Josh Duggar and Possibly Impossible Expectations

duggarJoshua Duggar released a statement saying that he had been unfaithful to his wife, Anna. This is the second sexual item that has come to public light. In the statement, he admitted to using pornography for years and being “unfaithful” to his wife, though a later statement omitted references to pornography. He also never admitted to using Ashley Madison, a site guaranteed to fix adulterous unions.

His Ashley Madison profile included his interests and turn-ons. His interests included experimentation with sex toys and “naughty girls,” and his turn-ons included spontaneity, professional, independent, confident women.

The CNN article that mentions this also included a biographical bit that the Duggars don’t believe in birth control and “follow strict courtship rules.”

Is it just me, or how much do his interests and turn-ons reflect his upbringing? It may seem obvious, but they seem to be the exact opposite. While his upbringing was structured and holy, he wanted a “spontaneous,” “naughty girl.” While his upbringing lauded the submissive wife, he seeks an “independent, confident woman.”

I wonder how much of these recent sexual revelations are a man trying to forge an identity that he was never afforded based on his very public upbringing. Did he get to experiment with things?

And I don’t necessarily mean sexual experimentation. The show “19 Kids and Counting” seemed to portray a highly structured, strongly religious household. I don’t find such households to be a bad thing in themselves. I didn’t get the impression, however, that there was much room for him to flourish as an individual. I do have a problem when the appearance of family values is valued over actual family values. I don’t think the cameras of the show, the expectations of the family’s ideology (Quiverfull), or the constant togetherness allowed this young man room to fail and face consequences.

How was Duggar’s use of pornography supposed to play out in a marriage with a wife raised in a similar household as he? Let’s just say porn actresses and young Quiverfull maidens are not the same thing. Pornography doesn’t capture the reality of the smells, the negotiations, the sounds, the occasional laughter, the accidental farts, the burp kisses, the spontaneous and unshowered times, the times when you don’t look your Sunday best or haven’t read the script, the years of commitment some couples have shared, the fears, stresses, anger, and other emotions waiting outside the bedroom, or the fact that couples don’t have a production company making them look unrealistically amazing. Sure, porn is titillating, but it sets you up for failure if you think it reflects reality at all.

This is not to say that fundamentalist Christians don’t engage in oral sex, “naughtiness,” use of sex toys, or other acts than the missionary position, but if Tim and Beverly LaHaye’s fundamentalist sex manual (The Act of Marriage) is any indication, there isn’t much room for these types of behaviors even in the marriage bed.

I came across a troubling bit of information on Vyckie Garrison’s blog at Patheos on Josh Duggar.  She noted that there was pressure from matriarch Duggar to always be available for your man, because his wife alone can give him the physical love he needs. This makes sense in a marital relationship that has chosen to be monogamous and consolidate all sexual release in that relationship. I can speak the following as a man: I sometimes want sex more than my wife.

The dangerous thing with this line of reasoning is that it carries a latent assumption that if a man cheats, his wife was not available enough to him.

If I cheat, does that mean my wife just wasn’t available enough for me? That would occlude my own agency. It treats me as if I had no control of hiding emails/texts, taking time out of my life to stoke an illicit fire, my feet taking me to a vehicle, pressing the gas, thinking about what I’m going to do with my tryst on the way to see her/him, ringing the doorbell, making sure no one is following me, doing sexy small talk, disrobing, finally doing the deed, then going back home and pretending I am an upstanding citizen. Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like a lot more activity on my part than if my wife didn’t want to have sex as often as me.

It’s just sad that the quest for this young man to find himself came at the expense of his wife, his children, his family, his organizational alliances, and future prospects. It didn’t have to.

I don’t think this would have happened had the young Duggar had a little more freedom growing up, experimented in his twenties, married a little later in life. Who’s to say? The way one is raised doesn’t determine outcomes. But there are trends.

Here’s a sad tale. Religion seems to have little influence on marital faithfulness. According to a survey by Ashley Madison on New York Daily News, over 2/3 of its users identified as Evangelical, Catholic, or Protestant, while only 2% identified as agnostic, 1.4% as atheist, and 1.4% as Jewish. I don’t know what to make of this other than that family values don’t seem to be very valuable these days. Family values can’t possibly happen if they don’t face the realities of relationships.

What Will We Be Like as Parents?

The other day at my in-laws, I was on my way to take a slam. As is my custom, I grabbed a book to occupy myself. It was Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat. I sat down. I read the



publication date. 1957. At least I think that was the date. Then I began the book. Two kids are left home alone while their mother is running errands. They’re bored. And then in comes a stranger to entertain them. Granted, he’s an animal, but he’s a grown up animal, anthropomorphic, and a stranger still. These few pages got me to thinking.

My brother and I grew up, many times being left alone at home while our parents worked. Our friends grew up with this experience. This was about the mid 90s to the time we left the house. I don’t think my parents did anything wrong. It was a different time. They’d probably do things differently if they raised us today. I wonder if I would want my kid(s) (only got one now) unsupervised very often. It’s not so much a trust issue as a responsibility issue. Kids aren’t born



responsible. They have to be taught responsibility. This requires supervision for awhile. Ethics/morals don’t occur naturally; they must be fostered from without until internalized by the children. Parents slowly introduce more and more freedom to their children so that the values instilled from without are allowed to emanate from the children’s own wills. For, eventually, children will be on their own. Why not start practicing their values while still under the guidance of parents?

Not that my brother and I did anything crazy, but there was plenty of opportunity. At my friend’s house (unsupervised) was where I was first introduced to pornography. Much worse could have happened. What if my friend’s older sibling had molested me? What if girls or guys had been there to experiment with? What kind of drug trouble could I have encountered? But I think porn was enough to skew my view of sexuality without proper framing from my parents. They were quite open with me about matters sexual. Dad taught about human sexuality in a graduate setting. We were free to ask them questions. Through no fault of their own, I was already introduced to the subject through pornography. So while I was getting what should have been a good framing of human sexuality, it was already perverted. Instead of two (and only two) mature, committed, freely chosen, and loving individuals expressing their care for one another, I viewed sexuality in an individualistic, selfish, dominating, ignoring of the other’s needs/desires, non-relational, notches in a bedpost fashion. Funny such a view took over 20 years to undo.

And sexuality is only one thing. There are so many things to supervise and guide. Money. Domestic responsibilities. Work ethic. Picking a good partner. Picking and maintaining healthy relationships. Health. Education. The hard thing is trying to avoid being overbearing, too. I am a father. While that involves authority, I don’t want to reduce my son’s relationship with me to one of authority/obeyer. Sarah and I will probably supervise (or have someone else supervise) our kids directly until their teenage years. I’ll have to continue talking with her about this, lol, but I think that’s when I’ll start relinquishing some of my supervision. I’ll be there, but not as constant a check as I was. For how else will the kids grow unless they do a bit of living on their own? I can’t be there to fix all their mistakes. I won’t leave them helpless, but I probably would let them sit in a cell overnight if they jacked a car, flashed helpless teenagers, or vandalized their school. What would you do? How will you parent or are you parenting?