It’s official: Josh Duggar is a serial adulterer and p*rnography addict. The data unearthed in the recent hack of Ashley Madison, a subscription web service designed to facilitate extra-marital affairs, left no room for speculation. Josh has made public statements confirming his infidelities, liberally laced with appropriately shamed/repentant language. Of course, whether he means a word of it remains for his wife and immediate family to see.
I wrote an article back when the first Duggar scandal broke a couple months ago. I criticized people who praised public school sex ed and said the homeschooling culture cultivated sexual repression, which led directly to Josh’s molesting his sisters. Whatever else you may think about how the Duggars handled the situation, to blame the whole thing on homeschooling and hold up public school sex culture as an enlightened alternative was laughable. However, I did strongly question the wisdom of starting a reality TV show in such a dysfunctional context, and I wasn’t necessarily on board with the particular ATI brand of sex ed curriculum the family used. But I was prepared to forgive them and to forgive a (seemingly) repentant Josh, now nearly twice the age he was then and with a family of his own. And I still firmly believe that it would not have been better for the family to be torn apart and dragged through the mud in the immediate aftermath of Josh’s crimes.
However, while I still have great sympathy for the Duggar family and now for Josh’s own immediate family, I have not one iota of sympathy left for Josh himself. Without going into details, the data from Ashley Madison shows that he was prepared to experiment with the most sleazy kinds of sexual activity, tagging a laundry list of “turn-ons” in a potential sexual partner. In one chat, he said he was “looking to have a steamy affair.” He even paid a perverted kind of “warranty” fee, which guaranteed that if he didn’t get an affair in some set time period, he would get his subscription money back.
This slap in the face to Josh’s wife and family is tragically compounded by the shame Josh has brought to the Church and the name of Christ. As president of the Family Research Council, he has vocally lobbied for genuinely worthy conservative causes, like fighting the re-definition of marriage. All that work is now tainted by his involvement with it.
Tragically, Josh is not alone. In fact, he is only the most recent example of a conservative Christian political activist who has been caught living a double life.
Josh’s fall from grace comes on the heels of a story out of Michigan involving two vocal conservative politicians who have been having an affair—with each other. Their names are Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. A bizarre twist to this story is that Courser tried to concoct an elaborate cover-up scheme where an aide would start a rumor that he was misbehaving with a male prostitute. Somehow the sensational nature of this fake story was supposed to keep people from finding out that he was really just having a conventional affair. Yeah, I don’t really get it either. But once again, any noble cause to which either Courser or Gamrat had attached themselves was abruptly tainted with the smell of adultery. This included a bill Gamrat was introducing to defund Planned Parenthood, in the wake of the sting videos that have been exposing their barbaric harvesting practices. Michigan may have followed the example of a number of other states who have cut ties with the organization. Now, odds are good that it won’t. One marvels at the mingled stupidity and arrogance Gamrat’s action entailed. The stupidity of attaching her name to such a vital bill while she had this skeleton in her closet, mingled with the arrogance of her assumption that she would never be caught. You’d think she could at least have urged some other conservative politician to propose the bill, just in case.
And I never even got around to blogging about the reveal that Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and popular pastor/author/speaker, was having an affair. Granted, Tullian’s story has the tragic backdrop that his wife maintained an ongoing, unrepentant affair first, which put him in a more vulnerable position to succumb to one of his own. Obviously, this doesn’t excuse Tullian, but it does make his wife less of a victim than Mrs. Josh Duggar. While this may be controversial, I would rate Josh’s unprovoked, serial exploration of casually sleazy hook-ups higher in the catalogue of sexual sins than what seems, in Tullian’s case, to have been an emotional/sexual attachment to one particular woman. But that’s neither here nor there. Tullian also shamed his church and the Church at large and, like Josh, was rightly forced to abdicate his leadership role as a result.
These are hard pills for the body of Christ to swallow. Men we’ve admired and put on a pedestal are having their pedestals kicked out from under them as their sin finds them out. It makes us wonder who might be next.
The other night, I couldn’t sleep, and as I sometimes do when I have insomnia, I began listening to my iPod. The idea is supposed to be that this will focus and calm my mind. But sometimes it has the opposite effect, stirring ideas and creative juices. As I browsed through songs, I found an old Keith Green piece called “Summer Snow.” My favorite recording of this song is Matthew Ward’s cover of it, with Keith on piano. It’s a chilling first-person perspective on the second coming.
I can hear the echoes of the warnings I was told
That I should know that you’d be coming home.
Like summer snow, you were an unexpected sight,
A blazing sun, you came shining in the night,
When I really should have known
That you’d be coming home…
Josh Duggar, Todd Courser, and others like them have had their warnings. They have no excuse. But by the grace of God, they have one last chance, before all is engulfed in the consuming fire of the Lamb who is the Light.