By now I’m sure you’ve seen the latest headlines about Josh Duggar — the former TLC reality star of “19 Kids and Counting.” Apparently his name was among the millions released in the recent hack of the marital affairs website AshleyMadison.com. If you’ve never heard of this site (I hadn’t), here’s a basic summary of what they are and what they do:
Ashley Madison is a Canadian-based online dating service and social-networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. It’s slogan is ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’
According to several reports, Duggar spent at least $986 on monthly subscriptions from February 2013 to May 2015 (ironically, the same month that the news of his past molestations was made public), including a $250 upfront fee for the purchase of an “affair guarantee.” You might remember that Josh had previously admitted to fondling several young girls when he was 14 years old — including some of his younger sisters. At the time, Josh seemed genuinely repentant. He said that he confessed those sins to his wife before they even got married and that his parents went to their church leaders with the situation as well. Josh was sent to Little Rock, where he spent several months performing physical labor for a family friend. His parents even handed him over to a state trooper, who spoke with Josh about the incident and ultimately decided to just file a police report. No arrest was made, but Josh and his sisters did have to undergo counseling.
Of course, the whole thing should have ended there, but it didn’t. Someone decided to leak all of the juicy details to a tabloid, causing the scandal to explode all over social media and just about every cable news network in America. This naturally sent all of the Christian-hating progressives into a state of sheer ecstasy. ‘Hey, look! Finally, a mainstream Christian has screwed up! Huzzah! Jesus is a lie! Christians are hypocrites! Church sucks! God isn’t real! This guy is a sinner! Let’s all gang up on him!’
And so they did. The backlash was horrific.
Anyway, I think we can all agree that liberals would love nothing more than to sacrifice Josh Duggar on the altar of progressivism and hoist him up as some sort of trophy. They want to see the Duggar family fall apart. They want to see the TV show plummet and be forced into cancellation. They want to use Josh’s actions as proof that Christianity is a farce that that Christians are terrible, awful hypocrites who demand perfection from everyone while they run off and live sinful lives. Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth and it really just shows you how little progressives actually know about God, Christianity and the Bible.
But, for now, I don’t want to focus on the liberal idiots. Let’s leave them to their online trolling and ridiculously self-serving comments. Besides, they’ll end up destroying themselves in the end.
I think there’s a much bigger point to be made here in the wake of Josh Duggar’s most recent immoral behavior, which has revealed a few very important things:
1) Josh was searching for (and paying for) extramarital affairs while simultaneously declaring that he had repented and sought forgiveness for sexually abusing his sister and other young girls; while simultaneously serving as Executive Director on The Family Research Counsel Action, which strives to “champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue and the wellspring of society.” But, talk is cheap. If he was truly repentant, he would have changed course and pursued purity and a Christlike lifestyle, rather than start fishing for extramarital affairs online — where he even admitted on his profile that he was specifically looking for “one night stands” and “experimentation." He went from sexual abuser to serial adulterer, a decision that completely destroys his credibility and his Christian testimony. It’s disgusting. This does not mean that he isn’t deserving of forgiveness. Yes, his actions are vile and sick. But, every sinner can find grace, forgiveness and redemption in Jesus.
2) That being said, I believe it’s quite apparent that Josh was not “struggling” with this sin. That’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in church circles to describe Christians who are actively battling their sin. That’s not what’s going on here. Josh was not fighting his immoral desires and there was no active remorse or true repentance. Scripturally, repentance means ‘to turn the other direction.’ Instead, Josh headed full steam into another sexually immoral sin.
3) Josh’s lack of repentance is a complete violation of not only his Christian faith and God’s Word, but his family’s trust and his marriage. He has committed a heinous, traitorous act and I feel awful for his family. I pray that they will one day heal from this and that Josh will turn his life over to Christ in a truly genuine way.
Also, and this is my main point, I believe that many Christian writers and bloggers were too quick to assume Josh had genuinely repented when, by his own admission, he was also viewing pornography and steadily becoming unfaithful to his wife prior to the explosive release of this most recent information. If you follow my posts, you know that I did not write about the original Duggar scandal — in which Josh admitted to sexual molesting his younger sisters and other young girls. Many bloggers wrote their pieces literally within two days of Josh’s supposed “repentance” and declared that by all accounts he was a changed man and he had really turned his life around and deserved forgiveness.
They’re right about the forgiveness aspect. But, his repentance remained to be seen. In fact, it still remains to be seen. Repentance is not simply just saying that you’re sorry for your actions. We call that apologizing. Repentance involves a lifestyle change and that doesn’t happen overnight. And for Josh, it obviously hasn’t happened yet. I said earlier that ‘talk is cheap.’ And now, with this AshleyMadison scandal, everything Josh has said about finding his life in Christ again, I can’t help but chalk up to empty, meaningless words. Sins like sexual molestation and extramarital affairs are usually spawned from “smaller sexual sins” — for lack of a better term — like pornography or sexting. It rarely starts with the “large-scale” sexual sin.
If there’s anything we can learn from Josh’s actions and the fall of the Duggar family, it’s that sin always exposes itself, it often has devastating repercussions and it masquerades as pleasure.
This is what’s happened to Josh Duggar. It’s what happens to any Christ-follower who pursues sinful behaviors. And we mustn’t be too quick to assume a person’s repentance until they’ve made the change that is found in the very definition of Scriptural repentance.
The only solution, the only source of hope and healing, is Christ.
NOTE: If you're reading this post in your e-mail inbox and would like to comment, please feel free to reply via e-mail or click on the post title above and leave a comment on my site.