Why does the mainstream media love rejoicing when those who fight publicly for Christian principles stumble in their pursuit of them? We are seeing this today as it relates to Josh Duggar, a famous Christian television personality who was recently found out to have molested his younger siblings and had some involvement with a website that facilitates affairs between married people.
When thinking about this phenomenon, I am reminded of my years studying philosophy. In his classic “On the Genealogy of Morality,” Nietzsche discussed a concept that I think defines much of our current public conscience, namely “slave morality”. Nietzsche effectively argued that our moral norms are simply the result of an argument won by “slaves” over their “masters”. The so-called “slaves” whose apparent/alleged weaknesses were exploited (thereby making them “slaves”) on a societal level, essentially fight back, Nietzsche notes, by arguing that their masters’ strengths are actually evil. This process, he says, is a historical one that has played out over and over again throughout the centuries.
So what does this have to do with Josh Duggar? My immediate thought when seeing how much the press covered his mistakes (and let’s be clear – they were definitely mistakes) is that in this modern world, the values for which Duggar publicly stands are very hard to exemplify. I wondered, when viewing the media coverage, if the press coverage was just another example of the process Nietzsche identified. Because mankind today is weak in the face of the sexual temptations of our world (because we don’t turn to God and ask for His grace through the sacraments), we have, as Nietzsche outlined, defined chastity as effectively “evil” by mocking people like Duggar when they don’t live up to the morally good values for which they vouch in the public sphere. We as a society are slaves to sin, but declare our freedom by no longer labeling sin as “evil,” but instead by labeling it as “good.”
In the face of his landscape, we must ask what are we to do? Do we cower in the face of the difficult endeavor that is chastity and purity in 2015? Do we stop attempting to uphold these values, never mind support them publicly, just because we face mockery by society if we fail in that pursuit? Surely we ourselves (all of us, that is, as human beings) must labor on this side of Heaven to exemplify them. So why bother?
No. Of course not. We can not believe the lie that our noble values are just too difficult to live up to today. That mindset is one the evil one wants us to adopt. We must all set off on the journey to heaven knowing, in advance, that we will stumble along the way. God ultimately loves us not because we are good, but because He is good. If you need an example in our Church today for this statement’s veracity, just look to the pro-life movement, which is replete with courageous women who have had abortions and who now speak out against the procedure.
The Josh Duggars of the world face chaos in their personal lives as a result of the public sins they commit. Such chaos must not dissuade us from fighting for what is right, even if we as human beings occasionally succumb to that which is wrong. More importantly we must never forget that the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church is encapsulated in part by a series of objective moral truths. And they are objectively right … no matter what the Duggar-bashing media might say.
By Ryan Bilodeau
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