Judging, Being "Nice", and Final Authority

by Mary Stephens, July 2017

Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

There was a good deal of contention that arose about my recent article on the Duggars. I do not usually think it  necessary to defend my position on things. Usually, if I feel that I have explained myself clearly enough but readers are still tying themselves in knots of what I wrote, I figure I can't help them much more. Indeed, one lady who made comments in social media appeared to have either not read my article or she missed the point entirely because she accused me of things that were exactly the opposite of what I was trying to teach. If they write to me personally with questions I  have answered them at times. I think and hope that I am following the example of Jesus Christ in this since He did not always go to the trouble of explaining Himself to the general group, even when there were people who misunderstood Him.

In this case, however, I think there are a few things that should be pointed out, and perhaps explained more thoroughly, since they are issues on which I have not written before.

"If You Can't Say Something Nice..."

The first issue I wish to address is the wholesale defense of the Duggars based solely on their identity. "They are the Duggars. It's mean to pick on them. They are good people. They are so nice."

In reading other people's comments on various Duggar social media accounts, I have repeatedly run across this attitude. When someone in the comments questions some decision the Duggars made or something they put forth as truth, someone will pipe up and say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Sometimes the people defending them even get quite heated.

Apparently the Duggars have a good number of followers who don't read the Bible and are not familiar with the things that Jesus Christ said and did when He was on this earth. I'm pretty sure that these same people would be highly offended at things He said about the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers - the spiritual leaders and "giants" of their day - if they had been sitting there in the crowd at the time.

Our goal as Christians is not be "nice" or "tactful" to everyone in every situation. Sometimes we need to speak the truth clearly enough that it will offend someone. This is the example that Jesus gave us Himself. Contrary to what many modern Christians seem to believe, contention is a normal part of living as a Christian.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Mark 6:2-3 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

When someone puts themselves in a position where they are speaking on behalf of conservative Christianity in the way the Duggars have, their words and actions do need to be examined. We do not defend them just because they are allegedly on "our side." We should be thankful if someone is preaching the true Gospel. If they are not against Christ, they can be said to be for Him, assuming that they are not feigning their love of the truth for evil motives. The apostle Paul actually said that he was glad that the Gospel was being preached even when those preaching it were doing so for the purpose of making his suffering worse!

Luke 9:49-50 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

Philippians 1:15-18 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

But, we need to examine them to see if they have sound speech which cannot be condemned.

Titus 2:7-8 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Sadly, the Duggars have done and said things which do not measure up to this standard. There was little Gospel message on their earlier reality show (the new one remains to be seen). They do not seem to be feigning their love of the Lord for evil motives, but they are making a lot of money off of it. And, since they have put themselves into the position of being speakers on behalf of God, as it were, they need to be held accountable and their teachings examined. Where they are wrong and misrepresenting "the will of God" it needs to pointed out to protect those who are weak in the faith or easily lead astray or ill informed.

We don't defend them just because of who they are. This is having men's persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 1:16). The people who do this somehow think that it will be better for all Christians if we don't touch the Duggars because they are allegedly such a "good example" and so "wholesome." But, more than one person has seen the hypocrisy on their reality show. More than one has pointed out how they say their "rule" is this one time and something else another time, and perhaps still something else a third time.

A lot of people defended Josh Duggar over the issue of his molesting some girls when he was in his teens. Just because it was "one of ours" (a "good, godly conservative Christian"), it was excused with claims that accidents happen, kids do stupid things, it wasn't that bad, etc. But, it was "that bad" as it turned out. Josh had an ongoing, serious problem that was not properly dealt with, and he probably will fight that battle his entire life because of the level of stronghold it has had in him. Defending people just because of who they are can and does lead to real embarrassment when they turn out to be sinners after all. (Romans 3:23)

I expect that some of the people who have been so offended are people with large enough families that they have taken some flack over it. This is too bad. I know that people are sometimes unkind to large families and make ridiculous remarks to people with more than two or three kids. However, I have noticed that among some of the large family people, perhaps most of them, there is a tendency to be defensive and at times confrontational for no good reason. Rather than returning good for evil and showing patience toward other people's ignorance, they can become hyper-sensitive and assume that anyone who questions a large family is questioning all. This is not helpful, and it is self-defeating. The more defensive and quick to judge you become, the more those who are asking questions will assume that you are not comfortable in your position or that your reasons are weak or unbiblical as well.

By the way, "niceness" is not one of the fruit of the Spirit.

Someone might say that it isn't loving to point out problems with the Duggars. Maybe you need to stop thinking about your admiration of the Duggars and think about the people they are hurting with their teachings. Yes, hurting. Some of us don't just see the big, shiny, important people in these situations. We see the little people who are being hurt by the "important" people's teachings and we want to help them realize they don't need to "do what the ___________ do" to be "right with God." And, somehow I think that this is closer to the mind of Christ than defending someone just because they are famous.

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

And just to be clear, to my knowledge, I have never said that I didn't think the Duggars are truly saved. I actually have no way of knowing that, other than their own claims, since I don't know their hearts or their real manner of life. (The reality show is not real in many ways, in case you didn't know that. Most of that stuff is staged for the show, and one of the boys as much as admitted that in an interview - in other words, they wouldn't do a lot of those things, or in the way that they do them, if it were not for the show.) I also don't hate them. But, I am grieved by things they do and choices they have made for their family - and choices the younger ones are making for themselves; and I am very bothered by the fact that so many Christians approve their ways and view them as "untouchable."

Naming Names

Also, there were those who specifically didn't like me naming the Duggars.

One thing that is apparently overlooked or ignored by some folks is that the apostles were not afraid to name names of people who had done wrong in the body of Christ, especially if they were people of prominence or standing in the church.

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world...
2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
3 John 1:9-10 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

The Duggars have allowed themselves to be had in reputation and also have pushed themselves into that position by accepting the reality show as their "platform for the Lord" and agreeing to be a poster family for ATI and IBLP. Consequently, they have put themselves in a position to not only have their teachings examined, but to be named publicly. They are internationally recognized. They are not a small blip on the bigger picture of Christendom. I seldom, if ever, give the names of "little" people when dealing with situations of error or bad teaching. I don't need to, and I prefer to protect the identity of some of them because they are not known and they don't have any safety net to protect them from those who might harass them. The Duggars live in an "untouchable" status that insulates them from the direct contact of the masses to a larger degree. Their fame and fortune has set them "above the people" (Nicolaitans), and made them an authority figure to many people. Because of this, as with the Pharisees of old, they need to have their ways and teachings spoken of publicly as well.

Was It Judging?

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

I was also accused of judging the Duggars. To this I would say, yes, I did in some measure. Jesus commanded us to judge righteous judgment. I hope and pray that mine will be and has been righteous. My desire was and always is to show people that they should not be following mere men, but that they should weigh everything - everything! - in light of the word of God. My desire is to help some of the people who are being hurt by these teachings and ideas by showing them that they do not need to follow the Duggars' or any others' belief in order to be blessed by God. If that bothers you, you probably better stop reading the New Testament because there are quite a number of instances where people were rightly judged by Jesus Christ and the various apostles. I don't pretend to have that level of wisdom, but it is necessary to point out problems at times when we can see that something is contrary to scripture or destructive to others.

Furthermore, I am fully aware that because I write things on the internet, I myself may be judged by others as to the things that I write. That is part of speaking up in this day and age. Anyone who can't take it should keep quiet. I believe the Duggars are fully aware of this and they don't seem to have a problem with it most of the time. So, why do their followers?

Regarding: Condemning the World with Our Positions

There has been some misunderstanding over the issue of my questioning the Duggars for claiming that they are following "the heart of God" and "having God's heart toward children" in not using birth control at all. Some readers did not seem to get what I was trying to say. So, I'll go over that again here.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

The choices that we make about standards and convictions are very important. As I said in my previous article, Noah condemned the world through building an ark. He did this, in part, because he believed God and did what God told him to do. But, Noah had a special revelation. The Duggars do not.

When the Duggars say that they sought God so that they could have His heart toward children, and then they say that He led them to not use birth control, that is a very strong statement. I am frankly puzzled as to why some people are confused on that point. But let me give some other examples.

I don't wear high heeled shoes. I personally feel that they are sexy and that they make women walk in a sexy way. I know the world understands that because some years back there was a flap about the women wearing high heels in the swimsuit part of the Miss America pageant and in 1994 they were no longer allowed to wear them during that segment. It was considered by some to be too sexy and vampish.

But, I have no clear scripture to show that my position is entirely biblical. Consequently, it is my opinion. It is not "the heart of God about shoes." It is not even "loving modesty like God loves it." Because of that, I should not make a big deal of this. To express my opinion on this thing, but to condemn the world, and a lot of Christians, by making a big point over this issue would be inappropriate. It is a personal preference, maybe even conviction, but it not clearly what God thinks about it because there is nothing in scripture that I can point to as an absolute proof. (Now if we go far enough into outlandish footwear, I think we will have to come to some point where we see that certain styles do tend toward "the attire of an harlot" or the vanity of the flesh, but where that line falls is still a matter of opinion to some degree.)

When we pick a standard for ourselves to live by and we put it forward as how God thinks about the thing, we had better be mighty sure that we are standing on solid scripture. If it is a matter of opinion or interpretation, we need to beware of claiming we know the mind or heart of God on the subject. When anyone who is in a prominent position of such reputation as the Duggars does this there is a time to point them out and say plainly that they are wrong in doing that. The reason is to protect the weak and those who are easily led. Warning the sheep is an important part of the N.T. church ministry, as we see many times in scripture.

Colossians 1:27-28 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Where Is the Scripture?

Another thing I wish to address is possibly the one that disturbs me the most.

Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

There were women on social media complaining about my article and yet, strangely, I don't remember seeing one comment that used scripture to refute what I had said. One man wrote an email and he did use scripture - good for him - although he was guilty of some other inaccuracies. But, the majority of those complaining did not refer to the word of God.

This is a really big problem. It is really tragic when Christians will set out their opinion and call someone down on something as being totally wrong in whatever way without using one verse of scripture to support their claims! If they believed the Bible and it was truly their "final authority in all matters of faith and practice" they would use it.

This problem grieves me deeply.

If you are going to tell someone that they are wrong about something they have written or said relating to spiritual matters, your authority had jolly well better be something bigger than your own little, tiny, unimpressive opinion. Because you know what? I have one of those too. And I am fully aware of how inaccurate and biased it can be at times. Give us Bible reasons for why we are wrong, or don't expect us to take your opinions too seriously.

I will probably be accused of being bigoted and thinking that I am always right. Well, I don't think I'm always right, but if you're going to show me where I'm wrong, I want to know you are under an authority higher and more accurate than your opinion or feelings. I want to know that you are telling me the actual words of God, not just what you think He thinks, because your thoughts are not His any more than mine are. And, yes, I am bigoted. I believe the word of God, and in any instance where it disagrees with you, or the Duggars or me, the Bible is right and we are wrong!

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In Conclusion

Having said all that, let me repeat the most important thing here.

What does God say? What is actually written in His word?

This is not about the Duggars, nor is it about me, or your opinion, or what the "good, godly so-an-so" thinks. This is about pointing people to the words of God, to a final authority greater than mankind. It is about helping people realize that they need to think for themselves before God and not just follow "Christian" personalities. It is about holding forth the word of life. It is about holding God's word in higher esteem than the persons of men. It is about helping people who are confused by the claims of others to realize that they need to search the scriptures to see if these things be so. It is about helping people realize that they need to live by the Book, not what the preacher or teacher says, not what someone claims to be true, but what actually is the truth.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

That is it. Nothing more.

 

                    

graphics and background by Mary Stephens
Vintage graphics and illustrations - unknown