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.