Sunday, August 30, 2015

Why Christians Should Not Give Josh Duggar a Free Pass

Below is a Facebook Note I posted on August 21, 2015, which I thought was worth posting here as well.  Also included is a link to the CNN coverage concerning Josh Duggar's fall from grace, so to speak.

I've been reading some of the comments in the wake of Joshua Duggar's ongoing and public fall, and I've been surprised and dismayed by how many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have been trying to defend his actions.

I want to say, as clearly as possible, that Josh Duggar should be held accountable for his actions. He broke the law. He broke the trust of those closest to him. And while he worked to marginalize whole groups of people for their choices and understanding of relationship (the LGBTQ community) in a democratic society, he secretly and hypocritically undermined his own publicly-stated understanding of relationship. Especially as a public figure, he should be held accountable.

I am a Christian, and while I believe Jesus lived and taught forgiveness, he also lived and taught justice (especially for the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the abused). Our theology should not divorce the two.

And one should not seek forgiveness just to avoid consequences, as public apologies often aim to do. A genuine appeal to forgiveness cannot deflect from the issue, but should fully engage the injustice done. Also, forgiveness is not just a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for those afraid of what may happen after death. And I believe Gehenna just isn't a far-off, supernatural hell of flame and smoke, waiting in the future. It is the consequence of broken relationship and destroyed trust, both here and now and the resulting damage that ripples through the ages, long after those who committed the betrayal are gone. It is the gulf of bitter separation we create between us and God, each other, and creation.

Instead, the purpose of forgiveness is to restore relationship and to begin the reparation of the damage caused by betrayal, but the victim of any injustice should never be compelled to forgive. If we really believe Christ redeems human beings, then we must also agree that he does so freely, and without compulsion. Likewise, if we claim to follow Christ, then we cannot expect or force others to forgive out of compulsion.

There are many who have been hurt both by Joshua Duggar's political work, and by his personal betrayal. Those who would forgive him, must do so in their own time, and have every right to grieve the injustice done to them. Since Josh Duggar's apologies have only been issued after he was caught, it is only natural to doubt the authenticity of his words.

We may desire the restoration of people and relationships, but true restoration cannot happen without acknowledging and correcting injustice. In this case, molestation of his sisters who trusted him, the betrayal of his spouse who also trusted him, and the marginalization of large groups under guise of civic law, definitely qualifies as injustice.

P.S. I also think the particular homeschooling method the Duggars use is complete bunk. There, I said it. :) #DuggarScandal #JoshDuggar

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