With Josh Duggar issuing a public apology for not only cheating on his wife, but also for allowing Satan to build a pornography-loving fortress in his heart, it’s more tempting than ever to point our finger and laugh at this self-righteous “family values” zealot as he sinks even lower in the court of public opinion.
But I don’t want to do that.
Instead, I feel sorry for Josh Duggar, because Satan isn’t responsible for his behavior; his family’s screwed-up notions about sin and immorality are.
Just hear me out on this.
I think everyone can agree that Josh Duggar is having a bad year. A very bad year. It began with the molestation scandal that closed down production on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, and now he’s been publicly shamed for maintaining an Ashley Madison account. On the surface, he’s a sex-addicted douche who deserves all the public shaming he can get, but beneath that are the years and years of damaging “family values” he was taught in a religious environment completely devoid of healthy sexual education.
The Duggars are Independent Baptists whose beliefs include a number of rigidly held notions about sexual impropriety that are wildly out of sync not only with our digital age, but with the very public lifestyle the Duggars built for themselves. They police clothing and haircuts, but maintain Instagram accounts and Facebook pages that allow intimate access to their private lives. They think that too much skin shown on a woman will elicit an unholy lust in menfolk (because, you know, women are basically temptresses and men can’t be held responsible for what seeing a bit of naked shoulder might do to them), yet they built their empire in an industry that revels in the underdressed, undressed and illicitly behaved.
The Duggars also practice chaperoned courtship, which pretty much means those kids don’t get to be alone with someone until their wedding night.
And we outsiders eat it all up, talk about how crazy it all seems and go about our lives. But Jim Bob and Michelle have made 19 new humans together who have been raised in this strict environment where sex is a sin unless “righteously fulfilled.” But what are maturing Duggars learning in regard to their developing sexual curiosities? Apparently, not much.
When Josh was accused of molesting several young women, some of whom were his own sisters, he was sent off to do manual labor with a family friend rather than remanded to police or given genuine counseling.
My point is that the Duggars have an unhealthy, closeted attitude when it comes to sexuality and were Josh raised in an environment where his sexual curiosity was directly addressed and explained to him, we might have a healthier Josh Duggar today. If Josh had grown up in a household that allowed him to date, explore his sexuality and sow his proverbial seed before getting married to a woman he hadn’t even kissed before his wedding day, he might have settled down later in life when he was emotionally and mentally prepared for monogamy.
I’m not saying that Josh should be let off the hook for his actions, but I am suggesting that maybe we should stop looking at him as a deviant, and instead see his case as symptomatic of a larger problem: trusting too much in scripture as they educate their children, and not enough in sex ed.