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.
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.
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.