Evil

What can we learn from the Josh Duggar scandal?

By now the entire Christian community is aware of the Duggar debacle. Josh Duggar, son to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, has not only been found out for his despicable acts of molesting five girls in 2002, but also his name turned up when hackers released stolen customer data from cheating site AshleyMadison.com earlier in the week. So far social media celebrity, Matt Walsh, has apologized for giving Josh a pass after the molestation revelations. Walsh used his gigantic platform to treat Josh as a victim of leftist propaganda. If I could summarize Walsh’s first reaction, it would be like this: “Yes, he sinned, but don’t you see why the left is making such a big deal out of this? This is a selective political sniper kill.” The good news is that Walsh’s most recent statement has been very clear in his criticism. Here is a lengthy quote:

So I was wrong about Josh Duggar being a repentant man. Clearly, he isn’t. Or at least he wasn’t. Maybe now he’ll finally begin the process, but it’s certainly impossible to believe that someone could be truly sorry for past sexual sin while currently in the process of fishing for affairs and “experimental” one night stands.

He’s a traitor to his family. I feel awful for them, and I pray that Josh really does come to Christ. Beyond that, I pray his wife and kids somehow recover from all of the shame Josh has brought upon them. Because, let’s be clear, if you sign up for an adultery website and then your information gets hacked and your family ends up embarrassed and devastated — that is YOUR fault. You are the one who victimized them. The hackers acted illegally, but this all happened because of your choices. Don’t want your information stolen from an adultery website? Don’t sign up for an adultery website. Pretty simple formula.

I must also admit that the more I think about this, I realized I was too easy on the the Duggar parents as well. Jim Bob and Michelle knew that their oldest son was struggling with severe sexual sin, they knew their daughters had been abused, they knew their family was in the midst of moral and spiritual turmoil, yet they STILL decided to put themselves and their children on TV for ten years.

I hope others will take the same path and recognize that no matter what royal family one is born into and no matter the influential position he may have in the culture war, no man should be exempt from the lawful discipline of the Church or state, or both.

I concur. Josh Duggar is guilty. Repentance bears fruit (Lk. 3:8). There is a long continuous pattern of sexual misconduct  by Josh Duggar. At this point we should stop and think why are we so comfortable giving a pass to these Christian celebrities? And then we should consider very carefully how we can begin fighting passionately to protect the many victims in our culture who suffer at the hands of such men, but yet are trivialized into a category of “wrong place and wrong time.” Where is the safest environment for them to be restored and emotionally healed from such torments? Who will care for their trauma? The difference is vast.

I am deeply saddened for Josh’s wife and children who will have to live and re-live these awful events due to hyped media attention. As for Josh, words of contrition only go so far. His next few years will prove whether his repentance is genuine or not. I have learned long ago that not all sin is created equal. Repentance can be easily couched in evangelical lingo. Those who defended Josh Duggar without second thought or who assumed his initial incoherent words of confession made everything just fine or who treated repentance like some nebulous concept divorced from the reality of the pain caused to victims will hopefuly have learned a significant lesson: God is not mocked. Sins are not inconsequential. This is not a left vs. right issue. This is an issue of morality  and God has made clear that his justice will not be in vain. Josh Duggar affirmed that, “He is the biggest hyprocrite ever.” But hypocrisy can only be dealt with by understanding what God hates and what he loves.

Paul spoke of temptations that are stunningly difficult to face. When he says “flee from temptation” he is not simply using a 1st century  bumper sticker. This is more profound. Paul’s context is an ecclesiastical one where confession and collective sorrow manifests themselves continually in a community of grace. But even then sin is subtle. You must flee temptation, but you must first understand what temptation looks like. Yahweh speaks about the seven sins that he hates and provides this list as a step-by-step calculation made by those who embrace evil:

16 There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him:

17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood;

18 A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.

Duggar’s long history of sexual perversions was not born after a particularly miserable day. There is a pattern of thought and action. There is an anatomy of evil involved. There is a whole-body determination to follow these sins from the eyes to the feet. There is a calculated narrative that culminated in sexual abuse and adultery. For those who do evil the feast of the wicked is incredibly appetizing. One drink leads to another and only increases the hunger.

Where do we begin then? If situations like this do not cause us (particularly men) to be ever cautious then we will not have learned from it. Every person’s crime is a reason to re-consider our strategies to fighting sin and living righteously. If I had five minutes to counsel Josh I would tell him to look at this list and begin to detail where his narrative went awry. Where and when did his eyes become arrogant and haughty? At what point did he think he was invincible? At what point did he rationalize the presence of God away from his actions in secret? Then, when did he begin to put into words his pride by lying about his reality? I would be sure to point him to Jesus; not the Jesus that dismisses sins, but rather takes them with utmost seriousness and urges him to put on Christ and put off the deeds of darkness.

Josh needs to re-consider this list. He needs to see grace as redeeming the mind and abolishing calculated plans for evil. God has plans of his own. His plans involve demolishing our plans and replacing them with plans that are good, true, and beautiful. The task is great. Josh is only a clear example due to his high profile status. There are many Joshes out there currently afraid that they may be found out; afraid that their secret adventures will come out in Duggar fashion. The good news is God has already found you out. The bad news is that God has already found you out. In the end of the day to be found out by God is the best news. His throne is justice. He makes no mistake. His discipline will hurt, but it will not damn you. Accept it. Receive it. Confess it. Find refuge in Him.

Gosnell and the Boston Marathon

One of the great problems of our society is the problem of prioritization. We have not disciplined ourselves. We have a disjointed hierarchy. Since this is the case we walk around limping as a culture. Christians, the architects of society, have a particular distaste for priorities. They want to tackle too many issues with the same level of enthusiasm and dedication. As a result, we have lost our battles again and again. I am not implying that we need to forget certain issues, but that we need to give more attention to others.

One such example of this is the recent cases of Kermit Gosnell and the Boston Marathon Bombing. The media has overwhelmed us with terrorist experts. They have played images again and again. On the other hand–by comparison–the media has avoided the details of the Gosnell case. Where are the terrorist experts when we need them? The grand jury transcripts are all available. The details are gruesome. While Planned Parenthood laments how dirty Gosnell’s facility was and how much cleaner their deaths are, we need to keep first things first. One monster who keeps body parts as souvenirs is no different than another monster who prefers to dispose of body parts. They are all guilty and filthy in every way.

We weep and expect quick judgment to befall the protagonists of the evil that occurred in Boston. The Boston Marathon bombing offered us a glimpse into sin ( I offered a prayer here), but the slaughtered body parts of born infants offers us a gigantic display of the barbaric nature of sin. This is what priorities look like.  Though Christ bore every sin, not every sin is alike. Though people die, not every death is alike. Though catastrophes happen, not every catastrophe is alike.  We know this instinctively, but at times we are afraid to bring it to light. Some may fear we are trivializing an atrocity to bring light to another. This is not the case. I am simply pointing out that certain atrocities are so humanly appalling that it deserves more light than others. I am trying to reverse the prioritization of a culture. I am asserting that not all evil acts are created equal. I am also affirming that God’s wrath burns brighter in some cases over others. I am asserting that when what God so wonderfully made (Ps. 139) is torn and broken, our weeping should last longer.

Marc Lamont Hill made clear his priorities when he stated the following recently:

“For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights. Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.”

This type of clarity is rare, but refreshing. It is refreshing in an extremely morbid sense. Hill is one of those that acknowledge that his ideology is to be preferred over what is good, true, and beautiful. Simply put, a philosophy of death needs to prevail. Robert Frost once humorously observed that “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” The humor vanishes when we consider that for those dismembered infants life barely started. We lack moral prioritization.

So while we offer our prayers to the suffering and grieving in Boston, let us remember and keep reminding everyone through whatever means that what monsters do to the least of these must not be forgotten. Let us keep reminding everyone and ourselves that what monsters do seconds after birth or seconds (or months) before birth is no different. Let us keep reminding the world that God will not overlook evil. Let us keep first things first. 

In Defiance of God: Inhaling the Poisonous Gas

This morning a group of us from Micah 6:8 joined to read Scriptures and pray at the only abortion clinic in Pensacola. It was a short time of reading and prayer. As the cold weather froze our bodies we realized that we were witnessing young women entering what I would assume was a pleasantly heated building. As they entered they were most likely treated kindly. As they waited they were most likely reflecting on the freedoms they would enjoy with this thing called “a human being” out of the way. Perhaps they were struggling with their decision. Perhaps they were forced into this concentration camp. And like a concentration camp they were led to a place that they thought was a refreshing shower, but instead turned out to be poisonous gas. As a “doctor” performed his surgery, the patient was slowly being seduced by the gas of death. “The right-winger and evangelicals can’t be right about this. They just want to take away our ability to choose over our bodies,” they rationalize. “My boyfriend will leave me if I decide to keep this child.” Whatever reasons they choose, and however detailed they may be, the telos is still the same: a living, breathing, God-formed human being was being obliterated without a chance.

I was struck while listening to the reading of Psalm 10 that  “in secret places he doth slay the innocent.” How appropriate to our situation. This building is well-hidden to those who pass by. The Psalter says also that “they lie in wait to catch the poor.” Those in poverty are those who have relinquished their roles as mothers. In this case, the one in poverty of heart comes willingly to the trap set before them.

When that woman raised her fist at a pro-life activist this morning she was in defiance of God. “Those who defy verbally still have a chance,” opined the experienced activist near us. They are actually fighting with their decision was the implication. The ones who walk in quietly inhaling their first cigarette of the morning is set on their duty. Just as they puffed away on the cigarette, they were about to experience that unborn child puffed away from planet earth.

There is much work to do. I don’t do enough. I don’t pray enough. There is so much I can learn from those who have given their lives to declaring the message of life. To them I am grateful. John tells us that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. In this clinic, it is in the darkness of the early morning that evil operates. As these ex-moms recover from their surgery, their consciences will never recover. May they never recover until God grants them repentance and their hearts find rest in the God of life.