My last post was directed to men; recent events in the news suggest that such focus is critical, especially now. It’s not that women don’t struggle with deceit and infidelity of various kinds. But as a man, I feel that I must direct my comments again to the same half of the general population — men, just what do you think you are doing?
It just happens that days ago, more of the unfortunate indiscretions of Josh Duggar were exposed in the fallout from the recent Ashley Madison debacle. This was no ordinary debacle, and Duggar is no ordinary casualty — he is one who has been held up as a moral, upright man and a role model for thousands of likeminded conservative Christians.
I don’t wish to speak specifically about Mr. Duggar, mainly because I have lived outside the U.S. for the majority of the time that his family has occupied the limelight. I do, however, wish to raise two issues that I think are worth mentioning: first, that the casualty in this case — as in all of our potential cases — is really not his career or image but his family, and second, that all of us men ought to be able to look at him and recognize that we could all easily follow his fate.
Don’t play with dynamite.
As we look at the situation in which Mr. Duggar finds himself today, it ought to occur to us that the victim in all of this is young family. I can scarcely imagine how it must be for a wife and children, to be hit with such revelations, and that it all be public, plastered across friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds. As if mere infidelity weren’t hard enough to deal with in itself, his family now is faced with the reality that everyone knows about their problems.
And this is what all of us men risk, every time we take a second look at the scantly clad woman crossing the street, every time we pause on a sexy movie as we flip through the channels, and every time we click just one more link, hoping to satisfy our curiosity.
While our failure might not be as public as Duggar’s, it will be just as devastating to us. We aren’t ready for the consequences, and no wife will simply understand or dismiss our lack of discernment.
This is the way we ought to look at it.
Some shrug off the pitfalls of celebrities as silliness, but I would propose to all men that they ought to look at many of them — especially this one — with a certain degree of sobriety. After all, except for a cable television series, there is not too much that separates Duggar from all of us. His indiscretions apparently had little to do with his rise to fame, since they seem to have started long before anyone knew of his surname.
We ought to see people like him and know that there is just as much evil inside our own hearts as there is in anyone else’s. We are no better. Following Duggar’s fate would be easy; the hard thing to do is to equip oneself against such a fall.
The gospel says, be as honest as you can about yourself, and be loved and accepted as a result. The acceptance is what enables one not to fall. It assures us that we don’t need to be unfaithful to be accepted.
We don’t need that image, that video, that extra click. After all, the acceptance we are chasing is not real. And if we were discerning, we would see we are sacrificing our wives and children to get it.
The solution is the hardest thing in the world — honesty.
The only solution — and the reason I mentioned the concept of isolation earlier — is to seek out places where we can be honest. It might be just one place — sitting with one or two special people — or there may be a few. But life devoid of these places is a life of isolation. An isolated life is a life where one wrong move can bring disaster.
And for us, it is wise to remember that our disaster can also mean disaster for those we love most.