Josh Duggar and the bondage of our souls

May 26, 2015 by

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I never watched 19 Kids and Counting and never knew the Duggars existed until their scandal hit the news this week.

But I had my own Josh Duggar.

It was maybe 1969, which would make me about 7 years old. The little country church that had long been a part of my family’s fabric was preparing for a new minister. Over a span of Saturdays, the women of the church cleaned the parsonage top to bottom, preparing it for its new residents, and we children were left to play outside. Hide-and-seek seemed to always be the game of choice, or at least the only one that survives in my memory.

“Josh” was older than me by several years, and he always motioned for me to follow him into the basement to “hide.” I can still see the concrete basement floor and the poles. I can still feel the dampness of the basement air. There he would expose himself, invite me to touch him, and beg me to do the same for him. Neither of those “invitations” was ever accepted. I was a strong and thinking child, and I continued to go to the basement with him because I was afraid my little sister would be his second choice if I refused.

It was a different time. Nobody ever talked about such things, and it would’ve likely gotten him and me both a spanking and then would’ve been “forgotten.”

But a victim never forgets.

I was one of the lucky ones. I had two Josh Duggars in my life, neither of which escalated to what I would call abuse. Yet, 40-something years later, I still can’t stand the sight or mention of either of these two men, and every Josh Duggar story brings back the sickening memories.

Recent studies have revealed shockingly that about one in five females and one in 20 males have been raped and/or violently sexually assaulted, almost half of them before age 18, and a large percentage of the perpetrators are trusted family members or family friends. That’s not just one in every five strangers out there somewhere. That’s one in five women you know.

We need to have this conversation. We need to have it with our kids.

Can God forgive a child molester? We Christians say, yes. Can we forgive a child molester? We Christians say it’s possible. Can a TV network justifiably pull a show because the name of one of its stars has suddenly become synonymous with child sexual abuse? Absolutely. Thank you, TLC.

Probably like Josh Duggar, I don’t think my “Josh Duggar” became a child molester. I would guess he is sorry whenever he remembers the sexual exploits of his youth. I have never exposed him (no pun intended), nor do I have any such intention.

But hear me, and hear me well, all who defend 19 Kids: If this man and his family ever have a TV show or any other public venue through which they are advising their viewers on how to live sexually pure lives like they live, I will speak out, and I will speak loudly. Because every choice we make leaves consequences, and often victims, who have lost much more than a TV show.

Before you shout again your disdain at those who took your show away, and before you again accuse those who disagree with you of being “unchristian,” ask yourself quietly: What if your own child was one of the victims?

Then come to terms with the fact that there’s a one in five chance she will be.

Then pray to God for a heart of wisdom, discernment and compassion, like the heart of Jesus. We must, we must, we must rescue our hearts and minds from the political bondage that has stolen our souls.

Kathy Vestal is a college educator, preacher and public speaker from North Carolina who blogs at kathyon.blogspot.com. This post is provided thanks to our partnership with Red Letter Christians.


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