Friday, August 21, 2015

Yep, I'm going there...

So, a couple months back when the first Josh Duggar thing happened, I was very tempted to post something here.  Things got busy, though, and I decided to just let the moment pass.  After all, what does it really matter, or have to do with my life or this blog?  Well, in light of the new revelations, it churned everything up again and I just felt like I needed to do a brain dump here.  So, my apologies in advance.

I don't know if I've mentioned it here much, but I used to watch the show a lot.  I watched the specials originally, and while I was always interested, I feel like I had a period where I wasn't completely dedicated to watching the show.  I still caught shows when I could, though.  But over the last few seasons, with babies and weddings and whatever, it was on my DVR and I watched pretty faithfully.  I don't agree with their whole lifestyle (birth control and women's pants are NOT bad things, people), but I appreciate a lot about how they live their lives.  It was nice to have a show that was safe to watch around the kids, and it's inspiring to see how they integrate their faith into every aspect of raising their family.  The patience Michelle Duggar shows is amazing, and Anna Duggar followed nicely in her footsteps.  As a mom, you can't help but be wowed by that.  At the same time, there's a lot I don't love.  I don't love that the older kids end up taking on a lot of the responsibility for their parents' decision to have lots of kids, and I worry about how the daughters aren't encouraged to seek higher education, particularly outside the home.  I also don't love some of their public stands over the years.  I may fundamentally agree with what they're trying to say, but the way it comes across often sounds dismissive and exclusionary.  But ultimately we follow the same God, and while we choose to do it in different manners, I have always applauded the fact that no matter what, they seemed to have raised up a bunch of really good kids.

And now...this.  First the sexual abuse controversy, and now the cheating scandal.  It's horrifying.  Period.  The thing is, I was willing to give him a bit of a pass when the abuse thing came out.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it's horrible what he did.  But he was a pretty young kid, and kids do stupid things.  Adolescent boys who grow up in a home where sex is a taboo topic probably do even stupider things.  His body was probably going through all of this stuff, he was curious about things, and without a proper outlet to talk about it, it manifested in some pretty messed up stuff.  I feel horrible for his victims, of course.  To be fair, though, they didn't even know it happened until they were told, and most of the actual trauma came from finding out and then having it blasted over the media many years later, so I think it's a little different than most abuse cases that are centered around violent, forced/coerced, full-on sexual contact.  Again, I'm not saying that what he did wasn't wrong or that his victims didn't suffer, but I guess I feel it's a little different from a situation where the act itself is traumatic and can be replayed over and over again in their minds.  Even happened years ago, and I think almost everyone has (to some degree) a blip on the radar where they made some really bad judgments for a while and eventually they figured it out and moved on.  Some are worse than others, and it's certainly not ideal, but it happens.  But by all accounts he had straightened up, all was forgiven within his family, and it was time to move on.

Oh, and I know that people thought the parents did not act appropriately in handling it, and while I don't know all of the details of timing, I think they did what any normal set of parents would do.  They set in place some safeguards and got their kid some treatment.  People insist they should have called in the authorities at that time, but seriously....if your young, apparently confused teenage child did something like that, are you really going to call the cops and send them to jail?  I think they did what most parents would do--assume it was a gross error in judgment and try to manage it internally.  I don't really see too many parents wanting to out their kid, out the victims, and out themselves over something they perceive as an internal family affair that can be handled with some additional safeguards and counseling.  Maybe they should have done more, but I think, to the best of their knowledge, they thought it was manageable.

I was personally disappointed with TLC canceling the show because I will miss it, but it certainly didn't surprise me and I figured it had to happen.  It would be uncomfortable to watch, for sure.  I sort of hoped that a spin-off might pop up on the UP network, where the Duggars' friends the Bates have their show.  As an aside, I absolutely adore that show and love that family.  They seem a little more normal, very sweet, very Christian (but slightly less regimented), and just charming.  I do worry, though, that everything that happened to the Duggars via their show may cause the Bates to second guess their decision to be on TV.  The evils of the world seeped into one Christian TV family, and perhaps they worry it could happen to them.  I hope not, but I wouldn't be surprised. 

But now, of course, it's pretty obvious that there will be no new show, and I'd actually be surprised if the Duggars maintain any sort of public presence after this.  I wouldn't be surprised if all of their social media accounts disappeared, at least for a while.  I found it ironic that they originally tried so hard to keep the family shielded from the outside media world, and in the end, internet porn was the main source of Josh's twisted second life.  I guess they were right.

I know that most people with dark secrets assume they will never get found out.  But I marvel at this attitude by celebrities or other prominent people.  When you're a politician, or a movie star, or some other public figure, people are interested in your life.  Some people will go to crazy lengths to find out more about you.  And some people that have interactions with you will not be able to keep it to themselves.  So how could you possibly think that anything you do will stay a secret?  I find this particularly amazing in Josh Duggar's case, since his entire public persona was based on something so opposite his secret life.  If that life was found out, he stood to lose everything.  EVERYTHING.  With all of the haters out there, how could you not assume that so many people out there would sell you out in a heartbeat if they found out you were being hypocritical?  I guess it's just proof that some people are truly sick and truly demented, because no normal, rational person would think that way. 

Even worse, he stood to ruin the reputation of his entire family.  In front of millions of people.  That's huge.  I also think it's pretty disgusting that he let his family go out and defend him after the abuse scandal, that he let them insist he was reformed and fine.  It's one thing for him to lie and say those things, but to let his family (who I really have to guess were TOTALLY clueless about this) go out and put their credibility at stake?  It's pretty awful.  And that only scratches the surface of the mess he made.

The premeditation of it all makes me cringe.  It's one thing to do what most people do--fall prey to a random moment of passion and bad judgment.  That is bad enough, and I think it happens more than we realize.  But to go to the extent of finding a site like that, paying a ton of money, and actively trolling for hook-ups?  Wow, that is just another level beyond.  When I think about what he did, I can only use a series of expletives as adjectives for him right now.

And most of all (and this is where it comes back to me and this blog, I guess), I just feel awful for Anna Duggar.  I can't imagine how completely blindsided she must have been, how completely deceived and violated she must have felt.  Knowing her husband had been with other people, wondering about STDs, frightened about what else he might be hiding...such a far cry from the life she thought she signed up for.  It makes the whole notion of saving their first kiss for the altar simply laughable.  Here they were, remaining pure only for each other forever, and now this.  Simply horrifying.  All she's done for the last five years is have babies and raise them, and this is her payback?  The worst part, of course, is that she is in no position to strike out on her own.  Not that she probably believes in divorce anyway, but she's got no higher education to fall back on, she's got four young children, and so much of her support system is the Duggar family.  I've read some articles saying that she'll probably blame herself, and I think that's a shame.  She should blame no one except Josh, his weakness, and Satan.  She is not at fault in the slightest.  If anything she's a victim of a very precarious position brought on by being pregnant for the vast majority of the last five years.  I can't help but think that might be part of the reason he felt compelled to go off and find action elsewhere. Certainly it doesn't make it right (and again, not her fault, especially if she didn't have any clue about the real Josh), but anyone that's had kids knows that pregnancy and the period that follows is not the best time to get it on, and they've had a lot of that over the past few years.  And if you happen to be an oversexed, impatient, easily tempted person, that's probably not the best position to put yourself in.  Ultimately, I see her as a sweet, forgiving girl who got caught up in a BIG mess, and my heart goes out to her.  I've actually been praying for her whenever I think of it, because I think she got a serious raw deal.  Having to decide between spending the rest of her life with a sick, twisted man who broke her trust, or having to strike out on her own into the unknown, has to be a terrible spot to be in.  As a wife and mom myself, I can't even fathom the pain she's experiencing right now, particularly since she's supposed to be reveling in this time with her month-old baby girl.  My heart just breaks.

Ultimately I feel like everything happens for a reason, that there's got to be some sort of good that comes out of a mess as big as this one.  It's hard to see in this case, for sure.  I mean, so many lives have been ruined.  Maybe it will inspire other people to clean up their acts before their behavior destroys their family.  Part of me hopes that it somehow makes the Duggars a little more human.  Yes, people are eager to throw stones right now, but I feel like you can't have proper compassion for a situation until you've lived it.  For example, when I was younger it was very easy for me to fall back on religion and say that being gay is wrong.  It was very black and white for me.  And then one of my best friends came out of the closet, and all of a sudden there were a million shades of gray.  Biblically I still believe that acting upon it does not follow God's plan.  However...after seeing the very human side of it up close, I know it's not that simple and I understand better that it's almost inhuman to ask someone to ignore the strongest feelings that humans can have, for the rest of their lives.  I still have a hard time reconciling it sometimes, but I feel like I gained a different perspective and so much more compassion than I had before.  Likewise, perhaps this experience will break down some walls and help the Duggars share their faith and beliefs in ways that won't immediately alienate a large chunk of the population.  There's no illusion now that they or anyone else can think they're "perfect", so maybe it will open some new doors.  Perhaps they will have a heart for other families that struggle with these sorts of things, and rather than just preach about the dangers lurking on the internet, maybe they will focus more on constructive ways of helping families heal.  I don't know, maybe no one will want to listen to them at all after all of this, but I feel like there has to be a higher purpose somewhere.  Like them or hate them, they have touched a lot of lives in their years on TV and I hope this experience helps them use that power for some real good beyond what they were able to do previously. 

Either way, it's a tragedy.  It makes you question the validity of everyone else that professes Christ as their Savior in the public eye, and that's not ideal for Christians or Christianity.  For people that don't understand that Christians don't claim to be perfect, this is just one more nail in the coffin.  For Christians it's another reminder that this stuff is hard and even the most motivated among us can fail.  And as a parent, it's a bummer to see what we thought was a good, safe, wholesome TV family turn into a spectacular fail.  Not enough good stuff around as it is.

But ultimately, I see this as a clear example of why we can only put our faith in God, and not in man.  We say it, we think we know it, but when another spiritual leader falls, we always feel betrayed and lost.  We shouldn't be surprised, as everyone falls short eventually.  The only human example we can have complete faith in is Jesus, as His example will never fall short.  Easier said than done, but may this mess serve as a reminder that our eyes should be firmly on Heaven.  Everything else will disappoint us, but in the end God will never fail us.

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