Grace is an interesting notion. There are few things more scandalous than the grace of Jesus Christ and we are to mimic our Savior’s grace, be quick to forgive those who sin against us, and not allow the sun to go down on our anger. I know this train of thought all too well. Growing up in the evangelical church, we are trained by well-meaning preachers that everyone falls short of the glory of God and that all sin is equal in the sight of God.
This is all good until evils against humanity hit us personally.
If we have never been abused, it is easier for us to offer grace to an abuser. If we have never been impacted by murder, it is easier for us to forgive a murderer. We take Jesus’ words and we blend them altogether until there is no clear line anymore. Hate and murder are the same exact sin, right? Lust and adultery are the same, right? I mean, sin is sin, right? We encourage one another to let go of our sense of justice to extend grace swiftly; grace that is often not ours to give in the first place.
Yesterday, “19 Kids and Counting” star, Josh Duggar was exposed again for the second time this year. He was caught having an account on “Ashley Madison,” a website designed to help people cheat on their spouses.
Several months ago it came out that Josh Duggar had sexually molested female children when he was a teenager. Two of the girls that Duggar molested were his own sisters (one who was only 5-years-old when it happen). His extremely conservative parents covered up the abuse when it happen, but it came out anyways. As the world bickered back and forth, I knew I had to take a stand as a new blogger. I chose to stand on the side of the victims and received criticism from some of my Christian peers.
One person wrote me and told me that we must heed the Apostle Paul’s words and forgive Josh, lest he be overcome with grief. He stated 2 Corinthians 2:7: “Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” The reasoning was that Josh apologized so the church should simply forgive him and take him back into our arms right away. I was very concerned with this approach, even with the backing of the Bible. I wondered how it would make the girls who were abused feel. I worried they were being silenced or forgotten too quickly. I was concerned Josh’s repentance was not genuine, but forced because he got caught.
As I surfed the internet I ran into a video of Josh’s sisters (who were abused by him) excusing him for molesting them with statements such as “we were so young” and “we don’t even remember it too well.” Christians seemed to welcome the girls speaking up with an attitude of, “See everyone, the girls are alright.” I had my doubts that they were alright and I still do. I believe that the Duggar girls have grown up in a culture that has them convinced that men can rule over their bodies, hearts, and minds and that is OK.
I believe that Jesus offers forgiveness to those who repent; even those who sexually abuse children and cheat on their wives, but to ignore the damage of extreme fundamentalism and patriarchy in the Duggar home is to allow this to happen to other girls and women. The Duggars subscribe to a way of thinking that enables men to do as they wish to women without consequences. Josh Duggar is not just a young guy with a “sex problem;” he is a young guy who is fully OK with preaching extreme views in public to further his name within his circle, while living a completely opposing lifestyle.
It seems clear to me throughout the gospels that Jesus stood with the marginalized and I would consider victims to be marginalized. I cannot imagine the pain and frustration the Duggar family is going through, but when we are quick to extend grace (which is not even ours to give), we send a very loud message to the world that says, “Being a child molester, cheating on your wife, and being a huge hypocrite is OK as long as you repent because Jesus’ grace.” We then wonder why the world often despises Christians. We are quick to get our hands dirty for certain causes such as fighting against LGBT issues and abortion, but we forget about victims as long as “the man of God” says he repented.
Where is our sense of justice and truth?
We cannot continue to stand on the side of the perpetrators whether they repented or not. Yes, pray for their souls and hope that Jesus restores their lives and breaks sickness off of them, but use your public voice and social influence to stand beside victims first. When we try to stand by both the victim and the abuser, we end up looking double minded and we confuse those who are watching us. Our Christian testimony depends on us choosing to stand up for what is right.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed… -Isaiah 1:17
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