Are Conservative Christians More Prone to Sex Scandals? August 24, 2015

Are Conservative Christians More Prone to Sex Scandals?

Andrea DenHoed, who grew up in a Christian homeschooling environment, has a really nice piece up at the New Yorker connecting the dots between the conservative culture in which people like Josh Duggar (below) were raised to the numerous sexual scandals that have come out of it:

The past couple of years have been punctuated by scandals involving prominent figures in the movement. In October, 2013, Doug Phillips, of the Vision Forum, an organization that promoted the idea of “Biblical patriarchy,” stepped down from his role as president after being accused of sexually assaulting his children’s nanny several years before. In March, 2014, Bill Gothard, the founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a homeschooling organization that promotes a strict conservative life style, with an emphasis on extremely modest dress and on women’s place in the home, was put on administrative leave (and later stepped down); an organization called Recovering Grace had released allegations from multiple former female employees of Gothard, many of whom were teen-agers when they worked for him, accusing him of sexual harassment. (The Duggars are known to have been involved with Gothard’s Institute.)…

For a movement that has invested deeply, over the years, in the moral and practical superiority of its model for family life, the spate of bad publicity is particularly damaging.

It’s rare for anyone with a pristine reputation to keep it up forever.

For an entire movement to claim to be holier-than-everyone-else? The cracks are just waiting to be discovered. The question is who, not when.

Anyone who has ever been part of that movement will tell you they’re not the least bit surprised by these revelations. After all, what did you expect when sex is something you’re not even supposed to think about before marriage, but you’re supposed be great at immediately afterwards? There’s a distorted reality in that world, and it has little chance of succeeding when the people inside break out of the bubble.

The rest of us have experience with dating and sex and temptation, and hopefully we get better at dealing with these things over time. People who grow up in that conservative world don’t usually get that opportunity. They jump from a childhood crush to marriage with relatively little learning happening in between.

So, in a way, these scandals aren’t really all that surprising. It’s disappointing, sure, and your heart goes out to the spouses and kids involved, but I suspect a lot of those conservative Christian icons have skeletons in their closet — ones that appeared after they “found God.” It’s only a matter of time (and maybe another hack or two) before those secrets come out.

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