EXCLUSIVE: 'Duck Dynasty' stars' message to Josh Duggar: Anna 'has the right' to leave
"I think forgiving and forgetting are two different things."
That's Duck Dynasty stars Jase and Missy Robertson's take on the cheating scandal to rock Josh Duggar's world this year. Earlier this summer, just before their sixth wedding anniversary, the former 19 Kids and Counting star admitted to being unfaithful to his wife after news broke that he allegedly had created two accounts with Ashley Madison.
Asked whether Anna should forgive Josh for his actions, Missy and Jase suggest that forgiving and staying married are not mutually exclusive options.
"As far as the relationship, that's gotta be her decision whether or not she wants to go on without him," Missy tells ETonline. "She certainly has that right, because he interrupted their marriage with those affairs, but forgiveness is not really a choice, you know, if you want forgiveness from God."
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Jase chimes in: "You can forgive somebody, but that doesn't mean there's not consequences for your actions," he says.
Through their reality show on A&E, the Robertson family has become just as well-known for their devout Christian faith as the duck calls that made them famous.
"It's gonna be hard to stand in front of Jesus on judgment day and say, 'I expect forgiveness, but I'm not gonna forgive,'" Missy explains. "And God teaches against that. He says, 'You must forgive' -- and it's not easy."
While speculation has swirled regarding the current state of Josh and Anna Duggar's marriage (a source told ET last month that Anna is "strong" and "taking the time she needs for herself"), the Robertsons sympathize with the mother of four's situation.
"She's definitely a victim in this whole situation," Missy says, "and, yes, [Josh] made some wrong decisions. But that's something that, at the end of the day, when the cameras go away, that's their life. They're going to have to deal with it themselves and get past it and try to savor some of the experiences they had and memories, and also make a new life for themselves -- whether it's together or apart."
Infidelity is a topic with which the Robertsons are painfully familiar. While Jase and Missy have remained faithful in their 25 years of marriage, the couple references marital struggles between Jase's older brother, Alan, and his wife, Lisa, in their new book.
"'Lisa was running around on my brother and I was like, 'Al, cut her loose,'" Jase recalls of a 14-month affair acknowledged by Lisa in her own memoir, released earlier this year. "He chose to forgive her and welcome her back, and I was mad about that for probably about three or four years. In fact, so bad, me and Lisa, I didn't even speak to her.
"In a way, that's OK," Jase continued. "I was hurt because my brother was hurt. He decided to forgive her, bring her back, against my advice -- I was like, 'That's just stupid.' In their case, it worked out. She has really turned into a great woman of God."
But, the Robertsons stress, "there's different circumstances for different people."
"[Alan] had every right to sever that relationship," Missy says, "and God says that you do! You don't have to stay together because of [religion]. But it's been wonderful that [Al and Lisa] have."
Jase and Missy address the strain that Lisa's affair had on their own marriage in their book, Blessed, Blessed... Blessed. "Due in part to Lisa's unfaithfulness to Alan," Missy writes, "Jase developed some problems trusting me around other men and had bouts of jealousy that we had to work through for years in our marriage."
But the main focus of Blessed, Blessed... Blessed is their 12-year-old daughter, Mia, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. The couple felt inspired to detail their daughter's journey after receiving overwhelmingly positive response to a Duck Dynasty episode, titled "Stand By Mia," centering on the family's Mia Moo organization.
"This is not just a book for us to say, 'Look at us,'" says Missy. "This is a book that we can encourage other people and tell them, 'You can do this. It does not have to be devastating and overwhelming for you.' It may feel that way, but because, hopefully, of our example and our life and because of Mia's inspiration, we can give people that hope."
Blessed, Blessed... Blessed will be released on October 6.