Several months ago, Josh Duggar found himself at the center of a media firestorm when it came out that he had sexually molested five young girls, of whom four were his younger sisters, when he was a teenager. At the time, Josh posted an apology in which he was open about what he did, about the (inadequate) steps taken to address his crime, and about his repentance. “In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption,” he wrote at the end of his statement.
At the time he posted that, Josh Duggar had a paid Ashley Madison account.
Ashley Madison is an online dating site that specializes in helping married individuals cheat on their spouses. The website advertises itself as follows:
Ashley Madison was recently hacked, and the hackers have now made the files publicly available. The dump appears to be legitimate.
Gawker is reporting that Josh Duggar was a paid Ashley Madison member from February 2013 through May 2015, the month his molestation crimes broke. In case you’re wondering, in February 2013, Josh’s wife, Anna, was six months pregnant with their third child. According to Gawker, Josh paid Ashley Madison nearly $1000 and at one point paid $250 for an “affair guarantee.”
I am often skeptical when I see a story about the Duggars because gossip sites often get things wrong. Take this week’s dubious story that the Duggars are angling to star in a TV show counseling sex abuse victims, for instance. But unless someone faked a credit cards in Josh’s name and registered to his addresses, this story appears to be legitimate. I will post updates to the end of this article as needed and will write a follow-up if necessary, so rest assured I will let you know if the legitimacy of this story is thrown into question.
Before anyone says this is a personal matter and shouldn’t be discussed publicly, I want to point out that Josh chose to make his personal life extremely relevant when he took a job at the Family Research Counsel, which was founded “to champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society.” In fact, Josh took the job with Family Research Counsel in June 2013, four months after opening an Ashley Madison account. In other words, Josh signed on to work for an organization promoting traditional marriage while in the process of looking for someone to have an affair with.
Whether or not Josh successfully had his affair is irrelevant. That he was trying to have one at all is proof enough that Josh was being a hypocrite. At the Family Research Counsel, Josh campaigned against marriage equality and against equal rights for LGBT individuals and argued that traditional marriage was the foundation of society while looking for someone to have an affair with.
Here are some things Josh has said over the past two and a half years:
“Our family is like the epitome of conservative values. People connect to us in that way.”
“I’m sure grateful for my parents and I’m grateful for my wife and we have our fourth child on the way due in July, and I think it’s just such a blessing when you see family and you see that you can honor each other.”
“We have to stand up to defend the American family and that’s what’s at stake here.”
Josh said all of these things while he had a paid account on Ashley Madison.
And you know what? I’m honestly not surprised. Josh and Anna didn’t have sex until they married, so they had no way of knowing whether they are sexually compatible. Further, Josh doesn’t believe in birth control and he and his wife Anna have had four kids in five years. There is no way this hasn’t taken a tole on the couple’s sex life. Josh also does not believe in divorce. None of this justifies Josh’s cheating. He is a grown man, and in choosing the beliefs he has he has made his own bed.
Look, if you’re discontent in your sex life, you either work things out with your partner, decide you’re okay with foregoing sexual satisfaction, or end your relationship. You don’t cheat, and you especially don’t cheat while preaching at anyone and everyone about the sanctity of traditional marriage.
It is Josh’s wife Anna that I feel for most in this situation. She had to deal with the media uproar over Josh’s teenage molestation of his sisters just three months ago, and now this. Given that Josh closed his Ashley Madison account in May, around the time InTouch revealed his teenage crimes, it may be that that outing was enough to make Josh decide to come clean. In this case, Anna may already know. Whether she suspected that something was going on or was completely blindsided, she doesn’t have many options.
We see this same patter repeated over and over again, whether it be conservative politicians or evangelical pastors. The husband has an affair, and then the affair becomes public. The husband repents of his indiscretions and then the wife forgives him and reconciles to him. After all, what other choice does she have? In evangelical culture, a wife who refused to give a cheating but repentant husband would be cast as bitter and unforgiving. Suddenly she, and not he, would be the one in the wrong. Within evangelical Christianity, forgiveness is not optional—it is mandatory.
Whatever happens, I hope Anna is able to find a place of happiness. She has played her role as expected, birthing and caring for Josh’s children, and she deserves better than this. As a fellow homeschool graduate and someone who was raised to live the life that Anna is living, I have nothing but sympathy for her.