Josh Duggar, already known for molesting his sisters (one of which was 5 years old at the time) and cheating on his wife, Anna Duggar, was (unsurprisingly) arrested for child sexual abuse images (CSA) involving children under the age of 12.
I use to somewhat like the Duggars in the sense I found them wholesome, albeit deceived. The quiverfull movement is Biblical Clownery, but they seemed like a close-knit, loving family happy enough doing the bare-minimum for the Lord. However, it’s become apparent their entire brand is about “…Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (2 Timothy 3:5, KJV). The Bible says to avoid such people. The Duggars are straight hypocrites and it’s sad they’re some of the first folks people think of when they think of Christianity.
The Duggar family built an entire empire by
exploiting their daughters (Jessa, Jana, Joy, and Jinger) on national television around this everything is grand when you have 673857382957 kids for the Lord’s army and women stay home image, while promoting this notion that “the world” is evil and so long as you follow these 53285902.7 rules that are not in the Bible (Matthew 15:9), the Lord will prosper you or whatever. Rules that clearly didn’t work.
Josh Duggar was already busted for molesting his own sisters and cheating on his wife – in case anyone is unsure of God’s opinion on these matters, the Bible condemns these things (Leviticus 18:6-18, Deuteronomy 27:22, Exodus 20:14). In fact, the Bible says adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 ). Incest, which Jim Bob Duggar once said is totally common among families in his circle, is also forbidden. It’s worth nothing that the state trooper, Joseph Hutchens, who did not report Josh’s crimes but rather gave him a stern scolding, was also arrested for CSA images. Twice.
Now, one would think at some point Ma and Pa Duggar would realize Thoughts & Prayers sometimes aren’t enough and get Josh some real help, or send him to hail. Instead, they played it off as, “we all stumble, the girls didn’t even know what happened, Josh changed,” while doubling down on their nonsensical teachings that clearly did not work the first time.
Objectively, it’s true God forgives even the worst sins and doesn’t hold our pasts against us. Consequently, as Christians we should do the same (up to seventy times seven times, Matthew 18: 21-22). We cannot even begin to fathom how much God loves us and usually when we try to, at least I personally start to get pissed off at God when I realize He would’ve let Hitler in Heaven so long as he repented on his deathbed.
It’s also true that Jesus has the power to radically transform hearts (I mean, look at Kanye West). That said, even a radical heart change doesn’t mean you’ll never struggle again (again, look at Kanye) – that’s why God gave us practical tools on Earth (like medicine, doctors, therapists, counselling, etc.) and spiritual disciplines/habits.
Forgiveness is tantamount to the fabric of Christianity. However, somewhere along the line, the church has brought into this notion that forgiveness means totally absolving people, especially men, from the consequences of their own actions if they say sorry, get-teary-eyed, and delete their social media accounts.
Romans 13:4 says, “For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer..” (ESV) and, “
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 ESV), and “… whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it…” (James 2:10). Forgiveness doesn’t mean skrrting past Earthly laws and therefore Earthly consequences. Josh Duggar should go to jail.
Furthermore, a person can only change if they see a problem. But when you grow up in a culture that preaches the literal only thing keeping men from sleeping with everything thing in pants is marrying at 18, never looking at a bare shoulder, and your wife putting out every day, you’re not going to see a problem when you sin because the problem isn’t you, but your wife not being joyfully available enough, or the fact you were alone with a woman who was showing her left elbow (Nike!). Error 404: personal responsibility not found.
Purity culture, and the harmful attitudes about sex it promotes, does not work. Because 1.) the focus is on purity, rather than Jesus, and primarily on women covering up rather than both men and women developing the fruits of the spirit (such as self-control, patience, and love).
The female body is not inherently sexual – God made Adam and Eve naked so if there was something inherently sinful about nakedness, God would have given us fur or covered us in alligator skin. It’s sin, which we have freedom from through Jesus, that makes us look at God’s creation in a way He didn’t intend us to do so.
2.) Purity culture is simply sexism in disguise: this notion that a woman’s worth is tied to whether or not she’s had sex prior to marriage, rather than her worth being in the fact she is made in the image of God. Theoretically, purity culture applies to both men and women but in most Christian circles it’s pushed exclusively on women. Just look at how many Christian men will admit they have a problem with porn as if it’s no big deal, when in fact that’s considered adultery which was punishable by death in various parts of the Bible and Paul says adulterers don’t inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Even Jesus said it’s better to gouge your own eyes out than look at porn, yet I have heard approximately 0 sermons encouraging men to take a spoon to their eyeballs. I have, however, heard many sermons on how women need to cover up for the sake of men (which isn’t anywhere in the Bible). To date, I’ve only heard one pastor ever preach about how it’s not okay to lust after your wife. What I do often hear is Christian pastors waxing poetic to their congregations about how hot their wives are.
Now, I’m not advocating men gouge their own eyes out (yet) and I think it’s great to find your wife hot. The Bible does tell both men and women to not commit adultery aka wait until marriage for sex, so the problem isn’t waiting until marriage but rather the burden of it being put solely on women despite Jesus himself putting the burden of lust on the luster.
The Duggars themselves too display how purity culture simply doesn’t work. Not only was Josh unfaithful, before and after marriage, he’s now committed one of the few sins Jesus said to just straight up kill people for (Matthew 18:6). And yet, “as a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly,”. Time and time again, we see men of God falling to sexual sin and the church seems shooketh each time. Ravi Zacharias, Carl Lentz, Ted Haggard, Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, really one can simply Google pastor and sexual abuse, and find a host of pastors caught abusing children (and this isn’t even counting how many pastors just didn’t get exposed for other things). Clearly, the church is doing something very wrong.
A good chunk of this disregard for sexual sin in men stems from the wrong belief that men inherently have more value and worth than women. For as much as fundies claim to value motherhood, it’s clear it’s not viewed in the same light as “work” men do. Thus, it is more important to protect a man’s reputation or freedom, than it is to protect women and children. This is not Biblical and in fact is antithetical to the idea of traditional masculinity in which men should be protectors of and providers for women and children.
Furthermore, the Bible says God shows no partiality (Romans something) when it comes to justice. Leviticus 19:15 says, “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor,” (ESV), and James 2:8-9 says, “If, however, you are [really] fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, if you have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit]’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality [prejudice, favoritism], you are committing sin and are convicted by the Law as offenders.” (AMP) Furthermore in Chronicles, after King Jehoshaphat appointed judges, he instructed them to “…[j]udge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” So Biblically, showing favoritism towards men over women/children is not cool with God and not something the church should be replicating.
The good news is the church can do better and should do better.
- The church needs to start holding men accountable for their own lust and stop blaming women. I know many churches that will refuse to allow a LGBTQ+ individual to be in a leadership position, yet will allow men who commit adultery (which the Bible talks more about than homosexuality anyway), rape, abuse, etc. in leadership positions. No one is going to take the church acting as some moral authority seriously if it continues cherry-picking sins like this. That doesn’t mean barring people from church forever (I mean, unless they go to jail like Josh Duggar) – the church should be the most welcoming place for everyone. But that does mean putting the victims needs above the predators, and ensuring they feel more welcomed, loved, and heard over the one who wronged them, rather than the opposite.
- The church needs to stop ignoring abuse. That’s all about having an appearance of Godliness, but not true Godliness. Actual Godliness is dealing with these issues via proper channels (aka calling the cops, confessing sins, being held accountable). If Josh’s problems had been dealt with appropriately the first time (whether that meant he can’t be around children alone forever, can’t have internet access, therapy/counselling, etc.), the Duggar family wouldn’t be dealing with this now. Likewise, most of the times if the churches dealt with these problems appropriately the first time, they wouldn’t find themselves having to stumble over themselves later as they try to explain why they allowed a youth pastor caught molesting some kid to stay in his position (after kicking the victim and her family out of the church, of course) instead of reporting them to the authorities. Or they wouldn’t find themselves dealing with a whole host of victims and a lawsuit because they didn’t listen to the first one.
- The church needs to be more transparent. 99% of the criticism American Christians gets isn’t persecution, it’s everyone else seeing how hypocritical we are and pointing that out. When “sin in the camp” as Jim Bob called it appears, it shouldn’t be covered up. Everything in the darkness will come to the light anyway; better to confess and face whatever consequences arrive, than be outed later on.
Christians need to ditch purity culture and start holding men accountable for their behavior both spiritually and in terms of the law; to teach teach men and women healthy views on sexuality, sexual boundaries, and that their sexuality isn’t a bad thing. Christians represent Christ, not ourselves, not patriarchy, not men, and not cultural gender roles. It’s well past the time we start acting like it.