A lot has been written about the revelation that Josh Duggar molested several girls when a teenager. Probably more is yet to come. The situation is tragic. But as with all difficult situations, there are also lessons to be learned.
One of the things we’ve learned from this is that the double standard in our culture runs deep. If you’re a professing Christian something like this is going to be treated differently in the media than it will be for almost anyone else. When it’s Lena Dunham or Harvey Milk, the outrage is noticeably less – non-existent in fact for Milk. Heck, we put him on a stamp.
Secondly, many commenting on the situation have reminded us of God’s grace. No sin is too terrible for God to forgive. The same Christ who forgave and used the murderer of Christians, the Apostle Paul, stands ready to forgive you and me no matter what we’ve done. One of the best things I’ve read on this score is by Michael Brown. He says:
The fact is, the very best of us are worthless wretches outside of His grace, and on the holiest day of our lives, in ourselves, we are utterly depraved in light of God’s perfect brightness.
To that I say “Amen.”
However, there’s a third thing we can learn that I’ve not yet seen anyone address.
The teaching of Bill Gothard embraced by the Duggars is steeped in legalism and self-righteousness. It tends to see sin as something that is “out there” that I have to protect my children from. So, the way to have “good” kids is to keep them away from things – immodest clothes and people (as defined by Gothard who ironically has also resigned due to sexual impropriety), “secular” music (however one defines that) and, of course, public school just to name a few. Certainly some of those things can be bad influences but sin is not something that is “out there.” Sin is inside us, it is a heart issue. Jesus said:
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. – Matthew 15:19-20
No amount of man-made rules will keep us or our kids from sin. Let that be one of the lessons we take away from this as well. What Josh Duggar needed and what we all need is the grace of God and a transformed heart not a list of dos and don’ts that may have the appearance of wisdom but offer no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:23).