There was some news recently announced regarding the Duggar’s oldest son, Josh, molesting a few of his sisters and other girls when he was a young teenager.
I have read some articles on it and a few blogs in response to him publicly admitting this. I am surprised by the responses, yet not. This could very well be lengthy blog post but I will try to be brief and to the point. You may agree with me or not, I don’t really care. Regardless, I am certain I will take the minorities’ view.
First off, anything I say in blog post is by no means condoning Josh’s behavior. I am not defending his actions, but I want you to consider a few things before hastily drawing conclusions. Secondly, anything I say is based solely from what I’ve read. And I am not addressing this issue as being right or wrong – we know it is wrong, but instead I want to address the comments and blogs in response to his actions.
He said, she said
There is a lot of speculation and hearsay about this and we are quick to fill in the blanks. Way too quick. The media spins everything and most of it, in general, is probably not true. But the following messages are straight from Josh & Anna Duggar’s Facebook page and the Duggar Family Official’s Facebook page:
“From Jim Bob and Michelle:
Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.
Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.
From Anna (Josh’s wife):
I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married – it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him. When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was – even every difficult past mistakes. At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him… I was able to say, “Yes” knowing who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren’t for your help I would not be here as his wife – celebrating 6 ½ years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.”
The perfect Christian family
The Duggar family has been put on a public pedestal ever since their show started airing in 2002. They have been deemed the “perfect Christian family”. There is no perfect Christian family! I have watched most of their episodes and never once heard them claim to be perfect. It’s not even possible. Being a Christian, or a Christian family, does in no way make you become perfect – it’s a huge myth. Christians are still very far from perfection! The only difference to set us apart from any other human being on this earth is our personal relationship with the God of the universe (and, of course, with that, where our eternity lies). But Christians do not lose their ability to sin once they become Christians – once they come to know Christ. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can live a life closer to that of Christ’s, who was perfect, but alone it is not possible.
In their shoes
I have heard some say they have lost all respect for the parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Why? In Josh’s message, he speaks of steps that were taken. He talks of the counseling they all received and even going to the authorities. His parents addressed it once they were made aware and they took steps to deal with it. What else would you have them do? Perhaps kick 15-year-old Josh out of their house? Lock him away in the basement or attic? It sounds to me like they responded as they should. Beyond that – what they did or didn’t do – all else is speculation. We only know what we’re being told.
Christian parents should have a different perspective and way of handling situations than the general public. They have to answer to God first and foremost. We are not in their exact shoes so we cannot criticize them for the steps they took, and especially for that which we do not know.
There were also comments made about his parents allowing it to continue in their home for at least a year or more. That is speculation too. No one but Josh knows how long it was before he told them or if it continued while his parents knew. Just a reminder, some sin is hard to break! And if they were aware then that is still between God and them, not us! (A side note: In Josh’s statement he says, “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.” “Come into my life” sounds like he became a Christian. If that’s the case, he was walking in darkness. Non-christians do not live nor see things the same as Christians do.)
A few other things
Many are claiming Josh should be considered a pedophile. He was fifteen years old – that is still a child! Besides, in order to be “diagnosed” with pedophilia you must be at least sixteen years old. I’m not excusing his behavior but I believe slapping pedophilia on him is a bit hasty and harsh.
Another claim: they still started the show, now called 19 Kids and counting, right after this happened, displaying and representing themselves as a Christian family. That’s covering it up. Why is this considered covering it up? As I said before, no family is perfect. Why should this stop them from starting the show? I doubt the qualifications for having a show are being perfect and having a dirt-free past. It was no one else’s business but Josh’s, his parents’, the victims’ and the authorities’. No one else needs to know. Isn’t it like world to dig up the past dirt on everyone in the spotlight? They do this to presidential leaders, celebrities and anyone else in the public eye. This was in the past. They dealt with it. It seems they have worked through it and moved on. But never mind that, let’s rub their nose in the hurt, guilt and shame all over again. After all, that’s what we love to do! I would not appreciate, years later, being condemned for something and for it to be publicly displayed all over the media.
Blame the victims, coddle the abuser
Perhaps this is the case in many situations, but how do you know it is in this particular situation? They claim to have all received counseling. I didn’t hear anyone blame the girls and I didn’t hear anyone excuse him for his actions. Showing forgiveness and mercy is not excusing the deed.
Cast the first stone
Let me share a Bible passage with you.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to [Jesus], “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
If you have sin – if you are not perfect – then you may not judge another. Maybe your sin is different than Josh’s but we should not condemn another no matter the sin. The root of our sin is still in the heart – in the wicked, sinful heart. In the passage above probably none of the scribes and Pharisees committed adultery, yet they walked away because they were not without sin.
Are we so perfect in our lives that we cannot allow anyone else, even Christians, to fall into sin?
I have a dirty past. I think we all do. I have done things I am not proud of – things I don’t want shared with anyone else. Things only few, if any, know about. I am betting you do too. The guilt can be overwhelming. The guilt looms over you sometimes for years, especially if you haven’t dealt with it properly. So who am I to condemn him for his sin?
Take the log out of your own eye!
This may go hand-in-hand with the casting of the first stone.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judge, and will the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
I like the ESV study notes on the above verses:
“Judge not forbids pronouncing another person guilty before God. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged. Undue harshness and a judgmental attitude toward others will result in being treated in much the same way by God.
Jesus does not forbid all evaluation or even judgment of others, for ultimately the one who feels grieved and humbled over his own sin can help remove the “speck” from others. What Jesus does rule out is pride that views oneself as better than others.”
Mercy and forgiveness
This really is the biggest struggle I have in the responses of the general public! We are so incredibly quick to condemn and far less easy to extend mercy and forgiveness. I realize there are situations in which you must remove certain threats, especially when the situation or person hasn’t changed, but where is our mercy? Where is the mercy, particularly for those that make the necessary efforts and changes? Josh’s wife has witnessed a change in him, she said so. Why are we, the public, so reluctant or even incapable of it?
Furthermore, is it really up to us? Does he really need our forgiveness or mercy? When we walk down a dark path and betray and hurt someone, do we need to ask everyone on our contact list for forgiveness, or just for the ones we hurt? This should have nothing to do with the public. Our world is so quick to throw out our judgments and our revenge and pay-backs that we forget love and mercy and forgiveness.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Based on his statement, “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life”, God has already forgiven Josh, so why can’t we?
We are so quick to speculate, criticize and judge choices and situations. But were we there? I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to think they did what they felt was right. And do we know all the facts? And even if we did know all of the facts, what would we do in that given situation.
I am guilty of many things. I am no better than they. I need to take the log out of my own eye before I can address the speck in his.
I should be quick to forgive, because I would want to be forgiven just the same. Let’s exercise more mercy and forgiveness!