I would see the kids playing outside. Based on their appearance, it was obvious the family was very conservative.
Occasionally the family would attend our church service...filling up an entire church pew. You guessed it...the family was the Duggars. If I remember correctly, they only had 10-12 kids at the time. This was before the days of their reality television fame.
If you've been watching the news lately, you've seen the dilemma they are experiencing. It has come to light that the oldest son, Josh, abused several of his sisters when he was a teenager. I won't go into the story and how it is unfolding, but I would like to share some thoughts on the situation.
Outward compliance doesn't always mean there is inward obedience. Just because a child is conforming to the rules, guidelines and beliefs of his or her parents, doesn't mean the child is obeying from his or her heart.
Jesus talked about this in Matthew 15 when He said, "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
We see this many times when a child who has grown up in church finally gets some freedom and begins doing things that are the exact opposite of what he or she was taught. Eventually what is in the heart will be manifested.
From this we learn that our primary goal as parents and church leaders must be to reach the heart of children. Outward compliance will only last for so long. But inward, intrinsic obedience that comes from loving Jesus will stand the test of time.
Good parenting isn't a guarantee that kids won't stray from the faith. I talked about this in an earlier post. Many people quote Proverbs 22:6..."train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it"...as an ironclad promise. It is not. It is a principle.
Kids have a free will and must choose for themselves whether they will follow God or not. You can be the best parent in the world and still see your children make bad choices and stray from the faith.
As parents, our job is to provide the most fertile soil possible for our kids faith to grow in. But at the end of the day...it is their choice.
Being ultra-conservative isn't a true measure of spiritual maturity. Just because you don't wear this or don't watch this or don't go there, doesn't mean you are spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity comes from your relationship with Jesus...not from rules you follow.
Abusing children is a devastating sin. It can devastate a child...it can devastate a family...it can devastate everyone involved. Children are a gift from God. We must do everything in our power to protect them. First and foremost...it's about the children. Abuse must be dealt with immediately and decisively.
Your Christian testimony and witness can be destroyed in seconds. It takes years to build a solid Christian testimony and only seconds to destroy it. The Christian witness the Duggars have tried to share over the years through television has now lost credibility with unbelievers. Unbelievers are scoffing and will not take serious what they have to say about God. Integrity matters...a lot.
Those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? What else would you add or say about the situation? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.