I originally meant for this post to be about the Duggar kid and the admission that he molested the young girls in his family. As a father with two young sons, I understand and appreciate the outrage related to anyone who dares harm a child, especially one in their own family.
A few years back I worked at the Children’s Home of Reading, a day school for youth with behavioral and emotional issues. I helped with their summer school for the residential population. These were young men with issues, many victims of molestation themselves. It broke my heart to see the products of innocence shattered by hands outside their control.
That is the issue. It takes a monster to force their will sexually on a child. When that monster is a member of a family paraded on television trumpeting their “Christian” values, the anger is taken to another level. When you continue to read and discover how the family concealed and ignored the problem, you hit critical mass.
So what have we learned?
Grace does not exclude consequences. I believe in grace. I also believe that we have a conceptualized image of grace that has damaged the church over the years. When the Duggar parents refused to go to the police, they were wrong. They sent a message to the victims that their son’s life mattered more in the grand scheme of things. Josh Duggar freely admits his actions and claims his forgiveness by his faith. It is easy to do when you’re not sitting in jail for victimizing four little girls. Grace is a spiritual transaction not an excuse.
It is not a “get out of jail free” card.
Grace does exclude reality. The Duggar’s have been published making derogatory comments towards communities of different sexual orientations. They had a chance to show both their son and his victims that they were taking this seriously. They could live in the real world and not hide their fear and hatred behind the wall of “faith,” yet they choose not to.
They claim to follow the teachings of Jesus, but their actions have little to do with Loving Your Neighbor (Mark 12:31). They are more than comfortable condemning perceived sin and yet Ignore the Plank in Their Own Eye (Matthew 7:5).
And this is the problem.
As the public pulls away in disgust, the Duggar’s keep saying “No, don’t worry. He’s forgiven. It’s all okay.”
Let me apologize.
As someone who claims to follow Jesus, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we’ve taken faith, married it to conservatism, and tried to sell it as THE WAY. I’m sorry that so many with a public forum represent Jesus so poorly. When people associate the term Christian with the family on 19 Kids and Counting, we’ve screwed up more than we know.
As a father, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that men lack the backbone to protect their family when it is needed. I’m sorry that they do not fight for their marriages and lead their children. They care more about image than truth. We follow a God that led his own son to the cross and did not protect him from what needed to be done to change the world.
We love our kids, but not at the level of sacrificing and teaching what is right. Our love for our kids will never end, even if it means calling the police when the problem is out of your control.
Our forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Our grace is not God’s grace, for that would put us on the level of the divine and we are not close. Our slates are never clean, they are gradually washed through years of faith, study, friendship, prayer, worship, laughter, conversation and change.
Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. After the resurrection, Jesus asks him three separate times if he loved him, following Peter’s answers with commands to “Feed my sheep.” We read that Peter is hurt after the third question. The parallel is complete. Jesus made him face his denials. He didn’t say, “Peter, don’t worry about it, it’s all good.”
We must all face our actions. Jesus is waiting on the other side ready to send us out as soon as we answer. If we keep silent, hiding behind our politics, constructs, “faith” or fear, we will never hear his words.
Silence is much worse than any painful conversation waiting in our future.