Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Duggars: Christianity and Hypocrisy

People watch the Duggars.  Even by conservative Christian standards, they're odd.  The mean girls of the world call them creepy.  Many find interest in how they pull off having and raising that many kids.  As an outside observer, it looks like they're doing pretty well, better than about 90% of America.

The Duggars are a slice of life in the Bible belt, a large demographic from which to draw viewers.  In addition to their natural audience, the secular world watches like voyeurs, imagining how much smarter and superior they are and inventing new ways to diminish all Christians by criticizing the Duggars.

The Duggar family's association with and lack of rejection of Bill Gothard alone would prevent my fellowship with them.  Even though I identify with practices of theirs, I also wish they represented the Bible in a more biblical way.  The Bible isn't prominent.  Perhaps they self-edit to please the Learning Channel or scriptural reference is cut out as a part of their contract.  What appears is a superficial, popular type of cultural conservatism with a type of Jesus silently tagging along. Wholesomeness becomes their defining quality instead of the gospel.

Whatever you think of the Duggars, they still might be the most well-known evangelical Christians in America.   Even if you wish someone else represented Christians to the world, if you are really a Christian, you can't out-and-out reject them. They are on your side.  You are with them.

The Duggars also provide a barometer to gauge the opinions of popular media about the Christian worldview.  The window into the home of the Duggars becomes a window out to those who hate them.  For a plain demonstration of the insanity of this world, consider the comparative treatment of Bruce Jenner. It was fine to report the private testimony of the Duggar girls, but you're in trouble if you refer to Bruce with a masculine pronoun.

For those who already know about the recent reproach of Josh Duggar, I'll focus on a related topic -- hypocrisy.  Antagonists say both the Duggars and their son Josh are hypocrites and among other things.  I saw an article by Piers Morgan, whose most virulent judgment on them was "hypocrisy."

Does this incident expose the Duggars as hypocrites?  If so, does their hypocrisy cause a bad testimony to the cause of Christ or to the gospel message?  Are Christians themselves just a bunch of hypocrites?  Do the Duggars just reveal the obvious hypocrisy of Christians in general?  "They're all just a bunch of hypocrites!  And that's why I'll never be a Christian!"

By many people's definition, everyone in the world is a hypocrite.  Everybody breaks their own rules. Every parent does.  They break the very regulations they require of their children.

Many liberals hold their own set of scruples for others to keep and then violate themselves. Several entire volumes document the hypocrisy of liberalism (one, two), and a whole chapter could be written about Piers Morgan.  He's a hypocrite by his own standard even in saying he's disgusted with hypocrisy.

People like Morgan don't really hate hypocrisy.  They just don't like the Duggars's standards.  They use "hypocrisy" to ridicule and slander and posture.   Morgan isn't trying to stop hypocrisy.  He seeks to eliminate the standards he doesn't approve.

Pay attention to the irony.  I will admit it has become so normal that it can't be ironic, but stick with me.  Morgan can't allow for another standard but his own, which only tolerates or accepts his standard, one he doesn't even keep himself.  This is where liberals like him really are the true fascists.

When Is Someone a Hypocrite?

Is someone a hypocrite because he believes a standard, preaches a standard, and then doesn't keep the standard?  Being a hypocrite, at least based upon the biblical understanding, is more than violating one's own standard.  A biblical standard is good. Everyone should have one.  Nobody, however, can keep one.  That doesn't make it wrong to have and promote the Bible as a standard.  The Duggars are not hypocrites for having and promoting a biblical standard and then they themselves failing at that standard.  To avoid being a hypocrite based on this less than biblical definition, one must live a sinless life.

Very often the world misdefines hypocrite and then holds professing Christians like the Duggars to its wrong definition.  It's like calling peanut butter and jelly a T-bone steak.  The joke ultimately is on the ignorant folks swinging, missing, and laughing like they hit a home run.  It's like the impostor in the marathon, who ran into the Munich stadium in the 1972 Olympics, and the fans cheered, even though he joined the race toward the end and entered the stadium before anyone else.  He didn't get a medal.

The world also shows it doesn't understand Christianity, because Christianity isn't requiring sinless perfection.   Jesus lived the perfect life and that life is acquired for a Christian by faith.  You need Jesus because you're not perfect.

The concept of "hypocrite" in our culture comes from the Bible and Jesus applies it only to the Pharisees.  What made the Pharisees "hypocrites"?  In what way the Pharisees were said to be hypocritical is what it means to be hypocritical.

To grasp hypocrisy, you should understand two identifying marks to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. First, the Pharisees expected people to keep rules they didn't expect themselves to keep.  They didn't hold themselves to their own standard, and I'm not talking about sinless perfection, but just in general they weren't doing what they were telling others to do.  Then when they got caught doing what they weren't supposed to do, they didn't admit it.  They didn't confess it.  If you pointed it out, like Jesus did, they might kill you.   Second, the Pharisees were self-righteous. They depended on their own works, their own deeds or behavior, for their own salvation.  They had to be perfect and they weren't, and yet they posed like they were.  Expecting everyone to be perfect, when they weren't -- that was their hypocrisy.

Are these two above characteristics of the Pharisees' hypocrisy also characteristic of Christians?  I don't believe that hypocrisy characterizes biblical Christianity because Christianity isn't like the religion of the Pharisees.   A Christian can by a hypocrite, but true Christianity isn't by nature hypocritical, and I'll show the difference.

The world usually calls Christians hypocritical when they're in trouble for doing something wrong or they find out that some Christian was already in trouble for doing something.  When Christians sin, they don't have to tell the whole world they've sinned.  That's not a requirement of Christianity.  If no one else knows, they confess it to God.  Christianity attempts to keep it to the smallest number of people knowing.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  Heard that before?  However, the reason Christians are in trouble for sinning is because they are expected to keep the standard, the Bible.

True Christianity admits sin.  It says, "I don't keep the standard and I can't keep it.  I want to, but I can't."  It isn't self-righteous like the Pharisees. Christians admit they sin.  Christians try not to sin. They are looking not to sin, but they are not depending on their own perfection for salvation.  They depend on Jesus for salvation.  They depend on Jesus for salvation because they know they are sinners and they sin.

I watched the Duggar interview with Megyn Kelly, because the whole thing is online.  I wasn't surprised by the interview.  It's about how I thought things would go.  I believe the Duggars.  They looked genuine and sincere to me.  They weren't saying it wasn't bad.  They were just putting it all in perspective, something the world didn't do, because it hates the Duggars.  Hates them.

Josh Duggar broke the standard the Duggars hold for him and their family.  Josh Duggar obviously knew he had broken it, because he turned himself in.  The girls didn't turn him in. He admitted he was wrong.  That, my friend, is not being a hypocrite.  When you admit you were wrong, that's not being a hypocrite.  I'm guessing that the Duggars did not report every aspect of their punishment of Josh, but they did report that he was punished.  They did something about it.  They did not report him to the police right away.  If he wasn't punished, by turning himself in, the world wouldn't even be reporting on it right now.

As a brief aside, we should consider the idea of turning something into the police.  Are the police trustworthy?  Many liberals say, "No."  They use terms like "police state," and "racist cops."  Should anyone trust these police?  You can't have it both ways.  You can't say, "Don't trust the police," and then "turn yourself into the police."  What happens then?  They finally did trust the police and turned Josh in, but the man who listened to his confession, it turns out, liked looking at child pornography, and served prison time later for it.  The police reports, depended upon to expose the Duggars, come from these same police.  As you now know, the police chief violated the law in handing over this sealed, private information about a juvenile offender and his victims.  The selective outrage reeks of, yes, hypocrisy, and in the truest sense of the word.

You don't have to publish your sins to the world to avoid being a hypocrite.  You might not tell everyone about your worst behavior, because you are ashamed of it.  Christians are against what Josh Duggar did, which is why he didn't want everyone to know about it.  He's afraid that, if people find out, they'll think he's a hypocrite.  He believes the behavior is wrong, which is why he'd rather keep it private.  He confessed it to his parents, to church leaders, and finally to a state police officer.  He is not promoting his worst behavior, because he thinks it is wrong.  The Duggars think it is wrong.  That is not hypocrisy.  It is the opposite of hypocrisy.

That brings me to the next question I want to consider about hypocrisy.

Does Hypocrisy Ruin the Gospel Message?

Hypocrisy is one of a handful of the most common reasons unbelievers give for living out their lives for themselves.  They would be a Christian, ya know, if there weren't so many hypocrites.  As a result, they look for hypocrisy as another excuse for why they aren't Christians.  They want hypocrisy to exist, because without it, they wouldn't have one of their main reasons for not being a Christian. Why do they need any other reason for not being a Christian other than Christianity not being true?  If Christians are hypocrites, what are they betraying?  Are they betraying only a lie?

I'll talk more about this in part two.


Farmer Brown said...

This is interesting in view of the recent (several years ago) hubbub about Roman Polanski. The wonderful artist Polanski plied a 13 year old girl with booze and drugs, then raped her. He did not confess, he was arrested and charged. He pled guilty to a lessor charge, but the facts that he drugged and engaged in relations with a 13 year old girl as a middle aged man are not in dispute.

He only pled guilty because he expected a slap on the wrists, as his later flight from justice demonstrated. When it became apparent the judge was not on board with a slap on the wrist for a rapist, Mr Polanski went to France so he could not be extradited.

Despite this crime, most of Hollywood has stood behind him. When President's Bush and Obama have pursued this case, the intellectual elite have argued to leave this struggling artist alone. After all, he has done so much worthwhile work.

This is the real hypocrisy. Some of the same people who vociferously defended and covered for a man who violated a 13 year old girl now are piling on Mr Duggar. You can google if you would like the details of what Mr Polanski did, but it was so much worse than than what Mr Duggar did. This is a quote from the girl:

"I said, 'No, no. I don't want to go in there. No, I don't want to do this. No!', and then I didn't know what else to do." "We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this"

In their eyes, Josh Duggar is worse than Roman Polanski. Polanski should be defended, and Duggar should be stoned. This is the real hypocrisy.

Doulos said...

"Whatever you think of the Duggars, they still might be the most well-known evangelical Christians in America. Even if you wish someone else represented Christians to the world, if you are really a Christian, you can't out-and-out reject them. They are on your side. You are with them."

If I am "really" a Christian?
I am as disgusted with the transgenderism becoming an American norm as I am disgusted with Christians commercializing and secularizing Christ becoming the norm for "our side". The little I don't even care to know is enough. Really now...promote modesty in otherwise immodest magazines? Seek a laugh and praise from an audience of an Oprah Winfrey Show? It's fairly similar to and reminiscent of...the Bird Bible you once brought our attention to or the Duck Dynast or CCM artists...commercializing Christ with music...but the Duggars with their prolificity. They can call themselves conservative all they want, but "conservative" seems to be an ever morphing pragmatic term. I think I'll let God figure out whose on His side and feel no guilt in not owning this kind of Christianity or shaking my head at those making such a scene of His name and holiness.

No wonder America is where it is when Christianity has to follow a few safe steps behind to be "cool" and "relevant". We reap what we sow...including the world calling us hypocrites, quoting our Bible back at us, and taunting us to accept their views and tweak our own just a little more...especially as we set ourselves up as some ridiculous lifestyle example rather than example of the simplicity that is in Christ.

Sorry for being grumpy. If a man wants to go public with his brand of woman, a white with her brand of black, a neo-evangelical college still trying to wear a fundamentalist separated label, and entertainment stars with their brand of Christianity...they can defend themselves without my help.

I know "hypocrisy" was more your topic than mine. I've made the mistake these days of checking the news too much...and it reminded me of why I usually don't :) Thanks for letting me vent :)

Kent Brandenburg said...


I do agree with you. I do. It's why I have a whole paragraph of disclaimer. It really is a base for discussing hypocrisy. Your comment is what gave me pause not to write about it at all. And what you wrote is probably a big reason why so few comments. People are disgusted with the Duggars for good reasons. I get it.