So, the Josh Duggar saga just keeps going. I originally wrote about Josh Duggar here.
When I first saw the news, I had a momentary hesitation about posting, because some of the email addresses on the list are not legitimate. (For example, someone used Tony Blair’s address for a fake account.) I was, however, fairly certain that the Duggar connection was true, because credit card payment was made from a card with a matching address. That’s harder to pull off, shall we say. Any qualms about getting ahead of a potentially fake story disappeared when Josh himself confirmed the truth of the matter.
Ashley Madison really should use this picture instead.
So yes, he had an Ashley Madison account, and for good measure, a porn addiction. (I believe his first "confession" was more honest.)
As many have noted, apparently doing chores and construction work for another member of your cult doesn’t cure deep sexual dysfunction. And neither does “repenting.”
This whole thing is both sad and pathetic.
(I mean, I always thought Ashley Madison looked like the sort of place pathetic guys would go to feel like alpha males, but it was even worse than that. 90-95% of real users of the site are men. Most of them are not getting laid, I would guess. As a friend quipped, “Well, yeah. I mean, being married to a philanderer is bad. Being married to a gullible, unsuccessful wannabe philanderer…”)
I found several things interesting in the details. (Gawker broke the story, and embedded the raw data from the account.)
First, look at what he said he wanted in a girl. Most aren’t all that odd, or even adventuresome. They could easily be in a personal ad. Two, though, are interesting in light of the teachings of the Bill Gothard cult that the Duggar family is in.
He’s looking for a “jeans and t-shirt” kind of girl. He’s looking for a girl with an “aggressive, take charge nature.”
In Gothardspeak, he might as well have said he was looking for brazen testicle-eating whore from the pit of hell.
(For those who are not familiar with the cult, Gothard railed against jeans and t-shirts, even on men, blamed women and their bodies for men’s sexual sins, and built his system around the subjection of women to men.)
There’s a sad bit of pathos in the fact that his idea of a “bad girl” looks like the wholesome girl-next-door to those of us in egalitarian marriages. For that matter, his list of sexual acts he wants is pretty vanilla, certainly nothing that many normal married folks don’t do with each other.
But, make no mistake about it, if Anna Duggar showed up in jeans and a t-shirt, Jim Bob and company would be shielding their other kids’ eyes from the sin of the whole outfit. Can’t have them think she was promising to have sex with them or anything. And the whole raison d'être of the Christian Patriarchy movement is to promote the hierarchy of men over women.
What strikes me about the whole description of the girl he wants is how ordinary and mundane it all is, unless you have been indoctrinated into Gothardism and Christian Patriarchy.
Don’t get me wrong, what he did is plenty slimy, and he appears deeply troubled. He may be an narcissist and a predator too, although I don’t have sufficient evidence of that.
But his profile reads like a personal ad. He’s looking for an ordinary person to do ordinary things with. Except that he is looking for an equal partner.
Look at it in the light of the history. Josh grows up in a cult that is obsessed with preventing sex - or even emotional attachment - prior to marriage. He acts out in an inappropriate way as a teen, but rather than getting real counseling (which is fairly effective for teens - they have a low recidivism rate), he gets more cultic indoctrination. His parents, worried that he still craves sex, find him a bride when he is 20, disclosing to her that he had a sexual sin, but he repented. They “court,” which involves no touching or unsupervised conversation. She is picked, naturally, from a “likeminded” family, holding the same beliefs. While he has the ability to refuse her, this is, for all intents and purposes, an arranged marriage.
Because of the beliefs of the cult, his wife is expected to (and does) become pregnant soon after the wedding. They go on to have 4 children in a 6 year period. He goes to work for a recognized hate group (the FRC was designated as such for repeated claims that homosexuals are child molesters, and current leader Tony Perkins has strong ties to White Supremacy, also calling for Muslims to have their religious freedom terminated), but ends up resigning when news about his own molestations as a teen come out.
During the time he is at the FRC, he apparently had his fling with the Ashley Madison website, and paid them some good money.
So, he grows up with teachings about sex and women that are awful and inaccurate (see my prior post), doesn’t get real counselling, ends up in an arranged marriage at 20, has 4 kids immediately. What could go wrong?
This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, and it certainly isn’t to anyone outside the Evangelical bubble.
An interesting historical parallel:
An interesting book I read a few years before I started my blog was The Allegory of Love by C. S. Lewis. Yes, that guy.
It is one of his more obscure books, and it explores the Medieval romances. (So yes, you will have to learn to read Middle English to understand it.)
A key point he made is that the in the romances of Chivalry, the fair lady that the knight fights to please is married to someone else. The romance is adulterous by definition.
In fact, it is necessary to the romance, because marriage was for legitimate offspring, not love. Marriages were for political alliances, finances, and any number of reasons, but they were not a romantic pairing. In most cases, the woman, at least, had no choice in the matter. She was subject to the bargains struck by men.
So the outlet for real romance was adultery. Because that was a chosen - and equal - relationship. After all, lovers owed no duty of obedience the way wives did.
Also striking in the stories is that they weren’t always consummated. Some affairs were physical in the usual sense, but others were torrid emotional affairs - clearly adulterous in spirit, but less likely to result in offspring.
The parallel here is interesting. Dude in an arranged marriage, making legitimate offspring to populate the Reconstructionist Army Of God™. (Hey, that’s four arrows in the quiver already!) Looks for some vanilla sex or non-sex on the side with an equal.
Now, again, Josh has behaved abominably, and there is no excuse for this sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong.
But it isn’t a surprise that it happened. And it strongly resembles a pattern from the glorious past. (Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard borrowed another classic technique from the past: hit on the servants.)
Four Kids in Six Years is a serious stress.
I know this one first hand. Because my first 4 kids were born in a 5 year period. And, for what it’s worth, we had 5 in 7 years. Yes, we are crazy.
So I know, kids are a major stress under the best of conditions. Many small children close together are even more stressful. Having small children while living away from family sounds a bit like hell.
Having 4 small kids, being away from family, and carrying the expectations of Christian Patriarchy as a young mother, pregnant immediately after marriage, to a man she didn’t really know? Holy smokes! I cannot imagine how tough that must have been for Anna, and now it is much, much worse.
My marriage survived those early, infant filled years. I didn’t go have an affair. But if I said I never fantasized about leaving all the stress behind, I’d be a liar. Did I want an affair? No. But I wouldn’t have minded having some sleep - or having a wife who wasn’t exhausted and stressed. That’s life.
Looking back, though, the main reason we made it through is that we had a bond that pre-dated parenthood. We had a lovely time dating, and more than a year of marriage before her first pregnancy. We had something going on, so to speak. There was a lot more to Tim and Amanda than pregnancy hormones, sleepless nights, and demanding small humans.
Anna is in an impossible spot.
I feel terrible for her. She has four kids with a man she doesn’t really know, who has deep sexual issues that were never resolved, and may never be resolved. He’s lost his job, and neither of them has a college education. Their families are committed to a rigid vision of patriarchy, consider birth control to be evil, and are unlikely to support her if she leaves him.
To be staring at that in one’s 20s must be terrifying.
I pull no punches on this one.
Anna is a victim of Christian Patriarchy.
The poisonous, evil doctrines - and the actions of the older adults in this saga - caused this harm to her.
A young girl, severely sheltered, forbidden to attend college, and having no future but to marry and make as many babies as she can, is told she has a man to marry. He seems contrite about a sexual mistake in his past. She may not have been informed of the details, and in any event, she is unlikely to have had the knowledge necessary to evaluate whether he was a good risk. Gothard, after all, considers secular psychology to be of the devil.
With no chance to get to talk with him alone, let alone exchange touches, she has no way of getting to know him in any real way. She certainly cannot gauge whether he is psychosexually healthy.
Before a year is out, they are deep into babyhood, and she cannot express negative emotions. (Another Gothard no-no.) Somehow, the two of them need to connect to each other, but he has baggage, and looks outside the marriage.
This is a living nightmare for her, and the system - and the grownups who should have known better are absolutely at fault. She was sacrificed to satiate the horniness of a troubled young man.
Let’s talk about the laws of the past - and maybe the present.
As a lawyer, I find the legal aspect of this to be interesting. The Duggars, and the Christian Patriarchy cult to which they belong, are part of the Reconstructionist movement, which idolizes the Antebellum South, and seeks to return our civil laws to those of the Old Testament.
I’ll just briefly mention that in the Old Testament - and indeed most times in history - women could not divorce their husbands. And if they simply left, they would have to prostitute themselves or starve. And a man could take as many wives and concubines as he pleased.
What about the 1800s?
Very few people seem to be aware of the actual laws from back then. Did you know that women could not divorce their husbands if the husband slept around? Nope. He could divorce her for adultery, but she had no such privilege. She just had to lump it. (To put an even finer point on it, adultery was defined - as it was in Biblical times - as sex involving a married woman. A married man could sleep around with single women or prostitutes, and it wasn't adultery at all.)
Not only that, but until the 1880s (in most states), a woman could not obtain a divorce from a man who beat her.
Rather, the only grounds she had was that he had abandoned her. That he wasn’t paying her bills.
I'll drink if I want to
And play a little poker too
Don't you say nothing to me
As long as I'm taking care of you
As long as I'm workin baby
And payin' all the bills
I don't want no mouth from you
About the way I'm supposed to live
You must be crazy woman
Just gotta be outta your mind
As long as I foot the bills
I'm payin' the cost to be the boss
That’s the way it was.
So, if we really went back to the past like the Duggars wish to, back when everything was so much more “godly” than now, she would be stuck. And he could beat her if she complained.
And even if she did manage to get free from him, how would she support herself? He could even take custody of the kids under the laws of that time. So, what would be her real choice? She would pretty well have to stay with him, and continue to crank out baby after baby until menopause - or until one of them died, which was more likely in those days.
Oh, and my research assistant (aka my lovely wife) wondered if she is in a “Covenant Marriage.”
You can read up here in case you are unfamiliar with the concept.
The Duggar family lives in Arkansas, which is one of three states which have a parallel “covenant marriage” statute. I was unable to determine if Josh and Anna have a covenant marriage.
However, Josh’s two married sisters did indeed have covenant marriages.
What this means in practicality is that if Anna wants a divorce (assuming covenant marriage), she has the burden of proving that Josh “committed adultery.” I’m not kidding. Those are the words used in the statute, and they are nowhere defined that I can tell. So, presumably intercourse means adultery. But is a cigar in a vagina adultery? (Thank you, Bill Clinton…)The statute isn't clear.
Now, Josh has admitted to a porn addiction and to being “unfaithful.” Is “unfaithful” the same thing as “adultery”? Not necessarily. My wife and I would consider signing up for Ashley Madison to be cheating, even if neither of us got laid. But I doubt that would trigger the statute. This is further complicated by the teachings on “lust” that the Duggars advocate. If Josh merely wanted to have sex with another woman, he has already committed adultery “in his heart,” so he would have to admit to unfaithfulness just for trying to have an affair. But again, that isn’t the same as “committing adultery” under the statute.
So, I would be willing to bet that if Josh “merely” had a porn addiction and solicited women online, but never consummated the affair, Anna cannot get a divorce in Arkansas.
She is stuck.
Well, there are some outs. She can live separately from Josh for two and a half years. Or she can move to another state.
If you want to go down the rabbit hole, this fascinating (says the lawyer) law review article from Louisiana discusses jurisdictional and choice of law issues and concludes that other states will probably not enforce covenant marriage.
But this is a tough loophole. At least here in California, Anna could establish jurisdiction by residence. But she’d have to live here for six months.
Which means, from a practical point of view, assuming she can’t get Josh to move here with her, she would have to go to court in Arkansas, get an order for custody (probably in a legal separation petition), move to California, and then file for divorce there after waiting six months. Yikes. That’s a lot to ask of a young woman with four kids under age five, no education or job, and family that will likely oppose a divorce.
Oh, and even if Anna can prove actual adultery, she still has the burden of proving it. Which means she probably has to drag all this dirt through a public proceeding in order to free herself from this marriage.
Unfortunately, keeping Anna stuck in a bad marriage is actually the intent of covenant marriage laws. If a couple wishes to stay together, no state will force them to divorce. The point of a covenant marriage is to force people who want to get divorced to stay married. Or, perhaps more to the point, it is to prevent one party to the marriage from leaving if the other objects. Talk about a setup to benefit an abusive or philandering spouse. The one who has the most to gain from bad behavior is given a leg up.
This is why I did not support Covenant Marriage, and would never, ever advise a client to enter one.
At one time, however, to express that opinion got one tarred as “not a real Christian” within Evangelicalism.
This is, without doubt, a sad case. Nobody wins here, unfortunately.
What makes it sadder to me is that there will likely be no soul searching or reconsideration within Evangelicalism of their teachings on gender roles, marriage, divorce, and sex. The reason that teachings that originated in the Patriarchy cult have gone mainstream is that Evangelicalism is panicked about sex. Courtship and Modesty Culture have gone mainstream, particularly within the Homeschooling community, but also in the wider church. Whether to educate girls for a career is controversial, with many still asserting that a woman belongs in the home. The anti-abortion movement has adopted an anti-birth-control platform. Girls in youth group are still routinely given the “chewed piece of gum” analogy to their virginity. Mainstream preachers are still advising women to stay in abusive marriages. The main thrust of Evangelical political involvement is to try to force everyone else to follow their particular sexual mores.
I wish there was a way to make people see that these are all connected, and all connected to a certain worldview concerning women, their role as babymakers and servants of men.
Still, as the Patriarchy movement continues its very public meltdown, I have hope that more will recognize that bad fruit comes from bad trees. And bad fruit comes from poisonous doctrine.
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