May 22, 2015

Article at Authory

When Idols Fall

Editor's note: A collection of thoughts over several months about news reports from 2015 on the Duggar clan. First, the news from May 2015 that a 2006 police report included allegations that Josh Duggar, eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, had molested five girls (among whom were his younger sisters) in 2002–2003 when he was fourteen. Second, in August of the same year, Josh Duggar admitted to an addiction to pornography and to adultery. The original publication dates from Facebook have been added to clarify the timeline.

[May 22, 2015]

I'm never particularly shocked when Christians sin, even when those sins are grave evils. I believe in original sin, so I expect Christians to sin.

But what shocks the hell out of me every single time is when Christians rush to the defense of fellow Christians who commit grave evils, insisting that those poor fellow Christians are merely misunderstood, or being crucified by an evil media and a hostile society, or should not be "judged" because, well, they said they were sorry.

God the Son came down from heaven to save us from our sins and to open the way to heaven. But he never promised that we would be saved from the temporal consequences of our sins—such as loss of respect, the loss of a job, or the loss of a reality TV show.

[May 24, 2015]

This weekend has certainly been enlightening into the attitudes of conservative Christian culture—both Protestant and Catholic.

Interesting, isn't it, how this unplanned, unscripted, truly "real" episode of 19 Kids and Counting exploded this weekend, on which Christians are celebrating the Feast of Pentecost.

Pentecost is rooted in the Jewish holy day of Shavuot (which Jews are also celebrating today). On Shavuot, Moses descended from Mount Sinai, with the Ten Commandments, only to find the Israelites partying around the golden calf. The Israelites' rejection of the one true God and their worship of the golden calf acted as the backdrop for the reception of the Ten Commandments. The giving of the law, which would be commemorated on Shavuot, was what the apostles were honoring in the upper room on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon them.

Basically, Pentecost is a holiday on which we, as Christians, should consider the lessons learned from worshipping false idols. Not just golden calves, but any icon that tempts us to refuse to name evil for what it is and to ignore anyone trying to urge us to turn instead to the one true God.

Catholics have had a long tradition that rejects iconoclasm as a heresy. But it is not iconoclasm to break false idols—or to allow them to fall and refuse to try to piece them back together again.

[June 6, 2015]

When the story first broke, I wanted to stay out of the Duggar fiasco, I really did. I never watched the show, and I never cared much, one way or the other, about the Duggar family.

But I have been horrified over the past few weeks, and again over the last couple of days, to watch people I have respected and cared about minimize Josh Duggar's molestation of his sisters and the ensuing cover-up by his parents and his community.

When a 14-year-old young man betrays the trust and innocence of his younger sisters and a family friend, we should be able to say firmly, without reservation, that his actions were abominable, that he should have been held accountable, and that steps should have been taken by his parents and his community to ensure the safety of his siblings and other children, even if that meant sending Josh to live elsewhere (preferably in a fully-licensed and certified residential treatment program for juvenile sexual abusers). We should be appalled at any cover-up, and we should resist any temptation to deflect from the seriousness of *this* case by turning it into a political sideshow.

In my opinion, the fact that Christians continue to defend the Duggar clan and paint them as the innocent victims of a liberal media "witch hunt" is itself an abomination.

[August 24, 2015]

When the families of the victims of the Charleston church shooting publicly forgave their relatives' murderer, people of good will everywhere (Christian or not) were incredibly moved by their compassion in the midst of great tragedy.

On the other hand, there hasn't been any similar admiration forthcoming for Josh Duggar's purple-worded apology for hypocrisy and (almost as an aside) marital adultery. Quite the opposite. Or for reports that his wife Anna will very likely "forgive" him.

Why is that? Well, here's my guess.

In a word, accountability. No one was under any illusion that the families of the victims of the Charleston church shooting were letting the murderer "off the hook" with their forgiveness and pleas to him to repent. With the Duggars though, it is not a wide (or uncharitable) stretch of the imagination to wonder if this incident will be forgotten by the Duggar clan as soon as possible, and if it will soon be "business as usual" in Josh and Anna's marriage. To wonder if Josh will truly be held accountable, or once again allowed to skate free after the metaphorical naughty-boy wrist slap.

Without personal accountability, forgiveness is a little more than a "Get out of jail free" card.

(Image: Cast photo with show title, 19 Kids and Counting; IMDb.)