Kelly Ladd Bishop

Exploring issues of faith, culture, and spirituality with a focus on women in the church and world

An Open Letter to Anna Duggar

Dear Anna,

There will be a lot of media coverage about Josh and his parents. Christians will discuss Josh’s transgressions. They will debate his “issues.” They will talk theology and forgiveness and redemption… but the story here is you. My heart breaks for you, because you were deceived. You are the victim. You are the one who bears the brunt of the deception, and you are the one whose life has been affected the most. You are the one the Church should be protecting, should be concerned about, should be helping.

Dear Anna, there will be Christian voices that will say you need to stay with Josh. Perhaps your own family or pastor will tell you to stay. They will tell you that you should forgive him, and help him work through his issues. But Anna, this Christian voice is telling you, you have choices. You don’t have to stay to forgive. I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, but I can tell you, and every woman in your situation, that you have choices.

You always have choices.

Too many times I have heard devastating stories of women who have been abused, or lied to, or betrayed by their husbands, and are counseled to stay with them. But your life is valuable. You were created to be more than just the wife of a man. You were created to be you, in all of your God given wonder and value. You are God’s image bearer, wonderfully knit together, lovingly created. I believe fully in the sanctity of marriage vows, but when a marriage is built on lies and deception, and the vows have been broken, there is no marriage, and there is no obligation to “save” it.

When women are hurting, the church needs to protect them. I wish it wasn’t true, but there are some churches that don’t. There are some that say a man is head over his wife. There are some that say a wife should stay and be submissive, even when it’s damaging to her. There are some that weigh the “sin of divorce” heavier than the “sin of infidelity” or the “sin of abuse.” But this is manipulation and spiritual abuse. It is wrong.

So please know, Dear Anna, and every other woman in your shoes, you have choices. Whatever you choose to do, do it because it is what God wants for you. And know that God wants you to be safe and well. You are his wonderful daughter.

Your Sister in Christ

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