Tag Archives: Christ

Sexual abuse is always a big deal

duggar-family-jana-duggar

The Duggar family. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

I’m angry.

It takes a lot to make me angry.

It’s true that I tend to rant about random things and I’m fairly sarcastic and even a bit cynical at times. But anger isn’t something I feel very often.

I’m angry, and here’s why:

This morning I was greeted with news story after news story that one of the Duggar kids had molested some other children when he was 14. Now, I don’t know much about the Duggars other than the fact that they have 19 kids, they promote the bizarre homeschool cult that was started by Bill Gothard, and that Christians love them. I’m a devout Christian myself, but I’ve personally found the strange, almost cult-like following of the Duggars a little weird, and I also think it’s a lot weird that Michelle and Jim Bob have chosen a life in which their ever-growing family is shoved into the limelight in exchange for money, but whatever.

I had no problem with people liking the Duggars. But I cannot stand idly by while people who claim the name of Christ try to excuse and brush over what happened.

The reasons I’m angry are threefold. I’ll start with the obvious.

1. I’m angry that it happened.

Sexual abuse is horrific and it scars the lives of those who live through it. Add to this that the counseling the girls received is questionable at best considering the sources from which it likely came, and this entire situation is just a giant train wreck of emotional turmoil and baggage. I wish I didn’t have to belabor the point, but since a lot of people keep saying really insensitive and disgusting things, let me make this very clear: no matter how long ago it was or who the offender was, sexual abuse is always a big deal.

If it helps to make it personal, imagine your daughter or son or your niece or nephew coming to you and telling you that someone had touched them. Is it a big deal now? Because the girls in this scenario are someone’s kids too.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. I’m angry that it was covered up.

First off, Michelle and Jim Bob: what is wrong with you? It appears that your son molested your own daughters. Repeatedly. Snuck into their bedrooms and touched them. Why didn’t you report this to authorities? Why did you decide that it was okay to ignore the well-being of four of your children? What in the world?

Secondly, church elders who were told about this: Congratulations! You’ve all won Class A misdemeanors, which is the minimum charge for a clergy member in the state of Arkansas who does not immediately report the abuse of a child! Good job!

Seriously though, even if you were morally conflicted, you have a legal obligation to report situations like this. There are way too many instances of abuse being covered up within the Church and it disgusts me. You don’t get to decide that you’re above the law.  Josh’s processing and possible sentencing should have been up to the governing authorities. At the point in which he broke the law, he should have been reported. Period.

And then the big reason…

3. I’m angry because of the reactions of Duggar Fans.

The messages I’ve seen defending the actions of both Josh and his family astound me. “It was a long time ago”, “He was only fourteen”, “‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone'” (that last one doesn’t mean what you think it means).

No. No. No. NO.

Look, I’m fully aware that the Duggars have always presented themselves as a nice, devout Christian family. And I’m aware that one of the things the world likes to do is point out any potential area of hypocrisy it can find in the lives of Christians. And I’m also aware that many Christians feel the need to try to avoid this sort of thing, which results in them attempting to make excuses for, cover up, or distract from blatant, public sin. That’s not okay.

People are sinful. You are sinful. I am sinful. Every last Duggar is sinful. The only thing that sets Christians apart from unbelievers is that we are saved by the work of Christ. Not by our own works, not by avoiding the “really bad” sins, not by pretending that we don’t sin at all lest people think that we’re fallible. By the work of Christ. We still sin. And we repent. The Lord works to sanctify us, but until we die we will have to battle our sin nature and we will sin. Every day.

It’s rough to have the world look at you and say, “The Bible teaches this, but you did that.” And our initial inclination is likely to try to cover ourselves, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. But the fact of the matter is we are sinful and are dependent daily on the work of Christ. We cannot escape our own flesh. It is always there.

All that being said: defending the actions of Josh Duggar, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, or any of the elders who did not report this issue to the authorities cannot be justified. Five young women were sexually abused. Yes, it was a long time ago. But Josh did molest them, and multiple adults felt it was necessary and acceptable to hide the entire incident from governing authorities. These facts cannot and should not be defended.

It’s fair to say that there’s not much that can be done now. I have no demands of the Duggars (though Michelle and Jim Bob admitting they handled the situation poorly would be nice). But I do think that those who follow the family, particularly my Christian brothers and sisters, need to deal with the fact that the family is made up of sinful human beings and need to stop defending any part of this occurrence.

These events are horrific. They are damaging. They altered the lives of five young women forever. Covering up sin and illegal activity is despicable. Disobeying the law because you consider yourself above it is abhorrent. And defending people who do any of these things is simply disgusting.

Grieve the situation, grieve with the victims, pray for the Duggars – even Josh. Do what you need to do to come to grips with this entire tragedy. But do not under any circumstances try to sweep this under the rug or treat it as if it’s not a big deal. Sexual abuse is a big deal and it should not be tolerated. Period.

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Hard Things or: How I’m Learning to Stop Whining and Love the Process

I have a general tendency to make myself do hard things even when there are easier ways just because I like to see if I can do them.  I once (rather proudly) hand beat meringue instead of going out and buying or borrowing a mixer.  When my car broke down and I needed to go to the post office, I (somewhat stupidly) walked three miles there and three miles back when there were rides readily available. I participated in and completed NaNoWriMo during my senior year of high school which was by far the most academically demanding year of my life (it involved writing for 8+ hours a day during nearly every day of Thanksgiving break, but I did it).  I’ve (absolutely stupidly considering the number of people who got malaria on our team) slept tentless while in Mozambique, tried everything that was fed to me in India, and forced myself to eat foods that my eating disorder deemed frightening.  If a friend is in need in some form or fashion, I’m accustomed to doing whatever I can for them and still managing to get most everything I need to get done accomplished by staying up late or getting up early (this is not so much something done for the sake of doing hard things, but more because I love my friends dearly).

I’m used to focusing on something and willing myself to complete it.

I can’t do that any more.

So, about 18 months ago I was diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder that runs in my family.  It basically causes my body to attack my thyroid.  Theoretically, if I’m given the proper medications, I’ll be fine: my hair won’t fall out by the handful, I’ll actually want to eat food, and, best of all, I’ll have energy.  The dosage of medicine I was on worked really well until about March of this year and then things started to go awry.

It may have been stress, it may have been my body just deciding (as you do) to launch a massive attack on my thyroid, it may have been some other third thing that I don’t know anything about. Regardless, I have been just exhausted for months, excluding some short-lived energy spikes I had a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure how to explain it to people who have never experienced an autoimmune disorder.  Basically, imagine that you are getting adequate nutrition and sleep and you wake up every single day feeling as if you’re about to get the flu. And sometimes, you wake up and want to cry because you’re so tired and you can’t get out of bed but, unfortunately, laying in bed all day doesn’t pay the rent, so you have to.  And other times, you have to choose between being there for a friend and being even 80% present at work the next day. And still other times, you have to decide if you will be social or have a clean house this week because you really can’t do both.

Quite frankly, I’ve had a really sucky attitude about all of this the past few weeks.  I just want to be able to do everything I was able to do before, but I really can’t.  I like being independent, I like being able to feel like I can accomplish things and, most of all, I really like thinking that I can will myself to do anything and everything I like as long as I’m determined enough.  That this has taken such a high priority in my life is not okay.

I’m realizing more and more how much of my worth I place in how much I do.  I like the idea of always having a clean house, visiting with everyone I love, and helping out my friends who are having a rough time — and in the past, I’ve been able to do all of that.  But, now that I can’t (at least until I hit some sort of sweet spot with my medication)…I’ve felt entirely helpless and sort of worthless.

I’m reminded often by dear friends that Christ loves me no matter what and desires my sanctification.  I know that what I’m going through is neither out of His plan or His grasp.  And I know that this whole thing may very well be the answer to some pleading prayers asking to be further sanctified.  It’s really hard, and I really haven’t even been trying to keep focused on the Lord.  This is totally wrong of me and I want to change that.  I know that what I’m going through or what my friends or family are going through are all apart of God’s plan…and I know that both myself and my fellow believers are being sanctified through circumstances and His Word.

I just want to be able to keep that perspective when things are hard.


Reflections on the difficulties of making friends of the opposite sex

Over the years I have, quite frankly, had very few healthy friendships with men. I’ve realized that this is a problem recently and have been attempting to fix that as best as I can.  I know it’s important to have friends of both genders, and I quite enjoy the company of my Christian brothers, so it is something I’m actively working on.

I’ve run into some road bumps though, and I think I can explain why.

In some groups at my age, there seems to be this unspoken awkwardness surrounding guy/girl friendships.  People like to question whether they’re a couple, which is reasonable, I suppose, but it tends to make everyone involved mildly self-conscious about the entire friendship.  The main problems I see, however, aren’t with outsiders questioning the motives of the friends, but with the attitudes about duel-gender friendships themselves.

First off, a lot of women seem to have trouble with thinking that an afternoon coffee with a guy means he’s interested in some sort of romantic relationship.  This, quite frankly, is stupid.  I feel I can say it because I’ve been that woman in the past.  It’s also a tad insulting to both the woman and the man involved because the assumption is then, “He could not possibly be interested in a friendship with me; he must only be interested in what I can give him.” I think it’s best to assume friendship unless intentions are stated as something other than friendship.

Now, on that note, guys: one of the reasons women have issues with this mindset is because of a horrid practice I like to call Sneak-Attack Dating.  For the love of your integrity, if you want to take a woman out on a date, take her out on a date. If you are interested in a friendship, communicate that.  But do not under any circumstances try to trick a woman into dating you using the guise of friendship. It’s completely dishonest and puts us in an incredibly awkward position.  Just don’t do it.  I understand it’s hard and scary and the possibility of rejection is a tough thing to handle.  But, I feel pretty safe in saying that, even if the Lady of Your Dreams returns the sentiment, starting off the relationship with deception is never, ever the way to go.

I really think that these two factors cause awkwardness when it comes to making friends with the opposite sex…at least at my age.  In my speculation, the guys who would rather stay friends are somewhat skittish when it comes to interacting with women because they’re afraid the women will think they’re interested in them romantically, which is probably somewhat true, but partially because of some other guy who Sneak Attacked them…it’s kind of a muddled mess, and I don’t really have much of a solution.

My conclusion may be totally wrong, but this is what I’ve observed thus far.  If you have any other input, I’d like to hear it and discuss it. I’m trying to integrate friendships with people of both genders into my daily life because I do enjoy the company of and want the input of my brothers in Christ.  I’m not totally sure of the least-awkward way of doing this, but I am trying.

Have you ever had issues with forming friendships with the opposite sex?


Morning thought (short and sweet)

When I deviate from my natural tendency to complain about life’s circumstances to friends who no doubt sympathize and care and instead go first to the Lord with my troubles, I am faced with the disgusting reality than my usual behavior is that of passive aggression and that my complaints assault the very character of God.  When forced to lob the whines, the wonderings, and the questions of why things are the way they are at the very Lord who created and currently sustains all creation, has orchestrated my brothers’ and sisters’ and my own sanctification in a way that most glorifies Him, and has, most of all, saved me from my own wretched state of being, I realize just how absurd my petty concerns can be and how gracious God truly is.


An all-too typical response to personal tragedy

I’ve noticed through my 25 long years on this earth that, when faced with the tragic happenings in my own or a loved one’s life, many people respond with some variant of “Well, someone out there has is worse off.”  I haven’t experienced this terribly recently, but I do know that this sort of remark is not helpful in the least.  I’d like to explain why for those who still tend to use this response.

1. It does not point to Christ.  First and foremost, this response encourages the comparison of one life to another.  It doesn’t look to God for comfort but rather explores how the wounded person’s life is somehow better than another person’s.  This is like some sort of convoluted, reverse envy and it doesn’t encourage one to look to Christ in the midst of pain.  It only encourages a glance around at others to compare and contrast woes.

2. It completely invalidates real emotions.  This removes the opportunity to point to Christ as well.  Emotions, from my understanding of them, aren’t inherently good or bad, but looking to the truth in spite of what they may say is imperative.  Just responding with, “________ has is way worse off because they lost __________.” makes it sound as if the wounded person’s emotions are invalid because there exists someone else with bad things happening to them.  The fact of the matter is that their emotions are real, they are in pain, and they need to look to the truth of Christ in the midst of that pain.

3. It’s passive.  This response removes the responsibility of the comforting party to actually address any sort of over reaction being expressed by the wounded person.  If someone is making a mountain out of a molehill, they should be confronted with this information.  But, having them think about everyone else’s problems doesn’t actually fix anything.  Rather than explaining that their problems, while real, may not be as large as they are perceiving them to be (and also then giving the wounded person a chance to explain why this particular situation seems so large to them), this response just says that their problems don’t exist because there are larger problems elsewhere; it is not confronting with loving truth.

4. It’s extremely insensitive.  Can you imagine being the person to whom everyone else’s life was being compared? Being the person whose suffering is so horrific that others compare their own issues to it in order to feel better sounds awful.  This response acts as if personal tragedies can just be tallied up, counted and compared without sympathy. It also completely ignores the fact that God is in control and has seen fit to have some people experience one brand of tragedy while others may experience a different kind.

5. It doesn’t actually encourage anyone to appreciate what God has given them.  This response is often given (at least in my experience) to put things in perspective and emphasize what God has blessed the wounded person with.  This is something that can and should be done without comparing to what other people do and do not have.  Everyone’s life is different and the Lord has blessed each of us differently.  It should be enough to simply recognize the blessings that we have been given in spite of our wicked selves.  Comparison isn’t necessary and it places focus on people rather than on Christ.

Those are just my thoughts on the issue.  Have you ever had someone say this to you? What do you think about this particular response to tragedy?


Paying a debt not owed

I feel a lot of pressure to do certain things in life.  Let me clarify by saying that these “things” have no moral leaning, but are simply choices that I have.  One of those choices happens to be whether or not I continue my college education to get a degree beyond my current Associate’s degree.  At the moment, I have no such plans to do so, although I am not opposed to getting a higher level degree if I happen to find something that interests me enough to spend several thousand dollars and a few years of stress accomplishing it.

I was once taught that, because I am intelligent, I have an obligation both to God and the world around me to finish college and even graduate school.  I believed this for some time and it put me under an immense amount of stress because, truth be told, I don’t enjoy school and I was completely unsure of what I wanted as far as a career was concerned.  This led to years of entering college and dropping out.  Over and over again, I would go for a few months before dropping everything, assuring my parents that I was just taking a semester break to get things in order.  It wasn’t until about eighteen months ago that I realized how miserable I was going to school for a degree I didn’t want.  I dropped my schooling indefinitely and have yet to return.

This decision was one that still haunts me, but not because I think I made the wrong move; more because there’s still a part of me that believes that I owe it to someone, somewhere to finish a degree and get a job as an executive somewhere or something.  Despite the fact that this career path sounds dreadful to me, I feel obligated to follow it for my own success (whatever that means) and because they (whoever they are) expect it.

I was thinking about this today, and I suddenly realized: I don’t owe anything to anyone here on earth.  The only one I owe anything to is God, and I can’t even pay what I owe there.  Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace and providence have allowed payment to be made for my sinful, wretched self, but as far as paying what I owe…I can’t.

And, beyond that debt, I don’t owe anyone anything.  I want to make God-honoring decisions, and I will do my best to do so.  But, I don’t want to make decisions based on a feeling of obligation I have to the world.  That just seems backwards to me.

Do you ever feel like you have to do something that has no moral or ethical bearing simply because someone else wants you to? What are your thoughts on that sort of situation?


Dear American Christians Who Are Upset About This Year’s Election Results

Dear American Christians Who Are Upset About This Year’s Election Results,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

(Romans 13:1-7, ESV)

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 Forto this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

(1 Peter 2:13-25, ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

(1 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV)

Sincerely,

Chelsea