I wish I could hug Anna Duggar and tell her that Josh’s unfaithfulness or his Ashley Madison account or affairs are not her fault.
A few months ago, we learned of Josh Duggar’s past sexual indiscretions. Last week we learned the website Ashley Madison, which helps married people have affairs, was hacked, revealing thousands of accounts to unsuspecting spouses. Anna Duggar was one of them. Josh Duggar admitted unfaithfulness, and now, Anna blames herself.
It’s not Anna Duggar’s fault. But I understand.
I was barely out of the womb when I said, “I do” to my dashing groom across the altar. I had spent my entire 20 years and three days sitting under what I interpreted to be a great foundation for a strong marriage. And it was. But what I did not anticipate—what no book or counseling could have prepared me for—was the way Satan would use every dirty antic and tricky scheme to attack our marriage through the marriage bed. He has relentlessly tried to use my sexual relationship with my husband after marriage to destroy us from the inside out. And he didn’t even need Ashley Madison’s help.
Sex Is Not The Answer
“Don’t have sex until you’re married” was both the foundational and over-arching advice my husband and I heard our entire upbringing at home, church, and Christian schools. While this advice is biblical and certainly a good goal to strive for, it did not in any way prepare us for protecting our sexual relationship after the wedding. Sexual purity and a wedding license did not grant freedom from the sexual struggle.
The books I did read after we married centered primarily around the idea that my wifely duty was to regularly have sex with my husband to keep him from temptation. But after almost fourteen years of marriage, I see clearer and clearer how incredibly dangerous this tit-for-tat formula floating around evangelical Christian circles. Theoretically, if a wife meets her husband’s sexual needs frequently, aggressively, and willingly—like a “good Proverbs 31 wife”—his struggle with sexual temptation will cease to exist.
But the truth presented here is distorted. Yes, by all means, it is incredibly important for me to regularly engage in sexual activity with my husband, but keeping him from sinning should not be my sole reason for being physically intimate with him. And bedroom acrobatics will not invariably keep my husband pure and faithful. The toxic conclusion is that if a man strays from the marriage bed via porn or adultery, it is a direct indictment on his wife’s inability to fulfill him sexually. This is horse dung.
Dear Anna Duggar—It’s Not Your Fault
Sex cannot and is not the glue that holds a marriage together. Sex must be mutual overflow of all the other intimacies in a marriage, beginning with their love, respect, friendship and admiration for each other outside the bedroom.
Sex cannot be used as a litmus test to see how wives rank in keeping their husbands satisfied and pure. No amount of sex can fix deeply-rooted heart issues or prevent one from being vulnerable to sin. Only Jesus can.
It is not Anna’s fault for Josh Duggar’s marital affairs. It’s not your fault your husband or your wife has been unfaithful.
You cannot keep your spouse pure and faithful to the marriage bed; only Jesus can.
You cannot keep your spouse’s eyes from straying; only Jesus can.
You cannot keep your spouse’s heart from lusting; only Jesus can.
You cannot keep your spouse from looking at porn; only Jesus can.
You cannot satisfy your spouse’s deepest longings; only Jesus can.
We Are All Josh Duggar
The sexual relationship in a marriage is the hard and meticulous work of two broken people. Husbands and wives must own their messiness, acknowledge dark shadows of sexual temptation and receive scandalous grace in return. Both husband and wife should be aware of their heart’s desire to wander from the sanctity of marriage.
When we are willing to sit in the uncomfortable places of confession, it won’t take long to realize all our names could be listed next to Josh Duggar’s. All of us—despite our familiarity with Ashley Madison—on any given day, at any moment, regardless of a squeaky clean marital record (which, let’s be honest, no one really has), are susceptible to walking away from our marriage beds. Only through the power and the blood of Jesus does any marriage have a chance, a hope and future. There is no formula, no behavior modification plan for me or you or Josh Duggar fully able to withstand the Ashley Madison websites, pornography vendors and other sexual temptations of this world. Only Jesus.