It’s all over my Facebook feed, and it’s already trending on Twitter…. Josh Duggar is one of the first names to come out of the Ashley Madison hack that stole personal information–over 10 gigabytes worth–from about 33 million users. For those of you who don’t know, Ashley Madison (whose motto is “Life is short. Have an affair.”) is kind of like a dating website, but it’s for people who are married and want to cheat on their spouse–People who pay money to have the website set them up with other people who want to cheat. By just about any sensible standard, this site is really, REALLY disgusting, right? Well, a group calling themselves “Impact Team” thought so too, so they hacked into Ashley Madison’s records, and threatened to post the personal information of all the people who have used their services if they didn’t take down the site…. A threat they made good on yesterday, when they posted the names, email addresses, home addresses, and last four digits of the credit cards of all Ashley Madison users. And now everyone is freaking out, because apparently it turns out Josh Duggar had two accounts.
I’ve been thinking about this for a bit now. I’m not sure if this show is still on or not, but about eight or nine years ago, I used to like watching a show called “Cheaters.” In the show, people who suspected unfaithfulness in their relationship would hire a “Cheaters” private investigator to find out if their significant other was cheating (spoiler alert: If they made it on the show, their partner WAS cheating), they would film the person being told, and then they would film that person confronting the cheater. As you can imagine, it was high drama. Around the same time, the “To Catch A Predator” shows were on NBC, where they would set up stings for people attempting to meet up with underage kids. The people would walk into a house expecting to have some sort of sexual encounter, they would be confronted by Chris Hansen, and then they would be arrested. And people like me tuned in by the millions to watch along at home.
I used to enjoy watching these shows because it used to make me feel good to watch people “Getting what they had coming to them.” I think I liked the idea of Justice–These people chose their path, and now they were “getting what they deserve.” And if I was able to watch that person receive their Karmic Wedgie, all the better…. Then something changed. I started getting grossed out while watching those shows–Not so much at the acts of the people who were getting “exposed,” but more at my own voyeuristic enjoyment of their humiliation. I started seeing them as people–People whose brokenness was being put on display. And what kind of human being enjoys watching another person being destroyed? Wanting to see someone’s life come crashing down all around them says a lot more about the state of my soul than it does about the state of theirs.
So now people are putting Josh Duggar’s brokenness on display as well (for the second time in about 6 months). And though the story may seem even tastier because of the hypocrisy involved with him working for the Family Research Council (an anti-gay, “family-values” political organization) while he was looking for an affair, he is still a person. I don’t believe his hypocrisy makes him “fair game” for name-calling and tearing down. We can expose hypocrisy without demonizing and destroying the person who is being exposed as a hypocrite. I have been a hypocrite many times in my life. I have known people who have had affairs. They are not all awful people…. They are mostly hurting, broken people. But it’s a lot easier to celebrate the downfall of this guy…
…. than it is to celebrate the downfall of THIS guy:
For me it is, at least…. The second picture reminds me that it’s not only Josh Duggar who is affected by all this. There are other people involved. His wife is involved. The kids in this picture don’t know about human frailty, brokenness, and hypocrisy–They don’t know about how those things can bring so many marriages to an end…. They just love their dad. The news of Josh Duggar’s infidelity is NOT something to be celebrated.
And you should probably also remember this number: 33 MILLION!! 33 million users is a whole lot of people…. Chances are, many of us know other people who are on that list. It is being reported that about 10,000 of the names on that list could be government officials. Imagine your dad or your mom being on that list, because–again–chances are very good that for some of my readers, this will be a reality. I don’t know Josh. I don’t know his wife. But if it came out that one of my friends was on that list, I certainly wouldn’t be posting articles celebrating his hypocrisy. I’d be trying to help him. I would see if there was some way that I could help her. You know why? Because I love my friends…. and that’s what people do for the people in their lives who they love. “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” even when you feel like the judgment is well-deserved.
Joining in on the evisceration of someone whose brokenness is being put on display is completely antithetical to the way of Jesus Christ. And I don’t want to get all “Jesus Jukey” on you here, but if you call yourself a Christian, you have no business piling on to the celebration of the exposure of Josh Duggar’s hypocrisy. We are in the redemption business. We are in the restoration business. We are in the business of LOVE…. Even loving our enemies. Actually, ESPECIALLY loving our enemies. I hope this difficult time will be short for the Duggars, and I hope they will come out of this stronger than they ever were. And in the meantime, I hope the folks who are calling themselves “Christians” will show the world how much more powerful MERCY is than judgment.
This is so great. Nice article. I hate that people gloat so much over others’ failure. One thing not every piece of news coverage is mentioning, though, is that it was possible to sign up using someone else’s email address, because they didn’t verify email addresses. So who really knows who was actually signed up and actually cheated.
I agree with everything you said and yet I struggle with the fact that people in public positions of shaming others and fighting against basic rights (like gay marriage) get a pass when their hypocrisy is exposed. Do I think they should be shamed? Absolutely not. I believe that wounded people wound people, so I have no desire to pile on more woundedness. At the same time, when people preach or legislate in a way that harms others, I think talking about their hypocrisy can open up a constructive conversation about human frailness and let it underscore why we should constantly have compassionate conversations about how we are all connected and we all stumble, hurt, etc. And maybe why we should work together to shut down places like “Family Research Council” and Fox “News” and any place that makes their business out of judging others. Just my 2 cents.
Chris, you and the commenters above are better people than I, because I have to admit that when I woke up this morning to the news that Josh Duggar was on the list, I couldn’t help but laugh. He (and especially his parents) are so quick to condemn and eviscerate anyone they feel isn’t living up to their standards, and then you see a story like this. The smugness and self satisfaction I feel won’t last, and I’m a bit disgusted with myself for feeling it, but it feels good in this moment. The “Family Research Council” and others of their ilk need to simply go away. Hatred and condemnation have no place in God’s world, and that is what they are all about.
I agree with Veronica. I wish I could say I am the bigger person, but really I am so judgmental. Obviously something I know I need to work on. Sad to day my first thought, was KARMA. Thanks to you though, read your post, I came back to earth, realized my judgmental nature and gave a quick prayer for those babies and his wife.
I would like to add that I hope this is the death-knell for Ashley Madison. I have been continually disgusted by the fact that people are willing to cheat on their marriage in a premeditated way. When I imagine people cheating, I always assumed it was in an accidental, passionate (drunken?) way, or the accidentally fell in love sort of way. Not the “I’m looking for out of marriage sex and I’m willing to pay a broker” soft of way. It all makes me hate what we call “society.”
Sadly, Charley, I read this morning that Ashley Madison is actually benefiting from this fiasco by way of their brand-recognition spiking across the web. Shocker.
Sorry….what goes around, comes around…. For several years and for millions and millions of dollars, the Duggar’s held themselves UP as the model examples of good Christian people. That hypocrisy was a slap in the face to the truly devoted God fearing people who admired and believed in them. They vehemently condemned people they didn’t even know because of their personal choices. Where was THAT lesson in the Bible? What gave the right to pass judgement? Sorry, Duggar is the one who created the collateral damage to his family…….I didn’t commit myself to his wife….HE made the decision to think of self only. He broke his vows…he shamed his family and he has been doing ‘inappropriate’ sexual things for YEARS! He brought shame to his children, his home and his church….when God brings you to a harsh lesson….it’s usually in direct proportion to your sin/s.
Cyndy, The fact that we worship a God who steps into the cycle of “What goes around comes around” with Grace and Mercy is one of the things that makes God so amazing. This post is what God is doing in my heart. It’s the same reason I’m against the death penalty. I’m grossed out by so many things this family stands for, but I want them to get healthy. Not get destroyed.
Jesus had some really strong words for people who play by “He got what he deserved.” It was really the only times he got really punitive with his language. I don’t want that for myself. And I think you’ll be happier and more peaceful when you don’t want it for yourself either.
But I’ve been wrong before…. 🙂
I really appreciate this post. I’m sure the family research council is likely among your least favorite organizations on planet Earth. This is an amazing opportunity to rub their nose in some stink. To focus on the wounded souls instead (including Josh Duggar’s) reflects the grace and mercy of Jesus. You can almost hear the stones hitting the ground. Great post.
Molesting little girls and paying to find a cheating sex partner… I’m sure there is a lot more in Josh Duggar’s little closet of horrors that hasn’t come out yet. Call me evil, but I’m so hoping that Josh’s dad’s name (or better yet, his mom’s) shows up on that Ashley Madison list…
I’m proud of you, Chris to recognize that this is an opportunity for you to show mercy for someone that you loathe. I’ve been following the Duggar family not out of morbid delight, but because I understand more than I wish I did where they are coming from. I’m still shocked when I realize there are lingering residual ideas/thought patterns from my being in the same homeschool program, which I now recognize as a cult. I’m devastated for Josh and his wife, but I’m glad this came out. Relieved that perhaps this might challenge those who have bought whole hog into the false teaching that they have been indoctrinated with and perhaps question it. IBLP/ATI (the homeschooling group that I now recognize as a cult) may be a small subset of Christianity, but the popularity of its leader’s teachings in the 70’s and 80’s still has had a trickle down impact on the Church, and may influence us more than we realize. (http://www.roxanneswildworld.blogspot.com/2014/03/why-what-happened-in-bill-gothard.html)
Unfortunately, many in the patriarchal/conservative mindset will miss it altogether and just see Josh as a bad egg, an anomaly. Unable or unwilling to question their beliefs, they will carry on. (Referencing an entirely different cult with more obvious problems, there are still Branch Davidians to this day. I kid you not.) My hope is that there will be a few who will realize that victim blaming (http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/05/gracenote/, http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/04/there-is-no-victim-a-survey-of-iblp-literature-on-sexual-assault-and-abuse/), keeping quiet (http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/02/silencing-the-lambs/), and total submission to authority, among other things (http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/04/twelve-characteristics-of-fundamentalist-societies-that-shelter-sexual-abuse/), are not the answer.
Some have suggested that Anna divorce Josh. The way we were raised, divorce is incomprehensible. Chances are, she will absorb some of the blame, and she, or others, will try to find where she wasn’t sensitive enough to his needs to drive him to infidelity. (Blech.) She will forgive, because that is the only option she is allowed. (http://fiddlrts.blogspot.ca/2015/08/josh-duggar-ashley-madison-and-covenant.html?utm_content=bufferd512f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&m=1)
Perhaps now some will question if keeping sexual molestation a family affair without professional counseling really is the best course. A stern conversation with Mom and Dad and a couple months of construction work do not equal sufficient therapy. That his addiction was not properly addressed so that he ended up leading a double life is not surprising given his “treatment.”
So much emphasis is put on being a “good witness” that Josh was set up for a life of duplicity. (I do not excuse his responsibility, but I do see him as a victim of the system.) As he didn’t get the help he needed, he was taught to put a good face on things to make his family, and his Savior, look good. There is an element of, if you look good, you ARE (or will become) good.
As for his FRC role, I don’t think there were many options for him but that. A political pedestal job was likely all he was allowed to consider as the Duggar eldest boy, with John and Abigail Adams’-sized expectations heaped on their own John Quincy.
Meanwhile, I hope someone is keeping eagle eyes out for the younger Duggar siblings and Josh and Anna’s children, that they do not, or have not already become victims.
The best possible outcome? That truth will cut through the deceit and oppression, and people will discover the great big wonderful world of living in freedom by God’s merciful grace.
Thanks again for addressing this topic, Chris, and giving me the opportunity to sound off. 🙂
Damn! Like, Like, Like! This comment was one of the most interesting things I’ve read on this blog-site, and this is by far my favorite blog-site. Thanks for all the links. I’ll probably spend way too much time reading up on the Duggars and their cultish home school program. I’ve never seen the show, and don’t give any time to “celebrity news” but this is clearly an important topic, if for no other reason than that the show was/is popular. I’m not Christian, I’m an “ethicist” or something. But the people that participate on this blog are a model for what *I* think Christian behavior should look like. Thanks to you all.
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