Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Can't Forgive Josh Duggar

I can’t forgive Josh Duggar. As you may know, Josh Duggar issued a statement admitting to viewing pornography and to marital infidelity. (The statement about pornography was later removed.) This was on the heels of the data from the Ashley Madison website revealing that Josh Duggar had paid a significant amount of money for access to the site. The news media and the pro-homosexuality crowd were quick to jump, saying, “And these are the people who criticize us for gay marriage.” Their quickness cause some people to question why they had singled him out when there are thousands of other people, and likely other second string celebrities who are in that data. It doesn’t a matter why they latched onto him so quickly, the fact is, they did. And who can blame them? Here is a Baptist who is going around telling people that their sin is wrong, while doing things that are equally sinful. We may say, “A Christian is just a sinner who has been forgiven,” but a lost person hears that and sees a double standard. It confuses those we are trying to reach with the gospel, but that’s not why I can’t forgive Josh Duggar.

That was the reason I didn’t want to forgive him, but not the reason I can’t. When saw his request for forgiveness but also saw lost people pointing out his hypocrisy, I wondered, do we really want to tell the world that their sin is bad, but it’s okay for Christians to sin, as long as they apologize when they get caught? It doesn’t seem like a thing to tell people, but Jesus was clear in Matthew 6:14-15 on the subject of forgiveness. God will only forgive us if we forgive others.

(As an aside, I think it’s interesting that in Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus tells them to fast in secret, not letting people know they are fasting. Wouldn’t it be great if when the world went looking for Christian secrets, instead of finding infidelity, they found a man kneeling in a prayer closet, fasting?)

But if God calls us to forgive, why can’t I forgive Josh Duggar? Because I have nothing to forgive him for. I suppose we could talk about the harm done to society and such, but he didn’t harm me. The Bible talks about forgiving men their trespasses. Jesus said that if a brother sins against you and comes and says, “I repent,” forgive him. Well, Josh Duggar has said the equivalent of “I repent,” but he didn’t sin against me, so I can’t forgive him.

So, who can forgive him? The scribes and Pharisees believed that God alone could forgive sins (Luke 5:21). There is truth to that, because we have no authority to tell God what sins he has to punish. Jesus revealed that he is God by proving his authority to forgive sin (Luke 5:24). But we don’t have that authority. If we did, we could heal people by forgiving them. Look what Jesus did in Luke 5. We seem to think that Jesus didn’t heal the man with palsy until he said, “Rise, take up they bed and walk,” but that’s not what it says. Jesus first said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” but the Pharisees told him he couldn’t do that. So, Jesus told the man to show them what had just happened. True forgiveness of sin removes the punishment of sin. Only Jesus, who carried our sins to the cross, can remove the punishment of sin, because he experienced that punishment for us.

To a lesser degree, there are people who can forgive Josh Duggar, though I cannot. His wife can forgive him for what he has done to her. His children can forgive him for what he has done to them. His church can forgive him. Will they? Should they? That depends on a number of things, none of which I have sufficient knowledge of to answer.

It’s a little bit like judging. People think that we are judging them if we tell them that what they are doing is wrong. But judgment involves determining the penalty for a person’s crime, not just deciding whether a crime has taken place. If someone admits they’ve done something, whether it is adultery, or homosexual acts, or taking a cookie from the cookie jar without permission, it isn’t judgement to say they did something wrong. But knowing that what they did is wrong doesn’t mean we have the authority to judge them. The penalty for stealing a cookie may be a spanking, but if it isn’t my kid or my cookie jar, it isn’t for me to decide.

I can’t forgive Josh Duggar, but I will encounter people who question why Christians are criticizing homosexuality while being unfaithful to their wives. When Christians do stuff like this, it muddies the water, but it happens. The lost world should be able to look at Christians and see something different, something strange, not just people who are more practiced at hiding their sin. If Josh Duggar is saved, then the Lord has already forgiven him, but that doesn’t mean things will be allowed to continue has they have been. We should have no reservations about using Josh Duggar’s activities as an example of sin. We should not defend those actions just because he says he is a Christian. Our message should be no different. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lying, stealing, etc. are sins and those who commit them are worthy of the flames of hell, but the blood of Jesus makes it possible for anyone who puts their trust in him to be forgiven. It is still sin if a Christian does it and them asking for forgiveness is no reason for me to say nothing about it, but the blood of Jesus still makes it possible for the Christian to be forgiven. And it is only the blood of Jesus that makes it possible. That’s why I can’t forgive Josh Duggar.

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