Sex Scandals and Christian Patriarchy (Part 3):
The Duggar's scandal is unfortunately not uncommon amongst Christian Patriarchy adherents. From Gene Goad and Leo Mercier's infamous "Park" wherein Mercier tortured children and sexually molested young boys to the countless scandals that are prevalent in message churches throughout the world, these things continue to happen with each new generation. Innocent children are still being placed in harm's way day after day after day; men and women raised in "conservative Christian" homes are growing up to be predators and deviants.
It's easy to pretend that Josh Duggar's crimes were unique--but I have personally known at least two families wherein similar things have taken place and have heard accounts of many more. Only a cursory internet search will demonstrate just how prevalent sexual violence and incest in the home is amongst conservative Christians. The answer: far too prevalent!
These things aren't happening in God-fearing homes as a result of a learned behavior (generally speaking). For the most part, any kind of sexual thought or behavior is forbidden in conservative homes--and yet, this is STILL happening. Having not been taught to do so, boys and girls are experimenting with their sexuality in the most abnormal and destructive of ways--by taking advantage of the weaker and younger among them, or by experimenting with one another incestuously or far too young.
I don't say these things to shock--but I know that it is going to be shocking to at least one someone reading this. Believe me--even if you haven't personally witnessed these things or heard of it first-hand, it HAS happened and is happening currently. There are children in message churches that are currently being abused, and there are families with William Branham's portrait on the mantle addressing the same things the Duggars are having to address with their family.
The fact that these things are so common in the Message and in Christian Patriarchy on the whole should send up some red flags. It is important, having identified the problem to trace it back to the source. Though it is likely there are far more scholarly studies available than what I'll be presenting, I am hoping to present a few of the things I feel are the biggest causes of such abuse in Christian Patriarchy specifically:
Sexual abuse happens in the Message and Christian Patriarchy at large because:
1) There is a fundamental lack of equality between the sexes. Men are seen as superior physically, spiritually, and within society--women are seen as 'complimentary but weaker' at best and 'God-ordained to be subordinate' at worst. As a result, boys are raised to become domineering rulers of womenfolk. Some will take this power over women, girls, and younger children too far and abuse it. Girls, conversely, are raised to be obedient and submissive to men and boys in general. In this way, girls become primed for exploitation.
2) Uninvolved or limited involvement of parents (particularly fathers) in the day-to-day happenings of children's lives leaves a vacuum into which a wide array of sexual abuse or deviance can exist without check. The Duggars cannot possibly watch all of their now 17 children living at home at all times because of the sheer number of children, and as a result must rely on siblings to care for younger children autonomously. This is very much the case too in Message homes with many children. It can also happen in smaller families when parents rely heavily on family, church friends, or siblings to care for children without regularly checking up on these caregivers. Any why would they? To many, attending a Message church and being well respected in the Bride is cause enough to trust someone without check.
3) A lack of proper, age-appropriate, and accurate sex education for children is often the norm, and the lines of communication to discuss sexual urges or inclinations is often closed and forbidden. It is a subject that is often taboo in Message homes, and judging by the silly way in which Jim Bob Duggar discussed the subject with his son and son-in-laws prior to their marriages is likely taboo with them too. Children that are uninformed are at risk for exploitation, and adolescents with burgeoning sexualities and unanswered questions will likely seek the answers in unhealthy ways. Teens without open lines of communication with trusted adults in order to address their growing urges and temptations will experiment in secret where and with whom they believe they can get away uncaught.
Also, teaching both boys and girls to view their sexual urges as inherently evil and their bodies as inherently impure is going to cause both to try and hide their problems from even trusted adults. When abuse does take place, many victims fearing backlash from their parents and will hide it--and in the Message at least, that makes perfect sense. If it is the woman's fault when a man looks on her to lust after her, how much more so is it her fault when that man acts on his lust? Though a woman be innocent of the "act" (willful sexual contact) she is still, according to William Branham guilty of committing adultery if a man thinks of her lustfully (60-0911E paragraph 21, 59-0708E paragraph 17, and many more).
4) Lastly, isolation from the outside world on the part of both the children as well as the adults and family as a whole can cause problems, like the one the Duggars had with their son to continue unaddressed. Had the girls been attending school and had other trusted adults monitoring them on a regular basis, and had the issues surfaced earlier perhaps many of the victims could have been spared. If Josh had received the proper punishment for his crimes at the hands of law enforcement, and had the family allowed professionals to assist in the rehabilitation of both the predators and the prey the 'scandal' surfacing as it has not only would have been avoided, but the long-lasting damage--the depths of which we may never know might also have been prevented.
Living in a vacuum is an unhealthy way to exist. When people in the Message don't trust the police or other government entities, and when transparency and accountability with society at large is viewed as not only unnecessary but spiritually wrong you generate captives--captives that are potential abuse victims, with no where to turn and no one to advocate on their behalf.
Imagine this: Josh Duggar's sibling victims were forced to continue living in the same home as their abuser for years following the abuse; were forced to forgive their abuser and keep the mistreatment hidden on national television, all while Josh stands before the crowds looking like a perfect son and beloved brother for whom the family will go to great lengths to protect? Surely, at least some of that bothered the victims--and yet, their voices will never be heard, and their interests were forced to take a back seat. They cannot come out and demand justice without splintering their family unit, and they cannot express any disagreement with the rulings of their father, who is all-authoritative in all matters concerning them.
It is a sad realization--but the Duggars are not the first family that have had this same problem, and it stems from a fundamental misapplication of various biblical principles--particularly those dealing with sexuality and gender roles. Tomorrow we'll delve into the Scriptural answer to some of these issues, and how the Christian Patriarchy movement and the Message of William Branham fall short.
Stay Tuned for Part 4 of the series: Gender Roles: What the Bible actually teaches