Friday, August 21, 2015

The Scars of Law and the Riches of Grace: Josh Duggar and 32 Million Ashley Madison Users

Odysseus by John William Waterhouse
"I have been the biggest hypocrite ever." Those were the first public words from Josh Duggar after hackers released information that Mr. Duggar spent hundreds of dollars at Ashley Madison, a website designed for married people who desire to have extra-marital sexual affairs. Mr. Duggar, the former Vice-President of the Family Research Council, had worked tirelessly in opposition to gay marriage, internet pornography, and other moral and social issues.  All the while, Mr. Duggar lived a secret life of "pornography addiction...and marital infidelity." The public exposure of Mr. Duggar's duplicity - or to use his word, hypocrisy - has set Twitter and social media on fire.

Hackers released the email addresses and credit card usage of 32 million users of Ashley Madison - but the media is focusing like a laser beam on Josh Duggar. Why is there a media and cultural infatuation with a twenty-seven-year old Christian whose singular claim to fame is being the eldest son of a family featured on a second-rate reality television show? The Advocate, an online news organization promoting gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles writes that the Duggars have "a long history of anti-LGBT" rhetoric and actions. The Duggars have promoted "family values" and have called homosexuality a sin.  It seems that The Advocate and other media have the rationale that, "if readers can see the lies and hypocrisy of Josh Duggar's life, then surely they'll understand the lies and deception of Josh Duggar's words," 

That's why Josh Duggar has been singled out among 32 million Ashley Madison users. Those who don't like the idea that moral law actually comes from our Creator will seize on anything to convince themselves and others that there is actually no moral law from God. Promoting hypocrisy in the life of one who speaks freely of Divine law makes those who despise the concept of moral law feel better about the possibility that God's law doesn't even exist. It's not news when an atheist has an affair.

However, those who have singled out Josh Duggar from among the 32 million Ashley Madison users are probably ignorant of the fact that God's law was only designed to expose the problem within us and never designed to expunge the problem from us. I'm an evangelical preacher of the gospel. I'm not surprised by any moral failure in the life of any Christian who publicly and repeatedly promotes God's laws to the world. Not only am I not surprised; I expect it. No matter how boldly one proclaims that adultery and homosexuality are violations of God's moral law, Divine law has no power to remove desires for adultery or homosexuality from within our hearts. 

God's Law Changes Nobody, It Only Scars

God declares adultery to be a violation of His moral standard. "You shall not commit adultery," God says (Exodus 20:14). Solomon wrote, "the person who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does it destroys his or her own life" (Proverbs 6:32). Likewise God calls homosexuality "an abomination," a violation of His intention for the world (Leviticus 18:22). Paul says those who commit homosexuality have "taken the truth of God and exchanged it for a lie, worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). 

God's law was given to expose corruption in the heart and to restrain actions by the sinner; but it was never designed to expunge corruption from the heart or to reverse actions by the sinner. The law is powerless to change us.
"But we know that the law is good, if one uses it the way it was intended, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:8–11).
The law scars. It might restrain, but the person restrained by law is scarred by the battle to throw it off. Sadness, unhappiness, despair, depression and all other emotions that bubble up when being held or restrained from obtaining the very thing the heart wants will lead the sinner to fight against God's restraints (the law). Let me illustrate this principle.

Odysseus, the great captain of the seas in ancient Greece, knew that the island of the Sirens was an island to be avoided. The beautiful half-naked, woman-like creatures who inhabited the island would sing their beautiful songs to entice sailors to enter their port. The Sirens would then attack the sailors, maiming and killing them before consuming their bodies. To avoid this sensuous but deadly island, Odysseus ordered his men to bind him with ropes, to put wax in their own ears, and then ordered the sailors to tighten the ropes when they saw their captain fighting against them. As Odysseus and his men sailed by the island of the Sirens, Odysseus heard the beautiful music and wanted with all his might to swim to the Sirens. He fought against the ropes. The sailors, with wax in their ears, tightened the ropes. Odysseus fought harder. He would later say,
"I became desperate to plunge into the sea." 
The sailors used the ropes to restrain Odysseus, and the ship eventually sailed by the island of the Sirens, avoiding certain destruction and death of Odysseus and his men. But Odysseus was scarred for life. The ropes couldn't change his desires; they only prevented him from obtaining them. The legacy of Odysseus fighting against the restraints could be seen in the physical scars he bore.

God's law is like the ropes that constrained Odysseus.  It may be used to bind others, as a civil society may choose restraints in the form of laws that prohibit adultery and homosexuality (as America once did), but those others will fight against those laws until they are thrown off, because law cannot change the heart.  

This is why it should never be surprising to any of us when those who advocate tightening the ropes wind up falling into the sea themselves. 

God's Riches in Christ Is Beautiful Music Indeed

So how do we actually change? How do we avoid the Ashley Madison websites of this world? How do we say no to our addictions? How do we sail by the island of the Sirens? What has the power to change us? 

According to the New Testament, the only thing powerful enough to change us from the inside/out is the riches of God's grace toward us in Jesus Christ. It's never the law of God that convinces a man to change his life; it's the grace and goodness of God in Christ that has the power to change the human heart. 

We must become captivated by a sweeter, more beautiful song. 

Going back to Greek mythology, Jason was another captain who sailed the Aegean sea. He and his men, the Argonauts, had also heard that the island of the Sirens was beautiful but deadly. Unlike Odysseus, Jason didn't sail by the island bound by ropes and with wax in his men's ears. Jason asked Orpheus, the greatest musician in the world, to sail with him and his men. When they came near to the island of the Sirens, Orpheus began playing his music. Jason and his men were so captivated by what they heard from Orpheus that when the Sirens began singing their songs, they sailed right on by because their hearts were captured by more beautiful music. 

This is what the message of God's grace in Jesus Christ does for us. It's a sweeter song. The problem is that many who name Christ as Lord often seemed more concerned with tightening the ropes than creating beautiful music.

Yesterday I performed a funeral service for an elderly woman who died of Alzheimer's disease. I chose as my text God's incredible promise to those who trust His Son: "I will remember your sins and iniquities no more" (Hebrews 8:12). I explained that God's forgetfulness, unlike Alzheimer's, is intentional, personal, and eternal. When you begin to live in the knowledge of God's forgetfulness of all those times you "missed the mark" (sin) as a spouse, person, parent, etc... then you can relate to God not out of fear nor "obedience to any law," but in the knowledge of His great grace for you in Jesus Christ.  After the message, a couple unfamiliar with true Christianity, told me that the message had "changed their lives." God's grace is the only thing powerful enough to change lives

Life lived to its fullest comes from listening to the beautiful music that is struck by the chords of God's riches in Christ. Even when we screw up intentionally and wickedly (i.e.. "iniquity"), God forgets it because Jesus died for it. That's rich grace; and it alone will change our hearts,  The music of grace causes us to lose desire for the lesser pleasures of sin and iniquity. Our lives change when we begin to feel that God's grace for us is more beautiful, more pleasurable, more captivating, and more enticing than our sin. 

When I come to realize that I can jump into the sea and He'll never hold it against me, and when I come to understand that if I jump for a lesser pleasure I'm acting senselessly by abandoning my only real Treasure, and when I find myself swimming to a lesser pleasure that will ultimately only destroy me, then maybe it's time for me to ask why I'm not being captivated by the beautiful music of God's grace in Jesus Christ?

If, however,  I hear the beautiful music of grace, and if I begin to walk in the deep and unconditional love of God for me, then I indeed discover that I need no illicit love to fill my heart. And if I come to revel in the sweetness of God's intentional and personal forgiveness of me, then I find the power to throw off any addiction that helped me deal with the pain and guilt of my failures. And  if  I come to understand that God, who spared not His own Son for me, will freely, daily and cheerfully give me everything I need, then I will be unable to find any reason to spend time worrying about tomorrow. 

I have Him.

The Beautiful Music of God's Grace in Christ Changes the Heart

Ephesians 2:7 ... God sent His Son so "that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Romans 9:23... God gave us His Son "make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy..."

Ephesians 1:7... "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace."

I Timothy 1:14... "and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

John 10:10...Jesus said, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and that you might have life at its fullest."

If you've understood what I've written above, you understand my life's message. I'm not sure if it's clear to you or not, but after reading about Josh Duggar this morning, I felt compelled to write for those Duggars out there not yet caught. 

Real change comes from rich grace.


Pege' said...

Wade, To post a response to this post would be like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

carl4grace said...

Your "word pictures" speak volumes!

Timothy Fish said...

I don't think they are looking for a way to expunge sin. What they want is a way to get Christians to shut up, so they don't have to listen to us. They are using the law for exactly what it was intended for, to point out sin. Grace means nothing to them if they don't understand the consequence of their sin. When Christians sin, it looks like a double standard. "If you sin, you go to hell, but if we sin, well that's okay. We'll just issue an apology and go on with our lives." Yes, there is grace, but sin should grieve us. Yes, forgiveness comes, but where is the repentance? We are too quick to forget that grace required the death of Jesus.

Bob Cleveland said...

I don't think anyone would consciously trade riches for poverty, but in a land where we all grow old and die, the riches of Spiritual things will eventually far surpass the lure of what the world prizes. It seems logical to learn that early on, and treasure the Spiritual sooner rather than later.

If the doc said stay in bed a week because of a back strain, you'd probably make it a day or two; then the couch, the recliner, and up & around in 3 or 4 days. If, however, you had a bone splinter in your spine and you'd best stay down a week or you'd never walk, you'd stay 8 days just to be sure.

Why the difference? In the second case, you'd see the value. May the churches and the people God sends to train us up, impress that on our souls, and sooner.

Beth D said...

So well said, Wade. Never really saw it that way before.

Shari England said...

Beautifully said, and the very reason we drive 35 miles when we live two minutes from the church we attended for years.

Anonymous said...

"Why is there a media and cultural infatuation with a twenty-seven-year old Christian whose singular claim to fame is being the eldest son of a family featured on a second-rate reality television show?"

Why? Because he molested 5 girls at 15, including his sisters, then went on to internet porn and Ashley Madison seeking an affair while his wife was pregnant with their 4th child.

This is the guy, as an executive of Family Values Council (or whatever it's called ) who worked overtime in both the media and by rubbing up against right-wing politicians, to strike down gay marriage.
He actually claimed that gays are pedophiles ( and he would know about pedophiles, wouldn't he? ) and would ruin heterosexual marriages.

It seems that, according to certain Christian communities, this guy can diddle his sisters and pay a website to find affairs for him, but as long as he's not gay, let's continue to forgive him. Jimmy Swaggart Syndrome.
If his poor wife doesn't kick him out at this point, there's something seriously wrong with her, too.

The media is focused on him, Wade, because the self-righteous bigot turned out to be a real scumbag.
Hypocrites in general are bad enough, but Christian hypocrites smell particularly vile, and this one stinks to high heaven.

'Judgement begins in the House of God.' Let's clean up our own back yard before focusing on the world in future. No one will take us seriously until we do.

Ramesh said...

I fully agree with this post and also understand the push back against Duggars. From a privacy perspective I found this by Glenn Greenwald to be apt: The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack.

Anonymous said...

It is so sad that you obviously missed the entire message that Wade was so eloquently offering.

Pege' said...

Anon 1 and Anon 2...are you 2 different people...posting anonymously? I am confused.

Christiane said...

I am sad for Anna Duggar. And for Josh. I see something in what happened that has not yet been mentioned here, although it may have been noticed by many:
Josh revealed something in his application to the internet site that, if true, opens us up to understanding (and I emphasize 'if true').

In Josh's 'application' to the Madison site, his 'wish list' includes phrases like '“Aggressive/Take Charge Nature” and "Confident". When I read that I thought well, those are not the favored characteristics of a 'submissive' woman in the patriarchal system. If anything, patriarchy works to blot out the individuality and natural personality of a woman in favor of an 'adoring, submissive' person who is very dependent on her spouse, even for decision-making and matters of will and conscience. In short, Josh had been injured by patriarchy, too. What he was looking for as an ideal companion according to his 'wish list' was quite a contrast to the model patriarchal wife.

I'm wondering how many young people, both male and female, have been seriously wounded by the cult of patriarchy? Wartburg Watch helps folks to articulate some of this. And other blogs have provided venues for women to come and open up about their suffering. But where could someone like Josh go? It is questionable if he was made for patriarchy in his personality. From what he reveals to the Madison people, what he wanted was way different from a patriarchal model of a wife. So, if I want to blame anyone here, let me say that for those people embroiled deeply in the patriarchal culture, take some time out to read what Josh wanted in his 'wish list'. Cults injure people for real. 'Control' injures people for real.

Hypocrite? Or delivered by his own kind into a life he was not geared for?
No excuses I make for his betrayal of Anna, no. But there are REASONS this happened. Let us look beyond a young man's disgrace into those reasons and let us learn in order to help others.

People got upset with Pope Francis when he refused to point the finger at another and instead said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ They assumed he was supporting the person’s behavior by not condemning the person. But instead, I believe he was embracing his own position as ‘a sinner saved by Christ’. We are, all of us, 'sinners saved by grace'.

If we could remember ‘who we are’, then maybe we wouldn’t be so anxious to distance ourselves from a fallen brother or cast him off entirely.

Ramesh said...

Under Much Grace Blog | Cynthia Kunsman > Will Anna Duggar be offered as the next live sacrifice to save the Duggar Family Brand? Scapegoating, Spread Your Legs Theology, and the Modern Molech

Rex Ray said...

Your post is so good I’ve made many copies of it for our church to read. My brother-in-law requested a copy for his elder women’s SS class in Perrington, TX.

With that said, I have difficulty with the number of 32 million ‘suckers’ on their website when this link <> states:
“The US-based web hosting company has been Hacked. It admitted that credit card information of 93,000 customers have been compromised.”

Since credit cards were used to pay these ‘scam people’ I believe ‘thousands’ would be more correct than ‘millions’.

Since information said about 95% were men, I doubt Josh Duggar had any ‘success’ at his attempt.

Since I’m in a critical mood, I believe Odysseus would be clothed as a sailor when tied with ropes and NOT ‘unclothed’ as shown in the picture. Why was he shown with such a ‘beautiful’ body? I doubt sailors shaved every day. His face almost looked like a woman’s.

Unknown said...

Your blog post was a beautiful expression of what happens to us as we embrace Jesus' shed blood for our sins and exchanges his righteousness for our sin. At that moment, God's forgetfulness is activated. I especially liked this section, "..., etc... then you can relate to God not out of fear nor "your obedience to any law," but in the knowledge of His great grace for you in Jesus Christ."

God has led me to worship with a church where their focus for behavior is the law and the Scriptures as a whole. To many this seems appropriate, and to me it was a breath of fresh air from the easy belief-ism that does not result in a transformed life.The problem with the law is that we can't follow it, and if you tighten the binds of the law, it cuts off grace. The law cannot save. For me, personally, I am daily humbled by the great grace for me in Jesus Christ. I do not relate to God out of fear, but out of gratefulness that he died for me while I was still filled with sin.If I focus on the law, then I loose the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit within me, and my relating to God becomes a list of dos and don'ts - legalism. It is grace that transforms us into the Children of God, and then it is His word that transforms us into His likeness. The Word cannot transform except through grace, not law. The difference in relationship is tremendous: one brings life more abundantly, and brings death.

Josh Duggar, as I understood your application, was just an example of how we can so completely get grace and law mixed up. Speaking from very personal experience that relates to Anna's position here, our desire for those in sin should always be repentance and restoration. Always. It was Christ's heart. The entire Duggar family needs love, compassion and support. Anna needs a clear path that is based on love and the grace of God through Scripture. She needs to protect her children, and she needs to cling to God through this. She needs to be strong in the Lord and fiercely love her family. She has not necessarily been trained in this way. We need to pray and be broken hearted over this sin.

Wade Burleson said...


Beautifully written.

Wade Burleson said...


Point well taken about Odysseus. I changed the picture for your sake. :)

John said...

The music of grace causes us to lose desire for the lesser pleasures of sin and iniquity. Our lives change when we begin to feel that God's grace for us is more beautiful, more pleasurable, more captivating, and more enticing than our sin.

Those words above seal the deal. For many years I tried honest attempts to overcome many failings. Things like accountability partners. will power, shaming myself, etc. Then when I failed it was devastating that my support systems (ropes) failed me. As I have matured in my faith I have learned that those ropes do not work, they scar. It is only by spending time in the intimacy and fellowship of Abba Father that the heart is changed by grace and the wicked desires are overcome by a thirst and hunger for righteousness and purity.

Thanks Wade for a life changing message that unfortunately so many need to hear but will not because American pulpits do not grasp the message of grace.

Rex Ray said...

Thanks for the picture change, but sometime you just can’t please picky people.

Odysseus looks great, but those “beautiful, half naked women” would have made him break his ropes, dive overboard, and never come up. :)

Victorious said...

OK, I admit that some things just don't penetrate my thick skull. I really have a hard time with the grace principle satisfying the temptations of the flesh. I'm not talking about a once-a-year trip sailing past the island of the sirens. I'm talking about addictions...daily and even hourly temptations of one kind or another.

Isn't this a matter of the flesh against the spirit? Doesn't Paul admit he does the very things he doesn't want to?

I understand the examples in the post, but the frequency of Odysseus' temptations don't compare to the ones people like Josh Duggar experience imo. Or drug addictions or cigarette addictions or alcohol, etc. Those could be minute-by-minute temptations as opposed to an annual or semi-annual trip past an island.

I'm trying to comprehend how grace changes the heart of an addicted Christian unless a miraculous deliverance takes place.

I'll keep trying to understand, but I don't see any easy solution for those who are fighting continual temptations.

Wade Burleson said...


Not sure there's anything to be said that could convince you. Nor is it, in my opinion, necessary to see anything beyond what you are seeing. I'll give it one sentence in summary form, with the premise that the person who turns to an addiction is wanting to mask feelings if pain. Here goes: "I am who I am by the grace of God, and maybe it's a better idea for me to discover the riches of His grace toward me and love of me than to constantly emphasize to others my obedience to (or their obedience) - or my failure of (or their failure of) - God's law."

Ramesh said...

On an individual level I understand why people act out on their internal fantasies and desires and also why these are misdirected in focus. The angst of the push back against the Duggars is from the SYSTEMIC pathology of teaching, manipulation, coertion and so on. All this could be defused IF people like Duggars or teachers or believers simply, honestly and transparently shared their perversive nature.

Ha ha ha.

That will never happen in evangelical circles. I wonder why ... Yeah we all KNOW why.

The SHOW is more important than substance.

Ramesh said...

On a different level ... Did you know that everyone's online activity is being logged and shared across various three letter agencies in US and also among countries?

There are known cases of voyuers in NSA oogling at private pictures and mail.

Just imagine if all that became public.

Can we ask Chinese hackers to liberate us /sarcasm

Ramesh said...

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering: The network is hostile

Christiane said...

I do think that Anna Duggar needs to get protection from what is happening. And she needs to shield her children from any potential abuse. Minimum would be a physician's appointment to ensure that there are no STD's (sorry for frankness, but it just makes sense to do this under the circumstances).

If Josh refuses to get psychiatric help, Anna and her children should seek external protection away from the Duggar family who do not seem to understand the need for proper counseling from professional sources for their son. I don't think Josh himself will 'co-operate', but I pray for him to begin to face up to what he has done and do the right thing for himself and his beautiful wife and children. This is a sad business. That it is so very public must hurt Anna so much. She needs to know that people are praying for her, and do not want for her to 'blame herself' in the way that those involved in patriarchy sometimes will attempt to do to excuse sexual perpetrators. Please pray for her and her children. The Duggars will do as they please, of course, but she is innocent as are her children. My opinion only.

Anonymous said...

THIS is why the world sees us as gullible morons. THIS is why they see us as a bunch of phonies and self-righteous snobs.

And we will NEVER reach the world if this keeps up.

Jimmy Swaggart is still pushing his schtick. Jim Bakker is still going strong with his pitch to the vulnerable, then we have the Duggars, who have made millions selling a Christian facade to the weak minded.

All of these clowns we have put on pedestals because of their high moral standards have proven to be nothing more than con artists, but all they have to do when they tumble from the heights is say Jesus a few times, say how sorry they are and it's all satan's fault and we forgive them.
We not only forgive them, but forgive them over and over as we put them right back up on that pedestal as 'Christian Leaders'.

The unsaved world sees right through these cons and laugh at us for falling for it. And we fall for this over and over ad nauseum because we're just that stupid.

So, when you're praying for the Duggar's health, wealth and healing, pray for some discernment. You really need it.

Aussie John said...


I've waited a while to see the comments. I applaud your article 100%.

It always causes me concern when I see someone pointing the finger at those who sin in any way. It causes me concern because, if they are believers, they obviously haven't understood how unbelievably amazing God's grace in Jesus Christ is.

I am constantly reminded that sinners such as you and I deserve much, as the Apostle Paul knew he did, but having experienced God's great grace in a most dramatic encounter, he also knew that to treat others with anything less than what he had received was to indulge in sin, hence his warning to the Galatian believers,

"Brothers,if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor."

In my 76 years, most in ministry, I have seen far too many brethren who were wounded by sinning, being assaulted by those who were their brethren in Christ

By the way, THAT is one of the valid reasons many don't want anything to do with what they perceive as "church". Many say that unbelievers don't know any Christians
so they don't go to church, but the problem is that many unbelievers DO know Christians,who have appointed themselves as the prosecutor of sinners.

I know I am thank ful that our Lord, Jesus Christ came,as He said,"Go and learn what this means,‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I am so thankful for that!

Ramesh said...

I remember Wade had posted about five years ago about 'Celebrate Recovery" ministry at Emmanuel Enid that tackles these issues.

Victorious said...

I finally got it! Quite by coincidence(?) while reading today from "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse," Johnson and Van Vonderen said the very same thing in a slightly different context and I got it!

Thank you, Wade, for stretching me. It was such a beautiful, simple, and frankly basic lesson and yet I couldn't comprehend it. I couldn't get your post off my mind and wondered why the other commenters saw it so clearly and I just couldn't grasp it....until today!

Thanks for this wise, gracious, and humble post that reminds us of the unfathomable riches of His grace towards us.

Loddie Resnick said...

Wade, your words in my assessment were prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit. As I was reading your article chapter 4 of Numbers came to mind.

In Numbers 4 the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron on how to disassemble the tabernacle in preparation for moving it and the camp of Israel to a new destination. Three clans of the tribe of Levi were to be involved in the physical moving of the tabernacle and its sacred objects. The three clans were the Kohathites, Gershonites and Merarites. The Kohathites were designated only to carry the most sacred objects. However, the Lord ordered the priests to cover all the tabernacle’s most sacred objects before the Kothathites could begin to move them. The reason for this is made clear in verses 15 and 20.

“The camp will be ready to move when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the sacred articles. The Kohathites will come and carry these things to the next destination. But they must not touch the sacred objects, or they will die….The Kohathites must never enter the sanctuary to look at the sacred objects for even a moment, or they will die.”

Now we know that the objects of the tabernacle are types and shadows of Christ our Lord. I believe this chapter illustrates that when the Law of Moses is emphasized and religiously kept Christ is covered up, hidden to the masses. The three names of the clans are very revealing. Kohath means assembly. Gershon means exiled. Merari means bitter. When ministers emphasize the law, commandments and sin they effectually exile, separate, their assembly from the beauty of Christ and his love, grace, mercy, kindness and acceptance. That will eventually bring bitterness to the heart and soul of a people who struggle with sin only to fall deeper into it rather than be delivered from it.

In verse 5 of Numbers 4 the first thing the priests were to do was, “ When the camp moves, Aaron and his sons must enter the Tabernacle first to take down the inner curtain and cover the Ark of the Covenant with it.” However, when Jesus died “the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:51) Not only was a new way made open to the mercy seat of God but the Lord was declaring that Christ was no longer to be covered up but to be seen, gazed upon by the masses. Looking unto Christ is the only way to overcome sin. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Your church is bless to have a pastor who is sold out completely to Jesus and always keeping their eyes on Him. I am blessed to have such a church and pastor here in Baton Rouge LA. Frank Friedman is our pastor and you both have a kindred spirit. Now I pray the Holy Spirit continue to expand your vision of Christ and the beauty and riches of his glorious love and grace towards all mankind.

Rex Ray said...

Was that the post that told of a woman (in my opinion was an example of “There’s no fury like a woman scorned”) complaining to Wade that a pastor in his church had shared a kiss with her, and she was upset about it. The pastor told Wade it had happened a year ago and nothing since. He had asked forgiveness from his wife and God. Wade became judge, jury, and executioner in telling the church the pastor was being fired for one year for doing something (I forgot the exact words) with a woman other than his wife. Of course the church thought he was caught in adultery. I believe the woman’s name was never released.

I still think of that post as “Scars of Law” with no “Riches of Grace”.

Ramesh said...

I remember the post you are mentioning but my memory is little bit different from yours :)

The Celebrate Recovery is a ministry that encourages people with issues as in substance abuse, sexual or others to be transparent and open about it. The church is non judgemental and helps the individual in their recovery.

I tried searching for the posts but I could not find the ones I had read five years ago. I remember a cardboard presentation. I think Wade had a series of posts on this ministry.

Ramesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramesh said...

The earlier link is messed up. Try this : Celebrate Recovery.

Rex Ray said...

OK, I’m wrong about a lot of things as this link of June 30, 2010 shows:

This post had 178 comments. Close to the end was this one:

Rex Ray said...
BTW Wade,
Through the years, when someone (we know who they usually are) attacks your post, the ‘attacker’ gets stomped on by many commentator's including myself. But on this post, not many or maybe no one has come to your defense against the ‘attacker’ (me) and has left you on your own.
Do you think that is strange? Mon Jul 05, 10:03:00 PM 2010

Ramesh said...

Explosive comments by and about SBC President Ronnie Floyd on "Spread Your Legs Theology" ...




Ramesh said...

SBC never fails to deliver.

more here.

Wade Burleson said...


I'm not sure anyone, including me, feels you are attacking. :) Maybe that's why there's no defense.

Rex Ray said...

Ah! Those coals of fire on my head sure are hot. :)

RB Kuter said...

I really enjoyed Wade's post and analogy with Greek mythology. The logic is that we would be more enticed by God's offer of grace and eternal life than by the opposition's offer of temporary self-gratification and consequential torment and destruction. The reality is that we are too often illogical.

Oddly to me at least, there doesn't seem to be much warning sounded regarding the obvious consequences of our falling down that are made evident in this man's fall. Even when we fail and sin as redeemed believers and then come to our Father with a broken heart of repentance, the broken glass we threw on the floor is still there.

This guy has disqualified himself, at least for a time, as a credible witness. He has disqualified himself as a leader and model. He has disqualified himself from ministry. I agree with some sentiments made that our not emphasizing that fact is not Biblical and results in the credibility of The Church being undermined.

The overriding impact of this "celebrity for Jesus" on me is to elicit fear. It frightens me to recognize how vulnerable we all are and the tremendous consequences that accompany our failure to maintain our close walk with The Lord. 2 Timothy 2:21 "No longer a vessel unto honor; no longer meet for the Master's use." At least, of course, until some serious repairs are made. We don't lose our salvation but we sure do lose our credentials for significant levels of ministry.

Unknown said...

Well said, RRR. There are consequences of our falling down. The broken glass analogy is excellent. There is definitely a time of disqualification, but far too often that time far exceeds and sometimes never ends for many because the church forgets the goal of restoration. Perhaps Wade did not focus on the warning sounded regarding the consequences because the overwhelming focus has been on his consequences. It seems to me that Wade's primary focus was on our relationship with the Father being one brought about by grace or one that is based on the law.

Although Josh has disqualified himself as a credible witness, leader, and model,he has not necessarily disqualified himself from ministering to others. It is often in our worst moments that God uses us in powerful ways. As a believer, we must recognize that God sees the heart, and if there is true repentance his grace and love offer complete forgiveness immediately. His plan is not thwarted by our mistakes, however we are just mere men and cannot see into the heart of a man. For this reason, Josh Duggar's formal ministry, witness, and leadership will not be deemed as credible until a time of restoration and mentoring take place and he has had the opportunity to rebuild these things, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the minds of men. I might even posit that for God, who is all knowing, there need not be a time of healing or rebuilding. Yet again, we are mere men, and both Josh and those he has wronged need time to fully grasp all that God wishes to accomplish in their lives and his power to redeem and heal even this situation.

It is as it should be that we are sobered by this situation, and that we take note of the tremendous consequences that accompany our failure to maintain our close walk with the Lord.

Ramesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramesh said...

God definitely has a good sense of humor. After I posted my last comment the system as in Blogger would not allow me to add any more comments to this post till I deleted the last one I posted.


There I was praising Danica Dillon to be more of a truth warrior than ...

This blog is helpful to hear voices speaking against "Spread Your Legs Theology":

No Longer Quivering.

Wade Burleson said...

Tammy Adams and Ramesh - well said - both of you.

Rex Ray said...

On the subject of ‘good men’ exposed as bad in the ways of sexual sin, how about men in other ways?

Take the example in 2005 of a pastor trying to sell the church and move it many miles away which would leave the community without a Baptist church.

To get this authority, he got new church bylaws passed:

“The Leadership Board shall be the express and final arbiter of ecclesiastical polity, Christian doctrine, membership discipline, questions of Church property, and shall make the final decision with respect to any other matter that shall arise concerning the Church, its internal workings, and its governance in every respect.

The Senior Pastor shall be leader of the Leadership Board, the Church congregation, the Church staff, all Church organizations, all Church ministries, and all Church Advisory Committees.

The Senior Pastor shall be responsible for hiring a staff and determine their salary and benefits. The Senior Pastor shall be vested with authority…to terminate any staff member with or without cause.

Leadership Board shall have the power to buy, sell, and mortgage…any church property. Upon liquidation…of the Church, the Leadership Board shall…distribute all Church assets to any organization designated by the Leadership Board which is of like faith.

The Leadership Board of the Church shall have full power and authority to change any office from one location to another, either in Texas or elsewhere.

Any person deemed by the Leadership Board to…be causing, about to cause, or capable of causing disruption, may be ejected summarily.

Senior Pastor shall be removed…for falling into sinful practices without repentance.

Regular Church membership meetings shall be held annually.”

His Board “ejected” the lady that had given 30 acres for the church property and three men…one being my brother-in-law. The reason told to the church was: “It’s too embarrassing to tell”.

Eventually he was fired, and is now a lawyer. He can be contacted at:

I have an advertisement of his for churches: “Need help with the perfect set of bylaws?

I’ll sign off with that before I get sued. :)

Anonymous said...

The Duggars still owe outstanding apologies to:

*Their city's police chief, a woman they maligned for doing her job by law (providing a copy of the redacted police report about the sexual abuse) as her department was required to do under law in accordance with a Freedom of Information Act from a news agency;

*The Arksansas Social Services Department, whom was required by law to investigate their family's sexual abuse. The Duggars hired an attorney for Josh to sue that agency when he was 19-years old.

*Countless other harms to countless other folks. Not cool

The Duggars have blamed everybody but themselves. Their conduct is incredibly "un-Christian".



Ramesh said...

The irony ...

Gizmodo > Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site

Anonymous said...

Tremendous analogy, Wade. It seems like we employ ropes many times because it feels like we are doing something, rather than actively listening to the sweeter song of grace. The trap of relying on ourselves to devise methods or "try harder" is very easy to fall into. Simply listening and relying on the power of the Gospel seems too passive and likely not to work because it feels like there is no teeth to it. It has to be harder than that.

Rex Ray said...


I believe a lie of the devil: “Everybody’s doing it.”
As you pointed out how few women used the Database, I believe the total number was exaggerated also.
To sell a product claim: ‘Nine out of ten buy _______ (fill in the blank.)

With your knowledge and insight, would you be interested in:

This link states: “Jack Ruby died of cancer a few weeks after his conviction for murder had been overruled in appeals court and he was ordered to stand trial outside of Dallas - thus allowing him to speak freely if he so desired. There was little hesitancy in Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald in order to prevent him from talking.”

tells of 56 people’s deaths that were suspicious involving JFK’s assignation. Thirteen deaths revolved around Jack Ruby. In 1978, six top FBI agents died before appearing before House of Representatives Select Committee to investigate the assassination of JFK

My friend, James Tague, wrote “LBJ and the Kennedy Killing” October 2013. He saw Kennedy killed, and Tague was injured by a stray bullet. His book, 50 years later, caused much publicity, TV etc.

He died of cancer four months later (February 2014). Hmmm?

Rex Ray said...

On my bucket list is to change LBJ freeway to JFK.

HEY! Obama’s my man…if he can change mountains, roads are no problem. :)

rach.h.davis said...


I have enjoyed so many of your posts and I have great respect for you! I hope my comment will come off as a discussion and not as a criticism, because it's definitely not intended that way. While I think many of your theological observations about the workings of law and grace are right on point, I have come to see the media's fascination with Josh Duggar's fall in the different light, and I hope you might consider my perspective.

I believe there is some truth to the idea that the media just wants conservative Christians to fail. However, I think that's only part of it.

The Duggars are closely tied with Gothardism and similar mindsets which teach, among other things, that following a lifestyle formula is a guarantee against any kind of sexual impurity--it's very much a prosperity gospel. You put the quarter in the slot machine (follow rules XY and Z) and you get something out of the slot machine (kids who never make sexual mistakes and have perfect marriages and never question their faith). I think a great deal of the reaction against the Duggars has come because they were, in a sense, peddling a very dangerous belief--that we can control our children's minds and choices through forcing them to live a certain way--and Josh's failure has exposed that dangerous lie for what it is.

Now,the secular world may not always verbalize that just as I have. In fact, I'd bet that a lot of people who reacted against Josh Duggar have never consciously put into words why the Duggar family rubbed them the wrong way. But I've become convinced that's at least some of it. That goes beyond just the stereotype that the media is waiting around for Christians to look foolish.

You also have to remember that the Duggars are not just espousing a conservative, traditional view of homosexuality--they have actually accused transgender people of being pedophiles and of using transgenderism to gain access to children to molest. That is a horrible, hurtful thing for any person to say against an entire group of people. The irony that they would make up such awful statements and then be found to have covered up pedophelia in their own family--well, you hardly have to jump to "the media dislikes Christians" to understand why people frothed at the mouth when this was revealed.

Like I said, I do believe that some of the frenzy is tied up in the media's glee when Christians look silly, but I think it's a mistake to assume that's the whole story. I think it overlooks a great deal of what's going on. I think it also overlooks the many, many faithful Christians who are wary of the Duggars' message and who think that their prosperity gospel mindset needs to be exposed for what it is.

Thanks for listening.

Wade Burleson said...

rach h. davis,

Very good points indeed. I think if you go beneath the surface of my writing on this post you will see - I agree. The kind of Christianity Gothardism teaches is "Here's the rope - pull tight - you'll be fine." The law always scars> I like the way you put it - a conservative prosperity gospel.

Rex Ray said...


I think rach h. davis brought out a point that reveals how the “media” had an influence on religious affairs.

“Anabaptist” did not name themselves but were named by their enemies.

The C/R named themselves: “Conservatives”.

Did “Liberals” name themselves? NO!

The MEDIA accepted the untruth that the C/R were CONSERVATIVE so it was only natural their opposition had to be LIBERALS.

So the real CONSERVATIVES that opposed the C/R got done in by the media.