When it came out a few weeks ago that one of the Duggars’ grown children had a not-so-squeaky-clean of a past, I wasn’t really shocked (click the link if you don’t know the story). Not because I always suspected these children of imperfection, but for the past few years, my involvement in counseling has made me less and less shocked of what any individual is capable of and how much each of us hide from the public’s eye. I am no different!
Although Jesus has redeemed me and I am now on a better path (though still far from perfection), for most
of my life I was involved in all sorts of behaviors I am not proud of. The state of my heart and my mind was completely darkened and filled with hate – which led me to act out in the first place.
Even though the concept of grace is central to the Christian faith, there still seems to be a huge thread of pride that keeps Christians from just being real, which leads us to competition, harmful judgment, self-condemnation, and comparison.This makes it hard for me to keep open and honest about my own past.
And when the whole Josh Duggar thing came out. I thought to myself, Ok, now I definitely do not want to be famous, because if I get famous, that means my dirty laundry will also be hung out to dry and then I will have to experience public humiliation and shame.
This fearful thought really nagged at me for at least two days – and I knew that there was a deeper issue in my heart that God wanted to address.
I realized that I still viewed Jesus as if He were also looking down on me in a negative way, too.
His life is the example of perfection, so how could I actually relate to him if I still viewed myself as the adulterous woman – shameful and on the outside? I had no idea I still really struggled with the concept of Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance over me!
After I confessed this to Him, true to His nature, He helped clear up my thinking by reminding me of what actually happened between him and the adulterous woman in the Bible:
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I underlined and bolded the word “but” because it serves as an awesome contrast between the world’s reaction to sin and Jesus’. Jesus offers forgiveness and full restoration to those who repent, but the world offers punishment, hate, and shame – just like what happened to Josh Duggar and countless others.
I think it is the age-old problem of mankind. If mankind were left on his own to rule the universe, everyone would fall under the curse of conditional love, where everyone has to raise their kids in a certain way, be a certain weight, wear the right clothing, have the right kind of lifestyle, and be ______________ enough (fill in the blank for yourself). If you do not meet these requirements, you are somehow less than that person making the judgment.
This revelation of Jesus’ acceptance of the adulterous woman brought so much more peace in my heart and in my relationship with Him! Not only am I completely accepted because of my past, but I also do not have to ever compare and compete, as if Jesus were ever going to declare me more or less awesome based on my own judgments and comparisons.
Of course I am not an advocate of abusing this gift of grace. I do believe that God has absolute truths that are protective, good, and freeing. These healthy boundaries can serve to help people from self-destructive practices like homosexuality, addictions to porn, etc. But despite these sinful behaviors, all people are valuable in God’s eyes despite what they do and choose in life. And God desperately wants to save and love on every single human, including the ones society deems most unworthy.
These revelations I have had are nothing “new” – I have had these revelations before, and have understood the concept since I became a Christian. God had just given me a fresh and deeper understanding of His grace and total acceptance and how absolutely incredibly this gift actually is.
Another important revelation Jesus gave me was the love and acceptance I have in Him today. I had
a mistrust for Jesus because I took offense to the fact that He wanted to change me. That made me feel that there was something wrong with me and therefore I felt unlovable.
In response to this fear, Jesus showed me that although He is definitely interested in renewing me into my original design, He doesn’t love me less right now just because I am not “fully mature” yet. His grace is what makes His unconditional love for me a present-day reality, as well as everyone else who lives out of brokenness. And He loves me too much to leave me as I am today!
So in the end, I realized it was the fear of man and pride that led me this fear of being ‘exposed’ to the public, having still this lingering wrong belief that I am acceptable because of what I do, think, etc (and not because of Jesus’ righteousness in me alone).
And when it comes down to it, if I really came to know God’s love for me in a deeper way, I think I would struggle much less with the thought of public scorn. His love would truly melt the fear of man away, and this is something I most desire!
I cannot imagine the pain that the Duggars are going through, or any other person widely shamed/hated for who they are and what they have done. And this is not to minimize the victims who also suffer, and absolve people of personal responsibility, but to only point out my own realization of what true righteousness and acceptance is.
All of us deserve punishment, but that it was makes the good news of Jesus so great, that despite our evil deeds, we are still eligible for His forgiveness, acceptance, and everlasting love!
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.