truth, consequences, and porn

Josh-Duggar-Arkansas-Rally

Image is a photo of Josh Duggar on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol last year where, speaking on behalf of the Family Research Council, he denounced same-sex marriage as an “attack” on the family, children, Christian values, freedom of speech and, for good (if inexplicable) measure the U.S. economy. Source

So Josh Duggar cheated on his wife. For those of you lucky enough to have missed this story, here’s some background …

For many years, the Duggars, famous for their 19 kids (and counting) have had a show by that name on TLC. Through the show, viewers learned more about their adherence to the practice known as Christian Patriarchy, which is pretty much just like it sounds, and the Quiverfull movement, by whose virtue they have 19 kids (and counting) to, ya know, fill their quivers.

Leveraging his fame from the show, the oldest Duggar, Josh, became the executive director of Family Research Council’s political arm in 2013. FRC’s mission, according to its website, is to “advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian world view.” It was in that position that Josh took to his bully pulpit to moralize about how marriage equality would destroy our nation, endanger our children, and erode our moral structure. For good measure, he even took shots at Islam’s treatment of women, in contrast of course, to his own.

As it turns out, Josh was not only wrong about just about everything, but also full of crap from the start. You see, it came to light earlier this year that he had molested 5 young girls, including four of his sisters, one of whom was under ten at the time. So that big, ominous shadow endangering our children and eroding our moral structure? The call is coming from inside the house, guys.

When the sexual abuse surfaced, Megyn Kelly sat down with Josh’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. In the much-maligned interview, the Duggars confirmed that the reports were true and attempted to explain why they did almost nothing about it. Parents, they said, aren’t mandatory reporters. The law, they said, allows parents to decide what’s best for their children. For the record, yes they are and no it doesn’t. But worse, far worse, was their true rationalization, the one that was woven throughout their entire defense of their actions – no one was actually hurt so it was okay.

“This was not rape or anything like that,” they said. Yeah, actually, it was. Non consensual sexual activity? An awful lot like rape.

“They didn’t really understand, though, what happened,” they said. “They weren’t even aware. They probably didn’t even understand it was improper touch.”

For the record, this “improper touch” was a 15-year-old teenager repeatedly sexually abusing his sisters (and another child) while they slept. According to this logic, Bill Cosby should be completely exonerated because once he’d drugged his alleged victims, they weren’t even aware of what was happening to them, right? Right. Except really, really wrong.

In the wake of the revelations, two of Josh’s sisters (and victims) took to the press to defend their brother. To say that they hadn’t really been harmed. To say it was no big deal because they were asleep. To say exactly what they had been taught: that they didn’t matter. That scolding their brother for his “curiosity” was enough. That as long as they weren’t aware at the time that he was fondling their genitals in their sleep, they weren’t really hurt.

Two days ago, Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison account surfaced. Seems that Josh, who is married with four kids, had paid just shy of a thousand dollars to the website, where he used the handle josh_the_man and apparently listed among his desires, “experimenting with sex toys” and “one-night stands.” Oops.

So Joshie had some ‘splainin to do. Again.

Now, to be clear, I couldn’t have cared less about his infidelity had it not been for the egregious hypocrisy of it. I grew up constantly being told how jealous everyone was of my parents’ “perfect marriage.” Seems I was the only one who was not only unsurprised but quite relieved when they got divorced. That said, I learned early that others people’s marriages are just that – theirs. Who knows what kind of agreement they had or didn’t have or what their expectations of each other may have been.

However, when you are paid a hearty sum to preach about your conservative family values while you’re advertising your wares on a secret website just for marital indiscretions, well, that would be like, hmm, getting pregnant while being paid to preach abstinence. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

Listen, we all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are drenched in inadvertent hypocrisy. It happens. But this wasn’t a mistake. This was a lifelong series of behaviors that completely flew in the face of a very, very public morality campaign that was very, very destructive to a lot of people.

Yesterday, Josh posted a statement on his family’s website:

I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.

I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.

I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust.

The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, in my heart I had allowed Satan to build a fortress that no one knew about.

As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose to our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.

I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time.

Josh Duggar

Later, he would remove the line about porn. But not to worry, it did its job. As I posted last night on Facebook:

An absolutely brilliant move by the Duggar PR team setting Joshie the pedophile, sexual predator, and philanderer up as a “porn addict.” Now we have the devil to blame for tempting this virtuous man into sin, the God to wash it all away, the victims to pretend weren’t harmed, and no one to take any real responsibility for their own behavior. Cause porn.

Well played, guys. Well played.

As if to prove the point, FRC president Tony Perkins issued the following statement, which is still on their website as I write:

Last night we learned from online reports about allegations concerning Josh Duggar and then read his confession today.  We are grieved by Josh’s conduct and the devastating impact of his pornography addiction and marital unfaithfulness.  Our hearts hurt for his family, and all those affected by Josh’s actions. His deceitful behavior harms his family, his friends, his former coworkers, and the cause he has publicly espoused. Those of us who advocate for family values in the public square are held to a higher standard, and Josh’s failures serve as a painful reminder of the destructive effects of not living with integrity. We are praying for the family.

So see? This all the devastating impact of a pornography addiction (and, likely, the premise of his next lucrative speaking tour). Or, perhaps, of something far more insidious if less obvious.

Let’s go back to Josh’s statement. “As I am learning the hard way,” he said, “we have the freedom to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences.”

Josh, whose parents have known for THE LAST TWELVE YEARS that he MOLESTED FIVE YOUNG GIRLS, one of whom was under ten at the time and four of whom were his sisters, is JUST learning that actions have consequences. Because for the first time in his life, they do.

Yeah, the hypocrisy is gross. Yeah, preaching intolerance based on completely bogus “family values” is ugly and destructive. But, and I can’t believe that I feel the need to type this, MOLESTING YOUNG GIRLS IS WORSE. And being taught that there are essentially no real or lasting consequences whatsoever to doing so is exactly what got Josh to where he is today.

32 thoughts on “truth, consequences, and porn

    • Nothing had to have happened for him to become a molester.One does not need to be molested in order to become one.Could it have happened?Possible.But until more is known,implying he was possibly molested as well, absolves him of the responsibility to own what he did.
      I was sexually assaulted as a child-did not turn into a molester.

      • Were it the case that he had been similarly abused, it wouldn’t in any way, shape nor form exonerate him to any degree.

        As Nat so movingly shared, victims don’t have to become abusers.

      • I feel as though my original point has been missed and now I’m on the defense for merely asking what possibly happened to Josh and if the family was hiding anything. Of course a victim does not necessarily become a perpetrator, that goes without saying or so I thought. As an LCSW who has treated adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse I was attempting to shed a light on the systemic nature of childhood sexual abuse.

        Never in my original response or in my subsequent response did I say anything to exonerate Duggars actions. In fact his actions are criminal and indicate pathology that needed intensive long term treatment.

    • Please don’t make this kind of comment.
      Everytime an abuser shows up no one thinks they are not a former victim. A lot of non-victims are horrible people but no one cares.

      It gets tiring to see constant comments about how people like you who were abused turn into abusers but everyone else are good people.
      It also makes everyone else assured that the ordinary person is always safe, no need to worry.

      In your comment you didn’t even left open the possibility that nothing ever happened to him, the possibility that non-victims do abuse too.

      As for studies I am suspicious, any criminal can lie and say a sad story of their past for sympathy, most of the system wants to see this kind of result so there is a bias, people want to think they can see who is a safe person so they just chose a group of people to be high risk and everyone else it’s not capable of abuse.

      Until recently there were very few female abusers and few male victims but that was proven to be untrue, just the expected result because women are seen as maternal and men as never victims.

      It’s not just you, it’s everywhere, just like autistic people are dangerous, bullied kids are dangerous, abuse victims are dangerous, it makes me feel like a monster to see this all the time. Apparently normal people do no harm.

      It’s a different version of the prejudice that crimes are commited by people with some kind of mental problem, it just makes ordinary people feel good about themselves, it’s always the other dangerous group fault.

      Do you know how much this hurts abuse victims? How common, hurtful and wrong those constant comments are?

      Even people who are supposed to know better make this mistake, it’s hard to find a mental health professional who doesn’t have this.

      There are more chances that the lack of consequences for his actions and the bigoted beliefs he was raised caused this than any abuse. Thinking you have a right to hurt others and that you are better than them is enough.

  1. Yuck. So much yuck. This whole mess reeks of the kind of disgusting behavior that you would expect to find hidden in a family with such messed up “values”. I’ve never been a fan of the entire group and now I have even more reasons to avoid them. Yuck. Just yuck.

  2. after reading all the media post and a lot of facebook post i still believe no matter what position you have in life,no matter what religion, no amount of money makes anyone different then anyone else when it comes to incest or child molestation in the eyes of everyone it should always be wrong no matter what and there should be consequences of some manner, there should be no excuses and the victims need to be protected

  3. I’m really glad you made the connection between the PR move that mentioning an “addiction” to porn. That has been bothering me about this story too. Such a classic move for religious groups to blame their sexual misconduct on porn. Take responsibility for your own actions! Oh … Right, your parents made you think you didn’t have to.

    • My hubby knows I occasionally watch porn. Even asked him if he wanted to watch with. And it hasn’t lead to imoral acts at all. My morals are nice and even with the laws of this land. It may also have something to do with the fact that I’m not a child sexual predator who breaks the law and I’m not a hypocrite who thinks there are no consequences for actions, but hey who knows right? Porn is not the problem, being a murder or a pedophile or a heroine addict or a car thief is the problem. When you break the law your morals are skewed. When someone denotes that it wasn’t really that bad it was just touching, it was just a broken car, it’s just your body the drugs are going in, or that guy was a bad guy anyway and your killing him was a good thing, it says that the laws of the land are not important what is important is keeping this quiet so somebody doesn’t get in trouble. For so many reasons this is why he NEEDS to be behind bars for what he did to those girls. His moral compass is so far skewed that thinking it’s a porn problem IS THE PROBLEM.

  4. This just goes from bad to worse. Sickening that the family choice was to ignore the abuse so many years ago. It is now snowballing and becoming larger than life itself. What else has or is being hidden. Sad and wrong.

  5. I was touched inappropriately for years by a very good family friend who was around the same age as I was. I was awake. I told him no. I pushed him away.
    I wasn’t raped.
    Sexually assaulted, yes, but not raped.
    And you, given your experience can most certainly correct me here, but I’d call what happened to you rape, and what happened to me and presumably the Duggars something else. To me, it seems unfair to rape victims to put us all together, no?

    • I didn’t mean to say that it was rape (nor do I think I did), but that it was the same concept as rape, which is sexual contact without consent. As a rape survivor, I’m perfectly comfortable with aligning my experience with that of a child’s genitals being repeatedly fondled in her sleep. I don’t think it was remotely appropriate for the parents to try to minimize it in that way.

    • I was raped repeatedly between the ages of 3 and 5. I was also sexually abused in other ways during the same period.

      The rape was not more traumatising than the rest; in some ways it was less. It certainly cause a lot less permanent physical damage.

      In what way do you believe it unfair to me, a rape survivor, to recognise that child sexual abuse that doesn’t involve rape is also sexual assault?

      • I apologize. Maybe unfair was the wrong word for me to use.

        I always had it in my head that rape was so much worse than just the touching that happened to me. I definitely recognize that they are both sexual assault, but calling just touching rape, seemed wrong to me.

        I have never been raped. I don’t know what that’s like. Maybe for me, thinking that rape would be so much worse allowed me to justify keeping my own abuse quiet with the “well it’s not really that bad, it could be worse” mentality.

        Any kind of sexual assault is horrific. I guess I had it in my head that there was more of a difference between rape and other kinds of abuse than there actually is.

      • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to think about all of this and to share your thought process here. This isn’t easy stuff for any of us and it’s only by sharing our experiences that we can figure it out together. xo

  6. THANK YOU for this post. Yes, hypocrisy is gross. However, I generally hold the idea that what adults do in their private sex lives is not really the public’s business (as long as it is with other consenting adults). So as much as I am disgusted by his hypocrisy, I do agree that molesting children is worse than watching porn and cheating on your wife. As a psychologist and former sex offender treatment provider, I am sad to say that this pattern is seen all too commonly. Offenders typically have a longstanding history of juvenile offenses, pornography use, cheating, and other boundary violations, so none of this surprises me. His family’s refusal to deal with the initial offenses, brushing them off off as “curiosity” and “teenage mistakes,” and washing over the abuse with faith and religion set the stage for Josh to go on with impunity. They taught him that he is not fully accountable for his actions, his victims weren’t really harmed, and there are no consequences as long as you pray about your “mistakes.” I would not be surprised AT ALL if it turns out that he has sexually abused other minors, although it would make me heartsick for the victims. If he has, I hope he gets caught and finally faces some real consequences for his history of sex abuse of minors.

  7. Porn addiction is a very real thing, a very real problem that no one talks about. And it can be a sigh of something bigger, or just be a big problem on its own. No I don’t agree with what Josh Duggar did…but I understand why he removed the line about porn addiction because it is such a misunderstood problem that no one wants to know mode about. This is coming from a wife who’s husband struggles with it, from a woman who counsels others who deal with it, and a mother of two girls who has to raise her children in a world where porn is acceptable and to look like a porn star is something attainable. So don’t discount the porn addiction part-it could be he was trying to explain the root of his problem and what started it. Ashley Madison didn’t start as a site for cheaters to meet on. It started as a porn site where men (and women!) would wind up chatting and then meet to cheat on their partners so the creators of the website decided to charge for the service. No I don’t agree with it, but I’m sick and tired of people like you using a public forum created for something else (in this case a blog about your family and their journey with autism) to express opinions that harbor inaccurate facts and lead hate riots. We don’t need more hate in our world, we need more love and acceptance OR EVERYONE, including our autistic children-who are statistically shown to be more prone to these type of hidden addictions.

    Yes it’s your blog and your right to speak your opinion, but sometimes perhaps it’s better to simply say nothing at all.
    PS-I know your personal history with rape. I also know the difference between rape and molestation. Perhaps you should look it up.

    • This forum was created to talk about whatever the heck I choose to talk about. It’s my diary and is so named. It’s not diary of autism, it’s diary of a mom.

      I didn’t say porn addiction wasn’t real. I said that it’s not to blame for cheating on one’s wife nor molesting one’s sisters. And I did not say that rape IS molestation nor vice versa – I took issue with the Duggar’s highly offensive and incredibly destructive attempt to minimize non consensual sexual contact (fondling their genitals, for God sake). I said that has an awful lot in common with rape, which it does.

      I hear your anger. I don’t think I’m the proper target for it.

    • It makes me so uncomfortable how people insist of saying sexual abuse is not rape. Especially when discussing children who I doubt can tell the difference. It’s all terribly bad and wrong.

  8. Unfortunately, I STILL don’t think he’s going to learn from this. Aside from the sexual assualt on this children (which is already brushed under the rug and done being dealt with, at this point) nothing recent is illegal. He won’t be charged, he won’t go to jail, his wife likely isn’t leaving him (as reported, you know, since women don’t get a lot of say in their religion), the family will continue to minimize or place blame somewhere else…..so the consenquences part is kind of BS, in my opinion. They already lost their show, he has already lost any trust/respect that he may have had, so what consequences is he speaking of??

  9. What’s with people still defending him (in your comments) by focusing on small details. He is a child molester and promotes inequality. He should not have a public profile that can make others think it’s ok. The forgiveness of Jesus means nothing to those of us who do not believe in Jesus. He should be on a sex offenders register and monitored closely at the very least. I love how well you write and your perspectives and I’m glad you explore other topics besides autism.

  10. Hi jess. I know you probably get a lot of these but I’m reaching out in desperation. I have a 8 year old with severe autism and intellectual disabilities. I have worked minimal hours to be home with him when I could and thus we don’t have much money. Husband decided to find him a 19 year old girlfriend and things are not looking like it will work out. I live 4 states over from family and little to no support here. Are there any resources for parents in this situation (could you ask your readers) I have less than a thousand in savings and I know that won’t get me far. I need both divorce resources and resources to move and reestablish in another state. Maybe charities that would help. I’m scared and want to protect my babies from this behavior. Could you ask your readers. They can call me Kristin. Thank you.

    • Kristin, I would recommend getting in touch with your local ARC or autism resource center (here in Boston we have the Autism Alliance of MetroWest – a grass roots organization that supports families by connecting them with various resources.) Either will be able to lead you toward appropriate local resources. Another avenue would be your church / synagogue etc. if you are so associated, they would be likely be able to work with a similar church (or ..) in another area to help you get established in a new place if, after the shock and anger of the situation passes, you decide that that really is the best thing for your son. even if you’re not associated with them, many churches would still be happy to help.

    • Kristin, Many Easter Seals organizations (specifically Easter Seals Midwest in Missouri) offer autism and intellectual disabilities resources from support groups to parent training to adult community living and employment when your child grows up. There are more than 75 affiliates around the nation, and while each has different focuses, hopefully one near you will have some resources that will be helpful. Good luck!

  11. I don’t like how I used the words “small details” because those details weren’t small to others. So I’m going to apologise for that in hindsight and instead refer to ‘side arguments’ (some of which are misinterpretations of what Jess wrote) that don’t lesson the main argument.

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