What we, the Church, can learn from Josh Duggar

With all of the talk about the Duggars that has been happening for the last several days, the one thing I am troubled by most is the message being sent to the world when the main supporters of how this was handled by the Duggar family are Christians who are demanding everyone should be okay with what happened, that it was a “mistake”, that anyone saying anything negative must not be a Christian or, at the very least, doesn’t understand grace.

I’ve heard loud declarations from posts, tweets, and blogs, that “this is an attack by the left-wing media/liberals/progressives.” I admit there have been some hateful things said.  I expected worse considering the Duggars, and their staunch supporters, are the very same people who openly attack everyone who doesn’t believe like them for being guilty of so many things – including the blatantly unsupportable accusation that everyone in the LGBT community is just waiting for access to molest children.  And we all know that molesting children is the worst thing you can do!  Unless you’re a Duggar and you say ‘sorry.’

I admit the responses have helped me to see this seeming hypocrisy through a new lens and I believe I finally understand their position on the Transgender and bathroom access, as well as their objection to gay couples adopting.  They sincerely believe that all anatomically male humans are equally at risk for molesting women and children if no one is looking.  They believe this is universal and the only way to keep women and children safe is to 1) limit access, and 2) encourage each boy, as early as possible in his life, to find a woman who knows her place and understands that through dressing modestly (to not bring inappropriate sexual violations on themselves by someone other than their husband) and willingly providing him with sex that satisfies every sexual urge that might arise within him, she is doing her job of making sure he is never put in a position to experience those urges in a way that might result in him needing to have sex with someone else or turn to the children around him to satisfy his urges.

I finally figured this out after several people actually came out and said that “anyone” would do the same if it wasn’t for the threat of punishment from the legal authorities.  The only response I find myself able to come up with for that one comes from a wonderful friend, who happens to be an atheist, who will be the first to say if the only thing keeping you from violating other people or committing heinous crimes is a belief in God, please please don’t ever abandon your belief!

The truth is, NOT “anyone” would do the same thing given the chance. But a big thank you to those who are saying that – you are making it even easier to identify people I should keep myself and my family away from.

I’m just left thinking about what it means to be a witness for Jesus and a testimony to the world and I can’t let go of this Truth: When atheists are clearly seeing that what a publicly professing Christian did was disgusting, immoral, and requiring of punishment, I have to believe that Christian has lost their moral compass. I’m not just talking what a 14yo did. I’m talking about the parents, their community, and every single person who is adamantly defending them!

My dear friend Rebecca Diamond​ reminded me of an amazingly appropriate passage that speaks directly to this situation and I wanted to share it with you. It is a reminder that “grace” doesn’t mean sin stops being sin, and that having received grace doesn’t mean everyone else has to pretend you didn’t do anything wrong.

I am sharing this so that those within the Church can be reminded of what God thinks about this situation and how it was handled, AND so that those outside of the Church can know that God’s response is not what they are seeing from the defenders.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Ephesians 5:1-13

This isn’t being said about unbelievers.  This isn’t an instruction about how to call the World out for their sins. This is about how to deal with these very things within the community of believers. This is about the response God expects from the CHURCH!

I’ve heard some Christians dismiss this entire passage by quoting the part of the passage that says, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”  This is NOT saying that it’s shameful to call out what the disobedient do in secret – because the entire passage is saying that it requires being called out!  What it’s saying is that what the disobedient do in secret is so shameful that if you find yourself even talking about doing those things yourself, the way to stop yourself from doing it is to call it into the Light!  Don’t do these things!  Don’t even talk about doing these things!  If these things are being done by people in your community, call it into the Light and do not pretend that it’s not a big deal – no matter what anyone says!

So I will pray for the Duggars, but I will not support them while support means pretending like this isn’t really a big deal and since he said he’s sorry it all went away.  I will not be deceived with empty words. I want nothing do with fruitless deeds of darkness and I am willing to be among those exposing them.

Ultimately what I hope the Church learns is this …

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:15-23

If those of us within the Church who are shepherds, charged with tending the flock – and this is the purpose of Pastors – fail to identify and call out the wolves, driving them far away from the sheep, then we will answer to God for that failure.  When we become shepherds who tend the wolves while beating the sheep, we become protectors of the workers of lawlessness.  I will not be among those who defend lawlessness under the guise of grace.  That is not grace. That is denial.

I choose to be on the side of God’s purpose of protecting the sheep from the wolves. I absolutely believe God can turn wolves into sheep!  I just don’t believe he does it by killing the sheep and draping the wolf with pelts.

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Suffer not the little children

I am asked quite often about how to talk to children about God, when to introduce the idea of sin, and these are really good questions. Many parents are concerned about scaring their children, or not sharing enough because of that concern.  I compiled this list in answer to the most recent very genuine and honest question on this topic and I wanted to be sure and save it in this form.

When I’m working with my children we generally follow this kind of age/stage path:

Babies, Toddlers and Alpha Waves

Babies and toddlers are told how much God loves them, how much God has done for them, that they love God, that we love God, that they are His children and born with a purpose – Truth is spoken over them in this stage. I was recently learning about alpha waves – they are the brain waves that have no filter, meaning your brain just accepts everything that is told to you and these things told to you become your Truth for the rest of your life unless you intentionally work to change those recordings. Until the age of about 5-7 you are pure alpha waves and everything you are told is received into you – and that eventually becomes your filter against which you compare everything new that comes to you after the fact. This is where those studies that talk about children succeeding or failing in agreement with what they were told about themselves and what they were labeled/called come into play.

I do not talk about sin, or hell, or anything negative theologically – unless they ask – and then I do the whole “where do babies come from?” “Mommy’s belly” answer. They do participate in Passover and every feast and festival and they experience the ideas, but they don’t get defined for them at this age.

Preschool – Kindergarten

Somewhere around 4.5 – 5 ish my children all start to pick up on the fact that when they ask questions like, “Where do we go when we die?” I answer, “The people who love God go to be with Him.” They then ask the question that shows some maturity, “What about those who don’t love Him?” And the idea of the “negatives” is introduced. I tell them, “They don’t love Him so they don’t want to be with Him and He honors that and they don’t have to be with Him.” Every time they then want assurance that they will be with Him and at this point I do lead them in a prayer of confession of faith – NOT because I believe such a prayer saves them  But because at this age they are very kinesthetic and *doing* this is a way that speaks to their body, mind and soul about their love for God. It has the same effect of doing a kitchen science experiment and it makes it real and tangible for them.

What if they feel guilty?

There are lots of times after this that I teach them, “God says those who love Him will do X,” or “God says when we love Him, His standard is Y,” and around 8 there is a developmental shift that has them reacting to a negative choice in a way that shows they are beginning to understand this. They react with sincere guilt to things. When I catch this I take them aside and talk to them. I point out that their heart feels dark and heavy and that this is guilt – it is our conscience telling us we did something wrong. I then explain that God put that into us so that we would know when we are on the wrong path. I also explain that there is a way to fix this and make our heart happy and light and that is to confess what we have done and make amends. So together we work out how they will go to the person they have wronged, apologize, ask forgiveness, and seek a way to make amends.  This is how/when the idea of “sin” is introduced.

What about the teenage years?

By the time my children are reaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah age they are excited and ready to make that more mature confession of faith where they stand before their friends and family and make a public confession of their love for God and His Word and we all celebrate with them. Two of my children sought baptism several years ago and we chose to do a family baptism. They are both comfortable with that and my younger children have asked if we can do one with them that they will remember – not that the first didn’t have meaning, but they want to remember theirs. Absolutely – I’ve suggested attaching them to this ceremony.

And now I’ve got my 14 and 16 yo who are truly reasoning together with us about things. They ask questions in service and make observations and ask about deeper things in the text, etc. They were taught to have great compassion for those who believe differently while still holding to their faith, and because I don’t believe I have all the answers, but that God does, they are very comfortable saying, “I don’t know,” when things come up. Creation? Some people believe X, some Y, some whatever, we believe ____ – and when we meet God we will know. Until then, don’t hold too tightly to our ideas that you make a fist towards others with them.”


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