On Josh Duggar and Forgiveness


The Josh Duggar situation… oh boy.

For years, Josh Duggar has been a family values spokesperson. He’s been pointing his finger at other people for hurting the sanctity of marriage. When he should have been pointing at himself since he was cheating on his wife! Not very family value-y.

On this topic, I’ve read a lot of blogs about how “we” should forgive Josh Duggar, usually from a Christian point of view. Clearly, that should really be up to his family, but his public reputation is also at stake. How should the public treat him?

To me, forgiveness is something that should be earned. You have to actually be sorry, show improvements, and work for it. And maybe then.

I’m not someone who forgives easily and I don’t think that’s a flaw. When you’re too forgiving, people take advantage of you and you get burned over and over.

Everyone knows “that girl” who is with a guy who is bad for her. Every time he cheats on her, he promises that he’s really sorry this time and he’ll change his ways. Riiiight. She takes him back again and again.

No, he’s a scumbag and you should kick him to the curb. 

Obviously, it’s up to Anna Duggar whether to forgive him. I hope she takes into account that he didn’t even confess anything until he got caught red handed.

On Facebook, I made a few comments criticizing Josh Duggar. And I got a lot of these types of comments:

Oh, Julie, you must think you’re so perfect!

No, I acknowledge that I’m an imperfect human being and I’ve made mistakes.

Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone!

That quote, to me, means check yourself before you wreck yourself– something Josh Duggar should have done! Basically, don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t wag your finger at someone when you’re doing the exact same thing behind closed doors.

We’re all sinners!

That sounds dismissive when we’re talking about adultery. Like, c’mon guys, we’ve all cheated on our spouses! No biggie. We’ve all been there! No, I don’t think so. Cheating on your spouse and children is a big deal and it should be treated as such.

We’re all sinners. OK. Does that mean that no one is allowed to call out anyone for their wrongdoing, ever? I stole a candy bar when I was 5, so I better not say anything bad about rapists or child abusers because I have no room to talk? Please.

All sins are equal!

Really? So, gluttony is just as sinful as murdering someone? There are varying degrees of sin. It goes against common sense to say otherwise.

I hope you never find yourself in a situation where you need forgiveness!

One way to not be in that situation is to not commit serious sins in the first place. Not this: you shouldn’t do it, but if you do, shhh, there are ways to be forgiven so it’s all good. I realize I’m oversimplifying here. I wonder if that attitude is to permissive, though. Now, I assume I’ll make more mistakes in my lifetime. I don’t see myself committing “high level” skills because I have more self control than that. I don’t like this “all humans are weak” attitude. Psh.

This is not to say that the public will never forgive Josh Duggar. It just won’t be easy to earn forgiveness–nor should be it.

Julie Borowski

Julie Borowski is a political commentator living in the D.C. area. She is best known for her YouTube channel where she discusses current events in often a humorous manner. She has two cats.

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  • Christian Langley

    Still not seeing what the public has to forgive. The lout caved into his addiction and embarrassed himself, his family and his wife… none of that has any real impact on the VAST majority of people that I know. Do you know anybody that was impacted by his wanderings?

    • Brian Zakrajsek

      She specifically says that it is up to Anna Dugar whether to forgive him or not and that forgiving him is up to his family.
      From my point of view, his duplicitousness (dupliciosity?) has hurt the people whom he has campaigned against having the right to marry one another. So while gay people who want to marry were not hurt by his infidelity, they were injured by his double standard.

      • Marnie Hays Bishop

        Ridiculous. So if I have had an abortion, I cannot campaign against it? Your argument is flawed. What you need to do is to find a reason why gay marriage is not ” hurting the sanctity of marriage”. It is obvious that Josh Duggar has harmed the sanctity of his marriage which means according to you….he can’t be against the harming of marriage? Makes no sense.

        • Brian Zakrajsek

          I believe that your comparison is off. If you were currently campaigning against abortion and were regularly getting abortions, you would be a hypocrite and in my opinion would have no grounds to campaign against it. That would be a valid comparison. It’s not like the guy had an affair five years ago, realized the errors of his ways and then tried to teach others using the lessons he learned from his own mistakes.
          I don’t care what Josh has done. His infidelity has not lessened my marriage to my amazing wife nor harmed the “sanctity” of our union. I, however, am not one of the people he was trying to prevent having the right to marry. Those people do have a right to care as he potentially harmed their ability to marry the ones they love.

  • Mick

    I am curious as to how he has directly or indirectly negatively impacted anyone in a way that would merit him needing or wanting forgiveness from anyone other than his wife.

    • Marnie Hays Bishop

      My question exactly.

    • Brian Zakrajsek

      His campaigning against gay marriage on the “sanctity” of marriage potentially damaged the prospects of some people who were trying to marry the people they love. The fact that he was breaking the sanctity of those oaths makes him a hypocrite and leaves, in my opinion, room for people who were harmed to be angry. I would guess that he does not care whether those people forgive him though.

      • Mick

        I get that, but I don’t think he can be solely held responsible for the outcomes of the policies that he was for but did not put in place or prevent their removal. Hypocritical and wrong, but his apology whether forgiven or not will not change anything. He’s the wrong focus. It’s not that I don’t agree with you on the principle, I just don’t see how his infidelity makes him owe anyone other than his wife an apology, and kids if he has some.

        • Brian Zakrajsek

          I wouldn’t say that he owes anyone anything nor is he solely responsible for the laws that were enacted. He was part of the problem and therefore partially responsible for them. That means that he did negatively impact people. I know that if through my action I harm people, I try to atone for those harms done (unless that was the intended consequences of those actions as I am not perfect and have acted spitefully in the past).

          • Mick

            I can agree with that.

          • Brian Zakrajsek

            I wanted to add that I appreciate the conversation we’ve had and the tone with which you post. Thanks,

          • Mick

            Thank you for being patient with me. 😀 I had never really heard of Duggar until this stuff got publicity.

          • Brian Zakrajsek

            No patience needed. I try not to pay attention to this stuff, but I enjoy Julie’s commentary so this caught my eye.

          • Mick


  • MisterPepper

    No but seriously, who gives a shit about his wife, he literally molested his sisters. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2015/05/28/timeline-josh-duggar-19-kids-and-counting-tlc-sex-abuse-scandal/28066229/

    • The Lady Weaver

      You can care about both. I think this is just the biggest newest crap.

    • jenn

      EXACTLY! Being an incestuous pedophile is way way worse than cheating on your wife with a consenting adult. He should be labelled a sex offender and be chemically castrated before he does this to his own daughters, if he hasn’t already.

  • Nancy VM

    Don’t know him, I know he is not the only male/female/human on this planet to do such a thing. If he is meant to be the spokesperson of sinners and wrongdoers then so be it. Poor guy, its a heavy HEAVY load…

    • Pavitrasarala

      I doubt it is a heavy load for him. He only apologized when caught and, if this is part of a long-standing pattern as evidenced by the fact that he went on to do this after having molested his sisters (and who knows what’s gone on in between and since that we *don’t* know), he seems pretty unrepentant and only seems to be apologizing as a matter of lip service.

      Anyone who’s worked with pedophiles (which is what Josh Duggar is) will tell you there’s a strong tie to narcissistic traits and a lack of empathy for their victims, if anyone at all. These are people who would eat their own young if this were the animal kingdom.

      Josh Duggar is scum. I have no sympathy for him, I don’t want to understand why people like him do what they do and I don’t want to.

      • Nancy VM

        heavy load to be a sinner…

  • CR

    I do agree with you partially. However, you are confusing forgiveness with reconciliation. You can forgive someone without reconciling with them and putting them back into the same place in your life as they were before. You can even forgive someone if they never even confess their crimes. Forgiveness is healthy and helps you move on from a hurt someone has done you. Reconciliation and trust should only happen once that person has truly shown they are repentant and have turned from their ways.

    That being said, forgiveness is rarely quick and easy, especially for something as terrible as lying and cheating on your spouse. That his family is so quick to extend forgiveness seems to indicate to me that they are more concerned with appearances than they are with really going through the emotionally messy work of coming to terms with the wrong done to them. But I don’t really know them so maybe they are better people than I am. It would take me a long time to forgive someone for completely betraying and breaking my trust in such a way. And reconciliation could only happen after that person had earned it.

    • jdog777

      The quick forgiveness from the family allows the healing to begin and show maturity in their Christian values. Look at that awesome support structure. Josh is broken… and it appears that the entire and rather large family are there to support him so that the family can heal. Sure… trusting Josh will be difficult and he should not be a spokesman for morality. What else can he do except step down and resign and focus on fixing the family?

    • Nancy Blanchard

      Yes, as a Christian, forgiveness is a free gift that opens the door to the offender beginning the long process of building trust… however, the offender may never choose to enter into the process and build that trust and therefore the relationship can never be reconciled… it takes to the two elements coming from both sides for reconciliation, for a healthy relationship to begin to form. As you indicated, CR, forgiveness is healthy… and, furthermore, harboring unforgivness is destructive to the person who was hurt by the offender. Forgiveness should never need to be earned, but trust should be earned – it’s healthy for both sides.

  • jdog777

    It is disappointing that you use Duggar’s situation (which is between him and is wife ultimately) as a red herring to make a false equivocation to the greater marriage debate. The Josh Duggar’s infidelity is not indicative of the failure of society as a whole when it comes to marriage. It is merely a symptom of the greater issue. Over-sexualizing media, on-demand pornography, over reaching government involvement in marriage and family law, no-fault divorce, disintegration of faith and family values, immoral pop-culture, progressive social experiments, and the redefinition of marriage that completely contradicts the moral conscience of most of the world’s population are all the issues that should be analyzed and debated. Infidelity used to be against the law and used to reduce men and women alike into complete pariah social status. Now adultery is considered an indiscretion or simply a forgivable moment of weakness. It is not a violation of the social contract. Marriage used to be a union that protected women and children by keeping men accountable and responsible for their families… a union ordained and governed by God and witnesses. Now a marriage has been reduced as a way to get a tax break and some economic benefits or recognition. You can’t hold the position that infidelity is a “big deal” and then hold the position “if you don’t like x then don’t do x” like so many progressives masquerading as libertarians do. Grow up Julie… Duggar is a broken man. Who cares if you forgive him or not. If his wife forgives him and holds him accountable for her and her children’s welfare… then we are a little better for it. At least the rest of us aren’t carrying the financial and social bill for a fatherless family or a bunch of kids dropped off at the border.
    To give you a perspective on “forgiveness”… you said forgiveness needs to be earned. Can you imagine if Christ said that the Atonement was subject to anything outside of grace? Forgiveness is given… freely and without expectation of restitution. It is not an easy thing. Repentance requires restitution. Trust must be earned. Forgiveness is an unconditional gift. Duggar didn’t trespass on me… so he doesn’t require my forgiveness. It sounds as if his wife and family did forgive him. Good enough for me… now back to being a social warrior and fighting the good fight against the real institutional problems in society.

    • Don Bivens

      I never signed any “social contract” and if it is a “contract” then I would have to be a signer to it for it to be applicable to me.

      Marriage, as a governmental approved institution, might well have been to “protect women” but the unspoken assumption in here is that a. you think it still should be and b. women need protection and c. men don’t need protection. All of these are of course debatable points but your assumptions seem to be grounded in a time when women stayed at home and baked cookies.

      To the rest of your reply, I agree that what Duggar did didn’t affect me and doesn’t require me to “forgive” him. I suspect what Julie should’ve said was “accept as a public figure again” instead of “forgive.”

      As an aside, let’s assume Duggar was an African American mayor snorting cocaine off the tummies of hookers. I suspect he’d be “forgiven” in about 24 hours.

      • Marnie Hays Bishop

        I still bake cookies. And 24 hours?? Probably wouldn’t make evening news…lol

      • jdog777

        Easy Don… I said today adultery is not considered a violation of the social contract. It is a fair statement. If you recognize common law… that is your social contract. It is what is understood as a matter of common sense… IE you do not molest children, you do not cheat on your wife. No need to go on a diatribe that you never signed a contract. You will get no argument from me on who and who is not held at a higher standard.
        If women don’t need protection or assistance… then why is family law slanted in the favor of women. I am not saying i agree with it (as you can see from my first response… i have an issue with government involvement in marriage and family)… I am just saying it is reality.

  • Joshuwa Proctor

    Hmm, I agree and disagree.

    The forgiveness should depend on his wife. Adultery is serious. And It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter what the public thinks for the most part, it’s up to his family.

    However, with your assessment that there are varying degrees of sin, I disagree. In Matthew, Jesus (paraphrased) made a point to state that even the thoughts of a sin is equivalent to the sin itself. A sinful thought is just as bad as a sinful action. So in other words, all sins are incredibly terrible whether thoughts or actions and that’s why we need Jesus and His grace so much.

    Should we try to do better? Absolutely, but there’s nothing we can do when we sin. We’ve committed an atrocity at that point (thought or action), for which we have Jesus to thank for dying and suffering for that atrocity. It gives us something to remember and be thankful for by realizing that all sins are equally terrible and require the vast degree of forgiveness that only Jesus can provide

  • Callie Lewis

    I think there’s a difference between forgiveness and trust. I can forgive my cheating husband, and it may be a healthy release of anger, allowing me to move on with my life. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t divorce him and leave him as a part of that moving on. There’s no way to quickly patch over that breach of trust. Trust does have to be earned, and safety for myself and my children would be #1 priority. And no, I would not expect the public to give him one iota of respect.

    • johnediii

      I am a Christian. I do not need to forgive Josh Duggar really because he has done nothing to me personally. However, Callie is right about Forgiveness and trust. Jesus tells us that we are to forgive those who sin against us “seventy times seven” which doesn’t necessarily literally mean 490 times, it just means a whole lot. The crux of a lot of Christian thought these days on sins, particularly sexual sin is accountability. A person chooses to make themselves accountable to other Christians as a defense against certain specific behaviors that they have a weakness to succumb to. However, all of this comes down to the question, who did Josh Duggar sin against? This is who needs to forgive him. It does not mean that we do not hold him accountable to consequences and it does not mean that we just forget about everything from now on. God can forgive and forget. Man, not so much.
      The other thing I would say is that, while forgiveness is a very good thing to do, the command to forgive is a Christian command. If a Christian feels wronged by Josh Duggar, then that Christian needs to forgive him. If you are not a Christian, then it’s not a command, it’s merely a suggestion from a guy who went to great lengths to make us understand forgiveness.

      • Callie Lewis

        Well said.

  • petedoc810

    I agree with you 100%. (BTW, it’s “TOO permissive”, not TO).

  • Antodav

    I think that the problem here may be that Julie seems to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you just pretend something never happened and go along on your merry way, inviting yourself to be wounded in the same manner you were before. Forgiveness does not require forgetting. It’s perfectly fine to take measures to protect oneself from being hurt again by someone who has betrayed a sacred trust; in the case of adultery, divorce is a perfectly acceptable and appropriate option. There are some Christian sects who take a more extreme and fundamentalist attitude towards this sort of thing (like that to which the Duggars belong), but they are proceeding from a flawed and uninspired understanding of the Bible’s teachings.

    Also, forgiveness often is as much if not more about helping oneself rather than helping the other person who has transgressed. Holding onto resentment, anger, and grudges for an extended period of time poisons the soul and can negatively affect one’s future relationships as well as one’s health. By forgiving, we can let go of the pain and the hurt and thus begin to heal ourselves. Again, that doesn’t mean that we have to put ourselves in a situation where we have to be subjected to more pain; I don’t believe that God wants that for anyone.

    Here is a talk that might help explain the concept a little bit better: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/forgiveness?lang=eng

    As for society, considering how much immoral and harmful behavior it tolerates already, it’s rather surprising that adultery is even still thought of as a social taboo, much less a sin. If you want to talk about hypocrisy, society is far more guilty of it, and has far less room to criticize, than Duggar has. I guess adultery is only still considered wrong because it affects our selfish desire to have another person all to ourselves—which isn’t necessarily wrong in and of itself, but in the broader societal context exists for the wrong reasons. This is also why it’s ok for people to sleep around with multiple individuals outside of marriage, but for some reason, polygamy is still considered immoral…

  • Marnie Hays Bishop

    I think it is funny that the people with no values AT ALL seem to be the ones that are pointing fingers at this family. He needs to be forgiven by his family, not us. The majority of people who are making comments about this whole thing are just happy to see someone that they think is ” acting like he is sooo godly” fall on his face. This sickens me. He is a jerk, a christian jerk, who has the same problems that lots of you do. Is it beat up on Christians day again? Oh and Josh Duggar…I forgive you for getting the rest of us christians beat up. :)

    • Jessie

      Not being religious, does not equal not having values. I simply don’t need my values to come from a book written by someone else. I have a moral compass. I think most people do.

      Also, I could probably care less about this family, if they didn’t actively campaign, successfully in one case, against gay and trans people. Going so far as to paint trans* people as pedophiles and predators. It also sickens me that Josh has gotten away with his crimes, against his sisters and the babysitter, much in the same way the Bill Cosby case sickens me. It has nothing to with him being Christian.

  • SiliconScribe

    Julie, I don’t think forgiveness is equal to forgetting. You imply the two are mutually exclusive. You say “I don’t forgive easy” but it seems like you mean that you don’t forget what was done easy. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to trust the person, or forget the hurt they cuased. Trust is broken and it takes time to repair but that doesn’t start until you forgive. It allows you to move on. By forgiving them you acknowledge they are human, and you release the pain you feel about whatever they did. But your forgiveness doesn’t release them from accountability and repucions.

  • http://www.1singur.deviantart.com/ Stefan Dumitrache

    This guy is such a liability that he shouldn’t even be allowed to DO whatever he might think would clear his name. Just remove and don’t support him for ANY public position he might try to get back to, because he proved to be the lowest of the low. A liar, and a pathetic one at that since he wasn’t able to ensure his own discretion. How can such a man be trusted with having an influence on public issues? He can’t. Choose instead vertical men or women, that proved themselves rightly by doing righteous things for their families and their local communities. Not frauds like this scumbag. I feel sorry for his wife. Really sorry.

  • jenn

    Let’s all not forget, this guy is an admitted pedophile.

  • Jack

    I’m a Christian and preacher and I totally agree with your thoughts on forgiveness here. One of the things that drives me crazy is the idea that we just ought to just forgive everybody. In the Bible those there was a church that was actually condemned for forgiving someone who didn’t care about their sinful actions (Rev. 2:20 “tolerate” is literally the word for “forgiveness”). We forgive as God forgave us, and God forgives us when we turn away from our wrongdoing, not before. If Josh Duggar were to actually change his life and maybe do something like actively fight against adultery, then forgiveness is warranted. Until then though, he doesn’t get any forgiveness from God and shouldn’t get any from Christians. Sorry for preaching Julie! Great points, love the blog.

  • jim_m

    People always make the mistake of confusing how God looks at sin with how people look at sin and how sin affects others. God, being perfectly holy, has set the bar at perfection and knowing that we cannot achieve that has made payment possible through the sacrifice of Christ. Since the requirement is sinlessness effectively, there is no difference between gluttony and murder.

    But that is not the effect of sin in this world and not how people see sin. Some sins really are worse than others in the temporal world and adopting some pious pose, pretending that you see sin the way God sees it is just that: a pose.