I know almost nothing about the Duggar family.
I know that there exists a family called the Duggars, that they have quite a lot of children, and that they had a television show at some point. I know that they are known for being Christians, and that it was recently made known that one of their children, named Josh, did some absolutely deplorable things when he was young.
Before yesterday, that’s honestly all I knew. If you had asked me my opinion of the Duggar family, I would have shrugged and said I didn’t have one.
As of yesterday I also know that Josh Duggar is, in his own words, “The biggest hypocrite ever.” You’ve likely heard that while he was the executive director of an organization called The Family Research Council, he maintained an active account with a company called Ashley Madison, a company that exists to help married people have affairs.
Awful. Beyond awful.
I’m certainly not going to defend him, but I also don’t see much benefit in throwing another log on the fire on Internet rage that is currently burning white hot against him.
Because here’s the thing:
If any benefit at all is going to come from a scandal like this one, it’s not going to come from calling for Josh Duggar’s head. What he did is inexcusable, and he will likely suffer greatly for it. He has risen to positions of great influence, and that influence is almost certainly gone forever because he chose to live a lie. He was a hypocrite.
But there is something we like to ignore when we read about scandals like this:
The seeds of hypocrisy exist within each and every one of us.
The seeds of hypocrisy that grew inside Josh Duggar into a full-blown double life exist in each and every one of us.
And it’s up to us whether we are going to let them grow, or continually work to uproot them.
Even as we gawk at this latest revelation that a public figure was not who they claimed to be, we are in grave danger if we suppose that hypocrisy was a problem for Josh Duggar but it’s not a problem for you and for me.
Yesterday as I read about Mr. Duggar, I used it as an opportunity to examine the state of my own heart.
One of the strongest values I hold to is transparency. Whether I’m having coffee with a friend or talking into a microphone in front of 1000 people, I’m committed to telling people the truth, and saying only what I believe. I’m committed to representing myself honestly and accurately. Perhaps more importantly, I’m committed to being the same person when no one is around as I am when lots of eyes are on me.
But that doesn’t mean the seeds of hypocrisy don’t exist within me.
And so I take specific measures in an effort to ensure there is no room for hypocrisy to grow in my heart.
-I have men in my life who know they can ask me any question at any time.
-My wife has the password for all of my email addresses and social media accounts. I don’t know that she’s ever felt the need to “check on me”, but she knows she can log into those accounts at any time for any reason and read whatever she wants without asking me first. She knows I have nothing to hide.
-If I have anything more than a passing conversation with a female I make sure my wife knows who that female is.
-I value and protect my relationship with God, making sure that I am delighting in him above all else. I earnestly believe that delighting in God is one of the greatest ways we can crush hypocrisy.
And there are a handful of other safeguards and standards that I hold myself to.
But I still know the fight against hypocrisy is a daily fight.
I know all the safeguards in the world ultimately will not protect me if I’m not committed to the daily fight against hypocrisy. I know that, if left unchecked, the seeds of hypocrisy can and will grow in my heart, and when those seeds grow they lead people to places they never thought they’d go.
The choices Josh Duggar made are tragic, and the impact those choices will have on his family is tragic. My heart breaks for his wife and his children. There is grace and forgiveness at the cross of Jesus Christ for the worst of sinners, and I sincerely hope Josh finds it.
And for the rest of us, may we not simply use this scandal as an opportunity to point the finger at some else’s sin.
May it be an opportunity to look inside ourselves. May it be an opportunity to commit ourselves to being the sorts of people who get to celebrate 40th wedding anniversaries, and raise kids who respect us, and love people in a way that they don’t have to question our motives.
So I’m begging you, let this tragedy be an opportunity to look inside yourself, and be honest. Are you letting the seeds of hypocrisy grow? Have you allowed hypocrisy to find room in your heart?
Those seeds can grow at an alarming rate, but if we are willing to receive it, God grants us the grace to uproot them.