Tag Archives: God

Sexual abuse is always a big deal

duggar-family-jana-duggar

The Duggar family. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

I’m angry.

It takes a lot to make me angry.

It’s true that I tend to rant about random things and I’m fairly sarcastic and even a bit cynical at times. But anger isn’t something I feel very often.

I’m angry, and here’s why:

This morning I was greeted with news story after news story that one of the Duggar kids had molested some other children when he was 14. Now, I don’t know much about the Duggars other than the fact that they have 19 kids, they promote the bizarre homeschool cult that was started by Bill Gothard, and that Christians love them. I’m a devout Christian myself, but I’ve personally found the strange, almost cult-like following of the Duggars a little weird, and I also think it’s a lot weird that Michelle and Jim Bob have chosen a life in which their ever-growing family is shoved into the limelight in exchange for money, but whatever.

I had no problem with people liking the Duggars. But I cannot stand idly by while people who claim the name of Christ try to excuse and brush over what happened.

The reasons I’m angry are threefold. I’ll start with the obvious.

1. I’m angry that it happened.

Sexual abuse is horrific and it scars the lives of those who live through it. Add to this that the counseling the girls received is questionable at best considering the sources from which it likely came, and this entire situation is just a giant train wreck of emotional turmoil and baggage. I wish I didn’t have to belabor the point, but since a lot of people keep saying really insensitive and disgusting things, let me make this very clear: no matter how long ago it was or who the offender was, sexual abuse is always a big deal.

If it helps to make it personal, imagine your daughter or son or your niece or nephew coming to you and telling you that someone had touched them. Is it a big deal now? Because the girls in this scenario are someone’s kids too.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. I’m angry that it was covered up.

First off, Michelle and Jim Bob: what is wrong with you? It appears that your son molested your own daughters. Repeatedly. Snuck into their bedrooms and touched them. Why didn’t you report this to authorities? Why did you decide that it was okay to ignore the well-being of four of your children? What in the world?

Secondly, church elders who were told about this: Congratulations! You’ve all won Class A misdemeanors, which is the minimum charge for a clergy member in the state of Arkansas who does not immediately report the abuse of a child! Good job!

Seriously though, even if you were morally conflicted, you have a legal obligation to report situations like this. There are way too many instances of abuse being covered up within the Church and it disgusts me. You don’t get to decide that you’re above the law.  Josh’s processing and possible sentencing should have been up to the governing authorities. At the point in which he broke the law, he should have been reported. Period.

And then the big reason…

3. I’m angry because of the reactions of Duggar Fans.

The messages I’ve seen defending the actions of both Josh and his family astound me. “It was a long time ago”, “He was only fourteen”, “‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone'” (that last one doesn’t mean what you think it means).

No. No. No. NO.

Look, I’m fully aware that the Duggars have always presented themselves as a nice, devout Christian family. And I’m aware that one of the things the world likes to do is point out any potential area of hypocrisy it can find in the lives of Christians. And I’m also aware that many Christians feel the need to try to avoid this sort of thing, which results in them attempting to make excuses for, cover up, or distract from blatant, public sin. That’s not okay.

People are sinful. You are sinful. I am sinful. Every last Duggar is sinful. The only thing that sets Christians apart from unbelievers is that we are saved by the work of Christ. Not by our own works, not by avoiding the “really bad” sins, not by pretending that we don’t sin at all lest people think that we’re fallible. By the work of Christ. We still sin. And we repent. The Lord works to sanctify us, but until we die we will have to battle our sin nature and we will sin. Every day.

It’s rough to have the world look at you and say, “The Bible teaches this, but you did that.” And our initial inclination is likely to try to cover ourselves, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. But the fact of the matter is we are sinful and are dependent daily on the work of Christ. We cannot escape our own flesh. It is always there.

All that being said: defending the actions of Josh Duggar, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, or any of the elders who did not report this issue to the authorities cannot be justified. Five young women were sexually abused. Yes, it was a long time ago. But Josh did molest them, and multiple adults felt it was necessary and acceptable to hide the entire incident from governing authorities. These facts cannot and should not be defended.

It’s fair to say that there’s not much that can be done now. I have no demands of the Duggars (though Michelle and Jim Bob admitting they handled the situation poorly would be nice). But I do think that those who follow the family, particularly my Christian brothers and sisters, need to deal with the fact that the family is made up of sinful human beings and need to stop defending any part of this occurrence.

These events are horrific. They are damaging. They altered the lives of five young women forever. Covering up sin and illegal activity is despicable. Disobeying the law because you consider yourself above it is abhorrent. And defending people who do any of these things is simply disgusting.

Grieve the situation, grieve with the victims, pray for the Duggars – even Josh. Do what you need to do to come to grips with this entire tragedy. But do not under any circumstances try to sweep this under the rug or treat it as if it’s not a big deal. Sexual abuse is a big deal and it should not be tolerated. Period.

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The constant chase of a meaningful life

So, there’s this fallacy of thought common amongst Christians of a Certain Age (generally under 35 or so) that if our everyday life is not filled to the brim with Deep Meaning and Dangerous Acts of Bravery then it automatically doesn’t count as a life. I’m sure we’ve all bought into it in some way or another, or at the very least, had the idea shoved down our throats half a million times over the years. This is, at the very least, a horrific misunderstanding of the truth.

We live with our parents past the age of nineteen-and-a-half and we consider ourselves Losers Who Live With Their Parents. We don’t have a job filled with Selfless Acts or that Makes a Difference. We may or may not finish Higher Education and may or may not know what to do with our Very Important Diploma once all is said and done. Everyday looks mostly the same as the last, and we’re told at every possible moment that our boring, unfulfilling lives can change in an instant if only we take a chance! learn something new! let go! jump into the abyss with Kierkegaardian abandon!

The problem I have with this line of thinking, particularly among Christians, is that it 1. exhibits an inherent distrust of the sovereignty of God and 2. is, quite frankly, usually selfish. I’m sure there are those out there who want to be World Shakers and live Exciting Lives purely for the Lord…but, if we’re honest, most of us want that sort of excitement because it will make us feel like we’re worth something, like we matter. Instead of taking the Lord at His word (that He loves His children, that we are called according to His purpose, that He has chosen us not on our own merit but because of His steadfast love), we want the comfort of knowing that we matter on our own terms. And that attitude is selfish.

The fact of the matter is that you and I are not mistakes. The Lord created each and every cell in your body. He has you in the place that most glorifies Him and His purposes. That place may be boring; it may be unpleasant; but it is purposeful. When we long for something else, something that was assume ascribes meaning to our short existence here on Earth, we also assume that the Lord’s purposes aren’t meaning enough. We assume that only out idea of Meaning Something counts. That is prideful beyond belief.

The Lord may have you in your parents’ house or in that dead-end job or in that state you hate because He plans for you to connect with those around you. He may have you there for some other reason. But one thing is for certain: He has you in the place that brings Him the most glory and that will sanctify you as His child.

He loves His children. And that alone makes our lives worth something.


FYI (if you’re a Christian human being): a response to the response to Mrs. Hall’s blog entry on modesty

So, there was this blog post I saw going around on Facebook.  And then I noticed that there was a large amount of backlash, frontlash, and sidelash surrounding it.  So, I thought I’d add to the noise.  This is sort of a response to the response to the blog entry with a few sidenotes based on my own observation of the way the Church at large handles the issue of modesty.

Christian ladies: You don’t dress modestly because that’s what Pastor Bob says, because it’s what your mother told you to do, because not doing so makes Aunt Marge cringe, because that’s what Good Girls do, or even to Respect Yourself.  You dress modestly out of love for your Christian brothers.  Just like you, most guys struggle with maintaining pure thoughts.  And just like you, they don’t want to have more issues in this area than already naturally occur.  You wouldn’t wave a mimosa in front of a recovering alcoholic at brunch and then tell them not to think about it, so don’t prance about in clothing that you know will give guys trouble and expect them to have an easy time of it.

Christian gentlemen: That being said, we ladies are not responsible for your sin.  We cannot know everything that causes issues for each individual guy.  I’ve had several married friends tell me things like, “I was always taught not to wear __________, but my husband says it’s not a big deal.” And I have other married friends who express the exact opposite.  Everyone is different and there is no possible way to cater to the triggering factors of others.

I am in the long process of recovering from disordered eating (this relates; I promise), an issue I’ve had off and on for at least five years.  Recovery from something like this is slow and arduous: first I look for good days, then good weeks, then good months.  Thankfully, I’m in the good months area of recovery at the moment.

There are a lot of things in the good days and good weeks stages that can trigger disordered eating thoughts for me.  Some of those things are easily avoidable; some are not.  One of the most ridiculous triggers for me (on a bad day) is someone I am close to just mentioning changing their own diet to lose weight.  If, upon hearing this information, my brain jumps to thoughts of starving myself or of how much weight I need to lose, it is not the other person’s problem.  Many times, this sort of conversation doesn’t phase me, but it occasionally does and is something I have to learn to deal with.  I can’t ask the entire world to stop talking about weight and food and exercise; I can take my thoughts captive, as the Bible commands, and ask God for help in this area.

My point is, we can’t know every issue you have.  Even my friends who are very familiar with the ups and downs of my eating problems can not possibly guess what may cause issues for me on any given day; sometimes, I don’t even know.  It is my responsibility to be prepared to shut down those thoughts as they come.  It’s the same for anyone dealing with any ubiquitous, unbiblical thoughts.

Christian parents: Okay, this is probably a tad presumptuous of me as I’m not a parent myself.  But there are kids in my life who I want to protect, and I do want to have kids and often think about how I will approach difficult issues with them.

First off, yes, it is your right and your duty to protect your kids.  Insulate them in whatever way you feel is necessary. But you also need to train them.  Train your daughters to dress modestly for the sake of the men in their lives.  Train your sons to treat women with respect and to consider them something other than sexual objects.  They need to be able to react to the world around them with biblical understanding.

Years ago, when I was knee-deep in disordered eating, I remember reading a blog post concerning eating disorders.  One thing to note for the uninitiated is that most ED support sites will have ***TRIGGER WARNING** plastered all over various posts in order to let those who are easily triggered know what they’re getting into.  However, the woman writing this post was somewhat against labeling everything with the warning — not because she didn’t care about how her writing affected others, but because she recognized the deeper want held by many recoverers of complete isolation from all triggers.  She essentially said, “I can put trigger warnings at the top of each post and you can avoid them and avoid the pro-ana sites and the fashion magazines.  But do know that there will come a day on which you are walking down the street and you will look up and there will be a giant billboard with a stick-thin model on it.  And you have to be able to deal with that.”

I can insulate my (hypothetical, future) children from every evil I have control over.  But there will come a day when my sons see a less-than-modest photo or even just have a friend who starts dressing less modestly.  And they need to have the tools and understanding to address any unbiblical thoughts that arise out of those issues.  They will only learn how to deal with such temptations if my (hypothetical, future) husband and I teach them to understand their human weaknesses and run to the Lord and take their thoughts captive.  They won’t learn that just from being isolated from instances of immodest, immoral, or unethical behavior.

Finally, (a slight deviation from the topic at hand) to every Christian out there: the issue of sexual purity isn’t just a man’s game.  I have run into far too many women recently who have told me something to the effect of, “Growing up, I didn’t think other women struggled with lust.  I thought I was the only one.”  Just as you men are responsible for your thoughts, we women are responsible for ours.  But don’t think that none of us understand the struggle you face and don’t think that we are beyond temptation in that area.  And please, please don’t neglect to teach your daughters how to handle that temptation.

Well, those are my thoughts.  I would love to hear the opinions of others on both the blog post I linked to and what I’ve expressed here.  Thanks for reading!


Random thoughts from one of the most emotionally wearing weeks of my entire life

  • The amount of times I’ve had to tell myself, “It’s really none of your business; you don’t have to have an opinion on everything.” in the last week is astounding considering the fact that I am, in fact, a 26-year-old woman who manages to keep old friends, make new ones, and maintain a decent relationship with most of my coworkers and family members.
  • Really the fact that any one of us puts up with the rest of us is the common grace of God in His understanding that His creation needs companionship.  Because, really, we’re all such self-centered messes.
  • I trust people’s philosophies way too much and their motives way too little.
  • I would really, really like a dog.  A great, big, floppy dog who I will name Theodore or Remus or Paddington or something.
  • I absolutely have some of the most devoted, kind, loving, patient, wonderful, and dear friends in the entire world and I’m very glad the Lord has placed them in my life.
  • I find my brain to be buzzing more and more with useless and absurd imaginary conversations simply because I’m so used to thinking constantly. This week has been so crazy that my brain wants to be quiet but habit dictates that I fill the void with something.  These aren’t even conversations that I expect or want to have; they’re more like A Word from Our Sponsor filling the space between thoughts.  I think maybe I need to learn to sit quietly, mind included.
  • I’ve had such sweet conversations this week despite the tossing and turning of my mind.  It has been quite wonderful, really.
  • Sometimes, sleeping on a giant pillow and a giant stuffed bear really does make most everything better somehow.
  • Astoundingly, I don’t have to continue to feel as if I’m responsible for the actions of others.  I’ve known this for awhile, but it’s just now sinking in.
  • I have a friend who has two sisters and the three of them are essentially best friends and it’s really the most lovely thing.  I wish I saw that sort of sibling affection more often.
  • The Lord really does come through with His promise to progressively sanctify His children.  He equips, He chastises, He encourages, He loves.  Utterly phenomenal.

Morning thought (short and sweet)

When I deviate from my natural tendency to complain about life’s circumstances to friends who no doubt sympathize and care and instead go first to the Lord with my troubles, I am faced with the disgusting reality than my usual behavior is that of passive aggression and that my complaints assault the very character of God.  When forced to lob the whines, the wonderings, and the questions of why things are the way they are at the very Lord who created and currently sustains all creation, has orchestrated my brothers’ and sisters’ and my own sanctification in a way that most glorifies Him, and has, most of all, saved me from my own wretched state of being, I realize just how absurd my petty concerns can be and how gracious God truly is.


An all-too typical response to personal tragedy

I’ve noticed through my 25 long years on this earth that, when faced with the tragic happenings in my own or a loved one’s life, many people respond with some variant of “Well, someone out there has is worse off.”  I haven’t experienced this terribly recently, but I do know that this sort of remark is not helpful in the least.  I’d like to explain why for those who still tend to use this response.

1. It does not point to Christ.  First and foremost, this response encourages the comparison of one life to another.  It doesn’t look to God for comfort but rather explores how the wounded person’s life is somehow better than another person’s.  This is like some sort of convoluted, reverse envy and it doesn’t encourage one to look to Christ in the midst of pain.  It only encourages a glance around at others to compare and contrast woes.

2. It completely invalidates real emotions.  This removes the opportunity to point to Christ as well.  Emotions, from my understanding of them, aren’t inherently good or bad, but looking to the truth in spite of what they may say is imperative.  Just responding with, “________ has is way worse off because they lost __________.” makes it sound as if the wounded person’s emotions are invalid because there exists someone else with bad things happening to them.  The fact of the matter is that their emotions are real, they are in pain, and they need to look to the truth of Christ in the midst of that pain.

3. It’s passive.  This response removes the responsibility of the comforting party to actually address any sort of over reaction being expressed by the wounded person.  If someone is making a mountain out of a molehill, they should be confronted with this information.  But, having them think about everyone else’s problems doesn’t actually fix anything.  Rather than explaining that their problems, while real, may not be as large as they are perceiving them to be (and also then giving the wounded person a chance to explain why this particular situation seems so large to them), this response just says that their problems don’t exist because there are larger problems elsewhere; it is not confronting with loving truth.

4. It’s extremely insensitive.  Can you imagine being the person to whom everyone else’s life was being compared? Being the person whose suffering is so horrific that others compare their own issues to it in order to feel better sounds awful.  This response acts as if personal tragedies can just be tallied up, counted and compared without sympathy. It also completely ignores the fact that God is in control and has seen fit to have some people experience one brand of tragedy while others may experience a different kind.

5. It doesn’t actually encourage anyone to appreciate what God has given them.  This response is often given (at least in my experience) to put things in perspective and emphasize what God has blessed the wounded person with.  This is something that can and should be done without comparing to what other people do and do not have.  Everyone’s life is different and the Lord has blessed each of us differently.  It should be enough to simply recognize the blessings that we have been given in spite of our wicked selves.  Comparison isn’t necessary and it places focus on people rather than on Christ.

Those are just my thoughts on the issue.  Have you ever had someone say this to you? What do you think about this particular response to tragedy?


Paying a debt not owed

I feel a lot of pressure to do certain things in life.  Let me clarify by saying that these “things” have no moral leaning, but are simply choices that I have.  One of those choices happens to be whether or not I continue my college education to get a degree beyond my current Associate’s degree.  At the moment, I have no such plans to do so, although I am not opposed to getting a higher level degree if I happen to find something that interests me enough to spend several thousand dollars and a few years of stress accomplishing it.

I was once taught that, because I am intelligent, I have an obligation both to God and the world around me to finish college and even graduate school.  I believed this for some time and it put me under an immense amount of stress because, truth be told, I don’t enjoy school and I was completely unsure of what I wanted as far as a career was concerned.  This led to years of entering college and dropping out.  Over and over again, I would go for a few months before dropping everything, assuring my parents that I was just taking a semester break to get things in order.  It wasn’t until about eighteen months ago that I realized how miserable I was going to school for a degree I didn’t want.  I dropped my schooling indefinitely and have yet to return.

This decision was one that still haunts me, but not because I think I made the wrong move; more because there’s still a part of me that believes that I owe it to someone, somewhere to finish a degree and get a job as an executive somewhere or something.  Despite the fact that this career path sounds dreadful to me, I feel obligated to follow it for my own success (whatever that means) and because they (whoever they are) expect it.

I was thinking about this today, and I suddenly realized: I don’t owe anything to anyone here on earth.  The only one I owe anything to is God, and I can’t even pay what I owe there.  Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace and providence have allowed payment to be made for my sinful, wretched self, but as far as paying what I owe…I can’t.

And, beyond that debt, I don’t owe anyone anything.  I want to make God-honoring decisions, and I will do my best to do so.  But, I don’t want to make decisions based on a feeling of obligation I have to the world.  That just seems backwards to me.

Do you ever feel like you have to do something that has no moral or ethical bearing simply because someone else wants you to? What are your thoughts on that sort of situation?