Accusations of molestation emerged against Josh Duggar, of the 19 Kids and Counting Duggar family, and he has admitted to “acting inexcusably.”
Predictably, he and his reality TV show family are being attacked for covering up these instances and the supposed hypocrisy of having this skeleton in the closet while campaigning for traditional family values.
I have no desire to personally attack Josh the Duggars (though I can’t help but wish they had decided not to pursue a life in front of cameras knowing this had occurred), but I do think this instance can remind Christians of important lessons.
Nothing can changed what happened in the past, but we can work to prevent similar things in the future.
1. Sin is not simply “out there.”
The Duggars, like most families, want to protect their children from many of the dangers that exist in the world. They also want to help shield them from as many temptations as possible.
Those are good and laudable goals. But too often Christian parents (and I include myself in this), believe as if the only danger to our kids is out there.
Yes, the world is dangerous and often hostile to our faith, but the human heart, even the one inside your cute little child, is entangled with sin.
Isolation is not the solution to the problem of sin. That’s a problem only the cross of Christ can overcome and it’s power stretches far beyond your doorstep.
If you trust in your own ability to avoid sin, through whatever means, be sure that you are on the verge of falling.
We must not give our children the false assurance that if they don’t become influenced by the world, they will be free from sin and temptation.
When we do that, we have set up isolationism as an idol and diminished the power of the cross.
Do all that you can to protect your kids, but place your trust in the power of the gospel, not the power of your protection.
2. Christians have merely baptized the world’s celebrity obsession.
No, most churchgoers don’t keep up with the Kardashians, but we count kids with the Duggars. We sadly shake our heads at the girls damaging their lips trying to look like Kylie Jenner, while we scoop up all the Duck Dynasty camouflage we can find.
Nothing is inherently wrong with enjoying 19 Kids and Counting or Duck Dynasty, but much of Christian culture treat the Duggars and Robertsons the same way pop culture treats the Kardashians. That’s dangerous.
I definitely think we should pray for Christians who have a large public following, but we should not be attempting to emulate them. In large part, because we don’t really know them.
Christ has placed you in a church body and given you pastors, leaders, men and women there who can mentor you, disciple you, walk with you and help you become who God has created you to be. We need to be discipled by those who are regularly in our lives, not those who regularly see on TV.
Even if a celebrity is following Christ, that does not mean they should be given a platform in the church equal to the one they have in culture. We need men and women of character, not necessarily men and women of renown, but that comes with time.
And it often comes with a price of authenticity and transparency, being open about our brokenness and inability to put things back together. But we don’t want broken heroes, especially not on TV.
We want shiny, sinless Christian heroes that make us feel good about ourselves compared to those people “the world” watches.
That’s not necessarily a problem with the Christian celebrities, that’s an us-problem. And until we fully grasp that “all fall short of the glory of God,” we will find ourselves in these types of situations.
Josh Duggar, his family and his victims need our prayers. But potential future victims need our prayers and actions.
We must not encourage the attitude that sin can be kept away from our home with a solid fence or a good homeschooling program. We must acknowledge how deep it goes into our own hearts and the hearts of our children.
Understanding this, we must fight against and live counter-culturally to the celebrity obsessed culture. It’s not enough to embrace a Christian version of the world’s idols. We must reject a system that elevates fame as being a goal to achieve and a status to protect.
Whatever else happens moving forward, Christians have to learn from these mistakes or they will continue.