Why Josh Duggar won’t say “victim.”

Very consistently in the apologies that people like Josh Duggar and Doug Phillips offered the public, there was no mention whatsoever of the victims of their crimes. Duggar refers to “those affected by my actions,” as if he were discussing a game of Monopoly. This is not an accident. The word “victim” is rarely or never used in these circles, except in the phrase “play the victim.” It’s easy to play the victim; actually being one is next to impossible. Victimization, according to this branch of patriarchy, means one party abdicating responsibility in whatever happened. Everyone is a sinner, so in any given sin involving two people, both parties are probably partially at fault. Homeschool guru Bill Gothard’s message to sexual abuse victims suggests they may be partly to blame due to immodest dress or “being out from the protection of our parents.”

Patriarchy apologist Doug Wilson has said similar things publicly on numerous occasions, so it’s no surprise that, when dealing with his and three parallel churches that were somehow dragged into my divorce dynamics several years ago, any protestation of injustice on my part was met with a virtual roll of the eyes. I was being hacked and followed and my home was physically breached, to put it mildly. How and by whom was not completely clear. The churches had many of the details, and were passing judgement based on “data” thereby collected. Yet every time I insisted something weird was up, that this was not OK, I was met with some version of: “That’s not important. You need to focus on your sins. If you bring up anyone else’s, it means you’re passing the buck, being unrepentant and acting bitter. And we just can’t have that.”

Now, in divorce as in many other areas of life, I do think it’s important to be able to self-examine. However, there’s a huge difference between “think about how you affected things” and the strict refusal to say anything but that. It was keenly disappointing to realize that men I had previously thought wise were actually espousing the logic of three-year-olds too belligerent to see beyond their own demands and too short-sighted to understand a view higher than two feet up.

Because there are times when “think about how you affected things” should never, ever be said — molestation being one of them. The victim has likely asked herself (or himself) this a few thousand times and come up with some tantalizing alternate realities, but no real answers. It happened. There is no way to change that. Blaming the victim in any way (and “think about how you affected things” falls into that category) is counterproductive and, frankly, disgusting.

So is claiming victims need to get over stuff, forgive whoever wronged them and slap a smile on their faces. One of the most bizarre occurrences of my post-divorce fiasco was sitting in Jim Wilson’s living room crying and being told this meant I might not be a Christian, because if I were a Christian, I would be “in the joy of the Lord.” I protested: I was scared. I was upset. Jesus wept. But no: apparently, brief sadness (coupled with repentance) should be followed by “joy,” and a few weeks was well beyond the allotted time Christians were allowed to be upset, no matter how many unanswered questions they had about their situation.

This is why I always find the plastered-on smiles of people like the Duggars a bit suspicious, and all the more so when they’ve been hurt. I sincerely doubt the Duggar girls got to process what happened to them in any real way before they were told to forgive, smile and carry on. “The joy of the Lord” at all costs.

6 thoughts on “Why Josh Duggar won’t say “victim.”

  1. I find the most important point the use of words. I was close to a horrible crime and many of the people around it began to call it an “accident”. Many of them have been unable to deal with the aftermath well, even years later. I think part of it is due to not processing the crime as it really is, and acknowledging what happened for what it was. This can be devastating.

  2. I think this is an extremely important point of focus in analyzing a community wide issue within the theonomic world. In their world, a crime is a sin against a person; and it must be repaid to fix the criminal debt created. If you steal a TV, you must pay it back.

    But a crime like this, is a sin against God. The true victims of sin to a theonomist, are God and the sinner. When David killed another man and raped his wife, the theonomist focuses the story on David, and his crime against God. “Against thee have I sinned,’ David cries to God. This is a very egocentric and narcissistic view of sin. First of all; in the theonomic world, God cannot be added to or taken from. So sin damages who? If not the real victim of the crime, it must be taking away from the sinner himself. Therefore, in order to be victimized by sin, you must be a sinner yourself, either by being unforgiving, or by participating somehow. Thus the victim blaming that occurs is an offspring of the focus on the victimizer in these instances.

    The third element of this is that there can’t be a real crime without a victim. There can’t be physical restitution for sexual sins, therefore there must not have been a victim in the mind of the theonomist. (source; being a theonomist for far too long)

    Acknowledging a victim acknowledges that sins are primarily against people, something that is still to be recognized by most people in these situations. It acknowledges the autonomy of the female victims as well, and their rights to self-determination and personhood. Acknowledging a victim acknowledges that a crime has been committed, and that God being offended is not the primary issue.

    There was a great Ted talk about the rape and molestation called ‘It matters WHY you think rape is wrong’, and it checks out; it’s worse wherever God, the community, the family, or the soil are the victims, instead of the women.

    I think you’d enjoy it, if you haven’t already seen it.

    ~ John.

      1. Absolutely! I’ve loved your posts on this topic especially, and have been glad to see a number of my friends sharing it through the various social networks.

        When the discussion of victims suddenly becomes rooted in autonomy of individuals and the issues of subcultures, it also shifts the argument substantially for readers, and I appreciate that you’ve done that so well. I posed a hypothetical situation to some friends of mind as a mental exercise. What if a public schooled, atheist 14 year old boy who identifies as homosexual, had sexually molested or touched the genitals of one of the homeschooled, devout, younger Duggar boys? What would headlines of various conservative publications and news networks look like right now?

        Something about the fact that the actions were hetero and ‘internal’ instead of coming from an ‘others’ group like homosexuals (or public schoolers, if you’re home schooled) makes the whole thing much more sickening to theonomists, which really makes me wonder about the kinist leanings of the different theonomist and patriarchal movements out there. Kinism as a doctrine is always summarily rejected. But as a mindset? As a worldview? It seems to be much more entrenched than I would have thought.

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