Carefully Scripted Lives – The Real Reality of the Duggar Family "Blessings"

by Libby Anne

I can’t say how often I’ve heard ordinary Americans defend Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their popular TLC television show, 19 Kids and Counting. “I wouldn’t choose to have nineteen kids,” they say, “but if they can manage it, who am I to question their choice?” “The kids look happy and healthy,” they say, “look how polite and well mannered they are.” I hear these comments and I just have to sigh.

First of all, I want to pout out that I would have concerns about the Duggars even if they were your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. For one thing, there is no way any two parents can give nineteen children the individual attention and time they need. It’s just not feasibly possible. The Duggars like to say that “love multiplies,” but the thing is, time doesn’t. And then, of course, there is the population issue.

But it’s not these things I’m going to discuss here. The fact is, the Duggars aren’t just your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. There is a great deal of editing that goes into making TV, and one thing that gets edited out are the Duggars’ religious beliefs and their beliefs about child rearing. There is much, much more going on here than you see on TV.

I know this because I grew up in a family very much like the Duggars. We had a third fewer kids and we didn’t have a TV show, but otherwise it was about the same. Our beliefs were nearly identical to theirs, as was our way of living. When I look at the older Duggar girls, I see myself. I was them. With that in mind, I’m going to take a moment to outline nine specific concerns I have about the Duggars.

1. Isolation and Indoctrination

The Duggar childern are homeschooled in part in order to shelter them from bad influences, i.e. from other kids and teachers who hold different beliefs or live different sorts of lives. The Duggar kids don’t have friends who aren’t pre-approved by their parents. In fact, the Duggar kids aren’t even involved in church activities – their family participates in a “home church” where they and several other like-minded families get together on Sunday mornings and worship together.

Furthermore, even the older Duggar children are not allowed to go anywhere without having an “accountability partner,” i.e. another sibling, to keep tabs on them. When one of the older boys volunteered at the local fire department, one of his sisters always went with him to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get in trouble.

Another reason the Duggar children are homeschooled is in order to teach them “God’s truth.” This means that they use religious textbooks, creationist science curriculum, etc. I understand that we have this thing called “freedom of religion” in our country, but I also believe that children have a right to an education, and teaching children one side of everything becomes indoctrination rather than education.

Not surprisingly, the Duggars’ computers have internet access limited to about seventy “approved” websites. To get unlimited internet access, the children – even the older ones – have to get a password from their mother and then have another sibling sitting by them watching the screen as they surf the web to make sure they stay out of trouble. The main reason for this is likely to keep the children from viewing internet pornography, but it also helps ensure that they don’t get subversive information or other viewpoints.

2. Children raising children

If you think Michelle is the one raising all of those kids, think again. Those older daughters, some of them already adults, are the ones who are actually doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. They are, in effect, raising their younger siblings.

Now I’m not saying Michelle sits back and watches soap operas while the kids work, but rather that with that many children there is simply too much for her to do on her own. She doesn’t have the time or energy to raise her children without her older daughters’ help. And fortunately, because the Duggars homeschool, those older daughters are available to help 24/7.

The Duggars have this thing called the “buddy system.” When each new child is born, that child is assigned to one of the older children. In this way, the older children are responsible for dressing, feeding, and even educating the younger children. Michelle hadthis to say about the buddy system:

This house would not work if we didn’t have the buddy system. The older children mentor the younger ones. They help them with their little phonics lessons and games during the day, help them practice their music lessons. They will play with them or help them pick out the color of their outfit that they want to wear that day, and just all of those types of things.

I’m all for siblings helping each other and playing together, but this goes way further than this. This is siblings raising each other. And as we’ll see, this means a lot of sacrifice for the older siblings doing the raising. [Read more...]

NLQ FAQ: Does Someone Always Have To Be In Charge? Part 2

NO LONGER QUIVERING FAQ: DOES SOMEONE ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN CHARGE? PART 2: HIERARCHY – ORIGINS, THE TRINITY AND MARRIAGE

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka KRwordgazer

God has ordained authority structures in every area of life.  In every enterprise someone has to be in charge– otherwise there will be anarchy and chaos. Even within the Godhead there is authority: God the Son submitted to the will of the Father. Doesn’t a solidly biblical worldview require a chain of command within the Christian family?  A family is not a democracy, after all.  In saying husbands should not be in charge of the home, aren’t you just attacking one aspect of God’s divine plan for authority?

In Part 1 we examined what the Bible actually teaches about authority, which we defined as “the power or right to command.” God in the Old Testament simply does not appear to be interested in setting up God-ordained human authority structures, but rather prefers to raise up individual, Spirit-led leaders who act in God’s authority, not as part of a top-down chain of command. And though the New Testament teaches submission to earthly institutions of human authority, its focus is on the new creation kingdom of God, in which hierarchies of human authority are eliminated in favor of equal brother-sister relationships.  In fact, though it can’t be denied that some areas of human life here on earth need some form of authority structure, there is simply no biblical justification for the concept that authority structures are ordained of God to cover every area of life, or that God has determined that there will be chaos if there isn’t “someone in charge” of every sphere of human relationship.

So where did the idea come from, that God has ordained top-down chains of command, both in earthly and in spiritual relationships, with human authority structures in every area of life?

Plato (429-347 BC) was possibly the greatest of the Greek philosophers. He conceived of the nature of reality to consist first of ideal “Forms,” and then objects/beings which were types of each ideal. Plato conceived of the Form of Absolute Good as the ultimate, universal object of human desire, and this Idea of the Good became synonymous with God in the writings of his student, Aristotle. In order to be the ultimate Good, God would, in Absolute generosity, also give existence to every other possible good thing. Aristotle then arranged all creatures into a graded scale according to how closely they approached “perfection.” The Neo-Platonists, a group of Greek philosophers in the 3rd-5th centuries AD, who expanded Plato and Aristotle’s ideas, particularly in terms of religion and spirituality, developed this notion further. Macrobius, a Neo-Platonist writing in the early fifth century AD, wrote:

“[T]he attentive observer will discover a connection of parts, from the Supreme God down to the last dregs of things, mutually linked together and without a break. And this is Homer’s golden chain, which God, he says, bade hang down from heaven to earth.” Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, Harper & Brothers (1936) p. 63.

This idea of a graded, hierarchical creation came to be known as the “Great Chain of Being.” Alan Myatt, in his paper “On the Compatibility of Ontological Equality, Hierarchy and Functional Distinctions,” writes:

“As Greek philosophical notions were appropriated by early Christian apologists in their defense of the faith, it [the idea of the Great Chain of Being] eventually became entwined with the theology of the church and set the agenda for its theory of society. . . In the Middle Ages, this concept translated into the division of society into ‘Three Estates,’ each stratified according to the Chain of Being. The first estate consisted of church officials beginning with the pope. . . The second estate included the ruling classes of kings, nobility and knights, while the peasants and merchants made up the third estate. Any violation of the established authority within each estate was seen as a threat to the creation order, and subversive to the state and to the stability of Christian culture. Any attempt to leave one’s place in the chain was therefore an act of rebellion. It is critical to note that in the family, there was a hierarchical ordering of husband, wife, children and servants. Each was subordinate to the previous due to their immutable places in the Chain of Being.”

By Elizabethan times (1500s), the Chain of Being had become “one of those accepted commonplaces, more often hinted at or taken for granted than set forth.” (Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture, Vintage Books, page 26.) The Elizabethan philosophers and theologians envisioned not just a hierarchical gradation of beings, but a “primacy” within each specific class of beings, such as “the dolphin among fishes, the eagle among birds, the lion among beasts, the emperor among men.” Ibid, p. 29-30. This conception of hierarchy among the animals is never hinted at in the biblical creation story— but it became part of Christian/Western thought through the infusion of pagan philosophy. Even now we still think of the lion as “the king of beasts.”

Another “commonplace” assumption of Elizabethan times was that “the order in the state duplicates the order of the macrocosm.” Ibid, p. 88. The Homily of Obedience written in 1547 stated,

“In the earth God has assigned kings, princes with other governors under them, all in good and necessary order. The water above is kept and raineth down in due time and season. The sun, moon, stars, rainbow, thunder, lightening, clouds, and all birds of the air do keep their order.” Ibid, p. 88.

Thus, building upon Greek pagan thought, the idea of a hierarchical order of authority in every strata of human relations, based upon the order of creation, became infused with Christianity to the point where no one even thought to question it. This legacy became part of our Western conception of the universe, which still exists today. Alan Myatt notes that a hierarchical understanding of the universe is the tendency in eastern systems of thought as well, “so universal in human society that it could be said to be the default mode of human existence.” He adds that in our churches today, “Traditional hierarchical biblical interpretation has been filtered through the lens of a cultural vision of human relations compromised by a pagan worldview [which] effectively blinded it to the egalitarian implications of the biblical text.” In other words, hierarchical thinking is so natural for humans, and so much a part of our Western mentality, that we have been reading it back into the biblical texts ever since the end of the Age of the Apostles.

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NLQ FAQ: Does Someone Always Have To Be In Charge? Part 1

NO LONGER QUIVERING FAQ: DOES SOMEONE ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN CHARGE? PART 1: HUMAN AUTHORITY IN THE BIBLE

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka KRwordgazer

God has ordained authority structures in every area of life.  In every enterprise someone has to be in charge– otherwise there will be anarchy and chaos. Even within the Godhead there is authority: God the Son submitted to the will of the Father. Doesn’t a solidly biblical worldview require a chain of command within the Christian family?  A family is not a democracy, after all.  In saying husbands should not be in charge of the home, aren’t you just attacking one aspect of God’s divine plan for authority?

It cannot be denied that human societies need some form of law, to protect people from being harmed by one another, among other things– and that laws need someone with the power to enforce them, or they are useless. But is this idea that “someone always has to be in charge,” that there is a chain of command in every area of human life, actually taught in the Bible?

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The Destiny of a Virtuous Daughter ~ Part 3: Pop Guns & Purity Rings

by Starfury

Growing up, I read books like The King’s Daughter, Dear PrincessBeautiful Girlhood, Waiting for Her Isaac, and The Courtship of Sarah MacLean over and over. I would plan out having twenty six children, so I could use every letter of the alphabet when I named them. I would try to devise my own homeschool curriculum based on the ones I had used, and what I liked and didn’t like about them. On top of all that, I was writing my own Proverbs 31 devotional.

And yet, somewhere in all of this, I was still punching things into a ”computer” on a tree, and yelling for everyone to get out and climb the Jeffries Tubes because of a warp core breach. Rather than make a hoop skirt, I made a Confederate general’s uniform for the end of unit celebration. I was almost fifteen, the homeschool convention was happening over my birthday, and I wanted two things: a Vision Forum pop gun, and a purity ring from Generations of Virtue.

I got both.

They probably assumed the pop-gun would do little harm, after all, I had seven brothers and probably wanted to use it on them, until I tired of it and returned to my books and daydreams. The people at the Vision Forum booth looked a little more wary when they saw my dad hand the pop-gun over to me, but I didn’t care. After all, I’d grown up fashioning blasters out of Legos with my brothers, so we could play at Star Wars or Star Trek. Now I just had a gun that actually made noise when you shot it!

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Me? Obey Him?

A review of “Me? Obey Him?” by Elizabeth Rice Handford. Trigger warning for former Quiverfull believers who actually read this book and tried to live according to the principles … this post is a disturbing trip down memory lane.

by Vyckie Garrison

Those fortunate enough to have never actually read “Me? Obey Him?” may be shocked and appalled by the teachings in support of “biblical patriarchy.”  This review is simply quotations of Handford’s own words (in italics), followed by comments from my personal experience as a former Quiverfull Believer.

God’s Perfect Creation Required Order

Jesus, the Creator of Heaven and earth, submitted Himself to God the Father.  He took His place in the chain of command. … It is no shame, no dishonor,  for a woman to be under authority, if the Lord Jesus — very God Himself — submitted to the authority of the Father. (p. 14)

The submission of the Lord Jesus is our example.  He submitted not just to the tender ministrations of the Father.  He submitted to revilings and curses, persecution and suffering.  He was our example, not just to obey a gentle and kind husband but a harsh and mean husband as well.

You may find that your obedience to your husband and your obedience to God are all tied together.  You may not want to obey your husband because you are in rebellion against God. (p. 51)

By intimately linking Christ’s willing subjection to God the Father with a woman’s submission to her husband in “the chain of command,” the teachings of patriarchy create such an intricate tangle of enmeshment that it’s nearly impossible for an abused woman to extricate herself from the bondage of her husband’s tyranny without also throwing off her spiritual bond with Christ.

Kristen Rosser, who writes the FAQs for No Longer Quivering, is currently working on an article which will address the popular Christian teachings on the absolute necessity of hierarchy – coming soon …

Woman’s Nature Requires Obedience

We’ve had the impression that women as a class are more spiritually minded than men, with sensibilities more refined, and purer thoughts. Scriptures say the opposite is true!  Women are more often led into spiritual error than men.  Perhaps it is caused by her intuitive, emotional thinking.  (Intuitive thinking is God’s gift, not to be despised, but it needs the balance of a man’s reason.)  I should add too, that a woman does not have to be led into error.  That is the reason God commanded her not to usurp authority over the man, so she can be protected from false doctrine. (p. 17)

Sexist generalizations are never useful in understanding human relationships.

In reality, I am no less rational than my (ex)husband.  He also is gifted with a strong intuition and emotional intelligence.  Convinced as we were that I was more susceptible to Satanic deception, our family was deprived of my reasonable input in decision making.  My intelligence was squelched, my intuition was distrusted and my feelings were denied.  My husband developed an artificially inflated sense of his own powers of logic.  I can’t count how many times he said to me, “What you are saying sounds reasonable, but how do I know that Satan is not using you to deceive me?”  I had no good defense.  According to the Scriptures, we had every reason to believe that I was indeed being used to lead my husband astray.

His authority and my obedience did not protect us from tragic deception which ripped apart our family.

What Do the Scriptures Say About a Wife’s Obedience?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Scriptures say a woman ought to obey her husband! …  [Note, these ellipses represent page after page of scriptural support given by Handford to bolster her argument that God commands wives to obey their husbands.] If you are intellectually honest, you will have to admit that it is impossible to find a single loophole, a single exception, an “if” or “unless.”  The Scriptures say, without qualification, to the openminded reader, that a woman ought to obey her husband. (pp. 24, 25)

1) She Is to Obey Regardless of His Spiritual Condition

The wife who obeys her husband may win him by her meek and quiet spirit, her loving behavior. (p. 25)

2) She Need Not Fear Conflicting Authority

There is no hint that a woman may have to choose between conflicting authority. …  If it is needed in order to fulfill both obligations, God will do a miracle to make it possible. … It is safe to conclude that when God told a woman to obey her husband, He intended for her to be able to do it without risk of offending other authorities. (pp. 25, 28)

3) She Obeys Without Reference to Her Feelings About the Will of God

The Scriptures say a woman must ignore her “feelings” about the will of God, and do what her husband says.  She is to obey her husband as if he were God Himself.  She can be as certain of God’s will, when her husband speaks, as if God had spoken audibly from Heaven! (p. 28 – emphasis added)

When a concerned friend reported our family to Child Protective Services, my ex-husband lost custody of the children due to his abuse.  The social worker told me that I was guilty of “failure to protect.”  The only thing that prevented me from having my parental rights terminated and my children placed in foster care was my willingness to submit to a full psychological evaluation, undergo individual and family counseling, and cooperate with random unannounced home visits by Social Services.

My older children rightfully blame me for not protecting them against their father’s abuse.  Even though they know that I was influenced by books such as “Me? Obey Him?” to believe that it was God’s will to submit to the abuse, my children cannot be fooled into thinking that I was not really responsible for their suffering.  I have apologized for my neglect.  Most of my children have forgiven me — still, the damage is done and some things can’t (and shouldn’t) be forgotten.

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