On the Duggars...
Over the past several days, there’s been fury gnawing at my stomach and sorrow swelling in my veins, and I’ve finally parced my thoughts and feelings together enough to relieve them through my keyboard. So here it goes…
By now most everyone with internet access has heard about the Duggar scandal, and has become sadly acquainted with the egregious and intensely perverse “mistakes” of Josh Duggar. This particular rhetoric grinds my teeth because it paints a sympathetic veneer over an atrocity that should incite disgust, not pity. Pity is owed to his victims, and his actions were not “a mistake”. A mistake is unintentional. A mistake is accidental, and most importantly a mistake is learned from. Most of the people standing behind Josh Duggar claim “yes he made mistakes, but “who hasn’t?” and that it’s “unfair to bring this up now because it happened 12 years ago”.
What’s unfair is parents so addicted to suckling on the teat of reality TV that they forsake the wellbeing of both their daughters by keeping them in the same space as a predator with FULL KNOWLEDGE about what he has done. What’s unfair, is parents breeding like bunnies and introducing more and more of their progeny into an extremely repressive environment, while shelters brim and overflow with orphans. What’s unfair is lambasting the LGBT community and espousing the “dangers” that homosexuals pose to children, while making the conscious choice to keep your own children in constant company with the person who violated them. What’s unfair, is that their family gets a reprieve from many loyal viewers because “it happened 12 years ago” and he apologized. Whether 12 years ago or 12 minutes ago, he did what he did. Crime doesn’t have an expiration date, and the statute of limitations doesn’t change the severity of what he’s done.
It sickens me in ways that boil my blood.
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
Molesting underage girls is a “mistake”? Molesting your SISTERS is a mistake? Incest is just a teenage accident I guess…live and learn, right?
“But he was only fourteen…”
He was old enough to know right from wrong, especially in a household so adamant about instilling “good Christian values” into their children. This wasn’t just a onetime thing; multiple victims, multiple accusations, and both parents aware of the happenings.
“But he got treatment!”
This one’s fun…okay, let me break it down:
Jim Bob waited a full year (during which Josh continued to molest his siblings) before going to consult his church elders for advice. Their advice was to send Josh to a treatment program, which Jim Bob opted against. Josh’s parents both lied to the press about his attending a rehabilitation program. They eventually recanted and admitted that they sent him to a family acquaintance in Little Rock to do manual labor for four months instead. Upon his return they arranged a meeting with a state trooper who happend to be a family friend (cherry-picking much?) who gave him a “stern talking to” but didn’t charge him with any crimes. The state trooper he spoke with? Currently serving 50+ years in prison for child pornography.
Pedophilia is a serious psychological condition that requires intensive treatment, and there’s a good deal of debate about whether or not it’s even curable. Pedophiles typically begin acting on their impulses and desires at about age 15. Josh was 14 at his start, and the eldest of the Duggar girls (12) was not a target, further evidencing the pedophilic nature of his incestuous violations. He is married now (to a wife who KNEW about his past before going into the marriage) and has three young children with another child on the way. Is he truly changed and repentant? I hope to God he is. Will he be tempted to project his impulses on his own children? I hope to God he won’t. But given that the majority of his victims were blood relations, the possibility is unfortunately elevated. By trying to sweep this entire ordeal under the rug and neglecting the psychological needs of everyone involved, the Duggar parents have done anything but handle the situation appropriately.
I’m writing this (admittedly, pretty long) collection of thoughts mostly as a response to how many people I’ve seen defending the Duggars. It is not my intention to offend anyone, but I am genuinely concerned and disturbed by the logic of many people standing up for Josh. I myself am a Christian and I understand how crucial forgiveness and redemption are to our faith, but forgiveness is an issue for him to take up with God. Simply praying for forgiveness is, in my opinion, not enough for the severity of what has transpired, and I don’t believe anyone can simply pray away pedophilic inclinations. God helps those who help themselves, and the Duggars have done anything but that.
What’s done is done, but just as celebrities shouldn’t be exempt from the law because of their wealth, we should not be exempt from the law because of our faith. The responses I’ve seen circulating the web have made me nauseous, and as Christians, trying to defend Josh is only harming our own cause. Why? Because we’re enabling the demise of our faith’s legitimacy in eyes of the rest of the world. By making excuses and minimizing the severity of what he has done, you make it seem that Christianity is lenient towards transgressions by its own people. And truthfully, we can be, just people belonging to any group will go out of their way to protect their own.
And I get it, really I do. I’m a Christian too, and I’m not unfamiliar with how much of the world sees us. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and people are more liable to pay attention to the megaphone screeches of radicals than the thousands of people who are quiet and genuine in their faith. I know that many fend off being disheartened by enthusiastically pointing to people like the Duggars and putting them up on a pedestal, but this is a dangerous practice.
There has always been something severely off to me about the Duggars, and the fact that so many people praised them as a shining light and example of perfect Christianity has shocked shivers down my spine for some time. The truth will set ye free, and the truth?
They subscribe to the teachings of Bill Gothard. BILL GOTHARD, whose infamy in his own sexual harassment of over 30 underage girls has somehow not deterred them from his ATI home school teachings (which I highly encourage you to read for yourself, if you’re in the mood for emotional indigestion) which are pretty primeval in their instructions and include *surprise* an entire section dedicated to how to handle your son’s incestuous advances! The takeaway? It’s the victim’s fault! Your son can’t help himself, and your daughters should be shamed for tempting him. One of the possible causes? Having your son change his sister’s diapers when he’s young, because that experience can be very titillating (I wish I was making this up, but alas~I’m incapable of producing something this demented…).
The fact that they subscribe to these insane teachings speaks on its own behalf. I know many Christians that have called them as close to perfect as you can get, and beacons of light that we should all look up to, but I’m afraid I just don’t see it. At all. What I do see though, is an extremely restrictive and oppressive environment where privacy is nonexistent (which I’m sure contributed to the fact that most of Josh’s molestations were performed on the girls when they were sleeping) children are forced to raise children because their mother doesn’t have time to nurture her obnoxiously large brood, and men run the show. The children are kept thoroughly isolated, forcefully spoon-fed twisted ideology, and not provided adequate room to explore and discover themselves as individuals. Their parents monitor every interaction they have with anyone from the outside (the only texting they have is through a group text with ALL family members in it), completely screen who they can be friends with, pick their spousal candidates FOR them, and dominate any and all aspects of their lives. But through collective (and in my opinion, creepy) grins, matching outfits, and quoted scripture, they’re koom-ba-yahed about TLC as America’s charmingly gargantuan family.
But the skeleton’s out of the proverbial closet, and we’re faced with the tragic truths. And it’s all about Josh. All about how his life and his family’s brand is ruined, how he’s lost his position in the Family Research Council (the irony’s smarting) and how he’s working through the struggles being the only provider for his family because God forbid he have married a woman who can bring in any revenue.
But what about his sisters? What about the girls who have had to live in that house with the one who committed these heinous sins, who have had to do chores for him, to serve him and listen to his praises for being “such a good brother” all those years? What about the girls who have witnessed their parent’s preferential treatment towards their brother, who have been denied adequate psychological help because it would deviate from the Quiverfull teachings? What about them? And now, their nightmares are being dredged back up as the media has its field day with the police report…what happens to them? It’s a question that’s been haunting me ever since the scandal’s come to light, and the fact that so much empathy has been offered to Josh and his ruined reputation instead of to those who suffered under his wandering fingers sickens me.
From what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen, the Duggars are many things. They are polished, manipulative, and (dare I say it?) a cult with a limitless supply of members, so long as they keep breeding. What they are not, though, is a healthy and functional family. And what they shouldn’t be, is the mascot for wholesome Christian values.
I understand why so many Christians are desperately clinging to the idea that Josh is fully-reformed and the Duggars are an upstanding family. I know that maintaining one’s faith is an uphill battle, and that the Duggars were an emblem of hope to many, many viewers. But this pedestal thing has got to stop. We need to stop relying on other people to serve as living relics of our faith, and instead live our faith through our own actions and our own love. We need to live with open eyes, minds, and hearts, and be able to recognize when the rigidity of one’s faith puts themselves and others in danger. And we need to not sugar-coat the truth or make excuses when we encounter horror and evil, because that will always do more harm than good. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow, but while a spoonful of medicine (in this case, trying to water down what happened) makes the medicine go down, it can also give you cavities.
I really encourage you to look into things yourself, and not just take my word for it. I’ve had my suspicions about the Duggars for a while, but it wasn’t until this scandal blew up that I really took the time to research their beliefs and understand why they made me so uncomfortable. I’m glad that things have finally come to light, but am also deeply saddened that there were things hidden in the dark to begin with.
If you want to pray, pray for the girls who have the label of “victim” (I’ve certainly used it enough in writing this) inscribed on them for the rest of their lives. Pray for their well-being, their recovery, and their future. Pray that the corruption in the Duggar family is dismantled, and that Josh will get the help he needs as well.
And for the love of God…stop signing petitions for the show to be brought back. More camera time is the last thing needed during or after this crisis.