A relative of the family made famous by TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” on Sunday said “we should not be shocked” that Josh Duggar allegedly molested underage girls when he was a teenager.
The eldest Duggar child apologized and resigned his position as the executive director of the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm after a 2006 police report detailing the molestation allegations surfaced Thursday.
Michael Seewald, the father-in-law of Josh Duggar’s younger sister Jessa, wrote a lengthy blog post Sunday affirming that his family stood in solidarity with both the Duggar family and the unidentified victims. The post was dedicated to bringing what Seewald called “context and reason” to the media firestorm that followed the release of the nearly decade-old offense report.
Seewald spent most of the post giving a faith-based argument for why Duggar should be beyond reproach in the present day and at times seemed to characterize Duggar’s “sins” as inevitable. While he said Duggar’s alleged sex crimes were “reprehensible,” Seewald argued it was improper to judge him for those offenses because he’d sought forgiveness over the years from both the alleged victims and Jesus Christ.
“Here is a warning for everyone reading this, by condemning a repentant sinner you have placed yourself in the place of God … We are never to condone sin, and the sins of Josh’s youth are reprehensible,” Seewald wrote. “Civil penalties are sometimes required and we should never begrudge the victims of crimes or the civil authorities from seeking justice, but we are not to condemn repentant sinners in our hearts or with our tongues or pens.”
Seewald’s other line of argument was that no one “should be shocked” the alleged sex offenses occurred. He argued that all people are capable of depravity and most only stop themselves from committing an offense because of “lack of opportunity or fear of consequences.”
“While not all of our sins find a way to manifest themselves externally we all know the corruption that is present in each of our hearts. It is a mercy of God that he restrains the evil of mankind otherwise we would have destroyed ourselves long ago,” Seewald wrote. “Many times it is simply lack of opportunity or fear of consequences that keep us from falling into grievous sin even though our fallen hearts would love to indulge the flesh. We should not be shocked that this occurred in the Duggar’s home, we should rather be thankful to God if we have been spared such, and pray that he would keep us and our children from falling.”
In the same vein, Seewald dismissed the argument that Duggar’s strict, Christian, upbringing factored into his alleged transgressions as a teenager.
“They think that had he access to sex education by Planned Parenthood, been allowed to watch edgy Hollywood films, been encouraged to experimentation with a girlfriend, or gotten free condoms from the local school nurse, then none of this would have happened. Right,” Seewald wrote. “The stupidity of some people is mind boggling. Fan the flames of youthful lust and you end up with what we have: unprecedented numbers of unwed mothers, millions of abortions, rampant STDs, and the unraveling of the fabric of our whole society. Josh didn’t sin because he was repressed, he sinned because like all of us he is a sinner.”
After expending all that oxygen to defend his daughter-in-law’s brother, Seewald implored victims of sex abuse to come forward with their stories.
“Finally, a word to the millions of muted victims of sexual abuse all over the world. It is not your fault,” he wrote. “No matter what the abuser may have said, you are not the one to blame. Do not keep silent if you are being abused, tell someone you trust, a parent, a teacher, a friend, anyone is better than silence. You are likely not the only one who has been abused. Tell someone so that they will be stopped.”