Updated 1:42 p.m. ET: TLC has reportedly pulled “19 Kids and Counting” from its schedule.
By now you’ve probably heard that Josh Duggar — oldest son in the “19 Kids and Counting” family — did some very bad things a long time ago. Apparently, when he was 14, Josh fondled several young girls, including a number of his younger sisters.
After admitting to these acts, his parents presented the situation to their church’s leadership, and Josh was sent to a family friend in Little Rock where he spent several months doing physical labor. When he came home, his parents brought him to a state trooper. The trooper talked to the boy, but no arrest was made. A police report was filed, though, and Josh and his sisters received counseling.
The behavior stopped there, and Josh has been upfront about it to anyone who actually needs to know this information. According to his wife, he confessed his past sins to her well before they were married. The family did not, however, announce these details to the world, mostly because there was no conceivable reason to. That is, until someone leaked it to a tabloid, and the whole “scandal” exploded all over the media yesterday.
The backlash has been severe.
Not because Josh’s actions were terrible — though they were, of course — but because the Duggars are a prominent Christian family who regularly speak out on contentious social issues like gay marriage. They are roundly despised for their beliefs, their outspoken nature, and for the parents’ decision to have 19 kids. Progressive trolls have been anxiously waiting for a chance to burn them down and dance on their ashes, and now they’ve finally been given the opportunity.
It certainly hasn’t gone to waste. Just a cursory look at the blogosphere and my social media feeds reveals legions of people positively giddy about this situation. Relieved. Ecstatic. Finally, they say, these Christians have been proven frauds! They are sinners! Hypocrites! Jesus is a lie! Christianity is false!
Josh Duggar has already lost his job, been publicly shamed, and had his name permanently sullied by these revelations, but critics are not satisfied. They want the show canceled and anyone who supports the family to give up and join the mob of stone throwers and witch burners. They say that Josh is not the only villain here — his parents are also guilty for not going to the police immediately.
Now, I’m actually supposed to be on vacation at the moment, but while the vultures gleefully descend upon this family, I feel the need to make a few points of clarification:
1) The Duggars are Christian. The Duggars are conservative. The Duggars don’t believe in gay marriage. Someone in the Duggar family did something terrible.
These are all facts. None of these facts conflict. None of these facts disprove any of the other facts. From the way liberals always react in these situations, you’d think that a Christian committing a sin somehow delegitimizes the faith itself, but that’s not quite accurate.
Not the Duggars, not anyone, claim that a faith in Jesus bestows perfect holiness on the faithful.
They would indeed be correct in their assessment if the central tenet of the Christian faith was that all believers in Christ are without sin or blemish. But far from that being a doctrine of the religion, it is actually the precise opposite of what Christians believe. None of us — not the Duggars, not anyone — claim that a faith in Jesus bestows perfect holiness on the faithful. It is because of our sinful nature that we need Him. When we sin, we do not disprove that thesis; we underscore it.
A Christian failing to live up to his faith does not make him a hypocrite. It makes him cowardly, perhaps. It makes him selfish. It makes him flawed. It makes him sinful. It makes him any number of things, but not necessarily a hypocrite. A hypocrite is an insincere person who misrepresents his own beliefs. But saying that you believe something is wrong, only to turn around and do it, doesn’t prove that you never held that belief. It just proves that you were too weak to stand by it.
I’m not diminishing Josh Duggar’s infractions. As I said, he did something very bad. Horrendous. Disturbing. Evil. These were major sins. But Christians commit major sins sometimes, which is the whole reason why Jesus died on the cross.
That doesn’t negate or condone anything, but it shows that Christianity does not hide from the sinfulness of man. A Christian understands the depravity of human nature, so when a brother or sister does something depraved, our faith is not shaken.
2) Speaking of hypocrites, I’m going to be very frank with you: I simply don’t believe most progressives actually care that Josh Duggar touched his sisters when he was 14. I don’t believe they are upset about it, or that it offends them, or that they are morally troubled by it. I don’t believe them. I just don’t.
I think they’re the real hypocrites.
After all, Lena Dunham admitted to inappropriately touching her sister, and she told the story in a jovial way, as if it were an amusing anecdote. Unlike Josh — who repented long ago, and when it was made public owned up to it and apologized again — Lena responded by telling her critics in the right wing conspiracy to “back the f**k up, bros.” While Duggar called his own behavior inexcusable, Dunham described the people upset about her behavior as “disgusting old men.”
Yet Dunham remains a liberal hero.
Just like Bill Clinton, who was credibly accused of rape multiple times. And Harvey Milk, a gay rights icon who got his very own Hollywood biopic, and a creep who regularly sodomized teenage boys. Progressive culture is filled to the brim with rapists, molesters, and deviants, but they never seem worried about any of it until some well known Christian crosses the line.
It’s always interesting to watch progressives discover sexual morality just in time to denounce a right winger, only to shed the pretense as soon as the next liberal pervert comes out of the woodwork.
They are moral opportunists. They are the actual hypocrites. This outrage is a charade. A circus. A show. A political ploy.
It always is.
3) I know I’m opening myself up to serious criticism here, but let me be honest with you: If my own son, God forbid, came to me and admitted to doing what Josh Duggar did, I don’t know that I’d immediately run to the cops.
Would you? Is it really that simple? The decision to have your child arrested as a sex offender would be an automatic thing for you? Really?
I guess I’m just a horrible person then.
I don’t know all of the details. Nobody outside of the family does or ever will. But it appears that Josh’s parents attempted to address the situation within their family before going to the church, and then eventually to a law enforcement officer. Again, there might be parts of this story that would change my analysis, but right now, based on what we know, it seems that they handled this the right way. Or at least, I can’t say for sure that I would have known any better way to go about it.
As a parent, you have to think whether your 14 year old son deserves to have his life ruined over his mistakes. Maybe you’d decide that he does. I can’t say I’d agree.
Either way, there’s no good answer. No simple answer. No happy answer. Something really, really bad has happened, and now you have to figure out the next step.
It’s not easy to know the next step, but it is certainly easy for the rest of us to stand off at a distance, 12 years later, and declare that they took the wrong one.
4) I’m confused about when past sins are relevant and when they aren’t. Today, I’m told Josh Duggar’s actions from 12 years ago ought to be enough to, as Montel Williams declared, forever brand him a “slimebag” and a “danger to kids.” But I can recall recent cases, like Mike Brown’s, where past crimes were completely irrelevant, even though the past crime happened, like, three minutes before he assaulted Officer Darren Wilson.
I’m having trouble following the logic.
5) Not that it matters, but I don’t say any of this as a fan of “19 Kids and Counting.” I respect the fact that it’s wholesome entertainment, but if not for my wife demanding we watch it every Tuesday, I doubt I’d ever tune in.
That said, I admire the family. They are living by their convictions, in defiance of cultural trends, and clearly bestowing a strong faith in all of their children. That faith hasn’t, as we established, made any of them perfect saints, but it seems genuine.
Many people look at them like freaks because they have 19 kids. Personally, I wish we all had the courage to be freaks. That doesn’t mean we all need to have 19 kids, but it does mean that we ought to be living and acting in ways that seem radical in our society.
I don’t see the Duggars as pretentious or holier-than-thou or snobbish or whatever other stock insult weak-minded secularists always throw at devout Christians. I see them, instead, as people who have the gumption to live according to their convictions. They may not live it perfectly, but it appears they’re trying, which is more than I can say for many in our culture.
So go ahead and crucify the Duggars if you like. Burn them at the stake. Rip them to shreds. I won’t be joining you.
Instead, I’ll be off to the side praying that you can endure it when the mob eventually turns around on you.
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