Compassion for Anna Duggar–And How We Judge Success in Marriage

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 91 comments

On Compassion for Anna Duggar

Josh Duggar has been arrested by the feds, and I’m so sad for Anna Duggar.

I wasn’t going to write about this today, but it actually intersects with a number of things I’ve been thinking about this week, and I thought I could put them all in one place.

For those of you who may not know, Josh Duggar is the oldest Duggar child, of the 19 Kids and Counting show. It was revealed a few years ago that he had sexually abused some of his sisters and another child when he was a young teenager, and then a few  years after that he was caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal. It was largely because of these scandals that the Duggars lost their TV show.

But through it all Anna stuck with her husband.

I have absolutely no idea what counsel Anna has been given, and whether she feels trapped or not.

I do know that she grew up in a religious tradition that thinks that the husband is the decision-maker and supreme leader of the home, and you are there to support him. And this tradition also sees divorce as one of the worst evils. She also married into a family that believes this, too. How much support she would have to leave Josh, I don’t know.

And now she is apparently pregnant with her seventh child as well.

Earlier this week, though, I read an article at the Above Rubies website that I found very disturbing with a scenario similar to Anna’s.

Basically, this woman had had a very rough year where she discovered she was pregnant with her fifth child four months after the fourth one was born. She also had to move, and she had little family support, and she was exhausted and feeling bitter at God.

Then, after her fifth baby was born, she discovered that her husband had passed an STD on to her, and she discovered that he had been watching porn.

You may think this is going to be a typical story–she told her church, and they told her to stay. But that’s not actually what happened at all.


Being a Christian, I decided that the right thing to do would be to go to my pastor for advice.When presented with the evidence, my pastor looked at me and said, “Do you need the name of a lawyer?”I stared at him in disbelief.He continued, “You have grounds, you know…”

I left the office. I believe my pastor meant well, but simply didn’t know how to respond. I also sought the advice of an older woman at the church, only to receive more of the same advice. Soon, however, it seemed like everyone knew about the situation, and most people treated me like a woman about to be divorced, pitying me, and offering jobs, welfare tips, apartment leads, and the like.And all of them said, “Oh, if only you didn’t have all those children.”The reaction of everyone about me being pregnant with Isobel was bad enough, but knowing that I was submitted to God in this area with “that” sort of husband made me look like a fool!

I went to a counselor who suggested my modest dress might have caused my husband to stray, and then told me that I was allowing myself to be blackmailed into accepting his bad behavior by being a stay-at-home mother with no means of financially supporting myself!

I went to a small group session for wives of men with this problem, where I discovered that a woman who views herself as her husband’s helpmeet is an “enabler”, and a woman who is too focused on her family is “co-dependent”.A woman who believes that her value and worth as a woman created by God is in fulfilling the high call of being a wife and mother has some “self esteem issues”.A woman who believes in self-sacrificing in order to see God’s will perfected in her family and neighborhood has a “boundaries crises”.

I felt betrayed by God. Here I was, with five small children, no job and no means to have a job that could pay for the daycare of all of my children, no car in my name, no credit history, and a husband who did this!I felt somehow that it was God’s duty to keep anything bad from happening to me, and I felt like God had turned His back on me completely.

I was standing in line at the grocery store when I noticed a young man with a bracelet that said WWJD.Good question, I thought.What would Jesus do?As soon as I asked myself what Jesus would do about personal boundaries, a verse popped into my mind.”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) What would Jesus do?I believe that question has already been settled.

I still was not in a right relationship with the Lord, and I was still very much out of fellowship with my family. On the outside I am sure I still looked like a “good Christian mother” but on the inside only the Lord and I know how filthy I had allowed myself to become.But I was making some efforts towards restoring my relationship with my husband, a relationship that I had neglected for some time.I began praying for the first time in a long time for the Lord to show me what to do.

Above Rubies

The Pornography Net

So she went to a pastor, to mentors, to friends, and most of them told her that it was okay to leave, and, in fact, she may be enabling bad behavior if she stayed.

But she didn’t want to hear that, even though multiple people had told her this. Instead, she waited until she “heard from God” what she wanted to hear–that her husband’s behavior was all her fault. Because, you see, if it was all  her fault, then it could be fixed. If she just changed, then the whole thing could be fixed! So she decided to accept the blame.

I prayed and fasted for a while and then went to my husband.I told him that I needed to talk to him about something serious. His face reflected horror. We had never actually addressed, face to face, this whole situation. He had become indignant and cold toward me, and I was afraid of the blowup we were going to have.

Instead, to his shock and surprise, I said,”Honey, I love you, and I want to submit to you and be your helpmeet.Please forgive me for being such a lousy wife these last few years…” We went on to discuss the pornography situation, and resolved that.

Martin was completely disarmed by my submissive attitude towards him. I believe that God softened his heart when I finally determined to do things God’s way, rather than my own way. As we prayed together, and discussed ways that I could help him fight this temptation and be a better helpmeet, Martin was restored in his relationship to me and to the Lord. He has become victorious in this area once again.

Above Rubies

The Pornography Net

So this guy had passed an STD along to his postpartum wife who also had four other children, including one who was just over a year old, and the conclusion they came to was that she had been selfish for being unavailable to him for the previous year, and for being preoccupied with herself.

And thus his sin was caused by her unsubmissiveness.

I cannot begin to tell you how toxic I believe this approach is–and i do not mean to assume that Anna Duggar is getting the same messages (although these messages are in the books, like Debi Pearl’s, that the Duggars tend to recommend). But I want to ask a bigger question:

What do we think constitutes success in the marriage department?

In reading that article, I would say that they define success as:

  1. Staying married no matter what
  2. Learning to give up all of your needs and wants and surrendering yourself completely to someone else
  3. Never allowing yourself to be swayed by your own needs and feelings, but emptying yourself of everything

I have written before why this approach is unbiblical, but I’ll point you to just two:

  1. A Letter to the Woman with a Controlling Husband
  2. On Created To Be His Helpmeet and an Unbiblical View of Suffering

I do not think those things constitute success in marriage. Notice that while they may be all dressed up in Jesus language, they actually have very little to do with Jesus? After all, what did Jesus come to do? He came to set the captives free. He came to help us look more like Him and learn how to live. He came to transform the world into something where justice and mercy would reign. He came to go after the lost sheep and protect those who are being hurt.

I believe that we have made marriage an idol, and too often we’ve left Jesus out of it.

Sure, this woman is basing what she’s doing on Jesus’ attitude in Philippians 2, but she’s forgetting the bigger picture. Jesus did not become nothing and let others walk over Him for no reason. He did so to provide a way for people to live in right relationship with God. If, in becoming nothing and letting others walk all over us, we are pushing people even further away from right relationship with God, we are not doing what Jesus did whatsoever.

Staying married no matter what does not help people know Jesus, especially if there are no consequences for egregious behavior. It simply allows them to keep going down the road of sin and using others and realizing they can do that with impunity.

The same day that someone sent me that horrible article from Above Rubies, another person sent me an article detailing Terry Crews’ recovery from porn.

He and his wife (who also have five children, just like the Above Rubies wife) decided to do a 90-day sex fast to rekindle intimacy and get rid of the residual effects of porn. In other words, when he was caught, clear boundaries were laid down and he decided to change. He explained:

“90 days — no sex, all relationship, all talk, all cuddle,” he recounted. “I found that at the end of that 90 days … I knew who she was, and it wasn’t about ‘Let’s go out because I know I’m gonna get some sex later.’ It was like, ‘Let’s go because I want to talk to you. I want to know you’.”

According to Crews, “every man has a desire for intimacy.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t always result in every man attempting to forge a lasting connection with his significant other. ‘

“You’re not looking for porn. You’re looking for someone to know you and love you at the same time,” he outlined. “That’s all you want — every man out there. But he’s scared sometimes. That’s why men put up big fronts.”

Huffington Post

How a 90 Day Sex Fast Changed Terry Crews' Marriage

This story, which was widely reported and praised in the secular press, shows a better route to recovery than many “Christian” pieces of advice.

I think it’s because the secular world is focused on what actually works, while too many Christians get distracted by weird ideas about marriage and gender roles and things that can cause us to feel like it’s a sin to draw boundaries. We need to remember that Jesus said you can judge by the fruit. If the fruit of the doctrine is destroyed marriages and destroyed women, then that’s a sign our particular doctrines about marriage aren’t centered in Jesus.

Terry Crews is a Christian, and I’m glad that he chose a route to recovery that involved true repentance, real counseling, and addressing his underlying need for intimacy, not just a route that blamed his wife for not having sex enough (yes, I’m looking at you, Every Man’s Battle). 

Again, I have no idea what’s going on in Anna Duggar’s marriage, nor what advice she is being given. But I hope she asks the bigger questions. A marriage is not a success simply because a divorce does not occur. And children need to be shown what it means to have boundaries, and how you should allow others to treat you. Children need to see their mother respecting herself, too. I pray some around Anna can tell her that, because this situation looks heartbreaking, and, unfortunately, there are far too many who will misuse the Bible to make women take responsibility for their husband’s sins.

UPDATE: News has now broken that Josh was arrested last night for possession of child sexual abuse material, more commonly called child porn (I think CSAM is a better word for it). Oh, my word. I pray that Anna has wise people who can help her and her children. And I now think that it is imperative that she separate for the safety of her children (although it’s likely that Josh will serve a long prison term anyway).

UPDATE 2: I edited this post because I learned that Terry Crews claims faith in Christ, too! (which is awesome)

On Compassion for Anna Duggar

What do you think? Have you seen women in Anna Duggar’s position pressured to stay with husbands? How should we better define success in marriage? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Sarah D.

    Yes, I agree! Thank you for speaking out about this.
    I have also seen a lot of victim blaming of Anna – she “should” do this, she’s wrong for not doing this, etc.
    I have personally learned to withhold judgment as much as I possibly can. That’s not to say that I won’t give advice if warranted (but it’s really going to have to be a fairly close relationship for that to happen). But to judge? Nope. Compassion is what’s most in line with Jesus’ character. I have realized that I NEVER can speak to what someone else is experiencing in their situation. Even if I have been in a similar situation, I am not them. I am not living out their exact situation with the exact people in their lives. And especially those who have not even been in a similar situation? It’s so easy to say “oh, I would do _____” but the reality is that we don’t know what we “would” do until we are in a situation ourselves.

  2. Bek

    How come the wife in the Above Rubies article doesn’t address the adultery that obviously led to an STD.
    Women have been gaslit by the church for so long that they’re willing to accept anything. It’s so sad!!! Godv love you more than your marriage!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It really is sad! And the thing is that the counsel around her told her it was okay to draw boundaries and even separate or divorce. She was getting decent counsel. But I think many of us have made marriage into an idol, and it felt safer for her to blame herself, because then she felt like she had a modicum of control again. Very, very sad.

      • Mary

        That verse that convinced her to submit to her husband is about submitting to God. God did not betray her by giving her an STD, cheating, or watching porn.
        The church is wrong to tell women they must keep their husbands from lying, cheating, and lusting, just because he has a dick. It’s a real dissonance in men not submitting to God and then blaming women. They are spiritually sick. And they lead churches and schools.

      • Rijoice

        Here’s another real and tragic dilemma women face in choosing to stay or go. If you stay, you can mitigate and hopefully protect your children. If you go, it is extremely difficult to restrict your husband’s access to the children and prove he should not have unsupervised time with them.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          YES! I think that’s why so many stay. Because otherwise the kids will have to visit him and you can’t supervise.

      • Maria Bernadette

        (Hope this comment ends up nested correctly).
        In addition to idolizing marriage, we’ve also idolized the family to the point that we don’t want to admit that when divorce occurs, the family is broken. Nope. We want to force everyone involved (the husband, the wife, and their children) to play make-believe for us and pretend things are mostly fine. That they still have an intact family, they just happen to live in separate homes.
        Best case scenario for the kids; neither parent is abusive or neglectful. But being shuffled from one parent to the other still causes harm.
        Neither parent knows what the kid is going through in his or her life. Part of that life happens under Dad’s watch (and he’s not talking to Mom) part of it happens under Mom’s watch (not talking to Dad).
        You can’t help your kid if you don’t know what they need help with. And kids can’t always tell you.
        If someone’s behavior made divorce necessary, that parent should lose custody of the children for breaking the marriage apart.
        On the other hand, if there was no cause for divorce, but the spouse who initiated it just didn’t feel like honoring their vows anymore, that spouse broke the marriage apart. And should lose the children.
        Of course, it’s not easy to tell the difference. But we can at least try, right?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I totally hear what you’re saying. I think one of the reasons I came out of childhood relatively emotionally intact is that my parents didn’t have joint custody. Only my mom had custody, and I saw my dad only in the summer for a week or two. That really saved me.

      • Lea

        “On the other hand, if there was no cause for divorce, but the spouse who initiated it just didn’t feel like honoring their vows anymore, that spouse broke the marriage apart. And should lose the children.”
        I’m pretty sure someone in child development would tell you that the trauma of losing a loving and non abusive parent is worse than going between houses…so in many, many cases this seems ill advised.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I don’t know. I’m simply speaking as a child of divorce, saying that my saving grace was that my mother had sole custody. My life had some stability, and I was with the parent who loved me and was engaged with me, and she knew my entire life, rather than just half of it. If I had shuffled between two homes, I would have genuinely been alone. No other person would have known my whole life (because I didn’t have siblings). I simply can’t imagine. What I had was hard enough.
          I’ve seen joint custody work in some cases, but it’s not a panacea. My son-in-law would tell you the same thing: His saving grace is that his mom had full custody, and his stepdad became his dad.
          It really depends on the family situation, and it’s just rough all round.

      • Maria Bernadette

        Reply to Leah
        ” “On the other hand, if there was no cause for divorce, but the spouse who initiated it just didn’t feel like honoring their vows anymore, that spouse broke the marriage apart. And should lose the children.”
        I’m pretty sure someone in child development would tell you that the trauma of losing a loving and non abusive parent is worse than going between houses…so in many, many cases this seems ill advised.”
        We might disagree here. I think that breaking apart a good marriage is a form of emotional child abuse, so I don’t see it as the kids losing a non-abusive parent. In a scenario where there is no good reason to leave the marriage (no abuse, neglect or anything like that) but one parent, wanting greener pastures, puts his or her own happiness over a stable home environment for the children.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      And if she thinks the porn issue was taken care of in one conversation, she is fooling herself! I mean she is definitely fooling herself, but that is egregious!

      • KH

        Yes. Statistically, these conversations just construct a better front for the marriage and the porn addict/ adulterous abuser takes their activity further underground. It does not stop it. And in situations where she has only been with her husband sexually and has no other experience or education on sex, she may not even realize that his behavior in the bedroom is abnormal, resulting from porn control/ objectification/ domination, and abusive.
        Staying absolutely enables abuse and entitles the abuser to continue with zero consequences.

  3. Abby

    Thank you for sharing this! I have been thinking about her so much since the news story broke, and I’m honestly scared for her. I also couldn’t help but think of her many times while reading The Great Sex Rescue.
    I am blessed to be married to a man that is amazing! I sometimes wonder if it’s because he didn’t grow up in church and he wasn’t indoctrinated with misguided messages. He grew up with parents who were co-captains of their family team.

  4. Michelle Anderson

    I was given horrible messages when porn, and mistresses came to light. I forgave it all and tried again after some separation. I had strict contingencies in place for getting back together. He went back to the porn…and I anticipated that possibility. I didnt have the knowledge i have now for addressing it better then. But I was willing to stay in the marriage with boundaries if porn was the only issue. But his porn lead to acting out with other women. This time around I knew the signs and was more aware. I caught him pursuing and leading on another woman…my ex husband is a predator basically. Yep, he’s my ex! Despite the messages from pastors about how God hates divorce, I took our 3 kids and ran. They know that I left for my own sanity…they know their father lied about important things (I’ve kept it general for now). What woke me up to my reality…crying myself to sleep wishing he would just hit me! See my ex never raised his voice at me…he never showed frustration and anger towards me. Because of that I bought into the stonewalling message from Love & Respect for a while! In almost 11yrs of marriage I had never seen my husband mad at me! Instead I was shown months of indifference…it was as if I didnt exist. Pastors told me that men just dont communicate like women…they were more quiet. I got so sick of that line by year 8/9 from yet another pastor (we moved alot- ex has a problem with authority at work), that I looked at him and said “I’m so sick of men using their penis as an excuse to not communicate!” See growing up I was a Tom boy. Most of my friends were guys…middle school and high school girls can be so mean! Guys were simple and easy to talk with because they shoot straight with you! So I knew how to have real conversations with the opposite sex. Like real meaningful conversations. So my ex husband through me for a loop- there were red flags I ignored when dating too- I’ll own that, because the Holy Spirit tried to point it out and I dismissed it! But back to the pastor, there is an expectation of women- in the church- to not expect much emotional intimacy. Or you have to give him sex so he will give you your emotional needs (gag me…coercion much?!). The woman in the article, she was given good advice. So sad that Satan had a bigger hook! The best thing I ever did was finally walk away and let my ex finally take the fall for all of his choices and to stop taking responsibility for HIS actions! It’s taken some work to remove the shame I felt at times, but I dug my heals in and became resolute about my choices. I learned to set boundaries, and it upset some evangelicals, but I no longer cared. I wanted off the merry go round…I wanted to no longer feel crazy and confused! Gaslighting makes me so angry now when I see it at work. Oh, I want to get in there and fight for the person suffering from it! I love your pod cast and blog!! I’m going to keep sharing your content on my social media!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So glad you got out, Michelle. And you’ve modelled a strong mom to your kids, too. Thanks for sharing my stuff! I hate gaslighting, too. I have no idea what’s going on with Anna, but I’m praying that she’ll both have wise counsel and be in a position to truly hear it and listen to it.

    • Martha

      My gosh! I love the way you communicate! I can’t share my story here, but sure wish you were my neighbor-or sister-or friend. So refreshing.

  5. Tory

    While both of these situations (Anna’s and the Above Rubies one) are terrible and heartbreaking, in reality both of these women can’t just leave their cheating lying husbands, so they make the best of it. Let’s face it, if you are pregnant with your seventh child, have no education, no job skills, no employment history, no credit history, no car, what are you supposed to do? Who will take you and your seven kids in and how will you support them? Where I live a 1 bedroom apartment costs about $1000 a month, for a mom and seven kids at least a 3 bedroom apartment is needed and that can be almost $2k. Most landlords require credit history and first and last month rent upfront. A mom of seven young kids won’t be able to afford the daycare for all of them on whatever minimum wage job she is able to get. She literally is trapped. I’m not saying divorce is impossible but it’s very hard to pull off, and so I doubt Anna will ever leave Josh, and the other lady who wrote her story probably did the smart thing to stay, from a practical perspective. Yeah, she should have held her husband more accountable. Extreme Christianity teaches that no matter what crisis happens, your job as a wife is to stay submissive and God will take care of the rest 🤷‍♀️ Very sad

    • Stacey

      If Josh’s parents would finally just let Josh face his own mistakes and stop making excuses for him and sheltering him, I think they may be able to open up their home to Anna and the kids. Though I really don’t see it happening. This whole situation is so heartbreaking.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, this is a really good point, Tory. What other choice do they have? That’s where churches need to step up, big time, and offer short term housing for people to get back on their feet (I’ve often thought that’s a better investment than a perfect church building). In Anna’s case, I believe there are friends who would take them all in. But I don’t know if she has her parents’ support.

      • Jodi

        I am proud of the churches in my community who came together and supported
        /built exactly what you are describing, and then some. Started by women who kept seeing this huge need in our community:

    • Ottakee

      I was in Anna’s situation just over 3 years go when my then husband was arrested on the same federal charges. She needs the support of loving ng Christians and financial support.
      There are complexities to a federal case but it could be the business and/or their home could be subject to seizure. I had to fight to legally protect my home.
      Also, finding a divorce lawyer to handle a case with federal felonies involved might be hard as well. I could not find a lawyer to take on my case.
      The worst was the media and having my name plastered all over social media and having my character questioned while trying to protect my own kids.
      I have a blog now to help other women in the same situation as they are also the unseen victims in these cases.

    • Anonymous

      This ^ is what goes through my head. I have a friend who was able to get out with her 6 kids. She married quickly after, possibly out of desperation, and that marriage ended terribly. She and her kids were able to move in with her parents. She had a master’s degree and was able to finish the training she needed to get into the workforce, but it will be at least 3 years from the first divorce until she’s back to being somewhat independent. For someone without skills or a degree, I can imagine it being a much more daunting task to try to keep a stable life for the kids. “Stable life” – maybe that’s another thing we idolize…
      Being in a similar situation myself, my thought is if I get out, I don’t want my husband to have any custody. Because if I can’t be there to hear what is happening, I can’t control the message. [We have problems and we’re getting help] If he doesn’t uphold his commitments, I’ll take that risk. In or out, I have to proactively give my kids the tools to set their own boundaries at home and in school. I also have a full time job, we are dual income, for the very reason that I can’t rely on him for financial stability.
      But even with some of the security of having a job or having skills, I have felt stuck in the past for some of the very reasons mentioned in this article.
      We do give so much credence to a WWJD mentality, specifically seeking peace and caring for the other. Blessed be the meek, etc. But even Paul says in 1 Cor 5:11, don’t even eat with such a one as a reviler or idolater who calls himself Brother! This was my husband before his wake up call! Reviler: someone who speaks abusively or contemptuously to or of another person or thing. Idolater: based on historical context, I believe this term means porn/sex addict (1 Cor 6:9 lists it in the midst of sexual sins). Brother: one who calls himself a Christian.
      Personally, “God hates divorce” was a big undertone in my upbringing. “She brought it on herself” etc. For anyone like me, you need to look at Proverbs 6:16-19 at the 6 things the Lord hates, divorce is not listed!! The Ashtaroth/Asherim/Astarte that is talked about over and over is a female figure – look at fertility figures found in archaeological sites. I wonder if that was early porn! Look at the worship practices of the Hittites, Assyrians, Ancient Greeks, etc. With this in mind, Jeremiah takes on a whole new tone for me. In Jeremiah 3, God divorces Israel. So many verses that are used against women seeking divorce are actually speaking to men in a patriarchal society who are destroying their lives and damaging their families. Malachi 2:15-16 for example, in the ESV, describes unfaithfulness and violence as the thing God hates.
      It is hard to stay. It is hard to leave. There are risks to staying and working on the relationship, there are risks to separating and divorce. We need to give the whole story as Christians. If you are in a bad relationship, the church should point out the tools we’ve been given by God to discern what is not of God, to offer help if the person decides to leave, and to offer resources if the person decides to stay. Stay or go, God has given those who follow Him a spirit of wisdom to make the choice. And part of that is being aware of the spiritual traps that have been used so many times to force people in making a decision that is bad for them.
      I like the way Gary Thomas put it in “When to Walk Away” – we so often play spiritual offense, when we need to be playing spiritual defense.

      • b

        Agreed. It needs to be said so much more often, that Jesus would stand up to revilers, no matter who they are, and he’s called us to do the same. And it’s not arrogance or “trying to take the place of the Holy Spirit.” It’s obeying God and confronting in love.

    • Michelle

      We shouldn’t assume just because she was homeschooled and didn’t go to college doesn’t mean she’s uneducated. Having a college/university degree doesn’t guarantee anything. The whole situation is sad if she thinks her self worth is based on her marriage. I don’t know if it is, just stating if. We just need to pray for her right now.

    • Lea

      this is true in many cases, however in Anna’s case when the news broke the first time, the rumor was that her brother was willing to support her leaving him. Obviously it would have been better that she left then, when it was only 4 kids.
      Unfortunately, Anna didn’t get the ‘always be able to support yourself’ guidance many women in my family got back in my grandmothers post depression generation.

  6. Annie

    My marriage was a mess for years. Resentment, anger, lack of communication and the list goes on. I also have a higher libido than my husband so we’ll add sexual frustration to the list. He rarely helped out around the house and there were many times when I said I was done, only to have him apologize and beg me to stay. We went through this cycle so many times.
    Haha, we even took the Love and Respect course with a small group and that was fun, sarcasm here. He was all on board, maybe because it focused on me being a submissive wife and he could demand respect. It didn’t last long because I’m a firecracker and eventually rejected those views and teachings.
    I felt called to return to school two years ago to finish my degree and we both knew it was what I needed to do. We also knew I needed to move here and complete my studies, which would take two years. Last year, I could travel home frequently but I felt taken for granted when making the 5 hour drive on weekends and coming home to filth and apathy. He wasn’t paying the bills, he wasn’t taking care of the house, he was barely staying on top of things and then cried to me that he was having such a hard time. My mom was caring for our three kids the majority of the time and his main responsibility was going to work.
    After a few months of this, I’d finally had enough. I wasn’t attracted to him in the least and didn’t even want to be around him. He was making little to no effort to stay in touch with me or support me through one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do. I was sad and lonely much of the time and had few friends. I needed to know that my husband was there and he was focused on himself.
    One weekend, I went home and decided this was the weekend I would tell him we were done for good. I wasn’t sure what I’d do after graduating but started to make a plan. As I drove, I prayed fervently and listened to every Christian radio station I could find along the way. I was trying to figure this out when I felt God tell me “he doesn’t love you”. What did that mean, he doesn’t love me? And I realized that in a marriage, we are called to love one another and I’d loved him, supported him, cared for him, bore him three children and been there but when it was time for him to be there for me, he just wasn’t. He hadn’t loved me the way Christ loved the church. He hadn’t fulfilled his part of the deal and God let me know that.
    I finally told him and then came back and we didn’t talk for a week. When we finally did, I asked him why he made such little effort, told him I loved him but I couldn’t keep doing this and he asked me what I wanted from him, in sincerity. I told him he didn’t love me the way I needed him to, he loved me in ways it was convenient for him.
    I gave him a list, like make me feel sexy, wash the dishes, tell me you love me, just make the effort!
    We reconciled and things have drastically changed for us. He still doesn’t keep on top of the house all the time but he cooks every night, even when I’m home or we plan it together, he’s on top of life and I feel like I finally have a supportive partner.
    I’m honestly so thankful that we got to the point and that God showed me what I needed to say. Husbands are supposed to love their wives but so often that part is conveniently left out after wives submit to your husbands.
    I’m so thankful I was able to repair my marriage but not everyone will be able to and if your husband doesn’t love you in ways you need him to, not just whatever is convenient for him, your marriage is not what God wants.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great story, Annie! Thank you for sharing! And you’re right–things would never have changed if you hadn’t drawn that boundary. Good for you!

    • Bonnie

      My marriage changed quite radically when my husband was told this: “The best way you can help your children is to show them that you love their mother”. He had been very quick to tear me down in front of them, sharing details of our problems with them.

  7. Meredith

    That’s some serious Stockholm Syndrome displayed in that Rubies article.

  8. Jane Eyre

    WWJD? He said that divorce for sexual immorality is acceptable. Now, it is not mandatory, but it is acceptable, and Anna should have entertained that option.
    As for what she would do? This makes me see red. If her husband dropped dead, what would she do with no employment history or credit history? If he became disabled, what would she do? What if the addiction were drugs instead of porn, and he became incapable of working?
    The whole idea that she would live a nice TV family life if she obeys God is nuts. God doesn’t promise us prosperity in return for obedience; He promises us heaven and the peace that comes from doing what is right. Having the means to support oneself and the kids is good sense, even if you are content staying at home.

    • Tory

      Agree with you, Jane— any woman should be able to support herself in case her husband drops dead or becomes disabled. But in the Duggar case, they discourage education after high school for their daughters, and groom them to be wives and mothers only. This is definitely a disservice and the whole “God will provide” thing is short sighted. If I were in Anna’s shoes, I wouldn’t want to move in with my in-laws either. She would have no privacy and they would pressure her to “forgive” and stay in the marriage. Very sad.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Someone on Facebook was mentioning that if Anna started a GoFundMe campaign, she could definitely raise enough to leave (I agree). So I don’t think she’s cmopletely without options.
        But most women in her situation wouldn’t be as fortunate. It’s absolutely imperative, and a dereliction of duty, if parents do not help kids develop skills so that they could support themselves if they ever had to.

  9. Bethany#2

    From what I understand she’s been helping his parents enable him for a while now. I used to follow this YouTuber who talked about their family issues, and it wasn’t pretty. (Made my own family drama feel smaller!) At this point, they’ve been living in a shed in the backyard of the parents for a few years.
    the YouTuber found stuff, that imply that Anna was involved in his schemes. Josh was in some kind of legal dispute and on the verge of arrest for a bit.(contempt of court?)
    The whole thing is a lesson to parents and wives, about the destructive nature of trying to shield them from their own bad choices. I’m kicking my daughter out at 18-19, because I don’t want to repeat all these these enabling ways.

    • Stacey

      Be careful of listening to these YouTube gossipers. Take it all with a grain of salt. They get views for “spilling the juicy news” so who knows how much of it is true.

    • Bethany#2

      Correction to my original assumption. He’s being charged with 2 counts of child porn, Of kids 12 and under.

  10. Rachel

    In the situation of Above Rubies, the woman received counsel. But then she says she was pitied. But what if her perception of “pity” was an abundance of people having empathy, compassion, and a desire to help her. Self-righteousness and independence are its own idols in the church. (Not a new concept – I would say Moses was kept out of the Promised Land due to self-righteousness).
    My mother told me this weekend she remained married to my father (the man who partied, got fired for drug use, befriended meth dealers, hung out with strippers, dated the sex-store employee, and choked her in anger) because she wanted to show him the God could heal him. I didn’t have the heart to remind her that her daughters were wounded in the process of her hopes for healing. However, I have the capacity to teach my own children that God desires goodness for His kingdom & his people, and that, if they feel trapped, it is not pity or shame they will receive but love and support.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s lovely, Rachel. I’m sorry your mom stayed. But I think you’re right–often we judge our own worthiness by being able to stand on our own. It is sad.

  11. edl

    Two thoughts …
    The Bible (1 Cor. 12) clearly states that each part of the Body has value and a function that is important to the whole. If a wife is “submissive” to the point of extinguishing her own God-given gifts and talents, the world and the Church will be the lesser for it. Extinguishing her gifts and talents through ungodly “submission” is the same as telling God He made a mistake in creating her the way that He did.
    Secondly …
    Terry Crews wrote “(Men are) looking for someone to know you and love you at the same time”, in other words true intimacy. By setting boundaries and holding each other accountable for sin, wives are helping husbands (and vice versa) come closer to achieving that goal, which is God’s design for all.
    True intimacy as God intended not only helps heal us but “as iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17) it can also bring us more into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

  12. Trina B

    I have recently realized that I have a very distorted (borderline personally toxic) view of what it means to be a good wife and woman. I have no idea how to have a healthy relationship with my husband (its both our second marriage). These articles are helping but I still have no frickin clue what kind of wife is a good one, or what kind of wife I want to be. These articles are helping. Thank you.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad these are helping! I’m sorry that you’re going through such a rough time.

    • Lindsey

      It helps if you stop worrying about being a good wife and just meditate on what it looks like to be a good person, or a good role model. That doesn’t look like letting people abuse you, but it also doesn’t look like someone who gets offended at the drop of the hat – it’s a weird balancing act, IMHO, just like the rest of life.

    • Katydid

      You be yourself and a good person. Being a wife isn’t about fitting into some mold or checking off a list. Start there.

  13. Dorthea

    I think the key word here is compassion. It’s so easy to talk yourself into staying because to leave is terrifying. It takes great courage and unfortunately many women have nothing to fall back on which makes it even more terrifying. We trick ourselves into thinking “better the hell I know then the heaven I don’t.” It takes a lot to get out of that kind of thinking. So compassion, kindness, support, whatever we can offer even if it’s not wanted or even scorned at first is to truly be like Christ. He can’t free anyone if they’re not willing to leave their jail cell.

  14. Natalie

    “… she has been preoccupied with herself for the past year…” Wait, wasn’t she pregnant /possibly nursing a 4-month-old AND possibly nursing during her whole or part of her 5th pregnancy (a HUGE toll on the body, particularly after you’ve just had 4 kids in 4 years or whatever super close timing I’m sure she had)?!?! And yet she comes to the conclusion that SHE’S the one who is somehow responsible for her husband’s actions?! Unbelievable!!
    I’ll admit, I was raised in a family that vilified all divorce much like the women in this post, so my instinctual reaction to someone divorcing or wanting to divorce is “don’t do it, that’s wrong”. (The only exception was if he was physically abusing you and the kids, because even in cases of infidelity, “the Lord can still do a redeeming work in your marriage”, so by their logic, you should stay with your unfaithful husband so you can give the Lord time to change his heart and do His work.)
    Even by that logic, giving an STD to your wife should be considered physical abuse in any and every Christian circle. STD’s are difficult to completely remove, and that’s not even mentioning the possible long-term damage they can cause. So really, he’s physically abusing her body by giving her an STD that could permanently affect her body and health. And the fact he gave it to her when she was pregnant/ breastfeeding?!?!?! Whatever effects the mother’s body effects the child’s body! So not only is he physically abusing his wife, but he’s also physically abusing his infant child during a pivotal time in their health and development, which will not only effect their lifelong health but could potentially effect their offsprings’ health (at the very least on an epigenetic level).
    While it is true that God can do amazing redeeming things in broken marriages, that’s assuming that BOTH are submitting to the Lord and the one at fault has truly come to a place of repentance. One godly spouse cannot compensate for or redeem the other by their pious actions. With a wife like Greater Than Rubies, sounds like the husband doesn’t even need to take any of the blame for his own actions; his wife has already done all that for him. How can the Lord truly do a long-term redeeming work if the primary one at fault isn’t even completely, truly sorry for what they’ve done because they feel their wife partially “made them do it”?! It’s not like the Lord can change our wills and change our hearts that we’ve hardened against Him, and force them to become more godly! To assume so is not only unbiblical but goes against absolutely everything the Bible says about the nature of God and man’s ability to make his own choices and have free will.
    Thank God she was surrounded by good, godly believers who saw that this was a dangerous situation she was in and that she had biblical grounds for divorce and advised her accordingly!!! Hopefully she befriends more of them and their interpretations of scripture and their biblically-based advise sink in to her in the coming years, as her husband is highly likely to be a repeat offender if he never truly repented in his heart and changed his ways.

    • Em

      Doubling down and being a “better helpmeet” in the face of abuse or infidelity leads to rage and resentment against God when a perfect white-picket-fence life fails to result. I have seen children take the brunt of mothers’ anger in similar situations (the children the women “had” to have to be holy women). For instance, a child being resented because God didn’t give the mother the daughter she ‘deserved’ after dutifully producing several sons. It’s not pretty. And it’s also condescending to look at these women *solely* as victims (not saying anyone here is doing that), as if they hold zero responsibility for creating these situations that often become 10x more traumatic for the children than for anyone else.

      • Natalie

        Exactly! Ugh, the whole situation is just so awful. It’s brainwashing at its finest. Yes, the women did have a choice to have that kind of life. But to them and the moral structure and ideals in which they were raised, that was what was expected of them, so they dutifully fulfilled their role, thus bringing honor to God and their husbands and family. If this is the life they think God expects of and planned for them, I can see how it’d be easy for them to blame Him when it all goes wrong.
        I think like anything in life, we need to take personal responsibility for our own actions, understand that we live in a sinful world where things will go wrong and bad things WILL happen to us even though we’re children of God and even when we do everything right and everything we’re supposed to do, but to still understand that God is ultimately in control and can make all things work together for good for His glory. I think that’s the healthiest perspective to have, and NONE of that means we have to submit to other people’s abuse, even that from our own family (our family by blood and the family we chose like our husbands).

  15. Lindsey

    I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but I just wanted to point out that Terry Crews is a Christian. He’s not “the secular world” just because he is an actor. He’s obviously practicing a much healthier Christianity, but I don’t believe that his Christianity should be discounted – but rather highlighted – to show that being a Christian can be very healthy and life giving.
    Anyway, great article – I’ll be sharing this one far and wide!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s amazing! I actually didn’t know that! that makes me happy.

      • Lindsey

        Yeah, I just googled “Terry Crews religion” to be certain, but he is. You might consider rectifying that in the text for accuracy as well as to show a that more healthy Christianity is available.
        I know your detractors like to claim that you elevate the secular world and make Christianity looks worse than it is – I would hate for them to do that with an article of this importance because of that line, but I feel that you may be leaving yourself open to it if left as is.

  16. Anon C

    Anna is heavy on my heart to pray for her today. Whatever she should do next, whatever she chooses to do next, it’s not an easy road ahead of her. It appears she has sought to honor God and now everything’s turning upside down (with pregnancy hormones to make everything even more difficult).

  17. Boone

    Welcome to my world. I would have advised her to get out at both the Ashley Madison incident and the porn star lawsuit. I’d advise her now to get out without telling a soul and ask the judge for an injunction stopping the movement of any funds. I’d also sue Jim Bob just in case he’s got control of the money. I’d put a forensic accountant on it and go from there. I’d ask for enough in temporary spousal support to get out of AR. Hey, Josh isn’t going to need it for the next 30 or so years.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sounds perfect, Boone! I hope she has someone to advise her like this.

    • Jane Eyre

      The forensic accountant is inspired advice.

  18. Em

    I admit to being angry with the writer of this More than Rubies vignette. Her approach is blind to the harm her children will suffer from having this kind of marriage as a model, not to mention this approach to sin as a model. Honestly, it’s an approach that reeks of pride. She is not the saviour. She has a duty to her children, and is surrounded by people offering to help!
    I have had very unpleasant encounters with women from similar theological backgrounds who paste on smiles but are seething with rage and resentment toward God for not holding up His end of their deal with Him (“I will be a dutiful helpmeet and baby-maker and You will make my home happy”). I’ve seen the kids take the brunt of their mothers’ anger and psychological burdens. It isn’t pretty.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! If you read the whole article (I only pasted some of it for copyright reasons and length reasons) you can see how angry she is at God. She keeps “repenting” of it, but she is seething indeed. It’s part of this “I’ve done everything right so I deserve it easy” mentality. It doesn’t work, it’s wrong, and it just hurts people.

      • Natalie

        And really, that’s kind of a prosperity gospel way of thinking. We as Christians are promised hard times, not “hey God, I scratch Your back and do good deeds and fulfill the roles I think You’ve set forth for me, and You’ll scratch my back by giving me a good life.” Lol, yeah, that’s NOT Christianity. 😆
        (& for people reading, no, I’m not saying going out of your way to make your life more difficult is godly or pious either. But also as a Christian, don’t expect good times cuz you think you’re towards the more righteous side of us sinners and God should reward you here on earth accordingly. That’s not biblically based thinking.)

  19. Aimee

    This was my mom. My father was in and out for almost 10 years, sleeping with men and women and doing who knows how many drugs. With two small children and no marketable skills she had to rely on her parents to get by, which only furthered codependency. But he’d always come back to my mom saying “divorce wasn’t God’s plan” and blame her for him leaving (she’d get depressed and overeat when he was gone). And she’d take him back because that’s what a good Christian wife should do.
    What finally changed her mind was an emergency health scare and she realized she couldn’t leave her children in his custody. Still took years to finalize the paperwork though and even longer to emotionally recover. She’s still working on that 30 years later and even though she has remarried she often defaults back to how she was raised and treated in her first marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so sad. I’m glad she got out, but wounds fester, don’t they? I hope she finds real healing.

  20. Kayla T

    It’s very sad when women think they’re obligated to stay. I believe Jesus gave permission to leave because of adultery (Matthew 19:9). Especially if the spouse has an STD… and even the risk of STD is enough reason to leave.
    There’s also an unhealthy attitude toward sin, where people are saying “nobody’s perfect” and “God forgives” so they think other people should accept their behavior. I have a friend with a verbally abusive husband, and he expects her to just forgive his explosions. When she confronted him, he just said “you’re not perfect either.” As if it’s normal to curse & call names. I think he has tried to overcome his anger issue, but he doesn’t think it’s serious enough for counseling. Her pastor isn’t taking it seriously either, and won’t confront him. She has a bag packed for the next time he has an angry explosion, and she’s going to stay apart until he agrees to counseling. I’m supporting her in that.

  21. SLS

    I had a slightly different take-away from the “Above Rubies” article you posted. Notice how she describes her pastor’s response when she tells him about her husband’s infidelity and porn use.
    “”Do you need the name of a lawyer?” I stared at him in disbelief. He continued, “You have grounds, you know…”
    I left the office. I believe my pastor meant well, but simply didn’t know how to respond.”
    And later on when she describes the reaction of her fellow congregants.
    “Soon, however, it seemed like everyone knew about the situation, and most people treated me like a woman about to be divorced, pitying me, and offering jobs, welfare tips, apartment leads, and the like. And all of them said, “Oh, if only you didn’t have all those children.””
    Notice that the responses she got seemed pretty devoid of actual compassion for her situation. Maybe it was there and she just doesn’t mention it in her article but it sounds like she went to her pastor and fellow congregants for advice and emotional support and they just wanted to sweep her pain under the rug. Imagine how impersonal it is to only hear the words, “Do you need the name of a lawyer?” after you have poured out your anguished heart like that.
    It seems when faced with situations like the article describes many Christians go to one of two extremes. Either they make marriage an idol and encourage the wife to devalue herself and be a doormat or they immediately advocate for divorce. Many don’t want to do the hard work of being empathetic and coming alongside the wronged spouse to help them figure out the path forward. Some people want to give a quick and tidy answer so they don’t have to deal with those who are hurting.

    • Katydid

      I actually think they were likely very compassionate, but the author of the letter/article to Above Rubies has her own martyred agenda and made it sound more crass than it actually was.

      • Leah

        Katydid, I agree. Having grown up in overlapping circles with the Duggars, the Pearls, Nancy (of far above rubies), and others, I have seen plenty of examples of women who believe in this unbiblical “submission,” and the way they put the spin on the tone of anyone who gives what they would call “worldly” counsel. There is sometimes a self-righteous attitude with it, but not always. My heart hurts for them and it all makes me SO angry at the same time. Having spent all but the last few years in those teachings, I know many of these women are truly trapped in the lies, thinking that living this way is the only way to obey and honor God.

  22. Wild Honey

    So, looks like Josh has been indicted on possession of child porn.
    I’ve shared elsewhere how my grandma, as a brand-new bride and a recent immigrant who was still learning English (in a word, “vulnerable”) was sat down in private by her dirt-poor, never-graduated-high-school, hillbilly father-in-law. “If my son ever causes you any trouble,” he told her, “you just let me know. I’ll take care of it for you.”
    Last week, I watched that same son, over 60 years older and himself none-too-steady on his feet, carefully and tenderly escort his wife (who has lingering effects of a bad fall) down some steps and was touched by his continued devotion to his wife.
    For a movement that espouses “Biblical manhood” and the role of men in protecting and providing for vulnerable women, it is WAY past time for Jim Bob and the rest of his sons to man up and tell Anna, “You and your children will be taken care of, no strings attached, for as long as you would like our help.” And WAY past time for the same “Biblical” men to tell Josh that if he ever comes within a mile of his wife and children, without her express consent, they will be escorting him off the premises and calling the police.
    What a bunch of insert-inappropriate-word-here. With “friends” like these, Christianity doesn’t need enemies.

    • Laurie M

      Amen, sister!

  23. R

    Thank you for continuing to bring light to this. Women are not the path to a man’s salvation- only God can do that. Men are responsible for their own change and own choices. In my own experience of domestic abuse, I had a counselor tell me that the reason my husband was abusive was because I had not told him to stop. Which regardless of me telling him to stop or not, the blame was shifted from him to me. The church too often focuses on saving the marriage, and is happy to sacrifice the wife to that end. It makes me so angry.

  24. Chris

    This comment is not going to be well received here but I am going to say it anyway.
    I watched the show for a long time and I always got the feeling that Josh was invisible. I think the fact that he was the oldest and a boy, and then a bunch of girls came along who were expected to help with an ever increasing brood put him in a place of emotional invisibility. A lot of parents can tell you about older children acting out when a new baby is born. Sometimes they act out, sometimes they regress developmentally, etc. imagine that happening to you not once or twice but 18 times. I think the parents now know it too. I think they have some guilt about it. Ya, Josh the little boy never stood a chance.
    That said, he’s a grown man now and has to take responsibility for his actions. I don’t think he’s going to prison for as long as everyone here thinks. My prediction: 36-60 months. You have to remember (based on what we know right now) he has one charge of possession and one incidental charge of receipt. Child porn charges of possession are usually in the hundreds or even thousands because the government treats each picture or video clip as its own charge. He has one possession charge. And although he has a strong record of being a terrible person, he has no criminal record. (Civil cases don’t count in that). The fact that he also has good lawyers….. ya I say 3 to 5 years served.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yeah, you’re probably right, Chris. I do think that for Josh to do what he did, something must have been going on with his upbringing as well. Most well-adjusted people do not sexually abuse their siblings. I know we shouldn’t speculate beyond that, but the whole thing does have so many red flags for him too.

    • Boone

      In the various state systems you have a lot of wiggle room to plea bargain. In the Fed system it pretty much is what it is. Also, look for more charges to surface. The Feds don’t indict small. They’d let AR handle it if it was going to stay at one charge. Their not done yet.

      • Boone

        They’re not done yet.

      • Chris

        Ya, the timing of all this is weird. If they thought he was a danger to his own kids they would not have let two years go by without charging him. Part of me thought that this possession charge was just being used as something to hold him on. But they have had two years. Something is going on that we don’t know about. But I don’t think it’s related to his kids.

  25. Lindy Lou

    So if we say Anna is a victim then I guess by the same logic Josh is a victim too. He was raised in a terrible environment beginning with blanket training and a childhood in a cracker box of a house listening to his parents have sex like rabbits. Anyone who’s ever watched the show knows they wouldn’t try to be particularly discreet. He would have been taught that as a male he would have little control over his normal urges. So are we men are responsible enough and strong enough to overcome their circumstances to at some point not have the victim excuse and women are not? Sorry, I don’t buy it. I used to feel sorry for her but not anymore. I believe women are strong enough to break free and she can choose to protect her children, she was even offered refuge from her brother long ago. They both have made terrible choices and I have long since ceased feeling any pity for either of them, I save that for the true victims. The children.

  26. Sadie

    If you watch the first episode of Counting On (not 19 kids & Counting), they interview Anna about her reaction to everything that came out about Josh in 2015.
    She says that Josh had told her parents about everything with his sisters before he & Anna began courting. (I can’t remember when she says she found out about it.) He admitted to touching his sisters in 2002-2003, and Josh & Anna were married in 2008 (when they were 20 & 21). Josh was in no position to be getting married only 5-6 years after abusing his sisters. Both sets of parents knew about the abuse and how recent it was, yet both sets of parents encouraged them to get married. Anna didn’t even want to court until she was 20, but her father helped Josh propose on her 20th birthday. Not only did her parents approve her marrying Josh, but they pushed her to do it on a faster timeline than what she wanted.
    If Anna had had a good support system & parents whose primary concern was the protection of their daughter, she probably wouldn’t have married Josh in the first place. Or maybe they would have gotten married several years later & only after Josh had completed extensive therapy from a licensed provider. I cannot imagine pushing my daughter into marrying a man who’d abused his sisters only 5 years prior. Nor can I imagine encouraging my son to get married only 5 years after abusing his sisters. I wish so badly that just one of their parents had put Anna’s well-being ahead of Josh’s sexual “needs”. I feel so badly for Anna. She was pushed into a marriage that was doomed from the start.
    She also said in that interview that she didn’t want to divorce Josh because she had promised in her wedding vows to be an extension of God’s unconditional love for Josh (I’m paraphasing but that’s the essence of it). She said that she didn’t want to turn the mess into a disaster. I hope that she can see that this disaster isn’t her fault, and that she will do whatever is necessary to keep her children safe. Hopefully they have already been taking precautions, both with their kids & all the other children living on the Duggar property (his youngest sisters, nieces, etc.) I worry for Mackynzie especially.

    • Sadie

      For those who don’t know, Josh & Anna have been living in a converted warehouse on the main Duggar property since Josh’s car lot was raided in 2019. I would assume that JimBob, and probably Michelle, knew the nature of the ongoing investigation. Yet they allowed him to move onto their property giving him easy access to his youngest sisters (currently ages 11-15), as well as the many nieces, nephews, and other children who visit the property. I hope that all the children who Josh could have had access to are thoroughly interviewed so that, if any abuse has occurred, he is brought to justice for that as well.

  27. Emmy

    About this Above Rubies article, are you sure it really is a woman who wrote it? How can we know it is not some guy pretending to be a woman and writing stuff like this in order to manipulate women?
    It is an anonmous writer, isn’t it?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes but the site is run by some well known women. I think women likely did write it!

      • Emmy

        I do believe you. You probably know these women and these web sites much better than me.
        Hard to imagine, though, how women leading such a life would even have time to write anything at all.
        When I was a young wife and we were into that “submission thing”, all my time went up caring for the children and trying to keep the household running and going to church meetings. If I wished to write anything, even a few lines, that had to happen in the middle of the night, and even that was not always possible.
        That made me think some guy may be writing these messages in order to push their fantasies on gullible women.
        But, well yeah, I guess if someone wants to write she will find time for it.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I know! I do wonder sometimes who is behind them. But I’ve met enough women who are heavily into extreme submission and proud of it that I know that sometimes it’s women who do push this stuff the hardest.


    So much bothers me about the Anna Dugger situation. She’s the victim of her religion in many ways and I would imagine (after growing up in that world) that it’s hard to admit that maybe what she’s been taught all those years is wrong. Look at those girls in the Dugger household. They were controlled, made to dress a certain way, keep their hair long, not allowed to further their education or become independent. No going off to college for the Dugger girls. One of them wanted to go to nursing school. Daddy said no, so it didn’t happen. He wanted those girls under his thumb. All the girls had to stay home, help mom clean the enormous house and take care of their many siblings until Daddy found and/or approved a spouse so that they could marry and be someone else’s housekeeper and baby maker. If the marriage goes south, they’ve got a house full of kids and no job skills, so they’re stuck. Top that off with a bunch of religious guilt about God hating divorce (even if your spouse is a lying, cheating, pedophile) and you’ve got a recipe for a pathetic situation.

    • Laila

      I dont agree with the black and white lines drawn in this article. I think that it is more complicated than the husband sinned, he should be punished and the wife needs to leave him so he can feel that punishment.
      Men just don’t wake up one day and decide that “today I will look at porn” or wake up and decide “I think I will have an affair this evening”…
      There is a progression here that no one is talking about. With multiple children it is hard to consistently meet all marital needs in a relationship. Moms naturally tend to the children first, thinking that the husband will understand. One week without sex turns in to two, three, a month…and during that time he goes to the grocery store to get milk for the hundredth time that week and the cashier is flirty, leans on the counter revealing some serious cleavage and the spiral towards satisfying the need for sexual fulfillment away from his wife begins. A racey movie alone, because the wife fell asleep, another porn add popping up on his phone that for some reason he cant ignore today, etc…
      Loneliness is a dangerous place for any spouse to be in. I am not excusing what has happened to these women but there is a foundation here of how things got this bad and yes the wives are involved.
      BUT what is also missing from the articles above is a MAJOR factor regarding the husbands: repentance.
      Are they truly broken and showing a contrite heart? Were they truly saved to begin with or is this how God is crushing them with the weight of their own sin to have them recognize their need for Christ? Or is the way that the wife mirrors Christ in her forgiveness the breaking point in her man’s heart to fully understand Jesus’ death on the cross for guilty sinners?
      There are too many layers here that could be in the works as God has ordained them to be.
      I too have been on the receiving end of bad advice from leadership in the church. If I would have listened I would have left a husband that God has since woken up and I would have missed the life that God has restored.
      With His strength I was able to follow the words of submitting to my husband (even though I felt he “didnt serve it” at first!) I was able to have patience, grace and forgiveness because of what Christ did for me. I had to get off of my high horse and realize that I was not any better than my husband. Holding onto anger, pride, bitterness and resentment was killing my marriage fast. I finally just let go and let God do his thing and this year we are celebrating 21 years married.
      I have learned first hand that the Bible is our authority, not the wisdom of man. Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God! When we try to modernize the Bible to fit current culture or change the actual intended meaning of what it says, then it is not the Bible we are believing in, but ourselves. This is a very dangerous place to be, I also know this all too well…

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Laila, we’re talking about a man who had hundreds of videos/images of sexual abuse, including of TODDLERS. This is not because Anna didn’t have sex with him. And his predatory behaviour started far before marriage. Please, please don’t heap this on Anna’s head. His porn use is not her fault.
        We are talking about him masturbating to toddlers being raped. Think about that.
        Are you still willing to say it’s Anna’s fault? Oh, dear, Lord, have mercy.

  29. Marie

    I understand the problem of enabling. And unfortunately the incorrect application of teachings about submission to male authority do often lead to enabling. However, I find it tragic that the woman in the article is being jerked back and forth between two views that don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I can understand her shock at simply being pointed to divorce immediately by a church leader. I can understand her frustration at her choice to be a stay-at-home mom being condemned by others. It’s not bad to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s not intrinsically bad to affirm male leadership. It is absolutely possible to affirm those values while acknowledging and requiring that a sinful husband must be held accountable.
    I would want to counsel this woman to work out a period of separation from her husband while confronting his sin and setting boundaries in place that would hopefully lead eventually to reconciliation. She is not bad because she doesn’t want to immediately consider divorce. She needs more nuanced options than, “Everything you value is wrong, just divorce this jerk.” I am sad that her desire to avoid divorce is simply being condemned here. She may have to consider divorce at some point if he refuses to acknowledge his sin and submit to accountability. But does that have to be the immediate reaction? I don’t think so.

    • Susan

      you have set forth some wisdom in this situation—

      of course not every situation is the same but the facts are overwhemingly show that under patriarchy teachings women are too often given the blame and are the cause for their husband’s shortcomings, sin and other problems because they just did not submit enough.

  30. erickajen

    terry crew was even a voice for a character on veggietales. 🙂 hes pretty cool. inspiring!
    this is a great writeup. thank you for writing it.

  31. Janice

    God is fully able to draw a man to repentance whether the wife stays or leaves.A wife can forgive and show grace to her husband while seeking her own healing from the safety of a legal separation.The church has done a poor job of helping women in this regard.I continue to pray for my husband 3 years after our separation but will not “ reconcile” as he claims to want without evidence of true heart change.

  32. Susan

    the Duggar debacle is only the tip of the patriarchal iceberg —

    12 years ago I read similar stories of abuse from those who were raised in Gothard theology–some became atheist to escape the pain and confusion—( -from that i started a study and research into what really is God’s will and design for individuals and families. It is not what we have been led to believe.

    Then came Jinger Duggar’s book on finding out the truth of the freedom we truly have in Christ and that Gothard ‘s teachings are a lot of bunk. I am sorry to say it took a big name to bring light to this sad situation in the church.

    And now for the biggest shocker of all— it is those who believe that the bible actually promotes and teaches mutuality/egalitarian who are the ones offering help and resources to women abused under pat teachings. .

    Whereas, patriarchy throws more scripture at the wives and says “go back and submit and obey more. You must have done something wrong.” continuing to put the blame on those wives who did nothing but submit and obey.


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