Dear Mrs. Duggar,
Over the years, I have often defended you to friends and in online comments that criticize the life you have chosen for yourself. I’ve seen and heard comments that describe your family as abusive since your older children become caretakers of the younger while many feel that they should be enjoying their youth, and that you blatantly exploit your children by allowing cameras to record their every awkward and private moment for your own profit.
I have defended you despite how differently your life is structured from my own. I never chose to have children, and I’ve taken a lot of criticism and been the target of a lot of confused reactions to that choice. Despite my own feelings about whether or not to become a mother, I have always defended your right to have as many children as you wanted and to earn money to raise those children in any way that you saw fit. I would never support any law that discriminated against you for your religious beliefs or your decision to birth nineteen children. I would never stand for our government limiting your right to express those beliefs, or allow a landlord to discriminate against you by refusing to rent you a home to house your family of twenty-one, or an employer to discriminate against you by refusing to allow you 19 separate maternity leaves. You see, Mrs. Duggar, I get that your being granted those rights doesn’t affect or harm me in any way. None of my beliefs about motherhood, marriage, or religion are challenged by your own, nor are my rights limited because you’re allowed the right to live a different lifestyle than mine.
You and I were both raised in a Christian church. The core beliefs, similarly, were based on the words of Jesus. Somehow, though, I missed those passages printed in the Bible in red where Jesus said that we must discriminate against others in order to follow His teachings. Instead, I was taught Biblical passages such as “Judge not lest ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), and “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
While you celebrate your successful campaign to repeal anti-LGBT legislation in your town that would prevent housing and employment discrimination based on a tenant’s or employee’s sexual identity, I stand here, confused. While the country screams “discrimination!” and “unconstitutional!” over a decision to kick Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson out of the NFL because one chose to abuse his wife and the other his child, there is still such a large faction of fundamentalist Christians who believe that they should be allowed to discriminate in hiring an LGBT person. While landlords rent every day to people who commit all sorts of sins, as we all do according to the Bible (“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23), the messages you received in church somehow told you that your sins are lighter and less offensive to Christianity than the sins of others. I’m not sure, Mrs. Duggar, that you and I really were both raised in a Christian church with a Christian message.
You see, I understand that making life more difficult for LGBT people will not reduce the numbers of people who identify as other than heterosexual, nor should that even be a goal. LGBT persons have lived and struggled to be accepted despite decades, centuries even, of LGBT living as targets of violence and discrimination.
I also know that it is not an increase in protections for LGBT people, or same-sex marriage rights, or work in eliminating the discrimination levied against transgender people, that are turning people away from the Christian church. It’s hypocrisy. Hypocrisy such as yours, Mrs. Duggar, in thinking that any sin you commit should be weighed less heavily or considered less of a sin than anyone else’s. Hypocrisy such as yours, also, in saying “I’m a Christian” despite your lack of kindness toward and acceptance of other people.
Yet, I’ll continue to defend your choices. I’ll continue to do so because I DID hear those messages in church that told me that I was not better than anyone else in the eyes of God. I heard those messages that told me not to judge others. I heard those messages that told me that God sees my sins as no different than anyone else’s.
I heard the words of Jesus that told me to love others.