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Christian Sex Experts want to Redeem Duggar Tragedy

Josh Duggar

Josh Duggar

On May 21, 2015, a police report went public revealing that Josh Duggar, the oldest child on the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting had been accused of inappropriately touching five girls when he was 14 years old. The report dates back to 2006, and describes numerous accounts of sexual assault and forcible fondling.

Our hearts grieved when we heard about this, but we weren’t shocked either! Neither have we been surprised through the years as we’ve heard about the multitude of other fallen Christians in ministry, including Ted Haggard, Bill Gothard, the Catholic Priests and more.

Our own reality TV special the Virgin Coaches aired on the TLC Channel in November of 2014 and boy, did it get a lot of people talking! Suddenly we were trending #6 in the nation, and we’re being mentioned all over the internet and on TV shows including The Ellen Show, The Talk and The Soup. What had everyone buzzing –including Christians—was the outrageous idea that sex and God go together. People were saying, you mean there are Christians out there who are pro-sex and pro-God?

You bet! That would be us.

Despite all the attention, TLC didn’t pursue making the show into an ongoing series. Despite the buzz, despite the tender moments, despite the humor, despite the top-notch production, many viewers didn’t watch the show to the end. So what happened?

One tactical mistake might have occurred when TLC scheduled our show to air before and after 19 Kids and Counting. They figured that fans of a show about a large Christian family would instantly become fans of a show about Christian sex experts, but an interesting thing happened. People turned our show off after 10 minutes! Not because it wasn’t entertaining or meaningful, because it was (and we’re certainly not saying that because we’re biased!). Our production company did an amazing job showcasing the heartfelt convictions of our virgin couples as each one explained why he or she had made the decision to wait until marriage for sex. In fact, in line with the Duggar family philosophy, several of our engaged couples were saving their very first kiss for the altar. Their stories were precious and, particularly in light of the morals of today’s society, riveting.

So what happened at the 10 minute mark when we began to lose viewers? That’s the point when we began to (gasp!) talk about SEX.


The Ostrich Feathered Church (birds of a feather flock together)

Many are asking how Josh’s sexual sin could have happened in Christendom.  In our opinion, there are two reasons:

  1. The Church’s fear of sex has led them to teach people to manage and repress God’s gift of sexuality
  2. The Church has become legalistic, encouraging people to live under the Old Covenant Law rather than the New Covenant of grace ushered in by Jesus’ death on the cross.

Unfortunately, the Christian Church has shot themselves in the foot! In a sex-saturated and porn-dominated culture, we teach more about sex being sinful than teaching people how to celebrate the gift of sex. We shame people into repressing or shutting down their sexuality, despite the fact that God made us to be sexual beings with sexual longings that are, to say the least, VERY powerful. Remember the unsuccessful campaign Just Say No to Drugs? Regrettably, the church seems to have embraced a Just say No to Sex crusade (with the caveat that if you absolutely can’t control your sexuality, the simple answer is to get married, because it’s “better to marry than to burn”). Sadly, many people who haven’t allowed the Lord to heal their sexuality still turn to sexual images or to sexual partners outside their marriages and they’re bewildered as to why.

Even the Duggars, who did so many things right in terms of their family and their faith, appear to be more concerned with repressing rather than celebrating sexuality.  The Duggars promoted what they considered to be chaste sexual living:

  • Covering a woman’s body completely so she doesn’t cause men to lust after her
  • Chaperoned courtship (by younger siblings of course – you wouldn’t want them exposed to sexual sin, right?)
  • Sideway hugs are allowed so you don’t touch her breasts (ironic haah?)
  • No kissing before marriage
  • No hand holding before your engagement
  • After marriage, each woman must do her wifely duty, and never deny her husband sex, unless . . .
  • It’s during the two weeks per month of sexual abstinence Mr. Gothard taught the Duggars (during the menustrual cycle, and for 7 days after)

ostrichSadly, the church seems hesitant to talk about sex and the real struggles that people are facing.  Although ostriches don’t actually stick their heads in the sand when they’re afraid, it’s still a fitting image of the church’s response to sex. Bury your head in teaching the rules, drawing denominational lines, ensuring your worship is hip and your service is seeker friendly—but whatever you do, don’t address any real issues related to sex because talking about it might lead your flock down the slippery slope toward sexual sin.

Why do we believe the Church has been negligent in this area? Because we see the ramifications every day in our sex therapy practice. Couples who have worked incredibly hard to stay virgins before marriage, only to become embittered with God when they weren’t magically rewarded with mind-blowing sex on their wedding nights. We agree, it’s difficult for virgins to go from 0 MPH to 100 MPH in one night, and have it be a “curl your toes” experience.

We have also counseled couples who, the minute they signed their marriage license, discovered that their libidos inexplicably dropped from uncontrollable to non-existent. They are usually suffering from shame because they participated in every sexual behavior except intercourse before marriage. We’ve seen pain disorders, sex phobias, low desire problems, and arousal and orgasm problems. The truth is that our practice exists because most Christians have not been taught how to embrace and celebrate their sexuality, and nurture the expression of sexual longings and desires toward their spouses.

The Curse of Legalism – More Sin

If you watched our show Virgin Coaches on TLC, you saw how openly we talked about sex (we even used the word “sex” instead of the safe word “intimacy”). We also named the sexual body parts and did some sex education (if you didn’t catch it, you can still watch it by streaming it from Amazon). We were worried when we first met the engaged couples we ministered to on our show just like we’ve always been worried about the Duggar’s teachings on sex.

Why were we concerned? Because following the law doesn’t help you to be more pure, but causes you to sin more.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21 NASB)

Holiness doesn’t occur because we follow a long list of do’s and don’ts, or because we conform to the rules. Being obsessed with rules only means we’re following a religion where the emphasis is placed on external behavior, rather than the internal heart stuff that actually matters to the Lord. When Christians focus on external behavior as evidence of holiness, they are repudiating God’s grace and the gorgeous work Jesus did on the cross for our sins. We are holy because Jesus is holy. Period! We are saved by grace and not by our good behavior.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. (Galatians 2:21 MSG)

Try this, instead of navel gazing and being preoccupied with your own behaviors, look up and try God-gazing. You might just find that sin naturally takes care of itself, and you’re free. Is it really that simple you ask? Yes, He’s a loving God, and He lays it out pretty simple for us humans.

Sadly, the Duggars focused more on their external behaviors as evidence of holiness rather than being saved by His grace alone. Otherwise, we believe they wouldn’t have hidden Josh’s struggles, and would have gotten him and the victims help from a Christian counselor, rather than sending him to a legalistic work camp to take care of his sin.

Sexual desire is a reality but the lines are hard to decipher

He promises that our sin will be exposed!

The Christian who isn’t successful at repressing their sexuality feels defeated and shameful, and they have no one to talk to about those feelings in the church. So they deny, cover-up, and continue sinning behind closed doors until they’re found out. Which they almost always are. After all, God is not a codependent. He loves His children too much to allow us to stay in denial. He promises that our sin will be exposed.

But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)

He knows that it’s His truth that sets His people free. Why? Because He is the TRUTH!

So Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8: 31 a, c, 33-36)


So what’s a Christian to do?

Indeed, the Church may have harmed you with their legalistic teachings on managing your sexuality. But what would it look like for you to be so intimately in love with Jesus that He fills those empty spaces of your heart with His love, and sex becomes a second thing rather than a first thing?

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Don’t repress your sexuality
  2. Don’t deny your sexuality
  3. Don’t try to handle your longings on your own,
  4. Don’t put more rules in place hoping you won’t sin again
  5. Don’t wallow in self contempt when you don’t follow your hard line rules
  6. Don’t hope the above penance cycle will motivate you to be sexually pure!

Even though the above is virtuous advice, did you notice all the “don’ts” we put on you? We put you right back under the law, didn’t we? Take the words don’t, should have, and have to, out of your vocabulary. You’re only creating more bondage for yourself when you use those words against yourself or others. It’s second nature to put ourselves under the law because we want to feel good about ourselves, and take pride in what we do, but He wants to remind you that He has forgiven and will continue to forgive the ways in which you are messy through Jesus’ loving work on the cross for you. You don’t need to deny it or cover it. You can take your sexual brokenness to the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and receive His love and mercy. God will transform you.

Yes, God does call all of us to sexual purity, but when we try to achieve that through strategizing in our own power to obey a list of rules, we’ve gone back to living under the Law. And how’s that working out for us as the Body of Christ? One look at current news headlines gives us the answer. Not very well at all!

So how should we handle all our God-given sexual longings and urges?

Be Intimate with the Lord, Instead of Focusing on “The Rules”

We believe that all sexual sin comes from an intimacy problem with God. People don’t trust Him, especially when it comes to their sexuality. After all, many people are convinced that God is The Great Sexual Kill-Joy. And yet, that is the greatest lie there is! God created each of us as a sexual being. He invented sex for the purpose of creating life-givingness, pleasure, and oneness between a husband and wife.



When Harry Met Sally

How do we know that pleasure is high on His list? Because he created women with a sex organ called the clitoris (there, I said it), which has only one purpose: to give HER pleasure so she can joyfully proclaim YES, YES, YES, instead of NO, NO, NO!

Many people separate their spirituality and sexuality. They’re not willing to allow the Lord to speak into this area of their lives. You wouldn’t believe how many clients we’ve seen who had strong ministries, but who were sinning sexually because they had compartmentalized the two.

What does it look like to be so intimate, and so in love with God and He with you that He becomes the first love of your life? So intimate with God that the love you share begins to heal, change, enrich, and empower the love and intimacy you share with your spouse?

Our eBook

Our eBook

We have written an e-Book to help you become more intimate with God. You’ll be able to experience Him in all areas of your life, including your sexuality. You’ll be more intimate with the Lord, your spouse or future spouse, and thereby set free from the tyranny of sexual obsession (either in avoidance or acting out). You’ll be free to love fully out of the deep well of your masculine or feminine sexuality whether you’re single or married. Part 1 of this eBook deals with the problem we all face in living in a sex obsessed world, while Part II gives the solution, which is Intimacy with God.

There is an art to being transformed in the Presence of God. In fact, there are five unique spiritual practices that will increase your intimacy with the Lord. Each practice is an integral part in healing your relationship with God and consequently healing and restoring your true sexual identity and masculine or feminine soul. But first you must confidently know that God is present and that you can personally experience Him. In this eBook, you’ll also get a 40 Day Chart that will help you make “practicing the presence of God” a delightful daily part of your life.

Life is too short to live in bondage. Can we all find healing for our wounded sexuality? Is redemption available for Josh, the girls who were impacted by his actions, fans of the Duggar’s TV show who were disappointed by the events that unfolded, and for each and every one of us?

Absolutely. And therein, now and for eternity, lies the beauty of the Gospel story. The real story—not the one in the news, but the eternal story that matters—is not that we are perfect, but that healing and redemption can be ours through the One who is perfect, Jesus.


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Bill and Janean Fuller – Christian Sex Therapists

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