Vyckie Garrison was once a minor celebrity in the Quiverfull Movement, made famous by TV’s Duggar family. As a devout, Bible-believing Christian and the mother of seven homeschooled children, Garrison spent 16 years, with her husband, publishing a newspaper for families on a similar path. Today, via a website called No Longer Quivering, she publishes resources for women leaving the movement.
Surprise, surprise: Josh Duggar had a couple paid Ashley Madison accounts during the same years he worked as executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of Family Research Council’s “traditional family values” organization.
Hypocritical? Absolutely … but also, considering Josh’s family upbringing, not exactly startling.
Quiverfull parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have raised their mega-brood of 19 children in strict accordance with the religious right’s “traditional family” model for marriage and family: they raised their daughters to be submissive “help meets” and their sons to be biblical patriarchs.
According to the purveyors of “biblical family values,” God created men for the express purpose of taking dominion over all of creation beginning in their own homes since any man who aspires to a position of power in church or government must first “rule his own house well” having his wife and children in submission “with all reverence.” (1 Timothy 3:4)
From his infancy, Michelle employed the “blanket training” method to condition Josh to be instantly, joyously obedient. In other words, before he could walk or talk, Josh Duggar learned to reflexively and unquestioningly obey both his earthly parents as well as his Heavenly Father via the fundamentalist interpretation of the bible.
Jim Bob and Michelle homeschooled Josh in order to control what the boy learned and from whom. He was isolated from mainstream society, sheltered from popular culture, and had limited access to secular resources regarding life, relationships, and sex education.
Here’s the short list of misogynistic “family values” which are regularly taught to fundamentalist Christian homeschool boys:
Strict gender roles: While “virtuous daughters” are raised to be “Ladies Against Feminism,” learning to cook, sew, babysit and dream about their wedding day, sons are taught to be “Men of God,” leading, conquering, dominating!
Hierarchy and authority: The Duggars refer to this principle as “Jurisdictions” … it’s the idea that by God’s perfect design, a chain of command exists in the spiritual realm in which children submit to their parents, wives submit to their husbands, husbands submit to God. It is only when the whole family is in right relationship with God and each other that they can be assured of the Lord’s protection from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Sexual purity: According to the Duggars, female bodies are a source of irresistible temptation to boys and men. The onus for maintaining sexual purity lies primarily with the girls. When the Duggar family is out in public, the older daughters must scout ahead for immodestly dressed women and shout, “Nike!” as a warning for the boys to look at their shoes to avoid the lustful desires which they cannot help feeling at the sight of exposed female flesh.
Courtship: Josh and Anna were united as a couple via father-led courtship in which God told Josh that Anna was the girl he would marry someday, Josh told Jim Bob that he was sure Anna was the one for him, and Anna’s dad surprised her by saying that he believed Josh was the one for her!
Spiritual warfare: Christian fundamentalists frame dysfunction, abuse, and psychopathology in terms of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and grace … oh, and DEMONS. Jim Bob and Michelle harbor a grave mistrust of pretty much every respected, evidence-based approach to behavioral issues: secular psychology is “spiritually dangerous,” modern medicine, therapy, and pharmaceuticals are equated with “witchcraft,” and abusive, criminal behavior is often attributed to “a heart issue,” or even demonic influence or possession.
Is it any wonder that boys raised within this paradigm grow up with a strong sense of entitlement toward women? Should we be shocked when a “traditional family values” leader like Josh, who used his family’s wholesome image and notoriety to proclaim, “Marriage is between one man and one woman for life,” turns out to be actively seeking an extra-marital affair via the adulterers’ dating site, Ashley Madison?
Not only is the discovery of Josh Duggar’s latest scandal not surprising, given that he was raised to believe that in God’s economy men are extremely important and women not so much, his desire to cheat on his pregnant wife was predictable … and compared to molesting his little sisters, the news is a little ho hum.
All of this is to explain, but not excuse, Josh’s reprehensible behavior. As a boy, he was clearly deviant and in need of serious professional help. As a man, Josh is responsible for his actions. My job here is to expose the ways in which Christian fundamentalist “family values” work to turn disturbed young boys into sick-as-fuck men like Josh Duggar.
When delusional men believe they must answer to God alone, they are accountable only to their own twisted imaginations … that is, until these patriarchs butt up against reality … a reality in which hackers leak an infidelity website’s supposedly secure, private data for all the world to see.
Here is the one part about this whole mess that I really do appreciate: the ongoing Josh Duggar molestation and adultery revelations have put the fundamentalist Christian spiritual abuse survivors and recovery movement on America’s collective radar. Suddenly it seems the whole world is hearing about “Quiverfull” and learning just how oppressive home life can be for those who embrace “Biblical Family Values” and adopt the requisite lifestyle.
When all the media hype dies down, will the children in Quiverfull families be any less vulnerable? Will there be any new protections and/or resources in place? While I am more than happy to “exploit” the latest Duggar family scandal to get the word out about the dangers of Quiverfull, it does bug me that our attention span is way too short when it comes to genuinely important issues. Let’s try not to be so distracted by Josh’s not-shocking cheater news to miss the real story: Christian fundamentalist families like the Duggars need help.
Here are some ideas for practical ways to influence and rescue women and children. For more information regarding spiritual abuse, check out the survivor stories at No Longer Quivering. Go here, for practical help and resources available to victims of abuse.
Recommended reading: Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce.