Denhollander sees Anna Duggar‘s silence about her husband’s sexual proclivities as symptomatic of certain evangelical teachings about the proper role of wives. Denhollander referenced several concepts promoted in some conservative circles, including the complementarian teaching that wives need to respect and submit to their husbands. Some conservative Christians emphasize the idea that “God hates divorce” so much that they encourage women to stay in abusive situations. And it is not unusual for Christian women to be taught they are responsible for men’s lust. If they are married, women are encouraged to make sure to have regular sex with their husbands so that the men will not be unfaithful.
“[Anna] certainly couldn’t tell anyone, because that would not be respectful,” said Denhollander. “That’s how we counsel wives in these marriages. But she was certainly taught to have sex more to fix it. Her own mother-in-law wrote blog articles that said as much.”
Denhollander went on to point out how Josh Duggar’s family and community, despite facing shocking and plentiful evidence that he sexually preys on children, is bending over backwards to make life easier for him.
Josh Duggar’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, called people in his church to see if any would be custodians for his son when Josh was released on bail. “[Jim Bob] found a man willing to take [Josh] in,” said Denhollander. “Except that man’s wife teaches piano lessons to children, and she was not comfortable having Josh home with her all day, because she would be alone with him while her husband was at work. That didn’t matter to the husband, however. She has to find a new place to teach all those children because her husband wants Josh to live with them.”
The couple who have agreed to take Josh Duggar in are LaCount and Maria Reber. The Rebers have two children, including a 22-year-old daughter. The family hosts piano lessons out of their home, but have agreed to move the students to another location.
Maria Reber has said that she is uncomfortable being alone with Josh Duggar and is also uncomfortable with her 22-year-old daughter being alone with him. However, at Wednesday’s hearing, Reber testified, “My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision.”
“Every single family who takes piano from her, and the wife herself, has to uproot their routine, livelihood and the child’s music education, because Josh,” said Denhollander. “Everyone is expected to bear the cost, except Josh. And the wife’s own very reasonable fears about being alone all day with a man who enjoys the sexual torture of toddlers didn’t matter to the husband either. The men in the situation are the leaders making the decisions while the women are expected to ‘submit.’”
Denhollander suggested that the Christians in this situation are living out twisted teachings on manhood and womanhood. And what is even more disturbing is that these teachings are pervasive. “The cost and impact is being born by everyone but the perpetrator, and the men given free reign to be ‘leaders,’” she said. “This is abusive culture. This is toxic Christianity. This is not manhood. This is not womanhood. This is depraved. And the worst part is, I know literally hundreds of women on the receiving end of this garbage. Josh, and this situation, aren’t the anomaly. They are the norm. Because we actually don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Women are taught as the cause and solution to men’s sexual perversions. Until our theology changes to actually reflect Scripture, we shouldn’t be surprised at any of this. It’s a story I see every single day. It’s wicked. It’s evil. And it’s long past time that we called it that – not just the abuse, but the twisted theology that fuels it.