Maybe like you (maybe not), I’ve spent the last week submerged in blog posts and news articles about the Duggars.
It’s like a tragic train wreck that I can’t tear my eyes away from. I want to, but I can’t. It’s in my head, I haven’t slept well since I heard, and I just can’t get past the overwhelming sadness about the whole situation.
It’s both disbelief and understanding.
I’m surprised by the depth of my own response to this, to be honest with you. I don’t know the Duggars personally, though I’ve faithfully watched their show. But I’m not personally involved in the situation. It’s got nothing to do with me.
Except that it does.
I’m deeply grieved by this tragedy. An older sibling molesting younger siblings? As a mom myself, it’s a sin that cuts me to the quick, and quite literally steals my ability to breathe. Yet I’ve read many blog posts and articles in support of Josh, saying it was a mistake, he was a teen (with an undeveloped brain), and he made amends.
I just can’t fully get behind that approach to this situation, because, really? That’s the defense? Unless there are some serious deficiencies, by 14 years old, your brain is developed enough to know the difference between right and wrong. My four-year-old can tell you that her private parts are private.
You don’t accidentally sneak into your sisters’ room while they are sleeping. Your hand doesn’t accidentally slip underneath a blanket. Can we give the victims the dignity of calling it what it is?
It’s not a mistake, it’s a sin. It’s a crime. It’s a violation. Calling it a mistake carries the implication that it was unintentional. This was obviously intentional, as it was repeated with multiple victims. I cannot call it a mistake and shrug it off. This was molestation. It was more than a mistake.
I’m grieved by the action, and I’m grieved by the way it was handled, though I think we can all agree that it’s easier to make that call when you’re not the parents in the situation. I’m grieved that the media on both sides seems to be ignoring the victims altogether, and I’m grieved that it seems like this entire situation has primarily turned into fire to fan the anti-Christian flame.
One of the many articles I read in the last week said that the thing that makes this situation a disaster is that people on both sides of the spectrum, Christians and Christian-haters alike, were reportedly “shocked” by Josh’s sin. I personally think the greatest disaster is the loss of innocence and the bodily violation of the 5 victims, but I’d agree that this is a close second.
Are we really shocked? I’ll admit that I was surprised by the news, at first, but as it sunk in, I understood. Friends, no one is outside of the effects of sin – not the Duggars, not your neighbors, not your pastors, not you, NO ONE. Sin affects and infects all of us. ALL OF US.
The problem here, friends, is that non-Christians seem to think that we Christians think we are perfect. Morally superior. Whether they started that, or we did, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s a lie that’s been bought into on both sides. Christians are saying “But he’s forgiven, so it’s okay.” Non-Christians are saying “See? You Christians aren’t so perfect after all! Look what you did?”, and THEY ARE RIGHT.
Instead of excusing Josh, instead of chalking this situation up to a teenage mistake, how about we drop our defenses? There is no defense for this situation anyway. Let’s be clear about that. In NO SITUATION is there a defense for a teenage boy to molest a young girl.
So instead, how about we simply, humbly, say, “We agree with you. This is a tragedy and a sin. As Christians, we aren’t perfect, and we’re sorry if we ever made you feel like we were, or like we thought we were. We’re just as messed up as the next person, and we need Jesus badly. He’s the only perfect One, and that’s why we’re so grateful for His sacrifice. So that through His actions, not our own, His Father welcomes us as His children too. That same grace is extended to you. We’re sorry if we’ve talked about ourselves more than we’ve talked about Him. He’s the only good in our lives, and this tragedy grieves Him deeply.“
It does, you know. Sin grieves Him. It’s the entire reason why Jesus came. Not to make us “perfect”, but to save us, all of us, from the imminent death that sin brings.
Christians, we can’t be shocked by sin. Not among others, and not among ourselves. Jesus Himself tells us that we will experience trouble, hardship, & sin in this world. He flat out says it, plain as day.
And that’s where, for this mom, the fear comes.
As a momma of two little ones, this story makes me want to be more vigilant. To pull my kids close and build up walls and make sure that nothing happens to them. Ever.
At the same time, it completely strips me of my belief that I can protect my kids. Because, for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, this happened in their own house. Under their own noses. For more than a year.
And that terrifies me.
The truth of the matter is that I can’t protect my kids from everything. They will be hurt, wounded, and changed by situations that are out of my control, because the truth is that life is out of my control.
(Now, would it have probably been easier to keep an eye on the goings-on in your house if you had, say, less than 19 children? I’d guess so. But to each their own, and for the most part, they run their household well.)
It is a myth that I can protect my kids from this world. I can’t. Not even if I homeschool and keep them within my sights at all times, and make sure they dress modestly, and avert their eyes, and read the Bible to them each night. There is nothing that I can do to ensure that my kids won’t encounter the sin of this world. It is built into them. It’s going to happen.
That realization has paralyzed me a bit this week. Because then what? What power do I possibly have? How do I parent well in this messed-up world?
I’ve been mulling this over and talking to Jesus about it in the car and while I’m doing the dishes and before I go to sleep, and I’ve realized this. This one thing that He continues to teach me in this season of my life, through many more instances than the Duggar situation:
The only thing I can do as a mom is is to bring my kids to Jesus, as much as I possibly can. Because when they see this broken world for what it is, when they feel the effects of sin that wounds for the first time, they will need to know where to go. They need to know they can, and should, run to Jesus. And who else will prepare them for this?
My job as a momma is to teach my children the truth about what the Bible says, and who God is. My mission is to tell them the real-life story of the real-life Jesus, who came to save us all, and whose love surpasses any evil we encounter. To tell them of the Jesus who told us we would encounter such evil, but also promised that He had already overcome it!
And as a momma, my duty is to bring my children to the feet of Jesus, every day. To cover them in prayer, to pray with them, and to ask (and keep on asking) the Lord to work out His good & perfect will in their lives. I need to pray that when the troubles come, and they will, that the Lord would keep them close to Him, would surround them with people who speak the truth into their lives, and would help them to understand God’s unending faithfulness is constant, in every circumstance, even when we can’t see it. And then I need to entrust the lives of my children to the God who loves them even more than I do.
My momma heart bleeds for the five girls that Josh Duggar victimized. I pray that they are allowed and encouraged to heal, to know that the Lord walks with them, and to deeply understand that they carry no fault in this crime. I pray especially that as their stories are exposed, most likely without their permission, their hearts would be protected.
And, surprisingly, my heart also bleeds for Josh. Because what if you were his momma? How would you feel then? I pray he truly has repented and that the Spirit has changed His heart. I pray protection over his own marriage and family, especially as all of their dirty laundry gets aired out for the world to see.
It’s a lot, right? It’s a lot of heavy. And this is just one thing. We haven’t even talked about ISIS, or selling nine year olds for sex, or earthquakes that tear down entire cities, or floods that sweep away entire families.
We are so broken. All of us. And this world we live in? So incredibly broken. And as I seek God to sort out more heaviness than my heart can handle, I keep coming back to this:
May we be open & honest about our brokenness, knowing that we’ve only been saved by grace, not of ourselves. And may we only, always, and ever hold Jesus alone as our standard of perfection, not our pastors, our neighbors, or the big Christian family on TV. They will all fail us. There is only one Savior, and we all need Him, every single one of us. He is the only hope we’ve got.
Thank God for Jesus.
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Kayse Pratt serves Christian women as a writer + designer, creating home + life management resources that help those women plan their days around what matters most. She’s created the most unique planner on the market, helped over 400 women create custom home management plans, and works with hundreds of women each month inside her membership, teaching them how to plan their days around what matters most. When she’s not designing printables or writing essays, you’ll find Kayse homeschooling her kids, reading a cheesy novel with a giant cup of tea in hand, or watching an old show from the 90’s with her husband, who is her very best friend.