The Duggar scandal hits pretty close to home. I have some strong views on this, given the sensitivity of the issue and pastoral experiences I’ve had with similar cases. Here are some things I’ve learned, related to the Duggar case. (I'm getting my info from here and here.)
There is a very strong temptation to cover these incidents up in unhealthy ways.
Josh’s dad Jim Bob did the right thing to involve the elders of his church, and he was sent off for mentoring. But no one took it any further, even though some of the incidents were felonies. I have no information on what follow-up contact for resolution was attempted with the victims. Many in Jim Bob’s situation with a teen to parent would do the same thing he did. I really commend him for telling his church leaders – that’s not an easy discussion to initiate. But no counselors, no police, just a friend somewhere else. It’s like getting a bad cut that needs disinfecting, but you know it’s going to hurt more so you don’t go to the doctor. But that’s just when you need pastors and usually the state involved. But due to the nature of the sin, a great deal of shame is involved, which leads to fear and maybe anger.
Many are out to make hay and take down Christians or anyone who speaks out on moral issues.
As I understand it, the incidents happened 12 years ago. The tabloid broke the story this Thursday anyway. It reminds me of biblical Daniel’s co-workers looking for any dirt they can find on him, to get rid of or discredit him. This should not have been made public. It breaks all rules of decorum and decency. Though I think the Duggars should have gone to the police immediately, they had no obligation to disclose this once the statute of limitations expired. Perhaps Josh did not need to resign from Family Research Council, either, assuming he resolved things with the victims. (In theory. I realize the PR makes it nearly impossible for him to stay.)
A little fly ruins the ointment
David’s sin with Bathsheba caused the nations to blaspheme God’s name. So it is here. The Duggars have been role models to emulate for many Christians, especially those who value large families. But in the wider world, they are one more in a long parade of public Christian hypocrites. This is sad, and unfair, but true, nonetheless. It is quite convicting for every believer, to realize our choices can drag the name of Jesus through the mud. This kind of sin is not unforgivable – we should affirm God’s grace in situations like these. But public consequences can last a long time.
There is an honorable path through this if you’ve sinned
It will be embarrassing and awkward, but life is not over. Josh did the right thing once this was behind him in a couple key ways. When he got serious with his future wife, he told her and her parents (they are an important external accountability check for a young man seeking a wife. See here for some good questions they should ask, especially #16). Telling those with a right to know is very important, even though it was old news. There’s a huge difference between a tabloid picking up old dirt to fling at you in print, and confessing yourself to those few with a right to know. He offered to resign from his public position dealing with moral issues.
Christians keep shooting their wounded
Josh had done all he could to make it right, and moved on. Because of this, taking the job at FRC was not inherently hypocritical. Public figures dealing with moral issues are not perfect – that doesn’t make them hypocrites. Otherwise we need to blame God for letting David stay on the throne after the Bathsheba-Uriah travesty. The hypocrisy would be if he was unrepentant or covering up something he shouldn’t.