Ben Seewald, as a Duggar spouse and reality star, finds a large platform on social media to promote his beliefs and opinions. However, the use of that same platform has developed problems for some of his extended family members recently. Derick Dillard, the husband of Jill, who is the fourth-born of 19 Duggar kids, has been using his Twitter account, for the last 10 days, to express his feelings about transgender people — and to specifically address a teenage girl with his opinions on her life.
Derick started out on August 2 by saying that the reality show following Jazz Jennings’ life “follows a non-reality,” then, when criticized for lashing out at a child, proceeded to misgender Jazz, calling the teen girl “him,” even as he maintained that he had no issue with her.
Derick has been defending the posts ever since. Most of his further tweets have been less direct — there have been general admonishments not to follow one’s heart, declarations about the meaning of “truth,” and descriptions of how the wise and foolish respond to insults.
Now, his sister-in-law Jessa’s husband, Ben Seewald, has joined in, echoing Derick’s sentiment in a recent tweet about following the heart, and Duggar viewers have jumped in full-force to let Ben know they’re not having it.
On August 3, arguing against many social media followers who tried to explain to him what being transgender means, Derick tweeted a Bible verse, along with his interpretation: that people shouldn’t trust their hearts and minds, despite being expected to use them in following God’s word.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5.
We shouldn't trust our own heart & mind.
— Derick Dillard (@derick4Him) August 3, 2017
A week later, Ben Seewald piled on, reiterating Derick’s point with a verse to indicate that the human heart is wicked and shouldn’t be trusted, and that modern culture is wrong to suggest that one can follow their heart.
"The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9)
& culture tells us "Follow your heart." ????
— Ben Seewald (@BenSeewald) August 10, 2017
It may have come as a surprise to some long-time Duggar viewers, since in other matters, Ben Seewald and Derick Dillard have gone in opposite directions — such as when Ben spoke up about the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that racism is a problem in America and that things have to change. Seewald has also spoken out against Donald Trump and told Duggar fans not to insult Barack Obama.
Be in prayer for president Obama. "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
By contrast, Derick openly declared his support for Trump and Mike Pence on Twitter, defending it by saying that he didn’t have to condone Trump’s lifestyle to support his policies.
— Derick Dillard (@derick4Him) October 15, 2016
Voting for Trump doesn't = condoning his lifestyle. It just means agreeing with more of his policies than Clinton's.
— Derick Dillard (@derick4Him) October 25, 2016
Now, however, it seems Ben has found an issue on which his views and Derick’s do converge: transgender rights.
Followers of the Duggar family on social media were quick to chime in, though, letting Seewald know how they feel about him defending Dillard’s posts.
Oh WoW…!!! Drank the same kool-aid has @derick4Him ????????????????????????
— Lynda jean (@Lyndajean01Jean) August 10, 2017
No Ben – dont do it. Just let @derick4Him take the heat. Twitter is only big enough for one twitionary (twitter missionary).
— Dani (@Pickles_n_chees) August 10, 2017
For Gods love times have changed. Period. Bottom line. Stop living by words written thousands of years ago that are not relevant to 2017!
— Rosa Chirico (@Rchirico) August 11, 2017
Of course, some of Ben Seewald’s Twitter followers also responded with support, telling him to stand strong and preach God’s word.
@BenSeewald You stand strong, and don't let the words of Satan spoken in these comments get you down. God's Word is ALWAYS relevant.
— Annique Fenlason (@montanamommie) August 12, 2017
Still, with the current rumors, in which a source close to the family is purported to have leaked that Dillard’s comments about Jazz Jennings were the final straw and that he was fired from his missionary position for them, the warnings issued by Seewald’s Twitter following might be cautious behavior.