The Duggars Under Fire

The latest issue of People magazine has the Duggar family featured in its cover story. The Duggars, as you probably already know, are a large family also featured in a reality television show with Mom (Michelle), Dad (Jim Bob), and their now 19 children. The aforementioned magazine cover has a picture of Michelle and Jim Bob along with the Duggar family’s latest addition, Josie Brooklyn, born this past December via emergency C-section. Also on the cover is the copy “How Many Kids Are Too Many?”, and “The Duggars Under Fire”. At the bottom of the cover this explanation is given: “As their 19th child, Josie, fights for life, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar say they might have more children- igniting a controversy over their supersize family”.

Actually, controversy about the Duggars long pre-dated the birth of baby Josie and any recent acknowledgment that there may be more little Duggars yet to come. Criticism of the Duggars goes back a few years, even before the time they came into the national spotlight  in 2004 when their first special was aired on the Discovery channel.

The criticism directed at them runs the gamut: Their religious views, their environmental impact (the Duggars do, no doubt, produce a lot of CO2),  the health risks they’ve taken, and their view that they have all the emotional and economic resources required to have 19 children (and maybe more).

They are said to be a part of the “Quiverfull” movement,  a stream of doctrine and practice within evangelical Christianity that, among other things, emphasizes the great gift and blessing that children are. The movement takes its name from Psalm 127:3-5:

Lo, children are an 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.

There is much to be said positively for Quiverfull. They obviously possess a high regard for children, have a great emphasis on the family, and reject the modern day feminist dogma that says women can’t be fulfilled simply by being mothers and homemakers. They aren’t mere throwbacks to a 19th century social model, rather they stand as a living antithesis of what the world around them believes and does.

Yet, while Quiverfull is not a monolithic movement, it nonetheless has a number of tenants within it that are generally held, and may be seen as troubling even within the most conservative of evangelical circles. For example, the notion that “birth control” by any means in any circumstance is always wrong is something that many (most?) evangelicals cannot accept as a Scriptural teaching. John Piper’s Desiring God Ministries has argued that there is no inconsistency in believing that children are a gift from God, and yet regulating the “timing and number” of those children: “Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it.”

But for the Duggars, stewardship of these gifts from God doesn’t include such matters as Piper contemplates. Their idea of stewardship is post-conception.

And we should be okay with that.

Despite all the critical noise in the media and on the internet (which, arguably, they brought upon themselves with their television show), the Duggars seem to have been successful by every measure in their endeavors to raise all their little gifts from God. It is a commitment and lifestyle that they have chosen. While one might not agree with a number of Quiverfull movement views, the Duggars and others like them need to be defended from all the spurious attacks that are made against them.  They get hammered on because they take the Bible literally. They get scorned because they believe in creationism. They are the subjected to these stupid environmental/resource criticisms that are utter Leftist drivel.

Sound familiar?

Moreover, the current trajectory of our society would suggest that somewhere down the line we will have government legislation that limits the number of children families can have. Recently Diane Francis wrote in the Financial Post : “The “inconvenient truth” overhanging the UN’s Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world. A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.”

Perhaps you had a small family by choice. Perhaps you think that the Duggars have some far-fetched ideas. Whatever the case, you might want to consider supporting the Duggars’ right to live and procreate as they please.

If you like what you read, sign-up to get CT in your inbox!

Comments

  1. says

    As far as I am concerned, if they can support their children financially and emotionally, I see no reason for them not to have as many as they want.

  2. says

    Ditto Angel.

    If they want to have 2, 19, or 328 kids, that’s their business. If they were living in squalor or neglect, that would be different.

    While I have some doctrinal disagreements with Quiverfull, they’re of the “we’ll find out who was right in heaven” sort, not the “one of us isn’t going to be there” kind.
    .-= Wickle´s last blog ..Friday Report =-.

  3. says

    CO2 footprint?
    Their unalienable rights trump enviromentalist liars so-called global emergency.
    Those who celebrate 50M slaughtered innocent Americans and still have not had enough, are ghoulish, greedy and have fouled the Constitution of the United States of America and this great Nation with their stench!
    As far as their living conditions: No government within the USA have the authority to interfere in the lives of Americans; no authority, except that which is taken without authority to do so. This is especially true, when the governments of the States and the United States promote infanticide at-will – there is no justice, nor mercy in those governments, therefor there can be no claim of being just and merciful, in enforcement of any laws.

  4. says

    I think the Duggar family is a wonderful, loving example of how a Christian family should function. Children are a blessing from the Lord, and I’m glad that some families actually live out that truth. It’s sad that some people are bitter at the Duggars’ happiness. I’m glad that they aren’t ashamed of what they believe and that they haven’t let cranky people with cranky advice control their lives.
    .-= Vanessa´s last blog ..At Evening Time There Shall Be Light ~ Elizabeth Prentiss =-.

  5. Brian Myers says

    Take it easy, Mr. Brodhead! I was rolling my eyes when I made the CO2 observation. I think this “greenhouse gas” business is an incredible fraud, and I trust that I made that relatively clear later on in the post.

  6. says

    Hehehe, I love those folks– their kids are well educated, polite, clean and responsible. I halfway think that’s why they did the reality show– even that couldn’t make them look as bad as some of the parents we’re supposed to think are great!

    Of course, for even greater irony– they’re more eco-friendly than the DINKs who complain… the have a BIG family in a single building, doing laundry in the most effective way possible, they recycle and reuse all kinds of things, and I’m fairly sure they make at least a large number of their own clothes. In other words, they walk the walk without disliking people.

  7. says

    They support their kids without government help, and everyone seems to be healthy and happy. Thus the government has no right to interfere. Most people who are Quiverfull believe that its a lifestyle that everyone isn’t necessarily called to. And not all Quiverfull families have large numbers of kids- they simply choose not to do anything to interfere with (or assist) the timing and number of kids that they have. Now I DID about flip a lid when my aunt compared the Duggars to Octamom. Considering she takes all kinds of govt. help for her kids I don’t think the two situations are similar at all.

  8. says

    There are a lot of generalizations regarding this so-called quiverful “Movement”. First of all, being quiverful only applies to a couple’s reproductive life. If you gathered a bunch of qf-minded people together, they would NOT all look the same. Some choose to home educate, some choose to wear dresses, some practice headcovering, some garden & can, some sew their own clothing, etc. Yet others send their children to private school, some wear jeans as they work in their garden, some cut their hair stylishly short, some homechurch, while other go to mega churches. You would be hard pressed to find two qf families that looked exactly alike.

    Also, the term quiverful does not have the same definition for each family. Yes, some believe you should NEVER, EVER use birth control in ANY way, at ANY time – even if it leads to the death of the mother/child. Yet there aren’t many couples that are quite that extreme. Some quiverful families believe if the mother’s/child’s life is in danger, it would be okay to use “natural” birth control – not chemical birth control. Some families may take a “break” for extreme circumstances – health of mother being one of them (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual). Yet others may have many biological children, then feel called to adopt children instead of having more bio kids.

    Really, qf families do not look or think exactly the same. QF merely applies to their reproductive life – and even that has various definitions.

    I say all this because I know many families who are reluctant to call themselves Quiverful, even if they *do* hold that belief in their reproductive life, due to everyone lumping them together with some of these extreme views. Being Quiverful is not a “movement” nor a “lifestyle” – it is a decision in one specific area of their lives.

    Just some thoughts….not really bashing the author, just giving some views from a sort-kinda-maybe quiverful-of-sort Momma.

  9. Brian Myers says

    Lori- I thought I was careful to do two things: 1) Present the QF movement in a fairly positive light. 2) To state that the movement wasn’t monolithic. Nonetheless, I do think there may be a bit more uniform thinking in the movement than you suggest, particularly in the area of birth control. While she has broadened her views somewhat more recently, Mary Pride’s seminal work “The Way Home” advocated an extreme view that has been highly influential.
    Best regards, Brian

  10. Melissa says

    They are well-rounded Chrisitans. They love and can support they’re children.

    There are people who shouldnt never be parents. The Duggars are wonderful parents and should be allowed to have as many children possible. I wish they would have been my parents!

  11. jeannemarie says

    i agree with the people who say that as long as they are supporting their kids and are not on any kind of government assistance who cares if they have 19 kids. it is no ones business. they built their own home and teach their kids(homeschool) and brought them up to be kind and respectfull and to think of others. i say bravo. i really like watching their show and want to read the book that they have out.

  12. Hannah says

    I have to admit that when I first saw the Duggars on TLC, I thought they were kooks. I thought they had no reason to bring so many children into the world and their views on birth control (or their aversion to it) were ridiculous. I do not agree with many principles of the Christian faith, and have in real life met more so called “Christians” who were jerks, bums, and drunks than I have that were true to the religion.

    HOWEVER, I have watched the Duggars on TLC. I have visited their website. I am amazed at the strength of their family and I applaud them. In my opinion, they are an outstanding example of togetherness and family values. I am sorry to hear that they are now coming under attack because of their choice to “be open” to having more children. These people that attack this upstanding family for their choices are the same who would complain if their own choices were taken away.

    The Duggars, for being such a large family, are amazingly eco-conscious from what I have seen, so my eyes also rolled at the CO2 comment. There are many, much smaller families just in my own neighborhood that throw out more trash and leave what I am sure is a bigger carbon footprint per capita than the Duggars. Just by being such a big family it stands to reason that much of what they have would be recycled, and re-used by other member of the family. Clothing gets passed down, toys go to the next youngest, etc.

    All in all, I think the Duggars have every right to live as they please. Their children seem to be intelligent, moral, happy people, which is more than can be said for many, if not most, smaller families. More power to them if they can continue bringing responsible, caring, happy people into this world.

  13. lucy says

    I have watched the Duggars on television many times, and although I couldn’t live the way they do, I think they are likeable people with nice kids. I dislike the way so many people reveal their own neurosis about faith and procreation in the vicious and unprovoked e-mail attacks on the Duggar family.

    However, I think that if they are really trying to model a godly lifestyle, then this should involve more than simply rehearsing principles they have been taught that represent only a fringe viewpoint of evangelical
    Christianity. As far as I know Scripture does not in any way lay down hard and fast rules about childbearing; if it did, and if it were really as central as the Duggars and other Quiverful families believe it is, then large families would be much more mainstream; as it happens, many more evangelicals choose to limit their families. Perhaps it is time Mr and Mrs Duggar took a fresh and less blinkered look at their faith and what it really teaches, rather than risking the life and well-being of mother and baby to prove a point that doesn’t require such a drastic sacrifice.
    Certainly many people get pre-eclampsia (I did with my first baby), and things can and do go wrong with any pregnancy. But the fact remains that a lot more can go wrong with an older pregnancy, especially when the mother has already delivered so many other chldren. And cosily telling themselves that God will look after them when the signs are so bad is, in my view, very irresponsible, and an abdication of personal responsibility, especially when another child’s life may be involved. Michelle Duggar has already proved her religious convictions many times over; surely it would be better, after an experience like this, to call it a day and look after the children she has.