Posts keep showing up in my Facebook newsfeed saying that as
Christians we should forgive Josh Duggar.
We should not forgive Josh Duggar because we cannot forgive
him. Josh Duggar did nothing to any of us. It’s not our place to decide whether
to forgive or not because you can’t forgive someone if you’re not the person
As my friend Darcy
points out, forgiveness in the Judeo-Christian tradition was originally
centered around the concept of debt being owed to someone. Forgiveness means no
longer pursuing the debt that you are rightfully owed. That you’re not going to
demand retribution for the wrongs against you.
I don’t forgive Josh Duggar because Josh didn’t wrong me, there
is no debt he owes me that I can forgive. Only the person who was wronged can
offer forgiveness, and it’s not our business to tell a victim that they should
Our job is to support victims and to seek justice.
Further, let me remind you that contrary to what we’re being
told, we don’t know whether his victims have forgiven him or dealt with the
sexual assaults. In the ATI subculture, forgiveness is forced. You have no
other option than to forgive because otherwise you’ve created strongholds in
your life, you’ve allowed the root of bitterness to take hold, and now you’ve
opened yourself up to Satan’s works.
Talking about forgiveness in the context of Bill Gothard and
ATI is virtually meaningless.
Even if Josh Duggar is truly repentant and this isn’t just
damage control to make it all go away, forgiveness by God does not erase
earthly punishments and the consequences of one’s actions. Jesus forgave the
thief on the cross, but the thief still died that day. Jailhouse conversions
don’t mean murderers can walk free. A repentant thief still has to make
restitution for their crime. Why then, do we act as though sex crimes are free
of consequences so long as the perpetrator says they’re sorry?
Allowing someone to get away with committing multiple child
sexual assaults in the name of Christianity is an affront to the idea that God
is a just God. Over and over again in both the Old and New Testaments, we’re
shown that God wants us to seek justice for the weak and the downtrodden.
Siding with the perpetrator and demanding that we offer forgiveness
that we are in no place to give isn’t justice. It’s licentiousness.