I’d like to address two issues of the Josh Duggar molestation story. If you unfamiliar with what has happened, see here.
There are different ways to view hypocrisy.
One view is “If a person has done something wrong in the past they can never speak out against it in the future.” One is welcome to this view but two bitter pills must be swallowed.
First, it condemns a virtue. It is a virtue to speak out against what is wrong. Even if they do not reveal their past sins, it is still good to encourage others to do what is right.
Second, it’s unlivable and hypocritical itself. Ever lied, gossiped, or been nasty? Then you can’t tell others not to do these things or you self-condemn yourself as a hypocrite. With this view one cannot parent children because parenting involves teaching children not to act like you did as a kid. Imagine the following conversation:
Mom: Johnny, you disobeyed me.
Johnny: Did you ever disobey your parents?
Johnny: Then you’re a hypocrite – be quiet.
Another view I’ve heard regarding this story is essentially “A person should not speak out against another if their sins are or were worse.”
This view also condemns the virtue of speaking against what is wrong and promoting what is right.
In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells His disciples not to judge others when they are guilty of the same thing. He even states their sins are much larger than those they are speaking against. Then He instructs them to get rid of their hypocrisy, and get this: judge their brother to help them. This view allows people to be virtuous and encourage others to do what is right. It also avoids self-condemnation.
Many commenting on this Duggar story are very upset that this ‘holier-than-thou’ family is not all that reality TV has portrayed them to be. (Since when did people believe reality TV was actual reality?) To help alleviate this misconception, Christians need to communicate that they are not ‘holier-than-thou’ – their righteousness comes from Christ. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:9, “and [to] be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Righteous living is meant to honor God, oneself, and to encourage others to do the same. It is not meant to put others down. Admitting the struggles and failures with sin may make Christianity more real, authentic, and approachable to unbelievers. It may help people to be more open to Christianity instead of driving them away.