This is a blog I did not want to write. Its topic kept me tossing and turning all night long. When both of my children afforded me the opportunity to take a nap, I couldn’t. My mind and heart were too busy swirling with indignation.
Let me begin by saying I do not watch reality TV, so I’ve never followed 19 Kids and Counting. I’m in-Duggar-different, if you will. But sexual abuse and molestation is something to which I am not indifferent. As a human. As a mother. As a Christian. It disgusts me on every level.
It is sin, but it is also a crime. Yes, sins are forgivable. Yes, grace abounds. Yet, I take great issue with how the Josh Duggar situation was handled, and how many Christians are unequivocally supporting the offender — no questions asked. Over the past twenty-four hours, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with statements like: “I sure hope this isn’t true!” and “I support the Duggars!” and “Those poor parents!” I’ve even read the words, “Looking at his sisters now, I believe they have not been emotionally scarred. If they are, then they are hiding it super well.” That last statement still has me floored.
Let me break it down to the simplest of terms: A fourteen year old boy groped and fondled the breasts and vaginas of his younger sisters and a family friend. The sisters’ ages at the time of the molestations were twelve, ten, nine, eight, and four.
When the father learned of this inexcusable behavior, he chose not to properly report it. Josh was sent to a family friend’s house for a few months to help with construction projects, decidedly NOT a rehab program. The victims were most likely told how sorry Josh was, and how important it is to forgive him — so they could all heal and move on. Telling a family friend who is a cop (who did not file a report, and, believe it or not, is now serving prison time for child porn) and telling church elders are NOT proper and safe reporting procedures.
I am a Christian. I am also a victim of molestation. When I was twelve, a seventeen year old boy groped and fondled me. For anyone fortunate enough not to have endured that experience, it is paralyzing. It’s scary beyond what I can relate with words, and it leaves lasting unseen wounds on one’s soul. Do those wounds eventually heal? For me, they did. But do they for everyone? No. I never had to see my offender again. Never had to hear his voice, see his face, or sit around the dinner table with him.
It’s different with the Duggars. These girls saw their parents protect the person who hurt them. They saw their parents sweep their pain under a rug. These girls ate dinner with their molester. I imagine they exchanged birthday hugs, sang Christmas carols together, and had to hide their fear for the sake of the family.
Saying “I support the Duggars” in their mishandling of sexual abuse is similar to saying you agree with how the Catholic church handled molestation.
I’m not asking anyone to hate the Duggars. What I am asking is for Christians to stand up for victims. Stop saying, “He was only fourteen!” or “It happened a long time ago…everyone should stop judging.” For victims, the abuse doesn’t stay in the past. It affects every aspect of their lives — their trust for family, for authority, and for their future dating and marriage relationships.
I wonder, would those who so proudly support how the Duggars handled sex crimes against their daughters be just as supportive if they were in that situation? Would I see Facebook posts of, “I support my daughter’s sexual offender!” and “Who am I to judge my daughter’s abuser?!”