Josh Duggar, Christian Celebrities and Misguided Choices of Idols

So here we go again. Another Christian celebrity is in the spotlight for something, and the Christian army is going to war to fight for him.

Josh Duggar, one of the “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC, was investigated in 2006 for inappropriately touching minors when he was a teenager. In Touch magazine reported it recently. It was all over Twitter. It was all over television. It was a big deal.

In a statement of response, Duggar said:

I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.

The response from the Internet was vitriolic, blasting Duggar, his family and TLC for covering it up. The network has since pulled the show from its schedule.

Of course, the Christians had to come save the day. Mike Huckabee, in a Facebook post:

Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.

There’s more, but I want to say what most people aren’t going to say about this. A couple things.

First, Christians betray their self-proclaimed “moral high ground” by supporting Duggar and bashing every other celebrity who does something bad.

The guy that comes to mind first for me is Justin Bieber. Oh how many Christians I’ve heard that have very negative things to say about Bieber and every other young guy that has made a fool of himself in public. “He’s a terrible role model for the children!” “What a shame and a disgrace!” When we get so defensive about Duggar and his actions and refuse to offer others the same type of second change we’ve given him, there’s an incredible hypocrisy.

And I think it’s a symptom of Christianity in general. If it’s a Christian who’s repented and their life has changed, it’s OK! He’s changed, so there’s nothing to worry about. But if the person is still in the middle of the issue, BASH BASH BASH. We refuse to let grace and the possibility of grace permeate every situation. We’re forgiving of Christians we agree with and unforgiving of everybody else. We hesitate to give the benefit of the doubt.

Jesus loves Josh Duggar just as much as he loves Justin Bieber, Robert Downey Jr., and Michael Phelps, all celebrities who have been in trouble with the law, whether or not they have professed any connection to Jesus.

Second, Josh Duggar is just like every other Christian out there. He’s messed up. And he still is. We shouldn’t idolize him.

A lot of the Christian blogosphere will probably tell you – and rightly so – that Duggar is an example of the power of Christ to change someone and that mainstream society just doesn’t get the Gospel. And they’re right.

But what they won’t talk about is that Duggar is a Christian who has done some bad things in his past and still does. I don’t know him. I’ve never watched the show. I’ve never thought twice about watching the show. OK, maybe I did once. But I’m pretty darn sure that he’s not the best poster child for Christianity. Here’s the thing: there is no poster child for Christianity except the one who lay in a manger over 2,000 years ago. That’s the problem when we prop up sinful people as our idols. Jesus is the only idol we should have.

As human nature, it seems that we are searching for people to look up to. That’s why we follow people on Twitter, buy their books, listen to what they have to say, watch their movies/TV shows/sermons/messages/music videos, etc. But our idols are often the wrong ones. And situations like this expose our flaws in choosing our idols. Can we look up to people? Yes. But we should never see any man as the pinnacle of Christian obedience. And anyone who paints themselves as such is lying.

So before you rush out to defend Duggar, please keep these things in mind. And maybe perhaps I don’t need to be so cynical. If he’s a Christian, he is forgiven. He is loved. He is a new creation in Christ. And the Gospel is so unbelievable to society that they do miss it.

But let’s try to treat everyone the same. Just like Jesus did.


Finding a Different Way to Speak in a World Full of Hot Takes

As a journalism major, I find shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to be quite entertaining and fascinating. Stewart makes his living off of accurately mocking mainstream media (mainly the Christian news junkie’s best friend, Fox News), while Oliver’s in-depth reporting and willingness to tackle serious topics gives him an edge over many real reporters. In all, I find any type of journalism and writing to be interesting to study and analyze.

For instance, in the sports realm. If you’re a good friend of mine who has any interest in sports, it’s likely that I’ve complained to you about the poor quality of the majority of ESPN’s reporting these days. ESPN (which stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) has resorted in most channels (pun unintended) to shoddy reporting and terrible talking heads. Their 30 for 30 documentaries and in-depth reporting are usually stellar, but those are done away from the lens of the 24-hour sports news cycle. And Grantland, technically an ESPN imprint run by long-time ESPN employee Bill Simmons, is mostly independent and probably the best sports analysis website out there.


This just might be one of my favorite things ever.

From my analysis, the majority of journalism is based around what is called the “hot take.” There’s no dictionary definition to this term, but a pretty concise one is this: “An opinion based on simplistic moralizing rather than actual thought” (kudos to Urban Dictionary for that).

A simple look at Twitter can give you a litany of hot takes from just this last day. An example: Skip Bayless, ESPN commentator, on the Oklahoma City Thunder missing the playoffs: “Good night, Russell Westbrook, Enjoy your scoring title. Your 43-shot loss at Indy, turning teammates into bystanders, did in your team.” Another example: Mike Huckabee, likely 2016 COP Presidential hopeful on our current president: “.@BarackObama acts with far more accommodation to the Iranians than he does the Israelis and that makes no sense to me.” The idea is you take something and immediately justify or condemn it without really giving a lot of good, solid evidence. Bayless is a pro at these and makes his money off of them. Politicians and political analysts are also pretty good at them.

Christians ain’t half bad at this either. Usually Chrisitan hot takes revolve around some event in popular culture or a political speech and finding some way to relate it back to the Gospel or some form of “our country is in shambles, we need a change.” Remember all the hoopla around 50 Shades of Gray a couple months ago and how many blog posts were around that?

Admittedly, I’ve written a few what could be considered “hot takes” myself. I counted four, and they’re all linked here:

So before I give a hot take on hot takes, I want you guys to be aware that I’ve done this too.

Something bothers me about hot takes. Especially when they come from Christians. It’s almost like we need to have some big event happen to actually talk about the things they bring up. We don’t normally talk as freely and as often about pornography as we did when 50 Shades of Gray was coming out. And often these hot takes come in a quick response, without really thinking through the issue, without really processing what the root problem is in each of these situations.

But that’s a problem in Christianity, isn’t it? We see a surface-level problem and we throw Scripture and grace and the Gospel at it and say, “Well, we’ve done our job.” Gay marriage, abortion, pornography, addiction relapse, misapplication of Bible verses. We give our thoughts on social media and blogs and at the Christian water cooler (the church lobby/vestibule/narthex/insert-your-church’s-word-here) and think we’ve done our Christian duty by “speaking truth into” a situation or event.

An example: one of the more popular guys who do this is Matt Walsh, and you can check out his writings here. I’ve read some of the things he’s written, and I tend to agree with most of the things he says. But like most Christians, he falls far short. As do I a lot of the time.

There’s good to this. We do need to be aware that porn is bad and that sin is sin, etc. But most of these “hot takes” are just scratches on the surface.

If you look at Jesus’ ministry, He never gave hot takes. Some examples:

  • On murder: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:21-22).
  • On adultery: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
  • On love: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:43-47).
  • Also, just about every parable He told.

Jesus cared much more about the heart of a person, much more about the heart of the issue. Was He ultimately concerned that the chief priests were having their personal prayer time in front of other people? No. He was concerned that people weren’t being humble and honest in their prayer lives. Was He ultimately concerned that they showed that they were pretty obviously fasting by the disfiguration of their faces? No. He was concerned that people would fast for God’s glory alone, not for man’s. Jesus got down to the heart of the issue.

But wait. Isn’t that what hot takers are doing? Aren’t they getting to the root?

Yes and no. Most hot takes, Christian or otherwise, moralize something really quickly for the benefit of getting a quick post out while the topic is still relevant. There’s little to no time given to really consider the deeper implications of an issue. We point to the issues in America and with the secular people and with the Democrats instead of looking at ourselves and saying, “What’s wrong with us? What part of the Bible are we not believing in our own lives that relates to this topic?” I’m all for writing about current events and relating it to what it means to follow Christ. But what concerns me is that we’re just echoing the world by how we handle issues and not really looking at the real deep hurts and issues that are going on.

MV5BMjE1MTM4NDAzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMwNjI0MzE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Like the example of 50 Shades I gave earlier: we condemn pornography soundly, but do we take the time to lovingly and gracious way those in our midst who are struggling with it?

Take the Osteens example. Are we taking the time to genuinely pray out of love for those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ (as I believe the Osteens are) and ask that they would grow in their understanding of God and realizing where they’re misstepping? Are we praying the same thing for ourselves?

The nine-day Duck Dynasty fiasco in 2013 when Phil Robertson got suspended temporarily for comments he made in GQ: Are we as obtuse and rude in dismissing people who make comments we disagree with as A&E were with Phil Robertson?

I don’t know for sure, but I feel like that’s how Jesus would have handled those things. He would have taken them as teaching moments, yes, but to tell us something about ourselves, not about the world. The world shouldn’t surprise us anymore with how they handle things. The question is: are we handling them the same way, and is that really helpful?