Yes, TMTF gets topical today. This hardly ever happens. You see, I hate discussing touchy subjects; TMTF is a blog about stuff that matters to me, and I don’t care for scandals or controversies. I would much rather write about butchered hymns or Marvel’s Daredevil than fuel the angry debates raging across the Internet.
Besides, I’m usually oblivious to current events. I prefer to read news and editorials about movies, video games, or geek culture—or else just read a good book—than wade through depressing headlines about scandals, violent crimes, and celebrity necklines.
However, the shock waves from Josh Duggar scandal have reached even my quiet corners of the Internet. I don’t normally write about this kind of thing, but something about this messy tragedy struck a chord with me.
In case you don’t already know them, here are the facts. Josh Duggar, a Christian television personality and family values activist, was recently found to have held paid accounts on Ashley Madison, a website for people seeking extramarital affairs. He responded to this disclosure by confessing to cheating on his wife and being addicted to porn. A few months before the Ashley Madison scandal, Duggar was discovered to have sexually molested several girls, including several of his sisters, when he was a teen.
Mr. Duggar claims to support family values.
To wit, for all his support of religious faith and family values, Josh Duggar is an unfaithful, dishonest, hypocritical scoundrel.
My reaction to the Josh Duggar scandal was more or less exactly the same as my reaction to every other scandal in contemporary Christianity: I shook my head, thought “What a fool,” spent a moment praying for him and his family, and then went back to reading about video games on Kotaku.
I could only imagine how grieved and devastated his family must be. Moreover, I was annoyed and saddened me that the idiocy of one high-profile religious person was so widely publicized, while decades of faithful ministry by honest, ordinary religious people everywhere went unnoticed by the media.
My problem is that I have far more in common with Mr. Duggar than I want to admit.
No, I don’t have an Ashley Madison account; no, I haven’t molested anyone; and no, I’m not hiding a porn addiction. (My only addiction is coffee, and I acknowledge it proudly.) However, at various times, I have certainly watched porn. I have lied. I have griped, gossiped, insulted, whined, accused, and ranted. I have neglected commitments, wasted time, wallowed in self-pity, blamed others for my mistakes, and been a shameless hypocrite. I am extremely selfish. I struggle to forgive others, and hold grudges like nobody’s business. I have frequently failed to be a good friend, a devout Christian, and a decent human being.
If every wrong thing I have ever done were dragged out of the shadows and publicized all over the world, I would be desperate for forgiveness and compassion… and somewhere, a self-righteous git like me would shake his head, think “What a fool,” spend a moment praying for me and my family, and then go back to reading about video games on Kotaku.
I’m not defending Josh Duggar. In fact, I would like to smack him repeatedly with a heavy Bible, but that isn’t the point. Beyond my anger and sadness, there is quite a lot of hypocritical self-righteousness. When I start to judge Mr. Duggar, my accusations veer dangerously close to home. Lust? Selfishness? Dishonesty? Arrogance? A goofy-looking face? At one time or another, I have been guilty of all of these, and more.
Jesus Christ once said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The Apostle Paul later wrote, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
I’m not saying I shouldn’t condemn Mr. Duggar’s dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and hypocrisy. I absolutely should. He did some awful things, and it would be awful to pretend that he didn’t. However—and yes, I realize how painfully trite this sounds—I must hate the sin and love the sinner. He doesn’t deserve compassion, but neither do I.
I am not Josh Duggar, but I could have been. As the media continues tearing Josh Duggar to pieces, which it will do until it gets bored or finds someone else to tear to pieces, I’m trying not to forget that he is a living human being. He is a man who probably hates himself, and likely feels like everything has fallen apart.
So I’ll echo Simon & Garfunkel and say, with all the sincerity lacking in the original song: Here’s to you, Mr. Josh Duggar. Jesus loves you more than you will know.
And I really don’t have much to add beyond that.