Duggar Debacle

“Easy ‘forgivism’ may gloss over the terrible situation in the short term, but it reinforces to everyone that the egregious, soul-siphoning sin committed against the victim was trivial, easy to get over.”

Source: In faith communities like the Duggars, abuse victims are encouraged to be filled with grace. It’s not that simple. – The Washington Post

Large Blog ImageFor those of you that are unaware of this situation, TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” star family is enmeshed in scandal over the public exposure of the eldest son, Joshua Duggar, for molesting underage girls as a teenager. Chump Lady has written on this matter in her post for today (link here). This story is hitting the conservative, evangelical subculture hard as Joshua Duggar, the admitted child molester, was with the Family Research Council’s lobbying wing as a prominent figure until he recently resigned his position with FRC amid this scandal.

While this situation is not about adultery or divorce per se, I am writing about it today as it exposes similar problems I see in how the conservative, evangelical world responds to the sins of adultery or wrongful marital abandonment. The quote above comes from an excellent article by Mary DeMuth out of The Washington Post. Such pressure to forgive quickly rung bells to me as a familiar old, demonic tactic used against the victims of adultery as well. Much of the article could have been written about how faithful spouses are treated by the church following adultery/infidelity discovery. I was also struck by how the article highlighted the abuse of God’s name and grace to rug-sweep and silence the victim(s) from sharing their story. Sound familiar? And I agree with the author that these tactics are Satanic.

The Duggar situation bothers me on so many levels. It breaks my heart–both as a pastor and as a father–thinking about the girls as well as what this situation teaches them and the world about God. At least as an adult, adultery survivors stand a chance–however slim–at disentangling the lies from the truth. I know I had a hard enough time doing this even with a Yale graduate-level education. The lies and shame are hard to fight off.

I remember William Paul Young, a survivor of childhood sexual molestation on the mission field by non-family members and the author of The Shack, share in his testimony how he had to wipe his earthly father’s face off of God to see God as God truly is. I cannot help but think about his story and the challenges he faced following such abuse when considering the story about the Duggars.

And what are the demonic lies I see probably at work in situations like these:

1.  You are a bad Christian girl if you are angry at your violator.

2.  God, the Father, is just like an earthly father figure, Jim Bob, who failed to protect them.

3.  God cares more about the image of the perpetrator than the healing of their victims.

4. These were just “mistakes” as opposed to serious sinful violations.

These are lies. God is full of wrath towards the unrighteous daily (see Psalm 7:11)! It is healthy and godly to be angry at someone who has sinned against you. That does not justify sinning back at them, though (see Eph 4:26). What is ungodly and unhealthy is treating or tolerating sin as if it really wasn’t so bad. Furthermore, God the Father cares deeply about vulnerable children warning great retribution is coming for people who hurt them (see Mt 18:6). His heart is to protect and care for the vulnerable. And God deals with sin not blaming the ones sinned against as God is Just. Finally, it sickens me as to how the instances of child molestation are minimized by the Duggars labeling them “mistakes” as opposed to sin and horrible violations of the victims. God is not confused on that number either.

Sadly, this is not the only story about vulnerable children being hurt in the evangelical subculture news cycle. The demonic world is busy. Stay posted for some further thoughts on a scandal rocking a Texas mega-church where a wife and mother obtained a marriage annulment after discovering her husband and father of their children had a history of minimally viewing child porn. The controlling church response to her is truly sickening….


13 thoughts on “Duggar Debacle”

  1. I agree it’s good that you discuss God’s wrath. Many people don’t believe it’s real or applies to them. It’s Old Testament doctrine. We’ve got grace now. WRONG! GOD WILL NOT BE MOCKED!

  2. Dear DM,
    I’m a bit torn about the Duggar issue. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m appalled about how the media and a lot of people appear to gleefully rejoice in their ‘downfall’ ( not referring to you)

    I’m torn because I agree totally that the sin he committed was wrong and hurt others and there is no excuse. This was however a child too, from what I understand, he was 14. From what I read, he acknowledged what he did was wrong., there were no reports of him doing it again and he has gone on to lead an apparent productive life.

    I’m torn because we don’t know the full story, the parents are being condemned for not reporting to authorities but would going to juvenile hall have given a better outcome? Do we know that the Duggar parents did not do all they could to make sure it never happened again? Do we know that they did not give the girls involved all the help & support needed?

    I don’t watch the Tv programm but I have a general idea from what I’ve read along the years and even though no one can know what goes on behind closed doors, the Duggar girls seem to be ok?

    Where does forgiveness come in DM? If he did something greviously wrong over 10 years ago and it never occurred again..is it right to expect his life to be destroyed over it if God has forgiven him. What about the victims, what good will bringing this all out to the open do?

    I know he molested those girls by touching them and I cannot even begin to imagine how awful it must have been even without Thank God rape involved. There is however no indication that the parents enabled him or failed to protect their other kids. They handled it how they knew and it seemed to have worked.

    I’m thinking people are so glad about the Duggar scandal because they don’t agree with their beliefs, lifestyle & maybe their success. I don’t agree with some of the things they do either but I have no desire to tear down a man for a sin he has repented and FORSAKEN and which God has forgiven. Am I wrong?

    1. MLBA73,

      While agree that part of the motivation of such stories is to mock evangelical Christians, I do not think that is the real story. The real story–from what I have read–includes minimally a known year and five known children whom he molested. Many of the adults knew about this situation but handled it poorly by not acting swiftly to report to appropriate authorities. So, I absolutely stand by my insistence that the victims were not protected the way they ought to have been. I am a mandatory reporter as a minister in MN, and such behavior would be illegal in this state. The girls ought to have been better protected. Plus, I do not think Joshua was given the qualified care he needed as well. The image of the family was too precious to tarnish by dealing with this uprightly.

      The questions you raise are legitimate about what we do not know. Yet what bothers me is how so little is said about caring for the victims. We do not know these things because caring for them was not and seems to continue to not be the focus for the Duggars. Covering it up was.

      Yes, Joshua was fourteen years old at the time, but a fourteen year old can still commit a crime. He is still responsible for his sins. Mary DeMuth addresses that objection on her blog here: http://www.marydemuth.com/dear-mike-huckabee/

      As to the forgiveness part from the victims, that might be the price for them to have belonging. They forgive because to show anger or anything else would label them as “bad” Christians/girls. Likely, it is not safe for them to do otherwise.

      I do not rejoice when God’s Name is dragged through the muck and mire. And I do not rejoice when evangelicals look like hypocrites as I am an evangelical myself. However, I think this is teaching moment for evangelicals to point out that we stand with the victims just as God does.

      And let’s not forget what it must have been like for these victims to live in/near a family projecting perfection and with their molester acting as a supposed advocate for children/families. I would imagine it would be just as painful as attending the same church as an adulterous spouse who is leading the worship team up front each Sunday. Painful. Wrong. And a good way to raise up a generation of atheists.


      1. Thank you DM. I understand better. Like you I hate it when the name of Christ is dragged through mud and my big flaw is an ability to forgive too easily but if i put myself in the shoes of those victims.. It’s too difficult to even imagine.

        I will pray for everyone involved that God heals and redeems and restores. If Josh Duggar did not receive any repercussions then , then he definitely is being punished now.

        1. My Life, very objective posts. I think many people forget there is no statute of limitations with God. We reap what we sow in a different season, and the harvest is greater. The thing I admire about David is that he took is lumps. There is a passage of scripture where in his later years, David was marching through a town with his army, and a man was throwing rocks at him and cursing him. His troops wanted to pursue and kill the man. David told them to stand down. I can see him sighing and shaking his head, but he took his lumps, regardless of the passage of time.

    2. Hello I am like-minded with mlba73 in that I believe people seem to relish the idea of exposing the dirt of those who appear to some, perhaps, holier than thou, etc. Though I don’t really watch their show – I don’t get the impression that these people are trying to come across as perfect. To say that they inadequately handled the transgressions of their young teen-aged boy – well, I’m not sure I agree – what would other parents have done? They did deal with it, they did address it and I believe they were deeply affected by this. Remember, this was their son, their pride and joy, and we are going to expect that the parents would want to crucify him??! I would guess the hurt that he saw in his parents’ eyes at the young age of 14, took quite a toll on him. I feel that if he learned from this, and in some way, with his parents’ guidance, made reparation with the victims (or felt remorse) then the public should be satisfied and stop this witch hunt. I certainly hope the girls truly worked through this, and am not suggesting to trivialize their experience.

      1. Certainly, it put the parents in a difficult place. But was their first move to protect the vulnerable or to turn a blind-eye hoping it would go away. Their response looks more like a blind-eye response.

        Furthermore, what Joshua did is a crime even for a juvenile, and it was not dealt with promptly as such (one year delay is not promptly). Furthermore, it might have been wiser not to seek a platform self-promoting themselves as a perfect family without this addressed. That is not even mentioning how troubling having Joshua lead the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council without even having–as far as we know–gone to a qualified counselor to deal with such matters.

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