The Learning Channel’s show “19 Kids and Counting” has been extremely popular. It is based on a Protestant Christian large family who adheres to conservative ideas and repressed forms of courting or dating. The parents of this family Jim and Michelle Duggar teach their children to hug their significant others “sideways” and do not even let them kiss or hold hands.
While strange to outsiders and exaggerated, most Christians understand that this is an attempt to keep purity and chastity alive in a relationship. However, the eldest son Josh Duggar recently revealed in People’s magazine that he had molested some of his sisters including a 14-year-old girl. He touched her breasts and vagina as she slept. The molestation took place several times according to a police report which reads:
“Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.”
After Josh revealed the molestation to his parents, the father Jim Duggar went to the elders of his denomination rather than the police which he did a year later. Josh was sent to “Christian counseling” which has nothing to do with any psychological professor or social work that requires licensing.
“Asked about the training center that Jim Bob said Josh was sent to, Michelle told police, according to the report, “it was not really a training center. Det. [Darrell] Hignite asked if the guy [redacted, Josh] talked to was a certified counselor. She said no. She said it was a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building. Det. Hignite asked if the guy was more of a mentor. She said “kind of.”
The revelation forced Josh Duggar to resign from the Family Research Council. Ironically, while, in this job, Josh criticized LGBT people even claiming that they are a danger to children despite the harm he caused, allegedly to his sisters and other female minors. The parents of Josh claim that his crime was simply a “mistake.” Many are calling for the cancellation of “19 Kids and Counting” especially since another popular show on TLC, “Here Comes Honey boo-boo” which followed a “redneck” family from Georgia and their daughter “Honey boo-boo” was cancelled after her mother was discovered to have been dating a man who molested the older sister of “Honey boo-boo.” Josh was not charged for his crimes due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. One of his victims stated that she forgave him and that he “sought after God and had turned back to God.” It is believed that this victim even filed for the destruction of all files related to the molestation in order to protect her identity. The Duggar family made statements on their Facebook:
Full statement here: https://t.co/C28xCVCvYA
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) May 21, 2015
“From Jim Bob and Michelle:
Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.
Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.
I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married – it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him. When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was — even every difficult past mistakes. At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him… I was able to say, “Yes” knowing who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren’t for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.”
This news is just troubling to learn. While as a Catholic Christian I am called to forgive, I am also called to bring about justice and protect the dignity of all human life, including children. It is unfortunate that the statute of limitations has expired. I believe there should be no expiration date, so to speak on when those suspected of molesting or raping a child can be prosecuted. Moreover, it is troubling to me how some Christians can use the guise of forgiveness and mercy in order to excuse a crime. What Josh did was not a “mistake.” It was a crime! Josh is clearly an ephebophile. People with this condition usually repeat their crime regardless of any therapies given. Not much is known regarding why some are attracted to minors and what specifically causes it in the brain. Furthermore, the fact that Josh’s parents sought the help of elders in a sect instead of contacting the police is horrible. This is one of the major mistakes many victims of predatory priests and bishops responsible for them did. They did not report the crimes to the police. Some priests were sent to “rehabilitation facilities” as if this would do anything to “cure” them. They were then given a clean bill of health and reassigned only to commit their crime again.
After watching a few episodes of “19 Kids and Counting” I found the exaggerated form of courting to be too repressive. Could this be what led to Josh’s sexual frustration and his acting out on younger minors? We cannot know for sure, but it may have been a factor. Moreover, Josh’s comments claiming that children are in danger with LGBT people should not have been made especially since he already endangered children. I think the “speck/log in your eye” quote applies here (Matthew 7:3-5). We are all sinners, but we must be careful with accusing others of wrongdoing when we may have done it ourselves or may even being doing it in the present. If TLC canceled another program because the mother on the show was dating the man who molested her first born daughter, then it is only right that the program with the Duggars be canceled as well. By failing to report these crimes of molestation and believing that “Christian counseling” somehow fixes things, they have failed in presenting an image of a family that protects children. Jesus was clear regarding those who harm children (Matthew 18:6).