Dealing With Public Hypocritical Flame-Outs
The recent revelation and subsequent uproar over reality show “19 Kids and Counting” family member Josh Duggar’s apparently disturbing and vile sexual assaults as a 14-year old upon young girls – including some of his sisters – leaves us Christian apologists with the task of defending the faith – again – in the wake of another Christian public figure disgraced in spectacular fashion.
We’ve seen it again and again. Jim Bakker. Jimmy Swaggart. The pandemic of molestations perpetuated by Catholic priests. Ted Haggard. That particular church from Topeka, Kansas that will go unnamed on this blog. And these are just a few of the ones that made national attention; there are local scandals that usually don’t even make the local paper but are known within the community (one such scandal took place in the church we attended previous to our current one).
So, amidst all of the vitriol, condemnation and self-righteousness, what should we say to those who would suggest that all Christians are hypocrites?
- Tell them they’re right – Frank Turek likes to tell such people “Well, come on down (to church)…we’ve got room for one more!” Let your audience know that Christians are sinners and imperfect…but most are trying to be better. Tell them about the difference between saving grace and sanctifying grace.
- Tell them they have an excellent ally – Jesus, of course! Some of his strongest language was vented towards the hypocritical Pharisee leaders, calling them “blind guides”, “snakes” and “sons of vipers” (Matthew 23). Even in this case, though, Jesus did it out of love, albeit a heaping dose of tough love.
- Tell them there is a difference between a Christian who is truly trying to follow Jesus but struggles, and a Christian who sins but refuses to acknowledge their transgressions. Again, this is where sanctifying grace comes in.
- Gently remind them that fallen Christians do not negate Christianity any more than Dr. Mengele negated the medical profession.
- Yes, hypocrisy is a sin…but so is gossip. So tell them to stop reading the rags like the one that revealed Josh Duggar’s crimes (okay, I probably should have kept that one between my ears).
The subject matter of Josh Duggar’s deeds are rightfully sensitive and emotionally charged, so it may be prudent to wait until cooler heads prevail before engaging your nearby unbelievers.
* Note: Some of this content has been paraphrased from Mark Mittelberg’s excellent tome The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask (With Answers). Mark dedicates a whole chapter to the subject of hypocrisy.