a young man who has been home-schooled, who has lived much of his life as a star of a reality television show about his family that includes 18 siblings, is discovered to have been guilty of fondling girls, including some of his sisters, during his early teen years. it's too easy to ridicule josh duggar for his fall from his right-wing pedestal and to shake our fingers at him for his and his family's pompous pronouncements about how gay rights endanger children. they've engaged in hypocritical and ill-informed statements about how marriage equality and laws prohibiting discrimination against the lgbt community harm children.
maybe we should consider what led this young man to this point. he was denied the opportunity to have social interactions outside his family that most kids have growing up. how was he to learn what is appropriate or to have the chance to experiment and discover how to express his sexuality during those formative years when hormones are raging? he was brainwashed with a one-sided view of the world and denied experiencing the diversity of opinions and lifestyles that kids outside the home-schooling community learn to deal with. when he made these terrible choices as a young teen, he wasn't allowed to access qualified counseling services; his mistakes were treated as "sins" that are forgivable and which can therefore be swept under the rug, so to speak, rather than as cries for help in dealing with something he was unable to comprehend on his own.
how many others are trapped in this narrow-minded mindset during those critical years when they should be learning to deal with the world at large? we are so quick to point our fingers in delight when self-proclaimed paragons of "family values" are discovered to be just as human as the rest of us. a conservative senator from a southern state is outed for his dalliances with a prostitute and we gleefully condemn him rather that feeling empathy for his family and the pain he and they must be experiencing. a "family-values" representative is exposed for his attempts to seduce a page of the same sex, and we are so quick to condemn him. an anti-gay pastor is discovered with a social media account on a gay app on which he seeks liasons with gay men, and we chortle with delight at his discomfort and "fall from grace."
sure, the hypocrisy of their public persona which hides a hurting psyche that is at odds with what they publicly proclaim makes us angry, and we are thrilled to be able to condemn such two-facedness. while we do this, we forget that we are all human, we all fail, we all engage in hypocrisy at times. perhaps we would do better simply to remind ourselves and the world at large that these failings of prominent conservatives demonstrate that they, too, have feet of clay like the rest of us. while we learn from the dangers of narrow-minded gay-bashing, "sin"-condemning self-righteousness that characterize these proponents of "family values," we should see that they are human like the rest of us.
may we not use the shortcomings of others to place ourselves on a pedestal of tolerant virtue. may we speak out against wrong but still see the humanity in the failures of others and ourselves. may we be quicker to empathize and slower to take joy in castigation. shalom.