I know, I know, this has nothing to do with writing. Or funny gifs. But it is about faith- so hear me out, okay?
Everyone’s upset about the Duggars. If you’ve been living like Kimmy Schmidt and you’re new to the story, here’s the short version: The Duggars are an ultra-conservative Christian family that believes in letting God control your birth rate. They’re also extremely fertile. They’ve had about 20 kids and TLC, a television channel that used to be called “The Learning Channel,” but now would better be called “The gawking channel,” decided to start airing a full-time show about their life. They’ve followed the denim-skirt-wearing, courtship-and-purity-promoting, homeschooling, uber-organized family around for a few seasons, and it’s gotten pretty popular. By popular, I mean- the Duggars are as well-known as any pop-reality stars- only instead of lip injections, stiletto heels and drug problems, they bulk shop for Tater Tot casserole ingredients and save their first kisses for the altar.
So let’s fast-forward. This week, or last week, or sometime recently, there was a scandal that emerged. According to some leaked documents, one of the oldest boys of the family, who is now married with children, did some inappropriate things when he was a young teenager- specifically with younger girls. I know, I know, it’s distasteful to read- it’s even worse to write. Am I gossiping? I’m not trying to. I’m not telling you this for scandal’s sake. If you’re reading this, I assume you already know everything I’m telling you anyway. It’s all over everything. Not only because people are angry with him- but because they’re really upset with his parents.
See, the way the Duggars apparently handled it was to get him counseling with some Christian men that they respected, privately, and to send him away for a few months.
And that’s not okay with most people.
I’m not sure where you stand on this issue as you read this. But can I tell you where I stand?
I’m a believer. I believe in the One God, Elohim, who created heaven and earth. I believe that sin has been our constant companion since the Garden of Eden- and that Elohim, Jehovah, is completely holy.
I believe that holiness- perfection and righteousness and goodness- all together- is so diametrically opposed to sin that as long as we are sinful, we can never be near the Lord. But in his abounding love for us, he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place. You see, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death– which means, every sin, every time, earns us death.
And God hates that, because he loves us.
Okay. So as a believer, I believe, as the bible teaches, that we are all sinners. That we’ve all sinned and we are all in need of a savior. I believe that all sins are equally damning- that one sin is the same as all of the sins. They all do the same thing- separate us from our loving God and earn death- eternal death- for us.
I also believe that because Christ died for my sins, to pay the price, I can be set free from the chains of sin and bondage- I can be forgiven, healed, and live, set free in Christ- from any sin.
This is the story of Christianity. This is the basic tenant of our faith. That if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Now, here’s the thing. There are some sins that people commit that deserve punishment or retribution, or safeguards so that they don’t happen again. As humans in an organized society, we have a justice system that evaluates crimes and criminals and is supposed to keep the community safe from repeated offenders. I think we all agree on that.
And in the justice system, some sins are worse than others. If you constantly lie to your kids about whether there’s ice cream in the freezer or not, that sin won’t be handled like a mass murderer’s trial.
Okay. I’m going somewhere with this, I really am.
But here’s what I think.
I think there is this idea in society right now- in our culture- that most people want to believe that sin is an archaic idea. That the Bible and the “One God” and holiness and Jesus Our Savior is all… well, old-fashioned.
People want to believe that they’re basically good-natured. That deep inside, they want good things and any sins they have are more like… errors. Whoops. I didn’t mean that.
And in order to believe that deep down, people are basically good, we have to have an explanation for the evil in the world- and so the answer is this:
Most of us are basically good- but there are a few people that are wicked. They’re just messed up from the beginning.
It’s the only way to explain so much evil and violence and selfishness in the world- and it’s actually a really good way to feel good about yourself. To justify your own petty sins. By fixating on extreme “wickedness” in other people.
I think that this is such a popular way of looking at things.
And then Christians come along and condemn things that everyone accepts- sexuality outside of marriage, abortion, teaching evolution, divorce, homosexuality… basically, lots of things that everyone is okay with.
And it hurts, right? Because suddenly you start having all these weird feelings- you can feel guilty- thinking, Are they right? Am I bad because I’ve done some of these things? Or you feel angry and incensed- How dare they say this! Who do they think they are?
But this is what happened with the early church. If you read about the church in 100-500 A.D., you’ll find that they were hated by the world for two things.
1. Calling things sin that people were okay with.
2. Forgiving sins that people wanted to condemn.
You see, I’m surprised the Duggars have lasted so long. They were so conservative- they lived so diametrically different from other people. They clearly lived out a lifestyle that showed what they believed about sin. But I think because they were sweet-tempered, because they are so loving to each other- and because their family life is so comforting and, well, “good,” people who lived traditional family lifestyles could watch it because they weren’t really getting their toes stepped on. The Duggars don’t really preach about what they dislike or avoid- they just talked on camera about housekeeping and going on vacation and normal family things.
But now they’re getting flack for the second thing. They dealt with sin in a way the world doesn’t want them to.
The bible tells us that if a brother is caught in a sin, we should restore him gently. That could mean a variety of things- but the ideal situation is for a sin to be exposed, confessed, and completely turned away from with a contrite, humble and repentant heart by the offender. If possible, the offender should make things right with the victim- and in all cases, the victim of the offense should be embraced and protected and given everything they need to heal by the church.
In this boy’s case, as a young man he was completely inappropriately exploring his sexuality. He hurt other people, especially ones younger than himself. The way the Duggars looked at it was- This is a sin, it’s not okay, it can’t continue. But he can repent and turn away from it and be free by the power of the Holy Spirit- and never do this again, and learn to find healthy ways to live his life- even in his sexuality.
And in order to do this- they found other men to confront him and ostensibly they got him counseling and did the things they felt showed that he had been repentant and was turning from his sin.
I’m not sure what happened with the girls. If they were my girls, I would love on them and talk with them and listen to them and pray with them- probably have them talk with other women, especially ones with similar experiences- I would probably read a lot about it and pray about it for years- and be extremely vigilant about protecting them and all of my other girls in the future from possible situations where this might happen again. If there were medical issues, I’d definitely attend to them. I don’t know whether they got “professional” counseling- but you have to remember that as believers, we don’t necessarily subscribe to the current philosophies in psychology. So that’s another issue.
Now let’s talk about the justice system.
I think that the biggest issue with the Duggar family to many people is that they didn’t write the boy off. They didn’t say, “This is a wicked one, he’s done evil and he’ll always do evil-” and then turn him over to the authorities to be appropriately condemned and hated for the rest of his life.
Instead, they assumed that his sin was one that could be repented of and forgiven, and that his life could be like Jesus promised- Abundant and Free.
And the world doesn’t like that.
You see- we all have an inner justice thing. We want to see evil punished. And if we’re good, and others are evil- than we don’t want to see them “forgiven.” We want to go on with our inner narrative that says we’re good, they’re evil… let’s get ’em!
Okay, I’ve gone on and on.
I guess what I’m saying is this. The world will only let Christians be popular until we make them uncomfortable. And it’s going to happen- because the Holy Spirit has come to convict the world of sin and punishment.
Which is really uncomfortable.
And not popular at all.
But the purpose of conviction is to drive us to repentance- so that we can be reunited with the God that loves us.
If this article has made you uncomfortable, or you have more questions… try these!
And if there’s anything I’ve written that’s confusing, let me know. 🙂
I hope you know that I write this with love for you and with the ultimate goal that we would all be free of our sins and live in unity with the God who loves us- and with each other. I don’t write to condemn anyone, but to hopefully bring truth and light and freedom further into the world.
God bless you.