My heart aches for the Duggar family.
It really does.
Sure, I’ve never been a fan of their reality show and I disagree with most of their social, religious, and political stances; but this latest news is simply tragic. In fact, tragic doesn’t even begin to explain what they’re going through now, what they went through then, and what they’ll experience down the road. That said, no matter how much I might disagree with the tenets of their public platform, my heart still breaks for them.
But I’m also thinking, what the hell?
I mean, seriously folks, what in the literal Hell?
The more I try to comprehend the details of this tragedy, the more my heart aches but the more I also think, what the hell. And while I hope I’m still not asking that question three months from now, right now, a little less than 48 hours after first hearing about Josh Duggar’s childhood abuses, asking what the hell is just about as much grace as I can muster up.
Now, God willing, given some time, my grace will evolve into something more akin to the grace of God, whatever that might look like.
But feeling God’s kind of grace takes time. Sometimes lots of time. Still, I’m writing about this topic because it matters. What Josh Duggar did 12 years ago still matters. And no number of people telling us otherwise should cause us to think differently
It still matters because it involves the safety and protection of children.
Are the Duggar kids safe? Are Jim Bob and Michelle wise enough to handle the decision making for all of the kids who live in their quiver?
Are Josh Duggar’s kids at risk? Are the children/teenagers of his closest friends safe? Does he work/volunteer in youth ministry? Children’s ministry? All of these are uneasy questions perhaps, but they are also very relevant questions.
But they aren’t unkind questions. And they’re not ungracious questions. They are necessary questions.
Because what happened 12 years ago still matters.
It still matters because Josh Duggar’s actions as a teenager weren’t just “mistakes,” they were choices, most likely calculated thought-out choices.
As much as some Christians would like to sweep these offenses under the “teenage boy curiosity” rug or the “normal teenager stupidity” rug or the “he confessed his sins and God forgave him 12 years ago” rug, a 14-year-old kid does not just wake up one day and think, “I’m going to sexually violate my little sister’s private parts today.” In most instances, this kind of behavior is thought out. It’s processed. It’s often organized and planned.
It still matters because Josh’s actions 12 years ago showcase predator-like behavior. These abuses happened multiple times over a 2 year period. He abused a multiple number of victims, most of which were his siblings. It’s been reported that one of his victims was as young as 4 years old. In several instances, the victims were sleeping.
And then, years later Josh became the director of the Family Research Counsel.
I mean, what the hell? How can this not matter?
It still matters because it still matters to the victims.
We haven’t heard from the victims yet. Why is that? Are they being silenced? Are their responses still being written? Would their responses concur with Josh’s response? His parents’s response?
Whatever the reasons for their silence, one thing is for sure, what happened 12 years ago still matters to them. How can it not matter to them?
Four out of the 5 known victims have been forced much of their lives to share a home with their abuser. Their abuser has been protected. Their abuser has been put in influential positions.
Hopefully all of them are receiving the treatment and therapy needed to continue their recovery. Hopefully they all feel free enough to express their troubles to parents or therapists. Because the effects of sexual abuse just don’t go away. They don’t simply disappear and never affect our lives again. And that matters. How Josh’s actions have affected his sisters’s lives matter.
Are the victims allowed to share their sides of the stories? Do they feel free to do that? Are their stories being kept silent by outside powers? Inside powers? Were they blamed at all? Were they expected and/or forced to forgive their abuser?
Are Jim Bob and Michelle wise enough to know that what Josh did still matters to their kids who are victims?
It still matters because at the root of the Duggar brand is the belief that kids are awesome! Which is true, of course. But their “Have lots of children” message may have been a part of the problem.
It seems that Jim Bob and Michelle’s quiver was/is way too full. Because at the end of the day, mom and dad Duggar helped cultivate an environment that led to the abuse happening. In other words, were they present? Or were they too busy with other kids or making other kids to notice the breakdown?
Because it didn’t just happen once. Or even twice. Or three times. It happened over and over and over again. And it went on for a year or two.
It still matters because for the last seven years the Duggars have turned their have-lots-of-kids lifestyle into a brand, a cause, a platform, an agenda. They’ve used their fame to make a lot of money and used their kids and their ability to have more kids keep that money coming in. But what were they willing to risk in order to project their messages on TLC? What did they sacrifice in hopes of holding on to their fame?
Because that matters.
I ache for the Duggars. I ache for all of the victims. I hope they are free to share their stories if they feel so inclined.
What the hell…