Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Duggars: How Fundamentalism's Teachings on Sexuality Create Predatory Behavior

So, it’s in the news everywhere: A Duggar son groped his sisters while they slept when he was 14. The family essentially hushed it up. And, now that he is buddies with Ted Cruz, it became a juicy news story. (Nothing like a political AND sexual scandal to sell ads...)

And the aftermath is predictable. The Duggars get their show suspended, and the (now adult) kid loses his job. And, there is a brobdingnagian pile of schadenfreude to be found in the tabloids.

I have been saying privately for years that something like this would absolutely come to light regarding the Duggars, so this is no surprise to me at all.

As an attorney, I have handled several cases involving fundamentalist families with sexual issues, and the facts seem very familiar.

I’m not going to get into specifics, because of attorney client privilege. However, there does seem to be a certain amount of commonality in how these go down.

I firmly believe that the beliefs within Christian Fundamentalism strongly contribute to these failings - and indeed make them inevitable.

First, let me note again that I spent a portion of my teens involved in Bill Gothard’s organization. My law school education was at his law school, so I know of what I speak. The Duggars are big in the Gothard organization, and promote it through their TV show. So, I know the exact teachings that they follow and promote. 

That's why, despite never having seen more than a few minutes of the show at a time, and having no idea which kid was Josh, I was able to make this prediction. All I needed to know was that they followed Gothard's teachings about sex and gender, and I knew that it was more likely than not that a sex scandal would surface sooner or later. 

In addition, I have been discussing this with some friends, many of them also ex-Gothardites, and some common issues have arisen, and I decided I probably should address them a bit from the perspective of both a lawyer and a former Fundie.

Because the perpetrator in this case (and in my cases as well) was a minor - age 14 - a boy in the throes of puberty - the issues are not quite as straight forward as they would be in a typical pedophile case.

While I would not defend what this boy did - it was pretty clearly sexual assault - I do understand some of why, and strongly believe that Gothard’s teachings contributed to the way he acted out.

Again: I am not minimizing sexual assault, or excusing perps.

What I intend to show is that Fundamentalist teachings on sex tend to lead to young men who would not otherwise be predators act out in predatory ways.

So here are my thoughts:

  1. How do we distinguish who is a predator and who isn’t? And is a person always a predator?

This is important, because I have seen several people castigate the wife of this man for marrying him, and insist that he never be allowed around children. Some have gone so far as to call him unequivocably a child molester who will never change. Does an act at age 14 mean one is a predator in every case? Or could one grow and change and not be a threat?

I am not defending predators, and I am not defending what he did. However, based on my own cases and my personal experience of the terrible teachings of Gothard, I am not convinced that he is a real predator or pedophile. He may be, but he is not necessarily one.

One initial issue concerns the very nature of pedophilia. A true pedophile is attracted to children because they are children. The very age is the source of the attraction. In addition, true pedophiles are, more often than not, extremely skilled at identifying victims and seducing them, and then keeping them quiet afterward. Most true pedophiles have hundreds of victims by the time they are caught. And - very important - they are not really “curable” in any true sense. They absolutely must be kept away from children, with no exceptions.

In comparison to true pedophiles, there are others who might very well be attracted to sexually mature persons, but who take what is available, so to speak. For example, two kids who “play doctor” are unlikely to be pedophiles, even if they are experimenting with another young child. It is more likely than not that they will function sexually with adults when they grow up.

Thus, while, again, I am not defending what he did, I do think that more information is needed before we should be quick to paint this guy as a pedophile or sexual predator. I’ll explain more later about why I believe the teachings lead to predatory behavior in otherwise normal teens.

2. The troubling thing about the case is the combination of an age gap and lack of consent.

The reason you get police involvement in this case (and in others that I have handled) is one or both of two things: a. A greater than 4 year age gap b. Nonconsensual touching.

The cops are not interested in investigating two 14 year olds having sex, or two 9 year olds playing doctor. There is no crime there. The reason this became an issue was that there was no consent, and there may well have been an age difference. Thus, this was a sexual assault, which is why it was a matter for law enforcement.

However, I believe that the belief system contributed to a situation where a 14 year old lacked a healthy understanding of consent.  

3. Gothard’s teachings on sexuality strongly contribute to these sexual problems

And make no mistake, these teachings are NOT limited to Gothard, but have significantly infiltrated Evangelicalism as a whole. The root of the harmful teachings are an obsession with sexual “purity” and a terror that the kids might have sex before they are married. Most of Gothard’s empire was built on feeding these fears and promising an escape. A guarantee that by following his formula, the kids would be good little virgins on their wedding night.

However, what really ends up happening in far too many cases is that the teachings cause sexual dysfunction of one sort or another. In some cases (known personally to me) the child is able to successfully repress all sexuality, but then has difficulty functioning sexually once married. In others, as in some of my cases, the lack of healthy sexual views leads to a really messed up response to puberty and acting out in harmful ways toward others.

Here are the teachings that I believe significantly contribute to the problem:

  1. Thinking about sex is lust, and lust is as bad as doing it.

This is a common thread in every one of my own cases. This idea is hammered into children by Gothard and others. The hope is that they would be able to banish all sexual thoughts and desires until that magical wedding night when the switch is flipped. I discussed this further in my series on Modesty Culture. The problem is that “lust” is defined for all practical purposes as any and all sexual thoughts or desires. For a young man going through puberty, this is, for all but a few, completely impossible. There is no winning, just endless frustration and shame. (I was never a pubescent girl, so I can’t speak to that, but I would imagine this can be frustrating for girls too.)

The huge problem with this teaching is that it does not distinguish between having thoughts and desires, and acting on them in an inappropriate way. To the young person, just developing (one hopes) critical thinking skills, this can and does lead to problems in making decisions. After all, if one has already fallen into sexual sin in the realm of thought, why not at least get some satisfaction for the trouble. All the guilt and shame is already there, so why not try to at least get a little gratification.

Needless to say, this worldview is not very good at addressing the issue of consent. Since all sexual sin is the same (see Piper, John), then the difference between lusting and sexually assaulting someone is blurred.

b. “Modesty Culture” teaches that female bodies are the source of said sinful lust.

I won’t rehash all of this, but I do recommend that you read my series on Modesty Culture. In essence, it is rape culture, rebranded for the Christian market. The source of male sexual sin is the woman, who, by virtue of being attractive, causes him to lust.

Thus, for someone raised in this worldview, the girl is as much at fault as he is.

I believe this also leads to non-consensual touching of very young girls.

I pointed this out in my post on “defrauding” and rape, and included a picture from Gothard’s curriculum wherein a boy who was caught in the same sort of act as the Duggar kid blamed changing his infant sister’s diapers


The fact that this occurred is completely predictable in light of the teachings. The burden is placed on extremely small girls to keep their bodies covered at all times, or they could be sexually assaulted. 

[Addendum: here is more on Gothard's advice for handling incest and abuse.]

Again, note that consent never even enters the discussion. Sexual sin is sexual sin, regardless of whether it is consensual or assault.

c. Sexual desire is presented in a gendered way.

This one plagues our greater culture too, but it is particularly popular in Christian circles. The idea is that women don’t really want sex. However, they trade it (and their bodies) to men in exchange for commitment - that is, a promise of lifetime financial support.

Thus, females will always want to say no to sex, so the man will have to impose on them to some degree. (Ideally for the fundie, women would - as they are taught to - give men sex on demand after marriage as their “duty” and to keep those horny men from cheating.)

Again, this makes for problems when it comes to a discussion of consent. Because women will never say “yes” voluntarily, “no” is meaningless. As another Fundie, Doug Wilson put it, the man has to “conquer, plant, and colonize,” while the woman “accepts, receives, surrenders.” Not a good place to start for healthy consensual sexuality.

For a young man raised in this worldview, then, he has no real reason to hope that a woman might actually desire to have sex with him. Thus, at some point, he will simply have to take what he wants. And who might be available and weak enough to be imposed on? Perhaps young girls…

d. No outlets for sexual feelings are acceptable - until marriage.

It is hard to describe just how repressive Gothardism is to those who haven’t experienced it, but I’ll try. Keep in mind that what applies to Gothardism also applies to most Fundie systems, and in some cases applies in significant part to mainstream Evangelicalism these days.

Because of the obsession with preventing sex, these systems impose significant “safeguards” against it occurring.

For example, as I have already noted, they insist on constant work to repress any and all sexual feelings, because these are “lust.”

Second, as I noted, they work to keep female bodies from being visible. They must be hidden away as best possible, because without them, (presumably), young males wouldn’t want sex. This is what is behind the obsession with the way young girls dress, as I pointed out in my series.

Third, in many of these systems - including Gothardism - cross-gender friendships are discouraged, and in some cases forbidden altogether. The young people must be kept from each other, or sexual feelings might develop. (I wrote about this in my wife’s story.

Fourth, many of these systems discourage sex education because it might lead to lust. This is particularly the case for girls, who ideally would learn about sex from their husbands on the wedding night. I wish I was making that one up. Certainly, a robust family discussion of sex is out of the question. Instead, sex isn’t talked about, except to say “don’t do it and don’t think about it.”

Fifth, the whole system of “courtship” or “betrothal” further separates the genders until that magical wedding night. For those not familiar with “courtship,” it forbids dating of any kind until both parties are ready to marry. That is, until he has enough money and income to support her. At that time, he asks her father for permission, and the courtship takes place under closely supervised conditions. Chaperones are present always, and the couple is considered as essentially engaged from the beginning of the process. I’ve blogged about this before here

Again, there is a constant and continual control until the pressure can finally be taken off on the wedding night. Good luck, young people! Now you can try to shove aside all the baggage we gave you about sex and have fun now!

Now, for a young man, in a system like Gothard’s, where college is discouraged, and all relationships are rigidly controlled, there really isn’t much of an out. He can't think about sex, because that is sin. Of course, he can’t masturbate either, because that is sin. He can’t even be friends with a girl. In fact, he his kept physically separated from them. He is staring at having to completely satisfy his future father-in-law before he can even try a relationship, and that could be many years down the road if financial prosperity doesn’t come quickly. You keep tightening that lid. Pushing down on all sexuality. The pressure keeps building.

He has zero options.

So he has the new feelings of puberty, an environment that discourages talking about sex, overwhelming guilt about sexual thoughts, teachings that blame girls for his desires, a long time until he would have any approved outlet for his sexuality, and...

...the only females available to him in any way are his little sisters.

How could this possibly go wrong?

And that, in my opinion, is how young men who would not otherwise become predatory end up engaging in sexual assault.

***

Again, it is not my intent to excuse bad behavior. Sexual assault is wrong, and a crime. And I am not familiar enough on a personal level with Josh Duggar to know if he has the markers of a predator or not.

However, my experience in these cases is that the young men involved - again, not adults, but 12-15 years old - have seriously screwed up beliefs about women, consent, and sex; because the teachings are obsessed with preventing sex, not in creating a healthy view of sexualty, which embraces consent, female sexual desire, and equality within the sexual relationship. These young men are in need of substantial deprogramming, which is obviously anathema to Gothardites, who are violently opposed to any non-Gothardite counseling or input.  

So is Josh Duggar a predator and a danger to children? Maybe. But maybe not. Did he engage in sexual assault? Absolutely. Would he be a risk to do it again? Not necessarily.  

Did the poisonous doctrines believed and promoted by his family contribute to the problem? I believe that they absolutely did.

And I believe that, even more than that, the way that Gothard advises dealing with victims in cases like this will cause even more harm within the family.


Far from having a productive conversation about consent, there probably was just a little “repentance and forgiveness” charade. The doctrines have clearly remained the same since, and the root problems will never be addressed.

There are no winners here.

Now that this is public, Josh will be forever branded as a sexual predator, whether or not he is an actual danger to anyone now or in the future.

The girls have had their bodily autonomy violated, but they will be taught that they may have contributed to their own assault. They were and will be expected to do the "repentance and forgiveness" charade, and pretend nothing serious happened. Their violation will not be treated with the seriousness that it deserves. And they will be taught that what Josh did was just another sexual sin, no worse or different from what they would commit if they made out with a boyfriend. And therefore, it is entirely possible that they will be considered "tainted" in the Fundie community. And this, after their innocence and budding sexuality have been the selling point of the show for years.

The poisonous doctrines will remain untouched and unexamined. There will be no discussion of consent. And, if my past cases are any indication, the parents will instead double down on isolating boys and girls from each other and policing all interaction.

And the cycle will continue.

Even though Gothard personally has fallen into disgrace because of his own problems with teen girls, his ideas will be recycled by a new false prophet, who will profit from Evangelicals desperate to guarantee that their children will arrive at the altar as good little virgins, pleasing to God because of their innocence.

Note on Evangelicalism's ongoing issue with child abuse

[Note, after a comment by a reader, I decided I wasn't clear about this part. I believe Fundamentalism tends to breed predatory behavior. I also believe Evangelicalism has become influenced by Fundamentalism in the last few decades. 

However, the reason that I believe Evangelicalism in general is having problems with child abuse is this: churches have children (potential victims), and churches rarely have policies for preventing predators from operating. Leadership is rarely trained to recognize predators, and policies regarding reporting of abuse are inconsistent. Many states, including my home state of California make clergy mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect, but many clergy do not realize this.

I also believe that few churches are really safe places for victims, and I am not alone. I recommend reading Boz Tchividjian's writings on child abuse and the church for more on this.]  

These teachings also enable predators and abusers as well, as should be obvious with a bit of familiarity with how predators operate. Getting victims to blame themselves is much easier when the church lays the foundation. The teachings on authority - unquestioning obedience as to God himself - make it easier for those in leadership to prey on children, and keep them silent. 

And let me say that our response to sexual predation by leaders has been atrocious. Our instinct is to protect and cover up, rather than expose and prosecute. 

This obviously requires great vigilance, but also a reconsideration of how we talk about consent. Or more accurately: how we don’t talk about consent. This is probably a topic for another post.

Suffice it to say that the teachings on sexuality tend to 1. protect predators and 2. create predatory behavior where it would not otherwise exist. 

Note on why I say Fundamentalist:

I have also received some feedback that "fundamentalism" means different things to different people. So to clarify, see this follow up post. 

Note on Pedophiles: 

One of the questions that I do not see raised by those calling for him to be treated as a child molester would seem to be obvious: Is he primarily or even significantly attracted to children? That's important, because someone who is, is probably a continuing danger, but someone who is not attracted to children is not really a risk to offend in that way. Again, this seems obvious, but it apparently isn't. 

Second, is he a risk to be commit rape or sexual assault in the future? There actually are identifiable risk factors for this as well. A propensity for violence is one. Violence in one area becomes violence in others. (Anyone who has helped victims of domestic violence know the connection between battering and sexual assault.) Perhaps a better way to put this would be to consider whether what he did was about sex, or about violence. In general, rape is about violence, not sex. On the other hand, these acts may not have been primarily about violence and control, but about a messed up view of sexuality and a lack of understanding of consent. A good way to check would be to see if there is an overall problem with control and violence.    

For both of these risks, I would also add in that one should evaluate for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is probably a factor in Gothard and Doug Phillips' issues with sexual assaults. And the better the person plays the "repentance and forgiveness" game, the more likely they are to be a narcissist. 

I should add in here again that there is a reason that we do not try 14 year olds as adults. I'm not going to get into all the developmental stuff, but the same acts committed by a 25 year old would obviously be more indicative of a true pedophile than the same acts committed by a 12 year old.  As age and maturity increase, so does responsibility and the likelihood that a bad act is not an outlier, but an indication of a serious risk. 

On a related note, the problem with taking the easy route and labeling Josh Duggar a Child Molester:

We have a tendency as a society and as a religion to dismiss bad actions as being done by "bad people." That way, we can just say that somebody evil did something evil, and never look at the underlying structural and philosophical issues. So, domestic violence is just bad men beating women. Get rid of the bad men, and everything will be fine. It clearly has nothing to do with belief in the inferiority of women or the necessity that they obey and serve men. Move along, nothing to see here...

Similarly, we do this with racism. Other people, bad people, are racists. And some cops are jerks. That way, we don't have to look into structures of privilege, or bad law enforcement culture that leads to dead bodies. We don't have to actually clean house, just throw a few bad people out, and bam! utopia. 

Similarly, in the cases of all these cases of sexual assault within Patriarchy, we want to be able to dismiss them as outliers. Bad acts by bad people. Josh Duggar is a child molester, so we just keep him away from kids, and everything will be fine.

And then we NEVER have to address the damage that our poisonous teachings on sexuality are causing. It is not an accident that we are attracting (and paying) narcissistic predators like Gothard and Phillips. And it is not an accident that there are problems with assault in Patriarchal families. At some point, one can't just blame bad luck for the lightning strikes. We have to admit we have been standing outside in the storm, holding a metal pole. We attract bad actors, and we make predatory acts by those who would not otherwise have been predators more likely. 

True, let's remove the bad actors, but let's not ignore the other source of poison: bad beliefs and teachings.     

Maybe Josh Duggar is a pedophile. Maybe he is a narcissistic jerk who will tend to rape and assault. But it is also possible that at age 14, the bad teachings simply bore their entirely predictable results.  

Note on the Duggars and the media:

One of the annoying statements that I keep hearing is that this is somehow a "liberal media" attack on Christianity. This argument is getting a bit old, particularly when it is used to deflect the truth of a particular allegation

I believe that it is super duper easy to see why this is huge news. And also why it should be huge news. 

At the outset, I will say that I have grave moral misgivings about anyone who would put their family in the spotlight like that, as I do not believe it is healthy for them. But that is not all. 

The whole reason the Duggars have made multiple millions selling their family is that they are essentially selling sex. 

It starts with the premise: the Duggars are "quiverfull," which means that they believe all forms of birth control are sinful, and that "godliness" requires having as many children as physically possible. That philosophy is also taught by Gothard and other Patriarchists. It also is the way that you end up with 19 kids, and why every one of their children (so far) has ended up pregnant right after the marriage. This isn't just a philosophy about Christianity, but one that is central to their view of female sexuality. 

Just as the Duggars promote the quiverful philosophy on their show, they also promote their view of "courtship," which I already mentioned. Unless one has been living under a rock, it is impossible to miss the fact that they loudly proclaim their belief that one should not even hold hands or kiss before marriage. The first physical contact is to be after the vows.

Make no mistake, this is all about selling sex. You have these attractive, virginal young ladies, and their sex lives are on display for all to see. The invitation is to think about the girls and sex. I would call it "Virginity Voyerism."

This is the reason for the show. To promote Gothard's teachings on sexuality, gender, and marriage. As Gothard puts it, to "show the world a better way of life." These teachings are sold on the idea that they will prevent bad sexual things from happening. That they will deliver our kids to the altar as good little virgins. That the dress codes and the separation of the sexes will stamp out all this horrid lust and perversion and all that.


And then one more thing: lately Mrs. Duggar has been in the news for saying that transsexuals are a grave threat to children, equating them to child molesters. Furthermore, Josh (until his recent resignation) worked for the Family Research Council, which has been designated as a hate group for claiming (against the evidence) that homosexuals are child molesters seeking to prey on children. 

Both of these claims were made after Josh assaulted his sisters in their sleep. 

The hypocrisy is just astounding, and it is no wonder the media is all over this. This family, like Gothard and Phillips, made their fortune - millions of dollars - promoting a particular view of sexuality, and (in my view), trading on the pretty innocence of their daughters. And then used the platform to make unsupportable claims about LGBT people. And all the while, it wasn't the gays that were fondling the daughters. 

Of COURSE the media is all over this. 

It isn't just the Duggars, of course. Within the last two years, the three most visible representatives of the Patriarchy movement have all gone down in sexual flames. Gothard resigned after more than 30 women came forward with stories of how he assaulted and harassed them. Phillips (Vision Forum) folded his organization after it came out that he had sexually assaulted a young woman who worked for him. And now the Duggars, who were extremely close with both Phillips and Gothard have proven (as I predicted) to have some serious sexual skeletons in their own closets. 

At some point, this ceases to be "bad luck" and "media conspiracy" and becomes what can only be described as bad fruit. The teachings themselves are incurably rotten, and lead to rotten, reeking, putrid fruit. 


    As I note, I believe Gothard’s teachings are a deadly poison which has tainted generations of Evangelicals, and a part of me is glad to see yet another spokesperson for his organization and ideas go down in flames. But I do hurt for the kids, who didn’t have a choice to become involved in Gothardism or have their lives on camera. 

 BEFORE YOU COMMENT: Please read my comment policy. 

161 comments:

  1. This is the best overview of how Christian patriarchy produced this situation that I have read yet. I will be sharing this post with anyone I know who needs the facts about Gothard's teachings and purity culture.

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    1. An interesting correction to this blog occurs at the following URL--

      http://midwestchristianoutreach.org/?p=5831

      Essentially the observation is that this blog confuses "Fundamentalism" with "Legalism".

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    2. I myself have been a victim of a devastating "domination & control" ministry. It was far more sophisticated than Gothard, but it was just as destructive. It took ten years for my wife and I to recover and we still live with the scars three decades later. The years it stole from us and our family cannot be replaced. But it was not the teaching of the Bible that caused the problems, it was distortions of the Bible in the hands of misguided leaders that caused the problems, i.e., legalism.

      So, I am with Terri Phenn on this. I wish Autodidact would change his reference from too-vague-and-generic "fundamentalism" to more-accurate-and-precise "legalism". Mainstream fundamentalism rejects Gothard and Patriarchy. Autodidact seems to be speaking from a narrow platform of limited personal experience and "several cases involving fundamentalist families", as he states. He needs to step back and consider the bigger picture before denigrating an entire segment of human beings.

      Millions of decent and reasonable people believe that the Bible is the innerrant Word of God and follow it as such - they are Fundamentalists. A few misguided folks promote distortions of the Bible in order to micromanage and control peoples lives with their own human opinions - they are legalists. Some innocently follow these misguided leaders for a season - they are victims.

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    3. I made an attempt to clarify my use of "fundamentalism" in a follow up post. To be brief, I use the term the way the greater culture does, not in the sense that theologians use it. I believe "legalism" is too narrow, because it doesn't really include the authoritarianism that goes along with it, and because nobody - Gothard included - ever thinks he is a legalist.

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    1. While some things in the "analysis" are useful, I would have to say that it falls very far short of "excellent". Multiple conclusions are extrapolated from emotional appeal and self-authenticating syllogisms. This is very troubling, especially as it is expressed in one of the article's many subjective statements:

      "I firmly believe that the beliefs within Christian Fundamentalism strongly contribute to these failings - and indeed make them inevitable."

      Autodidact's meager experience hardly qualifies him to make such a sweeping and absolute class-action assessment of millions of people whom he has never met. Where is the beef? Where is the evidence? His "firm belief" is not evidence, it is conjecture. If Autodidact's summary statement were even within parsecs of being true, then every "fundamentalist" church in America would be making front page news over the latest "inevitable" sexual deviation being exposed. The failings of a relative few does not make his case, especially when the Bible warns us that such individuals will arise (Acts 20; 2Peter 2; Jude).

      For those of you who have been - as Autodidact and I myself have been - victims of misguided church leaders/teachings, my heart goes out to you. But think a bit before uncritically jumping on the bandwagon of Autodidact's reactionary theories. Josh Duggar exploited an opportunity to commit grievous sin against some younger girls. It was primarily a manifestation of uncontrolled pubescent fantasies out of his own rotten heart, not the "inevitable" result of "suppressive" teachings. To say more than this is pure speculation, unless Josh Duggar tells us otherwise.

      Bill Gothard is clearly a wretched false teacher and the idealisms of the Patriarchy movement are in some areas misguided. But to say that these characterize "Christian Fundamentalism" is unsupportable.

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    2. Let us grant your claim that Josh and Gothard's rotteness were to blame, rather than the "suppressive" teachings. How then shall we account for the Duggar parents concealing these crimes while they ran for Congress and made a TV show? How to explain their wholesale condemnation of gays as predators even while they were concealing their own predator?

      I know, you're going to say both the elder Duggars are rotten. They're all rotten! Perhaps you should google the "No True Scotsmen" fallacy. For me, if every single adherent of a teaching is rotten, I am going to conclude it's the teaching that's poisonous. Call me crazy, I guess.

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    3. While "every single one" is perhaps hyperbole, it is striking how the three most visible and well known proponents of Christian Patriarchy have ALL turned out to have problems with sexual assault.

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    4. As an update, perhaps you saw the FOX interview? Where Jim Bob indicated that apparently he sought counsel from other parents, and "discovered" that "this sort of thing" was common? It sure sounds like there is a problem within the community...

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    5. This is common in closed religious societies. The LDS church used to keep all sexual abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse as "family" issues. Nothing was reported to authorities. This changed after the Catholic Church scandal and assessment of liability.

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  3. Wow this is exactly on point. Thank you.

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  4. Brobdignagian pile of schadenfreude...nice job! I had to look up brobdignagian.

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    1. the spelling is off, it's Brobdingnagian by Dictionary.com

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    2. Cheryl, you are absolutely right. I can only assume that something went wrong with autocorrect. I have corrected it in the original. Thanks!

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  5. These are some mighty sweeping generalizations about fundamentalists and the prevalence of sexual abuse, based on anecdotal evidence. The studies I read do not support this. Before making such a terrible charge, don't you think it would be wise to cite and reference the studies, research and proof? I find this to be a very disturbing hatchet job.

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    1. Vicky, I also grew up in a conservative Christian environment, and I can testify that such attitudes are surprisingly common among evangelical Christians, even those who have never heard of Bill Gothard or the Duggars. And while in most cases such beliefs are balanced by a real love for one's family, church and neighbors, I am not surprised that sometimes "dominion theology" shows its true chauvinistic colors.

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    2. It's also hard to find "research and studies" for this, because this subculture has a deep, rather paranoid fear of anything mainstream. (Google Michael Farris' book "Anonymous Tip" for the way the believe that CPS is out to get everyone, particularly Christians. The combination of a culture of silence and paranoia about law enforcement, therapists, and any other investigators would make it extremely difficult to actually do a study. I believe that much of this will eventually come out in due course, as the next generation comes of age. I also would comment that in the last couple of years, the three most visible leaders of the Patriarchy/Fundamentalist movement have gone down in flames due to sexual assault. At some point, this isn't an unlucky coincidence.

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    3. @Vicky Kaseorg - since you ask:
      http://www.theocracywatch.org/
      http://www.yuricareport.com/

      And then a search for "sexual abuse within evangelical churches" gives us about 1,110,000 results.

      These are not so much "wild accusations" as they are "mild accusations".

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    4. As a survivor of fundamentalism myself, I would have to say the sweeping generalizations are absolutely true, and I was one of the lucky ones who wasn't sexually assaulted in some manner!

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    5. It is sadly all too common. Please look up the work of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.)

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    6. This is true (I grew up in evangelical church), and went to pretty conservative church during college. If a church starts to teach healthy sexuality, not as a sin, but a gift from God... maybe, the young adults would start coming back to church.

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    7. I grew up in extreme fundamentalism and agree that these "sweeping generalizations" are valid and true. I was never abused but other situations just like this were swept under the rug. I firmly believe our cult was Gothardism in a smaller circle. I've often wondered if our leader learned from Gothard or if cults just end up this way.

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    8. G.R.A.C.E. is indeed a great resource.

      Also, I didn't link it earlier, but if you haven't read this long-form article on on Bolivian Mennonites, it is a bit eye-opening. I believe there is some ongoing research on the Amish and Mennonite communities here in the US as well, and a lot of problems are coming to light. http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/the-ghost-rapes-of-bolivia-000300-v20n8?Contentpage=-1

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    9. I grew up in a largely Catholic community in the 1960's. A neighbor boy sexually abused me, my sisters and several neighbor girls before he was caught. His parents, the parish priest AND the sheriff got together and decided to drop everything (after the parents made a large donation to the Catholic high school), because what the kid did wasn't as bad as "the alternative," whatever that was.

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    10. Thanks to all the above for chiming in. If not for your comments, I would have deleted the original as in violation of the comment policy, but your contributions would be lost as well if I did that, so I'll keep it.

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    11. I know a former member of an Old Order Amish sect who says that she believes almost all of the girls are victims of incest.

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  6. Thank you for this post. It expresses exactly what I have been wanting to say and coincides with similar situations I have known about.

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  7. Very well written. This is an important contribution to the literature.

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  8. Thank you for putting what I have been wanting to say so well. I am definitely sharing this.

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  10. Wow. I think you covered everything. Thank you!

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  11. My wife and daughter watch this show religiously (sorry) and I've watched a number of episodes myself, though I don't really care for the show. But just to be clear - the Duggars DO allow hand-holding, but it's quite the interesting body-to-body contact. We refer to it as "hand sex." But, yes, there needs to be a chaperone.

    Where I fail TLC is that they control the message that the Duggars put out. The show is almost completely without conflict (one of the reasons I don't care for it). I wrote about this controlling the message in a blog I wrote awhile ago:

    http://matt-alittlenonsensenowandthen.blogspot.com/2014/04/19-kids-and-counting-controlling-message.html

    Lastly - in one episode right before Josh got married, Jim Bob (or a family friend) gave him a videotape/DVD about "what to do on the wedding night." TLC blurred out parts of the cover whether for copyright reasons or for images (which would surprise me). If someone knows what that videotaped contained or who produced it, might give us a clearer message of what is being told to these young married couples on their wedding night.

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    1. Hand sex only after engagement!

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    2. He was given an audio CD of the book Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, MD and his wife Gail.

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    3. Thank you for the information regarding the book. I took a look on Amazon and it SEEMS the book is a bit progressive. Still, I think it would be difficult to save your first kiss for the wedding day and go full speed ahead towards sexual intercourse just a few hours later.

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    4. I am not familiar with the book, so don't take any recommendation in the comments as mine. One concern I would have (based solely on the reviews) is that it seems pretty prudish and phallocentric. In particular, the dismissal of oral sex as a crutch for men not good enough at intercourse would be a deal breaker for me. (Among other things, it would seem to be a dismissal of Song of Solomon...) On the other hand, such a thing would seem to be in line with the Quiverfull philosophy of "have as many babies as you can."

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    5. "Intended for Pleasure" is an excellent book. My wife and I hand it out as part of our marriage counseling all the time. The book has been around for a while but do not judge it by its copyright date. It is open and balanced = a good portrayal of what the Bible has to say on the matter. It is certainly not "prudish".

      Which brings me to my point. There are myriads of Christian books on maleness & femaleness, marriage and intimacy, etc. - all which come from God - out there in the public arena. Other than the specific fringe Gothard/Patriarchy movement material, none of the books I have read (50+) espouse the views which Autodidact says permeate "fundamentalism". If folks are abberrant on this matter it is not for lack of available wholesome instruction.

      As an Evangelical/Fundamentalist preacher and teacher, I specifically warn against Gothard as a crackpot/"false prophet" and the Patriarchy movement as seriously misgiuded since neither represent the biblical teaching. Courtship dating and some of its accoutrements is a cultural phenomenon, not a biblical norm or mandate. While the bible promotes reasonable modesty in general social relationships (1Timothy 2 & 5) it does not foster prudishness in married relationships. Sex is presented as designed & blessed by God (Genesis 1-2), beautiful (Song of Solomon), uninhibited (1Corinthians 7) and to be enjoyed as a gift from God (1Timothy 4) within the boundaries of the permanent commitment of marriage (Hebrews 13).

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    6. SavedByGrace, I very much agree with you in that I read the bible as sex positive - and even in some cases (like the I Corinthians passage and Song of Solomon) as radically egalitarian.

      I do disagree, though, in that I see a great deal of bad teaching out there about sex. To cite just a few, I would note Mark Driscoll's focus on how women should serve men in bed, without any corresponding discussion of how a man should serve a woman; Doug Wilson's teaching that sex needs to be about the woman submitting; and the general lack of discussion about consent.

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    7. Also, many of those authors seem clever enough never to state such things directly; it's always in what I call the "subtext," the layer of meaning that isn't always on the surface of the words themselves.

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    8. Indeed.

      A subtext that is usually taken for granted is that women aren't that in to sex, but that they should put out to keep their husbands. Instead, women are assumed to need "romancing." Thus, there isn't much about satisfying a woman's sexual needs, and an unspoken assumption that a woman with a high sex drive is a deviant.

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    9. "Hand sex"? That reminds me of a lady I once knew, who before her college days seriously believed that she could get pregnant just from holding hands! -- Funny? No, tremendously sad. I love God's people and consider them all as my brothers and sisters in Jesus, but some of them have gotten so far away both from Bible teachings and connection with the natural order God made that they have caused untold grief and shame for untold numbers of folks whose only "sin" in this regard was being human with human needs!

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    10. I've read Intended for Pleasure and I remember it was pretty good. But my favorite 'religious' work on sex is Love and Responsibility/Theology of the Body (by Pope John Paul II), which is very sex positive (including a chapter on the importance of the female arousal curve, etc). In fact, it was reading those books that helped put into perspective many of the things you say here about purity culture and 'prudishness'.

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  12. While I know nothing of Gothard, I have had to deal with sexual abuse several times in working with teens for over 25 years. I appreciate that this guy calls himself and Autodidact as he should stop being self-taught and should go back and get some formal education before writing such hubris.
    To make this argument about fundamentalism being the problem is a joke. According to http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php 25% of women and 16% of men have been sexually abused as children. 25% of college women report surviving a rape or attempted rape. Society as a whole seems to be sick.
    At least the Duggar family is saying “He was wrong, the girls were the victims.” We need to have more people step up and work to change this sick culture of abuse and neglect. The statistics don't show the Fundies as being a high risk group. I wonder why?

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    1. Um, I guarantee you the numbers of victims in Fundy circles is much higher. But nobody can prove it because of the secrecy and the attitude of the subculture itself. I love it when disgusting people come out in defense of cult culture with their sickness right out on their sleeves.

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    2. Maybe because they send their kids to "counselors" who aren't really counselors instead of reporting it to the police like they should? You know, the very situation that is being discussed here?

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    3. I agree with you, Ryan, that sexual abuse is a problem in the greater culture.

      However, Fundies are indeed far less likely to report problems, in large part because of a paranoia about Child Protective Services, and a belief that mainstream counseling is from the Devil.

      I am 100% on your side that we need to work to change the "sick culture of abuse and neglect." Preach it!
      The problem is that a significant part of the cure is that we need to value women as fully human, with worth that extends beyond their sexuality and reproductive capacity. Fundie culture, unfortunately, is working in the wrong direction on that score by opposing the education and employment of women, expecting them to submit to abuse rather than getting out, teaching that women are more easily deceived than men and therefore should defer to male leadership, and on and on.

      Bruceman is also correct that "counselors" means something different entirely. It is hard to explain to someone unfamiliar with Gothard and the rest of Fundie subculture just how screwed up it is. I'm not talking about the average Christian or Evangelical who believes in the virgin birth. (You could call these "doctrinal" fundamentalists, perhaps.) These are "cultural" fundamentalists with a very specific view of gender, women, and their roles in the family and society.

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    4. "At least the Duggar family is saying “He was wrong, the girls were the victims.” " - Ryan

      Ryan, did they actually say the girls were the victims? They said their son was wrong, but did they speak and say the girls were innocent victims? With the teachings they follow, it would be an important thing to say. (More on the teachings they follow: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/04/there-is-no-victim-a-survey-of-iblp-literature-on-sexual-assault-and-abuse/ )

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    5. Retha, Recovering Grace is an excellent resource for information on what Gothard actually teaches and the damage he has done. I know a number of people involved in that group, and their effort is important to me and near to my heart.

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    6. So far as I've been able to find out, they've minimized what happened, as in "they were asleep, they didn't even know it happened" despite the fact that the police investigation reveals that sometimes they were awake and not in their bedroom. "They probably didn't even know it was wrong, if they even knew it happened."

      I don't follow the Duggars but this has been all over the internet and has spawned a new term, "duggaring" for sexual molestation. One of my friends does follow the show and she points out that that Josh did not participate in their weddings at all. Given that the the whole point of the show (aside from money and/or egotism) is togetherness, I find that odd.

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  13. This article serves as important food for thought, and fodder for further analysis, research, and discussion.

    I don't like the way the author throws some babies out with the bathwater... because sexual purity is far better for all of society than sexual promiscuity. And if you throw out Christian mores, you don't just magically end up with healthy boundaries and consent culture.

    Forgiveness is vital. And understanding consent and violation is also very, very important. This article contributes important grist for the mill of a deep discussion we, especially devout Christians, must have to protect and guide children better in the future.

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    1. there is more options to sexual purity than sexual promiscuity. It is not a black and white thing.

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    2. I don't mean to dismiss Christian sexual mores. I do strongly object to the way we discuss it, however. The very use of the word "purity" itself shows that we place sexual sin in a different light than any other. (Imagine, say "materialsm purity.") And "purity" is the opposite of "contamination," and thus an either/or thing, unlike any other sin.

      I think that a lot of the damage that Fundie subculture has done is due to the obsession with "purity." That explains everything from Courtship/Betrothal to "purity balls," "promise rings," and virginity pledges.

      Once you are no longer "pure," you are not really redeemable, so to speak.

      Becca is right that this isn't a dichotomy. It is possible to discuss sex without making the be-all and end-all the goal of virginity at all costs. On the flip side, promiscuity - casual sex - doesn't seem to me to be a particularly loving way to live. It's more about self-gratification rather than an expression of love and intimacy.

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    3. (Also, for some reason, your comment showed up three times. Blogger is having a bad day. I'm going to leave one copy up, and delete the rest.)

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    4. So, Auto, where does the Bible fit into your view on things now? After I got burned by a Fundamentalist church / personality cult, I spent years recovering from their authoritarian abuses. I could not / did not read the Bible for a long time. But I never relinquished its authority. You seem to have done so - Am I wrong (I hope)?

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    5. No, I haven't abandoned the bible by any means - and while some spots caused a PTSD reaction for a while, I never stopped reading it. What I did notice, though, is that just as Gothard and other authoritarian sorts can take advantage of the text to their own advantage, so more "mainstream" (for lack of a better word) preachers and theologians can make their own interpretations into "the only possible meaning of the text." That's why, in my experience, *most* arguments about the authority of the bible are not primarily about biblical authority, but about the authority of a particular interpretation of the bible. (One of the most eye-opening books I read this year was The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, which showed how slavery became an argument over the authority of the bible. Spoiler: the abolitionists were painted as the ones rejecting biblical authority.)

      So, I suspect that on some issues, there will be those who see me as having rejected biblical authority because I don't believe X interpretation.

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    6. "because sexual purity is far better for all of society than sexual promiscuity"

      Citation, please? Can you even find a society that was sexually pure? I mean, other than Quiverfull, or the Catholic priesthood...

      We've never had a sexually pure society. Instead, we've had varying degrees of hypocrisy about the issue. And while I might not be able to convince you that promiscuity is better for society, do I even need to try to convince you that hypocrisy is bad for society?

      Given a choice between promiscuity and hypocrisy, I choose truth. How about you?

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    7. MCPlanck, if things I have read are true, there is if anything more sexual deviance among Catholic priests than even in the larger society!

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    8. I am not sure that is a fair statement. The Catholic Church definitely has some problems it needs to clean up regarding silence, abuse of authority, etc - but from the studies I've seen it isn't necessarily higher than other religions/groups. Here is one example I found from a quick search:

      http://www.newsweek.com/priests-commit-no-more-abuse-other-males-70625

      (hopefully this didn't show up twice...)

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    9. My big beef with the Catholic Church leadership isn't that some priests have abused. Any population will have some predators, unfortunately. The big problem is that, instead of notifying law enforcement, and removing the predators from positions where they can prey, the Church covered it up and "reassigned" the predators. That meant that there were additional victims.

      American protestantism could learn a lot from this. Unfortunately, the pattern of "stay silent and cover it up" is alive and well.

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  14. Disclaimer: I have never watched even one second of the Duggars' TV show. I'm familiar with the family only through media reports each time another baby was born. Yesterday I spent some time reading a well-known forum devoted to the Duggars, focusing on past discussions in order to get a sense of what its members thought of Josh before the scandal. He was widely regarded as smug, self-important, the only Duggar child widely disliked. With "purity" being so central to this way of life and childrearing, I cannot help but wonder if his violation of his sisters was not motivated by his own frustrated sexual impulses but instead was an intentional violation of their purity, a stealing of it for himself that will forever in his mind make him their conqueror.

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    1. This is definitely a good question. That's why I was careful to say that it was entirely possible that he was a predator. Certainly in the case of Gothard (who I have met) and Doug Phillips (who I haven't but know people who have), they fit the profile of predators - and probably have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It could well be that Josh has the same issues.

      What I can say is that my own experience was not with obvious predator sorts but with deeply troubled and confused boys, which was strikingly different than my experience with adult offenders, who were very much on a power trip. (Likewise with those physically violent with their partners. It was all about power and dominance.) It was this unexpected difference that got me started on thinking about the ways that the religious teachings might be a source of the problem.

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  15. Good post. Really thorough- naming and connecting a lot of the problems caused by purity culture.

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  16. You prolly should re-check the spelling of Duggar above. . . . way too many "Duggers" crept in there. And, sorry, having a good chuckle over Got hard. . . .

    That said--really excellent article, and thank you!

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    1. Doggone it! I knew that would happen. I'll take a look at it.

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    2. It's "probably", not "prolly".

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    3. Troo dat. And commas and periods go inside quotation marks, eh? And?

      I wasn't correcting the author to prove I was sharper; I truly thought he'd like to know. ♥

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    4. You are correct. Actually, if you take a look at my comment policy, I encourage people to point out errors. I try to be a sticker for grammar and usage, but that requires more time than I have sometimes, particularly if I am trying to write something about current events. So, feel free to let me know where the errors are, and I will go about fixing them :)

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  17. I really appreciated this post, and particularly your ability to share, in a roundabout way, your experience in similar cases from within conservative culture. I wish I had a screen grab of this, but I think you might, almost all of the articles about the Duggar case show a screen grab of the "counseling serial abuse" page of Gothard's material, including this article. I think you make a good argument that the serial repression "causes" or "influences" some of the young men you have seen to commit this offense, but I think the root of the behavior is found not in the inherent sexual confusion of early puberty, but elsewhere in ATI teaching, specifically in Gothard's lesser-known idea of "circles of authority" (was that what he called it?) The idea is that the reader should think about who they owe obedience to, who they in effect belong to, wives to husbands, sons to fathers, daughters to brothers and parents and so on. Most people believe that sexual crimes are about sexual desire, but I believe they are about power, they are about a sense that power exists as the right or the ability to take from other people, to dominate and control others. So you take a young man, you put him in a chaotic household full of too many children and overworked parents, you give him another child "buddy" he has to do everything for, you tell him one day his wife will be obedient to him and that dominating others is his birthright but not yet, and for good measure, when he's very small, you hit him with sticks when he misbehaves. He is not only expected to suppress all sexual thought, but can never express any negative emotion at all. The Duggars cheerfully mention in their books that they don't allow their toddlers to act shy in front of strange people. It is not just sexual desire that is building up, but a whole lot of poorly-understood and rigidly denied emotions. Acting out in this way may be the behavior of someone acting on poorly repressed desire, but one of the reasons I think Josh is not a danger to his children is that he's out of there. The system worked for him and he calls the shots now. If he ever loses his job and his wife takes over to support them, then they might all be in danger, but not necessarily because he wants to have set with children, but because he sees his power over others as absolute, infinite, and defined by who else he can control, and furthermore, he himself is worthless without that power. I realize that the assertion that sexual assault is about power did not enter into this article of yours, but I would be genuinely interested in your thoughts about this case from the lense of a former ATI insider writing about what Gothard and others in this movement have to say about power and control. I really think the key to these crimes has to do with those teachings more than those about sex.

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    1. Those are some really good points. The "principle" of Authority is the most central to Gothardism, and poisons everything else, in my opinion.

      I have written elsewhere on my blog about domestic violence, and the way that "authority," particularly of men over women feeds this culture, and has led even more mainstream theologians to advocate that women stay with their abusers. I also have written about my belief that keeping women from developing job skills is not just oppressive, but abusive.

      I agree with you that *most* sex crimes are about power. I would also say that the older the perp, the less likely they are about anything else. I do think there is a gray area with younger perps. Just my experience that not all 12 year olds (to use one example) are on a power trip. But a 25 year old? Absolutely.

      But in general, I am 100% in agreement about power and control being the root of the problems in Patriarchy and Fundamentalism - and particularly with Gothardism.

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    2. I will not say that I appreciate or am grateful for the teachings of Bill Gothard, but I do credit the experience of going to one of his seminars with my youth group when I was sixteen with my early identification of myself as a feminist. It was the Circles of Authority and the Hedge of Protection that really sent me over the edge.

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    3. That made me laugh, farmpoem! Actually, I too can credit a sermon I heard at an ATI seminar (local seminar thing - I forget what they called it) for being one of the most influential I ever heard. It was on idolatry, and how we can make Christianity into an idol.

      Ironic, that.

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    4. I get that women will try to psychoanalyze Josh Duggar. But every male who has gone through the insanity of puberty with its attendant fantasies will see it in much simpler terms. Josh Duggar failed to control his own sinful heart and gave in to sexual distortions. The Gothard/Patriarchy confusion certainly did not help, but it is not the root cause. Jesus is quite clear about its origin (Matthew 15:19-20).

      Besides, do we really know how much of Gothard the Duggars assimilate and pass on? Their daughters seem to be a pretty spunky bunch who think for themselves and are quite accomplished personally - hardly oppressed wilting-vine personalities.

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  18. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts. I believe you brought a great deal of clarity and truth to the subject at hand. Do you know the Bates family or the Paines? I mention them as they seem a little more 'open' than some of the other well-known families in the ATI/IBLP circle. I have prayed that at least one of these families would realize what a disastrous decision it was to follow Gothard's teachings and would then speak out. I think our enemy has had a field day with this movement and is continuing to do so. (I am not in any way anti-homeschooling--we home schooled for ten years but were definitely not involved with anything Gothard!)

    Thanks again and blessings on you.

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    1. Not familiar with them. Admittedly, I cut ties completely with the organization itself after my law school graduation in 1999, so I'm kind of limited to people I know personally or the people with reality shows. I agree with you, though that the teachings are disastrous.

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  19. I think that you make many good points. It makes a lot of sense. I am confused though on your take on modesty (do you find the idea of modesty unnecessary?). Also, I feel as if the general tone of your post is a permission of sex regardless of whether it takes place in the marriage bed? Would you comment on these two things? It seems as if you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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    1. For my views on Modesty, feel free to browse my series. (I won't rehash it here, other than to say that in connection with this post, I believe Modesty Culture sexualizes the bodies of young girls.)

      As to my philosophy about sex, it would take a post or more to really unpack it. I am not an apologist for promiscuity by any means, and strongly believe that God intended sexuality to be an expression of love and deep intimacy. Using sex for self gratification as the primary object, or in a way that hurts others - and this can and does happen in marriage too - is a violation of that intent. Casual sex very much violates this principle.

      That said, the Evangelical discussion of sexuality is strikingly different from the discussion of any other sin, as the concept of, say "Materialism Purity" sounds ludicrous. "Purity" has as its flip side "contamination," and is an either/or thing, and something that is once lost and never regained. That's why fundamentalism in particular keeps getting more and more crazy in its attempts to prevent sex. If we spent half as much time as we spend trying to keep our kids from having sex teaching them how to form healthy relationships, I think I would have far fewer Christian spouses in my divorce practice.

      Another point along that line: If we clutched our pearls less about women who get pregnant out of wedlock, and instead addressed the rampant materialism and association of money with godliness in our churches, our ministry would be more in line with that of Christ.

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    2. I didn't have time to fully finish this comment, so here is the rest:

      A great example of what I mean is this. My great grandparents had sex before marriage, and she got pregnant. They got married, and remained married until his death decades later.

      However, when they were at his first pulpit (he was a pastor), he lost his job when someone calculated the difference between birth date for my grandfather, and their anniversary.

      Did they get the cart before the horse? Sure. Was it ideal? No. Was it particularly a particularly horrible sin? I don't think so, in the grand scheme of things. But she would never, ever, ever, be considered "pure" again, regardless of what she did ever again in her life.

      In contrast, people like Joel Osteen continue to live in multi-million dollar homes paid for by telling people God wants them to be rich. Surely this is a bigger violation of Christ's teachings, but chances are, he won't lose his pulpit. At least until he has a sexual issue...

      And yet, we spend so much time and effort on "purity." And, as I pointed out, by reducing all sexual offenses to the same level, as an offense to "purity," we lose the ability to actually talk about consent and the real moral differences between getting ahead of things and preying on innocents.

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  20. I am curious as to why the blog author has deleted both my of comments so far. One comment was expressing how deeply offensive this post is to "fundamentalist Christians" as a whole, and the other was a link to my rebuttal blog post. Is the blogger not open to a conversation about his views?

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    1. Please read my comment policy before commenting. I respect reasoned thought and argument, but not summary dismissal. I also am greatly disinclined to accept links. I will bend this one if it is for something that is an important resource, or if it adds factual information that can be of benefit. If the link is just to show your disagreement, I see no reason to promote it. The internet can find your blog without my help. Finally, I noted that I am not really interested in rehashing the same old Christian Patriarchy arguments. I've heard them. I've believed some of them. I've (sadly) helped promote some of them in my teens and early 20s. I have no interest in continuing to do so. Both of your comments were in violation of my policy.

      I might also add that I am sure that this post is offensive to Fundies. I already knew that.

      To be clear, I am not referring to what I would describe as "doctrinal" fundamentalists. (If you are familiar with the 1911 work The Fundamentals, you know the five doctrinal "fundamentals": Inerrancy, Atonement, Virgin Birth, Christ's Resurrection, and the reality of the Miracles.) I use Fundamentalists in the sense that the greater culture does, which is to describe groups of whatever religion that have as their core beliefs Authority (particularly of males over females), an obsession with sexuality, tribalism, a hostility to science and anything else modern, and a hyper-literalist hermeneutic. I call this "cultural" fundamentalism, because it is predominantly about external cultural preferences than about the core doctrines of "doctrinal" fundamentalism.

      So yes, this post is - and is intended to be - offensive to cultural fundamentalists. I believe that their beliefs are wrong and harmful and I said so in this post and in other posts on my blog. Fundamentalists in particular will be offended by that, because I have shot at their sacred cow.

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    2. Saving your definitions of "doctrinal" vs "cultural" fundamentalism for future use. Thank you for this post in general - speaks to (sadly) far too many situations I've seen.

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    3. If you haven't seen it, I wrote a more extended version of that distinction here:

      http://fiddlrts.blogspot.com/2015/05/what-i-mean-by-fundamentalism.html

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  21. For examples of other Fundie sexual abuse, please watch 20/20's investigation of fundamental Baptist churches (available on YouTube) and read Chicago Magazine's "Let Us Prey"- http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2013/Let-Us-Prey-Big-Trouble-at-First-Baptist-Church/

    And, yes, there are plenty of other cases where the authorities were not informed; the abuser was simply "called" to work in another church where often the abuse continued.

    To the author: Thanks. This is a very insightful argument which highlights what I want people to take from this incident. We have to learn. We also have to acknowledge that some individuals will do wrong no matter how right their environment is/was.

    http://cricketconfession.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-culture-of-metaphors-cruelty-crossed.html

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  22. I found this post and your series of posts on Modesty Culture to be very informative. I was raised by parents who were not religious and had no church affiliation in the 70s, but I can remember when a member of our high school orchestra was raped on her way to a rehearsal. The first comment people made? "She was wearing short shorts, so what did she expect?"

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    1. Yep. That's how it goes. Things haven't changed enough since the 70s, alas.

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  23. Sir. I do not know you, but I feel like you know me. Thank you SO MUCH for expressing this so succinctly. I am sharing it with as many people as I can. Seriously, fist bumps and high fives. You did a good thing here.

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  24. A great read. Appreciate it.
    In the greater context of all of this happening in 2006 and 2007, Duggar and Josh were shopping for a wife for him. Granted, he had probably been taught that he would marry early, but I wonder how much of this was part of his 'treatment'. That there was an urgency to get him a wife and get him married as quickly as possible so that he could have normal sex.

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    1. Very good point. In fact, if you have been following the trend in these circles, there is a definite movement toward young marriage, including advocating for girls marrying at 15 or 16. You know, while they are still sweet and submissive.

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    2. I nearly ruined my keyboard when I tried to resolve "15-16 year old girls" and "sweet and submissive".

      Not in my experience. I only have sons, but I remember being a teenager and I remember my sister's teens... yikes! We weren't awful by any means, but we were most decidedly neither sweet nor submissive, much to my Dobson-loving parents' chagrin.

      ATI wasn't the only damaging parenting trend :/

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    3. (And because, upon re-reading it was unclear, I was assuming you were being mildly facetious in your statement that I referenced and was likewise amused in my response! My apologies for my lack of clarity.)

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    4. Absolutely! I used my very best sarcasm font for that. (Actually, I believe that Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson actually said something like that - without irony - in stating that girls ought to marry young.)

      http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/duck-dynasty-star-men-should-marry-teens

      I, as you may glean from other posts, prefer my own wife, who possesses a sharp mind and a delightfully sharp tongue.

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    5. Also, great point that guys like Dobson also promoted a certain view of womanhood.

      It will probably be a later post or series, but I hope to make the point that, when it comes to gender, much of Evangelicalism worships at the idol of The Cult of Domesticity. (Look it up. It's a hoot!)

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  25. Quoting Vicky above, "These are some mighty sweeping generalizations about fundamentalists and the prevalence of sexual abuse, based on anecdotal evidence". May I ask what is being compared exactly? Diary blogger, are you saying these abuses are more likely in families with fundamental legalistic standards than in homes of most all other believers?? If so, I disagree with that assumption and I also ask for your basis for statistics? My husband and I, and eldest son, now 45, also attended a few ATI training classes and were in the pilot group of 100 families in 1985. My husband is a Dallas Seminary grad and was careful to help our family to select only the good parts of the program. We did not raise our girls to only wear skirts, for example. That was not our focus. We did not buy into all the philosophy, but we benefited from the parts of the training that fit our view of Scripture. When I attended our first IBLP seminar in 1974, I realized during the Friday night chalk talk that I was not believer yet. So I give credit to the seminars for leading me to faith in Christ. By the way, it is also a sin as a Christian to throw stones; that's what the world does. Since you do not know the Duggar situation personally, how do you predict so many details to be truth? (I also grew up in Arkansas about 20 miles from the Duggars, and Jim Bob's grandfather was a supporter of my dad's radio ministry in Springdale,AR.)

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    1. I debated whether to leave this comment up, as it does tend to illustrate some common responses to this issue.

      First, there is always a call for statistics (which is interesting, considering the general disdain that Fundies show for sociology as a science - at least when it doesn't confirm their beliefs.) Previous commenters have noted the 20/20 investigation in the the IFB movement, and the Chicago Magazine investigation into the string of predators associated with Jack Schaap. I would add to that, the Bolivian Mennonites as detailed by vice.com, and ongoing research evidence that indicates that the American Amish have an unusually high sexual assault and child rape rate.

      Although it isn't a scientifically controlled study, after a wrote this, a number of people I know from my ATI days (and a myriad of people who have e-mailed me) confirm that most of us know a family or two with a similar issue as the Duggars, and that it was hushed up, and the victims made to forgive. Some of these people were the victims.

      Finally, let me address the issue of "throwing stones." We are called on as Christians to call out bad doctrine. Saint Paul even called out Saint Peter in public for teaching false doctrine. The Duggars have intentionally put themselves in the spotlight, teaching their bad doctrine on national television. Not only are we permitted to publicly refute it, I believe we are called to do so. This was no private matter. This was teaching that their approach - and Gothard's approach was from God. I am publicly disputing that assertion.

      Also, for the future, please read the comment policy before you comment.

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    2. Interestingly, Dorothy, Arkansas is the only state in the Union that has lowered the Age of Consent to 14. It is highly debatable as to whether a 14-year old, to young to obtain a driver's license, is old enough to intelligently consent to sex.

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    3. As a father of a 12 year old, yikes!

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  27. Your words have helped me more than you can imagine. Your words have helped me to make sense of what happened to me and why it effects me the way it does today. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for finally giving me so clear answers.

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  28. While I can see the point of most of what you are saying I have to disagree generally. I worked for 10 years with adolescent sex offenders and their victims in a state hospital. In this total population over this fairly long period of time I don't remember ever working with either gender that was a fundamentalist Christian! Isn't that surprising given your theory?

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    1. One of the problems with the Fundie system is that it protects the perpetrators, and suppresses reporting of crimes. If there is one common thread in the Duggar case, the BJU cases, the Patrick Henry cases, the SGM cases, the Jack Schaap cases, the Mennonite cases, the Doug Phillips case, and the Gothard case, it is that the perps used well known manipulation techniques to keep victims from going to the police until much later. Neither Josh Duggar nor his victims would never have ended up in your hospital, for example. Likewise for the vast majority of the victims within the groups, because of a distrust of all government involvement, and their approach ("repentance and forgiveness") in dealing with serious crimes. The ones that get reported are (more typically) the ones where the victims are outside of the Fundie bubble, and realize that a serious crime has been committed and report it.

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    2. I might also mention that in the cases I was personally involved with, the only reason that the case entered the legal system was:

      1. A victim let something slip to a non-Fundie who reported it.
      2. Someone, like a pastor, did the right thing and reported it.

      With a greater degree of isolation, it is possible none of the facts would have come out until the victims were adults and out of the group.

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    3. Decidedly not surprising, given a family as in the public eye as the Duggars managed to keep this hushed up for so long.

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  29. So here are some links, but they are substantive, with facts and serious analysis.

    For a really thorough, inside view of the Bolivia Old Colony Mennonite rapes, see: http://doradueck.com/2010/03/27/bolivian-mennonite-rape-victims-update/

    Since January, Mennonites have also been trying to wrap their heads around sexual abuse in their Swiss/German/French wing as, finally, official-type publications are writing about the John Howard Yoder case. To me, the saddest and most damning (of all the authorities involved) story is here: http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/stories/john-howard-yoder-my-untold-story-after-36-years-of-silence-by-sharon-detweiler/ For a broader perspective, see: http://ruthkrall.com/

    If a public figure has abused people, the stories must be told publicly. Otherwise, there will be more victims, otherwise nothing will change.

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    1. Thanks for those links, otming. As all of these show, there is a DEEP culture of silence within Fundie communities. It is similar to what happened with the Catholic church. Once a few stood up, the victims started pouring out of the woodwork. I have been amazed by the number of people who say that I have described their own experiences in this post.

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  30. Did I violate a rule with the comment I posted late last night? I see it is not on the page any more... Things that make you go hmmm....

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    1. If it was the one quoting a bunch of verses to prove me wrong, then yes.

      Since it was apparently hard to find for those reading on mobile devices to find my comment policy, I linked it at the end.

      Specifically, I will delete comments that are just interested in repeating talking points, or quoting scripture to "prove" me wrong. I've heard the arguments. I used to make some of them once. I have things I would rather do with my time than argue about the interpretation of scripture with people who have already made up their minds that I am wrong.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. I commented to a friend once that the Bible is truly a lousy instruction manual. He said Why? Because if one had a good instruction manual, then reading and following instructions would lead to the same vehicle, say a bicycle, being constructed with every try. Since following the instructions in the Bible gets you everything from Roller skates to Rolls Royce Touring cars, have to say the instructions are at minimum unclear, then no, arguing interpretation is a good use on no one's time.

      I could argue that had God wished it otherwise, that would have happened. It didn't, so we have Quakers, and Baptists, and Catholics, and Lutherans and Unitarians all claiming the same source book. My flavor is Quaker, so I obviously think the rest of ya'll are batshit krezzy. etc, etc. et al..

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    4. I am honored to welcome my first Quaker commenter! The Quakers are one of the groups that fascinates me, because while some of the practices seem legalistic to us "batshit krezzy" {grin} outsiders, I don't see the same authoritarianism that more often than not goes hand-in-glove with it. (The need for control is foundational to Gothard's teachings, for example.)

      Anyway, your point is excellent. It is also why I am particularly wary of the theonomical approach to scripture. I agree that God, for whatever reason, gave us a book that leads us to Christ, but isn't much good as an owner's manual.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  31. I attended Basic Youth Conflicts (Bill Gothard's) in Portland, OR in the early 70's when I was newly married. His teachings about the wife needing to be submissive to the husband, and staying under his "umbrella of protection" (even if his "umbrella is leaky") kept me in a dysfunctional, abusive marriage for many years. I bought Gothard's teachings hook, line and sinker. I went back to college at 37 years of age, and finally began to think for myself. By spring term I left my sick marriage, and began to heal! Sad to say I had to leave my fundamentalist church family, but found a wonderful Christian congregation that accepted me as a divorced woman. Gothard's teachings have done more harm then good for many, many women and children.

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    1. The entire portion of the wedding ceremony, April, in which a father walks his daughter down the aisle to her awaiting groom, is one of symbolically transferring ownership of property from the girl's father to her new owner, sadly without a warranty or any form of return policy in place.
      (Joking, ladies - JOKING!)

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    2. I really wish Christian leaders and teachers would actually come to grips with the radical and transformative change that has occurred over the last 250 years in our view of women. So much of what remains in our view of sexuality and marriage draws its roots from the view that women are property. We need to acknowledge that that idea was indeed taken for granted in the past, and when it changed, it should have changed a whole lot of other things.

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  32. your article was very informative. I was not that aware of what Fundamentalism was but can now say that I do. Evidently God has protected me from these kind of teachings and given me the wisdom (even though I didn't know) to avoid them. I'm a strong believer in reading the word and know what it says. When you know the word you know what to compare all these theories too. If they go against what the word teaches then avoid them at all cost. The Bible warns that Satan will come in sheep's clothing to confuse the believers into wrong thinking. That's why it is so important to know what God says about the teachings of the world.
    As for Josh Duggar, I don't watch the show. I know only that he wa 14 at the time of the abuse. 14 year old boys think 24/7 about sex. That doesn't excuse him for what he did, but I don't think the title of sexual predator is deserved either. Nor is the trying to cover this story up. I think it took a lot of guts to admit to what he had done and as for the condemnation he is now undergoing I think it better that we leave condemning to God. Like the Bible says, "He who is w/o sin cast the first stone." Being the victim of abuse myself I think it's okay for me to say this.
    Thanks for the article b/c it was very informative and I have enjoyed reading all the comments as well. God's grace and mercy are infinite and cover's a multitude of sins. I think when we get to heaven we may be surprised by who we see there. Deathbed confessions will have gotten a lot of people past the pearly gates

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    1. We will indeed be surprised in heaven. I am reminded of a great quote from Anne of Green Gables:

      "I don't believe God himself would entirely meet with her approval."

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  33. Thanks for sharing this with us. It has been something I have been trying to explain to people but have lacked the skills to do it. Now, I have a resource to point people towards. Its a very sad case all round, and I agree with what you have written here almost 100 %. I am sure there is a grammar mistake somewhere ;)

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    1. Thanks!

      And yes, I'm sure there are grammar mistakes. :) A few have been found already. If you find more, let me know. I shall aim for perfection in that area at least!

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  34. Very well written and thought out. I agree with you. I have said to my husband more than once that if you were intentionally trying to created sexual deviants that you would raise them in the modern fundamentalist culture. This doesn't excuse Josh, but it does allow me to have some empathy for him. Primarily because I feel that he did not get the benefit of any sort of therapy that would have been immensely helpful to him.

    I of course, assume that his sisters and the other victim did not get appropriate therapy either.

    I also agree with what you have said about the modesty culture. I have viewed it the same way for years. I watch the Duggars fairly regularly. Not as a fan, but as an observer. For the first half of my professional life I worked in family therapy and with young adults. Observing the Duggars has become somewhat of a hobby to me. The dynamics are so odd and the obsession with sex runs very deeply in that family. The religiosity is absurd, the constant circular logic and lack of critical thinking is frightening. The children have been hindered by lackluster education and a rigid controls. The parents have confused protection and teaching with controlling and shaming.

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  35. Thank you for this post. You've captured perfectly how I've been thinking about this, but with much more background.

    In all of this, I think the most blame lies with the parents - the people who covered it up, who didn't get help for any of their kids, who forced their daughters to live with their molester for their entire lives, and who decided it would be a great idea to parade their perceived purity on television.

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    1. Indeed. I find the whole idea of putting a family on TV like that - for whatever reason - to be morally questionable.

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    2. It's also dysfunctional. The parents are not providing for their children-- by their appearance and behavior the children are providing for themselves and their parents. Money and material stuff, for sure, but also social and moral status and psychological strokes. A wise music teacher once told me that winning contests as a child or adolescent does absolutely nothing for a person's future career-- it's only for the parents' egos.

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  36. As one of the sharer's--email and FB, twice--of your "unexpectedly viral" post, I'd forgotten that I had written something similar, and a little more broad about homeschooling and helicoptering, but with the same concern about control. http://thefederalist.com/2014/06/09/stop-controlling-kids-and-teach-them-judgment/#.VXG0g8QV0EA.facebook

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  37. "One of the annoying statements that I keep hearing is that this is somehow a "liberal media" attack on Christianity. This argument is getting a bit old, particularly when it is used to deflect the truth of a particular allegation."

    Ugh, yes. I've seen this trotted out so many times and it makes me want to hurt somebody.

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  38. It's been a few weeks since I read this, but I have been intending to comment; I really enjoyed this post. I am not fundamentalist (I'm Catholic) but the study of religion, sexuality, consent, feminism, etc and how they all fit together is something I've been interested in for at least a decade. When I was in high school I briefly considered myself 'non denominational' and definitely was influenced by some of the teachings you mention here (although nothing nearly as extreme or toxic). Some people might find this surprising but it was actually learning more about and recommitting to Catholicism that was the antidote to that, especially after studying the Theology of the Body talks, which really taught me a lot of things. (I feel like I should point out, in case anybody is confused, that while the teachings of the CC forbid artificial birth control, we are not quiverfull or teach that holiness lies in having as many children as possible, etc.)

    I think a lot of what you say about purity culture is on point. It's not that I disagree with the idea that sexuality is a big deal and something special and holy (and so, sin in this area can have a more far reaching effect than some other sins) but I agree with you in the ways they distort that message.

    (I'm having some internet issues, so if this got posted multiple times, I apologize.)

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    1. I just wanted to 'like' this reply and tell you to find me. Similar studies: religion, sexuality, consent, feminism plus law. Easiest to find me here: www.anamericanhousewifeintexas.com

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    2. Lisamarie, your comment did post twice so I deleted the duplicate. Thanks for stopping by!

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  39. " Fourth, many of these systems discourage sex education because it might lead to lust. This is particularly the case for girls, who ideally would learn about sex from their husbands on the wedding night. I wish I was making that one up. Certainly, a robust family discussion of sex is out of the question. Instead, sex isn’t talked about, except to say “don’t do it and don’t think about it.”"

    *groan* Ugh, 'learn from their husbands on the wedding night'? I think I may have heard that phrase somewhere before... But if they were 'learning from their husbands', that makes it sound like the husbands learned from previous experience doesn't it? hmmm...

    "Fifth, the whole system of “courtship” or “betrothal” further separates the genders until that magical wedding night. For those not familiar with “courtship,” it forbids dating of any kind until both parties are ready to marry. That is, until he has enough money and income to support her. At that time, he asks her father for permission, and the courtship takes place under closely supervised conditions. Chaperones are present always, and the couple is considered as essentially engaged from the beginning of the process. I’ve blogged about this before here. "

    See, doesn't that make inter-gender interactions more cumbersome, and less fun? And being "essentially engaged from the beginning" makes it hard while you're still getting to know each other. Can one be their true selves? And while I believe there are differences between men and women, I don't like the idea of treating men and women as if they were separate species.

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    1. I can't decide whether I think the assumption is that the groom will get his education by getting a hooker before the wedding night (a very Victorian thing to do) or that the parents will sit down with their 25 year old son and explain how to impregnate a woman. One almost thinks the first would be better, as he stands a better chance of being told how to pleasure a woman than in the second.

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    2. Do you think the ingenue is their ideal woman?

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    3. Yes, I believe so.

      For more on the "ideal" woman in their view, I recommend looking at the idea of the "Cult of Domesticity," a 19th Century view of the "ideal" woman, which is deeply grounded in racism and classism.

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    4. There's an excellent analysis of Victorian gender politics as viewed through visual culture by Bram Djikstra: _Idols of Perversity_ does a really good job anatomizing the cult of domesticity and the weird, weird ways nineteenth-century people thought about women.

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    5. Judith, that does sound fascinating. I may have to find a copy of that. Thanks!

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  40. This is an absolutely fantastic post.
    I was raised fundamental--- typically it's Jesus who is the unseen guest at every table--- for my family it was Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips and the other great figure heads of the patriarchy moment that were the unseen guests- present in EVERY aspect of our lives.
    I know firsthand how these horrific teachings of sexuality wreck havoc, I was a victim of abuse due to those teachings. Miraculously, though I was told the abuse was my fault, I knew in my heart that that teaching was just as wrong as the actual abuse. As I embarked on my own personal journey to healing from that abuse, I was able to pull back the curtains to the truth about everything I had ever known or been raised to believe to be true. Today I am grateful to be healed (as much as anyone ever can be) from the abuse through proper counseling (and not just forgiving and forgetting) and from the clutches of patriarchy.
    Thank you for an excellent article! I loved your statement about the easy route being to label Josh a child predator because then no one needs to peer into the infrastructure of patriarchy and how we do this in EVERY area of our lives. In some ways, I am grateful to have first hand exposure and experience in this type of system because it gives me a much greater desire and interest in other issues that we don't like the question-- white privilege, gender equality etc....

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  41. Lots to think about here. I appreciated reading through the discussion. My wife and I have five kids and we would very much like to raise them in a manner that both affirms the Biblical admonitions against "sexual immorality" but also maintains a positive attitude toward sexuality as a gift from God. So, in that light, I had a couple questions ...

    First, considering that your children are probably a little further on in life than mine, I'd be interested to hear how you talk about issues like sex/fantasy/masturbation/pornography in your home. I'm looking for a view/strategy that's distinctively Christian but is perhaps a contrast to that which might be advocated by Gothard.

    Second, I'd really love to hear your thoughts on certain key passages from scripture that are difficult for our culture because of the sweeping limits they seem to place on an individual's expression of sexuality (i.e. Matthew 5:28 and 1Corinthians 6:9-10).

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts,

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    1. These are definitely interesting questions. Some of them, I hope to blog about eventually (assuming I can ever come to a coherent viewpoint.) I would say that I think we need to recognize that a lot of the baggage surrounding sexuality comes from the ancient belief that women are property. (Even things like "giving the bride away.") We need to rebuild the discussion based on the God-given equality of men and women, and on the greatest commandments as stated by Christ. This would mean less of an emphasis on "thou shalt not" and much much more on "love your neighbor as yourself."

      I can answer one of your questions by referring you to my series on Modesty Culture. One of the installments addresses Matthew 5:28.

      The interpretation of 1Corinthians 6:9-11 (and some similar passages) really turn on the meaning of certain Greek words. (Google "arsenokoitai," "malakoi," and "pornea" if you want to go down the rabbit hole. Suffice it to say that these are subject to multiple translations, and the meanings are hardly as clear as many are so certain. Secondly, their meaning in the culture of the Roman Empire isn't exactly the same as it is today. (Between the legal fact that women were property, the linking of prostitution with idolatry, and cultural permissiveness toward *male* but not *female* sexuality, we wouldn't even recognize things - and vice versa.) Demosthenes put it thus:

      "Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of our persons, but wives to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households."

      It was a different world.

      As to a couple of other issues:
      I do not believe masturbation is inherently sinful. If anything, I would say that having a basic idea of how one's body functions could benefit many marriages.
      I'm not exactly an experienced expert or anything, but much of porn seems to suffer from the same problems as Christian Patriarchy, which is a tendency to objectify women, and project male fantasies of dominance and control. I don't want my children to think that treating women that way is acceptable, or that women should put up with that. (See Josh Duggar's experience with the stripper, if you want to see how bad porn sex looks...)

      That said, I am not convinced all erotica of any nature is bad. See, for example, the Song of Solomon, which is quite X rated if you understand the Ancient Near East metaphors. I have no problem at all with my children learning to fantasize about a mutually pleasurable and passionate relationship like that. That's why I am less concern with which lines they cross and when, but whether they learn to make sexuality an expression of mutual love and devotion. I think that is the fundamental difference that Josh Duggar is demonstrating he hasn't grasped.

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  42. Since I've done quite a lot of research into the Duggar family (due to their popularity among Christians), I had too much to say on this article, so I'll try to refrain myself. :-)

    Re: complaints in the comments about your terminology. When my dad started his web page over 20 years ago we were appalled when stories of individuals started to come from all over the world as to the abusive nature in Fundamentalism - primarily Baptist Fundamentalism. Though all the abuse was not sexual, abuse of various kinds is much more common than some want to believe. I've also heard things from Evangelicals that are remarkably similar to the things w heard out of the IFB and "Biblical Patriarchy" world; some of the things are reminiscent of Roman Catholic teachings at times. While painting with a broad brush is a real problem, so is the issue too small. We are told to "Let [our] moderation be known." (Php. 4:5). Moderation is "a point between two extremes" according to Samuel Johnson.

    I want to thank you for your clear description of the problems with Gothard's/patriarchy's teachings on sexuality and why it was doomed to failure. I think you made it clearer than some of the others I read. I plan to link to this from my own web page. The more I read your stuff, the more I realize why my own family and my husband were misfits in "Fundamentalism" and why we were forced to abandon most of them. Many people would still consider us Fundamentalists, but I don't think we are any more. I'm not sure what we are, other than Christians who believe the Bible and want to follow Jesus. Is that so bad, after all?

    Re: no outlets for young men/boys. There is another outlet that some young men take which is hidden most carefully, and that is homosexuality. My dad has heard things from various sources, a pastor in an IFB church near where we once lived was "exposed" and swept under the rug, friends were in an IFB church where the pastor's brother was exposed and swept under the rug, and a friend of mine had a close friend who committed suicide over this issue (guilt, shame and belief he couldn't be clean again). It is one of the deepest, darkest secrets of extreme Fundamentalism, I suspect. Like the abuse of younger sisters, as you have discussed here, I would guess that it is possibly an opportunistic issue more than a predisposition. However, there may be some debate as to whether or not it is as easy to escape once initiated.

    Though I agree with much of what you wrote, I think possibly you have put the cart before the horse on the subject of sexual teachings being the root problem. In his book, "No Will of My Own" by Jon Zens, he references "Christianity and Incest" by Annie Imbens and Ineke Jonker (Fortress Press, 1992). The point that appears in these two books is that the misconstrued and mangled teaching on male authority is the root cause of the abuse that follows. When males are given free reign in the authority realm and are styled as being superior to women in God's chain of command, females can then be made to feel obligated to submit to any and all abuse that is deemed "acceptable" by the males in "authority" over them (presently wife spanking is being exposed). And, by the way, the groups that Imbens and Jonker were studying were survivors of abuse from Dutch Reformed and Roman Catholic backgrounds in the Netherlands - hardly what we'd call Fundamental or Evangelical. So, this issue of false teaching on "God given authority" which bears the foul fruit of incest and sexual abuse is much farther reaching than it seems.

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    1. Very much agree on the poison of the teaching on "male authority." My experience as a divorce attorney backs that up as well. It hurts both men and women.

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  43. Part 2...
    Re: Josh Duggar's self-image. Considering all that has transpired this year it does appear that he has some serious issues. As far as being a narcissist, having watched a lot of their shows and such, I'd vote for that being a real possibility. Earlier this year, before his Ashley Madison accounts were outed, he told PEOPLE that he didn't like his sister Jessa being called the "Sexiest Duggar Alive". He said, "I had an issue with that...Everyone knows who holds the title of 'Sexiest Duggar Alive' and that's me." Not his wife. Hmmmm.....

    Also, the Duggars do allow hand-holding after engagement and also 3 second "side hugs" before and after engagement. They made a **big deal** out of these on the show too, by the way. Josh and Anna had a strange way of holding hands during their engagement; I've seen secular sources refer to it as "hand sex" and that is the best description of it that I've heard. Also, the Duggars have given an uncertain sound by saying in some instances that the couple chooses what their "rules" will be regarding touching and such, and then in another instance reminding said couple or the viewers what they are "not allowed to do" and/or what the family rules are.

    As to their selling of sex, I agree with your summation of it for more than the reasons you give. Jim Bob Duggar is noted for his PDAs toward his wife; and in my opinion, for his absurd innuendos and jokes couched, of course, in sanitized "Christian speak". Most of the time it's just stupid, but sometimes it's clearly TMI or overtly tacky. I suppose he gets away with it because most of the people in Gothardism and extreme patriarchy never watched their show? But, with the beliefs they have, why would he make suggestive remarks if it's so wicked for the kids to even think about such things? Or is it? As one person has said, "The Duggars are the Kardashians for Christians."

    Best quote from your article, "At some point, this ceases to be 'bad luck' and 'media conspiracy' and becomes what can only be described as bad fruit. The teachings themselves are incurably rotten, and lead to rotten, reeking, putrid fruit."
    Matthew 12:33-35 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

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    1. You've made a bit more of a study of the specifics in which Duggarism (shall I coin that one?) differs from Gothardism than I have. (Couldn't take watching the show, I'm afraid. Or the Kardashian one...) I do know from my own experience with Gothardism that even side hugs or hand holding between males and females were *strongly* frowned on, even during courtship. And kissing was certainly expressly forbidden. So perhaps the Duggars were more "liberal" than Gothard? Perhaps. But the community in which they move (Gothard, Doug Phillips, etc.) remains opposed to physical contact before marriage. If one went even further, to Jonathan Lindvall (my wife's personal experience), one finds the teaching that emotional attachment is only to come after "betrothal," which is pretty much a binding contract.

      On the subject of fruit, have you been watching the ongoing Doug Wilson unraveling? The meltdown of Christian Patriarchy continues...

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    2. The Duggars are definitely their own brand. I don't exactly know how they've managed to stay the darlings of IBLP and ATI while "letting themselves go the way they have" - so to speak (touching, daughter's dress, relationship to Hollywood, etc.). The only thing I can guess is that Gothard and his crew saw that the Duggars were bringing in people and money and so they put up with it for the bucks. The love of money being the root of all evil and so-forth.

      I am "supposed" to be writing more stuff on the Duggars (by my own intention) but, frankly, they make me so sick I can hardly stand to deal with the subject any more. I dove into it so thoroughly because of the level of adulation they were receiving in a broad spectrum of Christendom as well as secular society, and because they were so conspicuous in the patriarchy movement.

      I'm not sure if I'm correct, but somehow the "emotional detachment" business seems even more dangerous than just the thing about not touching. The whole business about "giving away pieces of your heart" is not biblical nor does it make sense in real life. They would tell us that their love "just multiplies" as they have 7,10 or 19 children; but it's impossible to love your spouse if you had multiple "interests" prior to marriage. If the results weren't so tragic, I'd laugh at the blatant inconsistency of that. (Just to be clear, my family did practice a form of "courtship" to some degree and my husband and I chose to avoid kissing and most touching before marriage. But, we were in our 30s. We'd both had other relationships and/or friendships; I'd had quite a number of male friends over the years, some quite close.)

      I need to check in on the Doug Wilson program again. I did read about the barely rehabilitated pedophile he defended and married off to a young lady in his church some time back. (gag)

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    3. Not surprising if money trumped everything else. If the history of American Christianity shows anything, it is a tendency toward the worship of money and celebrity.

      If you want to read more on Lindvall's rather crazy teachings, check out the links in my post entitled "Love at First Sight." While Lindvall has taken his website down, many of his writings for other sites are still up.

      You will definitely want to check out the Doug Wilson stuff. That marriage you mention just blew up badly, and apparently this isn't the only time he thought marriage would "cure" a sexual abuser.

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    4. I will look up that other information. Thanks. I'm sorry that so many of us where correct in thinking that marriage Wilson put together wouldn't work in the long run. I feel sick for the young woman involved.

      I guess you know that R. C. Sproul Jr. has also been suspended from his position with Ligonier Minisitries due to his involvement with Ashley Madison. His alleged "confession" is a masterpiece of Bullwinkle-esque humility ("When it comes to humility, I'm the greatest!" Although, I prefer Bullwinkle to Sproul.) He makes Josh Duggar look like a kindergartner.

      The big question in my mind is: What will it take to make the Patriarchy Movement realize the problem is in their belief system, not in the "weakness" of their leaders?

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    5. I'm probably cynical, but I don't think there will be any reconsideration until the money stops flowing. As long as Evangelicals are panicked about culture and sex, they will keep looking for magical formulas, and thus keep sending money to these guys, no matter how bad the fruit is.

      I love the Bullwinkle reference :)

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    6. Oh, I don't expect the money grubbers to reform. My heart hurts for the people (especially the women folk) living in run down singlewides in the woods with 7-17 children to feed, clothe and homeschool on a limited income (often with the help of one or more older daughters who aren't married and have no prospects) while the husband either works several jobs or runs around trying to locate run down vehicles to refurbish and sell at a profit. Not that living in a singlewide is a disgrace. We live in one ourselves. And living close to the land isn't shameful either, if one so chooses. It's the whole "religious duty" of "taking dominion" and the bondage that engenders that grieves me. While the fat cats like Doug Phillips, Scott Brown and the Duggars live in the lap of luxury, the reality of many is a pitiable existence, even when they do "put a happy face on" it. I would love to see some of them get their eyes opened enough to realize they aren't obligated to live that way to "please God". Sadly for some, they live like the world is a "zombie apocalypse" and they are hiding from it the best they can. It's incredibly sad to see it up close as we've had opportunity to here in Texas.

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  44. Speaking of Doug Wilson. Did you ever read "A Study In Scarlet" by Arthur Conan Doyle? He's not a favorite of mine, but despite the partially inaccurate portrayal of early Mormonism, the book is intriguing when considered in light of the abuses of Christian Patriarchy. One wonders when a relative or thwarted lover of one of the abused young women trapped in the cult will resort to extreme measures, and also why there aren't any cases of it yet, as far as I know. (And not without opportunity. If true it was reported to the effect that Lourdes Torres' father and brother chased Doug Phillips the night he attempted to enter her room through a window, but when they finally saw who they were chasing, they stopped. Why?) The power that the prophets of the modern Patriarchy Movement hold over their followers is worthy of the early day prophets of Salt Lake City. Yet another similarity between the two.

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    1. I love the Sherlock Holmes books! I read every single one back in my late teens - and own them all.

      A Study In Scarlet was interesting, wasn't it? Back when it was written, Doyle was hardly the only European to find the Mormons titillating. Typical American savagery! This is what happens when you have religious freedom and no state religion. And so on.

      I too have been struck by the similarities between Mormonism and Patriarchy. Both originated (in part) out of a literalist-theonomic approach to the Old Testament, and a belief that "true" Christianity had become corrupt, and that they were the only "true" believers. Perhaps in some ways, these tendencies are an American tradition. (Likewise for diet fads. Ever read about John Harvey Kellogg? We still have his corn flakes, but they apparently do not prevent masturbation as he had hoped.

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    2. I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes in my late teens as well. But, when I got into some of A.C. Doyle's other fiction and learned about his avid "spirtism", I was put off. I still enjoy watching some of the vintage Sherlock Holmes films, though, particularly those starring Rathbone and Bruce.

      I put together a chart comparing Mormonism and Patriarchy. You can see it here: http://www.homemakerscorner.com/patriarchy-comparison-with-mormonism.htm
      I will forewarn you that if you poke around the web site you *will* find things you disagree with. But, truthfully, so do I. :-) It's a work in progress to keep updating things as we grow and learn.

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    3. Oh...and I hadn't looked into Kellogg, though I knew he was "funny". Sounds like a nut, pun intended. I was born not far from Battle Creek and lots of things around there were named after him. My dad took my brother and me to tour the Kellogg plant once - before they stopped the tours. I think I need to add diet fads to the Mormon-Patriarchy chart...

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  45. "It's a work in progress to keep updating things as we grow and learn." Isn't that the truth! Likewise with my blog. I read a few things from the beginning and wince. Fortunately, we at least don't have to be like we were at 15, right?

    Your chart, in any case, is excellent. I too have noticed many similarities between the two - particularly early Mormonism. (I find it interesting that Mormonism has become less cult-like over the last several decades. Quite the opposite from the usual cult-group trajectory...) I'll make a note of your link. It might come in handy for a future post.

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    1. I've removed some things from my page recently with a view to restudying and rewriting them. I might have been worse at 20. I was so incredibly smart then. :-/

      I'm glad you liked the chart. It is odd that Mormonism has gone the way it has.

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  46. This seemed like a good place to post this comment:

    I saw tonight that a sex scandal is apparently rising up around the ears of the "sacred heart of Baptist-ism", Baylor U. here in Texas. Somehow someone has finally gotten someone's attention and there are even rumors that THE Kenneth Starr, President and Chancellor of the college, has been fired.

    There have been several recent reports of rapes and such like by football team members which have been allegedly ignored by the powers that be.

    This would be no surprise since one of their up-and-coming preacher boys from some years back was accused of rape or sexual aggression by a female student and the thing was reportedly done in an athletic facility at Baylor after a practice or sports event, if I remember correctly (not sure it was football). Anyway, the guy got away with it apparently because he was such a wonderful person and was destined for great things, and the girl had "falsely accused someone before", so... He's in prison now having been convicted of murdering his wife, apparently so that he could marry his "other woman." There are also rumors of other questionable behavior. Oh, did I mention this happened while he was the pastor of a church in Waco and considered to be a "promising" man?

    I have to say that it would be really refreshing if Baylor's covering of sexual offences was broken wide open and the history of it were revealed. At this point people seem focused on the "recent" offences. It doesn't seem like this is a "new and unusual" thing caused by the present football coach. This has, apparently, been an on-going problem of undetermined length. No surprise, there as it's a tragically old story of covering for the male offender because he's "too valuable" to lose. The woman has been expendable since the day Adam accused God of giving him damaged goods in Eve - and God didn't buy it!

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    1. Isn't it interesting how rape and assault are covered up whenever the perpetrator is in an exalted position (whether of pastor or football star...)?

      I hope to blog a bit about the transgender bathroom issue, because it has served as a nice distraction from the Baylor issue. Why focus on real threats and problems when you can make one up and sell fear?

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    2. My dad has told us for years to "watch the magician's other hand" when the powers that be pull off some large grand-stand stunt that consumes everyone's attention and distracts them completely from the real issues. Curiously, I'd never really thought about this in depth as far as the high-tooley-mucks of Christendom go, but it holds true, doesn't it? How better to keep "the laity" distracted from the real problems than keep them focused on things that create strong emotion without much real purpose? There is no new thing under the sun.

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  47. I think I didn't include links in the previous comment.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/05/24/baylor_reportedly_fired_president_and_chancellor_kenneth_starr_it_needs.html

    https://www.facebook.com/topic/Kenneth-Starr/137770496245198?source=whrt&position=8&trqid=6288443553969654233

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    1. Good links. Looking the other way while powerful men abuse women is a longstanding tradition, isn't it?

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    2. Yes it is. Then too, they don't have to be powerful to be ignored. I've heard of cases where it was just some ordinary guy (and one of them wasn't even that great of a man otherwise), but no one could believe he could be "that bad" so they ignored it and the abuse continued. But, in some way, one would like to think that in notable men it would be exposed more quickly in order to avoid excessive scandal and embarrassment to those around him, or so it seems to me.

      In writing last year on the subject of why women are blamed for their husband's unfaithfulness I came up with 7 reasons as to why women do get the blame. I'm sure I missed some, but it was an interesting thing to consider.
      The reasons I expanded upon:
      1. It's the historical norm.
      2. It's the cultural norm.
      3. Scripture has been misconstrued and misinterpreted.
      4. Women tend to blame themselves.
      5. Women are "dispensable".
      6. Other men have their own dirty secrets. (Mutual protection program.)
      7. Women are more likely to accept unjust treatment (thanks to the brainwashing of no. 1-3 and the effects of no. 4).

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  48. Especially in light of the current Cosby case. I'm really disappointed in him, as I truly loved this man and what he had accomplished. It proves the point that we shouldn't hold celebrities to another level than what we hold regular people. Being human with human flaws, is what we should be more cognizant, but we also need to be more vigilant of problems. This society has to be held to a higher calling than we do, but it's not a religious one. It's more like a reality -- common sense, I think.

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  49. Excellent article, you covered a lot of ground here in a very clear and concise manner.

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