Those asking her to "forgive" really mean "pretend it didn't happen."
If you've kept up with Anna Duggar's misery of Josh being outed in the Ashley Madison scandal, no doubt you're also aware of his sister Jessa's post about forgiveness. Anna's brother, Daniel Keller, blasted her simplistic views about forgiveness.
The comments on many articles about Anna's reaction to Josh's betrayal are an indication that many Christians and non-Christians alike are aghast at the Duggars' naïve views for dealing with Josh's serial adultery.
Many years ago, a young mother came to see me. She said, "My brother was in prison for molesting children. Now he's out. He wants to babysit my children. I told him, 'No!' and won't allow him around them. My parents are harassing me saying, 'You're just unforgiving.' Am I really unforgiving because I don't trust my brother and don't want to risk my children being molested?"
I told her what I'd like to say to Anna, "Forgiveness doesn't mean being stupid."
So with that being said, I want all of you to understand 3 ways forgiveness doesn't ever mean being stupid — NOT even in the Bible:
1. Forgiveness doesn't mean giving up your right to anger.
Hurt feelings don't help us solve problems like adultery because they focus us on restoring the relationship instead of eradicating the cheating behavior. Dealing with the adulterous heart should remain the focus and first priority, before even considering restoring the relationship.
A more healthy reaction than hurt feelings is having "controlled anger" ... demanding permanent change.
Anna's siblings told People Magazine that before marriage she was playfully bossy and fun. Now she's quiet and whispers like her mother-in-law Michelle. Her siblings worry that she won't even get angry about Josh's sexual abuse.
As a Certified Advanced Personality Trainer, I'm concerned about Anna's hunkered-down, bottled-up emotions. Our personalities are 60 percent genetics, and 40 percent nurturing and life experiences. But, the 40 percent from outside influences can completely overwhelm a person's God-given genetics.
With Anna's genetic bossy disposition comes an innate ability to get angry. But from what her siblings say, she sounds depressed and a mere shadow of her true strength and character. As a result, it's probably rare for her children to experience their mother's playful sense of humor that once delighted her brothers and sisters.
Jesus knew how to balance hurt feelings with righteous anger that demanded change. We all know the story where he drove the moneychangers out of the temple — his father's home. Jesus did not let his emotional anguish cloud his actions. He balanced his pain with anger and action against the abuse levied against his home.
Anna needs to stop squelching her personality, stand up for herself, and refuse to walk on eggshells in an attempt to please Josh (or her family). She needs to reclaim her laughter, speak in a normal tone of voice, and even voice her anger at Josh's despicable betrayal. She can imitate Jesus by saying, "No more, Josh! You get your act together and learn how to truly love me or you're not welcome back in this house." While he's gone, she can learn her legal rights.
Forgiveness doesn't mean stifling your anger. Some things in life demand anger. Your spouse betraying you is one of them.
2. Forgiveness doesn't mean unconditional reconciliation.
Many adulterers try to enforce their own rules for reconciliation on their mate. One husband engaged in a 10-year affair that resulted in a child before his wife learned about his adultery. This husband, who constantly laid claim to his devout Christianity, publicly confessed sin.
The wife said, "I forgive you, but now we need to repair the emotional void between us so we can become a loving couple."
He replied, "I've done everything I need to. God and Jesus forgave me. Now it's your turn. If you still have problems, that's YOUR problem. You need to pray to God to help you become truly forgiving. Don't ever bring this subject up to me again!"
Repentance involves not only renouncing the adultery, but also embracing your wounded mate with true love. It's not enough for a Christian to say, "I don't commit adultery anymore." A person must also say, "... And I'm committed to learning how to love my mate intellectually, emotionally, and sexually."
Jesus tells us to make judgments not on what our spouse says, but on what our spouse does — "by their fruit you shall know them." In other words, God tells Christians to refrain from stupidity and falling for professed repentance. A spouse can typically see, hear, and feel the adulterer's change of attitude … and actions (if it's genuine).
I recommend Anna read Dr. Douglas Weiss's book Intimacy Anorexia: Healing the Hidden Addiction in Your Marriage. It'll open her eyes to exactly what she's dealing with in marriage to a practicing adulterer and sexual addict. Dr. Weiss isn't fooled by superficial confessions of sin; he gives exercises to help bring about lasting changes in spouses like Josh, if they really desire to preserve their marriage, that is.
Saying he's sorry and going to long-term rehab is just the beginning for Josh. After rehab, he has to learn how to value Anna as a woman, soul mate, and lover.
Forgiveness doesn't ever mean turning a blind eye to adultery. It means holding your mate accountable by insisting their actions change, instead of simply accepting their words.
3. Forgiveness does not mean waiting for God to perform a miracle.
Anna and both sets of parents know she has scriptural grounds to divorce Josh, but the parents won't allow it. She's being isolated and pressured to embrace Josh as if nothing has happened. Many fear she'll just become a martyr and stay with him.
Can God reward Anna's sacrifice by zapping Josh into a loving husband? Sure. He can turn Josh into an android, too, but he won't. How do I know that? Because, God refused to give King Solomon a perfect heart when his father David prayed for God to take over his son's heart. Instead, God told Solomon to obey him of his own freewill. Then he allowed Solomon to choose to make all kinds of bad sexual decisions.
Without a free will, it's impossible for Josh to truly love Anna. It's because he can sit front row to watch striptease shows, that it actually means something when he rejects porn stars and chooses his wife.
If Anna fails to insist that Josh work at growing up, the fate of their marriage is definitely doomed. She must stipulate that she'll remain married to Josh ONLY if he learns to love her intellectually, emotionally, and sexually. Otherwise, she'll stay locked in an emotionally bankrupt marriage that will just worsen over the years. And, Josh will begin to hate her as all spouses without natural affection eventually do.
Parents can try to force their children to stay in an unloving marriage, but God doesn't trap anyone in marriage to a sexual dud.
Forgiveness doesn't mean trusting God to work a miracle on an adulterous heart. It means refusing to play the role of an enabler and, instead, holding the adulterer accountable for how he treats his wife.
Forgiveness doesn't mean being stupid ... for Anna, or for any of us!