Should we forgive Josh Duggar?

What did he do?
Josh Duggar, 27, of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” molested five underage girls, including four of his sisters (ages 5 -12) when he was 14 and again when he was 15.  Josh confessed to his father on three different occasions that he molested his then 5-year-old sister.

He and his parents kept it a secret from the public. The molestations were only revealed recently due to Freedom of Information submission exposing a police report of 2006.

Is all of it his fault? What did his parents do?

The parents never reported it to police even though the father Jim Bob in 2002 stated that incest should be punishable by death.

The parents only mentioned one incident to a friend who was a police officer and he gave Josh a “stern talking to” and never reported it to anyone else. That man was later sentenced to 56 years in prison for child pornography.

Why are we angry?
Josh Duggar didn’t receive immediate counseling. He wasn’t registered as a sex offender. He didn’t suffer any real consequences and the incidents occurred more than once in 2002 and again in 2003, which implies the parents didn’t adequately protect the sisters. He molested his sisters a total of 7 times! By the time the police found out in 2006, about the multiple molestations, some of which would be felonies, the statute of limitations had expired and Josh was never appropriately punished.  Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar could also have been prosecuted for permitting abuse of a minor, but again the statute of limitations had expired.

There is also widespread anger because Josh and the parents made pedophilia a big vocal issue often warning people that gays are pedophiles but never mentioning their own story and Josh’s guilt and past.

What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is ‘giving understanding for’ what happened. Forgiveness does not condone the action, nor does it absolve a person of the consequences of his/her actions, or of their responsibility for redemption or restitution.

Have his victims forgiven him?
It seems that his sisters may have forgiven him. Although, the names of the five victims including 4 of his sisters have been redacted, the 4 eldest sisters Jill, Jinger, Jessa and Jana wrote in 2014 in their book, “Growing Up Duggar”, in the chapter “Your Relationship With Your Sibling”, that we must forgive every person who wrongs us:   

“The choice to forgive doesn’t always free the other person from the consequences of his or her wrong actions, but it frees the forgiver of negative feelings towards the offender.”

What do we need to forgive?
There have been no legal consequences for Josh Duggar. We cannot verify if he is truly repentant. He did resign from his post at the Family Research Council and he publicly apologized and said he sought forgiveness from his victims. However, many people feel duped because he loudly condemned pedophilia but never admitted his guilty past: what is missing is his request for forgiveness from everyone that watched his show, supported his beliefs and activism, and from the public in general.

The final word
I believe wholeheartedly in forgiveness and compassion. For the 5 victims of Josh Duggar’s sexual abuse, forgiveness is paramount because it sets them free.

For the public to forgive Josh Duggar for his actions of incest and his condemnation of others while hiding his own wrongdoing, he will need to do 4 things: 1. Ask sincerely and humbly for forgiveness; 2. Explain openly without excuses why he chose to hide his actions from his fans, followers and the public for 12 years; 3. Reveal what he did to redeem himself with his victims; 4. Explain what he has learned from this experience and reveal what he would do now if one of his sons committed the same act against one of his daughters!

Other Duggar related articles:

Was Josh Duggar molested?

Beware of Projecting

Should we forgive Josh Duggar? 

Forgive the Duggars? Not yet? 

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4 replies
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    Cynthia says:

    That Josh went on to work for the Family Research Council (a identified hate group) is very disturbing to me. Also, one has to consider this families extreme – bordering on cult – religious beliefs and questionable methods of child rearing – did the Duggars just try to pray it all away? Are these girls brainwashed, repressed, told how to feel? Mixing in their beliefs of a patriarchal household – women are trained to be a “helpmeet” to the man, the man is boss of the family. Michelle Duggar has made it publicly known that she has taught her girls to submit to their husbands sexually, even when they may not feel like it, because this is their duty. There is just so much weirdness here, so many layers. Did Josh get the real counseling her needed – I think absolutely not. His family has forgiven him and this is positive but is he ‘cured’ (is there a cure?), is he ‘healed’? What effect did his unusually strict and isolating upbringing really have on him – surely this played a part.

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