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.