When doing the right thing is somehow wrong?

This week it was made public that the oldest Duggar son, Josh, acted out when he was a younger teen.  His actions were in fact discovered at the time and although not immediately it was reported to the police some months later, counseling and support were provided for the “forcible fondling” (as identified in the police report at the time).  In other words almost everything that should have been done or was legally required to be done was done combined with correction and counseling.  Was it all done perfectly?  Probably not, it rarely is, but there were never any subsequent reports of additional wrong actions by Josh committed against anyone after that time which is a testament to Christ’ redemptive power as Josh indicated these events led to his salvation.

How many 14 year olds have been on the giving or receiving end of “forcible fondling” and worse which was never reported, was covered up or, even more troubling, either ignored or encouraged.  Unfortunately far too many and in fact a report from almost 10 years ago listed the rates at 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys.  I suspect this number is much higher due to the historic cliché of kids “playing doctor” which is rarely reported.  But have it happen to a high profile Christian and all hell (literally & figuratively) breaks loose in an attempt to cancel or discredit an entire family.  One of the first and most vocal complainers has been honey BOBO’s mom – not exactly the most stellar example of character who is most recently reported to be shacking up with a registered sex offender.

It took character, strength and wisdom for Josh’s father to report the whole incident to the police and get the appropriate help for all involved.  His actions probably arrested what could have become a hurtful pattern of abuse.  I certainly hope & trust all the victims in this case have been able to walk out of this in a healthy way as well.  It certainly seems Josh has experienced significant victory in his life in the past 12 years since that event to include revealing his actions to Anna (who became his wife) two years before they were even married.

Sexual abuse should NEVER be diminished or ignored.  It is hurtful, selfish and destructive with consequences including depression, a multitude of psychological challenges and sometimes even suicide.  But here is a case in which almost all the right steps were taken to help those involved.  There have been no additional reports of moral failings and in fact testimonies of Gods healing grace.  But you would never know it by the news reports where you hear quotes like “it was finally revealed”, “Josh has finally come clean”, “the family covered it up”, “police reports have been destroyed” (which is common in juvenile cases) etc. etc……

This is journalistic and societal dishonesty to be “shocked” or “outraged” at the reality a 14 year old boy acted out in some testosterone driven sexual way.  Can I see a show of hands people – really!  Don’t get me wrong, that is no excuse and most are never confronted and go on to led a less than noble moral lifestyle afterwards.  But due to a strong commitment to Christ and holiness by his parents, Josh did not go on to become just another person, journalist, football player or “good old boy” out there sowing his seeds whether welcomed or unwelcomed.

The Family Research Council lost what may have been the best person to lead such an organization.  A humble sinner saved by grace, aware of his weaknesses and excited about helping others find suport in times of need.

Footnote:  Just to be clear as to what is happening here.  Secular society is so determined to degrade and discredit Christianity they have now taken one of the most redeeming tenants of Christianity, being the redemptive power of the forgiveness of sin, and made it something evil.  Never mind the fact that secular society does far worse things but when there is some bright hope relating to forgiveness of sin, they go bonkers because they reject access to that forgiveness and retaliate out of their own guilt and shame.

Rules be damned?

Having lived just a couple hundred yards from the River Parks for over 30 years has brought with it many benefits not the least of which is enjoying countless bike rides there.  There have been regular improvements to the trails over the years from dirt paths, to gravel trails, to paving and now separate lanes for walkers and bikers.  This most recent improvement of separate lanes has been a huge plus as traffic has increased over the years.  It has also brought with it frustration and perhaps my biggest pet peeve in life (right behind those who come to a complete stop in merge lanes instead of speeding up to actually merge).

On a bike ride earlier this week I came across 3 people walking shoulder to shoulder across the entire bike side of the trail totally blocking all bicyclists.  As I went off the trail to pass I politely mentioned they might consider moving to the walking side instead of being on the bike side.  For the record, this was just the most recent of literally hundreds of such encounters.  That particular group was polite in their response and moved to the walking path.  Just as common has been those with snide remarks like “#@** who died and made you king/boss/god/etc.”.  After crossing to the other side of the river I came upon a lady who had set up her lawn chair covering half of the bike side and her son was playing in front of her with their dog on one of those extendable leashes which had much more than the entire bike side blocked.  As I slowly passed mentioning they might move to the other side the mom retorted “sorry, my son wasn’t paying attention”.  Truth be told, her son was paying attention to how her mom was “breaking the rules” and he was, understandably, simply doing likewise.

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Yes, circumstances like these are frustrating to me, but I truly don’t lose sleep over them.  But as I have witnessed these “rule breakers” over the years I have come to the realization that many of us, including myself at times, are guilty of similar actions and attitudes in the church.  A friend posted an article earlier this week on facebook in which the writer’s point was that we need to mind our own business in the church citing the rebuke of looking at the speck in the other person’s eye and the need, instead, to get the beam out of your own eye.  I totally agree that we must first and always be aware of our own weaknesses and watch out for sin in my life.  This philosophy/theology is quickly becoming the prevalent school of thought when it comes to accountability and confronting within the church – MYOB!

We are most certainly not to judge, that lofty role is the sole realm of God and His alone.  But here is where I believe we are shooting ourselves in the foot, check that, in the heart when it comes to accountability and discipleship within the church.  The point of that verse in Luke 6:42 is exhorting us to be careful and humble regarding holiness in our own lives first in order to then “see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye”.

head stand

It is only recently that the PC mantra of MYOB has garnered traction in the church.  Historically this has not only never been the case, it is simply not scriptural.  In fact, our charge to speak to/confront/challenge (insert whatever word works for you), an errant brother or sister goes so far in more than a couple of places to hold us responsible for their death if we do not confront sin – Ez. 3:16 is one example.  And by the way, I embrace the same general list of sins listed in scripture and identified by the church for the better part of 1950 years, not the abridged list found to be more popular today in many churches.

So back to the River Trails, why make two paths with the designation of one being walking and one being for bikes.  Just for fun?  To be mean and controlling?  Just because they can?  No, but because after decades of experience they realized how many accidents could be prevented by having separate paths.  I can attest to this having been a significant problem historically.  Take the lady in the lawn chair and her son and dog.  Had that been a group of much faster road bike riders coming over the rise and not having enough time to stop or dive off into the grass it could have been disastrous for all involved.  Rules are there to help us, protect us and in the case of biblical rules, to save us from hell.  God knows that sin hurts us, damages us and separates us from Himself, so in His gracious goodness he gave us laws to live by to save us from damnation.  Damning “the rules” hurts us, perhaps others and ultimately brings it back on ourselves.

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Dog whistles and the emperor’s new clothes

In honor of a great servant of God, Lance Lambert (who completed his race this week), I recall his take on prophecy & prophets.  I remember it like it was yesterday, although probably 1978 at the Finish School in Jerusalem, – “prophecy & prophets (with those distinguished rolled r’s) are not that big of a deal, a jackass did it once and a lot of them have done it since”.

A new survey came out this week that puts those identifying themselves as agnostic or atheist at a greater percentage than Catholics for the first time in US history.  The same survey indicated Protestants at below 50% for the first time in the US at just over 46%.  Those identifying as atheist or agnostic have almost doubled over the same 7 years.

All of this downturn in the percentage of Christians in America has occurred in spite of the fact the church is increasing its efforts to soft sell the Gospel and the doctrine of sin combined with an increasing acceptance (or ignoring) of practices that deviate from scripture.  This is occurring within the very walls of the church and includes divorce, fornication, co-habitation, immodest dress, gossip and homosexuality.

If you have ever watch MMA or boxing, once an opponent starts to show signs of weakness there is an almost immediate flurry of kicks and punches to try and take advantage of the “weak” one.  And of course once someone starts to show signs of weakness, the crowd turns and starts cheering for the “stronger” one because no one likes a looser.  I suggest this is exactly what is occurring in the church.  In the battle of the heavenlies, the church is not the weak one, but we act like it inviting the world to pounce.

In spite of what may seem trending today, the world does not actually appreciate milquetoast assimilation.  All you have to do is to watch the enormous gains radical Islam has made in the past couple of decades since they have been able to export their hard line Sharia influence.  Both “weak” and “strong” find the unwavering conviction of Islam as admirable and desirous to be a part of even, if misguided and ruthless.  And for the doubters out there, the same Pew survey that had Christianity down almost 8% over the past 7 years also had the percentage of those identifying with Islam more than double in the same time period.  Additionally, conservative evangelical churches saw almost no decline in identification while almost all the down turn came in mainstream protestant and Catholic churches – in other words, those churches making the biggest moves away from holding “harder” lines of scripture.

Do I suggest the church will surge in attendance if we return to our roots of holiness and a conservative doctrine of sin?  No, not so much!  I believe, as scripture indicates will happen, the time is perhaps fast approaching when “they will hand you over to those who will torture and kill you.  All nations will hate you because you are committed to me.  Then many will lose faith. They will betray and hate each other.  Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  And because there will be more and more lawlessness, most people’s love will grow cold.  But the person who endures to the end will be saved – Matt. 24:9-13.

Jesus’ own prophetic words give a foretelling picture not too dissimilar to what we see today.  Just take modesty as one very “in your face” example.  Scripture does not speak in detail about modesty very much.  But we can glean some idea of God’s idea of modesty when He prescribes the dress for those who minister before the Lord.  In addition to floor length multi layered robes, they were to wear what would best be describe as pajama bottoms underneath the robes to prevent the chance of any overexposure when they are climbing the stairs to the altar.  These are God’s standards, not ones I came up with.  But you can see almost anything in church today to include on the platform in those “ministering before the Lord”.  What was once considered sexy is embraced today as the new “cute” to include shorter, lower and tighter form fitting outfits worn by both men and women.  Thus the reference of the emperor’s new clothes as the latest pop culture styles are all too quickly embraced among Christians while ignoring what may well be immodest in God’s eyes.

“Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! Luke 17:1

So was Bath Sheba to blame for bathing naked on the rooftop or David for being out there scanning the rooftops instead of on the battle front with his men.  Both!!!  Women cannot blame men for looking as higher, tighter and “cuter” is designed to get them to do just that and men cannot use that for an excuse and we have Job as our example who because he had “made a covenant (before God) with his eyes made the choice not to gaze (at length) at women”.

Most of the points I make here can be found in part in other blogs I have penned.  I tend to be pretty stubborn in my views and how I express them, perhaps much like that stubborn mule of Balham.  But like a dog whistle, I get the feeling only a few hear it as valid preferring rather to be on the “right side of history”.  I am enough of a student of biblical history to keep putting my blog out there even if to many it only sounds like the braying of a donkey.