“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” (Josh Duggar, 8/20/15)
Josh Duggar’s story is sad because it involves real people, especially a wife and four children, who will be impacted by his choices for many years to come.
It is sad because it is being played out in the lives of many other marriages and families across the nation as the Ashley Madison website list is exposed.
And it is sad because Josh Duggar associated himself so closely with the Christian faith and with Christian values that his actions have led many to latch onto his story as another glaring example of Christian hypocrisy.
“Look at all these Christians, who claim to be so moralistic and pure, falling left and right to the very sins that they condemn. What a bunch of hypocrites!”
I hate to say it, but they are right.
To preach “family values” and then practice the very things that destroy the family is the essence of hypocrisy. The Christian church has not earned much credibility in our culture when it comes to sexual purity.
The apostle Paul confronted the moralistic “God-fearers” of his day with the same charge:
You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:21-24)
Here is the bottom line: There is no difference: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22b-23).
If Josh Duggar’s story teaches us anything, it teaches us that we are no match for the sinful impulses, desires, and lusts of our own heart.
Sexual sin is powerful, pervasive, consuming, dominating, deceptive, destructive. What begins as a “small sin”…maybe even innocently…eventually becomes an addictive bondage. Though we claim to be in control, we soon lose control. Sin is not our slave. It is our master.
The sexual hedonist gives into his desires and pretends it is okay.
The sexual moralist gives into his desires and pretends he is okay.
Unfortunately the world only sees Christians as “sexual moralists.” And perhaps we have fed that image by focusing so much on preserving traditional sexual ethics in our society, by being so involved in political issues and debates. This is a difficult road for most Christians to walk as we live in a nation that calls its citizens to political involvement and freedom of speech.
How do you not say anything when a whole culture slides toward the deceptive lure of sexual freedom and the destruction of the stability of the family?
But as Christians involved in the public square we must always remember that it is a fine line between upholding the God-designed beauty and sanctity of sexuality and becoming a bunch of moralistic Pharisees.
It is a fine line between speaking the truth in love and preaching moralism in self-righteousness.
If our message as Christians is truly “good news,” then it must come from a heart that readily recognizes its own susceptibility and vulnerability to sin.
There but for the grace of God, go I.
It must be so rooted in God’s love that it doesn’t point at people but rather points them to the hope and healing that are only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus alone has power over sin and over death.
And it must be tied to a local body of believers that is vulnerable enough to admit sin and vigilant enough to help battle sin in community together.
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).
I weep for Josh Duggar. I weep for his family. And I weep for those who will use his story to justify their own indulgence in sin.
His story is not a cause for selfish celebration but rather sober reflection.
Sin is an enemy that I cannot fight on my own.
That’s why I need a power greater than my own.
And His name is still Jesus…despite what His followers may do.