Answering Quiverfull: Josh Duggar and Second Chances

AnsweringQuiverfullby Suzanne Titkemeyer cross posted from her blog Every Breaking Wave

Editor’s note: We’ve tried not to post much about the Duggar family lately because we don’t want to add any viewers to their new television show and the idea of making them go away by stopping giving them any publicity is appealing. After reading a few articles on the return of Josh Duggar from his ‘rehab’ at Reformers Unanimous I started to think about what he faces now and how his family’s toxic behavior isn’t going to benefit him. Random thoughts on the wrongness of Fundamentalists demonizing those that fail to live up to the standards of the high demand cult. The themes of rebirth, renewal and second chances echoes the themes of Holy Week leading up to Easter.

One of the stories I loved the most in the Bible takes place after the crucifixion of Jesus and his return to the land of the living. John 21:1 -17. It’s a simple story. Peter and some of the disciples are fishing. Peter is filled with guilt from having denied Jesus three times before his death. It’s not a pretty scene, guilt, self-torture, fishing. But turns out that Jesus is on the beach, cooking breakfast and calls to them all, ‘Y’all come eat!’ No recriminations, no castigating them, no calling them over for an ass whupping all of them likely deserve. Jesus is concerned with meeting their most immediate needs and later their deeper spiritual needs.

I don’t like much of the Bible, or believe that every word is true. Too many translations, too many flawed human hands this book has passed through. But I do love the stories of Jesus in it. Even to this day and the tale of Jesus simply feeding his friends has always touched me in a very deep way.

Today as I was reading the latest issue of In Touch Weekly my mind kept returning to that very forgiving Christ cooking on the beach for his disciples that didn’t deserve it. Why? Well, this week had a story about Josh Duggar returning home to his family from one of those ‘unnamed Duggar insiders’ that just goes against much of what the Duggars claim to believe, professed to believe on Fox New’s Megan Kelly show and sure didn’t have anything in common with simple Jesus the beach breakfast chef.

Obviously many of the things Josh Duggar has done are clearly wrong. I’m not about to suggest he’s not in the wrong, but he’s not Satan’s Little Helper either. He’s just a guy, human and flawed like all of us. The article called Josh’s return into the family fold the ‘Homecoming from hell’, suggesting that while Jim Bob and Michelle are making noises about Josh continuing on with therapy and that how they’ve all forgiven him it’s not the truth at all.

Apparently behind the scenes many in the family weren’t happy to see him return. Jill Duggar Dillard is known to have regretted her tearful appearance stating that she forgives her brother. She doesn’t and is likely still dealing with what he did to her.  There’s rumored to not be much real forgiveness going on within the family Some members don’t even want to see him again, even if they are not above using Anna ‘s appearance and feelings about Josh’s actions on the new show to reel in viewers.

What gives with that? The Duggars keep stating that they’ve forgiven Josh publicly and they are behaving contrary to that behind the scenes? It does not say much about what they believe, except perhaps the main thing they believe in and worship is not God so much as it is money. They’re still angry that Josh’s actions put the family finances in serious jeopardy for a long time.

The problem with that is that I think that most people can see through the fake, and faking it is what the new television show ‘Counting On’ seems to be about. I hope that the usual viewers of the Duggars recognize the serious cognitive dissonance going on between their words and what their actions are.

I think Jesus would have had no problem cooking breakfast for Josh, no matter what he’d done. Not just for in front of the cameras or in the media either. His acceptance, love and forgiveness would be genuine. Someone, in his family or in his community, is going to have to extend grace, help him overcome shame, blame and the likely huge amount of continued guilt being heaped upon him.

However most of us aren’t so much like Jesus, even as many Christians love to pretend that they are. I almost feel sorry for Josh Duggar, knowing the judgment and petty behaviors he’ll be subjected to for likely the rest of his life in his community.

Part of their religious posturing makes me nuts because of things like this, pretending everything is all a-okay while refusing to actually legitimately deal with the bad things, the bad things that their own warped theology involving normal human sexuality, needs and desires created. You cannot create a Frankenstein and then be surprised when he runs amok in the village.

That rehab, oh please! Reformers Unanimous, isn’t a place to really dig into your issues, take responsibility for the things you’ve done and make the Herculean attempt to change. The type of legitimate therapy that would have genuinely benefited Josh Duggar isn’t found there. I hold very little hope of there being any legitimate long term change or growth without legitimate treatment. Likely at some far in the future date we’d get word of another sex scandal involving Josh, something much worse than an Ashley Madison account and sex with a stripper. No one will be surprised.  I hope not, but am half-expecting it if things continue on in the same ways within the Duggar family. It’s not an emotionally healthy environment for much of anyone.

One of the things that Josh Duggar learned in his Quiverfull family is that only appearances count. He learned that saying the right Christian buzzwords, controlling his behavior and words around his family was enough to fool them. He learned what so many of us in high demand religious environments learn quickly, to compartmentalize our lives and to hide those things we are taught we shouldn’t be doing instead of just being our true selves around everyone. The culture of that life teaches surface conformity and lying as survival skills necessary to retain your own sanity and to cover the actions you take to meet your needs.

Some of the family says that they cannot allow Josh around their children, and that’s pretty understandable in light of what he did to his sisters in his teens. But their keeping him away from children should have happened after the first incident, not at this late date. This should have happened ten years ago, not so much now considering he’s not molested any children since the incidents with his sisters and the one girl.

No one in the family should automatically trust him. Trust must be earned and he has clearly violated their trust. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you immediately allow them to resume a position where they have the power to hurt you even further. He has work to do in regaining trust, even with Anna.

But I personally believe in second chances, beach breakfasts or not. Part of me is hoping that what comes out of this mess is that Josh Duggar comes clean with his own feelings and needs, and breaks away from the dysfunctional life he’s been spoonfed by his parents, and he comes into his own, that he makes the most of his second chances without too much negativity. Sometimes when you hit bottom it’s the thing you needed in the first place. Hitting bottom gives you the freedom to be real.

Some folks want Jinger to be free. That would be nice, but first I’d love to see Josh Duggar overcome what he’s done and make something valuable and real happen with the next 28 years of his life. Take Anna and the kids and RUN Josh!


Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin at No Longer Quivering. She’s been out of the Quiverfull Evangelical world for nine years now and lives in the beautiful Piedmont section of Virginia with her retired husband and assorted creatures. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape

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