I don’t typically respond to trending topics on Facebook. It’s usually because I don’t care, or I’m embarrassed that I care, or I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I like people to like me. Too much.
But this Duggar family uproar is too much. It is really too much.
Jesus forgives me, and I’ve moved on, so I don’t need to face earthly justice.
Folks, this is not biblical. Perhaps Josh Duggar is truly repentant, and perhaps he truly isn’t subject to those predilections anymore. I have no idea. But it is not okay to wait for the statute of limitations to run out before you confess your sins.
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:13-17
The Christian thing to do would be to turn yourself in to face justice in the courts, not run off to work with a family friend, and then tell a shady state trooper about it when you come back, and keep the whole thing under wraps as much as possible. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to learn this about your son; I hope that I would do the right thing, but I can’t guarantee it. However, my sympathy for grieving parents and a likely terrified kid doesn’t change right and wrong. It is WRONG purposefully evade justice.
Forgiveness is personal. It goes from the wronged person to the perpetrator, from God to the sinner.
The courts deal in justice. Earthly justice. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to escape earthly consequences of sin just because we are sorry, and God forgives us. We are to submit to the governing authorities, unless they mandate that we sin. Can you imagine what would happen if all anyone had to do to get out of jail time was to say he was sorry, and Jesus forgave him? That would be wrong.
Yet we are closing ranks around the Duggars because… because why? Because the apology actually sounded like a real apology (It really does sound like deep regret, none of this non-apology “I’m sorry if you feel that…” nonsense)? Because the people in charge at the time “dealt” with it? Because they’re the most famous Christians we have, so we’d better present a united front?
I’m not shocked by the Duggars’ handling of this sin. (Yes, SIN. It was not a mistake. Call it what it is, for the love, especially when you are apologizing.) I might think they did it all wrong, but it doesn’t surprise me. Like I said, I can’t imagine what I would do as a parent in this situation.
But fellow Christians, we should not be rushing to comfort the perpetrator after he slips under the radar just long enough to escape the consequences. Let me be clear: Eternal consequences are God’s business; nothing is too big for him to forgive. But he commands us to obey the earthly law (and at the time that Peter was written, let’s not forget we’re talking about Christians under Roman law). Obedience to earthly law elevates God and his mercy; it does not diminish it. We do not glorify God by pretending sin is just a really bad mistake.
We glorify God by calling sin what it is and praising his ability to forgive even the most vile manifestations of it. But their actions do not “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people [or non-foolish people].” This looks a lot more like using freedom as a cover-up for evil.
------------------------------ Edit: I realized after I wrote this that this might come out too much on the OTHER side of things. I have… certain opinions about the Duggars and their theology, but that aside, they are my Christian brothers and sisters. The personal issues of forgiveness and repentance are between them, the victims, and their church leaders (if they have such a network of accountability; I’m not sure). People who profess repentance and appear to be repentant should be taken at their word (although I don’t think I would have Josh Duggar babysit my children; forgiveness should not be conflated with stupidity). We shouldn’t shun people for this, especially when we know so little of the details. I am talking about the way we tend to view professing Christians who have done terrible things and equated the forgiveness of God with escape from legal justice.