Monday, August 31, 2015

Josh Duggar Goes to "Long-Term Treatment Center"

Josh Duggar's scandals just keep snowballing. First there was the child sexual abuse scandal, then the revelation that Josh Duggar had an account with marital affair website Ashley Madison. Now, not only has an adult film actress accused Josh Duggar of violence, but Josh himself has sought treatment at a dubious Christian treatment center.

According to In Touch Weekly, adult film actress Danica Dillon claimed that she had sex with Josh Duggar. Duggar reportedly became violent with Dillon during the encounter, which Dillon described as "traumatic" and "terrifying". Dillon's accusations, combined with Josh's abusive behavior as a teenager, paint a picture of a predatory man with a deep-seated sense of sexual entitlement. Did Josh Duggar reportedly assault Dillon because he considered her a "fallen" woman who could be mistreated with impunity? Or, is assault what Josh thinks sex is? Did Josh assault other women? The implications are chilling.

I wonder how much Josh Duggar's fundamentalist upbringing exacerbated his predatory tendencies. In the Quiverfull subculture, youth receive little to no education on healthy sexuality, consent, and communication between partners, leaving youth ill-equipped to explore their sexuality in healthy ways. To boot, the Quiverfull subculture is rigidly patriarchal, assigning men authority over women and reducing women to submissive helpmeets. How much of Josh Duggar's sexual mistreatment of women and girls was rooted in Quiverfull's misogynist messages?

A family as mired in Quiverfull fundamentalism as the Duggars may well be in denial about how their subculture warped Josh's sexuality, as Quiverfull survivor Vyckie Garrison observed on Facebook. Garrison argues that the Duggars are hardly in a position to help Josh because the only tool they can offer him is inadequate religious doctrine.
"Jim Bob and Michelle have absolutely NO IDEA how to help Josh. They did everything they knew to do to ensure that Josh enjoyed perfect, godly marital bliss: they sheltered him by homeschooling and cutting out all access to evidence-based sex ed as well as all sensuous, worldly media, they protected him via modesty and purity culture, they kept him from the "divorce practice" which is dating and followed the courtship model to get him safely to the marriage altar.

And despite all of their efforts - and anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian knows, BECAUSE of all their efforts - Josh turns out to be a total creepy-ass sexual freak!

Now all Jim Bob and Michelle know is to pray and trust God. That's it. They believe that God will work all things together for good, and they can't even imagine what sort of miracle He's going to pull off, but all they can do is trust and wait on Him. And in the meantime, what to do with Josh? At least by sending him off to "rehab," he's not their problem - let RU deal with him, let the Holy Spirit deal with him. So long as Jim Bob and Michelle never have to actually deal with their own son."
Josh seems to understand that he has a problem, or at the very least that he must make a public display of contrition. An August 26th statement at the Duggar family website states that Josh Duggar checked himself into a "long-term treatment center" as part of his "long journey toward wholeness and recovery". Whether Josh is seeking treatment for his alleged pornography addiction or for his immoral behavior as a whole is unclear.
"We are so thankful for the outpouring of love, care and prayers for our family during this most difficult situation with Josh. As parents we are so deeply grieved by our son’s decisions and actions. His wrong choices have deeply hurt his precious wife and children and have negatively affected so many others. He has also brought great insult to the values and faith we hold dear. Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center. For him it will be a long journey toward wholeness and recovery. We pray that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change. In the meantime, we will be offering our love, care and devoted support to Anna and our grandchildren as she also receives counsel and help for her own heart and future. During this time we continue to look to God—He is our rock and comfort. We ask for your continued prayers for our entire family." 
According to Gawker and Entertainment Tonight, Josh Duggar may be participating in a Christian addiction treatment program in Rockford, Illinois called Reformers Unanimous (RU). Reformers Unanimous is a faith-based residential program operated by North Love Baptist Church and co-founded by Paul Kingsbury, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist pastor. Love, Joy, Feminism has explored Kingsbury's connections to sexual abusers such as Jack Schaap and his alleged failure to notify congregants about a sexual predator in their church. An inauspicious start for Josh's treatment, to be sure!

If Josh Duggar has indeed checked into RU, I have serious doubts about how much guidance they can offer him. First, the lack of medical or counseling credentials of RU's staff should give us pause. Second, according to Gawker, RU's men's program consists of daily devotions, Bible study, and work. Counseling is conspicuously absent from the schedule. To make matters worse, the program's code of conduct forbids any negative speech or "talking about old habits or lifestyles", making it difficult to even bring up personal issues, much less process them. These rules can be summarized as "be cheerful or else".
  • Our program goal is to have all conversation and behavior be Christ-like.
  • Griping, negative criticism, gossiping, complaining, faultfinding, foul language, and sowing discord will not be tolerated.
  • Talking about old habits or lifestyles is against God's word and is not permitted.
  • Failure to turn in a student for a violation of rules will result in your receiving the same punishment. You are not doing anyone any favors by concealing a violation.
Gawker's Ashley Feinberg observes that the fourth rule would create a sense of distrust and fear among participants, who would constantly worry about being punished for missing someone else's misbehavior.

The problems with treatment at an un-credentialed Bible-based residential center are numerous. Neil Carter describes the problems with this approach in an August 27th post at Godless in Dixie.
"This gets at the heart of what’s wrong with the entire culture in which this family lives. Fundamentalism teaches you to treat the Bible as if it is a resource designed to dictate how to live and think about every area of your life. You need life advice? Read the Bible. You need marital help? Read the Bible. Business principles? Bible again. You need a workout program? Read the Bible; there’s gotta be one in there somewhere. Sexual dysfunction? Well, the Bible of course!

And so the unhealthy cycles of abuse continue because at no point will families like this turn to real professionals for help. They don’t trust them because they’ve been taught to believe that those godless secular heathens are being blinded by the Devil.

How can you reason with that? You can’t. It’s a useless conversation because they’ve been taught to disregard empirical observation and credentialed support. It’s a crisis of trust, and families ensnared in this culture cannot accept outside help because they alone are in God’s design and everyone else is going to perish.

I’ve encountered a measure of this mentality myself, and it’s angering to watch. The only hope for people in their situation is to get out of it. Leave that culture behind and discover a larger world beyond the confines of the religious tradition they inhabit. It’s never going to get any better if they don’t leave it behind."
In my opinion, Josh Duggar's behavior is not the result of addiction, but of entitlement, selfishness, and toxic attitudes. Until he feels genuine remorse for his behavior and takes responsibility for his actions, true change will be out of his reach. Josh needs professional therapy that will bring him to that point, not a Bible study.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Love, Joy, Feminism: “Terrifying” Josh Duggar Porn Star Allegations Reveal the Depravity of Evangelicals’ Sexual Ethic

The Daily Beast: Josh Duggar’s Fall From Unholy Grace: Sex Abuse, Affairs, and Now Rehab

Godless in Dixie: Josh Duggar’s Rehab Facility Knows Way More About Recovery Than Those Silly Doctors


  1. This is a sad story, as he is not going to be getting any help. He will come out unchanged but feeling emotionally good for a while, and then back to his old ways. I mean it may work, but I doubt it will after all belief in fairies have been shown to not work.

    1. Christian -- I'm not optimistic. Josh's deeper issues will go unaddressed.

      Every time I turn around, another example of Josh Duggar's unsavory behavior is in the news. What will come out next? Yikes.

  2. It's really unfortunate that political correctness stops the mainstream media from discussing the connection between Josh's issues and his religious upbringing -- which was clearly dysfunctional at best.

    That is the only reason this story should be getting any attention.

    1. Agi Tater -- It definitely played a role in this whole mess. Bloggers have been exploring these connections in depth, even if the media hasn't. I wonder if the fall of the Duggars' Golden Boy will help fundamentalists question purity culture?


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