The Duggar interview and the need for homeschool oversight

Sibling sexual abuse is not some normal thing that happens in families. Not letting your children play hide and seek lest your teenage son molest his sisters again isn’t normal. A teenage boy repeatedly molesting his young sisters, including one still in the preschool years, isn’t just a thing that most families deal with. Unless you’re Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their friends, that is. Every single one of the Duggar kids, Josh included, deserved better than what they got from their parents and their church and homeschool community. If a teenager starts acting out sexually towards their younger siblings, something is wrong. When the sexual assaults continue after the offending sibling is caught and disciplined, something is seriously wrong. Josh needed help and he never got it. The girls needed to be protected and instead they had to grow up in a home with their abuser, never getting counseling from a licensed therapist. All because the Duggars and their community thought it was no big deal. While Jim Bob and Michelle may think that by describing it as something that happened in a lot of friends’ families, they’ve successfully downplayed the gravity of the situation, what they’re really doing is describing an epidemic of sexual abuse in their church and homeschool circles. Rather than following the law and reporting the sexual assaults to the relevant authorities, all of these parents seem to have simply reassured each other that it’s normal and carried on their merry way as if it were only slightly more serious than a sibling squabble. As this story has unfolded, I’ve become increasingly horrified by the number of people within the Christian and homeschool communities who have expressed similar sentiments to the ones Jim Bob and Michelle expressed in their Fox interview. This should be[…]

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I Don’t Forgive Josh Duggar

Posts keep showing up in my Facebook newsfeed saying that as Christians we should forgive Josh Duggar. No. 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 they wronged. 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 forgive. 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[…]

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Josh Duggar says he’s sorry. So what?

Josh Duggar is doing damage control. He can’t stop the truth that he’s a serial child molester from getting out, the police reports made sure of that. What he can do is change the focus. Josh doesn’t want you talking about his victims, he doesn’t want you focusing on the five prepubescent children he molested. No, he wants you to talk about how sorry he is. Don’t let him change the focus. Josh Duggar’s apology is not the story. Josh can apologize until he’s blue in the face, but that’s never going to undo the trauma that he put his victims through. Josh, and Jim Bob and Michelle alongside him, have shifted the burden onto the victims, painting Josh as a child who made mistakes, apologized and should be forgiven. They’ve tried to shift the narrative so that it’s just a short hop to viewing Josh as the victim. This isn’t penitence, it’s not repentance, it’s what child molesters do. Rewrite the narrative so that in the end the audience feels sorry for them and forgets about their victims. We’re supposed to give Josh points for confessing and resigning so quickly, while feeling sorry for him that he’s now unemployed with three children and a fourth on the way. Except that Josh didn’t confess quickly, he hid this for over a dozen years, hid it while he became a television star, hid it while he became a rising star in the religious right, hid it while the organization he headed repeatedly attacked LGBT people as child molesters. Josh Duggar would have never become the household name he is if he and his parents hadn’t hidden the secret that he is a serial child molester. Of course he’s going to release a statement apologizing once the police report is all over[…]

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