When the news broke about Josh Duggar’s membership on Ashley Madison, I honestly cannot say I was surprised. My heart absolutely broke for Anna and those kids, but the fact that Josh had made these choices did not surprise me.
No, I don’t just assume that every man goes out looking for an affair, or that every man would pay money to try to find one. But given his history and how his family reacted in the course of that history, it could almost be expected that he is addicted to pornography and being unfaithful to his wife.
It’s also not surprising that he reportedly listed the following in his “wants” on his Ashley Madison profile:
“Experimenting with sex toys”
“Girl Next Door”
Can we talk about sex for a moment, here? No, I mean, seriously, can we just talk about sex. It’s not like it’s a big secret.
But, there are still groups of people who act like sex is some big secret. The problem with acting like sex is some big bad secret is that you end up with people who are, essentially, sexually dysfunctional, afraid to embrace their desire, and slinking away to sites like Ashley Madison where they can crave all they want and at least feel normal.
In fact, if I were allowed to guess, my guess would be that many of the users on Ashley Madison are conservative Christians. Here’s why:
If you are not a member of conservative Christian culture, allow me to bring you up to speed on how ‘sex’ works. Actually, I can’t, because, in general, conservative Christian culture doesn’t talk about sex. Babies mysteriously appear out of nowhere.
If you followed the Duggar show on TLC, the whole “sitting down with your son the night before the wedding to explain how things work” is pretty standard. There can be a lot of shaming when it comes to sexuality in the church. In fact, in one of his statements, Josh says he “I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show…”
Do you see the word? Do you see it? Reproach.
Now, one step further, reproach to whom? To his family.
In his opinion, Josh’s personal sexual decisions brought not only pain (which is true) but reproach to his family. People are going to disprove of his entire family because of his actions. Those are the words of someone raised in an environment of sexual silence and shame.
The church culture is so full of shame, it is crippling people, marriages, and families.
Thou shalt not talk about sex. Thou shalt not think about sex. Thou shalt not be sex-y. Women are the prized pure vessels of society, clothed in white, while men are the visually-vexxed constantly-tempted testosterone-infused pursuers.
I was part of a documentary on this very thing.
Sex is a big invisible elephant in the room until the night before your wedding (or, in some cases, your wedding night).
Naturally, it continues to be a big invisible elephant in the room after then.
If you do not learn how to communicate about sex in a healthy, honest way before marriage, you will not suddenly develop that ability after marriage.
Allow me to be frank here, for a moment. If you are a young woman, raised to believe that sex is something you “have” to do and that you should not enjoy it, want it, talk about it, desire it, or have a man long to have you- that’s going to affect your marriage. Period. No question.
The same goes for men.
So if a woman brought up in sexual silence and a man brought up in sexual silence get married, you can fully expect there to be problems. You cannot be surprised when she starts watching porn or when he pays for an affair, because buried under all of that silence and shame is this screaming loud thing called desire.
And desire is good and Godly and holy and that’s why you can’t kill it. That’s why you can’t smother it with all of the modesty talks, books, pledges, and rings.
At the same time, we’re terrified of it, because our entire lives we’ve been raised that it’s wrong. And when a husband and a wife are both afraid of desire, they cannot communicate it to the one person who can help fulfill it. That leaves them turning to someone else.
Newsflash: God gave us our sex drives. And if He is the giver of good gifts, then guess what your sex drive is…
A good gift.
Can you misuse it? Absolutely. Just like we can misuse power, money, influence or all of the above. How we use it does not change the fact that it is good. How we talk about it does not change the fact that it is good.
But when we sit here and say it’s bad, we’re lying. We’re contradicting exactly what we know to be true, and lies don’t beget freedom. Lies beget fear. Fear begets bondage. Bondage begets death.
What you are witnessing right now is death- the death of a family, a ministry, a reputation. Yes, it would be easy to sit here and point fingers. If the parents had done something back when this all started. If the police had done their job. If the producers had dug a little deeper. If the…. the list goes on and on.
The reality is though that at any point along the road, this train probably could have been stopped by talking about desire- not only sexual desire and how good, holy, and pure it is, but also personal desire and how to refocus that. Instead, in Josh’s case, and in many other cases, we don’t talk about it at all. We get a big rug and a big broom and clean up the mess.
What we’re left with is exactly what we’re seeing played out in front of us. Whitewashed sepulchres of ministry, marriage, and family- beautiful on the outside but absolutely dead on the inside.
Let me challenge you, to put down the pitchforks that would either stab Josh or defend him (depending on which side you stand) and understand the severity of this. Yes, it is horrible that a family is suffering because of one man’s choices, but, remember, tomorrow that family could very easily be yours. This is a byproduct of a ‘sexually silent’ culture, and that culture needs to change.4