Have you seen the show 19 Kids & Counting? This is a TV show that shows a very large family with 19 children. I have watched the Duggars, I like the show, because it's one of the few wholesome shows out there, Christian family, they home school the children, and seek to live a Christian life, in front of millions of viewers. It can be pleasurable to watch the Duggars work together in a large family, go on field trips to interesting places and each shows a special personality. To me they seem to be very likeable people from all appearances. Many Christian people love this show. I think the Duggars are very nice people, they remind me of many people I knew at my fundamentalist church except with more children and greater means. This means I was used to being around homeschoolers and those who live a lifestyle just like the Duggars, so on that note, watching the show, I would love to hang out with them, and do a few Bible studies but then I found out about the Quiverfull Movement!
I would discover a culture, I didn't even know existed in America, and one that carried the label "fundamentalist Christian": It would include such organizations as Above Rubies Magazine, Vision Forum, and what is known as the "Integrated Family Movement". Some of these movements have different distinctions but overlap each other in many essentials.
A couple months ago, at a library magazine exchange, I found the magazine, ABOVE RUBIES, I thought well this looks like a nice "Christian magazine", I took it home and was in shock. For those of you who don't know Above Rubies, it is the magazine of the Quiverfull movement with a huge dash of the Patriarchy Movement included.
According to this movement, married couples are to have as many children as possible, the quiverfull related to the verse in the Bible in Psalm 127: 3-5, which relays a quiver of arrows as being akin to being blessed with many children. Children are a blessing and abortion is evil but something is wrong with this odd emphasis to have as many children as possible. I believe families are free to have as many children possible as they desire or God wills, but something seems odd about promoting extremely large families like this.
Here are some beliefs of this movement I did not know about. They do believe men are to be the absolute authority of the home, now Christians and myself believe this as well to extent as well in that men are to be the heads of the household, but this is taken to the extreme, where women are given far less voice, and all things that 21st century humans take for granted in America such as property rights and rest would all be rescinded for women. Daughters who are unmarried and even grown [there are blogs of some SAHD "stay at home daughters" into their mid-30s] are to remain under the authority of their fathers for life until they marry. Visionary Daughters is one website, that promotes this belief as well. The Patriarchy Movement is related to this, as submissive womanhood is emphasized, almost as sort of an extreme backlash against feminism. Here is one sample article on "submission".
One thing that gave me the creeps as I examined this movement, was I felt like I was reading the mandates of what I saw in FLSD memroirs[the fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, remember them?] These were the people who got their compound raided and children taken away under charges of impropriety, who had some children escape the cult, and go on to write books about it? Well I have read some of those including one by Carolyn Jessop who was married to an older man against her will, and noticed here, too utter submission of women, was being promoted, kind of like the feminist's idea of a nightmare, a "Christian" version of the Taliban and the Handmaiden's Tale come to life. The ladies who escaped have told of a similar strain in that culture, though the girls are not married as young, most of the marriages are arranged, where the father approves who the girl will do "courtship" with, and the female submission is taken to extremes. While the Quiverfull movement does not participate in the polygamy and the revealed other criminal acts that went on in the Warren Jeff's compound, the same strain of dominance and control seems to be there.
In the FLSD world; "keeping Sweet"was something many of the "escapees" wrote about. When I was reading the FLSD books, memoirs of women abused in those cults, all of them talked about something called "keeping sweet" which had to do with this over-submission to men. The women talked about how total obedience and silence and submission to men was the rule and that when trouble came they were to keep a smile on their face all the time. While there is some truth here, we should turn to prayer, and not solving problems in carnal ways, this can also be abused to sublimate normal human emotions when confronted with evil. It is the stuff of cults and control. Cult members always are to keep smiling and looking happy, its one of the basics ways to control grown-ups and not talk about anything bad going on. Above Rubies, in their article "Seven Secrets for Wives", while there is some good biblical advice here, they too, say "keeping sweet" is to be mandated. Mrs. Duggar seems to be following this formula, while she does seem genuinely happy a lot of the time, that smile seems strained sometimes.
While I accept men taking the lead role in the household, this does not mean women being slaves or basically locked indoors. Women can be led by the Lord in other roles in life as shown in the Bible:
Rom 16:1 ¶ I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Rom 16:2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
They do preach that the man is head of household--and I do believe that, but what about the husband's responsibilities? He is supposed to love the wife as much as his own body...When people teach an imbalances and become masters of verse plucking, much damage can come about! Ephesians 5 lays this out for men: They have their duties as well and it's not about control, its about love and giving to others, the same that Jesus did selflessly
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Mr. Duggar seems to rule his family with love, and seems inherently a kind and giving man but what of the wives with controlling or cruel men who could use the rules of this movement for abuse? Even that said, watching the older Duggar daughters seeming to be consigned to a life of caring for their younger siblings even into their 20s in the case of one, cooking and cleaning incessantly, being denied any higher education or self-chosen goals, in this society seems to be setting them up for future disaster should no good father-approved spouse show up. Denying children even a good home-schooled education, is too a problem. The Duggars at least in the early days of the show emphasized good homeschooling but this seems to have changed, with this one there is really no way of knowing for sure.
That said, why some of these Quiverfull families do value education, other's do not, and this leaves the children even more woefully ill prepared for today's world. With the Amish they have an entire community to support each other , where it isn't a sink or swim formula for every individual 10plus child family.
To me these "family integrated" churches and organizations that want to turn the clock back to an idealized form of the 1880s have lost something. God is no respecter of persons. What does one make of a church that automatically negates all childless infertile people, widows, widowers and single people? What happens when family is made first to the negation of everything else? That elevates the larger families above smaller ones, and leads people without families to a rejected place. I've been in churches that have focused on "families" to the detriment of everyone else. Even being married in such places, you are invisible if you do not have children.
Being a wife and mother are very important and I am not negating that and by the way I am a supporter of homeschooling if it is done right, but even there this movement presents a false idealized life, that never happened, [women even in the 1800s were out in the farms with their husbands and children chopping weeds, harvesting and helping with family businesses] , its like they are out to sell almost a demographic of a the "perfect life" which includes shining obedient children, a Christian version of "Martha Stewartism" marketed to Christians with perfect children, meals, homes and revamped upper middle class 50's "lifestyles" tied to idealized farm living of the 1890s. Helicopter parenting for the evangelical set with home-sewn table clothes and goat's milk for all.
While Christians should seek after the things of God and His will and renounce the evil things this world presents, there is a point where perfectionism being legalism and poison. At that point you have a cult. Pharisaical burdens, control and man-made burdens enter in. David Cloud agrees in discussing some of these aspects too:
To teach that young women cannot leave their father’s roof unless they are married is going far beyond Scripture and putting man-made yokes on God’s people.
Keeping grown women perpetual children is a disgrace. But that is just one of the many rules in these organizations. Bill Gothard, a teacher linked to these movements, seems to teach so many requirements of perfection, that no human person would ever be able to fulfil them.
While it is good to examine one's behavior and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and obey God and think about character issues, those who based their salvation on the goodness of themselves, instead of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, have lost the plot.
As far as the Duggars go with the oldest daughters, there are some who have jokingly said "Free them!" they do see them sadly as woman locked away. I find myself thinking they are no different then grown ladies sent off to the convent, but this time instead of obedience to a Mother Superior and bishop, it is transferred to their father who is their "church pastor" as well.
I worry about the young people who may have other callings even godly ones, and who may chaff against this system of control and that includes the Duggar children. If parents are this controlling, this is where rebellion can come in. Some separation or what some see as "rebellion" is not ungodly, while we cannot trust psychology on everything, there is normal healthy separation that comes between children and adults, as they grow and they form their own individual minds and lives. If I remained under my own parents bidding, I would still be a Catholic.
One cannot "force" Christianity on any children. We want to lead children in the way they will go as dictated by the Bible, but unless a child has become born again through their own individual conviction, repentance and trusting in Jesus Christ as their savior, the "lifestyle" trappings are for naught. Same goes for adult unbelievers, wanting to "conquer" the culture is not the biblical way of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
One worrisome thing is out there, there are many coming out of groups like this as children or Quiverfull women and ones like it speaking of abuse, and rejecting Christianity based on what they experienced. Many of their concerns are real, though sadly, not knowing the saving gospel and only the one of cultist legalism.
While every Christian can support a family that looks out for its own, even with the Quiverfull movement they have something called "leave and cleave" which means if a child does attain marriage and a family of their own, that all financial help is to end. That is dangerous in today's economy and cruel as well. I don't think the Duggars follow that one and hope they never do!
People can make idols of other people, and that includes a wife making an idol of a husband. When I read about some of these women, elevating men to such high places, where the man dictates everyone of their actions, thoughts and words, that is not a Christian relationship but a toxic one. Couples are supposed to be helpmeets not a husband with a subservient slave. When a woman is trying to be a slave to a man, you are not listening to Gods will or what He wants you to do. You have made an idol of a mere human being who is imperfect to fulfill all your needs. In the Above Rubies magazine and some of the other websites, some of the expectations put upon the men to be 'perfect leaders' and problem solvers seemed insane.
That goes for those who make the "family" or their own into idols as well. The temptation to use motherhood for self-glorification is out there, and for people to put themselves above each other. While we should love our families, Jesus Himself spoke of his true family being other believers Matt 12:49-50., and warned of those who would have family members who would betray them. Where is the Great Commission, when most energy is poured into seeking the perfect Christian "lifestyle"?
Another thing about these movements is they are all tied to the Dominionist movement. These are the people who desire to marry church and state and bring in a theocracy, I have written on them before on this blog. Vision Forum that allots for "dominion" of the home, and carries this into into bigger arenas then the home as well seeking "culture change". Vision Forum award Michelle Duggar with a Mother of the Year award. Bill Gothard has been connected to Dominionism as well. We know Mr. Duggar had his time in politics as a state representative. One sees the endless culture wars rhetoric, the claims of wanting Christians to ascend in power. Why wouldn't those who desire "dominion" of the home desire dominion of the country?
Examining the Christian Right as I have, I never knew about these groups before, so check out the links here, and tell me what you think of what I am talking about here. I may post more indepth on these subjects later. I have to admit, this one was a toughie. I like the Duggars, but disagree adamantly with the movements and teachers they follow.