I’m going to do something I never thought I would do.
Last Saturday morning, as I sipped my coffee and scanned my news feed, wiling away the couple of hours before the baby awoke, I was accosted by a story just a couple of days old.
Jessa Seewald, one of the children of the super-fundie reality TV Duggar family, thinks I am going to hell.
I didn’t even know I missed the hubbub over her pink wedding dress, and yet here she is, with the audacity that I am going to hell.
To be more specific, Jessa recently said that “liberal” Christians, i.e. those who don’t believe in hell, are in fact, going to hell just the same as all the other sinners out there. Her remarks were met with prompt cries of “intolerance” and “wouldn’t it be nice if she used her platform to proclaim a message of ‘acceptance.’”
She thinks I am going to hell…
And probably you, and you, and you too. We are all probably too liberal for a Duggar.
But I am going to do something I never thought I would do.
I’m going to come to the defense of Jessa and the rest of the Duggar family.
Repeat After Me
I have never met any of the Duggars and I don’t plan to in the near future. But I imagine that if I was invited to their home and we got to talking about the intimate matters of faith, they just might leave the conversation believing that I am in fact going to hell. Yes, I assume that I am too liberal for the Duggars. There would be some part of my theological beliefs that just don’t line up with them, be it hell or something else, and they would conclude that I am outside of the throne of grace.
You know what I say to that?
Please, if you would, repeat after me:
Now let’s march in place and repeat. “So. What. So. What. So What.”
Caring Way Too Much About Way Too Little
Last week, first thing in the morning, I saw some innocuous looking link about a dress that people can’t agree what color it is. “Wow, that’s kind of a dumb story,” I thought. “Clearly it’s a white dress that’s being photographed in a shadow.”
Then I headed to work and heard the morning DJ imploring listeners to chime in on the station’s Facebook page about the dress. “People care about this stupid dress?” I thought. The DJ was clearly using any story, no matter how asinine, to drive traffic to the station’s site.
And then, for the rest of the week, every other post was about this dress. “This can’t be happening,” I thought. How could people actually care about this enough to clutter up their news feeds with this nonsense.
People, I have concluded that we care way too much, about way too many things. We care about what color a dress is. We care about whether some people we don’t know think we are going to hell.
Let’s Not Pretend That We Don’t All Do It
It does not matter if the Duggars think I am going to hell. It does not matter if they were to sit in judgment of me, or my choices in life. Because guess what? I do the same thing to them. I look at how they have decided to live and I can make plenty of conclusions about the rightness or wrongness of their choices. And my opinions matter as little to them as theirs do to me.
What has happened recently, or at least has gotten worse in the last ten years, is that we have started pretended that all of us no longer judge one another. We imagine that we are all completely accepting and tolerate of everyone’s decisions. And so when someone actually admits that they don’t agree with everyone’s choices, we all act like we are going to faint like a bunch of seventeenth century French dandies.
You and I and everyone else all have choices to make for ourselves and we make them. And by making the choices we think are correct, by default, we judge that other choices are incorrect. Now we can fixate on the choices we think other people have made that are wrong, and that’s not healthy. But part of living on planet Earth with seven billion other imperfect people is that we all have choices to make and we can judge everyone else and it doesn’t matter.
Are All of My Decisions An Expression of Hate?
On top of this denial that we are all judging each other, we have piled on all of this vehement emotion to point out when people are judging us. We accuse people who disagree with us of hating us. We throw tantrums like preteen girls and say, “You hate me!”
We burn a woman at the stake because she decides not to wear yoga pants and we accuse her of “slut-shaming” everyone else. Suddenly, every decision is not just a decision, but an expression of hate for everyone else. It’s childish, and I know because I work with children and they act the same way. I thought we were supposed to celebrate people for expressing “their truth,” a phrase I have heretofore found too asinine to acknowledge because it seems to imply that we do not believe in truth at all. Jessa Seewald’s “truth” (if there can be such a thing as “her” truth) is that the rest of us are going to hell.
Guess what? Saying that someone is going to hell is not the same as saying “Go to hell.”
Some of my best friends might be going to hell (I can’t be sure.) So I love them, pray for them, and try to show them Jesus. I don’t hate them because I disagree with their choices.
Can we try something?
Can we try to let it go?
Can we let the Duggars and the Robertsons think we are going to hell? Can we let people wear yoga pants or not wear yoga pants? Can we let a dress be black, white, blue or gold and not invest actual human emotion into it because it doesn’t matter?
Can we practice saying “So what?”
It might do us a lot of good.