I’ve never watched an episode of 19 Kids and Counting, but the recent controversy regarding Josh Duggar’s indiscretion as a 15-year-old boy and the reaction from the mainstream media and social media peaked my interest to learn more. In reading articles and watching news stories, it appears Josh made poor choices to inappropriately touch his younger sisters when he was 14- & 15-years old.
What makes this story so riveting to the public is the fact that Josh’s family has a show depicting their Christian lifestyle. They discuss life topics and comment on other people’s choices, as well as their own, both good and bad. Now that their “family secret” has come out, many people are up in arms as to how this so-called “Christian” family, this goodie-two-shoes clan, could have the gall to promote Christian values, morals and ethics with this kind of sin in their lives.
To be fair to the Duggars, they did not simply sweep this under the rug when they became aware of the situation, but sought help for their son in the midst of his poor choices, of which he proactively confessed to his parents on his own accord. They put Josh into counseling, monitored his activities in all settings and even filed a juvenile record with the authorities, a record that was supposed to be kept sealed, as mandated by law regarding minors, before a police commissioner agreed to release the file contrary to the law.
However, what strikes me the most is the idea many people have in general regarding the behavior of Christians: that simply because a person or, in this case a family, claims to be followers of Jesus Christ, they are not allowed to make mistakes; they must be perfect, lest they be labeled hypocrites. The truth is every Christian is a hypocrite, myself included. None of us become perfect or can claim perfection when we choose to follow Jesus. Rather, on the contrary, it is our confession that we are not perfect (we are sinners), and our acknowledgement that Jesus is the one – the only One – who forgives our sins, and our decision to follow the teachings and leadings of Jesus that we become a Christian.
The Bible describes this mystery in the book of Galatians, (near the middle of the New Testament) in which Paul writes in chapter 5, verses 16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
Simply put, when a person chooses to follow Jesus, that person now as the Spirit of God living in him/her. However, this person still has a sin nature, referred to as “the flesh” in the previous verses, which is the nature everyone has that causes us to do things contrary to God’s commandments.
Don’t believe me? Ever wonder how a young child – a child not even two years old – knows how to lie with the first words they speak, how to steal when they see something they want, how to hit when they are upset without ever being taught? We all have this nature from the day we are born, and it is with us our entire lives. But Christians have a second nature, the Spirit nature, which now competes (or as the Bible states it, “wages war”) with this sin nature. In short, Christians have the power of God abiding in them to help make godly choices, but they also have the sin nature which encourages them to make ungodly choices. They have the ability to choose which nature they will follow, and it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment decision.
For every Christian, there are times when we choose to follow our sin nature, as Josh Duggar did when he was 14- & 15-years old. At other times, we choose to follow our Spirit nature and do that which pleases God.
In the Duggar situation, we can all learn from how Josh and his parents handled it, in that Josh confessed his sin (as the Bible commands Christians to do), his parents sought godly counsel and administered discipline to correct the problem, they monitored Josh at home with his siblings, and they alerted the authorities of the situation. I would imagine that most people, if they were in the Duggar’s shoes and found themselves in the same situation, had followed this path, would have been satisfied that they did everything they could to remedy the problem and do what’s best for their family. They would have moved on with their lives, doing everything they can to make sure that this tragic event never happened again in their family or to anyone outside their family. The fact that it is now public, and that they have a successful TV program, has many people in the mainstream media and in social media crying foul and calling for their heads, labeling them hypocrites.
As stated earlier, all of us Christians are hypocrites in that we follow Jesus, who was perfect and commands us to be perfect, and we fall short of that goal by committing sins. It’s not whether or not we will sin; rather, it’s how we respond to our sin that matters.
If you’re reading this, I hope you can be honest with yourself that you – yes, you – are a sinner, just like me. We both do things we know are wrong, things that hurt people, take advantage of them and promote our own selfish desires. Please know that there is a God who has the answer to our sin problem. He has the solution to sin, and that is to accept the forgiveness He offers through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
If you sense God leading you to follow Him, please respond to Him by simply telling Him you know you’re a sinner and you want His forgiveness. You believe in Jesus and what He did for you on the cross, to pay for the sins of the world, including yours and mine. Ask Jesus to be Lord of your life, to take the wheel, and then find a local Bible-believing church and show up this weekend. Be with God’s people and learn more about this God who loves you enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”