When the Bough Breaks

When the Bough Breaks April 27, 2020

by Cindy Kunsman

Just before the start of the pandemic, I planned on writing about how many Quiverfull followers resist traditional Western medical treatment for serious health problems. A family connected to the Duggars grappled with a developing, situation with one of their children. I prepared to write about it here, noting that the family sought appropriate medical help initially – and they just might not be publishing the details about vitally needed follow-up care. A few days later, COVID19 took center stage while this family experienced other major life events. Though an instructive situation, I didn’t want to add to their burdens and circumstances.

Since then, we have watched many Christians behave in ways that highlight “us-versus-them” mentality regarding illness, though a host of other factors contribute to the attitudes we see now. Mourning the Crucifixion and celebrating the Ressurection made civil disobedience more appealing, too. Many Christians (myself included) believe that Christ’s Atonement on the Cross provided for divine healing, and we soon heard “I am covered in Jesus’ Blood” as a rationale for resisting COVID containment measures. I chose to write about the Rodrigues family, hoping that they could find sound health information that would also help others see things from a broader Christian perspective.

When I read of rumors of COVID infection in the Rodrigues home, my heart sunk. Rather than dwelling on the many contributing factors to the Rodrigues’ different experience of this pandemic, I could only think of my own past grief. I whispered,“Would COVID break their bough?”

When reality presents us with pieces of things that we don’t understand, if we are conscientious, we stash those inconsistencies away to think about later (or perhaps avoid altogether). High demand beliefs force us to stack much out of sight and mind. But the boughs we stash them on eventually break. How will we fare when they do?

My bough broke when I could no longer deny that my ‘Gothard church’ facilitated and victim-blamed women for their own domestic abuse. (To them, resisting that Gothard husband-chisel concept was a greater sin than bashing a wife’s face.) When my bough gave way, I thought that the pain would destroy me. The elders facilitated it, I facilitated them, and I became both abused and (tacit) abuser.

How different was that from spreading a deadly virus?

My bough forced me to see that I’d taken the vast, beautiful colors of the world, forced them through a prism of my limited understanding, and turned them into mere black and white (us and them). People suffered wounds in body and soul because of my denial, but my heart had to break apart before I could see differently.

Jill, if you are reading this, please consider that I write out of a desire to see you unburden your bough by choice, not because it has failed under the weight of so much sorrow.


Cindy is a nurse who was raised in Word of Faith, a Second Generation Adult of cultic Christianity. She and her husband dabbled in Calvinism and Theonomy as a foil to Christian anti-intellectualism, and they were exit counseled together when the walked away from a church that embraced Gothard’s teachings. Cindy escaped many Quiverfull pitfalls but became a social pariah for failing to birth a family. She’s been decrying the abuses of the Patriarchy Movement since 2004, and she writes about spiritual abuse at her blog, Under Much Grace. Read more about her here.

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.
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