New information has come to light about the shady life of Josh Duggar. I wish I could say I was surprised…but one thing I learned from my time as a Christian is that most versions of the religion lend themselves readily to justifying, excusing, or minimizing sexual “sins” (only heterosexual ones, though).
When we first learned of Josh’s child molesting past, I thought he probably had something similar in his adult life that he was still hiding. I didn’t mention it because I don’t like to speculate about people’s personal lives, or get involved in gossip. But as we can all see, I was sadly right. Why the suspicion, though? He expressed remorse over the molestation and claimed that he had changed, so why should I doubt his sincerity?
The way I see it, there are several things at work:
1) Conservative Christians, especially fundamentalist ones, are called “conservative” for a good reason. I believe the vast majority of such people have an innate resistance to change that affects their thought process and touches every facet of their worldview. It’s not just the religion that is rigid; it seems that people with closed-minded personalities are drawn to extreme religions. There are always exceptions, of course, such as many who grow up in such a religion and never leave, even though they are good people. But for many, fundamentalism reinforces their desire for everything to follow a prescribed path that falls in line with their version of reality. They end up unwilling or unable to change bad habits, because they’ve become so accustomed to rigidity in every other area.
2) While there are a few exceptions (such as I was a couple years ago), most Christians believe it is impossible to stop sinning in this world. They believe they will continue to helplessly offend their God every day until they die, and that everyone is equally evil, at least in God’s eyes. This is the belief that allows them to excuse the behavior of sexual predators who happen to be high-profile members of their religion. We’re all sinners, they say. We should just ignore it because he said sorry and claims he doesn’t do those things anymore. I’m a proponent of forgiveness, but there comes a point in defending an evil man that you’re no longer forgiving but becoming a mindless sycophant.
3) When Josh last came up in one of my articles, I said this: “There’s no moral judgment, just the question of “can I get away with this?” If there are no negative consequences for listening to rock music as long as it isn’t discovered, why would there be any for sexual disobedience?” I was talking about the development of sexuality in children who are simply told “don’t do it”, but the principle carries over into adulthood. If you grow up with an unrealistic mixture of prohibitions, you may develop a warped view of activities that are actually bad. Combined with 1 and 2, this leads to childish adult men who, despite professing to be “changed”, cling to old habits for self-gratification and draw little distinction between telling a white lie or molesting a little girl. Both are sin, and the former can be easily done without consequence, so why not the latter?
Again, this is not speculation, this is my own experience, having grown up in such an environment. Thankfully I’ve managed to identify and weed out most of the lingering bad habits and thought patterns. I’m not sure if everyone is able to do that on their own, though. Some of us are wired better for learning new things, while people with very rigid personalities may need help to see the reality of their situation.
That’s why I keep writing these articles. I don’t want to bash the Duggars or gossip about Josh’s hypocrisy; I want to expose the real underlying problems that lead people, often unwittingly, to perpetuate bad behavior.
Now, I have a few more things to say before someone like Matt Walsh writes an idiotic article about how we shouldn’t condemn Josh because he said he’s sorry, and liberals are the most evil people because they support divorce and immoral sexual activity, and they’re stupid hypocrites to think they can point out the problems with the Duggars…
Just stop. Your leaders are falling left and right, they’re proving themselves untrustworthy, and you’re justifying that with this bullshit about everyone being evil. Obviously I can’t speak for all liberals or progressives, but I am not in favor of cheating on your wife. Sure, I might think there’s nothing wrong with consensual premarital sex. I might think there’s nothing wrong with having multiple partners, on the condition that everyone involved is informed and in agreement with the situation. I might even think it’s fine if you want to have an open marriage. And yes, conservatives often think those things are as evil as adultery or child molesting.
But there’s a huge difference. I do not condone breaking promises, taking advantage of people, or lying. I believe in mutual respect and agreement. An open marriage is as comparable to cheating as controlled sparring in a martial arts class is to beating up a stranger in an alley. Whether or not you think they are both evil, there’s still an important difference and you’d be dishonest to deny it.