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Thoughts on the Duggars, the Ninth Commandment, Reporting Child SexAbuse and Repentance

By Angela Wittman

"And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.

"And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly." (2 Samuel 13: 11, 12)

By now, most have heard the news reports of Reality Television stars the Duggar family and their experience of child sex abuse, so I won't go into the sordid details because I really do try to be respectful of others privacy and don't want to cause further harm to the victims. I'm not even going to question Josh Duggar's repentance because he was a youth at the time of the sex abuse and I am a firm believer in the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. But I am going to address the need for openness, transparency and truthfulness in this and other matters of child sex abuse within the Christian Church.

For almost a week now I've been researching the Duggar scandal and discussing it with other Christians and frankly I'm shocked at some of the callous attitudes I've encountered. Instead of acknowledging that sibling sex abuse is a terrible sin, some have brushed it off as nothing more than children "playing doctor" or it's just a curious teenage boy exploring his sisters anatomy - you know "boys will be boys" or "when I was in high school that stuff was going on in the hallways all the time." I would expect a pedophile to give this type of response, but not fellow believers.  After all, aren't Christians supposed to be salt and light to a dark and depraved world? Instead the world appears to be more open in exposing this wickedness than the church!

So, before the reader lectures me on the Ninth Commandment and excuses the apathy and silence of Christians regarding this matter, let's take a look at what God has told us about sibling sex abuse and see if we really should hush-up those who dare draw attention to the ultimate betrayal of innocent children:
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.

And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her.

But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.

And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.

And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat.

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.

And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.

10 And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.

11 And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.

12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.

13 And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.

14 Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.

15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.

16 And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.

17 Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.

18 And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

19 And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.

20 And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.

21 But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.

Such a sad story about the personal family life of the man after God's own heart - King David! But why would God record this tragedy for all eternity? Wasn't King David repentant? Didn't he write the majority of the Psalms many of us read regularly and often sing during Worship? Do you think perhaps God was contradicting Himself when it comes to warning His people about gossip, tale-bearing and slander? Or could it be this account was recorded to warn His followers about the snares of sin and for them to avoid it?  Of course we see God's mercy and grace throughout Scripture, but we also see instruction for how to live on this earth as Christians.

Child molestation is no small matter and we shouldn't try to belittle this betrayal of innocent minded children by parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. Instead let's take this opportunity to talk to our children and fellow believers about lessons learned. Instead of calling each other names such as "gossip" or "tale-bearer," let's humbly acknowledge that this tragedy has shocked many evangelicals, but silence won't make the sinful behavior go away. Families need to research and learn the signs of child sex abuse. A child who is abused by a sibling or other person she (or he) loves and trusts, isn't going to be willing to tell on them. Also, he or she may feel they are part of the blame and must have done something to entice the abuser. Parents need to be equipped and not caught off guard or "shocked" as it appears the Duggars' were when this happened in their family. And above all, don't feed the mentality of keeping this abuse "silent." Even if the parent means well, their desire for silence is harmful for both the victim and the abuser who really do need professional help.

The chain of abuse must be broken and only by the grace of God with the help of others can this happen. Stop the silence, and for goodness sake, don't try to keep me quiet. I wouldn't be able to look the Lord in the face if I were to keep silent at a time like this, and neither should you.

May the good Lord give wisdom and grace to those reading these thoughts. In Lord Jesus Name, I pray, amen.


  1. […] a follow-up to yesterday’s post: Thoughts on the Duggars, the Ninth Commandment, Reporting Child Sex Abuse and Repentance, I’d like to encourage those who are grappling with past sins that others have committed […]

  2. Angela, thank you for your willingness to post about this. I have many general thoughts but haven't researched this particular instance of failure in the Christian family and Church. All I'm certain of is that it is wrong to treat sin lightly. Wrong to cover it up, unless it has been dealt with truthfully and faithfully. Imprudent to put your life in a kind of fishbowl for all to see, when the Lord's Name may be blasphemed. Everything about this situation, hiding the truth, making light of sin, and walking arm in arm with the world (it seems to me) is wrong. Judgment truly does begin with household of God. If only we would be serious about our faith and the consequences of sin.

  3. Thank you Maria! I hadn't planned to write about this, but the more comments I read made by Christians convinced me something needed to be said about the seriousness of the sin of child sexual abuse. I'm not out to ruin the Duggar family or Josh in particular - if anything I hold the parents, especially the father as being most accountable for his family's troubles. So, while I don't want to add to their problems, I just can't keep quiet either. I keep thinking of all the children in other families going through similar abuse and that it needs to be stopped.


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