I planned to post the next installment in my Fruit of the Spirit series today, but after reading about Josh Duggar’s lawsuit against In Touch Weekly, I can’t be silent. For the sake of all those who shut up and acted like everything was okay after enduring the crime of sexual predators, I’m going to throw my tiny voice out there and join a growing chorus of advocates.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Josh Duggar is requesting to join his sisters’ lawsuit against the magazine, which originally reported his molestation of them in 2015. They’re also suing the police department that released the reports, claiming that the police department and the magazine violated minors’ privacy rights, despite the fact that all minors’ names were redacted and never published.
Duggar claims the article caused him to suffer “severe emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and economic harm both to his personal and professional reputations.”
Let’s be clear about what caused Josh’s suffering. He ruined his own reputation and humiliated himself by touching his sisters in a sexual way.
In Touch didn’t ruin him financially, either. Unless we’re to believe that the Family Research Council would have been fine with employing a pedophile and pornography addict as long as those flaws could be kept on the down low. I’m going to hope for the best about them and believe that an organization that claims to champion traditional family values wouldn’t knowingly employ an unrepentant sexual molester.
Since his parents worked so hard to keep it covered up, I can understand Josh’s sense of entitlement. In his worldview, what happened was merely a “youthful indiscretion.” A private family matter. But this kind of crime affects families for generations. It has a drastic, negative impact on society.
There’s a huge difference between sexual predatory behavior and a “youthful indiscretion.” For example, the latter might be teenage hijinks like covering the youth pastor’s skylight with Cheez Whiz. Totally inappropriate (and technically illegal), but rectifiable.
The Duggars’ minimization of the damage to their girls’ emotional and spiritual health speaks the wrong message to others who’ve endured the same type of violation.
But even one of the girls, Jessa Duggar, went so far as to publicly defend his behavior. She told Fox that the term “child molester” as a label was “so overboard and a lie.”
A lie? That’s got to be the saddest part of this whole scandal, how skewed the girls’ thinking is. If a teen boy touching his sisters’ genitals and breasts isn’t pedophilia, then what is? Again, no one in the Duggar family denies that this happened—they only choose to call it by an innocuous label, instead of what it really is.
Here’s where the Duggars and I see things differently. Josh thinks bringing his crimes to light is a bad thing. I think it’s an act of mercy.
What if, now that it’s known, Anna Duggar has the knowledge and empowerment to protect her children? (What if others take note and do this too?)
What if the next generation of parents decide to teach their children the difference between appropriate affection and molestation and that it’s okay to say “no,” even if the older man is an authority figure?
What if the church and religious organizations stand up for and protect the children instead of helping to cover up for the perpetrators?
And here’s the biggest blessing that could come of all of this mess:
Instead of shrinking into shame and silence, what if the molested could speak the truth and have society come alongside them with affirmation and support? What if perpetrators are held accountable?
Silence is the reason one out of every four girls is molested by age eighteen. Silence is the reason they are the ones who feel ashamed. Silence is the reason they live with the pain instead of getting help.
Because silence ensures the perpetrator can get away with it.
It’s time for the consequences to fall where they belong. Let those who should be ashamed—be ashamed.
Please share your thoughts in the comments: what gives you courage to speak up for those shamed in silence?