Would Jesus Defend The Duggars?


Over the past couple of weeks my Facebook feed has been filled with Duggars. 

The Duggars are the family that stars in the widely viewed TLC reality TV show "19 Kids & Counting."  They are unabashedly Christian, and profoundly interesting, mostly because they have a boatload of kids--19, in case you were wondering. 

I don't really watch the show all that much, but I have seen more than ten episodes--less than twenty, but more than ten, which doesn't make me an expert, by any means. It does make me someone who at least has seen the show.  I have always perceived the Duggars to be nice Christian people, who have never been shy about using their celebrity to promote their understanding of the Christian faith, and their belief in traditional family values.  

But they have also been embroiled in a huge controversy involving their eldest son, Josh.  As it turns out, when Josh was 14 he was caught touching some young girls in an inappropriate way--much younger girls, apparently.  Some of them were family friends, and some were his sisters.  

I am not going to go into the details of the story--you can read about them on this website which does a remarkable job of laying the story out, and explaining everything:  http://www.vox.com/2015/5/27/8662907/josh-duggar-abuse 
(click the text to read more)

As troubling as the whole story is--the aftermath has been even more troubling. 

I would have to say that the overwhelming majority of the posts and links to blogs that I have seen by Christians on Facebook have contained some or all of the following points: 

1.  The Duggars are a fine Christian family.  
2.  The Duggars are being persecuted because they are Christians.  
3.  All of this happened when Josh was a teenager, and he's repented. 
4.  Good Christians should stand with the Duggars.  
5.  If you stand with the Duggars, it doesn't mean that you condone the molestation of children. 
6. If you don't stand with the Duggars, you are either willingly or unwittingly participating in the vast left-wing conspiracy against Christianity. 

Here's the thing...  

In a very real way, I feel for this family because of what they are going through now. I can't imagine how painful it must be. 

But I can't defend them.  They did their best to sweep this under the rug, and not get their son and the victims the help they desperately needed.  I can't help but think their celebrity Christian status, and their well documented public stances regarding traditional family values were among the many factors that led them to do so. 

If anything, this is a cold slap of reality to most of us that there are so many seemingly fine, upstanding Christian families in our communities, churches and neighborhoods who might seem as though they have it all together, but are just as susceptible to tragedy and scandal as the rest of us.  And who might be hiding it just below the surface.

But I also know that there are victims here that no one seems to be talking about that much, at least no one among the many Christians who are posting knee-jerk reactions to the situation.  To anyone who has endured sexual abuse, or has loved ones who have... this is a fact that is glaringly obvious.  The fact that some of these victims are members of the Duggar family is also tragic. 

Which leads me to ponder this... 

I believe that far too many Christians imagine vast left-wing conspiracies against Christianity, when in fact the source of the negativity from non-Christians toward Christians more often than not is Christians themselves.  

Further, I know that there are millions of non-Christians who are watching this unfold, reading the posts by Christians who are offering their knee-jerk reactions.  

They add this to the sex-abuse scandals within the Catholic church. 
(click the text to read more)

And to the scandals involving the Bill Gothard organization, an organization that millions of Christians (including the Duggars) supported over the last 40 years.  
(click the text to read more)

And to the new scandals involving The Village Church--a mega-church within the Southern Baptist Convention. (click the text to read more)

And many non-Christians ask themselves why Christians could possibly defend these kinds of actions.  

And they find all new reasons to never want to have anything to do with Christianity.  Ever.  

This needs to change.  

A friend of mine gave me this wise input to this blog post, and I honestly couldn't say it any better than she did: 

"The only good thing that can come from this publicity is promoting sexual abuse education – not bashing Christians or liberals or sex offenders.  Just plain awareness that 1 in 10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse.  In all classes, all faiths and all races.  No one is immune or protected unless they are just educated." 

She went on to say: 

"Teachers need to be educated on what symptoms are in children.  Parents need to be comfortable talking explicit body parts with their kids and giving them instructions on what do if someone crosses their boundaries.  Parents need to know the questions to ask their children (in the right way) after playdates, babysitting, school days etc." 

Wise advice.  

Listen, to paint the Duggars as the victims in this sad, sad story is a terribly misguided action.  It has become all too apparent that they have connections, money, status and the religious elite from the evangelical Christian community on their side.  Even presidential hopeful, former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, a family friend, has publicly defended them.  

The true victims in this story are those who have truly been exploited--the innocent who have been traumatized and who now live with the scars and pain of what happened to them.  

The least of these, in other words. 

And from what I have read in the Gospels--Jesus prefers to stand with the least of these, the outcasts, the marginalized, the wounded and broken. 

He always has.  

Maybe we should do the same.  


If you, or someone you know has suffered the tragedy of child sexual abuse and needs help, advice or a way forward, I recommend starting with Darkness to Light.  They can help: 
http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm#.VWhPKFxViko  


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