Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

A Letter to Anna Duggar

Oh, Anna!

I am so sorry! I can’t even start to express the depths of pain that I feel for you! It has been a long, hard journey, and I know it’s not over yet.

I know you are devastated. Broken. Confused. Angry. This man who you thought was a man after God’s own heart has—again—been caught in a web of deceit. I know he is innocent until proven guilty, but it has to be hard to believe what he says after years of scandals. You have to be questioning his character, looking at the character flaws. And honestly, I personally wonder what kind of a husband he truly is. We know that porn changes the brain, changes the way addicts see and treat people.

After the Ashley Madison scandal, I wrote an article to you. In it, I encouraged you to give your marriage a chance, to let God do His way in your relationship. But I also told you to be prepared to walk away if he chose not to change, not to surrender fully to God.

Obviously, you have given your marriage everything. You have hung in there, clinging to your vows that you took before God and man. I fully respect you for your commitment. I know what it is to remain faithful to your vows even when your spouse is not.

But can I tell you something? It is time to walk away.

You have these six—soon to be seven—precious children who need you to protect them. They need to see a mom who is strong enough to stand on her own. They need to see a mom who fights for what is best for them. They need to see a mom who is willing to step out in faith and watch God do a mighty work in you so He can do a mighty work through you.

As a Christian who has walked the painful path of adultery and divorce, may I just share a few thing with you? I know you have suffered so much more than just adultery, but I believe some of the lessons I have learned along the journey can be beneficial to you as well.

It is not your fault. Dear, sweet Anna! Do not for a second think that any of this chaos is your fault! You are a beautiful, kind woman who doesn’t deserve any of it. It is easy to believe that if we had been prettier or better in the bedroom or more industrious or just more of anything then maybe our husbands wouldn’t have wandered astray.

You are a masterpiece created for good things (Ephesians 2:10). You are a chosen child of God. You are treasured and highly valued. You are a princess, a child of the King of kings! You are worthy of great honor. You are so much more than you could ever comprehend.

Josh’s “indiscretions” are a result of major character flaws. Nothing you say. Nothing you do. Nothing could ever change his moral faults—nothing except a genuine encounter with the Father. He has to fall at the feet of Jesus and allow Him full access to every inch of His heart. He has to fully surrender to the life-changing power of our Savior.

The devastation you are experiencing is a direct result of Josh’s hard heart. Don’t take the blame upon yourself.

You must protect your kids. Your kids deserve better. As long as they are living with a sick man, they are not safe. They risk becoming victims—in more ways than one.

Can I share a few things with you? My children were young when I divorced their dad. While we didn’t suffer anything compared to what you are going through, my kids endured their own pain and abuse. While I was terrified of the impact of divorce on my kids, I now realize the divorce was in many ways a kindness to them. I watched as they blossomed once they were in a safe environment. They were finally able to be kids and laugh and play and relax and not feel like they were walking on eggshells. I only wish I had realized what a positive impact it would have on them.

God allows divorce. I know we have been taught our entire lives that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). But go back and read that passage in context! It’s the unfaithful spouse, the abusive husband that destroys his wife that God deplores. Does He hate divorce? Absolutely because His daddy’s heart hates to see the pain it causes His children. But it’s the actions that lead to divorce that God hates. Divorce is just legally recognizing the breaking of the covenant that has already taken place.

So often we fail to take cultural context into account when we read scripture. We fail to look at what was going on when the scriptures were written. In biblical times, husbands were divorcing their wives for anything—because they burned the toast or they denied them sex or whatever small infraction they could find. They were putting these women aside and they had no way to provide for themselves or their children. And it angered God that the men were mistreating their wives. Jesus wanted to elevate women to a place of equality with men instead of them being treated like a piece of property that could simply be thrown away. He wanted the men to understand that if they were going to divorce their wives, they needed to have a legitimate reason such as adultery.

We have so misconstrued scripture that we leave women (and men) trapped in sick, dysfunctional marriages all in the name of the sanctity of marriage. If marriage is sacred, it needs to be sacred in the eyes of both spouses! One spouse should not be allowed to rough-shod over the other without consequence. There comes a time when our quiet, gentle spirit needs to be replaced with the righteous anger our Jesus showed when He flipped over the tables of the money-changers! We need to be brave and strong and courageous and speak the truth as we fight the demons that keep us trapped in the name of religion!

God will use your story. When my husband left, I thought my usefulness to God was done. I thought I had been cast aside, never to be used for the Kingdom again.

OH, how wrong I was!

You see, God uses broken people. As a matter of fact, He does His best work when we are so broken and devastated that all the distractions have been stripped away.

I’m sure like me, you have prayed many prayers over the years and it might feel like those prayers have fallen on deaf ears. Can I tell you that He has heard every single prayer? I prayed for our finances—and God answered those prayers in my life. I prayed He would give us a new ministry—and He gave me a new ministry. I prayed for His faith to increase—and He gave me greater faith. I prayed for us to have a beautiful marriage—and He has given me a beautiful marriage. My prayers may not have been answered the way I expected them to be answered, but they have definitely been answered.

Oh, Anna. I know you don’t want this journey, but embrace it. God does His best work in the midst of our hardest journeys. Let go and let Him change you in ways you never expected.

I am praying for you!!

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