By now, every major news outlet has reported on the sexual abuse controversy of Josh Duggar, who stepped down as Family Research Council Action's Executive Director. TLC's hit television show "19 Kids and Counting" was also pulled when details revealed Josh inappropriately touched a few of his younger sisters and a family friend's daughter. Although I met Josh on two occasions in Washington, DC, I was not a friend or close acquaintance. But like many Americans who followed the Duggars, my wife and I felt Josh, Anna and their family were friends. So when this story became public, I was first heart-broken, then outraged.
Undoubtedly, the Left needed to dig up dirt against the Duggar family to discredit the family's conservative, Christian image. But for the liberal media to sensationalize this issue, and some of the articles are just vicious, is simply hypocritical, especially considering they barely mentioned the arrest of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Co-Founder, Terry Bean, who was accused last November and charged with a felony for sexually abusing a 15 year old boy. Did you see national headlines for weeks about this scandal of a sitting member of the Board of Directors of HRC? Of course not, because the media wouldn't dare implicate the world's largest gay activist organization.
Let's be honest, with 19 kids and counting, is it a surprise to any of us that one of the Duggar children would struggle with sexual immorality or addiction? How many pastors in our churches have "prodigal children" who fall into sin? How many pastors leading churches have fallen into this kind of sin? Unfortunately, sexual impropriety has become a not so silent epidemic among the Christian, conservative community.
This situation also hit home for me because I, too, was a victim of childhood sexual abuse by an older family member. I understand the hesitancy of Josh to disclose this information, because like him, the malicious radical left tried to turn around my sexual abuse on me, calling my eight-year old wounded self, a pedophile.
When children are abused or sexualized from an early age, it becomes very confusing and shameful. When I was eight years old, my sexuality was awakened far too early, and I then went on to experiment these learned sexual behaviors with my peers.
But like Josh, who was 14 or 15 at the time, I was not a sexual predator. I was an innocent child. I didn't understand what I was doing, and I have worked for 25 years personally and professionally to heal from the sexual abuse. Since that time, I have gone on as a licensed psychotherapist to help dozens of men and women find healing from abuse.
Let's be clear. The behavior of Josh Duggar was wrong. But Josh was a child, and I am convinced he is just as much a victim of our sexualized culture as those he abused. The tragedy in the Christian, conservative community is not sin and sexual brokenness, but shame. If we lived in healthy communities with churches comprised of compassionate and non-judgmental people, we could talk openly about our issues and receive help and healing.
But instead, I have seen articles published in the last few days from some Christian leaders calling Josh's sexual immorality a greater sin than others, reassuring churchgoers that this is why we do background checks for those who work with our children. This type of rhetoric only reinforces a climate of fear and condemnation—and with that comes a layer of shame for those who fall into sexual impropriety.
I have worked with clients over the years who have sought help for their sexual issues in the church, but because of this unhealthy climate of shame, were turned away or told they must reach a certain level of sobriety or "good behavior" to be in good grace and serve others.
How dare we! The church is for the broken, because we are all broken. No one is any more or less sinful than the next because our Savior paid the ultimate price, once and for all, for all of our sin and shame. If we as a Christian community cannot allow people like Josh to receive grace for his childhood indiscretions, how can we help others?
It is through our compassion and love for one another that we receive healing – if we cannot look within and see our brokenness and have compassion and grace for others, it only exposes the lack of healing in us. After all, it is experiences like my own sexual abuse, and healing, that God uses for the redemption of His children.
"For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Understanding this truth, we must facilitate a climate of healing for all victims and restoration and forgiveness for those who fall to sexual impropriety, declaring over them: "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).