The Myth of Perfection & “Protecting” Our Children
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.
Did this post resonate with you? Pass it on!
Kayse is a wife, mom, and founder of the Anchored Women community. She writes to help women fight busy, find rest, and build a life that’s anchored in Christ. Kayse is also the creator of the S.O.S. Planner, the Anchored Life Kit, and other practical resources that equip women to manage their homes and families in confidence. You can find her writing and her resources at anchored-women.com!
hi I have never followed the Duggars, just what you may see while waiting in line at the grocery store, or something you may see online so I can’t really comment on their life or situation. But what I can comment on is your article and I must say I completely agree. Non Christians seem to think us Christians think we are perfect, and I can honestly say that as a born again believer and follow of Jesus Christ I am so far from perfect that most of the time I can’t even see it. If I was perfect why would Jesus have had to die for my sin? I think that is what we need to be teaching our children, that without Christ’s blood we would never make it into heaven. We need our children and other non Christians to see that yes we sin, but Christ has forgiven us our sin and still loves us. The best way to show this is through our actions. Christ said to love our neighbours. That should be our message, Jesus Christ and his forgivenesses, not that we are perfect. Thank you for the encouragement of your article.
I really appreciate what was expressed in this article. I’m thankful I serve a God that forgives. However, forgiveness doesn’t negate the fact that crimes deserve punishment. My heart aches for the girls. I don’t blame any of them at all for what happened, but I do have questions – Why didn’t they say something sooner? Why were they covering for Josh? This concerns me. Children should feel free and safe enough to tell their parents when something is wrong. My heart goes out to Josh. He was obviously a confused, frustrated and hurting young man. And my heart aches for these parents. We all wish we could always protect our children from hurt and evil. But as much as we try, we can’t. I hope this reminds us all to be humble when we talk about the decisions and choices we make for our family (homeschooling, having a large family, etc.) No one has a corner on “how it should be done”. May God give us His grace; each one of us is capable of great sin.
Hi, I am visiting from Tuesday Talk. Thank you for speaking truth – Jesus alone is our standard of perfection. Amen!
You’re right. We can’t be it all for our kids. And that is a terrifying thought. But to teach them and give them the tools they need – the Person they need, that One Who will always be with them, is what we can do. You’ve hit the nail on the head.
Thanks for taking on this topic.
Another aspect that I find disturbing is the number of Christians that are joining the world and the media and crying Crucify him!!!! The world is watching us. As Kaysee said, the world thinks Christians all believe they are perfect. The world is watching us. Instead of demonstrating to the world grace and forgiveness, we are salivating over this and ready to throw the entire family under the bus. we are shocked that such a thing could happen and we are angry at the Duggars for making “US” look bad. Well, the failures in this situation are not only those involved in the situation, but the Christian community. We failed. BIG TIME! EPIC! Coming along side the family does NOT mean we are letting Josh’s sin slide. It means we understand what it means to fail Jesus. We ALL sin. We need to say to the Duggars, “We will pray for you as you go through this. As Josh experiences the natural consequences of a sin. As the girls have to relive the tragedy. We will pray for you and pray that you handle this situation well.” Bottom line is, the knee jerk reaction of the world is understandable. But when the Christian community spits at their own, it is unacceptable. The message of the Duggars’ TV show, watched by millions, including non believers is now lost. In part because of Josh’s tainted reputation (whoever said it was alabaster anyway!) but also in part because the Community they represent has turned on them. AND we need to call out the media on this. Here is a young man, who has apparently confessed this, and whether justice was truly served or not, he admits he was wrong and is going through the natural consequences. By all means, media, let’s support the honey boo boos and the the wife-exchange shows and all the adult channels that air teen sex shows. Let’s listen to the senators that say pedophile should not be a crime. let’s support a president who leads a cult of men that think it is ok to marry, rape and mutilate 9 year old girls and sodomize little boys. let’s continue to support celebrities and politicians who get caught in sexual crimes all the time and show no remorse and are not held accountable. It’s time the Christian community stops being pacifists, and not only calls sin sin, but calls out the media when they show their double standards.
So much well said. I am however disappointed in your short aside implying that having fewer children would have somehow allowed this to be prevented. First it it seems to blame the parents and second it ignores the fact that things like this go on in families with many fewer children. In fact in families with as few as two. I only have three children and can’t imagine having 19 but I’m certain this sin didn’t stem from one or ten too many children.
The only comment I have is… Josh may be a child of the King, washed in the blood…saved. But even for one of the saved folks — bad choices STILL have consequences and in some instances – punishment. Being a Christ follower does not get rid of consequences/ punishments of bad choices. Man-up and rejoice in Christ.
I think you said my fears well. I can’t protect my children from everything. But like you mentioned I can lead them to Jesus and remind him that he is faithful. He helps us through any situation. This was a good post and I am also a fan of the show.
I agree with everything you have said. As a mother of two young boys this scares me because how do you what your children will become or what issues they will face. I would love to think my boys are perfect and already strong Christians but I am sure the duggars felt the same way. I worry so much that I am doing everything right and will some how know if there are any problems that will ever need to be addressed but, what if it isn’t up to me? That is the FEAR! Truthfully what mother wouldn’t blame herself for the person her child becomes good or bad. Lord help us all to know what to do and when! For all the moms out there goodluck and know all of us mothers that care are working through the same desires and fears for our own children.
Kasey, you have done an exquisite job of putting into words what I’m sure so many moms, including myself, feel about the Duggar situation. I have to respectfully disagree with you on one point though. And I hope you will not be offended by my opinion. It is expressed with a loving spirit. Your statement about how the word “mistake” implies it was an accident I feel would be inaccurate. The definition of mistake simply means an action or judgement that is incorrect or wrong. We all can and do make intentional mistakes when we choose sin over what is right in the eyes of the Lord. And for someone admitting to making a mistake simply implies that they know they did something wrong or made a wrong decision, regardless of wether or not they knew it was sin.
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart. And thank you for sharing yours!
Yes, I’d agree. A mistake just means that it was wrong, not that it was unintentional. It was wrong. It was a mistake. It was a sin. It was a crime. Those terms don’t contradict each other.
This post is TRUTH, girl! Thank you for so eloquently putting to words so much of what my heart, head and prayers express on a regular basis. I’ve read it through a few times already and will do so several more times. Dan Allender writes, “For most, trusting God means relying on Him to keep our body or our world intact. But that is not biblical trust at its essential core. Trust involves relying on Him for what is most essential to our being: the intactness of our soul. A return to the Father ensures that no one can shame or disgrace or possess our soul – that quintessential core of who we are that will live eternally with Him – no matter what is done to our body, reputation, or temporal security.”
well said, my friend.
Perfectly said!! Well done! I have been fighting this too! I love the Duggars, and we need to pray for them. Thank you for sharing!! All we all need is Jesus!!
Thank you for this articule. I just wish people would stop perscuting this family. They are probley so brokenup at this publishity/ The “victums” need this to be closed so they can heal and Josh should not have to be punished for the rest of his life. If He has admitted this and has repented then stop all the clamar and let everyone get back to their lives. He will carry his actions for the rest of his life anyway. It’s time to forgive.
Great post Kayse. I agree with you… seeing it all from a parents perspective is sort of terrifying. We aren’t in control as much as we think, so that’s where wisdom, and most importantly, believing and trusting God have to come into play.
So well said, Kasey. My husband and I were discussing these very thoughts last week. We are all broken and we all need Jesus so very much.
Thank you for this.
You put into words so many things I’ve been thinking. Well said. Really, this is the best thing I’ve read about the Duggars. Probably because it’s not really about the Duggars and actually about real life, which can be heart breaking. I’m proud of you for writing this and, more importantly, living this way.