Most of you have heard the recent news regarding Joshua Duggar of the Duggar family reality TV show called 19 Kids and Counting. The news burst on the national scene when a police report was leaked that Joshua had been investigated for molesting under-age girls when he was 14. There is a lot we don’t know, but this we do know. While I have never been a watcher of this reality TV show, there is an issue here which most of the public debate is over-looking.
a) Some in the media, especially supporters of gay rights, have used this situation to call the Duggars hypocrites for opposing gay marriage and gay rights, while this offense is hidden in their own family.
b) Others want to excuse Joshua Duggar in that he was 14 when the offenses occurred, that this was 12 years ago, and that he has repented. Neither he nor his family have defended his behavior.
May I offer some biblical insight:
1) There is an element of hypocrisy here. Scripture warns us not to judge others when our own house is not in order. The Duggars should not be public spokesmen for Christian righteousness when they cannot govern their own home. (Matthew 7:3-5; Romans 2:1)
2) The media is equally hypocritical. They are guilty of excusing gay leaders like Harvey Milk (guilty of molesting a boy) and Barney Frank (whose live-in male partner was running a gay prostitution ring out of their apartment), et al. But they are quick to jump on an evangelical conservative when they smell blood.
But the overall riding principle here which many are missing is the fact that the Bible teaches there are some sins which do disqualify a person from public ministry. If Joshua Duggar was sincere in asking God for forgiveness, then there is no doubt in my mind that he can be forgiven and grow spiritually in his relationship and service for God.
However, this offense may limit the future usefulness for the Lord’s work of both Joshua and his family. The Apostle Paul took great care not to fall into a scandalous sin which would disqualify him from serving God. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) Sexual sins in particular put a stain on someone which may limit their future public ministry. Proverbs 6:33 says that the “reproach” of an adulterer shall not be wiped away. God can forgive a repentant adulterer. But public reproach will not be taken away in this world. People do not forget. Similarly, the Apostle Paul tells us in I Timothy 3:7 that a pastor (minister, servant of God) must have a “good testimony” of those outside the church. This does not mean he must be perfect. But they cannot be guilty of scandalous sins which make the world mock the church.
Years ago an experienced pastor friend of mine told me that a young man came to him and said, “God has called me to preach.” This pastor said, “No, He has not.” This young many had a child molestation conviction in his past. The pastor told him God can forgive you and use you – but it will not be as a minister in public. The record of that conviction would have been used against him to haunt him throughout any such public ministry. His future usefulness of God was limited by his past conduct.
We do not all expect a minister to be perfect, nor to have a completely unblemished record. We believe in redemption. But there are certain sins which limit (or even disqualify) someone from public ministry. All of us faced the temptations of hormones as we grew up – but normally in the guy-gal relationship. The idea of temptation to molest under-age girls, however, is so foreign to most of us as to be completely unacceptable behavior – even when there is later repentance. Coming from an evangelical family background, Joshua Duggar had to jump over a lot of hurdles to fall into such behavior. It will now be the first thing we think of when we think of the Duggar family. For example, what is the first thing you think of when someone mentions the name Jimmy Swaggart? Or Jim Bakker?
The Duggar family should work out their problems behind closed doors – not on a national televised reality show. Someone else can be the spokesperson for standing for family values and opposing various forms of sexual sin.
Pastor Jim Wigton