Back in 2014, the eldest Duggar daughters — Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger — released an advice book.
Growing Up Duggar gave tips on all sorts of relationships, including ones with friends, parents, and even siblings.
Given the recent disclosure that eldest Duggar child Josh Duggar molested his sisters twelve years ago, it’s safe to assume at least one (and potentially all) of the book’s authors was his victim (as most of the other Duggar daughters weren’t even born at that time).
In a story you’ll see on PerezHilton.com first, there’s a whole chapter entitled “Your Relationship With Your Siblings” devoted to the topic, including brother-sister relationships. Did the eldest daughters hint at the molestation in their book? Check out these excerpts and decide:
In the first part of the chapter, the sisters (who write collectively) talk about reacting to siblings who “misbehave” or “treat [them] unfairly.”
“Even though we may not feel like forgiving someone, we must choose to forgive every person who offends us and do it before they ask — and regardless if they ever do ask.”
“The choice to forgive doesn’t always free the other person from the consequences of his or her wrong actions, but it frees the forgiver of negative feelings towards the offender. And if we still have feelings of bitterness, the Bible says it’s not only to forgive the other person, but also to go a step further and look for ways to bless him or her.”
Their message is strong, but vague.
If the Duggars preach forgiveness frees the forgiver of negative feelings towards the offender — and to even bless offenders — it may explain why Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar refused to initially bring Josh in for police questioning after he admitted his despicable actions, and why Josh was sent to live with family friends instead of entering a rehabilitation program.
A later passage in the chapter potentially provides even more insights.
The girls write about a “chain of command” in the family that follows birth order (with Josh being the eldest):
“The system is for when an older child encourages a younger child to do what is right or not do what is wrong, and the younger child is expected to listen … their older siblings are their elders and they should treat them as such … Josiah can ask James to stop whistling in the car, and he needs to stop.”
Given their patriarchal family structure and this “chain of command,” one can only speculate what the girls were thinking when their eldest brother was touching them. While Josh’s offenses took place in 2002-2003, the girls weren’t interviewed by police until December 2006, but charges were not filed because the three-year statute of limitation had run out. What — or who — kept the girls silent?
None of the Duggar girls have publicly reacted to Josh’s admission, though Jim Bob and Michelle released a statement saying that “God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us.”
Their words seem to echo what their daughters wrote in Growing Up Duggar, with the emphasis on forgiveness instead of fault.
With the statutes of limitation expired and records destroyed, Josh will unlikely face any legal repercussions. It remains to be seen if his sisters will speak out, but they seem to be following their own advice to forgive … and to also not talk.
[Image via Simon & Schuster.]