The disturbing news of another moral failure by Josh Duggar brings a response of mixed emotions. On the one hand, his continued immorality and hypocrisy now brought to light create a reaction of disgust. On the other hand, moral failure tied to blatant hypocrisy is so common these days, no one should be surprised. As I have mulled these issues over today, my mind has been drawn to the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as told by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Dr. Jekyll, a scientist who is convinced of the presence of both good and evil within himself, creates a potion he believes will feed the good person and diminish the evil person inside. However, the evil person, a certain Mr. Hyde, gains more power, committing acts of brutality and murder that shock even the strongest persons. Over time, in spite of many attempts to control the evil Mr. Hyde, and with no secret potion remaining, Jekyll realizes his own demise will soon come at the hands of his own Mr. Hyde. In spite of Jekyll’s belief in the power of his own goodness, it is the evil inside him which ultimately wins.
Mr. Stevenson’s analysis of human nature is exceptionally accurate. Yet somehow we have bought into a way of thinking that contradicts this. We believe that if a person is surrounded by good people, given a good education, consumes good food and makes good life choices, the good will win. We also buy into the reverse viewpoint: if a person is surrounded by bad people, receives a bad education, and makes bad life choices, the bad will win. In other words, we accept the faulty notion that we become good or evil based on what surrounds us rather than what is within us.
Josh Duggar provides a vivid example of the exact opposite. Mr. Duggar, it would seem, has had all of the good he could possibly have in this life and was protected from all of the bad in this life. So we are doubly shocked at his moral failure, as if there is no logical reasoning for it, no explanation. As if, somehow, we would “understand” his failure if he had come from a broken home or had been exposed to evil behaviors throughout his life. But this is not the lesson of Jekyll and Hyde. If we listen well to the words of Mr. Stevenson, we will come to understand that the evil exists within us, not outside us. And thus Mr. Duggar’s behavior, while reprehensible for sure, should not be especially surprising.
It is not popular today to state that human beings are inherently evil, that we are all born with a sin nature which, left unchecked, can turn us all into a Mr. Hyde. Sadly, Josh Duggar has provided us with another living illustration of this truth. What is the lesson to be learned? Someone has already stated it well: “There, but for the grace of God, go I. ” My so-called good environment, friends, choices, or lifestyle will not protect me from the evil I am capable of doing. I must always be on guard, never feeding the Mr. Hyde inside, but relying on the power and grace of God to save me from my sinful self. This is my prayer, especially today.