It was reported recently that the former Executive Director of the Evangelical learning Family Research Council of America and television personality for TLC’s ‘Nineteen kids and counting’, recently took to social media to express his remorse for molesting five under-aged girls, some of whom are his sisters.
Josh Duggar asked for forgiveness from God for his past sins in his posting. However, another television host, Bill Maher of the Bill Maher reality show has a different opinion on his approach in seeking forgiveness from God (which is one of the central tenets of the Christian faith) as he believes he should be seeking forgiveness directly from the victims that he had wronged.
According to Bill Maher, a perpetrator of a crime should seek forgiveness directly from the victim he has harmed and just asking forgiveness from God (which inevitably will be magnanimously granted in accordance to theology) does not exonerate the person from the crime.
The following are excerpts of what Bill Maher wrote in his blog regarding Josh Duggar:
I want to say one more thing about Josh Duggar and his completely innocuous over-the-clothes, while-you-were-sleeping, why-are-we-even-talking-about-this molestation of five girls, one of them as young as five. And it’s this: The idea that Jesus forgives your sins is a real cop-out, and dangerous.
Now, I don’t know what kind of conversations Josh had with the people he molested. Maybe he personally and unreservedly apologized to all of them as he briefly mentioned in his Facebook post. But for the most part it was about Jesus:
“I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. …In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
Let’s set aside the part about how a man who molested five girls worries about how it might ruin his life, and refers to “my life” three times in a short post about what he did to five other people. I love Christianity’s unique brand of chauvinistic paternalism. But what Josh is basically saying is that molesting the girls was bad, but Jesus forgave him and then came into his life so, you know, happy ending. Except that real forgiveness happens between the person who did wrong and the person they wronged. There is no middle man. There is no pixie dust. The idea that you can simply pray on it and ask Jesus for forgiveness — which he never turns down, cause he’s Jesus — is a total short cut, and not what forgiveness actually entails. If you’ve done something as awful as molest a bunch of girls, the only people you can ask for forgiveness from are the bunch of girls you molested. Jesus is just an easy and convenient way to exonerate yourself by receiving absolution from an imaginary man in your head.
Forgiveness is a real, powerful, often life-changing thing. It’d be nice if Christians didn’t screw it up.