Grace Greater Than Our Sin

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There is blood in the water and the sharks are in a feeding frenzy. Finally, the Duggar family’s opponents have found what they have been eagerly waiting for: shocking revelations of scandal by Jim Bob and Michelle’s firstborn son, Josh.

Public Acknowledgment

In case you have been under a rock this past week, InTouch magazine broke the story revealing that Josh Duggar had fondled several underage girls twelve years ago when he was a young teenager. Since that story was published the internet and media have exploded with stories and blogs many of them lining up to throw stones at Josh and the whole family. While Josh Duggar had owned up to his sins years ago with the people that it concerned, he has now publicly acknowledged them with grief and regret, and resigned his position as Executive Director of Family Research Council Action.

Why Am I Weighing In?

I would rather not discuss something of this nature on my blog, especially since it is dredging up past sins that have been painfully grieved over once already by all involved. It pains me to see that they are now having to relive the nightmare that had been laid to rest well over a decade ago with Josh’s repentance and reformation, but I feel compelled to bring some context and reason to the bloodletting that many are engaging in and to come to the aid of our dear friends and family.

Repentance

I am not going to talk much about the criminal aspect of Josh’s actions or if the authorities acted appropriately with the knowledge of what happened. That ball rests in their court. As it stands criminal charges were not brought against Josh but I believe that Josh’s parents acted in a way that godly parents should. They did not turn a blind eye, but earnestly sought help from the church, counselors, and eventually the police. Maybe they didn’t do it in a way that pleases everyone, but they acted decisively to confront the sin, to call a penitent son back from his errors, and to seek to aid the hurting victims. In the end Josh sought forgiveness from those he wronged, repented of his sins, and came to trust Christ as his Savior. He has to the present day attested to the reality of his repentance and faith by living above reproach. In their efforts to salvage the wreckage that these transgressions brought, and bring healing to all involved, Jim Bob and Michelle are to be commended.

People Were Affected

The victims of Josh’s actions should not be lost in all of this. Sadly, this type of thing is all too common. Victims of sexual abuse of any kind often suffer greatly for many years as a result of these sins. We should not downplay the seriousness of these offenses particularly, nor gloss over the pain and confusion they often bring, sometimes for a lifetime.

Sorry Your Honor, The Cat Is Already Out Of The Bag

Some people act as if it was the Duggar’s responsibility to have made this sad episode in their family public knowledge. They are to be praised for not hiding this from the appropriate parties and eventually the police, but they owed it to no one else to publicize the sins of a minor child and the court agrees with that assessment, the judge now ordering that the police report be destroyed. But the cat is already out of the bag. How many of you would broadcast the sins of your children to the whole world? Would you be willing to publicize your own darkest moments? It is miserable indeed that someone was willing to illegally obtain a police investigation involving minor children and publish it for whatever nefarious purpose they had in mind.

Filthy Rags

There are many who seem shocked that a child from a Christian family would do such things. While it is always alarming when we find out about our children’s sins, we should not be surprised. Christians (and many other reasonable people) believe that we are all born with a sinful nature. David, king of Israel spoke of his inborn sin like this when he was repenting of his adultery and murder by proxy: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5. The prophet Isaiah concurs. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. While not all of our sins find a way to manifest themselves externally we all know the corruption that is present in each of our hearts. It is a mercy of God that he restrains the evil of mankind otherwise we would have destroyed ourselves long ago. Many times it is simply lack of opportunity or fear of consequences that keep us from falling into grievous sin even though our fallen hearts would love to indulge the flesh. We should not be shocked that this occurred in the Duggar’s home, we should rather be thankful to God if we have been spared such, and pray that he would keep us and our children from falling.

Chaos

There are others that see this episode as a result of sheltering and repressing human desires. They think that had he access to sex education by Planned Parenthood, been allowed to watch edgy Hollywood films, been encouraged to experimentation with a girlfriend, or gotten free condoms from the local school nurse, then none of this would have happened. Right. The stupidity of some people is mind boggling. Fan the flames of youthful lust and you end up with what we have: unprecedented numbers of unwed mothers, millions of abortions, rampant STDs, and the unraveling of the fabric of our whole society. Josh didn’t sin because he was repressed, he sinned because like all of us he is a sinner.

Relationships Are Key

Are Jim Bob and Michelle to be scolded for raising their children with high moral standards and this moral failing evidence that they are legalistic hypocrites? No. Although individual Christian family’s interpretation of God’s moral standards may vary somewhat in practical ways they are right in holding high moral standards. It is always our duty to live a godly life, and even when we fail, God’s moral standards found in the Bible don’t change. It is by our inability to live up to them that we understand our need of a Savior. Are the Duggars perfect in their interpretation of God’s moral standards? No. But neither is anyone else. They may be stricter than some which comes with certain difficulties but there are also many difficulties on the other end of the spectrum in being lenient. Is it helpful to tweak our parenting practices if the results are less than desirable. Yes, we should constantly be learning and growing as parents and change when we see a better way, yet no parenting method is without flaw. The heart of the matter is do you have a good relationship with your children?  From my perspective, this is where Jim Bob and Michelle excel.

The Great Exchange

So, what is the ultimate answer? The answer is what Josh found and millions like him. He found forgiveness and cleansing from Jesus Christ. There are many of you that are reading these words right now having had thoughts and deeds no better than what Josh had and did. You are a sinner. You are a sinner by birth and choice. It is because of that corruption that is common to all that you have violated God’s holy commandments. If you continue in your present course Jesus Christ himself will judge you unworthy of eternal life. But he has graciously provided the only way of salvation and that is by trusting in him and his atoning death on the cross as the payment that God requires to absolve you of the guilt of your sins. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul about the forgiveness found in Christ. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Ephesians 1:7. Christ spilled his blood to redeem us from the bondage of sin and death. This was accomplished by his taking our sins upon himself and being punished in our place.

Hope For Sinners

Here is a warning for everyone reading this, by condemning a repentant sinner you have placed yourself in the place of God. Jesus said, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:2. We are never to condone sin, and the sins of Josh’s youth are reprehensible. Civil penalties are sometimes required and we should never begrudge the victims of crimes or the civil authorities from seeking justice, but we are not to condemn repentant sinners in our hearts or with our tongues or pens. Though consequences are sometimes necessary and desired to uphold civil society and to bring temporary justice, Jesus forgives repentant sinners, real sinners: murderers, thieves, child molesters, homosexuals, self righteous church goers, the proud, liars, scoffers, atheists, hypocrites, and any other sinner or combination of them all. All that is required is to come to Jesus confessing that you are a sinner and with faith that his death will avail for you. He will receive you and begin the process of salvaging your life for his glory. Believe these beautiful words of the Lord Jesus. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37-40. Look upon Jesus with eyes of faith and you too will be redeemed. Remember, Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32.

Solidarity

I want to say that the Seewald family stands with the Duggar family in solidarity. We stand with the unnamed victims of these incidents. Our thoughts and prayers are for you. I want to say to Josh, hang in there, the shame you feel is legitimate, yet Jesus took your shame as he was punished in your place. Rest in his forgiveness and grace. Remember that he gives you his righteousness as a covering for your shame. Let this trial in your life build humility and grace. Don’t be angry at the world for their hatred of you. Show them through your love for them that it is Jesus Christ that made all the difference in your life. I’m rooting for you.

Speak Up!

Finally, a word to the millions of muted victims of sexual abuse all over the world. It is not your fault. No matter what the abuser may have said, you are not the one to blame. Do not keep silent if you are being abused, tell someone you trust, a parent, a teacher, a friend, anyone is better than silence. You are likely not the only one who has been abused. Tell someone so that they will be stopped. If the person you tell doesn’t contact the right people to help, tell someone else. Stay away from the abuser if at all possible, or avoid being alone with them. If the abuser is in your family, you may feel conflicted. You may love this person and can’t understand why they are hurting you. No matter how much you love the abuser you must tell someone. Remember, it is never okay for someone to treat you that way even if they are a parent, a sibling, or a friend. There are many people who will help you if you just break the silence.

Healing And Rest

For those who bear the emotional scars of abuse I empathize with you. Healing is possible and many people have found it. Turn to Jesus Christ and find your identity in him. Lean upon him as he cleanses away the guilt and pain. He promises to give you rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mat 11:28-30.

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