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Family Values

I’ve been a fan of defending the Duggars ever since Mark Morford attacked them for believing in family and, very bizarrely, tried to claim they had dysfunctional views on sex. I’m still not sure how having north of a dozen and a half happy and fairly healthy children reflects any sort of bedroom problems.

Now, they make me proud again. Apparently, they took an exchange student out target shooting over the holidays.

I’m not sure what Jim Bob Duggar’s NRA grade was when he was in office (their online archives don’t go back that far), but I can definitely applaud him for teaching his kids about keeping their fingers off the triggers.

He adds, “All of the older boys, including John David, are well-trained in gun safety and always supervised when handling guns.”

The only complaint I have is that Jim Bob is a man with 9 daughters. While I’m sure the boys are all quite protective of their sisters, it could never hurt to include the girls in the family firearms training.

They are a family who claim to live debt-free, don’t look to the government to support their large family, have a large family by choice rather than irresponsibility, and seem to have fairly normal children who certainly come off as quite happy in life. And they have guns. I’d say that’s much better tv than half the crap on today.

37 Responses to “Family Values”

  1. While I’m sure the boys are all quite protective of their sisters, it could never hurt to include the girls in the family firearms training.

    He could have just been talking about the boys because the exchange student is a boy, so I don’t want to go making any assumptions.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Duggars aren’t teaching their girls to shoot. From what little I know of them, the only problem I have is their enforcement of, ah, “rigid gender roles” and other sundry fundamentalist Christian social taboos about sex and relationships.

    They’re living their lives and raising their kids as they see fit, and are managing their household stably and responsibly. So to hell with anybody who doesn’t like the size of their family. And to hell twice with the disturbing number of people out there who want government to force their own family-size taboos on the Duggars. It’s just a shame to see that a family so otherwise on top of things has this particular set of weird hangups.

  2. Bitter says:

    I have no issues with their “sundry fundamentalist Christian social taboos about sex and relationships” if you mean a happily married couple who have gone through serious struggles and come out on top and who love each other enough to have 19 kids – and that’s even after they spent the first part of their marriage using birth control. I don’t think that passing on values like loving and respecting your spouse and trying to have a happy family are bad things. I may not live their lifestyle, but I certainly think that from what is known, they have a very good life and one that certainly won’t hurt the kids.

    As for gender roles, that I’m not such a fan of, but only if the girls wanted to break out of their roles and the family stopped them. I do know they had an episode I caught one night while channel surfing where Jim Bob had the boys drive the older girls out on a driveway or dirt road, deflate a tire, and told the girls they had to fix it and drive back to the house. They figured out it out. It’s not exactly a lesson in shattering glass ceilings, but it is one of self-reliance. And that’s a good thing.

    I’ll also add that you don’t have to be a fundamentalist Christian to have such views. When I was stranded at an airport, a guy and I started making small-talk when he saw my carryon was actually a Smith & Wesson range bag. He lamented the fact that he had two custom shotguns designed when he found out his wife was having twins because he assumed they would be boys. They were little girls – and some of the most adorable ones at that. He definitely loved them, but he was sad that the shotguns wouldn’t be used. I pointed out that I was proof that the girls would probably enjoy them far more than he imagined if he would just give them the chance.

  3. Hank Archer says:

    My 12 yob joined the Jr Rifle Team at our club this year. A little more than half the team (32 kids) are girls. I was happily surprised by this and as I’ve gotten to know these girls I find that they are a cut above the other girls in my son’s circle of friends in confidence, amiability and maturity.

    I’m sure that some of this comes from their family situation and rearing, but I’m equally sure that some comes from the fact that they know how to shoot.

  4. I have no issues with their “sundry fundamentalist Christian social taboos about sex and relationships” if you mean a happily married couple who have gone through serious struggles and come out on top and who love each other enough to have 19 kids – and that’s even after they spent the first part of their marriage using birth control. I don’t think that passing on values like loving and respecting your spouse and trying to have a happy family are bad things.

    I’m not saying loving your family is a bad thing, obviously. I do think that being so obsessed with the evils of premarital sex that you think the only acceptable way for unmarried people (including, evidently, fiances) to touch is with the “side hug” is more than a bit silly, and suggests that the person in question is stuck with some outdated assumptions about interpersonal relationships that, in my opinion, birth control has mostly rendered obsolete.

    I don’t mean to overstate this: “I think it’s silly” doesn’t equal “they’re just a bunch of slack-jawed redneck Jesus freaks who’re abusing their children with their backwardness and I’ll bet they vote Republican too”. They aren’t hurting anybody, and I’ll set examples for my kids that plenty of people think are silly (or worse), too.

    Rigid traditional sex and relationship taboos bug me, is all, because they hit close to home. I’m not saying anybody has an obligation to change to avoid bugging me.

  5. Sebastian says:

    As far as I’m concerned, they can live that and teach that to their children if they want. I might not agree with it, but it’s not my place to say. Social conservatives don’t become my enemy until they want to use the force of law to jail anyone else who doesn’t live according to their dictates.

  6. As I’ve said repeatedly. ;)

    I brought it up only because it was relevant to Bitter’s observation about guns and the Duggar girls.

  7. ParatrooperJJ says:

    Vagina is not a clown car.

  8. I don’t really enjoy the Duggars program. They remind me too much of homeschool kids I met in IVCF during college. They were very nice folks, but it was really obvious that they’d lived a very closed life until they came to college. This made them very small minded.

    That said while their ideas of sexual propriety may be considered antiquated, if birth control really rendered them obsolete we wouldn’t have rampant issues with illegitimacy and single parenthood in this country. Which in turn gets the government involved in everything through family law.

    The one episode I remember had the family going out to a local party spot. All I really remember is everyone going up a rock climbing wall, including many of the girls who were in skirts.

  9. For birth control to have any social _or_ biological effect, you have to use it. ;)

    This turns into a chicken-and-the-egg thing pretty quickly, but I tend to think that clinging to the taboos that were once necessary to discourage illegitimate pregnancies, while discouraging knowledge and use new methods that can be much more effective has ended up giving us the worst of both worlds.

    You know how the left tries to argue that the high cost of medical care proves that we need government to step in and regulate it, while the existing heaps of regulation are a large part of why it’s so expensive in the first place? In the same way, I don’t think you can reasonably argue that high rates of illegitimacy prove birth control doesn’t prevent kids from getting pregnant when so many parties put so many resources into preventing kids from using it.

    This is speaking in general about the unfortunate state of sexual discourse in this country. I don’t claim to know the particulars of what the Duggars or any other particular family teach their kids about sex and birth control.

  10. “I’m still not sure how have north of a dozen and a half happy and fairly healthy children reflects any sort of bedroom problems.”

    Yes, it does. They are having trouble getting out of the bedroom! :-)

  11. More seriously, when I see complaints like this one, it tells me that the complainer is misrepresenting the situation. It is traditional to call the Puritans sexually repressed, but that is clearly not the case. One Puritan ancestor couple had 15 kids over 31 years–and all but one of them lived to adulthood. This was typical throughout Puritan New England–some of the highest rates of successful reproduction in modern history. This is not a sign of sexual repression.

    The real complaint is that whoever does not approve of someone else’s sexual behavior. But that’s repression, that’s just disapproval. If Morford thought that there was something wrong with the Duggars’s sexuality, it shows that he is not more open-minded; he just doesn’t agree with their opinions.

  12. MJM says:

    Sebastian, your post about this meshes with a unique radio talk show discussion I heard locally, this morning. There’s a “girls, stay home until you’re married” movement, emphasizing forget about college and career and be a daughter, then a wife and mother. You can imagine the hooting, hollering, and name-calling. Dunno.
    However, I do know this: America and the rest of the West are doing something terribly wrong when it comes to dating, sex, marriage, and raising kids. If what you are doing is not working, then…. But, our culture’s approach is plainly dysfunctional.
    Don’t know the Duggars; don’t catch their program. Good luck to them.

  13. Ash says:

    Will any if their kids attend college or are they all aiming to be realtors and car salesmen?

    Ironically my wife grew up in a similar family and has stronger opinions on the topic.

  14. Wolfwood says:

    Will any if their kids attend college or are they all aiming to be realtors and car salesmen?

    I’ll bet many realtors and car salesmen make plenty more than I do, and I’m a lawyer.

  15. MJS says:

    Having a ton of kids to love and support is one thing, but having a belief that one needs to have as many as possible to make women “submit” to men and outpopulate non-Christians is another. There is a darker side to the ‘Quiverfull’ movement about which most people are unaware — the most famous “Quiverfull” family besides the Duggars would be Yates family (of bathtub fame).

    Use your favorite search engine and look up the websites “No Longer Quivering” or “Quivering Daughters” to read some really scary stories about wives and children (many of whom do the child-rearing instead of the parents) who have to run and grow up in these kinds of households.

  16. “Having a ton of kids to love and support is one thing, but having a belief that one needs to have as many as possible to make women “submit” to men and outpopulate non-Christians is another. ”

    Demography is destiny. Read Rodney Stark’s bok The Rise of Christianity, in which he argues that Christianity’s reproduction advantage over pagan classical society* is why Christianity eventually controlled the Roman Empire.

    *Pagan classical society’s problems on reproduction boiled down to:

    1. Infanticide.

    2. Abortion.

    3. Child marriage.

    4. Men who preferred other men and prostitutes to their wives.

    5. Widespread use of alternatives to intercourse.

    Almost like the Democratic Party platform today.

  17. “Will any if their kids attend college or are they all aiming to be realtors and car salesmen?”

    Why do you assume that they won’t attend college? Remember that church attendance is weakly but positively correlated with a college education.

  18. Ash says:

    “Why do you assume that they won’t attend college?”

    Apart from the fact that none of their six college age kids did, and the financial burden of sending even half of their kids to college, from what I saw of the show the parents displayed little interest in the subject.

    @Wolfwood – you do know everyone choosing to be realtors and car salesmen instead of studying say science and maths isn’t a sustainable model right?

  19. johnnysquire says:

    “Demography is destiny. Read Rodney Stark’s bok The Rise of Christianity, in which he argues that Christianity’s reproduction advantage over pagan classical society* is why Christianity eventually controlled the Roman Empire.”

    Destiny for a while, anyway. The kosher rules gave the Jews similar advantages. Then knowledge and practice of others caught up and the Jew’s advantage waned. Christian reproduction advantages have peaked.

  20. Clayton has a good point, though. Religion aside, we live in a nation that’s decreasingly a republic and increasingly a democracy. If that trend continues, whatever social group has the most babies will end up making the rules.

    I may not agree with certain groups’ insistence on attaching moral and supernatural disapproval to families unlike theirs, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that any population that discourages birth control, nonreproductive sex, and abortion and pushes all people into sexual relationships with the opposite sex is going to produce more voters than a population that lets people make their own sexual decisions.

  21. Bitter says:

    Ash, no one thinks everyone on the planet should be a Duggar real estate agent or car salesman. I’ve never seen them promote the idea that everyone should fit within that mold. So many are planning careers that don’t require a college education, and they aren’t wasting money on it if they don’t need it. That’s not a crime, nor is it something limited to anyone whose religious beliefs you may not like. Many of my Facebook “friends” from my hometown never attended college, some are real estate agents, and I wouldn’t be shocked if there are some who are married to car salesmen.

    I started reading more anti-Duggar crap online last night, and it really kind of amazes me what these people hate about the family.

    They’ll be likely to choose jobs in small businesses! The horror! According to the SBA, half of all Americans work in small businesses.

    They might not go to college! The travesty! Why take out $100,000 in debt if you choose a career that doesn’t require a college degree?

    One woman was outraged that the children were told not to do something by their father – and they obeyed! Where is the world headed? We never want a world with children who listen to their parents.

    The same site had someone complaining that Jim Bob likes hugging and kissing his wife in public, and that it’s obvious they still have sex. How dare they! Happy marriages are just not something we can tolerate.

    It’s okay if their lifestyle is not for you. But when you start complaining about things like not wasting money and working in small businesses, you’re basically throwing a lot of shit against the wall and hoping some of it sticks. It’s not going to with those kinds of complaints. In fact, you’ll find that you lose more people by throwing around those arguments.

  22. Arnie says:

    Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you both for bringing up this issue and for your fair and positive comments!
    I have not seen the show or heard of the Duggars, but I know a family of fifteen who are very much as you describe the Duggars. They are WONDERFUL! They work hard in a family owned business and also criss-cross the country with talented Gospel singing. They homeschool through twelfth grade and some are taking college by correspondence. Three are married/betrothed, one grandchild, they never take government money, they pay their own healthcare and midwife birth expenses, and use christian burden sharing with other Believers instead of health insurance (which means they have never cost any of us a penny in taxes or premium increases)! If every family in America operated as they do, we would not need government, let alone the bloated welfare state we now suffer!! They are caring, outgoing, and generous and would never impose their rules or beliefs on anyone, but have only the desire to proclaim their good news to anyone who willl freely come and listen. Their sons are true gentlemen and their daughters are the loveliest ladies imaginable, both inside and outside. When I am with that family, I feel as though I am getting a glimpse of what Heaven will be like! They annually perform in Penn. in the fall. You would blessed to meet them. I was!
    They are the Wissmann family. Check out:
    http://www.wissmannfamily.com

  23. Arnie says:

    I apologize for my crass advertisement, Sebastian, but you have to meet these folks to believe such a family is possible! They are an overwhelming joy!

    Arnie

  24. Arnie says:

    Oh, and they are avid supporters of our God-given rights to arms and self-defense! Interestingly, although the boys are well-trained at arms and hunting, I honestly don’t know about the young ladies. I shall have to ask the father about his provision for their protection. I do know that he commits much of his family’s protection to prayer and in the words of G. Washington, the interposition of a Benevolent Providence.
    I’ll try to remember to post what I find out.

    Arnie

  25. Bitter says:

    Thanks for inquiring about that, Arnie. I would be interested to know.

    Although, I would disagree about every family in America being just alike. My defense of the Duggars is that they aren’t hurting other people, yet for some odd reason, the left hates them for reasons that make no sense. I don’t argue their life is for everyone. I just simply don’t see what the problem is that justifies an attack. And considering the two heads of household are responsible for 21 other people being pro-gun, I’m just not going to throw other people under the bus if there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

  26. Arnie says:

    Thank you, Ms. Bitter. I understand your position and very much agree. As an analogy, I am sure there are some wonderful, self-sufficient, patriotic, but strict Amish and Muslim families in America who are great assets to their community and nation, and refuse to be burdens on the taxpayers. I would oppose those who would attack them for their harmless lifestyle, but I certainly would not choose to live it for myself nor tolerate its impostion on anyone outside their families. I suspect this would be the sentiment of most of the above commenters.
    And if you and Sebastian ever get the opportunity to see them perform in your area (hopefully next Fall), I guarantee you will come away blessed.
    Ok, I shall stop plugging them. Sorry.

    Arnie

  27. MJS says:

    “The left hates them for reasons that make no sense. I don’t argue their life is for everyone. I just simply don’t see what the problem is that justifies an attack.”

    The problem is that the kids in Quiverfull/Patriarchal families have no choice in how many brothers and sisters they must care for.

    In many QF/P families, the young adult daughters have no choice but to be nannies and surrogate mothers for their younger siblings — if mom is pregnant all the time it limits her ability to run the household, so the young women must pick up the slack (never the men). If they don’t they may be considered “in rebellion” and guilty of not honoring their parents, and thus in rebellion against God, and thus their souls are in jeopardy.

    Working and laboring one’s family is normal, but it’s quite different for a 16 year old girl to think that not selflessly taking care of her 8 brothers and sisters will lead you straight to hell. I’d be interested to see how many of the Duggar or Maxwell daughters need counseling later on in life.

    “Why do you assume that they won’t attend college? Remember that church attendance is weakly but positively correlated with a college education.”

    I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m willing to wager that women in QF/P circles receive less post-secondary education than their secular/mainline Christian counterparts. QF/P women are expected to be “keepers at home” and under the authority of their husbands (or their fathers if they are unmarried).

    I know a family right now from an independent fundamentalist Baptist church (the main progenitors of QF/P teachings in North America) with two bright young ladies (19 and 22) who are FORBIDDEN to even take community college classes or have jobs. They spend all day helping homeschool their younger brothers and sisters and are waiting for their father to bring home young men to “court” them.

  28. MJS, speaking as a polyamorous atheist in a long-term committed relationship with two spouses, frankly, you sound exactly like the tolerant, openminded progressives who want to keep my family illegal “because women are oppressed in polygamy”.

    You’re arguing against parents attaching religious significance to the house rules, kids being oppressed with excessive childcare duties, and kids being denied an education. All of these are bad (or can be bad in excess, anyway), but there’s no evidence that they’re happening abusively here. You’re projecting what you see as the typical attributes of a particular kind of family onto one individual family.

  29. Bitter says:

    Thank you, elmo! I was just about to respond with something similar.

    Seriously MJS, you’re complaining that older children aren’t allowed to vote on the sex lives/reproductive choices of their parents? What family does that? I’ll give you a hint, not a single parent I know allows any of their current children put a veto on their reproductive and sexual decisions – the Duggars are not the exception in this case.

    I’m a youngest, so I would have never been asked for my veto. However, I can assure you that my older sister was not involved in that decision since she has hated me since birth. I also checked with Sebastian since he’s an oldest and his parents didn’t seek his consent before having his little sister, either.

    Look, I wouldn’t make the same decisions as the Duggars for a lot of reasons. I would probably also encourage a little more breaking of gender roles than they do. But, until there’s some actual evidence of abuse or neglect, you can’t just pull little details of their lives out of context and claim evidence that they are doing bad things.

  30. MJS says:

    “MJS, speaking as a polyamorous atheist in a long-term committed relationship with two spouses, frankly, you sound exactly like the tolerant, openminded progressives who want to keep my family illegal “because women are oppressed in polygamy.

    You’re arguing against parents attaching religious significance to the house rules, kids being oppressed with excessive childcare duties, and kids being denied an education. All of these are bad (or can be bad in excess, anyway), but there’s no evidence that they’re happening abusively here. You’re projecting what you see as the typical attributes of a particular kind of family onto one individual family.”

    Putting an argument into my mouth? It sounds like your relationships are voluntary. That’s far different than telling/inferring that someone’s salvation may be in danger if they step out of line (as some in the QF/P circles often do to keep people in check).

    I don’t think there is outright abuse that could be caught by the cameras, but the Duggars rely on the methods and teachings of Bill Gothard (he’s mentioned frequently on the show, as is the “J-O-Y principle” and the “49 Character Qualities” he cooked up).

    If you haven’t looked up some of the stuff he teaches/promotes, you should. Some of it is quite scary, even coming from a mainline Protestant perspective. This is just a hypothesis, but that kind of super-hierarchical structure promoted by Gothard’s ATI/IBLP leads to a chilling effect where abuse may be suppressed if it exists.

    “Seriously MJS, you’re complaining that older children aren’t allowed to vote on the sex lives/reproductive choices of their parents? What family does that?”

    If the parents are going to conscript their children into being full-time nannies and leave the child-rearing to them, then yes — the older children should get some say. The brunt of the parenting should be left to… the parents, of all people.

    Now, was what Morford wrote absolutely disgusting and wrong? Yeah, nobody deserves that. But people should know what kind of beliefs the Duggars hold, promote, and practice before rushing out to defend them.

  31. Putting an argument into my mouth? It sounds like your relationships are voluntary.

    I think you’ll find it’s called an “analogy”. And here’s a fun fact about analogies: the two things being compared will, in fact, always have differences between them. If they didn’t, you’d be comparing one thing. So you see, when I say “hey, your argument is like this other one because they both project assumptions onto all individuals in a diverse group”, responding “nuh-uh! One is _voluntary_!” precisely as valid as saying Hitler’s mass murder can’t be compared to Herod’s because one of them had a _mustache_.

  32. Arnie says:

    Dear MJS,
    Although I do not know the exact beliefs of the Duggards, I am very familiar with Mr. Gothard’s teachings and none of them support your claim that a child’s salvation is based on their obedience to parental rules, but soley on true faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins.
    Secondly, you are certainly free to criticize a family lifestyle with which you disagree, but your insistence that the Duggar’s family life be interfered with (presumably by the State) just because you think it’s abusive is treasonous, tyrannical, wrong, and, frankly, the main reason I have military weapons in my home – to protect my liberty against little tin-tyrant anti-christs who think they can impose their failed atheistic agenda on me or my family. I’ll defend your right to express your opinion, but you try to get the State to limit the Duggar’s freedom to raise their family according to the biblical dictates of their conscience, and you’ll have just made an enemy – probably many – and a very formidable one at that!
    Sebastian, if you need to edit out my comment, I’ll understand. I just hate tyranny and anything that smacks of it. Maybe I have overreacted to MJS’s criticisms and I’ll mellow out when my anger subsides, but right now he is the reason I have guns!
    Arnie

  33. Sebastian says:

    Arnie,

    I’m in favor of using the Second Amendment to enforce the First Amendment, if that ever becomes necessary.

  34. Arnie says:

    Understood, sir.
    I apologize to MJS for my tone. I should have been more diplomatic.
    My best wishes to the Duggars.

    Arnie

  35. Arnie says:

    Dear Ms. Bitter,
    Ma,am, I am with the Wissmanns now and having a great time after a fantastic homecooked from scratch meal! I asked the father if any of his girls were trained at arms and he said two of them took hunter-safety courses and have practiced firing a rifle. The other girls so far haven’t shown much interest. The oldest son is married and bought his wife a personal handgun. They both hope to take ccw classes together. Guns are ok for everyone of age who wants one.
    The Wissmanns know the Duggars and think highly of them.
    The “quivering” critics are from around here , too. I can only say, be cautious; there are two sides to their stories.
    By the way, the Wissmanns enjoyed being introduced to your site! Maybe they will get hooked as I am!!
    Thank you!

    Arnie

  36. Arnie says:

    Ma,am, I have just been corrected. Two of the middle (teenage) daughters just told me they are interested in getting hunter-safety training so they can go hunt deer with their dad and brothers. So that makes four of eight girls who will be trained at arms. Cool!!!

    Arnie

  37. Bitter says:

    Very cool, Arnie! Thanks for the update!

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