To be perfectly honest, I never really watched “
17 18 19 Kids and Counting.” Being a cradle Catholic, and believing that God gives children to parents as He sees they can handle them, I have no real problem with big families, homeschooling or dressing modestly. Really. I don’t. I do, however, have a problem with objectifying people who live this way, which is what I saw Jim Bob Duggar doing to his family with the television show…right alongside enriching himself.
As it turns out though, However Many Kids and Counting was most likely an evangelization tool for the “Quiverfull” movement. According to a rather spiteful Gawker post, the idea behind the Quiverfull people is:
On the surface, Quiverfull follows your typical radical evangelical principles—every word of the Bible is taken literally, traditional gender roles and “family values” are emphasized, and the secular world is alternately scorned and feared. But followers of Quiverfull take one key tenet and let it shape the rest of their beliefs: Birth control is evil. They want to have as many children as possible, in order to build a pint-sized fundamentalist Christian army. The Quiverfull movement takes its name from this verse from Psalm 127 (KJV):
Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Each child is an arrow in their quiver, and they’re going to try to shoot it right at you.
Leaving aside the “birth control is evil” crack (subject for another post, because Pope Paul VI was a prophet on that), this is a little scary. How are we supposed to convert people to Christianity if we don’t step into the secular world and learn to speak of Christ in every day language??? Gender roles are just a bit subjective, and a patriarchal system somewhat defies the partnership marriage is supposed to be. In many Catholic families, but by no means all, regardless of the number of kids, MOM is in charge. She might wear a skirt and be soft-spoken, but make no mistake, MOM is in charge at least inside the house, and a smart dad will back his wife and vice versa. (This does cause conflicts, but they are usually resolvable.)
But that is not the crux of this story. When it comes to the Quiverfull movement, it appears that come hell, high water, or accusations of a brother molesting his sisters, DAD is in control. DAD will intervene on his child’s behalf, and find ways to deal with childhood failings. DAD relies on the forgiveness of Christ to deal with a son’s criminal behavior, and that is just what Jim Bob Duggar did for his son Josh. He intervened and kept the young man from getting the psychiatric help he needed to deal with a fetish before it became a force for destruction for multiple girls opting for advice from the church elders and before going to the police.
And that is the aspect of the Josh Duggar affair that can be laid directly at Jim Bob’s door. It is also the aspect that other Quiverfull and Evangelical apologists are brushing off as if it does not exist.
Just about every conservative piece written on this episode includes the “we should not judge” message. Sometimes it is in the comments, sometimes from the writer. As a believer in Christ who has brothers and who recognizes that young men are attracted to young women regardless of their relation at puberty, it’s not realistic to just say “Jesus forgives” if molestation occurs, and expect that to be the end of the matter if it becomes public. Yes, Christ told the woman at the well she was forgiven her sexual transgressions, but the second half of the sentence was to “sin no more.” That’s the part that needs more attention and calls for not a little bit of help.
Getting help to overcome sexual issues…why should anything be wrong with that? We accept that people of all ages need help with addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pain killers, smoking, and much more. Why not sex, even if the attraction is natural, but unwanted? In Catholicism, we have multiple centers to deal with these addictions among priests. Admittedly, it doesn’t always work and the priest ends up laicized. (Know or knew about five that have been, three before the Scandal.) Parents are encouraged to get their sons and daughters help when access to the booze cabinet becomes a problem. I personally know two young men who dried out before they graduated from high school. (If we’d teach people how to drink in this country, this might not be an issue.)
Why would a father who knows his son has reached puberty and has a libido difficult to control not talk to the kid about removing himself from temptation, send him off somewhere to military school, or at least have a sort of garconnière or bachelors’ quarters like the families of the French South did on some of the plantations. In those families, young men were only allowed in the house for meals. Their parents knew darn well and good their sisters and cousins were going to start looking good to the boys, and took action before any hanky panky happened. Why should it be an issue in the United States for these young guys to live in a separate wing of a house from their sisters?
Why would a father leave his precious daughters open to such abuse even if the abuser is a family member? That’s a failure to the daughters. No, it is not their fault that they were molested, contrary to popular belief. The Duggar girls do not dress provocatively, and they are fairly naive despite demonstrations from their parents and brothers if that is actually true. Their brother was not looking at them with anything other than male hormones. It happens. It happens everywhere and has for millennia. BUT, they were still under their father’s roof, which is why ultimately their vicitimization can be laid at his door, especially in an environment deliberately patriarchal.
Yes, it is true as Mike Huckabee says, there is blood in the water and the people who oppose Evangelicals for whatever reason are hot to trot over this episode. There will be no recovery from it for the Duggars. But, what is more troubling is the excusing of Jim Bob’s way of dealing with the issue. The man waited a year before talking to the church elders after the first allegation and did not even talk to authorities until another allegation was forwarded to the Department of Human Services from Oprah Winfrey’s studios when an accusation was made anonymously. Even then, the “program” Josh was sent to sounds to be more of a prayer camp than a place to learn how to cope with a strong libido.
According to people who claim to be in the know – not the least of whom is Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law – Josh Duggar has “repented.” Maybe, and most likely so given the circumstances. He was a teenager and teens are not known for making good decisions. There have been no further allegations since 2006, and even for the ones that were known the statute of limitations had run out by the time they were reported to authorities. According to the Daily Caller and bordering on too much information, the incidents in question happened when all of the kids were sleeping in a common room. Now the boys and girls sleep in separate bedrooms. (Even my parents knew to do that.) Not a complete garconniére, but better than a common room for obvious reasons.
That does not change the fact that Jim Bob Duggar tried to cover up his son’s crimes. And they were crimes even if he was a minor at the time. According to multiple reports, two lawyers refused to defend Josh at the time. Given that he was a minor, that should say something. What Josh Duggar needed was a real parent. According to all the information available, he did not have all that good a one in Jim Bob.