We all have those moments. Let us not stoop to making ourselves feel better about our mistakes by demonizing someone elses. We can be just as guilty of the "holier than thou" attitude as anyone.
With that said, should the Duggars have handled things differently? To be honest, without all of the facts laid out in front of me, I think it is not my place to say. Since it is difficult to know for sure what all of the facts are without being intimately involved, I would suggest that the majority of those with an opinion should stay out of it, including the press. As I understand it, the way this story came to light may have been illegal and was certainly not handled with any amount of integrity. There was one goal here as I see it; to smear the name of the Duggar family and strive to ruin the effectiveness of something that was bringing glory to God. What we as Christians must strive to remember is that while the press created this firestorm, Satan is the one behind it. Make no mistake, this is spiritual warfare.
This kind of story can play out in any Christian family at any point and grace will be needed everytime. No matter how heinous or mild the sin may be, we must remember that we are all sinners and so are our children. No matter the sin; grace, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, and healing are necessary. Regardless of how well it was or was not handled in the opinions of various people, what seems to be consistent is that it was handled. Josh Duggar confessed his sin, repented of his sin and sought help with his parents guidance. As I understand it, forgiveness was given by all the offended parties.
It is very sad that no matter how well sin may be handled locally on a case by case basis, the Christian community is often known for crucifying any public figure who professes Christ and dares to fall into sin. Public figure or not, if someone is found to be gulty of sin and that person is acknowledging that sin, repenting, and seeking forgiveness, beating them up over the sin is not the loving response. We don't need to call them to actions and attitudes that are already evident nor do we need to respond as if we have never been guilty of veering from the path ourselves. If on the other hand, the person is caught in sin, trying to cover it up, making excuses, basically doing anything to avoid being held responsible, then there is a place for a still loving, yet challenging response.
Josh Duggar's story is the first of the two examples. From a strictly Christian biblical perspective, all the right things seem to have been done and yet, we feel the need to hold his feet to the fire to make ourselves feel better about something that does not even affect us directly. At this point, unless directly involved as family, employer, or any other party that is hands on in this story, I believe our only response needs to be prayer and compassion.
Josh Duggar was a self-professed, non-Christian kid at the time these atrocities happened. Which one of us did not do sinful things that we are not proud of and from which we would like to move forward without having them rehashed? He is now a repentant, forgiven grown man living as a Godly husband and father.
Should The Duggars Have a Voice on Biblically Moral Judgements?
In other words, because of this past sin in the life of Josh Duggar and the percieved mishandling of it by the Duggar parents, do they have a right to stand on biblical truth as it relates to the current culture's moral direction? Does sin nullify our witness? This could probably be fleshed out in a string of blog posts to do it justice on a larger scale but let's try to stick with the Duggars.
As this thought process was presented to me, it was explained that the Duggars have taken stances on issues of sexual morality, most specifically homosexuality and gay marriage. The question was, do they have a right to in light of this "scandal"?
First, let me say that I know of no biblical mandate that would support the idea that you must air all your dirty laundry before you can represent Christ in a public forum. We must confess our sins to God and in a local church context, perhaps to our Pastor if appropriate. However, only in the case of a professing Christian who is living in sin without an attitude of repentance, are those sins potentially required to be made known to the local church body of which they are a part. And that, only after more private attempts at holding the person accountable have been made.(Matthew 18:15-17)
I don't know that this was done in the case of Josh Duggar however, it sounds like he came with a broken, contrite heart, confessing and repenting without much of any prodding being necessary. So our only recourse is found in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, forgivenss, comfort and affirmation. Once someone has repented and been restored, they are to be treated like any other member of the body of Christ and they are to behave as such.
What should that look like?
It should look like what Jesus said every disciples life should look like...that of a disciple maker. Jesus gave us His instructions in His Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. I have quoted it many times in this blog so I will leave it to you to look it up. Suffice it to say that making disciples involves teaching, and teaching involves standing for biblical truth on any number of topics including sexual morality.
So What Does All Of That Mean?
Basically, I believe we should stop joining in the judgemental, unloving, insanity that was started by the media. I believe we should stop helping them sensationalize a sinful mistake that was made long ago as if the rest of us don'd have sinful skeleton's in our closets. If Josh Duggar has truly repented and confessed his sins before God then he is forgiven by God and that sin is no longer counted against him. We should do no less.
We should recognize our own need for grace and forgiveness to be continually poured out in our own lives and give God praise that He is faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). We should remember that Christ died for Josh Duggar's sins even while he was still a sinner (Romans 5:8) and the same is true for all of us who have placed our faith in Christ. If Josh Duggar has done as many of us have in following Christ's instructions to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15), then we should recognize that he is our brother. He is a member of God's family and we are to love him as such.
Last but not least, I believe that we should not only allow for the Duggar family to stand for biblical truth in spite of their sins; we should pray for this to come to pass. The Lord gave them the platform that they have had on that television show and he can certainly take it away. However, they seem to have been faithful in using that platform for God's glory and I pray that He will continue to bless this family with opportunities to continue lifting up the name of Jesus in very public ways as they stive to live lives that are worthy of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27, Colossians 1:9-12)
May it be so in Jesus name.