Well, I guess Josh Duggar won the not-so-desirable prize.
When I saw the reports that the Ashley Madison website hackers were finally releasing the information they had stolen, one of my first thoughts was that it was likely that a few well-known Christian names were likely to appear on the list. Some pastors, Christians celebrities, actors or athletes. When something like this happens the fact that we are flesh and blood, frail to the bone, and sinful to the core, is usually reinforced for all to see.
Unless there are names that I haven’t seen, Josh Duggar is the first big name Christian celebrity whose name has surfaced as being an Ashley Madison client. Okay, folks, let’s just admit it. Josh is one messed up dude. As far as I can remember, I’ve never watched an episode of the Duggars, though I’ve watched a minute or two as I flipped through the stations. Those kinds of shows never appealled to me. I was busy watching Rick, Hoss, and Chumlee at the Pawn shop or catching as many episodes of the various iterations of NCIS as I could. I didn’t know Josh Duggar even existed until the molestation story came out. Now, he is admitting to an addiction to pornography and infidelity to his wife. The facts of this story are not in doubt.
I think it is fair to say that through the years Josh Duggar has been a hypocrite. He has maintained a public personna as a family man, an advocate for certain values, and has lived a life that undermined those values. This isn’t a judgment, folks. He admitted to hypocrisy – its a self-description.
I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I know true spiritual healing isn’t going to come until he faces himself in the mirror, stops playing games, and genuinely repents. God’s redemptive power is great enough to make a godly man grow out of the massive pile of bovine droppings that Josh’s life is right now. He’s made his life a mess, but God can restore and rebuild. God will only do that when the games end, when honesty begins, and he faces the truth.
One thing is for sure – right now he is one of the most hated, reviled, and despised men in America. After I read the article, I made a huge mistake. I perused the comments for a few minutes. Wow, wow, wowser-wow. They were vile, vicious, and eviscerating. And they tended to have one thing in common – the extrapolation fallacy. Based on Duggar’s moral failure, the commenters made dozens of deductions. Among them:
- All Republicans are hypocrites.
- These family values guys say one thing and do another.
- I always knew these Duggars had something to hide.
- The conservative Christians are all like this.
- You have to watch what goes on behind closed doors with those homeschoolers!
On and on it went. Whatever Josh Duggar was that someone didn’t like, he was proof that everyone who shared his opinions and viewpoint was exactly like that. It’s the extrapolation fallacy.
Josh Duggar is a homeschooler. Therefore, all homeschoolers are pedophiles, adulterers and hypocrites. He is opposed to gay marriage, therefore all opponents of gay marriage are just like Josh. Time and time again, the commenters extrapolated generalities about groups Josh belonged to, and not once did anyone bother to call them on the logic of that extrapolation.
We do it pretty often.
- I knew a Calvinist once who didn’t believe in evangelism. “All Calvinists oppose evangelism.”
- A traditionalist friend of mine told me he knew some Christian Rock musicians who led sinful lives. From that he extrapolated that all modern Christian music was wrong and that we should stick to the old hymns from the hymnbook.
- I was once badly treated by a person of (a particular race or national background), therefore they must all be bad.
Here is what we know about Josh Duggar. He is an adulterous, hypocritical mess. Even those who were willing to give him a pass for his “youthful indiscretions” (they were disgusting and awful) have to admit now that he has some severe character issues. He needs serious repentance, likely some intense spiritual counseling, and the power of the Spirit using the Word of God to the work of God in his life. There is no easy fix for that young man. I have no idea if his marriage will hold together. But he is a messed-up, broken man. I will not speculate any more than that, because all I know about him is the result of press reports from the doggone internets! But I don’t have to go out on a limb to say what I’ve said.
But you can’t really say anything about the Duggar family as a whole because of him. There’s 457 kids, right? If there is one bad apple, you cannot condemn the whole family. Please hear me, the Duggars are not my cup of tea. Dave is NOT a fan of the show or of some of their ways. But it is not fair to extrapolate from Josh’s failings to a general Duggar condemnation – at least not with the information we have now.
You cannot use Josh Duggar to condemn all family advocates, all conservatives, all homeschoolers, or any of the other groups he belongs to. If it is found that all the Duggar men had accounts at Ashley Madison, then extrapolate away. If someone can prove that the kind of things Josh did were encouraged in that world, then generalizations are fair.
But short of that, the extrapolation tendency is just a form of logical laziness. Rather than support my view with Scripture, with evidence, or with argument, I just extrapolate from some poor schnook like Josh Duggar and think I can win a point or two.
One more thing, especially for those of you who find the Duggars a little smug and annoying. If you take any joy or satisfaction from this Duggar downfall, then you have sin to deal with in your own heart. Jesus gave us some clear orders about loving our enemies and praying for others that are absolutely and unequivocally in play here. Smirking at the suffering of a fellow Christian family, even one that annoys you, is an offense against a holy God! They kind of annoyed me too, folks. But this is the time to lift that family up to the Father and ask him to bless them. This is knee time, not knife time.
Now, let me see if there’s an NCIS marathon on the USA Network.