last week i wrote about the delight many experienced at the discovery that josh duggar had sexually abused several minors, including some of his sisters, while he was still a minor himself. i suggested that gleefully condemning mr. duggar about his moral failure was a moral failure as well; i was (and am) disturbed that regarding his actions as an indictment of some sort of defect in right-wing thinking ignored the fact that proponents of a wide range of political beliefs are guilty of the same sort of abusive behavior.
i wrote little of the effects his behavior had on the victims and hope that i did not imply that their suffering is of little consequence. the male-dominated climate in which the young mr. duggar was raised made it all too easy for the under-age females he abused to be placed in a position of forced forgiveness for the wrongs he did; they could not be regarded as good christians if they failed to acknowledge his repentance with corresponding absolution. there is no evidence that the victims had access to any appropriate counseling. without clear understanding of the wrong done to them and the psychology of their abuser, they could not have been in a position to come to terms with him when he re-entered their home. nor has there been any indication that josh duggar took any action to make amends to his victims.
those who quickly spoke out in support of the duggar family failed to take note of the philosophy that prevailed in their home, which taught the children growing up there that (1) the outside world is dangerous and to be avoided, so schooling in the home was essential, (2) the role of men and women is to "be fruitful and multiply," implying that the sole purpose of marriage is to produce offspring, (3) the role of women is to care for those offspring and to keep a dominant male happy, and (4) expression of sexuality outside marriage is sinful and impure. these beliefs created an environment that was harmful to all parties involved and contributed to the abuses that josh duggar visited on his sisters and others.
may we look with empathy on those who were abused. may we open ourselves to varied points of view and philosophies so that our minds and lives don't become narrow expressions of suspicion about all those who differ from us in appearance or belief. may we treat each other as equals without establishing hierarchies based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. shalom.