Forgiveness, Sin

You Were Once Josh Duggar, Too

Update: This article was written June 5, 2015, shortly after the news broke that Josh Duggar fondled several young girls when he was a teenager. I stand by the content of this article as true and accurate to the best of my knowledge at that time. 

Yesterday (August 21, 2015), in the wake of the Ashley Madison hacking scandal, Josh Duggar confessed that he had subscribed to the web site, had been unfaithful to his wife, and had been using pornography. These are all egregious sins which have dragged the church, the traditional marriage agenda, home schooling families, Christians in general, and the precious name of Christ through the mud. While Josh has apologized publicly, the more important issue is whether or not he has truly repented before God and to his wife.

What Josh did was heinous, and we would all do well to take a lesson from him to flee from even the hint of temptation as we see its horrendous consequences. But Christians do not stop at the point of the horror of sin. We look past it and repentantly make our way to the foot of the cross seeking the mercy and forgiveness of our Savior. Praise God that the biblical principles in this article remain true, regardless of Josh’s sins – or yours or mine. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

imageThe first time I met him was in a prison where he was incarcerated for child molestation. Years later, after his release, he told me prison was the best thing that ever happened to him because that’s where, through a prison ministry, he met Jesus Christ, who graciously and radically saved him.

God can and does save child molesters. That He can change their hearts and behavior, forgive them when they repent, and make them new creatures in Christ, only serves to prove how deep and and broad and long and high and mighty His grace is to save.

I have seen first hand the life long devastation child molestation wreaks on families and individual victims. I am in favor of child molesters being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and never having unsupervised access to children again for the rest of their lives. So please do not misconstrue what I’m about to say as minimizing either the horror of the crime or the suffering of the victims.

The castigation of Josh Duggar and his parents by fellow Christians has gone on long enough and needs to stop. Disagree? Take a few minutes and listen to this interview with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar in its entirety.

This is not a blog article. It’s not third hand information from a friend of a friend of the Duggars. This is Josh’s parents speaking openly and honestly about what happened and how they handled it.

And how they handled it is:

They made clear to Josh and the rest of their family that what Josh had done was wrong and deserving of punishment.

They took Josh out of the home to keep the girls safe.

They got Josh and his sisters Christian intervention and counseling.

Not knowing what his fate might be, they took Josh to the police station – with a witness – where he confessed everything he had done.

Josh repented of his sin, asked his victims and parents for forgiveness, and subsequently trusted Christ for salvation. As far as can be determined, he has borne fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8) and has not repeated his sin.

I have a great deal of compassion for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been victims of sexual abuse, and I understand that perhaps seeing this story play out in the news has re-opened old and painful wounds and that that is why you continue to voice your strenuous dismay at this situation, but I have to ask:

What else would you have had Josh’s parents do?

They protected their girls, they got everybody counseling, and they turned Josh over to the police. (And let’s keep in mind, parents don’t have the legal authority to throw their children in jail, no matter what they’ve done. At that point, it was up to the police whether or not to arrest Josh or take other legal action, and they declined to do so.)

Put yourself in the Duggars’ shoes and consider all the actions they took. How would you – in the moment – have handled the situation better or more biblically?

But even if Jim Bob and Michelle missed a step somewhere along the way, there’s a bigger issue at stake here for Christians. Whether you like it or not (and if you don’t, I would encourage you to spend some serious time in prayer examining your heart), whatever he may have done in the past, Josh Duggar is your brother in Christ now, and so are his parents.

The same blood of Christ that covered your sins covered his, too. God took Josh’s sins and separated him from them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He dropped them in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:3). He forgave Josh’s sin and remembers it no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

Just like He did for you.

Is the blood of Christ powerful enough to save you, but not to save Josh Duggar? To forgive you, but not to forgive him? Have you forgotten the great debt which your Master forgave you, as you scream at Josh, “Pay what you owe!”? (Matthew 18:21-35) Have you forgotten that your past sins aren’t any cleaner than his?

When Christ forgives, we forgive. He has not given us the ministry of bringing up a brother’s past sins and holding them agaisnt him. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

My brothers and sisters, we were all Josh Duggar once. It’s time to forgive.