This morning, an excellent blog showed up in my feed. I would suggest you read it here.
I would like to stress – as strongly as possible – that my comments have nothing whatsoever to do with Anna Duggar. I don’t know enough about her to judge anything one way or another.
(Well, I can judge one thing. Josh Duggar is a creeper, has always been a creeper and the fault that he is a creeper is his own. But the patriarchy/quiverfull /purity environment that cultivated him allowed him to thrive for decades. There are scores more of them in that environment.)
But I know nothing about Anna.
But the blog I linked above got me thinking.
Why did the woman mentioned in the blog (NOT Anna Duggar) disregard her church, her friends, her pastor, her therapist and everyone she knew and wait for “special revelation” from God? She waited until she got an answer she liked better. Why was the “answer” she received better than the godly counsel of her pastor?
So that got me thinking – why would a woman choose to take the blame for her husband’s sins upon herself as a viable alternative?
Why would she rather ask his forgiveness for her manufactured sins than deal with his very real sins?
And as my mind is mulling through this question, I remembered an anecdote from a missionary years and years ago. He labored for decades with little result, and he said, “If I preached that they had to crawl across broken glass to achieve forgiveness, my church would have been full.”
The free grace of God is terrifying for people. They would rather manufacture guilt than be free from it. If we have to crawl across broken glass to be saved, then ultimately the power is ours. But if the gospel is true, then our only hope is the free mercy of Christ, which is not in my control whatsoever.
Something to think about, isn’t it?
A few years back, my large intestine ruptured with no warning. I did not have diverticulitis. I do not have any genetic weaknesses there. I did not have a poor diet.
In fact, there was no cause for it at all. My surgeon said, “Sometimes it happens.”
I got to tell you, that is terrifying. The fact that an intestine can spontaneously rupture was far scarier than even cancer or diverticulitis. If I could have prevented it by changing my diet, or by doing preventative care correctly, or anything else, that would put the power of health in my hands – which is far more comforting to the natural me.
Because the alternative is trusting in the sovereignty of God, which is scary to fallen man.
I think it is why there are so many people quick to give medical advice. Life and death MUST ULTIMATELY BE IN OUR OWN HANDS, because the alternative is unthinkable.
It comes down to the goodness of God. Is God truly good?
What happens when your life falls apart?
What happens when your husband is arrested for child pornography?
What happens when your colon ruptures?
What happens when your child rebels?
What happens when you have to call the police on your own child? Your own father?
What happens when your spouse commits adultery?
And in all of those situations, it is more comforting for us to take the blame ourselves, whether it is valid or not. For if we take the blame ourselves, then we can live in a fantasy world where WE control the outcome and WE protect ourselves and WE are captains of our destiny.
At least, if we go down, we can say that we did it our way. If we say it is our fault, then we have some control.
But if death happens, if illness happens, if sins are committed, if crimes are committed – and we have nothing whatsoever to do with it; if there was no choice whatsoever that would have changed the outcome; if there were no action at all that we could have taken to prevent it…
Then we have no alternative but to throw ourselves on the mercy of God, glorify him even in pain, trust his goodness and his sovereignty, and say,
“The Lord has given. The Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
It is terrifying to live that kind of life, but it is the only reality that there is.
There is a curse on this world that we can’t do anything about. But God can.
So we can wait for him, stand for the truth, exalt those things that are beautiful, and put no trust in the flesh.
And help one another. It is terrifying to admit that your spouse is a covenant breaker. Your whole world turns upside down. But often that is the reality.
Help one another with their burdens. Reality is difficult. But the solution is not to create a fantasy world. It is to face reality squarely and walk right through it.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.”
2 responses to “Why so quick to take the blame?”
Thank you! This is very helpful.
Thank you so much for this, Pastor. it nearly brought tears to my eyes. You did a fantastic job with injecting the reality of Biblical help and hope into the reality of a world full of helplessness and hopelessness.
Two things came into my mind: Patrick Stewart spoke of his mom being abused by his dad during his childhood. The one time the police were called, their attitude was: Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something wrong.
My former pastor once superbly described the position of Job’s friends: Bad things don’t happen to good people. You must have done something wrong.
These lines jumped off the screen at me:
“They would rather manufacture guilt than be free from it.”
“Life and death MUST ULTIMATELY BE IN OUR OWN HANDS, because the alternative is unthinkable.”
“And in all of those situations, it is more comforting for us to take the blame ourselves, whether it is valid or not…If we say it is our fault, then we have some control.
“It is terrifying to live that kind of life, but it is the only reality that there is…Help one another with their burdens. Reality is difficult.”
Taken together, it is better to cry out to Him in real pain to a real God, who is well aware of the depths of real despair.
Rather than burden ourselves in unnecessary shame and blame; as if reality isn’t already burdensome enough?
No matter how many years I’ve been a Christian, usually the FIRST thoughts I have when something goes terribly wrong is, what did I do wrong? What is He trying to tell me, or punish me for? Where did I miss the mark, make a mess—-how can I make all this misery go away, and make it right?
It was both refreshing AND repulsive to read my own thoughts in your words: there IS a strange and sick sense of “comfort” in impulsively and instinctively placing guilt on my shoulders. Even before I consider that conviction of sin just MAY not be applicable, and (gasp!) shouldn’t I consider asking Him if I truly bear any blame? Or is that too much of a bother?
I’m also used to assumptions and/accusations from those around me. So I’m “conditioned” to accept when is unfortunately so familiar to me. So I often either start or finish the job they’ve handed me.
Being scapegoated is not a calling from the Lord. Scapegoating others is not a calling from the Lord. Scapegoating ourselves is not a calling form the Lord. Why do we engage in any or all of those?
I often feel worse if I assign accountability where it truly belongs, OR even worse, when there truly isn’t anyone or anything to blame. All that is left is panic: I never know what might (or might not!) be around the corner.
Even the slightest things around me make me jump. It could be someone or something looking to jump at me. How do I protect myself? What if I try and try to fight back, and I am overpowered and overwhelmed?
That has happened to me a lot. The unexpected has a way of catching me as if I am its “prey,” only I didn’t know I was being “targeted” in the first place.
That is where I start to cry. That is when (hopefully) I start to cry out to the Lord. That is when I (hopefully) cry and confess—Father, I’m afraid of the dark. I don’t know what is or isn’t hiding; what I can’t see I don’t how to face.
Your last part was the best part. Let Him do the heavy lifting, and where possible, do the same for others.