Moody Monday: What’s the Deal with the Duggars?

I first heard of the Duggars when they appeared on a television special. There they stood all in a row in age order, smartly and modestly dressed, saying their names one by one for the camera. The youngest one or two at the time were too young to say their names, so one of the parents spoke for them and Michelle ended the lineup by putting an affectionate hand on her belly and said, “…and this is Jackson!”

They looked like such a sweet, adorable, Christian family! And they home schooled!!

What was there not to like?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

At first I thought they looked so nice. A bit weird in the fashion department, but okay.

Later, I learned that they home schooled with Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute materials. Warning bells. And that they subscribed to Christian Patriarchy and all that entails. Huge warning bells. And then the television show that put them in the limelight. You know the tune.

“They’re a clean, wholesome family,” people said.

“The Duggars are upholding good, conservative, Christian values,” people said.

“I’d rather watch the Duggars than all that other junk that is on TV,” people said.

“The children are modest, well-behaved, role models,” people said.

Let’s talk about that. (Cue the “Good Mythical Morning” music. Or the “Twilight Zone” theme. Take your pick. I recommend the latter.)

Joshua Duggar, the oldest child, has recently confessed to molesting five girls twelve years ago. Some of the girls he molested are his sisters. (According to the report, the first confessed incident happened in March 2002, so that’s thirteen years ago, not twelve. But perhaps, he is referring to another later incident which happened a year later and for which he was sent for ‘treatment’.)

Michelle Duggar was visibly pregnant when their first TV special 14 Children and Pregnant Again! was filmed, and Jackson was born in May 2004. This means that the Duggars were in front of the world at the beginning of 2004. The trouble with Joshua first happened two years earlier (2002) and he was sent for “treatment” from March to July 2003. So, in less time than it takes for a human to gestate, this family was parading in front of TV cameras presenting themselves as a clean, wholesome, God-fearing family and promoting their lifestyle.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It doesn’t end there.

The family soon got their own TV show (even though they don’t watch television), where they showed the world their lifestyle. They had a website where they share their parenting tips. (The pages http://parentables.howstuffworks.com/  seem to have been taken down now.) They have a Facebook page (698k followers). And on it goes.

Jim Bob and Michelle were presenting themselves and their brood to the world as a GODLY family. People watched their show to be inspired. (Yes, I realise not everyone did. Some people watched it for snark material.) People “followed” and “liked” them on social media. People eagerly anticipated and bought their books. People held up the family as role models.

Through the Duggars, people were introduced and embraced Christian Patriarchy: home schooling, home churching (or Family-Integrated Churching), courtship, no college, Young-Earth Creationism, and all that jazz, firmly believing that by embracing and practising all that they were becoming more godly.

The Duggars subscribe to the idea that it is the female’s responsibility to dress modestly so as not to potentially “defraud” males.

Defraud

Conservative Christians like the Duggars have their own lingo.

The Duggars also adhere to the Purity Culture which embraces the idea that one should remain sexually pure until marriage. Even kissing before marriage is considered to breach the purity code and is not allowed. Being sexually tainted is quite possibly the worst gift one could bring to the marriage bed.

Consider the following (taken from here):

They (the older Duggar girls)  recount a story their father, Jim Bob tells about parents who bought their child a brand new bike. Before the parents could present the bike, a neighbor child stole it and rode it around, scratched it up, and dented the frame. Although the parents gave the bike to their child anyway, he was understandably disappointed with its condition.

In this construction (a not too subtle one!) the bike is the female body, and the little boy is a future husband. Women’s bodies can be “stolen” by dangerous other men, and if they are, their future husbands will be understandably disappointed. Dating and premarital sex are not expressive in the Duggar construction (and evangelical purity rhetoric more broadly), they render women used and broken.

Think about it.

No, really. Think about what this means.

The Duggar parents showcased their daughters as beautiful and pure and tried to teach the rest of us how to be just like that when, in fact, according to their own teachings, the daughters are already “damaged goods”.

And that’s the problem.

They were selling their way of life, promoting it as godly, and profiting from it when what they were selling didn’t work for their family!

Just like Doug Phillips.

Just like Bill Gothard.

Meanwhile, some circles are saying (among other things) that we need to show grace and compassion and remember that all have sinned and that Jesus died for all who repent and not to miss this opportunity to spread the Good News.

Fine. You want the Good News? Here it is: let Christ be your righteousness.

Homeschooling doesn’t make you more godly.

Family-Integrated churching doesn’t make you more godly.

Letting “god” decide your family doesn’t make you more godly.

Dressing “modestly” doesn’t make you more godly.

Believing in a young earth doesn’t make you more godly.

Avoiding tertiary education doesn’t make you more godly.

If you think it does, you have embraced a different gospel.

“What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in a state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’….If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference.”

~ The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

Adult or Child?

Of all the talks and discussions about Josh Duggar, one thing that has not been mentioned and keeps bugging me.

The Duggars say that those things happened when “Josh was a young teenager”.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the Duggars believe that “teenager” is a modern invention and that once children reach the age of 12 or so, ie puberty, that they are considered adults — one who has reached the so-called “age of accountability” and is morally responsible for his actions.

Josh committed those crimes when he was 14. Legally, he is a minor, but in the patriarchy world, he would be considered a morally responsible adult.

This Duggar Debacle should be a wake-up call.
*******************************************

Recommended Reading:
The Duggars: How Fundamentalism’s Teachings on Sexuality Create Predatory Behavior

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Posted on Monday, May 25th, 2015, in Bizarre, Christian Living, Church, Creation vs Evolution, Education, Facebook, FAIL!, Faith and Culture, Family, Fundamentalism, God, Home Schooling, Life, Love, News, Parenting, Religion, Vision Forum, Young Earth Creationism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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