When I don't live up to my own values, I am guilty of everything of which I accuse them.
Bigotry. Hypocrisy. And more.
What I am most ashamed of is my gleeful reaction to this scandal. When I delight in the Duggars' ironic and precipitous fall, when I ignore that real live human beings were and are and will be hurt by these acts and their public exposure, I simply am not living up to my calling as a Christian, progressive or otherwise.
I am called to love, to pray for those suffering, to forgive. And I am failing in epic fashion where this family is concerned.
What Josh did ten years ago was wrong.
What his family did in the ten years since was a mistake.
And what I do in celebrating their disgrace, in failing to forgive them their particular version of the sin endemic to our apostate race, and in not recognizing how my deep-set feelings of anger and shame continue to interfere with my call to love God and my neighbors are my own form of abomination.
"You should be ashamed," someone says to the hero of my novel Free Bird, Clay Forester, another struggling Christian from a difficult Family of Origin.
"I am," he says. "Pretty near all the time."
But we don't have to live there. We can change. We can forgive and be forgiven.
That is at the heart of our faith.
Rick Warren — another Christian I'm irrationally fond of disliking — puts it this way. We are called to more, he says. To better. To forgiveness, because we have been forgiven.
In fact, you might want to pray with me, if you find yourself similarly afflicted, this prayer from Dr. Warren which turns out to be, to my great and growing chagrin, both wise and spiritually appropriate to my current malaise:
Dear Jesus Christ, you know I've been hurt by others. You know that my resentment has made me act in ways that have been unreasonable and unhelpful and unhealthy. I need your power to release and forgive those who've hurt me so I can stop letting them control me. Would you please replace my hurt with the peace of Jesus Christ? God, I realize that I've hurt a lot of other people with my habits and my bad decisions and my hang-ups. Would you please forgive me for the way I've hurt others? Help me to make a list of those I've harmed and in the right way at the right time to humbly seek to make amends. Jesus Christ, I want to refocus my life on you. I want to face the future courageously with love and peace in my heart. Would you replace my resentment with your love, my bitterness with your grace? Thank you for your graciousness to me. Thank you for forgiving me for the things that I've done wrong. In Jesus' name. Amen.