It’s all over my Facebook feed, and it’s already trending on Twitter…. Josh Duggar is one of the first names to come out of the Ashley Madison hack that stole personal information–over 10 gigabytes worth–from about 33 million users. For those of you who don’t know, Ashley Madison (whose motto is “Life is short. Have an affair.”) is kind of like a dating website, but it’s for people who are married and want to cheat on their spouse–People who pay money to have the website set them up with other people who want to cheat. By just about any sensible standard, this site is really, REALLY disgusting, right? Well, a group calling themselves “Impact Team” thought so too, so they hacked into Ashley Madison’s records, and threatened to post the personal information of all the people who have used their services if they didn’t take down the site…. A threat they made good on yesterday, when they posted the names, email addresses, home addresses, and last four digits of the credit cards of all Ashley Madison users. And now everyone is freaking out, because apparently it turns out Josh Duggar had two accounts.
I’ve been thinking about this for a bit now. I’m not sure if this show is still on or not, but about eight or nine years ago, I used to like watching a show called “Cheaters.” In the show, people who suspected unfaithfulness in their relationship would hire a “Cheaters” private investigator to find out if their significant other was cheating (spoiler alert: If they made it on the show, their partner WAS cheating), they would film the person being told, and then they would film that person confronting the cheater. As you can imagine, it was high drama. Around the same time, the “To Catch A Predator” shows were on NBC, where they would set up stings for people attempting to meet up with underage kids. The people would walk into a house expecting to have some sort of sexual encounter, they would be confronted by Chris Hansen, and then they would be arrested. And people like me tuned in by the millions to watch along at home.
I used to enjoy watching these shows because it used to make me feel good to watch people “Getting what they had coming to them.” I think I liked the idea of Justice–These people chose their path, and now they were “getting what they deserve.” And if I was able to watch that person receive their Karmic Wedgie, all the better…. Then something changed. I started getting grossed out while watching those shows–Not so much at the acts of the people who were getting “exposed,” but more at my own voyeuristic enjoyment of their humiliation. I started seeing them as people–People whose brokenness was being put on display. And what kind of human being enjoys watching another person being destroyed? Wanting to see someone’s life come crashing down all around them says a lot more about the state of my soul than it does about the state of theirs.
So now people are putting Josh Duggar’s brokenness on display as well (for the second time in about 6 months). And though the story may seem even tastier because of the hypocrisy involved with him working for the Family Research Council (an anti-gay, “family-values” political organization) while he was looking for an affair, he is still a person. I don’t believe his hypocrisy makes him “fair game” for name-calling and tearing down. We can expose hypocrisy without demonizing and destroying the person who is being exposed as a hypocrite. I have been a hypocrite many times in my life. I have known people who have had affairs. They are not all awful people…. They are mostly hurting, broken people. But it’s a lot easier to celebrate the downfall of this guy…
…. than it is to celebrate the downfall of THIS guy:
For me it is, at least…. The second picture reminds me that it’s not only Josh Duggar who is affected by all this. There are other people involved. His wife is involved. The kids in this picture don’t know about human frailty, brokenness, and hypocrisy–They don’t know about how those things can bring so many marriages to an end…. They just love their dad. The news of Josh Duggar’s infidelity is NOT something to be celebrated.
And you should probably also remember this number: 33 MILLION!! 33 million users is a whole lot of people…. Chances are, many of us know other people who are on that list. It is being reported that about 10,000 of the names on that list could be government officials. Imagine your dad or your mom being on that list, because–again–chances are very good that for some of my readers, this will be a reality. I don’t know Josh. I don’t know his wife. But if it came out that one of my friends was on that list, I certainly wouldn’t be posting articles celebrating his hypocrisy. I’d be trying to help him. I would see if there was some way that I could help her. You know why? Because I love my friends…. and that’s what people do for the people in their lives who they love. “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” even when you feel like the judgment is well-deserved.
Joining in on the evisceration of someone whose brokenness is being put on display is completely antithetical to the way of Jesus Christ. And I don’t want to get all “Jesus Jukey” on you here, but if you call yourself a Christian, you have no business piling on to the celebration of the exposure of Josh Duggar’s hypocrisy. We are in the redemption business. We are in the restoration business. We are in the business of LOVE…. Even loving our enemies. Actually, ESPECIALLY loving our enemies. I hope this difficult time will be short for the Duggars, and I hope they will come out of this stronger than they ever were. And in the meantime, I hope the folks who are calling themselves “Christians” will show the world how much more powerful MERCY is than judgment.