I remember watching the Duggars before they even had a show. They were a large conservative family with kids dressed in red and white outfits (most of which looked handmade) traveling the country in a motor home. Their lives looked happy and simple. They had TV specials on once in awhile highlighting what life is like with 14 to 15 kids (not sure how many they actually had at that time). It was feel-good TV and better than some of the reality garbage on the other networks. Who can argue with living debt free, frugal living, shopping at thrift stores, good wholesome family values? Apart from homeschooling and strict fundamentalist Christian principles, I find myself adhering to many of the Duggar’s lifestyle choices.
Then the Duggars became TV stars. I was watching an episode years ago from Season Three: Duggars New Addition where the Duggars layed concrete on their basketball court and the younger kids were forced to play inside. They were struggling to find things to occupy their time. I remember thinking, “This is so boring. There is no depth or meaning to this. But why am I still watching it? And why do I want to watch the episode that follows it?”
In a later episode from Season 5, Duggar In Danger, young Jason Duggar falls twelve feet into an orchestra pit and an ambulance is called. In a later interview Michelle Duggar says, “Now we have so many adult children that they have a phone with a camera on it. So everyone was getting this on their cameras.” I asked myself, “Is this normal to pull out your camera and start videotaping when your little brother gets hurt?” Of course it is if you are a reality star. This makes for great TV! You cross that line from living your life as a simple family to being a performer or TV star basking in the perks TLC has to offer.
What family of 21 can realistically travel the world? Jill Duggar had 1,000 people at her wedding including media reporters–this is not normal! Jessa Duggar took a honeymoon to France. Josiah Duggar invited 400 guests to his graduation party. The Duggars have a barred fence around their home to keep fans out–this is not normal living either.
Now they have followed the demise of the reality stars who have gone before them. Since Josh Duggar’s struggle with sexual molestation and most recently addiction to pornography and infidelity was made public. Should we even be all that surprised? There is a cost of being on TV. Allowing cameramen into your home documenting your daily life shrinking your privacy is exhausting. The Duggars chose this, but unfortunately their young children did not. They will have to deal with the consequences of these scandals the rest of their lives. Even though it may not be ethical to conduct a witch hunt delving into police records violating somebody’s privacy etc., it is a dire consequence to choosing the reality star route. Nothing is hidden anymore.
The Duggars feel they are different from other reality families. They don’t watch TV and limit all their exposure to music, the Internet, movies etc. They see their reason for being on TV as a family ministry. Being a person in the ministry, I see “ministry” as sharing the gospel message of the saving grace God freely gives through Jesus Christ. It really can all be summed up into that.
The Duggar’s share family moral values and living. There is nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the heart of what ministry is. If we have this attitude of “Look at the Duggars! We want our family like the Duggars!” we are setting ourselves up to feel insecure, ashamed, and now severely disappointed. They are not a perfect family and have their hidden sins (that have become not so hidden) and I don’t even think they are the best Christian example. Psalm 146:3 says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save.”
Fame was not something Jesus Christ actively pursued. He walked humbly on earth and lived His life with His ministry pointing to the one true God. His sacrifice was not fame and fortune but rather his death which paid for our sins. So let this Duggar scandal be a gentle reminder that even the perfect looking are far from perfect.