A great question from my Facebook page:
I am curious to know your opinion on the Josh Duggar admitting he molested 5 girls when he was 14. I have mixed thoughts on it. Child molestation is a serious crime. I see him in a new light. It happend 12 years ago. And if you repent you are forgiven. I was just wondering what your thoughts are
1. I don’t have to forgive Josh Duggar.
This may sound weird, coming from a guy who just wrote a very radical book about forgiveness, but I mean it: I don’t have to forgive him. This is because he hasn’t done anything to me.
I remember hearing a radio colleague of mine, a professing Christian, saying something about a terrorist attack: “I’ll never forgive them for this.” And yet, he lived thousands of miles away, and knew no one personally who had been affected. He hadn’t been harmed in the least.
Do I really need to decide whether to extend forgiveness for all the crimes, everywhere? Here’s yet another reason being a busybody (and our culture is full of busybody-ness) can get time-consuming and really, really tiring.
2. Folks should learn a lesson (again) from this.
I’ve never seen the Duggar show, so I don’t know if they’ve been presented as moral exemplars. I have gotten the impression from others that they are viewed that way.
But here’s what I’ve noticed, time and again, working in Christian media: There’s a deep yearning among some religious people for a “clean” example of the Christian moral religion. It’s a belief, or a hope, that someone will show we CAN do this Clean Christian Life Thing. We commonly say, “Oh, we’re all sinners, of course,” but we’re really hoping someone has mastered sin control so well, they’re actually officially Righteous.
Tim Tebow can do it! Kirk Cameron’s doing it! Maybe some of the Christian musicians are doing it!
We really want to believe it can be done.
Problem: It can’t.
Result: Inevitable disappointment… and on to the next potential Clean One.
3. Denial is deadly
I hope they got great counseling for the victims, and continue to. From what I’ve learned over time, this has to be dealt with head-on, and it’s not “over” quickly. Families who want to simply “move on” will do so at the expense of the vulnerable.
Sin causes real-world devastation.
4. Non-Christians aren’t shocked – shocked! – by this.
Most, anyway. I’m not exactly stunned, either. Like I write in the book, I’m done with that:
I’m not shocked anymore. I want to be like Jesus: “No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like” (John 2:25 nlt).
Yes. We’re broken. All of us, church-goers, atheists, priests and prostitutes. Lesson learned. I’m not going to continue to learn it.
I will not put people on moral pedestals, and I go out of my way to prevent others from doing it with me.
5. God loves me.
This may seem out of place in an article about a man named Josh Duggar, but I’m taking it as a lesson. This IS something I need to keep re-learning, because I haven’t absorbed it yet, sadly.
I do know that God loves Josh Duggar. And he loves his victims. And he loves the Duggar parents. And he loves the producers of the Duggar show. And he loves the people who root for the Duggars. And he loves the bitter, uber-hip non-believers who mock and despise the Duggars. And he loves the bitter, uber-hip believers who mock and despise the Duggars. He loves the people who have no idea who the Duggars are.
He loves the whole messy lot of us.
Sometimes, people ask, “Why did Jesus have to die? Why did it have to be so bloody?” and then we see the wild, frightening darkness that is our sin – like child molestation – and we see why grace cost so much. It had to. And, struggle as I might to believe it, that was for me, too.