The father-in-law of one of Josh Duggar’s sisters has spoken out in support of the embattled evangelical reality TV star and his family.
In a lengthy blog post Sunday, Michael Seewald — whose son, Ben, is married to Jessa Duggar — wrote:
The Seewald family stands with the Duggar family in solidarity. We stand with the unnamed victims of these incidents. Our thoughts and prayers are for you. I want to say to Josh, hang in there, the shame you feel is legitimate, yet Jesus took your shame as he was punished in your place. Rest in his forgiveness and grace. Remember that he gives you his righteousness as a covering for your shame. Let this trial in your life build humility and grace. Don’t be angry at the world for their hatred of you. Show them through your love for them that it is Jesus Christ that made all the difference in your life. I’m rooting for you.
His 2,162-word post, titled “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” was published three days after Josh Duggar apologized in the wake of a tabloid report alleging that he molested several underage girls while he was a teenager.
Saying that he had “acted inexcusably” and was “deeply sorry” for what he called “my wrongdoing,” the 27-year-old Duggar resigned his post with the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying organization, on Thursday. A day later, TLC announced that it had pulled all episodes of “19 Kids and Counting” off the air.
“There is blood in the water and the sharks are in a feeding frenzy,” Seewald wrote. “Finally, the Duggar family’s opponents have found what they have been eagerly waiting for: shocking revelations of scandal by Jim Bob and Michelle’s firstborn son, Josh.”
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar “are to be commended,” Seewald wrote. “I believe that Josh’s parents acted in a way that godly parents should. They did not turn a blind eye, but earnestly sought help from the church, counselors, and eventually the police. Maybe they didn’t do it in a way that pleases everyone, but they acted decisively to confront the sin, to call a penitent son back from his errors, and to seek to aid the hurting victims.”
He added: “Are the Duggars perfect in their interpretation of God’s moral standards? No. But neither is anyone else.”
Seewald also wrote that “the victims of Josh’s actions should not be lost in all of this,” adding:
Sadly, this type of thing is all too common. Victims of sexual abuse of any kind often suffer greatly for many years as a result of these sins. We should not downplay the seriousness of these offenses particularly, nor gloss over the pain and confusion they often bring, sometimes for a lifetime.
“Do not keep silent if you are being abused, tell someone you trust, a parent, a teacher, a friend, anyone is better than silence,” he wrote. “You are likely not the only one who has been abused. Tell someone so that they will be stopped.”
Josh Duggar, Seewald noted, “sinned because like all of us he is a sinner.”
We are never to condone sin, and the sins of Josh’s youth are reprehensible. 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 added that “the ultimate answer … is what Josh found and millions like him. He found forgiveness and cleansing from Jesus Christ. There are many of you that are reading these words right now having had thoughts and deeds no better than what Josh had and did.”
Since Thursday, when Josh Duggar, his parents and his wife, Anna, posted a series of statements on Facebook, the Duggars have been in a cone of public silence.
Among the only people close to the family to speak out prior to Seewald’s post was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who on Friday criticized “those who have enjoyed revealing [Duggar’s] long ago sins.” Huckabee, a 2016 GOP presidential hopeful who recently received the Duggars’ endorsement, said: “No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”
Seewald called his own post “a response to the recent outcry.”
Noting that he “would rather not discuss something of this nature on my blog, “especially since it is dredging up past sins that have been painfully grieved over once already by all involved,” Seewald said he felt “compelled to bring some context and reason to the bloodletting that many are engaging in and to come to the aid of our dear friends and family.”
Ben Seewald married now-22-year-old Jessa Duggar — the fifth of the 19 Duggar kids — last November.
The two met through church, and their courtship and wedding were prominent storylines on “19 Kids and Counting.”
— Josh Duggar (@joshduggar) April 1, 2015
— Ben Seewald (@BenSeewald) April 1, 2015
Last month, the couple announced that they are expecting their first child.
[This post has been updated to correct Anna Duggar’s name.]