Gross Hypocrisy in Christian Media

Disclaimer: The news website editorial staff were sent a link to this article as soon as it published. This is not a hit piece, but a critique of a general problem among Christians in media. Pacific Daily Times has reached out to that website in friendship and hopes to follow up with more on positive changes in the future.

News and advertising isn’t easy. The Pacific Daily Times has considered using ad services such as Google. The problem is that these ad services can often post ads that run contrary to the mission of the website itself. This screenshot of an article at a Christian news site is no exception. A sex scandal headline is seen on the left and a sex advertisement on the right at a Christian news website. It was probably not planned by the staff. This can happen to anyone, so use ad services cautiously. Here is an edited screenshot, showing titles and ads as they appear next to each other, with any identifying marks of the website removed:

Christian post contradiction ads editedThe main article is about how people want a Christian leader, Josh Duggar, to pay some legal consequences for mistakes long, long ago, and Christian families are unwilling to forgive and let it go. And, the case is made without any mention of Jesus command to forgive so that we will be forgiven. The need to forgive to have our own forgiveness doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the Internet where Christians report this story.

Right next to the story, the advertisements circled on the left, most likely automatically generated, link to a video sales pitch by a man named Christian Hudson, who has several series on “The Girlfriend Activation System”, which he claims he developed after being a “failure with women”, reading “liturotica” (souped-up romance novels, to women what porn is to men), and learning what women’s fantasies are. He basically teaches men to be the fantasy, to get lots of girlfriends to have sex with, and he makes a lot of money doing it.

Knowing how automatic ad services work can explain what is probably happening here. Websites cooperate with ad companies that use analytics and key words to determine which ads should appear on which page of a website. The ad service probably picked up “Sexual” in the article’s title and put Hudson’s “The Girlfriend Activation System” ads on that page.

It is almost reminiscent of the “Scarlet Letter A” or Jesus teaching, “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” When you sling mud, you get your own hands dirty.

In a respectful critique of peer news services, a number of mistakes led to this. First, ad services should be carefully and thoroughly thought through and customized. Many ad services promote “sex” articles and stuff. Why would a Christian website use those ads in the first place? If they do, why not watch their settings? And, more importantly, why allow the key words to appear in headlines? And, why report on “sleaze” at all? If the staff felt this was relevant news for their readers, at least make the title something about “forgiveness”.

That being said, it is all a very easy set of mistakes to make. It is very very easy. If this Christian news site had been more thoughtful about answering those questions, they probably would have gotten flack from their audience and others in the industry. Most Christians really don’t understand the issues and what is at stake.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for other Christian media to slam that news site for their own scandal. But Pacific Daily Times isn’t like that. What happened here is understandable and indicates a Church-wide problem of these issues.

Let’s hope that the Christian newspaper asks their readers for the same forgiveness that Josh’s family must ask their viewers for. We all need forgiveness. And let’s hope that everyone forgives so we can all move on to the next, totally awesome thing that God has planned for us.

Ironically, Josh Duggar was a part of a reality TV show about his family, a kind of “family fantasy” genre. I would never compare it to liturotica. I never watched Josh’s show. I only see similarities with how much our society elevates romance and ideal families. We seem to be so lost in following the romance and family lives of others that we have failed at our own.

This is an ironic coincidence to happen on a Christian news site. It doesn’t indite that news website. Actually, Pacific Daily Times anticipates that the website’s leadership will likely rise up to bring some sweeping changes. In a way, they, too, were “violated”. Unlike the people that Josh violated in his youth, the people here need to forgive and create the silver lining, not just demand justice.

The Church needs to learn forgiveness, even in sexual cases.

Forgiveness doesn’t require that someone keep a job. It doesn’t require that we give a good referral for someone. But it does require that we let go of the offense, stop at the point where the situation is satisfied, so we can move on with our lives.

Everyone in Josh’s situation was a kid at the time, including Josh. They are all adults now. Statutes of limitation protect people from angry victims who wait long after the fact and tell half of the story after it can’t be verified. Real crimes need to be reported in real time. If the clock runs out, like it or not, the best thing is to let go and move forward and look for the hidden blessings that only come after forgiveness. But leave it to a “public relations expert” to give in to unforgiveing “Christians”. The Church must not get its doctrine of forgiveness from PR strategy.

“Paying legal consequences” will not satisfy the victims. The suggestion should be that we all realize our problems with forgiveness and seek reconciliation like Promise Keepers addressed so much in the 1990’s. We have obsessed over families and fantasies too much. Reality TV, even with Christians in it, is not the best way to reach a non-Christian culture. It only teaches viewers to be jealous and idolize Christians rather than non-Christians—and rather than becoming Christians. Of course there are probably some converts. But lifting Jesus high without playing on the “I want to spend my time thinking about that other family” form of covetousness will bring in a lot more converts because it follows more Biblical teaching.

The Church really has allowed jealousy to take over. Jealously was the command that, looking at the Ten Commandments, leads to sexual immorality—to want something that isn’t yours to want, whether house, servant, donkey, or spouse.

The Church even esteems sin by giving so much stage time to the sin people have “repented from in their stories”. It is difficult to take stories like this seriously when Sunday morning so glorify “sinner saved by grace” testimonies. If Josh got up on a Sunday morning and said, “I was young and dumb,” he’d be celebrated, the music would cue in, the alter call would start, and everyone who didn’t make dumb choices in their lives would feel invalidated. It happens all the time.

If those young ladies in Josh’s story had consented to premarital sex with him, then told everyone everywhere about it, and told everyone that they repented, oh, Sunday morning would eat it up! It would be the best thing since padded pews. And “19 Kids and Counting” would have its TV slot secured.

Instead, the Christian culture seems to be taking cues from secular culture once again. Fornication doesn’t matter, but the violation is, in USA Today’s words, “unthinkable”. The Church script is: “He touched them! Oh, the horror! Oh the travesty for the rest of their lives! Let’s make sure that we all tell everyone how much they should cry, think of themselves as victims every day, stay sad and angry, never find release, and make sure we thump the Bible as much as possible while we do it! And if the victims ever overcome this impossible path of forgiveness, we’ll act like forgiveness was impossible and continue over-dramatizing the offense. Everyone should amplify this particular set of sin in their minds so that no one is able to obey Jesus’ command to forgive.” That is the script our society tells people and no one teaches this script more than the Church.

IF IF we are using the Bible as our standard, consensual sex outside of  marriage is a sin we should feel equally concerned about. But, when the Church gets their values from the culture, “Oh, it’s just sex. Who cares! We’ll find something else to convince ourselves to feel traumatized over so that we can tell ourselves that we have morals, even though we disregard God’s morals.”

We need the Christian testimony of, “Oh, yeah, my dad raped me as a child. But, I have Jesus, I really don’t care now.”? We don’t hear that on Sunday morning. Is Jesus powerful or not? Are we called to forgive or not?

We all have friends who have suffered from different things. It’s amazing how many people have. And whether we suffer or we know someone else who has, the best thing to do is encourage them that we can get past the past and forgive. We don’t need more people increasing sorrow or emphasizing how much we are supposed to hurt. We need to lift Jesus so high that even the greatest offense is easily forgotten. That’s the Biblical teaching. That is the way for people who want to follow the Bible. And if someone claims to teach Bible, but lifts an offense high rather than Jesus, that person might not know Jesus.

It’s not a crime to not know Jesus. But those who say they know Jesus should be expected to act like they do. Otherwise they may be selling something. If Christians in media report on Christians who don’t want to forgive or who are seeking “justice” beyond their own safety, there should be some mention of their sin of unforgiveness.

Here’s another testimony you won’t see on Sunday morning: “I was abused as a child. My sin is that I was angry about it. Praise Jesus, I repented of my unforgiveness. Jesus forgave me. He can forgive you for being an angry person too. Forgive people. That’s the way to get past the past. And nothing, no abuse, no crime can ever compete with the power of Jesus to forgive.” Wouldn’t it be nice to hear. Fat chance. Anger sells a lot better than forgiveness and organizations with shrinking numbers need more money.

Take the dare. Teach forgiveness.

Josh, the family, those girls—they don’t want blood. They want reconciliation. They all need a “come to Jesus moment”, forgive each other, find something new, and make a TV series about that! Talk about good PR and ratings.

If this didn’t involve Christians, there would be no story. But this story demonstrate Christian placing a high priority on some things, but no priority at all for the command of forgiveness. If God wants “Christian” newspapers to ignore the scandal of unforgiveness, then He wouldn’t have allowed this Christian online paper’s ad service to plaster “A Seduction Technique Women Can’t Resist”, “How to Make Any Woman Obsess Over You”.

Christians have been playing the media game by the non-Christina script and that is why they are losing. Christian newspapers should have their own system for profitability, either managing their own ads, creating their own ad system for others to use, or not do advertising at all. Newspapers can sponsor or invest in other products or host their own crowdfunding campaigns that they know their audience would be interested in. Subscription fees aren’t totally out of the question, but, again, that’s what non-Christian newspapers are doing. If the Bible is right, it probably isn’t the best business model.

Even involvement with secular media is questionable. Christians should start their own media, their own style, and depend more on personal relationships than large organizations to have their ministry. Josh resigned from positions that arguably not the most effective in the first place.

When problems like this crop up, we need to ask ourselves what the real problem is. It is a problem we all have. All of us can learn to move past the past, whether we are victims of others’ bad choices or victims of our own. As we forgive, we ask for forgiveness. The goal is reconciliation all around. Pacific Daily Times is most interested in sharing the updates of how things turned around.