The putrid stench retching our stomachs as we read the latest revelation about Josh Duggar disturbs because he was JUST LIKE US.
It stems not from shock, because come on, everyone watching that show knew there was something not quite right about the eldest brother…
…and not from revulsion, because let’s face it, we see more disgusting things on our evening television shows…
…no, that stench of filth in our nostrils is the scent of familiarity.
Oh Josh. What a sad story. My prayers and deep compassion go out to him and his family. Reality television shows tend to ruin families. Until now, my exception has been the Duggars. They are just as chaotic and messed up as the rest of us. An article I read drew a line from the Josh Duggar scandal, through the conservative Christian culture I grew up in, how teens are supposed to dress and kiss dating goodbye, and directly into our lives. It could go further.
About 15 years ago it became popular within the Christian community to look and behave a certain way. We figured out how the people who seemed to love Jesus looked and behaved. Then, we began to imitate those behaviors honestly believing those behaviors would create the love of Jesus in our hearts. This popularity dictated what we are supposed to wear, what we are supposed to say, how we date, and where we spend our Sundays. Not unique to our teen years, how many of us model our scarves and skinny jeans after the worship leader? This is our culture.
Friends, looking and acting in the popular manner does not create a Jesus-focused life. A Jesus-focused life permeates to influence how we look and act.
We must engage the hearts we are raising more than we engage the hemline. Goodness, we should be talking about generosity and compassion as much as purity. Why? We talk about purity like it looks a certain way, while we talk about compassion like it is a heart issue. Isn’t our contemporary culture destroying the concept of purity? Yes, of course it is. We live in a sinful world. But teaching our girls purity by asking them to be more conscious of their clothes lest they tempt some young man is not making them a better person or a better Christian. After the shame, it is teaching them how to manipulate their culture into thinking they are something they may not be – just like it taught us.
In defense of our parents, they were doing the best they could do. We are adults now and must own this. We focused so hard and so long on looking good we ignored the condition of our hearts. Perhaps not always, but enough. We whitewashed our tombs and gentrified our corpses. As we age we realize any part of our heart not fully surrendered to Jesus stinks of inauthenticity and manipulation.
Because we got good at it, friends.
We followed the rules. We learned we can bend rules (and people) without quite breaking them. We learned to manipulate situations without anyone noticing. We learned how to look good and have a clean reputation.
No one will find out for a while.
But then a Christian neighbor and community leader is caught with a membership to an adulterous website.
A worship leader admits to an affair with a band mate’s wife.
A pastor steps down amid allegations of abuse.
Or all of the sudden, we are trafficking another mother’s baby and calling it international adoption.