Wow, what a hack!
First, Ashley Madison gets hacked. And next, details of its 32 million subscribers are leaked. And then, comes one of the biggest piece of news (or the juiciest piece of gossip) in the Christian world: Josh Duggar was a registered customer of Ashley Madison!
Months earlier, Josh, 27, married with four children, had admitted that he had molested four of his sisters when he was a teenager. That drew lots of comments and opinion, both for and against how he and the Duggar Family dealt with it. And before the dust can even settle, this. What has made it even more glaring is that he is the eldest of the Duggars of the reality series “19 Kids and Counting”, a model family many look to for marriage, family and parenting issues.
The most tempting thing to do, and the easiest, would be to jump on the bandwagon and begin dissecting Josh and his family. What went wrong? Who’s to blame? Well, that is not the point of this post; so, we won’t go there.
What this episode has revealed, rather, is that many Christians (if not all) have secret sins! Of course, we hope that we never find an entire Church’s membership roll on Ashley Madison’s database (or equivalent). But the truth is, we all have some hidden weakness – some are just more scandalous than others. And no one needs to know about them as long as we are able to put up the right front in church and in Christian circles. We simply know the right things to say, when and how to say it.
This really makes me wonder how many of our ministers and volunteers are actually hiding behind Christian masks whilst faithfully carrying out their duties in and around church? Could the worship leader that led us into God’s presence on Sunday morning be accessing pornographic sites on Sunday night? Could the elder who handles the church’s finance be manipulating his own business accounts? Could the caring and ever-present cell leader be an abusive and selfish husband to his own wife and children? Could the Men’s Ministry leader be having an affair with the Women’s Ministry volunteer? Could the charisma of a capable pastor be merely a cover up for his questionable character? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it, when Christian masks are on?
In times past, actors would put on masks to depict and express the characters they were playing. The Greek word for such play-actors is hupokrites from which we get our English word, hypocrite. In his statement, Josh Duggar admitted, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” Has Christianity today, with all its emphases on sound, lights and action, become a theological theatre that boasts a company of hupokritai?
When I hear Christians lament about why they left a certain church or stopped serving in the ministry because of their encounter with hypocrites, I smile and quip, “Welcome to the club!” We may not have registered with Ashley Madison as Josh Duggar did, but like him, I believe we have, on more than a few occasions, played the hypocrite. The scary thing is that we may have had so much practice and experience in playing the part that we actually think we are that model Christian when in actuality we are far from it. Sadly, whilst others can see that from a mile off, we are usually the last ones to realise it. How devastating when the Lord reveals it!
Dear friends, let us learn from this unfortunate incident involving Josh Duggar. Without doubt, there is no one who does not struggle with sin. Thankfully, the grace of God is available to us in its abundance! Others may not understand us but the Lord Jesus does, He Himself being tempted at all points as we are, and yet without sin (Heb 4:15). Don’t try to mask anything from Him for in His presence, everything – yes, every secret sin – comes to light. Stop playing the hypocrite or trying to be someone that you aren’t. The only identity we need, and have by grace through faith in Christ, is found in Him and Him alone.