My Take on Josh Duggar’s Guilty Verdict: Amnon and Tamar Replayed

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Uncategorized | 108 comments

Josh Duggar Guilty Verdict
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Josh Duggar has just been found guilty of possessing and receiving child sexual abuse materials.

On a personal level, I am glad that the guilty verdict came down.

But I’d like to talk about some wider issues in the evangelical church that this case revealed.

For those who don’t know, Josh Duggar is the oldest child in the famous Duggar family from Arksansas, who had the TV show 19 Kids and Counting. They are a very fundamentalist family, following the Gothard/IBLP doctrines where the male patriarch rules, girls must be submissive, no touching before marriage, and full courtship with parents planning it.

Josh has been in the news before for sexually abusing several sisters and others, and for being on the Ashley Madison website. He has also been accused of sexual assault by Danica Dillon.

Okay, now back to current news.

To begin, I’d like to take us back to the story of Amnon, Tamar, and David found in 2 Samuel 13.

Amnon and Tamar were half-siblings, and Amnon was obsessed with Tamar. So he made a plan on how he could get alone with her. He pretended to be ill, and when his father King David came in to check on him, he asked David to send Tamar to his room with food to minister to him.

David fetched Tamar and sent her to Amnon.

When there, Amnon raped her.

Afterwards the story says that he despised her, and wouldn’t marry her or redeem her. He left her tainted, unable to marry anyone else. She lived the rest of her life in desolation.

And David? He knew all about this, but he did nothing.

Now Tamar had a full sibling named Absalom, and Absalom saw all that had happened. Two years later, Absalom killed Amnon, and was banished from the kingdom. Later, he led a civil war against his father David.

Such destruction–that was all started because David didn’t defend his daughter and demand justice for his daughter and protect his daughter. He let her bear the shame for her brother’s sin. 

Why do I say that it all started with David, rather than with Amnon? Because there will always be abusers. There will always be rapists and be men who will hurt and abuse women. But survivors will tell you that often the greater harm is not the initial assault, but how no one stood up for you, and in fact all too often sided with the abuser.

Silence from those who are supposed to defend us and care for us can be much, much worse.

We have seen the Amnon and Tamar story play out in an individual way with the Duggar family, but in a collective way with the evangelical church.

The Duggars as Amnon and Tamar: JimBob turns his back on his daughters in court

At the beginning of the trial, JimBob was asked to testify about Josh’s confession of abusing his sisters. JimBob repeatedly said he couldn’t recall. Instead of telling the truth and defending his daughters and validating their experiences, he prioritized Josh’s interests.

At every step of the way in Josh’s life, his interests have been prioritized over his sisters’, his wife’s, and his children’s. 

So much so that his father wouldn’t even validate his own daughters’ experience. Instead of getting justice for his daughters, he tried to lessen the impact on his son.

The Evangelical Church as Amnon and Tamar: Excusing men’s sins against women

On a broader scale, we see repeatedly the evangelical world choosing to side with abusers over the abused. The number of scandals that come out, almost daily, is too big to recount. Whether it’s the SBC refusing to take abuse seriously or act on recommendations or churches and organizations trying to silence and shame accusers, we’ve consistently put the interests of celebrities like Zacharias, Hybels, Mohler, Patterson, Mahaney, Chandler, and more ahead of the women they hurt or whose abuse they covered up. Just look at the lawsuit against Liberty University! It’s disgusting.

But it stems from one simple belief: All men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle. 

Evangelicals believe this. We live and breathe it. We teach it everywhere. The Every Man’s Battle book series sold 4,000,000 copies. Gary Thomas, in his most recent book, repeats the line that men are made to think about sexual thoughts constantly and that they are made to always try to seize a sexual opportunity. They believe that the objectification of women and masculinity are one and the same. Like Gary Thomas said in 2016, quoting Al Mohler, “there isn’t a man alive who isn’t bent in his sexual desires.”

And if God made men that way, then it really can’t be that bad. 

And if God made men that way, then men can’t help it. 

The only way that men can handle their visual nature, their lust nature, their propensity toward sexual sin, is for women to change. 

Men’s sexual sin is a given; so women must act differently to prevent it. We must dress modestly. We must not tempt men. We must not be a stumbling block. And then, as Every Man’s Battle tells women, we must be the methadone for our husband’s sex addictions (Yes, the original Every Man’s Battle book actually called women methadone. Seriously). We must have sex so often that they won’t watch porn or have affairs.

Instead of telling men what Jesus told them–that they should gouge out their eye if it causes them to sin–and instead of telling men what Paul repeatedly told them, that they are responsible for their own lusts, the evangelical church has laid the burden for men’s lust on women. We must not be stumbling blocks, and then we must have has much sex as possible to stop men from sinning. If he sins, then, that’s a sign that a woman wasn’t doing her job properly. (we cover this at length in The Great Sex Rescue!).

And that’s why, instead of getting justice for Tamar, the evangelical world is covering up for Amnon. We believe Amnon was just a boy, being a boy. 

And because he’s a boy–he matters more. Because in evangelicalism, men were made to lead, and women were made to serve. 

This belief that lust and masculinity are intertwined is a uniquely evangelical problem.

Yes, the secular world also treats women like objects, but in the evangelical world, we turn it up a notch.

In our survey of 3,000 Christian men, we found that evangelical men were 81% more likely to believe “lust is every man’s battle” in high school than other Christians who don’t identify as evangelicals, and 46% more likely to believe it now than other Christian men.

Our survey of 20,000  women found something even more stark. Evangelical women are 85% more likely to believe “lust is every man’s battle” than non-evangelical Christians. And the more women attended church (both in high school and currently) the more likely they were to agree with the every man’s battle message.

Evangelicalism has made male objectification of women a core piece of our doctrine. We have so equated masculinity with objectifying women that we don’t know how to separate the two.

But Jesus did separate the two. Jesus never claimed that lust was impossible to get over; quite the opposite. Lust was something to put to death.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

How do we move forward so the evangelical world gets justice for Tamar?

1. Stop saying lust is every man’s battle.

Treat lust like a sin, not a feature of masculinity.

2. Stop asking women to change so that men don’t sin.

The solution to male lust or male abuse of women is for men to stop lusting and for men to stop abusing women. The way to stop rape is for men to stop raping; it is not for women to change.

3. Treat abuse seriously.

Have protection policies in place at church–and follow them. If there is an accusation made, treat it seriously. Make third party investigations the norm.

4. Stop calling things that are abuse or rape “affairs”.

When a youth pastor has sex with someone in their youth group, it isn’t a “relationship” or an “affair.” It is abuse. When a pastor manipulates someone in their congregation for intercourse (or another sexual act), it isn’t “an affair”. It isn’t “having sex”. It is sexual assault.

5. Stop keeping women out of leadership positions.

When only men can lead, it sets up a dynamic of male entitlement and power, which reinforces the idea that women exist to serve men. This is the root of much sexual abuse to begin with. See women as more than just servants. They are whole people, with a variety of gifts, made in the image of God. Instead of creating a church culture where men matter more than women, remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:25-28.

6. Acknowledge that some marriages should be dissolved.

God is not honored by an abusive, destructive marriage staying together in name only, where people are systematically losing their sense of self. God is honored when we all look more like Jesus. Demanding that abused spouses stay in an abusive marriage, or demanding that women stay in a marriage with a sexually addicted husband, enables the destructive activity to continue because the abuser bears no consequences. In fact, they get the best of everything. They get to abuse, but they also get a spouse who can’t leave. In these cases, divorce doesn’t break the marriage bond; abuse already broke the marriage bond. Help victims find freedom. Don’t keep them in prison.

That’s my quick take on Josh Duggar.

I think his story tells a larger one that the evangelical world needs to take seriously–and I hope that this will be a catalyst for change for good.

Quick Takes on the Josh Duggar Verdict

Do you have a quick take on the verdict? What are your thoughts? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

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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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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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108 Comments

  1. Stefanie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!! It is time the public opened their eyes to the lies and abuse that fill up the Duggar family. Jim Bob is not the “good Christian man” that he portrays on tv. Josh Duggar is a symptom of huge problems in the IFB and evangelical churches. I am so heartbroken for his sisters, his wife and children (who I am sure are also his victims) and the children in the disgusting filth he downloaded.

    Reply
  2. A

    Wow this is SPOT ON.

    Reply
  3. Vanessa Ryerse

    My take: stop voting for these men. No matter what political party they are in. Jim Bob Duggar is running for state senate right here in my district. His campaign flyer includes endorsements from three other “Christian” men, including the former governor whose daughter is running for state governor currently. Duggar is connected politically and his sins aren’t contained to the church setting. All his signs are emblazoned with “pro life” flags all over town. But as I have said before and I’ll say it again as often as I need to… you can’t make the world safer for babies by making it more unsafe for women.

    It felt pretty good to go cast my early vote against this guy today.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! I can’t do anything about who wins that election, but Christians need to stand up and say, “he doesn’t represent me–let alone Jesus!”

      Reply
    • Bre

      Ugh…and this is why being a Pro Life activist can be so depressing. Unfortunately, I’ve found that most of the big name non catholic Christian groups active in the movement buy into patriarchal junk. Thanks to the group I’m a part of ive met a lot of great smaller organizations and lots of godly female pastors but they are sadly not the ones who are well known despite their amazing service. Like focus on the family; I’m sorry, but if you support abuse in marriage and harmful child rearing practices then I don’t trust you to care for vulnerable women and their babies. Just no. Particularly when they hand out pro life signs with quotes from Driscoll the “penis home” guy. I kid you not. And I’m sorry, but I feel like aside from the “throw your daughters and grandchildren under the bus for your sicko son”, having hardcore patriarchal beliefs that prevent your daughters from doing anything but stay gone until you let them marry should be a instant disqualifier for a government/community position because you are not going to have the best interests of 50-75% of the people you are responsible for in mind if you clearly think that they are inferior. Sorry for the rant but I’ve been in a funk and this post just lit my fire…where’s the discernment here? Why do so many Christians just accept this or act like this crap is okay? I truly don’t get it and it honestly makes me mad.

      Reply
    • Anonymous305

      “You can’t make the world safer for babies by making it more unsafe for women” = perfect ❤️👏🏾‼️

      Reply
  4. Beth L

    Thanks for this.
    My question has been who is Jim Bob covering up for? Does he have his own history that he is trying to cover up? He doesn’t seem to desire healing for his family and the others who have been harmed. I mean, Josh is obviously very VERY sick and since abusers typically have been abused at some point, I can help but wonder what has contributed to his predatory behavior?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think we’ve all wondered these sorts of things. Obviously we can’t know–but we can pray that Anna gets out, and that the younger Duggars especially get freedom before they make huge marriage decisions.

      Reply
    • Monica

      Toxic doctrine brought this mindset up as truth. You can look to BG for that! Evil & toxic to the core.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      The statistics do not show that abusers were abused. Some yes, but not the majority. If most people who were sexually abused turned into abusers, there would be hardly any safe people left on the planet. Most survivors become protectors, not predators.

      The idea that abusers must have been abused is a myth we tell ourselves because we need to find a reason to explain the horror. But it’s not accurate.

      Reply
  5. Catharine

    Really well-written. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Emily B

    Amen to all of this!

    Reply
  7. Stephanie

    Thank you for this. When I was a teen, I was taught by the church, Youth group, camp, etc that all guys, even Christians, will try to cross any boundary you set, that they can’t help it. So when I was 21 and dated my (now) husband, I was shocked to find that a man could have self control and his own boundaries. In fact, I was a little confused and thought maybe he wasn’t attracted to me. That is so sad. I am teaching my daughters modesty and caution, but that a man who is committed to God will have his morals in this area like any other. We should not make excuses for lust or any sexual assault.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Mainstream culture taught me that very same thing about “all guys, even Christians, will try to cross any boundary you set, they can’t help it.” This was the message that I remember hearing in junior high sex ed in the early 1990’s. I still hear it among single adult women who will often tell me, “It doesn’t matter how old a man is or whether he’s a Christian, he’ll try to push your boundaries.” Thankfully, my ex-fiance (now friend) never pushed my boundaries. He was very respectful.

      I definitely agree with teaching modesty and caution, but I realize that there needs to be a new conversation about it without making girls feel responsible for guys’ bad behavior.

      Reply
    • Sheila Lange

      “So when I was 21 and dated my (now) husband, I was shocked to find that a man could have self control and his own boundaries. In fact, I was a little confused and thought maybe he wasn’t attracted to me.”

      This was EXACTLY how I felt (but I was 22 😉 ). And yes, sad that my boyfriend being an upstanding moral Christian man and me not having to “fight him off” as I had with previous boyfriends (thankfully not actually violently/physically, but) made me wonder if the relationship was even going anywhere. Now married almost 27 years. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Jen

    Perfection! [standing, applauding loudly] This is such a logical, Biblical argument that I’m really shocked that we all accepted the other garbage for so long. Of course sinners are responsible for their own sin!! God is dissolving the old boys’ club and setting His daughters free. May God open the eyes of our brothers and sisters in Christ so that we can represent the Truth to the people around us. May our marriages be so loving, so mutual, and so God honoring that the world around us takes notice.

    Reply
    • Beth

      Amen!

      Reply
    • Recovering from abuse

      “ God is dissolving the old boys’ club and setting His daughters free.” May it be so! Beautiful statement.

      Reply
  9. LeeAnnah's Creations

    I would like to point out that not there are different forms of Courtship — my husband and I did courtship, but it was the kind where I always had a say/right/opinion in every step of the relationship. My parents wanted me to be fully empowered and not a robot. God did not create women to be robots who are told who to marry and what to do. We, as women, were created Not to be door mats.

    Reply
  10. Jo R

    God did not CREATE men to lust. Lust, like every other sin, is a result of our sin nature, inherited from all the way back to Adam after the Fall.

    If you think God created men’s lust problems, then you must also think God created the world to have earthquakes, hurricanes, and other “acts of God” natural disasters.

    Stop pawning off your sin onto others, and try to be more mature than a two-year-old in the grocery store screaming for every package of cookies, candy, and gum that comes into view. Sheesh!

    Reply
    • Theresa

      Do you not see the irony in your comment? You’re “pawning … sin off onto others.”. Regardless of how lust and other problems came to be, your sin is still YOUR responsibility.

      By the way, go to Bible Gateway or Bible Hub or similar, and look up the verses where God says He brings evil. “I bring evil” is a good phrase to start with. There are several verses.

      Reply
      • Jo R

        Sorry, the “pawning your sin off” was addressed to men who think women are responsible for the men’s own lust.

        Reply
  11. Lyndall Cave

    “But it stems from one simple belief: All men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle.”

    This is an over-simplification. This belief wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem if it wasn’t combined with patriarchal ideas that men have power over women and women are responsible to cater to men’s needs and whims. But I understand why the point is made, for the sake of brevity.

    There’s a lot more to untangle than the erroneous evangelical view of all men struggling with lust, but it’s a good start.

    Reply
  12. LeeAnnah's Creations

    Thank you for this article, it’s sad that it has to be so sorely needed.
    I would like to point out if I may that not all Courtships strip a woman of her choice or say in the progression of her relationships. It’s not always a robot situation.

    Reply
    • Lisa M

      It’s hard to find people who are not under the burden of complementsrianism who engage in courtship rather than dating. I’m sure they are some but the vast majority are complementation/hierarchical.

      Reply
      • Laura

        A friend of mine who got married at 42 insisted to her boyfriend (now husband) that she wanted to be “courted.” This meant that he would ask her father for permission to date her even though she lived on her own. She told me it was “biblical” that regardless of a single woman’s age, she is under her father’s spiritual protection so this means that if a man wants to date/court her, then propose to her he needs to consult her father first. I don’t agree with this because there is nowhere in the Bible that says a woman is always under her father’s protection until she marries. My friend was definitely a product of the purity culture of the 1990s.

        Even though I’m 45 and live with my widowed mother, I do want her input or counsel on who I date. However, the decision is up to me. I do not think adult women need their parents’ permission to date/court, but it is important consider the wise counsel of your parents, friends, and even children (if you are a single parent). Other people can see things that we may not notice if we’re wearing our rose-colored glasses when dating someone.

        Reply
        • Anon

          My husband felt he ought to ask for my mother’s ‘permission’ before getting engaged – until I said that it was pointless doing that unless we were prepared NOT to marry if she said no! So we compromised on telling her we were engaged and asking for her blessing. It’s wise to get counsel from other believers before getting engaged, but the issue I have with courtship is that the counsel must always come from the parents, who have final decision. And some parents just should not be trusted with those kinds of decisions.

          Reply
          • Lolly

            My parents would still say no…almost 25 yrs later. And my husband is amazing, and we adore our years together. My parents have a warped sense of the world…and have disliked (vocally, and constantly) every spouse of us kids. So I would hate them, back in the day, choosing for me!!! They STILL don’t see what an amazing husband I have, nor the amazing wife my brother has. (My sisters were lied to, smoothly, by abusive men. My parents just gossiped about those men the same as they did my and my brother’s spouses, so tbh, most of us ignored them.)

    • Eliza

      It’s hard to imagine anything called courtship that doesn’t boil down to a loss of choice. It might not ever look that way if the woman and her parents are always on the same page, but if you give parents a veto power, then it does strip a woman of her choice, whether or not they exercise it.

      My parents were loving, supportive, encouraged me to have higher education and a job, but even so courtship and the knowledge that they were supposed to be supervising and if necessary could end the relationship deeply undermined my sense of agency and set up some really unhealthy dynamics in my marriage that took over a decade to really see and begin to address.

      I will treat my (now almost) adult children’s relationship decisions exactly like I treat all their other decisions: as their decisions. If they want my advice I’m happy to give it, but otherwise I’m keeping my mouth shut. And if a person has the full ability to say yes or no, to decide how she wants the relationship to progress or not to progress–I’m not sure what it is being called courtship. It’s just her deciding how she wants to date.

      Reply
      • Laura

        From what I’ve read about courtship in books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye, courtship basically means that if you want to date someone, they need to ask for your parent’s permission. Courting means dating with the intention of marriage. Chaperoning is involved. There’s a documentary called “A Courtship” which is about a single woman in her 30’s who lives with a family from her church and her adopted father figure screens her potential suitors. He interviews them at a restaurant before approving and allowing the young man to court her. Sometimes this woman does not know who these potential suitors are.
        You can watch “A Courtship” on Amazon Prime. It’s very interesting.

        Reply
  13. Kalee

    Thank you for saying this. My heart aches for Josh’s wife.

    Reply
    • Nathan

      It makes me wonder how many people in their circle blame HER for what Josh did? Was she not submissive enough? Did she not have sex with him as much as she should have? She’s also a victim in this.

      Reply
      • Lisa M

        Yes, that is a common response, he molested because his wife didn’t give him enough sex or wasn’t submissive or respectful enough. The woman interviewed in this podcast discovered her husband of 10 sexually assaulted a child and those accusations were made against HER. It’s extremely eye opening.

        https://pca.st/episode/6876894f-5239-4198-ac4b-29382e0d2191

        Reply
      • Monica

        Bingo! You got that right! No one is sympathizing w his wife. Trust me on that.

        Reply
        • T

          While I know she is a victim… I struggle with sympathy for her until she takes her children and gets out! I think she’d have tons and tons of support if she left the family and took her kids. World over in some ways. But she needs to get her children out.

          Reply
          • Lolly

            You feel the same way whenever a woman is in an abusive relationship? Does she need to be hit before one feels sympathy for her? Is verbal abuse needed first? Or s*xual abuse? Financial abuse good enough? Or is religious abuse not good enough for one to feel sympathetic?

            Because Anna has lived in religious abuse her entire life. And I would bet money that she lives under financial abuse. I have zero doubts that her and Josh’s families have manipulated and gaslighted and been emotionally abusive towards her. Maybe she doesn’t have bruises on her body…but I guarantee she has a bruised and scarred up soul.

      • Chelsea Erich

        There was a piece put out by Insider about six years ago where Anna publicly blamed herself for Josh’s Ashley Madison profiles. You can find it on YouTube. It’s sad.

        Reply
  14. Amy

    This is just FANTASTIC, Sheila! Thank you! I’ll be sharing it everywhere.

    It struck me again (I come from their same evangelical cult), that it feels to me like it goes even a step further than “women are servants, men are leaders, so the man has to be protected (when there is a sin).

    It seems to me that women in this system are essentially being punished and not just blamed for being the “perpetrator” of the crime.

    It’s one (disgusting, God-dishonoring) thing to blame the woman for a man’s lust as I was taught to do, but watching this story unfold, I’m reminded of the feeling that I was also *punished* for the man’s sin.

    I didn’t grow up sad that someone sinned against me when sexually assaulting me (at Bible college).

    I was not just the guilty one, I was also the punished one. Made to carry the weight of the guilt of having “caused” the assault (because I existed as a female typing on a computer on a classroom, I received the punishment (isolation and rejection by school staff who refused to report it).

    I sense that here. The family seems to shift blame off of the son. And the consequences have to be paid by others as well. Maybe even (?) blaming his wife. I sense her guilt feelings and imagine I can feel her caring the cost and consequences too.

    It’s a lot for the innocent to be burdened with. And a lot that this graphically dysfunctional system and those who support it will have to answer for before the Judge.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Amen, Amy! And I’m so sorry you endured that. That was so wrong. But you’re right–we do make the innocent party carry the blame.

      Reply
      • Amy

        Thanks Sheila! I barely make sense here (it was late, and, uff, this topic!) but I wanted to share my a-ha moment of this reality: that while we are sometimes made to carry blame for the other’s sin, in this case and in mind, often the punishment as well (that they should have received).

        Reply
    • Nathan

      It’s so horrible that you were blamed for this, and made to suffer the consequences, while the person who caused it likely had no accountability at all. I pray this will change.

      Reply
    • Monica

      Your senses are spot on.

      Reply
  15. Nathan

    “All men lust” plus “only men should lead” does cause a problem.

    In addition, the extremely broad definition that some have applied to “lust” makes it more difficult to overcome. If you define lust as ANY sexual thought or attraction, or even noticing a woman, then yes, nearly every man DOES lust.

    Creating a system where we protect and enable the abusers at the expense of the abused doesn’t go to a good place

    Reply
    • Beth

      This!

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    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Every woman also lusts, by that definition. Women feel arousal by seeing an attractive man too.

      Reply
  16. Beth

    I teared up a little at these points. I don’t have words. Thank you Sheila. Thank you Jesus for not being like what the evangelical world teaches.

    Reply
  17. A2bbethany

    The most painful thing and world shaking experience, was learning my father and brother’s true opinions on abuse. They were not much better, if at all, than the Duggar parents. And while watching this trial lay out, I’ve been pondering the fact that my parents didn’t just ignorantly mess up once, but 3 separate times. 2 of them because “it’s family”, and they were merely banned from visiting for a time. (Not even permanently) and I’m just keeping the peace for my Younger siblings, otherwise I’d probably cut my parents off.

    And that doesn’t even account for my verbally abusive sister being completely ignored as somehow normal.

    As an adult learning and realizing how badly your parents failed you, makes the rest of childhood not matter. Because this was the thing for them to get right and they failed.

    Reply
    • Anonymous305

      ☹️❤️🧸!!!!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, Bethany. So true. This was something they should have gotten right.

      Reply
    • Amy

      I’m so sorry, Bethany. All of that should not have happened.

      Reply
  18. Lisa Manske

    Yes. 100%.

    Reply
  19. Melissa

    When I learned about Jim Bob betraying his daughters on the witness stand, I felt deep rage. That man is a monster. I hope the people in his district loudly voice that they do NOT want him representing them in the legislature.

    I think about the tearful interview a few of his sisters gave in the aftermath of the molestation by their brother being made public. Then saying they forgave him and that dealing with the public exposure was what was upsetting them more. I recall an excerpt from Jinger’s book published in an article where she talks about her family loading up in their bus from the back door in the dark to escape the media in front of their house because “a family member had made some poor choices that we had already dealt with as a family”. I see how these girls (minus Jill) are talking about it and I just want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and shout “You can be angry about this! God is angry! God is angry that you were wronged and that your father chose not to protect you! You can be ANGRY! God is ANGRY on your behalf! BE ANGRY!”

    Reply
    • Monica

      Righteous anger isn’t allowed in this cult. The ‘koolaid’ has been their lifeline.

      Reply
      • Amy

        Yes, we were gaslit and told we were being bitter.

        Reply
  20. Kristen

    Such an excellent take on this tragic situation. The parallel you draw to Tamar is so insightful and compelling.
    Thank you for having the courage to call the evangelical church to be more Christlike in how it deals with this kind of abuse

    Reply
  21. Ash

    Thank you so much for this. The “Every Man’s Battle” idea was so utterly detrimental to me, and in turn to my marriage and basically every other relationship that when I finally understood how messed up my thinking was, I was shocked for a long time. I am
    now able to have healthy relationships, thank the Lord! (I have 5 sons!! It makes me so sad to think I ever thought all men were like this!) also, its so heartbreaking, such a joy killer, and brings on so much anxiety to feel like you are the problem and constantly try to fix yourself, while the true culprit never actually deals with it! And it just continues! Thank you for exposing the truth, Sheila!!! when Josh D got caught the first time, he should have been fully exposed in order to actually deal with the root, his own obv deep sin issues. Unfortunately, the root wasn’t pulled up then and the addiction continued, so heartbreaking!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! And isn’t it interesting how once you have sons you often start to see things differently? We don’t believe our sons are like this, and we don’t want to raise them to be like this, so we change.

      Reply
  22. Charity Gutierrez-Vazquez

    Wow. Wise words

    Reply
  23. Kelly Fain

    I do believe lust is sinful in nature. Man or woman. I do also believe that human, or the vast majority, are hardwired with sexual desire. Sexual desire and lust are not equivalent though. I think that if the position of evangelicals was that men and women are born with strong sexual desires and attractions (as they age), then that is the plight of us all. They are definitely controllable though. The NT tells us that to remain single is possible and desired but since we desire sexual closeness, we should marry. My heart is breaking for the kids in the images and all that are abused and for his sisters. I hope they see what you pointed out and come to terms with it instead of just allowing the neglect of their parents in not protecting them then and now rob them of peace and joy!

    Reply
  24. Kara

    Thank you for this, Sheila. Heck, I am a woman and I still struggle with lust, so NO, it is most definitely not just a man’s battle!!! Do they know how many women watch porn nowadays? By God’s grace, I’m not struggling there anymore, but we have to stop marginalizing women by saying “lust is only a man’s problem.” That’s not your whole point, I know, but that part really stood out to me as I completely relate to the patriarchal being an issue.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! We cover that in The Great Sex Rescue too. And the research shows that women are just as visual as men–it’s just that we train ourselves to ignore sexual stimuli and so don’t often register the arousal.

      Reply
    • Laura

      If lust was only a man’s problem, there wouldn’t be a huge market for romance novels and books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Lust is a human problem.

      Reply
  25. Amy Granger

    I really enjoyed reading this and the different perspective it brought to light for me. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t even think about Jim Bob not defending his daughters.
    Having followed Josh’s messiness since it was brought to light, I am glad that he is being held accountable for actions. I pray that he didn’t harm his own children.
    I pray for Josh too. God loves him just as much as he loves you and me.

    Reply
  26. Bethany

    An excellent article! So well written! Thank you for bringing out the truth in such a clear way! I don’t know that I’d ever looked at the entire story of Tamar and the far reaching and long term effect it had in David’s family…all because he chose to protect his son at the expense of his daughter.
    We as the body of Christ must do better!
    Thank you for everything you’re doing to shine the light into this darkness! You are making a difference!

    Reply
  27. Codec

    You know when it comes to the Ravi Zacharias abuse it honestly made me sad when i fpund out.

    His books and sermons were great and in a lot of ways he helped me grow as a person.

    He helped me learn about other cultures and helped me to think globally.

    He had a book about Oscar Wilde conversing with Blaise Pascal and Jesus that honestly was beautiful.

    I hope that his faith was legitimate and that the people he hurt may find peace and healing.

    I think the scariest part of all of this kind of stuff is knowing that I could be the villian as well. If anything this has been sobering. Its like the third wave experiment realizing you easily could have been a nazi.

    I wonder how many people are afraid to seek healing because they have been a victim victimizer or both.

    Reply
    • Laura

      It is so hard to realize how toxic those we admired turned out to be. I love Hillsong music, but knowing that there’s been a lot of abuse coverups in that international megachurch has caused me to feel convicted every time I hear one of their songs on the radio. Even if the musicians had nothing to do with the abuse coverups, it still troubles me to like and/or support the organization as a whole.

      I didn’t know who Ravi was until after he died and all of his abuse came to the light, but I did hear great things about him like you mentioned.

      Reply
      • Codec

        What he did was wrong.

        Still his ministry did a lot of good for people.

        This blog talks a lot about focus on thd family so I kind of compare it to that.

        Focus on the family has done a lot of good. They made perhaps the best adaptation of the screwtape letters.

        I honestly do not hate the writers of Every Mans Battle or the people involved in all of the porn out there. At least, i hope i do not. Honestly, i am a screwup and i am trying to make things right.

        Reply
        • Lisa

          What Ravi Zacharias did was traffic, abuse, and silence his victims. He silenced them both with money and by telling them that they had to keep quiet or else people would lose their faith.

          Do not try to whitewash how awful he was by talking about what his ministry did. His ministry had people covering up for him. Lying, silencing. It’s evil. Those same people are refusing to step down.
          .
          So what if Focus on the Family produced some good materials. They continue to hurt people. There are PLENTY of organizations that produce good material that don’t harm vulnerable people. I’d much rather go without an adaptation of The Screwtape Letters if it means people are released from bondage.

          Don’t be selfish. We will all survive without Focus on the Family and its products. The safety of vulnerable people should matter more than superfluous materials that no one really needs. If you have a Bible, the rest is just a bonus.

          Reply
    • esbee

      his wife is going to ravi’s defense and reading what she writes in his defense seems to make sense. i am putting my judgement on hold about him and the charges. good and bad water cannot come from the same fountain.

      Reply
      • Amy

        Bless you in your journey. Just wanted to add, I’ve never exposed abuse (that I watched happen or was done to me), and NOT been given that example: this person could not have done that because they produce good (or a lot of) fruit. Makes one wonder if productivity and effectivity (if counting souls or books or popularity or ability to say sentences that are truth) is a good measure of health.

        Reply
      • Lisa

        Investigative journalist Julie Roys has information on Ravi. He was a liar, plain and simple. You cannot go by the explanation of one of the people that’s been covering for him for decades. His wife enabled him in his lies.

        Reply
  28. Kathryn Gross

    Wonderful insights, powerfully written. Thanks so much for sharing them.

    Reply
  29. Sarah Micheel

    I’m concerned that the emphasis of the sentencing on fines rather than a lengthy jail time will hurt Anna and the kids. Taking money away doesn’t hurt Josh. He’s got more coming. And his sentence is likely to be reduced for “good behavior.” Most porn addicts look pretty darn good to those they want to impress. I sincerely hope he stays in jail until his children are way past 18.

    Reply
    • A2bbethany

      He’s getting a minimum of 20 years.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I don’t think so. On each count he can get a MAXIMUM of 20 years. I’ve seen some lawyer blogs speculate about 10 years?

        Reply
        • A2bbethany

          Without a crystal ball read through the bail bond information on his potential sentence. And the judge was referring to a minimum of 20 years.
          Regardless because he turned down his plea deal of 10 years, she said it’s not possible the judge would go anywhere lower than 15. Because he forced them to endure the trial and veiwing the traumatizing material.

          Also the guidelines for sentences in these crimes, they account for the age and severity downloaded. Because a 3 month old was the youngest age, that’s what requires a max sentence given. Which is 20-25 years
          Katie was very thorough in reading the bond transcript and the sentencing guidelines for the federal government. And she had lawyers affirming her conclusions.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, that’s so good to know! I was really depressed when I heard 10 years. I just want him in prison for the whole length of his kids’ growing up years so that they can grow up without him.

    • Jeanette Stanton

      Federal charges (at least involving child sex crimes) don’t allow parole. And they take into account the age of the victims, violence used, etc. I hope he gets the full 40 years and lives in terror every day of it. I’m also praying Anna gets exit counseling. She needs our, and in a safe place, learning what healthy is supposed to look like. Same for those girls/young women of the family who still believe the lies. So many toxic lies…

      Reply
  30. MH

    This whole trial has been super triggering for me. Reading the details of it on the duggarsnark Reddit page made me physically sick. How any person could look at a child/infant and do something like that is unfathomable to me.

    One of the many things things that sickened me of this whole situation, is that one of Josh’s victims that he m*lested, his sister Joy Anna, was lied to her whole life about what happened to her. It was downplayed…and her and her husband attended because they wanted the truth(since a witness took the stand to talk about it). She looked totally broken, defeated. How can you do that to a person? Her husband looked just plain angry. I don’t blame either of them one single bit.

    Imagine going your whole life being told BY YOUR PARENTS what happened when you were SA’d…only to find out it was all lies. I sincerely hope these girls are in therapy, and are able to heal(preferably on their parents dollar, since they didn’t care enough to protect them)

    Reply
    • Michelle

      A very toxic system/structure supported and favored Josh all along the way. He was a runaway train with parents not facing reality, favoritism etc. in childhood enabling his perversion, a wife in a structure that gave her no power or ability to stand against him. It is all so sick. The defense and prosecution experts admitted they found adult porn on his phone. That never “went away” .We know his porn addiction previously led to prostitutes. He acted on perversion with children from the beginning. Now, the evidence shows a very sick level of continued attraction and compulsion. There is no way that could not have had an outlet. If he abused what we now know was over two years of his sisters, there is nothing to suggest in the slightest that his own children were not his continued outlet. There needs to be medical and psychological exams with his children. Social Services should be knocking on Anna’s door. The normal healthy reaction of a family would be repulsion and anger and horror. And immediate suspicion and inspection of his contact with every child in the immediate and extended family.

      Reply
      • T

        I agree with this. Social services needs to help these kids… Anna too in a way.

        Reply
  31. Nathan

    Sarah Michael’s comment is very true. Not just porn addicts or sex abusers, but many violent people can look very good in court and when the cameras are on. They get a haircut, a new suit, put a cross around their neck, look very contrite, call up fake tears on command, etc.

    I also agree with Amy, though, and pray for Josh God still loves him, and Josh can overcome this, if he fully faces up to it and owns what he did.

    None of that should get him off the hook, though. Forgiveness doesn’t mean no consequences. He should still be held accountable for what he did, and that may follow him for years or even decades.

    Reply
    • Tory

      But Josh is continuing to lie about what he did and deny his sin. He had many opportunities to plead guilty, confess his sin, and accept the consequences. He denied what he did to the very end. Where is the repentance?

      Reply
  32. Elissa

    “This belief that lust and masculinity are intertwined is a uniquely evangelical problem.”
    I would disagree with this statement, based on my experience with non Christian guys and secular culture in general. And I would argue that the research you sited doesn’t support that statement either. Your survey showed that fewer non Christian men agreed that lust is every man’s battle. But why would they consider lust to be a battle if their moral framework doesn’t tell them that lust is wrong? The unbelieving guys I know would as soon say “I struggle with lust” as they would say “I struggle with eating when I am hungry.” To them it is a normal and perfectly acceptable reaction to a biological urge. While for Christian men lust is a “struggle” or “battle” because their moral framework tells them it is wrong.
    What I would say is a uniquely evangelical problem is the teaching that lust is wrong (correct) *combined with* the teaching that it is an unavoidable part of being a man (incorrect). This creates a fixation on not lusting (as you’ve discussed before) that causes men to be on guard all the time, exacerbating the problem; while the non Christian guy, in contrast, will lust because he doesn’t view it as wrong, but will not be fixated on or distracted by the fact that he’s lusting.
    Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We weren’t comparing non-Christian men. We were looking at mostly Christian men, some who identified as evangelicals and some who did not.

      We also measured whether they actually DID lust (ie watch porn; fantasize; stare at women, etc.) in a variety of situations. It was far worse among evangelical men. But all of that is coming out in The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex!

      (Also, in recent surveys I’ve done with women, about 65% say they have experienced more sexual harassment/objectification at church than at work).

      Reply
    • Lisa

      Many men I know who are not Christian or religious at all find the objectification of women to be disgusting and only for a low-life. There are secular organizations that do a far better job than Christian ones. A Call to Men is one, Fight the New Drug is another.

      Reply
  33. Denise

    You nailed it, Sheila. I find myself wanting accountability on his parents’ part for not doing the right thing the first time which, prayerfully, could have prevented so much heartache then and now. Thx for your biblical perspective.

    Reply
  34. Erin Knite

    “When a youth pastor has sex with someone in you group it’s not an affair it’s abuse” Call it rape. She or He is a minor thr youth pastor is an adult.
    You’re so good at calling this guy what they are. Let’s do that here too.

    Reply
  35. Aubree Browning

    ❤️ Thank you.

    Reply
  36. dennis murton

    I have dwelled in many nations, your comments are from a haters spirit.

    If men perform such folly , jail is the answer .

    Church, family are only points of blame or excuse by you or the individual

    Repentance, a pure heart and accountability is the answer for men and woman

    Dennis Murton
    Retired Military
    Retired Railroad
    PHD Theology

    Reply
  37. Katie

    Sheila, I’ve found most of your writing so helpful but it saddens me that there seems to be an intolerance towards anyone who doesn’t hold to an egalitarian view of gender roles. I’m a woman who firmly believes in male headship in the home and church, and I would passionately affirm that women are more than just servants; that they are whole people with a variety of gifts, made in the image of God. Most of the (non-egalitarian) Christian men I know would affirm the same, and indeed treat women in accordance with that affirmation. I can’t think of a single Christian man of my acquaintance who doesn’t treat women as whole people with a variety of gifts, made in the image of God.

    Here in the UK, the notion of lust as every man’s battle and purity culture simply aren’t a significant part of Christian thinking for the most part (not in my experience, at least). I only even know about these ideas after researching a bit more after reading Sheila’s book and wondering quite what she was talking about in that regard. I do think a lot of these issues are to do with American culture rather than flowing necessarily from complementarian theology.

    Reply
    • esbee

      I understand your point of view–it is what the church has taught for years but have you noticed the plethora of websites where women/children tell their stories of abuse under patriarchy? I have yet to find one website where the wife or child says they were abused under egalitarianism.

      Have you you read the thousands of rules put on women under patriarchy? And the intensity of the rule varies from site to site. Sites like biblical gender roles which if you read it you will be astonished as to what the writer says is biblical for men to do to their wives and for the wives to follow.

      Patriarchy now includes a branch that promotes spanking “disobedient” wives. That is what patriarchy has morphed into—. the rules for women never stop and abusers thrive under the fact that women have little or no say. They must be submissive or they are sinning.

      Btw, when I write opposing viewpoints or disagree with a patriarchal believer they respond with name calling, vehemence, vitriol and call me names, that I am sinning against God, they tell me to go home and obey my husband, etc. —I have not found that on egal sites. They present the verses, evidence and leave it to the reader to decide.

      Consider this. a single christian woman marries. She has previously had her life under the leadership/spiritual guidance of Christ. AFter being married she is now supposed to turn that headship over to a fallible man? That is not fair to her or him as there is no way the man has the wisdom of God.

      I did years of research before I saw the errors in patriarchy. It did not come overnight.

      Reply
    • Anon

      Well I’m in the UK too, and I know LOADS of people who have been harmed by this teaching, and not all from the same background/church either. One of my friends was told that she was to blame for her husband’s domestic violence, porn use and drug/alcohol addiction because she hadn’t been submissive enough/prayed enough/had good enough sex. Another friend allows her boyfriend to treat her appallingly (I’ve seen total strangers do the ‘jaw drop’ moment when they hear how he speaks to her in public) but won’t speak up about it or break up with him because she needs to be ‘submissive’. I’ve seen assault excused as ‘just who men are’ or had it blamed on the victim (‘what were you wearing?’). And church has always been the place where I have been least safe from inappropriate comments and behaviour, including sexual assault. I’m delighted to know that you have had no issues in your church, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the UK is free from this garbage.

      Reply
    • Hannah

      Hi Katie, it’s great that your experience has been so positive.

      I’m also from the UK. Like anon, I’ve seen terrible things justified by complementarianism. I also know complementarian men who treat women well.

      I think we had a watered down and less gendered version of purity culture here. Maybe not a central part of our thinking, but it still has an impact. I had plenty of friends read books from the Every man’s battle series when they came out, and pretty much everyone I knew read I kissed dating goodbye, and everybody knew about it. I don’t think we would use the phrase every man’s battle but I still hear pastors emphasise the role of women’s clothing choices in causing men to lust, and I think there is a real issue with conflating lust and noticing someone is attractive. (Would be interesting to know what TGSR stats show about UK women compared to North America).

      Reply
    • Lisa

      There’s not one verse in the bible that starts men are the head of the home or church. Not one. If it’s not biblical, but people pretend it’s biblical, then why shouldn’t we be against it? I don’t care if you want to think it, but the minute you try to pretend it’s from the Bible, then we have a problem.

      Reply
  38. esbee

    i think that with the tenets that false patriarchy pushes to have as many kids as god allows, josh probably also got lost in the sea of kids where his proclivities were missed –and when found covered up. this to me shows that patriarchy IS NOT god’s will for families just part of the history of the bible times. ——also that patriarchy has led to CDD shows how wrong it is to follow.

    Reply
  39. Cyndi

    I agree with everything on the list EXCEPT #1. Lust IS a sin, but it’s a battle that everyone must fight and win. As a wife with a 40 year marriage, I can attest to the fact that wanting to be “one” and continuing to maintain a healthy love life gives joy and satisfaction to couples.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Actually, not everyone lusts. That’s the whole point. If everyone did it, there is no victory.

      Reply
  40. Anon

    I can’t comment on the Duggar case because I’m in the UK so my only knowledge of it comes from this site. But we have had cases in the UK where sexual abuse in church/Christian organisations has been covered up and only been brought to light when someone has brought a court case against the offender.

    I think that many Christians try to hide this kind of sin or deal with it ‘in house’ because they are afraid it will be a ‘bad testimony’. I can see where they are coming from, but this kind of action leaves the victim feeling unheard, unloved and unsupported and it also does little or nothing to stop the perpetrator continuing to harm others. And of course, when their behaviour is finally exposed, the damage is far, far greater than if the church or organisation had taken proper action in the first place.

    I’ve heard this kind of coverup justified because the Bible says we are to ‘cover sin’ in 1 Peter 4. It’s true that that verse talks about love ‘covering’ a multitude of sins. But if you look at every other reference to ‘covering sin’, it is ALWAYS referring to what happens after someone has repented – our sins are ‘covered’ when we confess them, turn from them and receive forgiveness. It has NOTHING to do with ‘covering up’ sin from other people – quite the opposite. Our sin can only be ‘covered’ when it has been brought out into the open and dealt with.

    Reply
  41. Penny McCartney

    You referenced Ammon and Tamor, 2 Samuel 13. But 2 chapters before that, 11, we read of David’s time with Bathsheba, thinking he could cover it up. It took a rightous man of God to rebuke and call for repentance.
    Where are the rightous men of God? Certainly not in the Dugger family. Or in some churche’s teaching. Thank you for bring this to light.

    Reply
  42. Chris

    I think that women are on to something here. I remember when my wife and I were going to go to a female therapist for past traumas, and I was against it at first because I thought she would favor my wife and not be objective, but then Jesus actually said to me “Don’t you think I can use a woman to reach your heart just as much as a man?” I was undone. So we went, and that was probably the best decision I ever made. Not only did the female counselor listen and validate, she caused a lot of things to come to the surface in my wife that really needed to be dealt with, and the counselor did not take sides. Additionally, this case about Josh opened up a whole new world about fundamentalist Christians that I wasn’t aware of and I have to say I don’t like what they stand for. The Holy Spirit is bringing up stuff in me that I knew was “off” back when my wife loved the Duggar’s show, but I didn’t like it. Now I know why. And lastly, I TOTALLY 100% agree with your take on the “Every Man’s Battle” book. I remember reading that a decade ago and hating it. Thinking, “so, men are to just achieve the lofty position of ‘nice guy’ with this?” I thought, where is the discipline? Where is the crucifying of self and the flesh men? That book is awful! I would MUCH more recommend something like “Love and War” by John and Stasi Eldredge or “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge. For me, learning to hear from Jesus (daily) became NOT a discipline, but a CORE NEED…I need Jesus because I CAN’T do this thing called life on my own. Jesus is my rescue and I need to be restored…daily. Give the broken parts of me over as a living sacrifice. It is NOT a woman’s job to “dress down” or “not tempt her brother”…it is our job as men to offer our strength when a woman wants or needs it, not to take from her. Adam’s great sin was going passive when he was supposed to stand in the gap for his wife, and men have been hiding with that fig leaf ever since. Our job as men is be active, loving, offer our strength and not take it selfishly. Scripture says the Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name. There is a reason for that…check out Wild at Heart for more on that. Thanks Sheila and TLH&V team!

    Reply
  43. Tatiana F

    His story reminds me of a local church’s cover up of sexual abuse in my area. The Life Church (now The Love Church) renamed after all the local negative press. The father a senior pastor covered it up and blamed the girls for the son’s actions. He was a Youth pastor and so is his brother. All who made these girls feel like they deserved it. Those even in the church due to the teachings said the girls were lying. It was horrible, they still have yet to get justice for all his victims and the church is still teaching its ways.

    Reply
  44. Melissa

    I would encourage all readers to also take the time to read the blog post by Gary Thomas that Sheila quoted. Frankly, it was very sad to see how misrepresented he was here… In more ways than one, his entire post is the total opposite of what she has assumed of him above. Here is the link to the post. https://garythomas.com/2016/09/17/husband-may-never-tell-you/

    For anyone who is interested in studying these topics biblically, desiring god.org has so many incredible resources!

    Reply
  45. Krystal

    I was just thinking about the story of Joseph while reading your article. Often the church will claim that immodest women are the problem, but what did Joseph do when he was tempted over and over by a woman that wasn’t modest from the heart? He first tried to reason with her that he couldn’t do such a thing because it wasn’t just and the second time he fled from her. When you add that to Jesus and Paul’s teaching on lust, there is literally no room to claim “We can’t help it, God made us this way!” Leighton Flowers has a whole ministry devoted to showing how false Calvanism is. And he said it started when he sought help from a church leader for his porn addiction. What he was told by his Calvinist leader, is that it was “something God decreed, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh.” A man, convicted by the Spirit, seeks help from the church and he’s given a pat in the back and told its God ordained??? What a disgrace! Leighton has a YouTube channel where he talks all about it and seeks to lead people out of that and to the truth. I’ve also noticed that a lot of groups that promote patriarchy have Calvinist roots. It’s certainly not a Calvinist only problem, but I’ve seen it come up again and again in their circles.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow! I haven’t heard that one before–God ordained this sin? I mean, I guess that’s what Every Man’s Battle says too, although they say it about ALL men.

      Reply

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