On Josh Duggar and Sexual Abuse: The Church needs to do more

Why does abuse prolong in Christian Churches and environments?

Why is sexual scandal so prevalent?

And whats worse….Why do some defend the Abuser, rather than the Victim?

Recently, Josh Duggar, now an adult, was exposed through many articles and news agencies for molesting several young girls (Including some of his sisters) when he was himself a minor.  His parents found out and sent Josh to counselling away from home for punishment. It took a few days for the articles to actually start giving some details about what happened, but almost immediately, Christians started defending Josh saying that he had repented, that his family handled it, and that he had changed.  This same rallying would more than likely not be done for someone of another faith, or an atheist if they committed the same; in fact, the rallying in these instances could be negative – all coming from the same group of people.

But Josh Duggar is not the only example of this.  From the world-known sexual abuse cases done by Catholic priests, to the instances of Protestant pastors and Youth Pastors doing the same, this issue is an issue, and Christians should NEVER by any means make light of it, or take the side of the accused, if found guilty.

Saying “what he did was terrible, but he is a changed man” is not enough.  As Christians, we understand that the power and forgiveness of Jesus is powerful, but we also know that sin is crippling, addictive, and harmful to us, and those around us.

In the case of Josh Duggar, it is too late to take legal action. But as an article on usatoday indicated, the Duggar family lied to the police officer they told, and even though they had lied, what they told the officer should have been followed up with an investigation. The family, and the police officer were at fault for not taking proper legal action.  After some counseling, the Abuser and the Victims still had to share a house together.

Christians should be disgusted, let down, and mournful over the Sin…not JUST supportive of Josh. The main focus should be on making sure the victims receive proper care and counseling, to make sure the law is upheld, and to see where it failed.

To make myself clear:  If Josh Duggar truly repented, I affirm his forgiveness in the name of Jesus, and I do not condemn him.  Though my main point thus far is this:  In his example, the sin is very grave, and effects of that sin are real, and we need to do a better job at addressing the issue instead of just defending a Christian celebrity.

Do we need more examples of how sexual abuse, and rape culture take place within the church?

  • A Youth Pastor who sexually abused several boys, and clear signs were shown that should have stopped him.  Read Here
  • A girls story of being sexually abused by her brother in a Christian home, and not being taken seriously… Read Here
  • An excellent article on one woman’s experience with Rape Culture (Warning: Graphic Language)…Read Here

The question, “what could have been done better” is an example of what Christians should be asking, in addition to “What are the signs”, and “What can we do now”.

Oftentimes, these sexual abusers are those who people trust, those that no one would suspect anything from, and they could also be a family member.  In these issues, when comments, concerns, or questions are spoken…we cannot view the accused through Rose-Colored glasses…we have to view them, and the situation through a very critical lens.

But we live in a sub-culture that has a tendency to esteem Men over Women, to put leaders of the church on pedestals, and to not question authority or speak up.

We live in a culture that governs what women are to wear and that lets the men wear whatever they want.  We focus on what the women can do for the men to “Keep them from stumbling”, while saying “Boys will be boys” instead of teaching our boys self-control and respect, and being men and women that respect and care for all people.

We need to be a people known for the safety of Children, not the molestation of them.  We need to have boundary training, set procedures to follow, have open door policies, and we need to encourage anyone to speak up if they suspect anything.

We can no longer be silent.  We can no longer turn a blind eye. We can no longer blindly support a person because of their status or religion, while diminishing their wrongful actions.

We need to be a people that is at the forefront of advocacy against rape culture, sexual abuse, and all other forms of abuse.  Imagine if the people in our church knew that EVERY Man or Woman in the church would stand up for them and with them in these instances? Imagine if our little girls and boys were protected by men and women who would protect them, and guard them against any pretitors because they were educated on what to look out for.

Jesus calls us to more.

The Church is called to more.

Stop being a part of the problem, and stand against abuse wherever it is found!  If you see or hear of anything that could be suspicious: Speak UP!

In the comments, let me know how your church protects both Children and Itself from these instances.

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The Sermon On The Mount: Part Seven – Summary

**This post will is the seventh and final post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

A Summary of Matthew 5-7

In the last six posts in this series, I have gone section by section through Matthew 5-7, commonly known as, “The Sermon on the Mount”.  In this famous sermon, Jesus covered a lot of topics for Christians to consider, and gave a lot of instruction on how a Christian is Called to Live.

We have learned that Christianity is NOT just saying a prayer and going to church.  Christianity is NOT just about writing sermon notes, reading the bible, or wearing a cross necklace.

Christianity IS About committing to a life centered on Jesus by:

  • Striving to be defined by the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
  • Being Salt and Light to the World (Matthew 13-16)
  • Fighting our Anger (Matthew 5:21-26)
  • Fighting our Lusts (Matthew 5:27-30)
  • Fighting Against Divorce and Bad Relationships (Matthew 5:31-32)
  • Not taking Oaths (Matthew 5:33-37)
  • Non-Violence and Loving our Enemies (Matthew 5:38-48)
  • Giving to the Needy with a Humble Spirit (Matthew 6:1-4)
  • Seeking God’s Will and Kingdom (Matthew 6:5-13)
  • Forgiving Others (Matthew 6:14-15)
  • Praying and Fasting Humbly (Matthew 6:16-18)
  • Not letting money become a God (Matthew 6:19-24)
  • Trusting God with our lives – whether poor, or whether rich (Matthew 6:25-34)
  • Not Judging others (Matthew 7:1-6)
  • Asking the Lord for Help (Matthew 7:7-11)
  • Treating Others the way we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12-14)

And finally, following Jesus is about having faith in him, and following him with all that we have, so that our actions, words, and thoughts are reflections of His influence on our lives.  (Matthew 7:15-29)

Following Jesus is a high calling that EVERY Christian is called to.

Are we ready to LIVE like Jesus?

Are we ready to APPLY His teachings to our lives?

The Sermon On The Mount: Part Six – Matthew 7:15-29

**This post is the sixth post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

Recap – The content in the last section was a little separated, but the theme was as follows:  “Every one of us is on a journey in life, and each one of us isn’t perfect.  We should not lose sight of our own imperfection and judge others, instead, we should pray for help, or pray for any need we have, and we should always treat others as we would wish to be treated.”

In this next section, the theme is best said by: “Do God’s Will if you believe”

Bear Good Fruit – Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus made an analogy of what it means to truly follow Him by using trees that bear fruit.  A healthy tree will bear good fruit, but an unhealthy tree will bear bad fruit.  If a person follows Christ, they will/should bear good fruit; if they do not follow Jesus, they will bear bad fruit.

Trees that bear bad fruit are not good, and they are not healthy trees.  If a persons claims to be a Christian, and their actions and words do not match up…is their faith truly defining their life?  Is their faith really real?

“I Never Knew You” – Matthew 7:21-23

This passage is pretty dramatic. In this passage, Christ says that some who call Him LORD, will not enter heaven; only those who do the Will of God.   These people who Christ says will not enter heaven had prophesied in Christ’s name, had cast out demons in the name of Jesus, have done many mighty works – all in the name of God.  And yet, Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you”.

Why?  Because these people may have called Jesus LORD, but they did not see Him as LORD over their own lives – they did not do what their Lord would have them to do, only religious acts without the heart behind it.

Again, we see that doing the Will of God, following Jesus’ teachings, words, and example, are VERY important for the Christian faith.  Works alone will not save anyone, but if one has Faith in Christ, following HIS Will is important.

A Solid Foundation – Matthew 7:24-27

Most of us have heard the parable of the man who build his house on the Rock, and the man who built his house on sand.  The house on the rock withstood the tests of time and weather, and the house on the sand could not withstand the wind, rain, and floods; it washed away.

What Jesus was saying in this parable was that those who hear His teachings and DO them – they are like the man who built his house on the Rock.  But everyone who Hears, and does not do, builds a house on the sand; therefore having a false sense of security when in reality…their faith rests on only themselves because they do not want to fully commit to the calling of following Jesus.

The Authority of Jesus – Matthew 7:28-29

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,  for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”(ESV)

Jesus’ teachings were unlike what the crowd had heard before; they knew that something was special about them, and that something was special about Jesus.  Though they did not believe him to be the Messiah at this point, they did see him as someone worth listening to; some even saw him as someone worth following.

Conclusion

Jesus calls us to more than belief; Jesus calls us to Active Faith.

Is your life Centered on Christ, or is only your faith only a belief, and not an Active Belief?

What does it mean to live like Jesus?  How can we follow Jesus in practical and every day ways? Comment below.

 

 

The Sermon On The Mount: Part Five – Matthew 7:1-14

**This post is the fifth post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

Recap – We left off with the last section in this series (Matthew 6:19-34), which could be summed up by the following theme:  If we want to follow Jesus, we should know that earthly possessions do not matter as much as trusting the Lord in all of life’s circumstances.

The theme in Matthew 7:1-14 is more like:  Every one of us is on a journey in life, and each one of us isn’t perfect.  We should not lose sight of our own imperfection and judge others, instead, we should pray for help, or pray for any need we have, and we should always treat others as we would wish to be treated.

“Judge Not” – Matthew 7:1-6

People tend to look at the imperfections of others in higher standing than their own.  It is easy to look at the flaws of others while ignoring the prideful and arrogant lenses that we view them through.

Christians have a bad reputation for judging others, both other Christians, and those who are not Christians. This reputation hurts the spread of the true good news of Christianity greatly because instead of one person making a positive impact for Christ, one person could single-handedly blacken the name of Christ to another.

When we judge others, we look past the “log in our own eye” and concentrate on the “speck” in another’s.  Jesus said “Judge not, that you be not judged”, emphasizing that God forgives abundantly, God is the only one to judge anyone, and that if we judge someone, we will be held accountable for the judgement by God.

Ask & Receive – Matthew 7:7-11

The greatness of Christianity is the ability to have fellowship with God; the ability to communicate our thoughts, concerns, praises, and requests, directly to the same God who created life and light.

Jesus tells us to ask of him, and you will receive; seek, and find.  Jesus said this after instructing them to fix their own flaws first, as well as telling them in teh previous chapter to not worry about wealth. We can come to God with anything, and he WILL answer.

The Golden Rule – Matthew 7:12-14

Jesus instructs his listeners here, after talking about judging and wealth, that we should treat others in the way in which we would wish to be treated. Would we want to be judged by others? No. Would we want to be called names? No. Would we want to be looked upon as anything less than a human being? No.

A pastor who I met in college had this saying that he tried to live by:  “Nothing in the Bible permits me to be a jerk”.   Followers of Christ should not have the stereotype of being judgmental, mean, or insensitive.

Directly after Jesus communicated “The Golden Rule”, He made mention that we are to be on teh narrow gate (or go through the narrow gate), for the gate is wide and easy on the path to destruction.  But the narrow road is tough.  The narrow road requires a love that supersedes our natural tendencies; a love that treats others the same or better than we wish to be treated.

How have you made an impact to others?  Have you been a positive image, or a negative one?

There are things that I regret doing, and saying, years later; even after I have sought forgiveness. The key is learning from our failures, and striving to live like Jesus to those around us.

The Sermon On The Mount: Part Four – Matthew 6:19-34

**This post will is the forth post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

Recap – We left off with an overall message of:  If we want to follow Jesus, we’re called to love, pray, and worship genuinely.  It’s all about the nature of our hearts; the motives behind our worship need to be pure.

In this next section in Matthew 6, verses 19-34, the overall theme is best summed up as: If we want to follow Jesus, we should know that earthly possessions do not matter as much as trusting the Lord in all of life’s circumstances.

God and Money – Matthew 6:19-24 

Money can consume us; whether we are in need or not.  We can spend so much time thinking about how we are going to pay the electric bill in a very hot or cold month, how we’re going to fill our tank up again, or how we’re going to advance further, financially, in our life time.

Jesus warns us how money can become an idol – where we may have a lot of treasure, but none of that matters when you pass on to the next life; your spiritual treasures are what matters.  So wich are you focused on?

Jesus said that the eye is the lamp of the body, so is your eye on God, or on money?  If it is on money, you will notice that money consumes your thoughts, and you are never really satisfied with what you have.  If God consumes your thoughts, though money is a natural part of life, it will not be the focus of your life.

Trusting God through observing nature – Matthew 6:25-34

Life seems simpler as an animal sometimes.  You wake up, search for food, build nests or dens, sleep, repeat.  Animals don’t have bills, they don’t have to buy clothing, or food; they just live. Is life hard for them? Yes – predators could get to them, and they have to survive the harsh winters and the hot summers.

For humans, its hard to say that God will provide for us sometimes because we know that some Christians die of starvation, some are homeless, and although these things happen, some of these people STILL are joyful.  Why?  Because they know that heaven is greater, that God is loving, and they let that hope carry them through, instead of letting their worries gain control over their tomorrows.

This passage seems to indicate that God knows and provides for our needs.  I am going to be honest and say that I have a hard time accepting the view that God provides for the needs of a Christian when the starvation and homelessness of Christians exist.  It would be easy for me to believe that God provides all of our needs because I have all of my needs…but what about those who don’t? Its difficult; its messy.  For now, I have to trust in the God who gave me the greatest gift of faith, and pray for clarification for the rest. If you have any thoughts on this, please leave a comment!

The Sermon On The Mount: Part Three – Matthew 6:1-18

**This post will is the third post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

Recap – We left off at the end of Matthew 5, verses 17-48.  The topics covered in this section were The Law (17-20), Anger & Lust (21-30), Divorce (31-32), Oaths (33-42), and Non-Retaliation and Enemy Love (43-48).   Christ’s theme in all of Chapter 5 seems to be something like, “If you want to follow me, You’re called to more than what is expected of you from the world”.

In this next section in chapter 6, verses 1-18, Christ’s theme seems to be something like, “If you want to follow me, You’re called to love, pray, and worship genuinely”.

We’re Called to Love Genuinely – Matthew 6:1-4.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1-4 that when we practice our faith in ways that would seek attention, we are not doing those good actions from a pure heart, but from a selfish heart.   When we help the poor, and when we try to quench the thirst of poverty…we should not do so in ways that would attract attention to ourselves; trying to save face.  We should be doing these things in ways that would Not attract attention, and our motives should purely be centered on serving God, and serving others.

Following Jesus is a religion of humility before a righteous God, and of service to your fellow human being.  Following Jesus is NOT a religion of selfishness, or of self-exclaiming pride

We’re Called to Pray Genuinely – Matthew 6:5-15

Like we learned from the previous passage, we should not pray in order to be heard, or to get attention, but rather, prayer is to be a special moment shared between us and God.

This passage also teaches us that when we pray, repeating the same request over and over again does not make God hear us more;  it does not change how God is going to respond to our request.

In verses 9-13, “The Lord’s Prayer” is said by Jesus as an instruction on how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that has been said throughout Christendom for hundreds of years; some traditions state that its usage dates back to the first century with the early Christians.  Some traditions still incorporate the Lord’s prayer into their weekly services because they believe Jesus instructed that the Lord’s Prayer should be said regularly, while others say it would be vain repetition to say the same words over and over again.  Regardless of our personal opinion on its usage in today’s world, we can at least observe what the prayer intended to communicate to its original audience.

The prayer starts by acknowledging the Lord’s divinity through showing reverence to his name.  It then petitions the Lord to usher His kingdom into the world, and that His Will would be done.  The next part is asking for “our daily bread”, which has been interpreted to mean either literal food, or it could also be a metaphor for spiritual food.  The prayer then closes with asking for forgiveness, while acknowledging our need to forgive others, and to also keep us from the temptation to fall again.

After the prayer, verses 14-15 continue to stress the importance of forgiving others.

We’re Called to Worship Genuinely – Matthew 6:16-18

Matthew 6:16-18 is about fasting, and it ties into the theme of this whole section of Matthew 6:1-18; the idea that we should not do acts of service, prayer, or worship because we want to gain attention; but because we are simply trying to serve the God we love.  

Fasting is meant to be a time of withholding from something for the purpose of worship of God, prayer, and/or praise.  Some observe this practice today, and others do not.  Regardless of what your practice is, the principle for this whole first section of Matthew 6 is summed up in the meaning behind verses 17 and 18, which says:

“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”(ESV)

When a person would fast, their hair, hygiene, and overall appearance could look poor because of their lack of food for whatever amount of time they chose to fast.  Because of this, Jesus gave the literal teaching to make your hair look nice, clean up, and go about your day as if you were not fasting so that what you are doing for God would only be seen by God.  Again, the purpose for this was to tear down people’s perceptions of what it meant to worship as shown to them by their religious leaders, which was public and attention-seeking worship.

Conclusion

Worship is meant to be done for God, and is between him and us.  Different people worship different ways. Some worship God best through contemplative reading, thought, and prayer.  Some worship best through Service, and others worship best through music.  Regardless of the mode of worship, we should never lose sight of the purpose of Worship.