The Formula Problem: Why Duggarizing Your Marriage is Not Recommended

by Incongruous Circumspection

Baking is one of my favorite pastimes.  I make a killer banana bread.  I love baking cookies and many times, like Marie Barone, bake a cake just because.  I follow recipes very closely but always add vanilla even if it is not called for.  I can follow those recipes to the letter for one simple reason – I live 900 feet above sea level.

Those who live 2500 feet above sea level cannot enjoy the ease of baking I take for granted.  When a recipe calls for a certain amount of flour, they have to add a bit more of the liquid ingredients.  If baking powder is needed, the elevated baker must reduce the amount by as much as half.  Baking temperatures must be increased.  And it isn’t as easy as following specific directions for a perfect cake either.  In order to find the perfect balance of everything, copious testing and many failures must ensue.  But, just as the elevated baker is finding the correct balance, a thunderstorm hits and their angel food cake comes out of the oven in the shape of a discus.

Such is life in the baking world and such is the idea behind marriage.  What works for one couple will not necessarily work for another couple.

Everyone in the world is familiar with JimBob and Michelle Duggar.  They are all over television with their TLC program, as well as having been on numerous talk shows and the subject of many a news story.  They tow the line of an organization called Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and their home schooling program Advanced Training Institute (ATI).

IBLP/ATI is run by a chronically unmarried man named Bill Gothard with a storied past, full of scandals.  This gentleman has propped himself up as an expert on marriage and everything to do with family life.  He is quite the guru with millions of direct and indirect adherents to his ideas.  Yes…ideas.  Bill Gothard has seven steps to this, fourteen steps to that, twelve steps to everything except alcoholism, three steps to whatever else.  The material he puts out is so formulaic, a follower of his has nothing to do but reference any of his hundreds of manuals for any question in life.

As was put forth in ATI material that Michelle Duggar handed out to women at a conference she was speaking at, the formula for marriage is very simple.  The wife must worship her husband at every turn in life.  She must stand behind him in all his decisions and respect his leadership.  She must look at him lovingly whenever he speaks and not interrupt.  She cannot argue with him or disagree unless she follows a formula to make a “godly” appeal.  All financial decisions are his.  All final decisions are his.  Her husbands vision must be her vision and absolute unquestioning trust and faith must be placed in the man she married.

This seems to work well for JimBob and Michelle Duggar.  JimBob appears to be an ambitious man and has started numerous businesses.  Currently, he is successful at real estate, not to mention the large amounts of money involved in any television show.  Trusting a man to make good decisions is very easy when that man works hard, efficiently, smart, and enough to more than enough money is rolling in.

The problem is that two people living together is never a cookie-cutter situation.  JimBob and Michelle Duggar, as well as all adherents of IBLP/ATI practices, have a favorite line that you will hear whenever they give public interviews or are backed into a corner, defending their ancient and outdated belief system.

“This is simply our conviction.”

No it isn’t.  If you dig into the reality of IBLP/ATI/Duggar, you will see what they portray as their conviction is really much more.  They posit that, due to their convictions, they have been blessed by God.  The obvious conclusion is that if others do not have the same convictions, then God is obligated not to bless them.  Thus, the “simply our conviction” line is really a translucent lie.

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The 14 Basic Needs of Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar

 

by Hopewell

Recently  on “19 Kids and Counting,” Michelle Duggar was seen giving women a handout on the “7 Basic Needs of a Husband,” a document produced and distributed by the Advanced Training Institute –the Duggar’s “homeschool group.” She also gave out the group’s “Character Qualities” chart, which I discussed in an earlier post, The 49 Character Qualities of the Duggars.

The 14 Basic Needs of Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar: How they meet each other’s 7 Basic Needs:

7 Basic Needs of a Husband:

  • A man needs a wife who is loyal and supportive: Obviously, Jim-Bob picked the right wife! Michelle has been there with him, supportive to the max, thru years of small businesses, scrimping and buying used and saving the difference to achieve his (well, their) dream for their family. She’s put up with a two bedroom house on a car lot keeping 4 or 5 small children quiet while Daddy made a car sale. She’s sold cars herself with babies underfoot, gone out to tow cars on her own and kept all the family fed, clothed and healthy throughout it all. That was the early years.

Today Michelle is beside Jim-Bob at every possible moment—even on the Santorum Campaign trail when possible. While she has Grandma Duggar and the big girls to take up much of the day-to-day running of the family, caring for Jim-Bob is her responsibility and she obviously takes it seriously. Her rapt attention when he is speaking shows her love for him.

  • A man needs a wife who honors his leadership: Michelle honors her husband by taking any opportunity to praise him as a father, speaking lovingly of love of family fun, of making a careful response to problems and of modeling the behavior he wants to see in his children. She openly admires his vision for the family and his business acumen. When he is speaking she is completely focused on him.
  • A man needs a wife who develops inward and outward beauty Michelle has kept herself in very good shape considering all the years of pregnancy she’s endured. She honors her husband’s preference for long hair at an age when most wives have long since cut theirs for convenience. She maintains her composure in difficult situations and tries always to speak in a loving voice. She laughs easily and her smile at that time is lovely. She is a very outgoing lady.
  • A man needs a wife who will make appeals, not demands.  While we cannot know what goes on when the cameras are off, it does not appear that Michelle is a very demanding of her husband.  She does not complain about him dragging home an antique harp or buying a new bus—she’s used to his whims and trusts his business sense. She knows him well and lives easily and happily with him.

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Snipped! – Part 3: Marital Problems

by Incongruous Circumspection

When I was about 7 years old, my parents realized that they were having marital problems.  My father knew there was a problem long before this, but he was now ready to do something about it.  They began the process of looking for a marriage counselor.  They found many.  They went to many.  But it was always the same song and dance.

The marriage counselor would begin by getting the story of their marriage from both parties and then begin speaking to my father about what he could do to improve himself.  My dad, being a humble and loving gentleman, was more than happy to take sole ownership of the repairing of the marriage, but knew that doing this would only exacerbate the problem.

Let me explain…

My mother was abusive to Dad.  I remember one day, I walked into the living room and Mama told Dad to turn around.  Apparently he had done something naughty.  He obliged and she commenced slapping him on the back.  It seemed to go on forever.  I don’t remember how it ended, but I do remember Dad just standing there, calmly, letting her blow off her steam.

She would regularly kick him out of the house and not allow him back until he apologized to her liking.  One cold winter night, he decided that apologizing would be the wrong thing to do, being he had done nothing wrong.  He walked two blocks away to a local bank and climbed up behind their lighted sign in the alcove of the bank’s entryway.  The fluorescent lights kept him warm through the night. I don’t know if he came home and apologized but, from experience with Mama, she more than likely lost interest in the punishment and let him back in the door.:

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Contradictions: Who’s the Visual-est of Them All?

by Sierra

Fundamentalists argue that women should dress conservatively because men are visual. This is supposedly something women can’t possibly understand, because women are emotional, not visual. Women become attracted to men through flirtation and flattery; indeed, male visuality is like a foreign language to them. Men are not obliged to cover up for women for this reason.

However, Libby Anne has brought up the following argument that a fundamentalist father made against women’s right to vote:

The first impact of women voters was really felt after the televised Nixon / Kennedy debates.  Nixon, the superior statesman without question, looked “old” and “sweaty”.  But Kennedy?  He was “cute”! The same thing was true for Clinton.

Incidentally, this guy didn’t make this up himself. He may not realize it, but he’s part of a tradition. William Branham made the exact same argument in 1960:

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How the Doctrine of Hell Justifies Quiverfull Authoritarian Parenting

by Libby Anne

From my experience, I would argue that hell is the worst Christian doctrine of all. I’m not even going to get into how there is no justice in punishing finite transgressions with eternal torture, or into all the other problems with the theological ins and outs of hell. Instead, I’m referring to the practical implications of the doctrine.

I am a mother. I look at my beautiful young daughter, so full of life and joy and excitement and curiosity, and I feel my love for her bubbling up in my heart. If I believed that there were any possibility that this sweet little thing could end up tortured in a lake of fire for eternity, I would leave no stone unturned in desperately working to keep her from this fate.

In my quest to keep my daughter from unimaginable pain, I would probably be highly susceptible to religious leaders offering various methods for raising good Christian children, and easily taken in by their promises to keep my daughter’s soul from destruction. I would do anything I had to do, buy any book, try any method, risk any hurt. What parent wouldn’t?

Fundamentalist preacher and author Michael Pearl promises parents that if they discipline their children just so, including an emphasis on absolute obedience and the use of hitting to back it up, they will not stray from God’s path, and if he warns that if children are allowed to grow up without such discipline, they will be set on the path to hell. Is it any wonder that so many parents follow Pearl’s highly problematic parenting methods?

Leading Christian patriarchy organization Vision Forum promises that if you raise your children according to their teachings, homeschooling in order to “shelter” from “evil influences” and “teach God’s truth” and emphasizing the hierarchical teachings of Christian patriarchy, your child will not stray from Christ’s side like all those willful pagan children in the public schools. Is it any surprise Vision Forum has such a draw?

Bill Gothard’s Institute for Basic Life Principles also promises a perfect godly family, with highly problematic consequences. Mercy Ministries and Hephzibah House promise to restore your rebellious teenage daughter’s faith, though both have been linked to abuse.Exodus International promises to “cure” your gay son or daughter, though actual science is nowhere on their side. And on and on and on it goes.

If I believed there was any chance my small daughter could go to hell, I would turn to any method I could to keep her from this unimaginably horrible fate.

Attend church three times a week? Check. Homeschool using only religious textbooks? Check. Control her every interaction with others to keep her away from “bad influences”? Check. Follow strict child training methods that involve enforced obedience and hitting her if she so much as has a bad attitude? Check. Employ emotional manipulation or even threaten to cut her off if she grows up to make wrong choices, hoping that tough love will bring her back? Check.

Simply put, I would do anything I had to to keep my daughter from eternal torture. I suspect any parent would, really.

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