This is not a ‘throw Josh Duggar in the fire’ piece, but rather a comment on how we speak about these issues, the hypocrisy I find rampant in anti-gay rhetoric and legislation, and the hands we stretch out to some and not others.
I will begin by saying that the real tragedy in the entire Josh Duggar case are the (then) young children whose lives never continued the same after their encounters with him–lives that could have been protected, but were not. Even Duggar saying how ‘deeply sorry’ he is for everything that has occurred, is devoid of the language of someone who understands his role in the devastation of others. A story centred on the self, rather than the impact of action. And truly a story not even centred on the self because as a young man, the actions taken by his father and everyone else involved excused him from any real confrontation of what he had done; the type of confrontation that is a necessary foundation for a changed life.
But Duggar’s story has been met with a wave of individuals and articles who support that he has indeed changed, and perhaps he is only being attacked because he comes from a family of ‘standards.’ Many of these statements are from those who say they are giving the ‘Christian’ response to Duggar’s actions. As I was reading these responses, I felt such initial rage that I Skyped my mother, despite the fact is was only 4am EST, and as always, talking to her about the hypocrisy in the church that is leading many away from it, calmed me down.
Here is a look at an excerpt from one article:
So what do we do now – 15 years later?
Is the answer to teenage failure, “OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!” because of something someone did when they were 14 years old? Kids are stupid. They’re sinful. They do bad things. Criminal things, even.
How do we handle childhood sin? Yes, they should know better, but kids mess up. If we discipline them, they suffer consequences, repent, and turn their life around… What then? Do we show them grace and give them another shot at life? Or do we simply throw stones from our glass houses?
There are so many deep issues with such a response. Yes, people change. Yes, people do things that they can live lifetimes regretting. But this is the case of covering up because somehow you can convince yourself that it’s just ‘boys being boys’ and ‘kids being stupid.’ As my mother said on the phone, however, at 14, continued acts of sexual molestation on those much younger than you are offenses that are calculated. Furthermore, in this case, it is also one that was helped by older adults turning the other way, believing that they could just label it a sin, but not actually address the underlying issues. There should be no statute of limitation in any matters of sexual crimes, because there is no statute of limitation on pain and shame. And herein lies the hypocrisy of rhetoric.
Josh Duggar was, until recently, a prominent leader of an anti-LGBT religious group (I am separating actual spiritual teachings from the use of the word religion here), that lobbies against LGBT rights (including same-sex marriage and adoption) based on the rhetoric that it is destroying traditional family values, and is tearing down the very seams of morality in America. And yet it is always the one’s that yell the loudest that are doing exactly what they claim to fight against in the corners of their home. I think of the recent incidences of anti-gay lawmakers being exposed for their same-gender sexual relations, and now someone like Josh Duggar and his family who did not think preying on innocent children was a moral issue. But the anti-gay movement is built on upholding an image that ‘we are better than them,’ and somehow are the only ones deserving of their humanity being acknowledged. When that rhetoric is exposed for what it is, it must be quickly covered back up–buried under piles of ignorance, hatred, and faux Christianity. The Southern Poverty Law Center got it right in 2010 when the FRC (Duggar’s group) was labeled a hate group. See, I have been blessed over the years to have many queer identifying friends and acquaintances. They are friends, lovers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, gender defying and inspiring. If anyone is ripping at the seams of an American ‘morality,’ it is not them. It’s those who uphold Focus on the Family, but don’t focus on the family.
And that family is larger than just one’s home. The additional comment I have on this matter is what people are willing to excuse for some and not for others. Some of these individuals who tweet or write about Josh Duggar just being a kid who did wrong and we should just move on from something that happened fifteen years ago, are the first to drudge up old criminal records of black men being shot by police officers. They are the first to ask the question of but what did they do for the police officer to feel they had to shoot him. They will let some–white–kids be kids, and others are men from birth. And they will let white teenagers get away with terrifying crimes against the body of another for the sake of a collective built on hypocrisy, but turn their backs on black kids who get shot for the crime of being black.
Why is Josh Duggar being afforded this luxury of private discipline, for public crimes? A simple run around of renovation work for a family friend. Only when it is brought into the public sphere is anyone showing sentiments of being ‘sorry.’ That is not a luxury awarded to others and for far less crimes.
I was raised in a deeply spiritual family, and that spirituality has continued and grown into adulthood. I am not ashamed of my Christian faith. But that spirit was always guided by love, by a refusal to ‘Other.’ This is not about casting the first stone. It’s about supporters of anti-gay legislation and rhetoric–those who would make a monster out of a young black man and excuse another–realize that their stones don’t exist at all.