A Few Thoughts on the Duggar Debacle

A Few Thoughts on the Duggar Debacle May 26, 2015

[05/29: Comments on this topic are closed.] Well, I had determined not to say anything about this mess, but after I read one particular Patheos article about it, it did occur to me that I had something to say. I’ll try to limit this to the specific points I want to make, though I realize how tempting it is to render a verdict on the situation as a whole. I do have my opinions, and I suppose you can read between the lines and put together what I think. But my intention is not to open up a whole can of worms about abuse issues writ large.

(In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m referring to, the Duggar Family’s 19 Kids and Counting show may be canceled in the wake of the reveal that son Josh Duggar fondled his sisters inappropriately at the age of 14. Josh is now a grown man with his own wife and family.)
So, with that in mind, I want to come down really hard on a few points made in this response piece. Specifically, I want to focus on how the writer uses the Duggar case to criticize homeschooling in general. While she doesn’t come right out and gloat, “See, I knew you should just send your kids to school like everyone else!” it’s implicit in the whole thrust of the article. She makes these points in bold:
Good sex education is very important.
Sheltering children from the world doesn’t work.
Homeschooling can limit children’s ability to report abuse.
Okay. Let’s dismantle this piece by piece.
*cracks knuckles*

Here is the elaboration under the first point:

I don’t know for sure what sort of sex education Josh Duggar received, but I do know that children homeschooled through the Christian program the Duggars used with Josh (ATI) are generally woefully uneducated when it comes to sex. Parents who avoid more comprehensive sex education often see themselves as trying to avoid awakening children’s sexuality too early, but these efforts can end very very badly because leaving children completely ignorant about sex can be a serious problem.

Let me just start by saying that I realize ATI (Advanced Training Institute) materials are put out by Bill Gothard, and I also realize Bill Gothard is a hypocritical perv who groomed young office women for years while covering it up. So before someone brings that up, yes, fine, we can agree on that. However, the question is whether the ATI curriculum itself is so bad that it “leaves children completely ignorant about sex.”
I decided to do a little research, and fortunately several bloggers have done detailed analyses of the sex ed volume of ATI’s curriculum. This one had the most relevant pages (though of course, the blogger is only scanning them so he can rant about the scarring evils of homeschool sex ed—language warning if you take a look for yourself). And I have to say, the curriculum is pretty thorough. Do I agree with every suggestion/point/analogy it makes? Not necessarily. But unless avoiding a detailed discussion of “marital rape” or the nitty-gritty details of venereal diseases constitutes “leaving children in complete ignorance about sex” (yes, these are both cited in the second article as horrific gaps), then I really don’t know what people are on about.
The author of that second article also complains several times that the curriculum “doesn’t talk about consent.” I’m not sure what his implication is, but it sounds like he’s annoyed that it condemns sexual immorality across the board without going out of its way to parse out the distinction between rape and consensual sex. Well I’m sorry, but 13-year-old boys don’t need to be thinking about rape. Period. And I’m also sorry, but the curriculum is completely right to issue a flat condemnation of all extra-marital sex, consensual or not. We can have a discussion about gradations of sexual sin with our kids when they’re approaching adulthood. But we’re talking about 8th graders here. Then again, considering that this same “homeschool survivors” website features (I’m not making this up) free verse poetry about the horrors of spanking, my expectations of the author’s grasp on Christian sexual morality are rather low.
Returning to the woman who wrote the Patheos piece, she refers approvingly to “more comprehensive sex education.” Meaning, presumably, the kind of education children would get if they were sent to school. Well, considering that public school boys are learning how to use a condom by the time they’re fourteen (see here, p. 17), I’m missing the part where this can be convincingly touted as an improvement.
Moving on from that fail to point two (sheltering children from the world doesn’t work):

For years now, I have seen commenters across the internet praise the Duggars for raising godly children away from the materialism and sexualization of the modern world. Sorry guys, it doesn’t work like that. Please stop promoting the Duggars’ lifestyle by claiming that it has protected these children from the evils of the world! It hasn’t.

Smack, smack, smack.
I mean, wow, what a shallow, idiotic way to put it. Again, I’d like to know what the author is proposing instead. Don’t homeschool? Do send them somewhere where they learn the ins and outs of condom use and STDs when they’ve barely begun their teens? Do send the little kiddos where they’ll be surrounded by little kiddo peers who know the latest smutty pop songs by heart? Do send the teens where p*rn is passed around like currency among their teen peers, who will mock them for not having lost their virginity by graduation?
Wow. What a great idea. Wish I’d thought of it first.
Yes, all teenage boys struggle with the sexual transition through adolescence. Yes, sometimes this manifests itself in inappropriate ways, even among homeschooled families like the Duggars. Yes, Josh’s behavior was creepy and sinful. But frankly, what Josh actually did is a heck of a lot less evil than the systematic indoctrination of our highschoolers in the acceptance of every fornication and perversion under the sun. There are things he could have done that would have warranted an immediate police investigation and justly put him behind bars. And had he been attending public school, who knows how many of them he might have already learned about from his peers? If anything, the fact that he was not being sent to school should be regarded as a blessing. The fact that he was instinctively experimenting with inappropriate touching made it all the more vital that he be kept as far away from that kind of information as possible.
Like, duh.
Okay. On to strike three (homeschooling can limit children’s ability to report abuse):

Children who attend school have contact with teachers, counselors, and other adults they can go to for help, or for advice about problems in their home situations. Both Josh and his victims were homeschooled, which almost certainly limited the number of trusted adults they could go to for help, especially given that their social activities appear to have revolved around their church and other likeminded families who probably also believed in dealing with such problems in-house. According to the police report, some of the victims did try to get help. It’s just that their avenues for obtaining said help were sadly limited.

This is misleading because it makes it sound like the Duggar parents were stifling or ignoring their girls, when in fact the police report records that they were taken seriously. Josh was eventually sent out of the house for a full four months as a direct result. Why must the phrase “dealing with such problems in-house” necessarily carry such an ominous, suspicious weight? People have grumbled that Josh wasn’t put through an “official” juvie program, when in fact the Duggars decided not to send him there because of the danger that he would meet and learn from other teen offenders!
Those homeschoolers, maybe they’re a little smarter than people want to admit.
This woman also hasn’t considered the flip side of a public school environment full of “teachers, counselors and other adults [children] can go to.” It only sounds good until you consider the scenario where little Johnny casually mentions that Mommy and Daddy spank him on the butt with a wooden spoon when he’s bad, whereupon one of said wise adults calls CPS, whereupon the whole family is put through a nightmarish bureaucratic wringer at the end of which they’re lucky to still have custody over little Johnny at all. Or the scenario where little Timmy makes a gun with his finger and goes, “POW, POW!” whereupon he’s put in detention and forced to answer obtrusive questions about his parents’ firearms collection. Or the scenario where teenage Jenny confides that her oppressive parents won’t let her have an abortion, and would her teacher please give her a ride to the clinic so they won’t find out.
So, there are my .02 on the Duggar Debacle. Comments will, of course, be monitored closely. As if it even needs to be said, I’m not excusing what Josh did, not even remotely. I’m just not excusing bad argumentation either.

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74 responses to “A Few Thoughts on the Duggar Debacle”

  1. This whole thing saddens me greatly. I’m not really a fan of the family’s TV program, so I rarely watched it, except briefly while channel surfing. I fear this family is facing every sort of condemnation and horrid things said about them without regard to the damage it will due to the family members involved and those who were not. It seems people react without thinking about the consequences of their own actions in their efforts to score points the “gotcha!” games. I got more details about what is going on by reading your post than I already knew, because I have refused to listen to the media reports. However, what galls me most, is that it wouldn’t matter how the family responded to the incidents when it came to light, it won’t be enough to satisfy those who delight in other peoples’ troubles and public disgrace..

  2. “But frankly, what Josh actually did is a heck of a lot less evil than the systematic indoctrination of our highschoolers in the acceptance of every fornication and perversion under the sun.”
    I stopped reading here. You would rather have children MOLESTED than learn about condoms? You have messed up priorities, ma’am.

  3. Oh look, it’s the “when did you stop beating your wife” tactic! I see what you did there.
    Yeah, this is probably a waste of time, but I’ll explain for the benefit of my slower readers: My whole entire point was that this situation would not have been IMPROVED by Josh’s attending school, and in fact may have been WORSENED thereby due to the toxic atmosphere created by teachers’ and peers’ casual acceptance of sexual immorality. The system of indoctrination whereby very young teens are told that fornication is a societal given and that they can have as much of it as they want is, yes, evil, and calculatedly so. As is the system of indoctrination whereby children of all ages are exposed to sexual perversion and told that gender/sexual identity is fluid.
    Josh’s actions were wrong, but they were non-violent and relatively minor on the molestation scale. They were an inappropriate product of a young teen boy’s overactive sexual curiosity, and he repented when he was brought to a right understanding of them. I’m quite comfortable saying that grown adults systematically educating children to call what is evil good is more evil than that.

  4. “…and in fact may have been WORSENED thereby due to the toxic atmosphere created by teachers’ and peers’ casual acceptance of sexual immorality.”
    Remember the time when you were in school and people were just promoting non-consensual sexual touching? No? Neither do I.

  5. Do you only see the world in black and white? Just because someone doesn’t stay sexually pure until marriage doesn’t mean they screw everything that moves.
    Also, molesting a 4-6 year old is HARDLY “relatively minor on the molestation scale.” I’m not sure about violent, but that doesn’t matter since the girls were asleep when it happened. If you had a daughter (note: I haven’t read your bio yet at this time) and that happened to her I’m sure she’d love to know that you thought what she went through was just “relatively minor.”

  6. Michael, I was referring to the easy access to p*rnography as shared/circulated by highschool peers (which goes together with a clique culture where virgins are mocked), as well as a wider knowledge of various sexual acts.

  7. I’m sorry, but there are degrees to these things. People are talking as though Josh is a rapist, when that is simply not the case.
    Please note that I’m watching these comments carefully, so dissenting commenters should watch their language and level of specificity on this topic. You don’t have to agree with me, but I will censor or outright delete anything that crosses that line.

  8. Given the graphic and aggressively sexual nature of some sex education programs (for example, those promulgated by GLSEN or the “Hot and Healthy” book given to preteen girls by Planned Parenthood), the very act of sharing such materials with minors *would indeed* be deemed abuse in any other context. That is to say, if a strange man at the park discussed such materials and details with a minor child, he could be charged with an indecent act. But if a teacher or sub-contractor in a public school does so, it’s just called “sex education.” So the huffy attempt of some commentators to imply that sexual abuse could not possibly be comparable to “sex education” does not really stand up to scrutiny once we are honest and admit that “sex education” as currently carried out is not just a matter of giving factual, simple information about where babies come from or other uncontroversial and defensible educational activities.

  9. One commentator here referred to sex education as not promoting “non-consensual sexual touching.” Sex education does promote sexual touching to minors, even though legally minors are taken to be incapable of consent. The idea that it will not increase problematic scenarios to promote and teach sexual touching *generally* to minors for carrying out among themselves is simply ridiculous. Anyone who believes that aggressively teaching minors about the wonderfulness of sexual touching is no problem so long as they are taught that it must be “consensual” is either naive or disingenuous. Would everybody be happy and chill if a six-year-old “consented” to sexual touching from a teenage brother? What about a ten-year-old? I certainly hope not. It is absurd to suggest that creating an increased appetite for sexual experimentation in middle schoolers and teens has no problematic consequences vis a vis other, and younger, minor children.

  10. Hi Esther, you asked that I come here from Love, Joy, Feminism as you couldn’t keep up with all the comments over there. I am going to post as anonymous due to some sensitive information I am going to share, and I do not want to leave anything identifying so will also be vague on some of the details such as gender. So, some background information on me – I was homeschooled in a non quiverful family, we were not in ATI, but many of the teachings of ATI seeped into our community. As an adult, I found out that a childhood friend who was in an ATI family had been molested by two siblings. This abuse included rape performed by a child who was less than 13. So I would most certainly disagree with you stating that it’s not important to teach children that young about rape.
    The second thing about this sad situation is that the victim, in not having any sexual education, initially did not even know how to explain what was happening, as there was not the necessary vocabulary acquired to verbalize it. Once the victim did find out what sex was, there was such a deep sense of shame for what had happened that they still did not tell. You had a link to some of ATI’s material on lust and pre-marital sex, but have you seen their material on sexual abuse? It is rife with excuses for the abusers and victim blaming. It’s quite frankly a shameful horror, and I am quite certain that He who said that, “it would be better for a millstone to be hung around your neck and to be thrown into the sea than to offend a little one,” would agree.
    So, here is an example of where a lack of sexual education can get you, a child doing terrible things to a sibling without recognizing the grave and devastating nature of the damage they are creating, and another child being terribly victimized who doesn’t feel safe telling their own parents what happened to them.
    I take a big exception also to you referring to what Josh Duggar did as “creepy and sinful” when what he actually did was criminal. In many states, at the age of 14, you can be tried for a felony for what he did. What he did to his victims was incredibly evil, so let’s focus on what happened to the victims. Playing lip service to them being forgiving of Josh does not reduce the trauma that they have gone through by unwanted sexual contact that would be especially shameful and devastating to someone growing up in a culture where purity in women defines your worth.

  11. Reading this comment makes me wonder if you’ve actually experienced the sort of comprehensive sex education that is being discussed. No form of sexual touching is “promoted” by public school sex ed. No one is “aggressively teaching minors about the wonderfulness of sexual touching.” I should know; I attended public school in New England, and went through the same sort of scary sex ed that we’re talking about. And I graduated high school a never-been-kissed virgin. Nor was I particularly noteworthy in that regard. The teacher presented objective, factual information about human sexuality, the potential risks, and the options available to help men and women protect their sexual health (including, but not limited to, abstinence). The curriculum also covered healthy and unhealthy relationships, and how to recognize different forms of abuse. Is any of this really something to be afraid of, or something that teenagers (who will one day grow into adults) shouldn’t know?

  12. Since you said you were having trouble keeping up with comments on Libby Anne’s response post, I took you up on your suggestion of coming and commenting here; I hope dissenting opinions will be allowed to stand.
    First, I feel compelled to point out that you seem to be mischaracterizing Libby Anne and her position. She does not, as you say, use “the Duggar case to criticize homeschooling in general.” Libby Anne is a homeschool graduate who feels that her education was overall pretty solid. She does, however, have serious concerns about the Quiverfull / Christian Patriarchy homeschooling subculture. This, I feel it is worth noting, is distinct from homeschooling in general. I hope you will not conflate the two in the future.
    (As an aside, I’m also a little disturbed by the flippant and mocking way you refer to a Homeschoolers Anonymous post you found as “free verse poetry about the horrors of spanking” — physical abuse of children can have lasting negative effects, and while “spanking” — as delightfully euphemistic as that word can be, when it includes things like beating a child with wooden implements or striking a baby with a length of plumbing line for crawling off a blanket — may be part of what you consider a necessary part of the conservative Christian lifestyle, that doesn’t erase the abuse that the person you mention so derisively experienced. But I don’t want to get sidetracked on this tangential issue.)
    The fact that you dismiss consent as a tangential issue, preferring instead to focus on “sexual sin,” worries me deeply. First of all, thirteen-year-old boys absolutely DO need to be thinking about rape, if only so they won’t grow up into 14-year-old boys, or 16-year-old boys, or 18-year-old men, or 40-year-old men, who COMMIT rape.
    Let me put this another way. Libby Anne, the blogger whose post you take so much issue with, has another important blog post that I suggest you read: The Tale of Two Boxes. You can find it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/08/a-tale-of-two-boxes-contrastin-sexual-ethics.html
    In brief, it describes how conservative Christians categorize acceptable vs. not acceptable sexual contact, and compares it with how progressives make the same categorizations. Conservative Christian sexual ethics, obviously, are based on what the Bible permits and forbids, dividing sexuality into Marital Sex versus Non-Marital Sex. This completely misses the element of consent. You say this is irrelevant, because rape is just one kind of non-marital sex and is already forbidden… though then you mention marital rape and how young teens don’t need to be taught about it yet. (Since sex education is meant to prepare young people for their future as sexually active, perhaps married, adults, one wonders when it is appropriate to discuss marital rape — especially since girls in the Quiverfull ./ Christian Patriarchy movement are expected to marry young and submit to their husbands in all things. It sounds like learning about marital rape and how wrong it is would be *especially* important to them.)
    Dividing the sexual world into Acceptable Sex vs. Sinful Sex is all well and good, if your sole focus is on preventing sin and protecting the souls of your students. But even conservative Christianity acknowledges that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God. So it is possible that some of these teens will engage in “sinful” behavior regardless of how assiduously they are instructed not to (and, for the record, statistics bear this out: students in schools with abstinence-only curricula don’t have less sex than students with comprehensive sex ed; they’re just less safe when they DO have sex). So, is there another factor, another concern, that might play into the education of young people about their sexuality?
    I hope you will agree that being sexually assaulted, raped, molested, or otherwise accosted in a sexual manner without their consent will inflict more harm on a person than having enthusiastically consenting sex. Even if you believe that consensual premarital sex is sinful, I hope you will acknowledge that it does not cause the hypervigilance, PTSD, trust issues, fear of sexual contact, and myriad other physical and psychological repercussions that sexual assault can wreak on a survivor. That being the case, it seems we can make a few statements.
    1. Both sexual assault and consensual premarital sex are sinful, according to conservative Christian teachings.
    2. Sexual assault causes harm to the victim in ways that consensual sex does not.
    3. Despite their best efforts, all humans sin and fall short of God’s perfection, according to conservative Christianity.
    4. As a result of 1 and 3, it is likely that at least some teenagers will commit sexual sins.
    5. As a result of 2 and 4, teaching about the importance of consent can reduce harm by guiding teenagers who are already going to sin to pursue consensual sexual encounters rather than sexual assault.
    Moving on to your second objection, about Libby Anne’s point that sheltering children from the rest of the world doesn’t actually protect them. First, I don’t see what’s so wrong with kids learning about condoms and STDs in their early teen years; the idea is to give them this information BEFORE they need it, not to find yourself shutting the barn door after the horse is gone. See also the point where humans sin despite their best efforts, and abstinence-only teaching doesn’t actually make teens not have sex. Sex education is harm reduction. As for the rest of your description of public school, it’s utterly foreign to my experience as a public-school graduate. I was woefully ignorant of popular music as a teenager, never saw any “p*rn” (as you call it) and suspect it would have been immediately confiscated by the first teacher who caught a kid with it, and graduated a virgin with nary a word spoken against me. There’s as much pressure (if not more) not to be seen as a “sl*t” as there is to have sex, particularly for girls.
    The reality is, as Libby Anne was trying to explain, the Quiverfull / Christian Patriarchy homeschooling subculture directly led to the circumstances that cultivated Josh Duggar’s behavior. He was taught that women and girls should always cover their bodies “modestly” so that men who see them won’t be driven to “lust.” He was taught that thinking about doing something sexual is nearly as bad as actually doing it. He was taught that women and girls should always be submissive to male authority figures (and as the oldest child, he was an authority figure to his younger siblings), always to be cheerfully and immediately obedient no matter what they were told to do. He was taught that there was no acceptable, healthy, non-sinful outlet for his sexual urges. It’s not surprising that he acted out sexually against girls that were subordinate to him, give these teachings.
    You wonder if, had Josh Duggar been sent to public school, he might have looked at “p*rn” or engaged in “inappropriate touching” with a girlfriend? I struggle to understand how, if he did those things -instead- of molesting his sisters, you wouldn’t see that as a win. You consider both the molestation and the “p*rn”/girlfriend-touching to be “sins,” right? And all sins are equal in the eyes of God? So there’s no clear preference there. Moving on to the “harm” standard, and there’s a *clear* preference in favor of looking at a Sports Illustrated model or touching an enthusiastically consenting peer over molesting a kindergartener in her sleep. You seem very concerned about the sort of “perversions” that Josh Duggar would have learned from public school friends. I *went* to public school, and I’d be far more concerned about the perversions that those public school friends would learn from Josh Duggar.
    Your third objection mystifies me even more, on the subject of mandatory reporters. You ask, ‘Why must the phrase “dealing with such problems in-house” necessarily carry such an ominous, suspicious weight?’ For the same reason you don’t leave the fox to guard the chicken coop, or let oil companies write environmental regulations, or tell your friend with the gambling addiction what your ATM PIN is. Self-policing is demonstrably, notoriously, ineffective, and opens the door for all kinds of abuses to be covered up. Yes, Josh Duggar was sent away for “four whole months,” after which he was right back in the house, living just down the hall from where his sisters sleep, after having received no meaningful treatment. The concern that his father had about him “learning from other offenders” in a real treatment facility is sadly ironic, given that the state trooper the family asked to lecture Josh about his transgressions is currently serving a 56-year sentence for child “p*rn.” Clearly the Duggars are terrible at identifying where the actual threats to their children are located.
    I find your scaremongering about mandatory reporters a little misplaced, though your first example (about a boy whose parents strike him with a wooden spoon as punishment) illustrates the disconnect between some conservative Christians and progressives who think that children shouldn’t be hit. Notwithstanding that, however, I wonder what would you say to a child who was experiencing what you would consider “real” abuse? Would you want such a child to have access to someone who could call CPS? A depressing number of children *die* from child abuse in this country. Some of them are completely isolated from anyone who could help them because their parents claim to be homeschooling them. Is this okay? What, if anything, do you think should be done to save those children?
    You say you’re not excusing what Josh Duggar did, and I believe you, and I’m glad of it. However, it feels like you’re trying to write him off as an anomaly, and rather than seeing the elements of his upbringing that contributed to the situation, you seem to want to believe that things would only have been worse if he’d been raised any other way. I’m struggling to see how that helps anyone else who might become a victim of some other young man like Josh, who wasn’t raised to respect his sisters’ bodies, their consent, or their existence apart from male authority.
    I hope that, even though you undoubtedly disagree with me on any number of points, you will recognize the sincerity of my concerns and be willing to let my comment stand.

  13. You make a very good point about the victims’ limited understanding of what happened to them in this subculture, and I think it points to another important reason to teach about consent: so that victims of sexual assault will know that they did NOT consent to what was done to them. Too often, rape and sexual assault survivors feel guilt and shame over what was done to them, which can discourage them from telling anyone who might help them. Knowing that if you were afraid and didn’t struggle, or even went along with what the abuser told you to do, because you were too young to understand what was happening or because you had been taught always to obey adults, still doesn’t mean you consented, can be important to a survivor’s recovery.

  14. There are variations even within the system, but there *definitely are* materials that promote sexual activity in detail. Check out the Planned Parenthood booklet I already mentioned if interested. And yes, various school districts around the country do invite PP to make presentations in their schools on sexuality. There is no question whatsoever. And there *definitely are* teachers that denigrate virginity as “impractical,” etc. (Matt Walsh just recently got a letter from a young man who was bullied in his sex ed class for thinking sex should be reserved for marriage.)

  15. The whole “was a crime” issue brings us to a whole nest of other legal issues. For example, even (quote unquote) “consensual” sexual contact between minors is technically criminal in some states, depending on the difference in age and state law. Yet I doubt that most who are all over this “should have been treated as a crime” issue want every boyfriend-girlfriend sexual encounter to be treated as a crime and both young people taken to the police even in states where it technically is.
    Similarly, I doubt that most parents would think they are morally obligated to take their son to the police and insist that charges be brought if he tells them that he once touched a girl’s breast. Yet technically, that is also “a crime.”
    So judgement calls have to be made.Moreover, there are secular people who are coming to question the aggressive approach in law to treating minors who touch other minors inappropriately or even worse as equivalent to adult sex offenders. This is not just some “Christian desire to hide things” but a genuine question about the wisdom of public policy, and yelling, “It’s a crime” does not really answer the policy questions.
    I also disagree with the implication that kids need sex ed in order even to _talk about_ what happened to them. I know that at any age I would have been able to describe to my parents such an encounter. “Comprehensive sex ed” is not necessary for kids to be able to communicate with parents. Nor, as far as I know, do we have evidence (except in the imaginations of progressives) that the Duggar girls were tongue-tied or dismissed by their parents in this situation.

  16. First, kudos for posting commenters who disagree with you.
    Can we all agree that, faced with a situation in which an older child had sexually abused younger siblings, a responsible, caring parent would not make those children appear on a television series and portray a happy family?
    I have known women who have suffered this type of abuse as children, and while they have forgiven their abuser, they continue to struggle for decades following the abuse itself. How much worse must it be to put the children in a situation in which being a wonderful, wholesome family is the family’s business?
    And how voluntary could that forgiveness have been, given that the family’s livelihood depended on it?
    Putting those kids on TV knowing the trauma they had been through was itself child abuse.

  17. As I said, I’ve never watched the show, and I’m generally not a fan of the reality TV business. However, I could see how once you had committed to something on that kind of a scale, it could be very difficult to extricate yourself. I certainly wouldn’t agree that the rest of the world had a right to know that the Duggars were dealing with this problem. So maybe continuing to run seasons of the show wasn’t ideal, but then announcing to the world that they were canceling because their son was acting out sexually shouldn’t have been required of them either. Perhaps there would have been some kind of in-between path, but how do I know what options were practically feasible for them?

  18. I’m not going to delete your comment, but I do recognize that we’re going to run into a dead end fairly quickly here because our frameworks for sexuality are so drastically different.
    From your perspective, it would have been better for the Duggar children to go through a public school’s indoctrination system, become sexually active in highschool, and get sucked into the sordid cycle of hookups and heartbreak that permanently damages young people’s ability to form lasting marital commitments. As it is, Josh stopped his behavior, grew up, married and started his own family, as have two of his sisters. Any secular court system would give their eyeteeth for an outcome this good for all concerned. It would have done neither Josh NOR his sisters any favors to turn them over to progressive culture’s ideas of what constitutes healthy sexuality instead.
    Moreover, you’ve said that if Josh had only been taught how to respect girls’ bodies, this wouldn’t have happened. But Josh was caught the first time and repeated the offense. He knew he was doing something wrong, else why would he try to hide it? Clearly, no amount of mere lecturing was going to solve the problem, whether it came from his parents or a school official. It didn’t take a sex ed course for him to understand that he was doing something bad for which he could get into big trouble, even though he was not as self-aware or malicious as a grown man committing something more violently abusive. It also seems apparent from the police report that the girls were able to articulate the problem well enough for the parents to understand them and take steps toward solving the problem. People are acting like the girls were hog-tied or shamed into silence, when that simply is not the case.
    As for highschool culture, it is certainly true that highschool boys shame each other for not “doing it,” and that having sexual accomplishments to boast about is a kind of status symbol. Are those the kind of friends Josh needed to have? It’s also pitifully easy in our social media age to share practically anything under the nose of a teacher. Hence all the articles saying, “Hey parents, your child has probably seen p*rn already.”
    Yeah, no, I wouldn’t regard it as a “win” for Josh to be sleeping around and looking at p*rn at a comparable age. I would merely regard it as a different kind of horrific tragedy, fundamentally toxic both for Josh and for any girl he slept with. But therein lies the gulf between us.

  19. Similarly, I doubt that most parents would think they are morally obligated to take their son to the police and insist that charges be brought if he tells them that he once touched a girl’s breast. Yet technically, that is also “a crime.”
    If Josh Duggar had been consensually making out with a theoretical 14 year old girlfriend in Arkansas, it would not have been a crime. (See Arkansas “Romeo and Juliet” law)
    Setting aside whether or not I agree with you, you’re certainly not making your argument very compelling when you start equating a couple of teenagers happily making out with incestuous child molestation.

  20. “From your perspective, it would have been better for the Duggar children to go through a public school’s indoctrination system, become sexually active in highschool, and get sucked into the sordid cycle of hookups and heartbreak that permanently damages young people’s ability to form lasting marital commitments.”
    I’m afraid you don’t understand “my perspective” at all. I challenge the very notion that public school has an “indoctrination system” in the first place, or that it’s a foregone conclusion that people become sexually active in high school (I certainly didn’t), or that having relationships damages anyone’s ability to form a marital commitment. These are articles of faith to you, but I’m afraid they’re not backed up by facts.
    Even then, though, with your fantastical worst-case scenario about what would have happened to him at public school, if I had to choose between that OR Josh Duggar molesting his sisters, I’d take the public school horror fantasy, because it would’ve meant five little girls weren’t sexually assaulted.
    You say that Josh Duggar “knew he was doing something wrong,” but continued to do it, so being taught to respect girls’ bodies wouldn’t have helped. But that completely misses the reason WHY he thought what he did was wrong. He thought he was sinning. Sin is wrong, but everyone sins. Everyone is weak, everyone gives in to temptation sometimes. This is what Christianity teaches. You should try to avoid sin, but no one is perfect except Christ. That paradigm makes it a lot easier to re-offend than, “That is her body, is belongs to her, you DO NOT have a right to it.”
    If you believe that Josh Duggar looking at “p*rn” made by consenting adults, and having consensual sexual relations with a peer, would be just as much a “horrific tragedy” as five young children being molested by a trusted authority figure, then yes, I’m afraid therein does lie the gulf between us.

  21. While I don’t believe all sins are equal, I certainly believe that pretending something grievously wrong is just happy and ducky ruins lives. This includes the pernicious damn lie that two 14-year-olds having sex doesn’t hurt anyone.

  22. The first episode of their TLC television show aired in September of 2008, long after they knew what Josh Duggar had done to his sisters.

  23. Ummmm, yeah, Josh knew he was sinning BECAUSE he knew he had no right to fondle his sisters. What do you think his parents told him the first time he was caught? I’m not sure why this is so hard to follow.

  24. Okay, well in that case, that was a good six years out from the incidents, at which point the parents claim they had long been dealt with and moved on from. You can choose to disbelieve them, but in that case you’re just going on a personal opinion, not public record. Again, I’m not saying that entering the world of reality TV is a great idea. In general, I think it’s a bad idea, myself. What I won’t advocate is this notion that the Duggars were being lying hypocrites by not announcing a private, six-year-old issue to the entire world. And I certainly view it as outrageous that the entire family is now being dragged through the mud TWELVE years out.

  25. Even if the abuse was well in the past, and had been forgiven, that doesn’t mean the damage from the abuse had been healed. Whatever the contractual obligations, I can’t envision any circumstance under which putting those girls on TV with their abuser could be considered responsible parenting.

  26. Esther,
    I ask you again: Do you believe I did the correct thing in turning my father in to the police? You called what he did horrific in your comment to me, but from my perspective, it really wasn’t much different from what Josh Dugger did (and my father had only one victim).
    I beg of you to answer. I want your Christian perspective.

  27. Replying here since I can’t reply directly to your other comment.
    There’s a world of difference between thinking it’s wrong to do something because it’s a sin and thinking it’s wrong to do something because it hurts another person. I often hear Christians say that “all sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord.” Sure, you’re not supposed to sin, but everyone slips up here and there, because only Jesus is perfect. Under this standard of morality, Josh Duggar molesting his little sisters was equally wrong as disobeying his parents or having sexual thoughts about a teenage girl at church. He was never taught any sort of consent-based or harm-based ethical reasoning, wherein molesting his little sisters was a wrong committed against THEM, rather than against God. In fact, he was taught the opposite — that girls and women are supposed to submit to their male authority figures, and that children should be instantly, cheerfully obedient. There is no understanding in this subculture that a woman’s body is her own and she has the right to decide who touches it and who doesn’t.

  28. “What I won’t advocate is this notion that the Duggars were being lying hypocrites by not announcing a private, six-year-old issue to the entire world.”
    No, they were being lying hypocrites by presenting their Quiverfull / Christian Patriarchy lifestyle as a superior way to raise a family and protect children from evil and harm, when they knew full well that it didn’t work.

  29. I looked up the Planned Parenthood booklet that you mentioned. It’s actually a guide for HIV-positive people (the title is actually “Happy, Healthy, and Hot”), explaining their rights about disclosure and how to have safer sex with less risk of transmitting the disease to others. It is not “graphic” or “aggressively sexual.” It’s meeting people where they are, and giving them the information they need to protect themselves and others. It’s not “promoting” sexual activity of any kind, but giving people options to make things safer if they choose to be sexually active.
    I fail to see the problem with Planned Parenthood representatives making educational presentations in schools and sharing the sort of factual, scientifically-backed information that young people need to protect themselves regardless of what decisions they make about their sexuality.
    Bullying is certainly a real problem — in schools and out — and kids will be bullied for just about anything. I’d be interested in knowing all the facts surrounding the letter you mention, however; I suspect there’s more going on than we know.

  30. “Josh’s actions were wrong, but they were non-violent and relatively minor on the molestation scale. They were an inappropriate product of a young teen boy’s overactive sexual curiosity, and he repented when he was brought to a right understanding of them. I’m quite comfortable saying that grown adults systematically educating children to call what is evil good is more evil than that.”
    I’m reading this paragraph over and over again, and I’m having trouble understanding it any other way than to hear you say that Josh Duggar’s repeated molestation of several young children, including his own sisters over whom he held authority, over the course of a year, is *less evil* than schoolteachers failing to condemn a pair of willing seventeen-year-olds for having a consensual sexual encounter with one another. That on the one hand you have the repeated sexual abuse of elementary-school-age children in their sleep, and on the other hand you have a school nurse giving out condoms to high school seniors (I assume; I don’t think my liberal hive of scum and villainy actually gave out condoms, not that I was looking for them) so that they will be safer if they choose to have sex… and you see the second case as “more evil.” I simply cannot understand how anyone could reach such a conclusion.

  31. Cassandra, you say “[The pamphlet] is not ‘graphic’ or ‘aggressively sexual…’ It’s not ‘promoting’ sexual activity of any kind, but giving people options to make things safer if they choose to be sexually active.”
    I’m just going to share a few choice quotes, with some redacted bits that are too explicit for this site. Anyone who really wants to is welcome to go to this link, scroll down to pages 9-10, and read the un-redacted passage for themselves:
    From p. 9: “Sex can feel great and can be really fun! Many people think sex is just about […] intercourse. But, there are lots of different ways to have sex… Sex can include kissing, touching, […], […], […], and cuddling. Some people like to have aggressive sex, while others like to have soft and slow sex with their partners. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore, and be yourself!”
    From p. 10: “Your skin is the largest erogenous zone on your body…Caress and […] your partner’s skin. Explore your partner’s body with your […] Mix things up by […] Talk about and act out your fantasies. Talk dirty to them. Tickle, tease, and make them feel good.”
    I rest my case.

  32. Yes. I realize you disagree, but I do think the cases are significantly different, the most glaring difference being that Josh was a young minor while your father was an adult.
    I approved this comment, but would ask that you please not share further personal details here. Thanks!

  33. Look, I wouldn’t mind so much if somebody made a specific connection between the Duggars’ Quiverfull policy and their difficulty handling Josh, like, “The fact that Michelle had 19 kids made it hard for her to police her children’s behavior, thereby making it easier for Josh to get away with sneaking into his sisters’ bedrooms. If they didn’t have such a strict belief in the evils of all family planning, they would be better able to stop such a situation from getting out of hand.” That’s a very targeted critique that I might actually agree with. But people like Libby Anne who are just vaguely saying “See, sheltering children from the world doesn’t work,” are painting with a MUCH broader brush. There is still no reason to assume that they would never have had this problem if Josh had been put through a mainstream educational system. And I dare you to look at the quotes I just posted above from the kind of literature we’re pointing to and tell me with a straight face that this is LESS toxic, LESS damaging for a teen in Josh’s position, with his sexual compulsions.

  34. I agree that the “all sins are equal” belief might be taken to an extreme that could backfire in a sexual context. I don’t personally subscribe to it, for what it’s worth. However, I don’t understand why you are presenting the propositions “fondling one’s sisters is an offense against them as well as God” and “children and wives should obey their authority figures” as “opposite.” Again, I don’t personally subscribe to patriarchalism, even though I do believe men and women are complementary. But stop making stuff up. You are just making up this idea that the Duggar parents didn’t tell Josh that he had sinned against his sisters, only God. This doesn’t sound even remotely like the way they actually approached the situation, and it doesn’t sound like any brand of orthodox Christianity that I’m aware of.

  35. And another thing: People are making a big song and dance over the fact that the officer they consulted with coincidentally wound up being a pervert himself. This is grossly unfair to the Duggars, who had no possible way of knowing this at the time and must be as shocked as everyone else to learn this. So stop bringing that up, because it’s completely irrelevant.

  36. I promise you, I’m not just “making stuff up.” I’m talking about the basis on which this particular subculture of conservative Christianity grounds its morality. When one conceives of wrongdoing as “sin,” it makes God the victim of that wrongdoing. We see the consequences of that in the way Josh Duggar has handled this issue, and in the way so many other conservative Christians are making excuses for him. “He sinned, he repented, he’s forgiven, it’s over. Why should you still care when God has forgiven him?” It erases the actual victims — the molested girls — and reduces them to objects with which Josh committed his “sin.” This is what comes of grouping all “sexual sins” together, whether they are consensual or not; people treat Josh Duggar like he was caught looking at “p*rn” rather than as a serial sexual predator.
    The Quiverfull / Christian Patriarchy movement reduces women to the property of men. They don’t come out and state this outright, but it’s the logical conclusion of all of their teachings. They physically discipline their children for appearing unhappy, or for failing to respond to every command with immediate, cheerful obedience. Adult women are still considered children who must obey their fathers, until they are married, whereupon that duty of obedience is transferred to their husband. They do not get to think, feel, or do anything outside of carefully delineated boundaries. This is the world the Duggar family lives in. There’s a YouTube clip out there from the show, with several of the older girls talking about what they’d like in a husband. One of them mentions that she’d like to live in a big city — and immediately the other girls respond that she may not get that, and the chastened girl responds that she needs to “work on contentment.” Later, their mother Michelle Duggar issues a statement “clarifying” her daughter’s wishes, saying that the girl really meant that she’d like to live “near a Wal*Mart,” and certainly not anything like New York City. These girls are not allowed to WANT things outside of what their authority figures tell them to want. This goes back to their earliest childhood training — the Duggars promote the book, “To Train up a Child” by Michael Pearl, which instructs parents to “blanket train” a child by placing it on a blanket and striking it with an object whenever it tries to crawl off, until the child’s will is broken and it no longer attempts to explore.
    As the eldest child, Josh Duggar would have been given certain responsibilities and authority over his younger siblings, including discipline — and we know the Duggars strike their children with implements. The girls he molested were trained from infancy to see Josh as a male authority figure that must be obeyed on pain of violence. Josh, meanwhile, was trained to see this kind of authority as his natural right. In addition, the Duggars practice the extreme purity teachings that are endemic to the Quiverfull / Christian Patriarchy subculture. They teach that even young preteen girls must dress “modestly” to prevent males from having sexual thoughts about them, and that if a girl or woman is “immodest,” she is at fault for tempting a boy or man into sin. We see this reflected in the ATI teaching documents about sexual abuse — the first thing they ask is what blame the victim bears for the abuse. In addition, the life and future of girls and women in this subculture is narrowly defined: wives and mothers. Satisfying the sexual needs of their husbands. Taken together, all these things add up to a clear message that is never explicitly stated, but is felt all too clearly: females exist for the use of males. Isn’t that why they believe Eve was created, after all — for Adam’s sake?
    This is what makes me say that Josh Duggar didn’t think he was sinning against his sisters — because everything in his culture told him that the pleasure of males is what they were FOR. That repulses me to even write, but there it is. And when everyone around him refers to what he did as “sexual sin” — as if he shut himself in the bathroom with an issue of Penthouse — rather than predatory abuse, that only compounds the problem. Sin is a violation against God. That is the definition of the word. Framing his actions in terms of “sin” ignores the actual, human victims of his crime.

  37. It’s relevant in terms of the context I stated — that if the Duggars kept their children out of school and away from society at large out of a belief that this would keep them safe from “evil influences,” and then sends Josh to be counseled by a pedophile, they clearly are not good at identifying where the real threats and dangerous influences are and are not. The fact that they didn’t know the state trooper was a pedophile when they sent Josh to speak with him is exactly my point — they were so busy being convinced that public schoolteachers and social workers are threats to their children that they overlooked the reality that child predators are often trusted authority figures who are popularly deemed to be above reproach. I don’t blame them for not knowing about the state trooper’s secret crimes, but rather for mistakenly assuming (and telling everyone else) that they knew where the “real danger” was, when nothing could be further from the truth.

  38. Did you happen to read that in the larger context of the pamphlet — which is about ways that people who are HIV positive can participate in sexual activity safely, without exposing their partner to their disease or putting themselves at risk of other STIs? To paraphrase the sections you cite, you don’t have to have conventional, penetrative sex in order to share sexual intimacy with a partner. There are other kinds of touching that are enjoyable and satisfying, and don’t involve fluid exchange.
    Is this a bad message to send to people who choose to be sexually active and have a serious, transmissible disease?
    My original point stands.

  39. The fact that this particular authority figure later turned out to be a criminal was a complete fluke. Again, as Lydia pointed out, if a stranger initiated a discussion with a minor that went into the level of graphic detail that I’ve quoted above from the PP pamphlet (which you are still trying to wave away, somehow), they could be convicted of sexual harassment. This is PUBLIC material. Schools are using this kind of stuff. From any game theory or probability standpoint, the Duggars’ choices for their children’s education were logical. You also say that they’re “not good at identifying threats,” only to then say that you “don’t blame them” for being as ignorant as everyone else about the officer’s crimes. That doesn’t actually make sense when you think about it.

  40. …dude, no. Of COURSE it’s bloody relevant!
    The whole damage control narrative surrounding this has been that the molestation happened a long time ago; it was sufficiently handled at the time; Josh’s victims have forgiven him and the family’s moved on; and so everyone else needs to shut up about it. Water under the bridge, etc etc.
    With regard to how they handled it, the Duggars have said they sent Josh to independent counseling program and had him speak with an officer who was a family friend. They say that this was enough. No need to involve the police or to send Josh through an official counseling program. “In-house” works just as well as official/legal channels, and everything was taken care of.
    On further review, though, the “independent counseling program” turns out to have been four months spent with a guy who owns a home remodeling business. And the state trooper who gave Josh a heart-to-heart turns out to have been a child porn enthusiast.
    This is concerning (and relevant!) for two reasons:
    First, means that Josh never actually received any real (i.e. professional, accredited) counseling for what he did. That is…deeply troubling. No, it doesn’t automatically mean he is still a predator. Maybe his second conversion worked; maybe his family managed to put the fear of God and Law in him; maybe it was just a stage he grew out of. But given the notoriously high recidivism rates of child molesters, it’s… Mm. Problematic.
    And second, it gives lie to the Duggars’ insistence that in-house is as good as official channels and that the way they handled things was hunky-dory fine. Make no mistake, this IS a big theme on the side of the people defending them. “So what if they didn’t take the matter to the police? Would YOU turn in your fourteen-year-old son? They did other things instead, and those are just as good. So shut up already!”
    Except, uh–no! They’re not! A private one-on-one discussion with a family friend will never have the safeguards and professionalism that an official counseling program does. Official programs have curriculae, they have multiple personnel, they have external accountability. NONE of that can be guaranteed when you take things out of legal channels and insist on keeping everything “in house.”
    Even if the officer had been a perfect gentleman, this move still would have been wildly inappropriate. The fact that he turned out to be literally the LAST person you’d want counseling a 14-year-old who already molested five kids? Is Schadenfreude Icing on top of the Horrible Cake of Awfulness.

  41. A brief Google search turned up several sources that discuss the factors that can contribute to or predict sibling incest. They include:
    – An exaggerated form of patriarchal norms with an oppressive mother or father
    – A parenting style involving harsh and punitive discipline styles
    – Physically or emotionally distant parents (how much time and emotional energy did the Duggars have for each child?)
    – Poor communication, or an environment in which secrets are held (presenting a perfect outward image is incredibly important in this subculture, and negative feelings are not allowed to be expressed)
    – Roles among family members are blurred, with older children filling the parental role for younger siblings
    – Perpetrators are often older, male siblings, frequently considered the favored child
    What “the kind of literature [you’re] pointing to” is suggesting is that Josh’s “sexual compulsions” may have been CAUSED, in part, by his upbringing, and that a more mainstream lifestyle would, in fact, have been less toxic and less damaging for him.

  42. That’s a very narrow way to think of the Christian view of sin. Yes, sin is an offense against God, but this isn’t mutually exclusive with harming others. The orthodox Christian view is that it is BOTH. In fact, the root of all sin is pride: the belief that the rest of the world revolves around your selfish wants and desires, including sexual ones.
    I realize that the Duggars are part of an off-beat sub-category of complementarianism, but it does not follow from a generally complementarian philosophy that women exist merely as objects to gratify men. That’s a complete twisting of what the Bible actually teaches. For that matter, it shouldn’t be what the Duggars somehow “really” believe unless they are completely ignoring entire swathes of the Bible. Yes, the woman was created as the man’s companion, and the man was created as the head of the family, but this does not give the man the right to walk all over his wife. In fact, husbands are instructed to lay down their lives sacrificially for their wives, as a reflection of the way Christ humbled himself for the Church.
    I do have concerns with the idea that girls shouldn’t plan for any kind of a future that doesn’t involve a man, for the simple reason that a man may never show up, so economically speaking you have to have a plan B. But that’s hardly the same thing as telling your girls, “Hey, if a man starts pawing all over you, better let him do whatever!” And in fact, telling girls to be modest is way better for THEIR OWN well-being than saying they can wear whatever they want without concern for how it will affect men. No, I don’t think you need to wear nothing but skirts in order to be modest, but it’s a bad, bad idea any way you slice it for girls to wear clothing that is in fact provocative. And no, obviously I am not saying that if a man rapes a woman, we should sit around saying, “Well, what was she wearing? Well in that case…” However, I will say that the hyper-sexualization of women’s fashion is all of a piece with teen culture, party culture, etc., all of which create the perfect opportunity for unscrupulous young men to take advantage of young women.
    THAT is what the Duggar parents sought to keep their girls away from. Yes, something horrible and unforeseen happened when an older brother abused his own responsibility. But once again, the psychological/emotional/spiritual chaos wreaked by promiscuity culture are systemic elements of that culture. They’re a feature, not a bug. Josh’s behavior was a bug. Yes, I agree that we could point to some aspects of the Duggars’ lifestyle (including the mere fact that they were overwhelmed by the size of their family), that were probably contributing factors. I don’t in fact think siblings should literally have the same authority as a parent, though in a house that size, I see how naturally such a system could evolve. I’m willing to concede that Josh probably used the sibling authority structure to justify his actions in his own mind. This goes back to my point that there are legitimate reasons for critiquing a Quiverfull philosophy in general. I mean for that matter, if the Duggars believed in birth control, they might have had only four sons and no daughters, meaning LITERALLY that such a situation would never arise. You can make up alternate scenarios all day.
    But abandoning a Christian sexual ethic altogether is not the answer. It would be like noting that one could make some improvements in one’s diet, only to propose starving oneself as the antidote.

  43. Yes. It’s not promoting sexual activity; it’s giving safer options for HIV positive people who choose to be sexually active. I don’t know what your standards are for “graphic” when the context is a health pamphlet, but it certainly wasn’t gratuitous or “p*rn”ographic.

  44. I’m not trying to “wave away” the Planned Parenthood pamphlet. I found it online and actually read it. It’s targeted toward HIV-positive people, and it explains their rights and how to protect themselves and others if they choose to be sexually active. I’d be surprised, given the fact that it’s specifically geared toward HIV-positive people, if it was being used in a high school setting, unless the high school had a significant HIV-positive population, because otherwise much of its information would be irrelevant.
    The random-stranger-on-the-street-with-a-sex-pamphlet complaint is kind of a non-starter, because a health teacher or sex educator is not some random stranger. They are a professional with a specific and important job. If some random stranger did half the things my gynecologist does to me, I’d call the police and have them charged with rape. But I don’t call the police on my gynecologist, because they are a professional doing their job in a specific context. For that matter, a history teacher forcing kids to sit at a desk and write an essay would, if they were just some random person, be guilty of false imprisonment. But they’re a professional doing a legitimate and important job, and the context changes the nature of their actions.
    What I said makes perfect sense. I don’t blame them for not knowing that the state trooper was a pedophile; I DO blame them for claiming to know better than most people how to protect their children from “evil” influences when they clearly do not (as evidenced by the pedophile state trooper friend).

  45. Those are excellent points, Nunca. The Duggars say that “everything was handled and he got counseling,” except the handling and the counseling were *less than worthless*. It’s like saying, “Sure, I fixed the window I broke with a baseball, good as new!” when I actually ‘fixed’ it with tissue paper.

  46. Except that hypocrites is exactly what they are. *Literally*.
    You’ve said you don’t watch the TV program, and it seems like you haven’t done much research into the politics and particular theology behind the Duggar phenomenon. If you’re interested, Libby Anne has been writing about the patriarchal/Quiverfull movement that the Duggars exemplify for years, from the position of having grown up in a similar home, and she regularly links to the blogs of people who come from the same kind of background.
    Suffice it to say that the Duggars (as spokespeople for the Quiverfull movement etc) do not just present themselves as a quirky, unusually large family just doing the best they can. They literally claim that they follow the One True Biblically Correct Way to do childrearing. There are emphases on obedience, “purity,” male authority vs female submission, constant accountability* and absolute shielding from worldly, pernicious, evil influences. Do this, they say, and your children will grow up safe and happy and shielded from harm.
    (*For example, the Duggar children** have a buddy system where they never leave the house without an “accountability partner” to make sure they do not stray. This includes even things like going to work at a volunteer fire department. It is THAT strict.
    **Please also note that “children,” especially for daughters, can include legal adults above the age of 18 who are not yet married.)
    Now, Libby Anne and others have spent years talking about the ways in which this system is messed up, and how many of its teachings can actually make abuse MORE LIKELY to happen and easier to handwave/cover up. I believe cassandraoftroy provided a helpful list of these…above or below or somewhere on this thread. Still, many people have insisted that the Duggar family MUST be on to something because they seem so happy and wholesome and good. And the Duggars have deliberately played up this image…SIX YEARS after experiencing (and royally bungling the response to) an episode of incestuous molestation in their own home.
    The Duggars should know, better than anyone, that sin and harm don’t just come from the outside world and our evil modern culture. But if they admitted that then the whole house of cards would collapse.
    Oh, but it gets better! Because in addition to setting themselves up as the moral scolds of American parenting, the Duggars have also used the money and influence gained from their reality program to actively campaign against things like gay marriage and adoption and transgender rights. Because, you know, a home with two moms or two dads is automatically BAD for kids. (Not like their own perfectly respectable and unimpeachable family!) And everyone knows trans* folks are just pedophiles-in-waiting who would LOVE to corner little girls in public restrooms! (Not like…mmm, yeah.)
    So, yes. “Hypocrites” is about the NICEST thing you can call them at this point. (Christ’s admonishment about beams and motes, and slandering your neighbors also come to mind.)

  47. […] Can I tell you something? Do you have any idea why this story pours salt on wounds? One-fifth to one-fourth of our nation’s population are childhood sexual abuse survivors. A large portion of these are survivors who were abused by people in the church.  If you are not a survivor then you probably know someone one who is.  The church has failed abuse victims for decades by denying, covering up, keeping silent, and valuing perpetrators over victims. Headlines like this emphasize that Christians are failing them still. The fact that believers are defending a molester is not a testament to the power of grace, but instead is a testament to the lack of comprehension among Christians about this crime’s severity, and a lack of concern for the children who have suffered and have survived. […]

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