|"We were reaching the gays?" -Jim Bob|
The Duggar family is in the news this week. Nope, nobody's pregnant. Yet. There are two petitions out. One calls for their show '19 Kids and Counting' to be canceled. The other is one in support of keeping the show on the air.
This put me in a major predicament. I say major, but I guess it wasn't all THAT major. It did pull me in two directions though, not just personally because of my affinity for all things Duggar, but with people I care about. There are strong opinions on both sides, from people I respect and love.
My Duggar fandom all started a few years ago while I was still working in the music industry. While picking up some sweet swag one day at a conference (FREE GAITHER CDs?!? HOLLA), I was gifted a DVD of the Duggars' first season. I was hooked.
There's no swag like Duggar swag, amiright.
I loved the idea of a family living for Jesus in the spotlight. I wished that I could talk to my kids in the soft voice Michelle uses instead of the bellowing I tend to do up the stairs. I was frustrated with their harsh critics. I loved the idea of a big family.
And then the show kind of started bothering me.
There were things I didn't LOVE about the show or their lifestyle, but there really wasn't anything so heinous that I'd stop watching. I couldn't put my finger on why the show was losing its appeal. I realized eventually what bothered me the most. The Duggar family has such a rare opportunity to show Jesus to the world. Not only do they have an amazing outlet to spread the message of God's lavish love, they have finances and a ginormous posse at their disposal to be reaching the world...
But that's not what I was seeing. I felt like what I started to see was a family turning into a corporation. I saw that this family really keeps to themselves and doesn't have much to do with the world around them. I saw so many missed opportunities. They present such a narrow view of God and Christianity that I think sometimes it's actually harming the Kingdom. They have all the answers and they know what's best for everyone. They speak out on a lot of Christian 'pet sins' like abortion and homosexuality and not enough about radical love. They have gotten louder and louder with the voice they've gained from being on television.
What are they doing with their voice? They are discriminating, yet believe that they are being discriminated against and that they are the ones being targeted. The problem isn't religious intolerance. I don't think anyone out in the world cares if we love Jesus or Buddha, read our Bibles or don't. They care about how they are treated. The problem is that religion has been used as a weapon for so long against so many (minorities such as women, gays and African Americans) that there is a perceived need to protect the world from Christians. Isn't that so backward? Shouldn't we be treating people SO WELL that others want to follow Jesus? And feel loved like crazy by us and God? But that isn't what we are getting across at all and I believe the Duggars are a part of that.
The Duggars do not get to decide for the world what 'family values' are. I do not think it's a family value to call people murderers. To act as though homosexuals don't have a right to exist in your world. To say that anyone is asking for 'special rights' when they don't enjoy the same freedoms you do. Those things cloud the view of the Gospel. It's majoring in minors and it is hurting people. How can we reach people in Love if what they hear is hate? If we don't even reach out to them at all, but shut them out? The speech and actions of the Duggars only bring people like them closer and push different people further away.
There is a way to do things so that you are treating people well and showing love, even if there is a disagreement in how things should be done. Above all, aren't we commanded to love each other? People don't see love in a lot of the Christianity that is publicized. They don't feel loved. They feel condemned and they feel threatened. How will anyone ever reach non-Believers if they slam the door in their face? If their differences aren't welcome in their world? Christians should have friends of all kinds. We should be the first ones reaching out to anyone who feels marginalized.
If Jesus was a baker, would He bake a cake for a gay wedding? I think He would. He would get to know the couple and their family and treat them better than anyone else had ever treated them. Would Jesus rather a child grow up in an orphanage in some poverty stricken or war torn country than be adopted by a gay couple? I don't think so.
For the record, I didn't sign either petition. I still enjoy the show, and I agree with a lot that they do. To ask TLC to kick them off the air would be doing the very thing I want to change about the whole situation. But to sign for them to stay on, especially with the phrasing used in the petition, also goes against my beliefs.
I am not asking for Christians or the Duggars to change their views. The fact that I may hold different ones doesn't matter. What I am asking for is a change in our conversation. A change in what we show the world of Jesus and Love. True Love.