Saturday, June 6, 2015

What the Duggar Scandal Reveals

Imagine a teenager in the 1930s, an active member of the Hitler Youth program in Germany. He buys into the false gospel of Aryanism and pledges his undying allegiance to Adolf Hitler. He's even been seen killing small animals for fun without a twinge of guilt or remorse. He's caught the eye of his counselors and superiors—he seems a prime candidate for a leadership position in the Nazi movement when he grows older.

But then something happens.

The young man is convicted by the Spirit of God. He mourns over his sin, and he turns from it in repentance. Years later, he is not a Nazi. Instead, he's leading a resistance movement to topple the Third Reich and restore Germany to Christian values.

If ever there was a wonderful example of a life redeemed and good conquering over evil, his story is it. Of course, whether this young man's rebirth is celebrated or criticized would largely depend on one's perspective. If the young man were ridiculed in the press, it might be an indication that the paper or its editor has socialist sympathies. 

Now fast-forward 80 years and think about Josh Duggar. Here is a man who, as a teenager, did horrible things. There is no excuse that can erase his evil deeds. It doesn't take a hero in the press to denounce those actions as villainous. Everyone but the most feral of sexual predators would agree with that sentiment. Even Josh himself recognizes the seriousness of his crime.

But things have changed. Josh is no longer in the Hitler Youth ... er, no longer committing sexual sins—and he hasn't for many years. He's a happily married man with small children of his own. Until recently, he worked for the Family Research Council—an organization that promotes pro-marriage and pro-life issues from a Christian perspective. In essence, Josh worked for the resistance, lobbying for stronger marriages and families, and the safety of children. 

Josh's story is a win for the good guys, but the way it's being reported, you'd think he was prowling elementary schools, looking for little girls to touch. So why the outrage? Is it because the Duggar family didn't come out and tell the world on their show? Is it because Josh wasn't prosecuted? I don't think so. I think the outrage is more telling than all that. 

Many in our culture don't like the Duggars. They didn't like them before this scandal, and they won't like them long after it's over. The Duggars let God decide how many kids they'd have—19. They homeschool. They believe in chaperoned courtship. They don't let their kids hold hands with their boyfriends/girlfriends until they're engaged. They believe the Bible is the Word of God. And they love Jesus. 

There it is: Jesus. The great Divider of history and humanity. And I think He's to blame for all the hatred headed Josh's way. 

Walking with Jesus invariably means trying to live the kind of life that pleases God. That means saying no to certain behaviors, certain activities, and certain elements of our culture. And when a watching world believes there should be no rules and nothing off limits, Christians look like judgmental bigots—just ask your local Christian baker. 

So the world cheers with Josh Duggar's fall. Hypocrites! At last, proof that one of them is just like us! They're no better than anyone else! But the Duggars never claimed to be better than anyone else, only to be sinners saved by the grace of Jesus. Josh's life displays that kind of grace in vibrant colors. 

Christians ought to be different than other folks, but not because we're better. It's because we've been forgiven. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:


Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV, emphasis added).

If Josh can be changed, so can anyone. But based on the media's coverage, it seems many would have preferred for him to remain a molester. And that makes me wonder: In the great battle of history between good and evil, which side are they're really on?

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