God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. This is the message that we share, the message we live, and the message we want others to understand. So why do we make Him bear the burden of our proclivities so often? Somewhere along the lines we’ve lost sight of justice, humility, and righteous anger, and we picked up convenient one liners that we can print on wrist bands and disperse out of a Mary Poppins style bottomless bag of excuses. The person at the receiving end of said bag is the topic of my blog post; his name starts with “J” and ends with “osh Duggar.”
“This is wrong!”
“Judge not. I’m a horrible sinner, who am I to cast the first stone? *Insert various bible verses that have absolutely no relation to the issue at hand, but make the person sound super knowledgeable and more Jesus approved than the other commenters who will soon shower this particular commenter in glorious accolades*”
The point? Well, the victims of said “wrong” act have now been silenced, and if you speak to their victimhood, well, you’re probably not as Christian as the person that used a Bible verse. Your mansion is not going to be as big as their mansion; your crown will not have as many gems. Listen, folks, I’m that kid with the sarcasm that I’m sure makes Jesus shake His head a little in disapproval, I know that already, telling me to stop talking about the Duggars while touting an out-of-context verse is just going to make it worse.
Now, in case you have been hibernating under a very large rock, last week Josh Duggar and his family came clean, and Josh admitted to molesting 5 girls – including 4 of his sisters – when he was 14 & 15. The family reported the incidents immediately to the police, Josh willingly came clean and repented of his actions, his sisters found it within their hearts to forgive him, and he and his victims received counseling. He accepted responsibility, they all prayed, wrote touching statements about God’s mercy and love, about His healing and forgiveness, and then they all rolled up a rainbow and smoked it while singing hymns.
No really, that all happened, just ask many of the (other) Christian bloggers.
The real story: Josh Duggar came clean after one of his sisters mustered the courage to tell her parents. The Duggar family eventually went to the police – after his misdeeds were reported to CPS by a family friend who found out about the abuse – but it was after the statute of limitations had expired. Shucks *snaps fingers*. The girls forgave their brother after the family had a heart to heart (we’ll learn more about what that likely looked like in a bit). They sent Josh to “treatment,” which actually ended up being a couple of months with an unqualified family friend, “hard labor and mentorship,” psychology be damned. The family then went on to mass produce children and earn millions of dollars, then after the news was leaked they came forward and made statements that mirrored the beliefs of Bill Gothard.
After. After. After. After. Catching a pattern? Christians, the fact that you are attempting to frame this story is, well, for lack of a better word; gross. Ridiculous, pathetic, sad, absurd, contemptible, grotesque, unbelievable, preposterous, foolish, nonsensical, outrageous, ludicrous, hair-brained, farcical, bizarre, insane, cockamamie, irrational, shocking, monstrous… well, imagine that, I wasn’t lacking a better word after all.
So what would a family heart to heart look like? Let’s look no further than their homeschool curricula choice. (DISCLAIMER: I was a homeschooler; I support homeschooling, and will probably someday homeschool my children. So haters, don’t hate.) The Duggar family lists the Advanced Training Institute program on their website, and openly uses them in their curricula. They attended countless events for ATI, and have even sent their children away to study various ATI programs. ATI was founded by Bill Gothard, this name will come up later.
Sexual abuse in the family? ATI has you covered with various documents that aid in the healing process. Yes. I am saying this all in my head rather sardonically.
One form in particular: Counseling Sexual Abuse (CSA for short). The CSA asks the question “Why did God let it happen?” to which they provide ideas: Immodest dress? Indecent exposure? Being with evil friends? I honestly wish I was joking.
Girls, that skirt is too short and you should probably fix it, otherwise God might allow your brother to sneak into your bedroom and inappropriately touch you. Just imagine thinking of God as The Father, “Hey daughters, button up that shirt a little higher or I’ll allow Billy to take your innocence.”
Another question asks, “If you had to choose…” and it then lets you pick between “No physical abuse” or being “mighty in spirit.”
Are you going to pout about what your father did to you, 5 year old child? Because that means you don’t want spiritual advancement.
But my favorite, above all, is when the form tells you to “cleanse with rhemes.” Lovely choice of words. Victims of sexual abuse already feel dirty and useless, let’s use the word “cleanse” when telling them to read the bible. That’ll work. Stay classy, ATI, stay classy.
Not only does this form then go on to belittle sexual abuse, minimizing it into something similar to a questionnaire you might be given by a used car salesman, but it condemns the abused by saying that any damage to mind is allowed, not forced. Not only does it force you to wonder if the abuse was invited, but it compares the abused to Daniel in a way that hints at the idea that the abused should almost be thankful for their abuse, and it forces them to choose their sexual abuse as an acceptable option compared to giving up the spiritual progression they might obtain through the abuse. It’s, well, pick one of the various words I listed above. According to Gothard, Dinah and Tamar were pretty much asking for it. Basically, Gothard does a fabulous job of putting the brunt of the responsibility on the victim, then pushes the victim to be thankful. That’s more than likely the ideals that have been pounded into the heads of the Duggar girls for years. The way it was handled by the family serves as proof.
So here are a few lines from Christian bloggers that made me do a double take, triple take, crawl into the fetal position, throw something against the wall, and finally end my spiral into utter disappointment by wondering if I should become Amish just so that I can shun stupidity:
“Is there a point where we say, “You messed up. You were a stupid kid. But you corrected your behavior, turned your life around, and we forgive you. Let’s move on.”
I know all about that point. When my sister was little she cut the hair of her siblings in their sleep. It was like The Last of the Mohicans, they would go to sleep with a braid and when they woke up it would be lying beside them. Jealousy? Maybe. I don’t know, none of us knew, we just figured she was a little freak who didn’t like her sisters to have longer hair. Then she got older, everyone’s hair grew out, and forgiveness was granted. Everybody moved on. You know, because it was just hair.
Victims of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression as adults, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide, 2 times more likely to attempt suicide, 13 times more likely to become alcoholics. They often suffer from PTSD, anxiety, struggle in relationships, etc. Roughly 30% of children that are sexually abused are abused by family members, and about 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by a trusted friend of the family. “Children” under the age of 18 are responsible for 23% of child sexual abuse cases, and if the victim is under 6 years of age, that percentage rises to 43%.
62,939 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2012.
But you’re right. Let’s move on.
This same blogger went on to say that while other teenagers don’t molest their siblings, they are out getting pregnant, having abortions, and gallivanting away. This was in no way relevant to anything above, but in all fairness, it was never really relevant to the situation, nor to her article either.
Many have pointed out that while they’ve never molested a child, they too have made mistakes. Well, I’ve never cannibalized another human being, but I can say with confidence that Jeffrey Dahmer was wrong and deserving of harsh punishment. I can also say it without feeling guilty because I once flirted with a police officer to get out of a speeding ticket. Do murderers and I have the same offer granted to us by God? Yep. Are our sins comparable? Ummm…no.
I think the part to remember is that sins small and great, unpaid for, leave us in hell. All are offered the same out, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the “levels” of sin. Moses referred to “great sin”; John distinguishes sins; Ezekiel spoke of those more corrupt. Sin is separated as deliberate, premeditated, etc. and while we all have to shoulder the responsibility of our sins, we still have to call out a great harm, as was done in the bible. False modesty is often mistaken for humility. Humility is knowing that I desperately need Christ, no matter how big or little my sins are. I am just as helpless as ISIS, sexual predators, and the like when it comes to obtaining heaven. False modesty is acting like I believe I’m not above ISIS, sexual predators, and the like in my life, and refusing to speak against them. No one believes that, and if they say they do, it serves only as a Christian ego boost.
Now let’s talk about the ever popular one liner: “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Many Christian’s say this as if they are ready to drop the mic, part the sea, end the war, etc… I truly do appreciate their intentions, and honestly can’t stand the overly judgmental attitudes towards those who are searching for answers. This, however, was a case fully befitting of judgement, and we have used these words dangerously.
Context, my friends.
Jewish law required that those who witnessed the crime of prostitution were the first to throw a stone, but they also had to be innocent. Now go back to how the entire debacle was set up in the first place: Jesus is teaching when along come the Pharisees trying to test Him. If He blatantly said, “Release her!” He would be violating the Law of Moses, and if He said, “Stone her until she stops flopping,” He would have been violating Roman Law. So, Jesus instead turned their game against them by saying a variation of the famous line. How do we know that they were just attempting to trick Jesus? Well, the Law of Moses commanded that both members of the love affair be punished, yet the man was missing. They were not interested in following the Law of Moses, nor the Roman Law, they were interested in a false indictment of Jesus, and thus were guilty of violating laws themselves. Hence, “He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” It was His way of making them eat their deeds, a way for Him to show them that He knew the game they were playing.
To the point, the passage represents a need for Christians and those who uphold the law to be consistent in order to judge, not perfect. So when you use that verse to justify why we shouldn’t bring a certain sin to the light and demand that it be acknowledged and dealt with, you are doing exactly what the Pharisees did by undermining the law. You are taking a sin and twisting the very words of Jesus to not only excuse, but applaud your dismissal of said sin. You are using the words of Jesus to receive accolades for approving of the disregarding of His abused children. Mull that over.
Regret, apologies, and repentance deliver the soul, not the body. We have no right to judge where his heart is with Christ, we do not have the right to condemn him to hell. We do, however, have the right to judge his actions.
What passages do relate to this issue? Well, look at the Samaritan woman. Jesus ignored the prejudices, the living and breathing ideal that women were no more than an item. He placed worth upon the Samaritan woman by simply being in her presence. In a world where talking to a woman brought about evil, according to rabbinic teaching, Jesus disregarded the expected treatment of women, and instead attributed worth and dignity. Throughout the Bible Jesus attributes worth and humanity to women, He uses them for great purposes, He allows them to follow his teachings, He encouraged them to be cultural misfits and to become more than the lowly beings their society had made them. You want to know the ideals that Jesus was fighting against? Look to the Middle East, look to the slave trade, and look to the bedrooms of little girls that do not rest in peace, but instead fear the physically stronger. Now tell that Jesus who you believe should be allowed to go unpunished, tell that Jesus we should stop talking about poor Josh Duggar, tell that Jesus that simply saying you’re sorry to His beloved creations whom you have defiled is enough. Tell that Jesus that women and abuse victims are not as worthy of the dignity, respect, and appreciation He bestowed upon them.
Josh Duggar did not steal a toy from his sisters, he did not trip them as they walked up the sidewalk, he did not leave his gum in the parking lot for innocent bystanders to step in. He molested 5 little girls. Then he didn’t admit what he had done, he waited for one of those terrified little girls to bring it up. Then their parents protected him, shielded him from the law. FINALLY when it was impossible to hide any longer, they admitted the crime after it was legally too late to be punished. They made him a hero to the Christian movement, put him in a leadership position, and allowed him to judge those who do not live by the Word of God…
“She is far more precious than jewels.”
If you believe that, then act like it.