“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – I John 1:8-9, KJV
Anna Duggar’s brother, Daniel Keller, apparently took exception to the quoting of the above verses by a member of the Duggar clan recently on Facebook (story here). Anna Duggar is the wife to the disgraced Josh Duggar and mother to his four children. The above verses were posted on Facebook by one of Josh’s sisters. The context of this exchange is over the recent admission from Josh Duggar that he has been unfaithful to his wife (after the Ashley Madison data dump exposed him).
I am tackling this story for two reasons:
- It provides an opportunity to correct toxic, (un)Christian responses to infidelity. Namely, Daniel Keller correctly contends a verbal confession after getting caught does not constitute true repentance in and of itself. The thief caught red-handed will do the same. More is needed.
- It provides an excellent illustration to others that infidelity impacts more than just the couple. Daniel correctly contends this has impacted his own family bringing shame upon them as well. Adultery and infidelity causes much collateral damage.
I do not know for certain how Daniel Keller interpreted I John 1:8-9, but I have a reasonable guess from the comments he posted on that Duggar family member’s Facebook feed. The sense I get is Daniel is responding to a strain in Christian circles that thinks forgiveness means no consequences for sin. It is often coupled with the idea that “we’re all sinners” and utilized to shutdown legitimate concern/criticism from the victims of said sin.
In direct response to the quotation of I John 1:8-9, Daniel Keller wrote,
“You have to confess and forsake your sin to have mercy. Not sin confess and repeat.”
He is correct in stating this. Scripture is clear in its warning about those who continue in sin (see Hebrews 10:26-27). It is not a pretty sight. God’s wrath and hell-fire are in store for such people.
While Josh confessed the sexual sin of molesting multiple girls as a teenager, he kept his roughly three years long Ashley Madison adultery-seeking accounts secret at that time.
This was calculated. And it was not just one act or slip up. This secret life of infidelity was maintained for years. Plus, he created two accounts with AM alone! Finally, he was working for the Family Research Council; so, he was surrounded by resources to help him deal with such a sin problem if he was willing to forsake his sin. He chose infidelity, secrecy, and sin instead.
Many here can testify such a premeditated pattern is common to adulterous spouses who make multiple choices to be unfaithful to their spouses (see post here). My ex-wife kept her illicit relationship hidden for months even going to marriage counseling with me during the time she was involved with the Other Man in secret. Such depravity is not unique to Josh Duggar.
Next, Daniel Keller responds to a commentator who points to King David’s forgiveness over committing adultery with Bathsheba as example setting for Daniel and Anna. His response,
“Confessing and getting caught are two different things. You want to know what happens when you cover ur sin maybe you should go read ur bible instead of beating people over the head with it.”
This exchange misses the point that King David still suffered incredible consequences for his sin. This included having to live with the knowledge that his son died because of his sin. Plus, he suffered when his son Absalom rebelled and did all sort of horrible things culminating in his own death, again.
The forgiveness piece King David received was that he was not put to death on the spot as was his due (see Deut 22:22 and 2 Samuel 12:13). Such forgiveness did not remove the consequences for such sin in King David’s life.
In addition, I agree with Daniel Keller here that getting caught and confessing is not the same thing as freely confessing. The later makes the confession suspect as far as it relates to true repentance. When you are caught red-handed, it looks foolish to deny your sin.
Make no mistake: Josh Duggar was caught red-handed with the Ashley Madison data dump.
While I do not encourage name-calling, I can empathize with Daniel Keller in regards to his anger. He has a legitimate reason to be angry. Josh Duggar has dragged his family through the mud by choosing this awful path of sin. Plus, he has cheated on Daniel’s sister for years.
Those are real boundary violations and wrongs.
It is good Daniel is angry. The anger I see in him tells me that he dearly loves his sister, Anna. It is a healthy, righteous anger to have about these matters even if his expression is not “perfect” as far as the name-calling piece is concerned.
Plus, this anger demonstrates–once again–that infidelity impacts more than just the couple. It has ripple effects throughout the extended family. Such sin is not a private matter. It causes real community damage.
Josh Duggar did not “just” betray his wife, Anna, through being unfaithful. He betrayed Anna’s family as well–to name one community negatively impacted by his sin.
Adultery is truly evil (see Duet. 22:22). And this rather public expression is one way to help us see that.
Finally, whatever Anna decides regarding her marriage, I hope she is well supported. If she decides to stay–as the reports indicate she will–I hope she is not shamed for that decision. It is hers alone to make as she is the one who has the live with the consequences.
That said, I am glad she has a brother in Daniel who is willing to give it to her straight plus provide a way out–or just breathing space–if that is what she wants as well.