Commentary #8: “Quiverfull of Shit: A Guide to the Duggar’s Scary Brand of Christianity”

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.

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As many of you know, I follow my friend Megan’s blog, Freckled Italian, religiously. No pun intended.

I enjoy her posts immensely, and quite often, I’m inspired to write my own posts by reading hers.

Example – I was inspired by her Friday, June 26th post.

She wrote:

To Read:

Like Megan, I also don’t understand how the Duggars are so popular still!

When the Duggars first emerged on the scene, I was initially fascinated and intrigued, like many others. My parents don’t have cable TV, so I have not been a regular consumer of their show on TLC, now titled “19 Kids and Counting.” But I’m amazed that MILLIONS of people watch the show! However, with their many interviews, I have learned more than my fair share about them.

My interest peaked again when their 19th child was born prematurely. I was a preemie myself, so I felt a connection there.

But now, with the latest revelations of their oldest son’s alleged molestation, including two of his own sisters, I have absolutely zero interest in their lives anymore. I shake my head at the headlines. I’m angry. However, I wasn’t really surprised though. Molestation is often kept secret, by victims in particular, for years and years. It’s fucking terrible. I understand secrecy to an extent, but it is a terrible crime. It’s a stigma that needs to be changed. Not speaking up can cause these predators to continue their path of destroying innocence for years on end.

Personally, I was starting to get turned off by the family a few years ago, when two of the daughters entered courtship, married, almost immediately became pregnant, and declared that they wanted to have as many children as God willed them.

The courtship part was interesting to learn about, but it’s heavily supervised by the parents, and there are no individual dates. Every facet of communication is under the watch of the parents. Each single text is copied to the parents! Wow. Many children in courtship also save their first kiss for their wedding day.

… Nope, that’s not my thing!

Although I am a Christian, I don’t believe in their views of so-called Christianity. For me, I believe the couple is in complete control of adding children to their family – God is not in control in this instance. After all, the couple is having the sex to conceive, or saving the money for the adoption, or saving the money for fertility treatments, or making the decision to not have any children at all.

So, this article really intrigued me. As soon as I started reading, however, I started to feel my stomach turn. I felt so uncomfortable. I remember asking myself, just a few sentences in, “Wow, they really believe all of this?”

There are your Christians (a.k.a., me). Then there are your evangelical Christians. But the Duggars – The Duggars have gone a step further than that, which I never imagined:

“… they’re followers of a particularly scary fundamentalist sect known as the Quiverfull movement, which adheres to a deeply patriarchal and highly authoritarian set of beliefs about gender and culture.”

Wait … What?

I had no idea.

I read further, feeling my gut twist a little tighter with every word.

Birth control is evil?

Building a “pint-size fundamentalist Christian army”?

Whoa, baby. No pun intended.

That’s a little crazy.

And there’s more.

If you or your spouse happens to be infertile, and you’re part of the Quiverfull movement, well, apparently you’re shit out of luck. Apparently, God doesn’t believe in fertility treatments. So, even if you desperately want children – or God is telling you that you want X number of children, so sorry.

Also, this article doesn’t breathe a word about adoption, or foster care, or anything like that. Interesting.

“Women must obey the orders of men, in all cases”

Um, no. Hell no. Fuck no! Where are we, the 20th century, or earlier?!

I get it, in a way. Women have been submissive to their husbands – In past years. I’m sure there are some women, Candace Cameron Bure being a famous example, who prefer/enjoy being submissive.

For me, however, I believe that my future marriage is a partnership between Al and I. I try to treat Al as equally as possible, knowing that Al tries to do the same for me. When it comes to raising our future children, I would ideally like to stay home with them, if I’m able to. But, if not, I feel confident that I will be happy as a working mom as well. I will be happy as a wife to Al, and a mother to our future children, period.

“Premarital sex is sinful, and women are temptresses – who must also be sexually available to their husbands”

According to the article, this Quiverfull culture/movement, women (and men) have a lot of fucking restrictions.

I realize that there are a few denominations of Christianity that frown upon dancing, banning it even. However, with Quiverfull, women aren’t allowed to show their shoulders (Apparently that has caused their brothers in Christ to “stumble”), and then they can’t dance, AND they can’t front-hug their siblings.

What the fuck?

This makes me feel like I’m back in high school, remembering the strict dress code for school days, and then remembering the rules in place for prom and other dances. Wow!

In terms of sex, the only type allowed is “heterosexual, vaginal sex between a biological male and a biological female … and it can occur only in the bonds of holy matrimony with the intent of procreation.”

I get that, in a way. Growing up as a Christian in the United Methodist Church, I learned that sex before marriage was very much frowned upon, and if we did so, we were sinners and needed to ask God for forgiveness.

However, now, as an adult, I don’t necessarily believe that to be so bad. Sex is natural, between two people that love each other and want to express that to each other. In my opinion, as long as you’re not fucking around with multiple partners, willy-nilly, irresponsibly (i.e., without protection, you’re using your body for prostitution, etc.), I think it’s okay. As long as you love the person that you are in a committed relationship with, and you two are safe about it, I think premarital sex is okay.

“Parents control their children’s lives”

I agree with this, to an extent. As a parent, you are responsible for EVERYTHING your child does, from the day they are born until the day they turn 18. For 18 years, YOU are on the hook for your child. There are so many stories I hear from people I know, and in the media, about how the parents need to be schooled in basic parenting, or not have kids at all.

All right – Moving on …

What I don’t agree with is certain suffocating limitations in Quiverfull.

Again, no dancing. This also means no music that could cause you to dance – Meaning you’re limited to hymns and classical music. I like hymns and classical music, but if those were my only options, I think I’d prefer silence at some point. Dancing has so many benefits too – It’s exercise, it’s expression, it helps relieve stress, and so on.

Reading is restricted to “approved Christian books.” This saddens me, greatly. I love to read. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the world around me, and about my love of writing because of books. I can’t imagine not being able to go to the library as a child, to explore the wonder of getting any book I wanted, over and over. I do read some Christian books and literature, but I relish in having a choice to do so.

I do agree with controlling Internet access. That’s important, especially in today’s world of sextortion, online predators, and more. For me, my kids will not have a smartphone until the earn the money to get one, and then Mom and Dad will have strict limits on everything until their 18th birthday. My job, until they’re 18, is to protect them. I want to teach them about the bad things in this world, and then help protect my kids from it as much as possible. My kids may hate me for years on end, but my job is to be their parent, not their friend. I cannot emphasize that enough!

I don’t agree with not having a television. This is something that will be limited in my house when it comes to my kids, but it will be there. I want them to get away from the electronic devices and, you know, go outside and play. It’s how I grew up. I got kicked out of the TV room and off the computer, and sent outside. My kids will be no different.

“Families must be self-sufficient – no schools and no government assistance, no matter how many kids”

This fascinated me. Remember my recent post on welfare?

For the most part, I look at parents who choose to homeschool their children, and I think it’s amazing. I personally don’t think I could do that, ever. The best part is that we have a choice to do that. While I have a lot of beef about our education system in the U.S., I believe I got a great education in the Chesapeake public school system, and having the opportunity to be in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in my high school was a great challenge.

However, Quiverfulls are basically mandated to live debt-free and without government assistance. Sorry – I have no idea how that’s even possible! There are so many in this country who are drowning in debt – Particularly student loan debt (It’s the fastest-growing kind, far exceeding mortgages, car loans, and credit card debt). It’s absolutely fucking terrible, it’s absurd. Many of these people will die with this debt. And that’s a damn shame!

The end of the article was also interesting, titled “The Human Toll of Quiverfull.”

This quote struck me: “It’s easy to laugh at the retrograde and irrational ideas of the Quiverfull adherents, but as Josh Duggar, Bill Gothard, and Doug Phillips have shown, the movement’s anti-feminism and authoritarianism can very easily elide, excuse, and hide abusive behavior.”

Yes, these ideas are definitely irrational. They’re hard to comprehend. After reading this article a full four times, I still have trouble wrapping my head around it all.

However, there is no excuse for abusive behavior. Zero, zilch, nada!! As a survivor of emotional, mental, and physical abuse, it makes me bristle to hear of women and men being abused, and then getting sucked back in because of broken promises. It makes me sick. But, at the same time, I’m grateful that I finally saw the light and realized I wasn’t happy, that I had lost myself, and took the steps to finally break up with John Ivey on Saturday, July 17, 2010.

I’m recently started to see a counselor to address my struggles with anxiety, recent panic attacks, and other issues that I’ve had and developed, partly because of what I endured in my four-year relationship with John. I want to overcome these issues, as much as I can, before I start a new chapter with Al when we marry on November 14th.

I want to become a better Laura Beth – A better woman, a better Christian, a better daughter, a better fiance and future wife to Al, and a better friend. I’m doing this for myself. And I feel so good!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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