Back in 2015, when the news of Josh Duggar’s molestation of his sisters–and a babysitter–broke, I wanted to believe that he had put all of that behind him. He was 14 at the time he did that, a lot of folks wanted to think it was a case of adolescent sexual experimentation gone too far, he apparently faced the music, and by all indications at the time, those were not indicative of who he became as an adult.
At the time, I said this:
It would be fair, in his circle of accountability, to question him significantly about who he is today. Has he cheated on his wife? Does he use pornography? What changed in his conduct after his scrapes at age 14? Has he learned to control his passions in a way befitting a Christian gentleman?
Then, a couple months later, he was outed in the Ashley Madison hack. As horrible as that was, at least it was otherwise consensual sex with other adults. Yes, it was terrible; yes, it merited repudiation from the Church; yes, it merited derision from the outside world due to the hypocrisy of his acts. But at that point he had done nothing criminal, at least not as far as we knew.
Sadly, what we are seeing is that Duggar’s adolescent molestations were indicative of sexually-predatory inclinations, and he apparently developed a sexual attraction to children. He has been arrested on two federal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.
Trust me on this: the truth of this is very dark. Adult porn is one thing: unless the parties are forced, at least the adults involved are engaging in consensual sex. They are degrading each other, and yes–the viewer of such needs to understand that viewing conventional porn is not innocuous: you are enjoying watching one or more people debase themselves for your pleasure. Repentance is more than just vowing to stop watching it, but rather learning to view people as Image Bearers–worthy of dignity–rather than sexual commodities.
Child porn, however, is a whole different circle of hell. A person who enjoys child porn is a person who enjoys seeing children harmed. Children do not consent to be used that way. This is full-on child abuse the magnitude of which is severe and unconscionable.