The Duggars and Hypocrites Like Us

Scandal hits the Duggars

The Christian world was “shocked” such a lurid act could surface out of such a pristine family. They were paragons of conservative family values and modesty. Homeschool heroes.

Disclaimer: This isn’t really a post about a fifteen year old Josh Duggar and his young victims.

This is a post about our meta reaction when tragic news like this breaks upon our collective preconceived notions.

The only thing that’s shocking in this situation is that we continue to be shocked by these situations. Even after the Catholic priest scandal. Or Bill Cosby scandal. Or Ted Haggard scandal.

Fallen people gonna fall (Romans 3:23).

The more perfect, and nice, and homeschooly the Duggars were on-screen, the further the fall seems to us. But that’s because we falsely believe we’re adept at judging distances from God based on surface behavior. The Duggars are in the same sunk ship of humanity we all find ourselves in. They’re likely guilty of protecting their family name at all costs just as we would be given the same circumstances.

There’s only really two types of folks in the world: 1. Those high-profile figures who will fall publicly because of their sin and 2. the rest of us who aren’t high profile enough for it to matter when we fall.

That’s not to say our darkest blots would have heavy legal ramifications. Or that our misdeeds would scar the innocent in the same way Josh Duggar’s did. There should be definite legal consequences for such crimes. It’s just that we’re not very in tune with our own wicked thought patterns if we’re sucker punched every time a new scandal comes to light. I bet if every nefarious thought that popped into our head on a daily basis were projected on a public screen we’d be in a familyless friendless plight pretty quick.

The nicest most religious Midwestern values family you could write into a Mayberry neighborhood is as screwed up as the broken Detroit family with a crack addicted mom and transgender prostitute dad. The former is just better at hiding it.

Part of our cultural Christian church culture we in the Bible Belt have ingested is that we at least know how to act in public. It’s subversive and not overtly taught. But it’s there: We clean up nice, put on a good smile, have our kids under control, listen to Christian radio all day, don’t drink or curse in public, etc. We’ve conflated shining our gospel light with cleaning our cup on the outside (Luke 11:39). And we’ve become Christian actors, which is just a hop and skip away from becoming full-blown hypocrites.

In our hurried hiding of this hypocrisy we don’t realize this: it’s okay.

This is the freeing reality: Everyone is a hypocrite. Every. One. I expect my two sons to keep their playroom organized and clean. But they only have to look at the back seat of their daddy’s car/gym locker/office to see I’m selective with demands. There are petrified gym shorts in the back of my Honda that have been carbon dated to the paleolithic era.

The only unforgivable  place we could stay in the world is failing to admit our own hypocrisy. Which would be staying in our insulated safe world of Christian radio, Christian friends, Christian bumper stickers, Christian breath mints and acting for one moment like this behavior gets us one baby step closer to God.

The broken hypocrite who knows their own sin is closer than the blind hypocrite oblivious to it. (Luke 18:9-14)

The gospel of Jesus is for hypocrites. Because hypocrites are all there are in the world.

So come:

Actors and addicts.

Impostors and Irreligious.

Victims and Victimizers.

Duggars and Drunkards.

There’s a place at His table for all of us scalawags. Repent and believe that His grace in Christ alone is the scandal that can save even you.

Bryan Daniels

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Like a Baby: Doing Nothing Is Everything

My son, Judah O’ Grady Daniels, is an incredible blessing to our family. At 10 weeks, he can’t do much as far as practical contributions to the household. He can flash the occasional crooked smile and offer a cute “goo” to you. But otherwise he’s an eating, pooping and sleeping machine. And he’s dependent on his parents for every bottle, diaper change, and bedtime routine. More accurately, with my full time teaching and coaching schedule he’s largely dependent on my beautiful hard working wife for all those things.

Judah’s value to us as his parents have nothing to do with what he does. Because, really, he does nothing.

And I think we lose this child like dependence with adulthood, where what we do is interchangeable to who we are: How much money we make, our job title, our washboard abs (or lack thereof), where we live, our reputation in community/church, our children’s good/bad behavior, who we know, etc. All of this activity gets conflated at the soul level. Our badges become our identity.

And this mindset seeps naturally into our spiritual activity. When our prayer life lags we feel we’re lukewarm. When our Bible study falls off we curse our lack of discipline. When we trip over our pet sin for the thousandth time we fall into a cycle of self loathing. When our three year old throws an epic tantrum in the cereal aisle of Publix our parenting competency is assaulted.

What we do is who we are saith the law written on our hearts.

But because of the gospel, this isn’t true.

Like a baby, we really don’t have any inherent practical worth to God. This may be a blow to our already fragile egos but it’s true. To God the Father we’re like an agitated infant who can only poop our pants, fuss about lack of sleep, and whine incessantly about empty stomachs and basic needs.

We may be fooling our church communities and Facebook friends with some fine acting and accoutrements but our Father knows the real deal. The well has been dried up on all our self salvation projects since the beginning of time.

We have value because of who we are. Not because we’re successful hardworking family oriented super citizens and church members. But because we’re His. His children. His kids. And this is nothing we have earned or merited with our own doing. We can only sit in His lap and receive this favor like a squirming half blind infant.

We’re wholly dependent on the grace of the Father purchased through the Son Jesus. And because of that only, we’re wholly beautiful to the Father. We’ve been chosen, adopted, and had lavish love and care put on us by the one we once declared war against (Romans 5:10)

Our sworn enemy has become our Dad.

Children of wrath have become children of a gentle King.

We came into the family contributing nothing. We stay in it by contributing nothing. Just sit and receive and be dependent on the Father’s arms. And we can rest and sleep peacefully in this position.

Like a baby.

Bryan Daniels