Last week I was sickened by hatred spewed by elements of the media, aimed at destroying a Christian family featured in a reality television program–Nineteen Kids and Counting. I have been fascinated by how this unique family of nineteen homeschooled children seeks to live out their faith according to biblical principles. To be honest, I have been humbled by their example of kindness and mercy extended toward others, even as they have been ridiculed for their faith. I am not sure how long the program has been on, but I do know that it has been long enough to have featured the courtship and weddings of three of the Duggar children–long enough for the oldest son, Josh, and his wife Anna, to have grown their family to include four children (the fourth child due some time this year.) I have especially appreciated programs featuring Anna, as she has navigated the challenges of being a young wife and mother after moving to Washington, DC for a job opportunity that opened up for Josh. Were I to say I have a favorite in the family, it would be Anna–as she has grown and matured tending her little “flock” with humor and grace, reached out to others in their new community and sought to be a good helpmate to Josh.
I admit that learning about Josh abusing some of his sisters when he was fourteen-years-old (he is now twenty-seven) was shocking. Josh, to his credit, has not denied it. In fact, he made a public apology that said (in part):
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends . . . . I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
Responses to his apology have been mixed, at best. But, far more troubling to me were comments expressed on Facebook, by some who obviously enjoyed exposing “every dirty little secret” they could dig out about the family. I found myself wondering about the source of such hatred that appeared to come so easy. Of the two Facebook posts I read last weekend and the sixty-plus comments made in response to those posts, only one individual wrote what I found to be a helpful, credible response to Josh’s confession:
“I am a victim and mom who has had to walk this painful road
because of someone else’s sin. The difference”
(contrasting Josh Duggar’s response with her experience)
“–never has the perpetrator sought forgiveness
nor been quick to accept with such humility that they screwed up.
My heart is so broken for this family–and praying for them . . . .
The world holds Christians to a perfect standard-we are NOT perfect.”
SIN . . . whatever form it takes, is vile stuff. In the Counseling Room we refer to sin as, “puke on God’s Throne” (II Peter 2:22) to emphasize the vileness of it. Part of my role and responsibility as Counselor, is to help those I serve deal with sin that has impacted them–either their own sin or sin imposed on them by others. By far, the sin that is the most challenging to address, is sin committed in the past that cannot be undone.
In no way can I excuse what Josh did, but there is some comfort in knowing that he has expressed his regrets and repented of his sin. Also, I was grateful to hear that before marrying Anna, Josh owned up to his past–giving her the opportunity to walk away if she wanted to. Anna chose to marry Josh and, as my grandma used to say, “The proof is in the pudding.” It has been in watching Anna’s confidence grow in her role as wife, mother and friend that, I believe, reflects something good about the character of the man she married.
As Christian’s, we are challenged to respond to this family tragedy in a manner that honors Christ. While it may be tempting to enter into the fray of condemnation encouraged by social media, we must take care that we avoid “puking on God’s Throne” as we consider the broken and prayerful example given us by a true victim of abuse.
There is much to be gleaned from the wisdom of Scripture to guide us. A personal favorite of mine we frequently look to in the Counseling Room, is this passage in Romans:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”e
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It is always comforting to remember, that as much as we may hate the pain and suffering sin inflicts on us and on those we love, God hates it more–“Vengeance is Mine, I WILL repay” the unrepentant sinner. While we cannot know fully the depth of anyone’s confession, God’s Justice will ultimately prevail.
Our Challenge as Christians,
is to take care that we avoid heaping our own sin/puke on others as we pray for them,
rather than delighting in and exposing sin that cannot be undone.
All to His Glory!