In all of the buzz about Josh Duggar’s skullduggery (or perhaps I should call it skull-Duggar-y? HA!!!!!! Made a funny!!!!!!!), let us not forget Anna Duggar.
Imagine what it’s like to be Anna Duggar right now. This post by Elizabeth Esther gives us some insight:
Have a little decency. Imagine what it’s like to be Anna Duggar right now:
In the span of three months the world finds out your husband molested little girls—his sisters!—then you have a baby and then? THEN he’s exposed as a cheater. Your husband confesses to being the “biggest hypocrite ever” and just like that you’re having the worst day of your life. And PEOPLE ARE HAPPY ABOUT IT. Heck, they’re practically gleeful.
Tabloids are screaming and everyone has an opinion. Everyone seems to know what is best for you. Thousands upon thousands of people are saying hateful things about this man you love. Thousands upon thousands of people are saying the most hateful things about this family you married into. On top of that, your heart is shattered. Did I mention you just found out your husband cheated on you? Did I mention you just had a baby?
If you’re Anna Duggar, you grew up in a very strict conservative Christian family, much like the Duggars. Your family was deeply immersed in a Christian homeschooling movement that subscribes to the ideas and teachings of Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, Voddie Baucham, and many others.
You grew up in the thick of a purity culture that takes the Christian discipline of reserving sex for marriage to absurd extremes. You were taught to “guard your heart”, that if you even so much as had romantic feelings for a boy you were committing emotional adultery against your eventual husband. Your whole approach to meeting guys was through very closely supervised courtship. You were promised that if you did things this way you would have mindblowing sex and a marriage made in heaven. You are now seeing how that worked out.
You grew up in a family where you were not allowed to talk about your feelings. Certainly not with any of your siblings. All you had was 15 minutes a week with your mother to talk about your feelings. (This People Magazine feature piece gives insight into this and other aspects of Anna Duggar’s life and upbringing.)
You married a guy who was the public face of the Christian homeschooling movement that had been your world. He was living proof that if people followed the teachings and principles of the homeschooling movement and its leaders, they too would have perfect kids who would grow up to be perfect Christians. You are now seeing how that worked out.
Now you have just endured the worst week of your life. And you don’t even have your husband to share it with. His family saw to that when they spirited him away to some faith-based rehab facility (we’ll see how that works out but I have my doubts. The kinds of things Josh Duggar is dealing with cannot be treated just by throwing Bible verses at them). You have to walk through this all by yourself.
So let’s not forget Anna Duggar in all of this. She needs our thoughts and prayers now more than ever.
Let’s also not forget that this thing is about much more than just Josh and Anna Duggar.
More from the Elizabeth Esther piece:
This isn’t just about one guy’s sexual screw-ups. It’s about American Christian culture as a WHOLE and OUR really messed up relationship with sexuality.
This isn’t just about the downfall of one family, it’s about an ENTIRE Christian culture that is now reaping the bitter fruits of our misguided, ugly “culture wars.” This is about an entire CULTURE of American Christianity that equates political victories with moral ones.
…This is about an American Christian culture that made insane promises like: “If you just wait until you’re married to have sex, everything will be wonderful.”
This is about an American Christian culture that turned purity into profit; using a 21-year old kid named Josh Harris to promote the fantasy that if you just “kiss dating goodbye,” you’ll end up with a faithful, godly, loving spouse for the rest of your life.
This is about an ENTIRE culture of American Christianity that has wreaked havoc in the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of millions. This is about an ENTIRE culture that has traded an authentic relationship with God for the trappings of “good Christian living.”
This is about an entire culture of Christianity that became so obsessed with ‘looking like a good Christian’ that it created an impossible standard of “purity” and made it completely unsafe to be a real, broken human being.
This is about a Christian culture that sets people up for failure.
This isn’t just about Josh Duggar, it’s about our really sick, twisted relationship with sex, shame, self-loathing and perfectionism.
And if we can’t see that, then NONE of us will get better.
The view may be different where you are. Perhaps you are in a church that isn’t all about politics and the culture wars. Perhaps you are in a church that isn’t all about homeschooling or the purity culture. Perhaps you are in a community where you are free to express differing opinions, free to be a real, broken human being. Remember that you are a happy exception. Remember that there are way too many places out there in the evangelical world where what Elizabeth Esther relates is reality.
Let us remember what got us to where we are now. Let us work tirelessly to shine the light of truth into all the stinking armpits of evangelicalism where what Anna Duggar has lived and what Elizabeth Esther relates are reality.
Let us work to make all of evangelicalism a place where it is safe to be a real, broken human being.