Josh Duggar is having a bad week.
Up till now, he had no doubt assumed his prior transgressions – molesting young girls, including his sisters – would stay swept under the rug. And that he could therefore continue his “ministry” with the Family Research Council, warning society of the dangers homosexuals pose to our children. Oh, the irony.
There’s no point in rehashing the story, which has been all over the news this week. The critical point I want to bring up is this: The Duggar family believes they handled the situation because Josh confessed and apologized to his victims, repented of his sin, and has been forgiven by God. He was thereafter considered safe, and allowed to remain in the home with his younger sisters.
Meanwhile, in my own state of North Carolina, a private school principal is being sued by a parent. Joan Dayton of Freedom Christian Academy apparently knowingly allowed a registered sex offender to work as a janitor at the school.
This was discovered when then-teacher Tammy Wallace plugged the school’s zip code into a sex offender registry search in preparation for a class on internet safety, and the first name to pop up was the man in question – the husband of another teacher. According to the newspaper account:
When Wallace asked Dayton if she was aware that laws prohibited sex offenders on campus, Dayton replied, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. He is a reformed man. I know him personally.”
She claimed Conner was wrongly accused and had “come to God,” the affidavit says.
At my own church, there was a young man who acted inappropriately to some of the kids being picked up on the church bus. He claimed to have a “burden” for one young teen boy in particular, and would spend the bus ride to church praying in tongues for the boy, while running his hand up and down the boys thigh. Seriously, I personally witnessed this. The bus ministry director wouldn’t let me kick him off the bus until the parents complained that the young man was starting to drive by their house constantly, watching the kids outside playing. In other words, acting like a creepy stalker.
The Pastor also wouldn’t ban this young man from attending church, only from participating in any ministry involving children, and he wasn’t supposed to be on the church property while the church school was in session. He was, however, allowed to attend church services in hopes that God could fix him. Which meant that he was in the men’s bathroom when young boys were in there. My own children were told in no uncertain terms that if he was in the restroom they were to wait till he left, and if he ever so much as spoke to them they were to tell me immediately. Fortunately for him, he never did.
Eventually he went to jail for molesting another young teen boy. Lucky for the church it didn’t happen there or to anyone connected.
Does Forgiveness Mean It Didn’t Happen?
According to Christian doctrine, once you repent of a sin and God forgives you, He forgets it happened. It is tossed into the “sea of forgetfulness.” (Micah 7:19). “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” says Psalm 103:12.
That may be true in the eyes of God, but what about in the eyes of Josh Duggar’s sisters? Or the victims of the janitor at Freedom Christian Academy? Is their suffering erased as well? Or is it only erased from relevance?
Atheists and Agnostics are understandably very skeptical of this doctrine, often comparing it to a “get out of jail free” card. In their minds it’s a license to misbehave, because you bear no responsibility for anything you do if all you have to do is say you’re sorry.
This doctrine becomes dangerous in the hands of people like Jim and Michelle Duggar, who waited an entire year after discovering what their son was doing before they told anyone about it. And thought they could deal with the problem in-house. There’s no getting around the fact that they pressured their daughters to “forgive” their abuser-brother. Imagine Mom and Dad sitting you down and saying we’re going to pray for your brother, he knows he was wrong and he’s sorry, now what do you say to him? What choice do you really have as a young girl – especially considering how the Duggars treat their girls to start with.
Meanwhile, Conservative types like Mike Huckabee are sticking by Josh, for the same reason: God forgave him, so it no longer matters. Huckabee issued this statement today (emphasis mine):
Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.
So, lets get this straight: In the eyes of people like Mike Huckabee and other Right-wing, conservative Christians (Note: I’m not saying ALL Christians here) ANY homosexual is a potential child molester who should never be allowed to adopt children, or have equal rights because it “endangers our children.” Yet admitted child molesters like Josh Duggar, the Christian school janitor in my home state, and countless others ARE ok because they’ve come to God and repented.
Right. That makes total sense.