Thursday, August 20, 2015

Josh Duggar, Ashley Madison, and Covenant Marriage

So, the Josh Duggar saga just keeps going. I originally wrote about Josh Duggar here. 

When I first saw the news, I had a momentary hesitation about posting, because some of the email addresses on the list are not legitimate. (For example, someone used Tony Blair’s address for a fake account.) I was, however, fairly certain that the Duggar connection was true, because credit card payment was made from a card with a matching address. That’s harder to pull off, shall we say. Any qualms about getting ahead of a potentially fake story disappeared when Josh himself confirmed the truth of the matter. 

 Ashley Madison really should use this picture instead.

So yes, he had an Ashley Madison account, and for good measure, a porn addiction. (I believe his first "confession" was more honest.)

As many have noted, apparently doing chores and construction work for another member of your cult doesn’t cure deep sexual dysfunction. And neither does “repenting.”

This whole thing is both sad and pathetic.

(I mean, I always thought Ashley Madison looked like the sort of place pathetic guys would go to feel like alpha males, but it was even worse than that. 90-95% of real users of the site are men. Most of them are not getting laid, I would guess. As a friend quipped, “Well, yeah. I mean, being married to a philanderer is bad. Being married to a gullible, unsuccessful wannabe philanderer…”)

I found several things interesting in the details. (Gawker broke the story, and embedded the raw data from the account.)

First, look at what he said he wanted in a girl. Most aren’t all that odd, or even adventuresome. They could easily be in a personal ad. Two, though, are interesting in light of the teachings of the Bill Gothard cult that the Duggar family is in.

He’s looking for a “jeans and t-shirt” kind of girl. He’s looking for a girl with an “aggressive, take charge nature.”

In Gothardspeak, he might as well have said he was looking for brazen testicle-eating whore from the pit of hell.

(For those who are not familiar with the cult, Gothard railed against jeans and t-shirts, even on men, blamed women and their bodies for men’s sexual sins, and built his system around the subjection of women to men.)

There’s a sad bit of pathos in the fact that his idea of a “bad girl” looks like the wholesome girl-next-door to those of us in egalitarian marriages. For that matter, his list of sexual acts he wants is pretty vanilla, certainly nothing that many normal married folks don’t do with each other.

But, make no mistake about it, if Anna Duggar showed up in jeans and a t-shirt, Jim Bob and company would be shielding their other kids’ eyes from the sin of the whole outfit. Can’t have them think she was promising to have sex with them or anything. And the whole raison d'être of the Christian Patriarchy movement is to promote the hierarchy of men over women.

What strikes me about the whole description of the girl he wants is how ordinary and mundane it all is, unless you have been indoctrinated into Gothardism and Christian Patriarchy.

Don’t get me wrong, what he did is plenty slimy, and he appears deeply troubled. He may be an narcissist and a predator too, although I don’t have sufficient evidence of that.

But his profile reads like a personal ad. He’s looking for an ordinary person to do ordinary things with. Except that he is looking for an equal partner.

Look at it in the light of the history. Josh grows up in a cult that is obsessed with preventing sex - or even emotional attachment - prior to marriage. He acts out in an inappropriate way as a teen, but rather than getting real counseling (which is fairly effective for teens - they have a low recidivism rate), he gets more cultic indoctrination. His parents, worried that he still craves sex, find him a bride when he is 20, disclosing to her that he had a sexual sin, but he repented. They “court,” which involves no touching or unsupervised conversation. She is picked, naturally, from a “likeminded” family, holding the same beliefs. While he has the ability to refuse her, this is, for all intents and purposes, an arranged marriage.

Because of the beliefs of the cult, his wife is expected to (and does) become pregnant soon after the wedding. They go on to have 4 children in a 6 year period. He goes to work for a recognized hate group (the FRC was designated as such for repeated claims that homosexuals are child molesters, and current leader Tony Perkins has strong ties to White Supremacy, also calling for Muslims to have their religious freedom terminated), but ends up resigning when news about his own molestations as a teen come out.

During the time he is at the FRC, he apparently had his fling with the Ashley Madison website, and paid them some good money.

So, he grows up with teachings about sex and women that are awful and inaccurate (see my prior post), doesn’t get real counselling, ends up in an arranged marriage at 20, has 4 kids immediately. What could go wrong?

This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, and it certainly isn’t to anyone outside the Evangelical bubble.

An interesting historical parallel:

An interesting book I read a few years before I started my blog was The Allegory of Love by C. S. Lewis. Yes, that guy.

It is one of his more obscure books, and it explores the Medieval romances. (So yes, you will have to learn to read Middle English to understand it.)

A key point he made is that the in the romances of Chivalry, the fair lady that the knight fights to please is married to someone else. The romance is adulterous by definition.

In fact, it is necessary to the romance, because marriage was for legitimate offspring, not love. Marriages were for political alliances, finances, and any number of reasons, but they were not a romantic pairing. In most cases, the woman, at least, had no choice in the matter. She was subject to the bargains struck by men.

So the outlet for real romance was adultery. Because that was a chosen - and equal - relationship. After all, lovers owed no duty of obedience the way wives did.

Also striking in the stories is that they weren’t always consummated. Some affairs were physical in the usual sense, but others were torrid emotional affairs - clearly adulterous in spirit, but less likely to result in offspring.

The parallel here is interesting. Dude in an arranged marriage, making legitimate offspring to populate the Reconstructionist Army Of God™. (Hey, that’s four arrows in the quiver already!) Looks for some vanilla sex or non-sex on the side with an equal.

Now, again, Josh has behaved abominably, and there is no excuse for this sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong.

But it isn’t a surprise that it happened. And it strongly resembles a pattern from the glorious past. (Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard borrowed another classic technique from the past: hit on the servants.)

Another point:

Four Kids in Six Years is a serious stress.

I know this one first hand. Because my first 4 kids were born in a 5 year period. And, for what it’s worth, we had 5 in 7 years. Yes, we are crazy.

So I know, kids are a major stress under the best of conditions. Many small children close together are even more stressful. Having small children while living away from family sounds a bit like hell.

Having 4 small kids, being away from family, and carrying the expectations of Christian Patriarchy as a young mother, pregnant immediately after marriage, to a man she didn’t really know? Holy smokes! I cannot imagine how tough that must have been for Anna, and now it is much, much worse.

My marriage survived those early, infant filled years. I didn’t go have an affair. But if I said I never fantasized about leaving all the stress behind, I’d be a liar. Did I want an affair? No. But I wouldn’t have minded having some sleep - or having a wife who wasn’t exhausted and stressed. That’s life.

Looking back, though, the main reason we made it through is that we had a bond that pre-dated parenthood. We had a lovely time dating, and more than a year of marriage before her first pregnancy. We had something going on, so to speak. There was a lot more to Tim and Amanda than pregnancy hormones, sleepless nights, and demanding small humans.

Anna is in an impossible spot.

I feel terrible for her. She has four kids with a man she doesn’t really know, who has deep sexual issues that were never resolved, and may never be resolved. He’s lost his job, and neither of them has a college education. Their families are committed to a rigid vision of patriarchy, consider birth control to be evil, and are unlikely to support her if she leaves him.

To be staring at that in one’s 20s must be terrifying.

I pull no punches on this one.

Anna is a victim of Christian Patriarchy.

The poisonous, evil doctrines - and the actions of the older adults in this saga - caused this harm to her.

A young girl, severely sheltered, forbidden to attend college, and having no future but to marry and make as many babies as she can, is told she has a man to marry. He seems contrite about a sexual mistake in his past. She may not have been informed of the details, and in any event, she is unlikely to have had the knowledge necessary to evaluate whether he was a good risk. Gothard, after all, considers secular psychology to be of the devil.

With no chance to get to talk with him alone, let alone exchange touches, she has no way of getting to know him in any real way. She certainly cannot gauge whether he is psychosexually healthy.

Before a year is out, they are deep into babyhood, and she cannot express negative emotions. (Another Gothard no-no.) Somehow, the two of them need to connect to each other, but he has baggage, and looks outside the marriage.

This is a living nightmare for her, and the system - and the grownups who should have known better are absolutely at fault. She was sacrificed to satiate the horniness of a troubled young man.

Let’s talk about the laws of the past - and maybe the present.

As a lawyer, I find the legal aspect of this to be interesting. The Duggars, and the Christian Patriarchy cult to which they belong, are part of the Reconstructionist movement, which idolizes the Antebellum South, and seeks to return our civil laws to those of the Old Testament.

I’ll just briefly mention that in the Old Testament - and indeed most times in history - women could not divorce their husbands. And if they simply left, they would have to prostitute themselves or starve. And a man could take as many wives and concubines as he pleased.

What about the 1800s?

Very few people seem to be aware of the actual laws from back then. Did you know that women could not divorce their husbands if the husband slept around? Nope. He could divorce her for adultery, but she had no such privilege. She just had to lump it. (To put an even finer point on it, adultery was defined - as it was in Biblical times - as sex involving a married woman. A married man could sleep around with single women or prostitutes, and it wasn't adultery at all.)

Not only that, but until the 1880s (in most states), a woman could not obtain a divorce from a man who beat her.

Rather, the only grounds she had was that he had abandoned her. That he wasn’t paying her bills.

I'll drink if I want to
And play a little poker too
Don't you say nothing to me
As long as I'm taking care of you
As long as I'm workin baby
And payin' all the bills
I don't want no mouth from you
About the way I'm supposed to live
You must be crazy woman
Just gotta be outta your mind
As long as I foot the bills
I'm payin' the cost to be the boss
    (B.B. King)

That’s the way it was.

So, if we really went back to the past like the Duggars wish to, back when everything was so much more “godly” than now, she would be stuck. And he could beat her if she complained.

And even if she did manage to get free from him, how would she support herself? He could even take custody of the kids under the laws of that time. So, what would be her real choice? She would pretty well have to stay with him, and continue to crank out baby after baby until menopause - or until one of them died, which was more likely in those days.

Oh, and my research assistant (aka my lovely wife) wondered if she is in a “Covenant Marriage.”

The Duggar family lives in Arkansas, which is one of three states which have a parallel “covenant marriage” statute. I was unable to determine if Josh and Anna have a covenant marriage.

However, Josh’s two married sisters did indeed have covenant marriages.

What this means in practicality is that if Anna wants a divorce (assuming covenant marriage), she has the burden of proving that Josh “committed adultery.” I’m not kidding. Those are the words used in the statute, and they are nowhere defined that I can tell. So, presumably intercourse means adultery. But is a cigar in a vagina adultery? (Thank you, Bill Clinton…)The statute isn't clear.

Now, Josh has admitted to a porn addiction and to being “unfaithful.” Is “unfaithful” the same thing as “adultery”? Not necessarily. My wife and I would consider signing up for Ashley Madison to be cheating, even if neither of us got laid. But I doubt that would trigger the statute. This is further complicated by the teachings on “lust” that the Duggars advocate. If Josh merely wanted to have sex with another woman, he has already committed adultery “in his heart,” so he would have to admit to unfaithfulness just for trying to have an affair. But again, that isn’t the same as “committing adultery” under the statute.

So, I would be willing to bet that if Josh “merely” had a porn addiction and solicited women online, but never consummated the affair, Anna cannot get a divorce in Arkansas.

She is stuck.

Well, there are some outs. She can live separately from Josh for two and a half years. Or she can move to another state. 

If you want to go down the rabbit hole, this fascinating (says the lawyer) law review article from Louisiana discusses jurisdictional and choice of law issues and concludes that other states will probably not enforce covenant marriage.

But this is a tough loophole. At least here in California, Anna could establish jurisdiction by residence. But she’d have to live here for six months.

Which means, from a practical point of view, assuming she can’t get Josh to move here with her, she would have to go to court in Arkansas, get an order for custody (probably in a legal separation petition), move to California, and then file for divorce there after waiting six months. Yikes. That’s a lot to ask of a young woman with four kids under age five, no education or job, and family that will likely oppose a divorce.

Oh, and even if Anna can prove actual adultery, she still has the burden of proving it. Which means she probably has to drag all this dirt through a public proceeding in order to free herself from this marriage.

Unfortunately, keeping Anna stuck in a bad marriage is actually the intent of covenant marriage laws. If a couple wishes to stay together, no state will force them to divorce. The point of a covenant marriage is to force people who want to get divorced to stay married. Or, perhaps more to the point, it is to prevent one party to the marriage from leaving if the other objects. Talk about a setup to benefit an abusive or philandering spouse. The one who has the most to gain from bad behavior is given a leg up.

This is why I did not support Covenant Marriage, and would never, ever advise a client to enter one.

At one time, however, to express that opinion got one tarred as “not a real Christian” within Evangelicalism.

This is, without doubt, a sad case. Nobody wins here, unfortunately.

What makes it sadder to me is that there will likely be no soul searching or reconsideration within Evangelicalism of their teachings on gender roles, marriage, divorce, and sex. The reason that teachings that originated in the Patriarchy cult have gone mainstream is that Evangelicalism is panicked about sex. Courtship and Modesty Culture have gone mainstream, particularly within the Homeschooling community, but also in the wider church. Whether to educate girls for a career is controversial, with many still asserting that a woman belongs in the home. The anti-abortion movement has adopted an anti-birth-control platform. Girls in youth group are still routinely given the “chewed piece of gum” analogy to their virginity. Mainstream preachers are still advising women to stay in abusive marriages. The main thrust of Evangelical political involvement is to try to force everyone else to follow their particular sexual mores.

I wish there was a way to make people see that these are all connected, and all connected to a certain worldview concerning women, their role as babymakers and servants of men.

Still, as the Patriarchy movement continues its very public meltdown, I have hope that more will recognize that bad fruit comes from bad trees. And bad fruit comes from poisonous doctrine.


Before commenting, please read my comment policy. 


  1. Yeah, to everyone outside the bubble, the Duggars have pretty well gone up in flames with this one.

    Another interesting point about chivalry: how many of the evangelicals who hold up chivalry as a male duty toward women, actually know that it was inherently adulterous as originally conceived in the Middle Ages? "Chivalry" today basically means opening doors for women, carrying their groceries, calling them "ma'am" and tipping your Stetson in their direction. But as you pointed out, that's not originally what it was.

    1. I would assume the chivalry they think of isn't medieval European at all.

      As was stared, the Duggars belong to the reconstuctionist movement, which longs for the Antebellum South (the 'last christian society'), among other distasteful leanings. My guess is they think of General Lee and not King Arthur, and of the Order of American Chivalry and the Southern Gentleman, where behavior is concerned. It's Victorian morals, not the (significantly looser) medieval Europe they're looking to, and it's White Surpremacy they long for, not the Kingdom of God.

      After all, they really like the Antebellum South.

  2. Anna has a BA.she is college educated.

    1. Anna does not have a B.A. She has a certificate in Christian education from an unaccredited fundie diploma mill.

    2. Where from and what in? Many of these girls have "degrees" but they are from online non accredited schools

    3. I haven't been able to confirm what Anna does or does not have, but I would *strongly* suspect that No Name is right, that it did not involve any education away from home or out of the Fundie bubble. And she certainly was not prepared to have an actual career outside of childbirth and home. If No Name is right, she might have only one career option: a Christian preschool. And that is about it.

  3. Articulate, interesting, and MUCH needed post! Bless you.

  4. Anna has a BA.she is college educated.

    1. From what I've gathered she received some sort of certification from an unaccredited online school related to religion....Is that really a Bachelor's Degree that makes her "college educated"?

    2. No. Before she married Josh they mentioned on the show that she had a BA by age 20. It is a teaching degree, likely a preemptive degree in case homeschooling ever required a degree, but it is my understanding that she has a BA. She's a clever girl in a bad situation. She's not without options, worst case scenario, she could write a tell all and live off the proceeds. They aren't destitute. My pointing out her degree is because I think it's important to be accurate. If I am wrong, I'll own it. If not, I'm asking those who report on her to be accurate.

    3. Amber, I think that's a great idea, truly. If Anna wants to get out, I think she should find an agent, a publisher, and a ghost writer if needed, and make the money she'll need to start over. Fingers crossed this is what she does.

  5. I think Anna has a post GED qualification - NOT a BA - with an online "college" - which will not help her much in the non fundie world.


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  7. About a potential covenant marriage between Anna and Josh: Anna is from Florida and that's where the wedding was. Florida does not have covenant marriage.

  8. Weren't they living in Maryland? I would imagine she could file there relatively easily

    1. I can't speak to Maryland, but at least as far as child custody, (under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), she would have to show residency in Maryland prior to filing. My understanding is they moved back after the molestation facts came out. So she is probably residing in Arkansas for legal purposes. If she was married using a Florida license (license and place of wedding are not the same), then she would have a non-covenant marriage.

  9. Great post. Much of the misery could have been avoided if those kids could have gone to a regular school, a regular college, and experimented with normal life and sexuality that was not demonized.

    And yeah, fewer kids would have helped. (You and your wife are indeed crazy.)

    1. Definitely crazy :) We always wanted a large(ish) family, but never for Quiverful reasons. I have no regrets on that score, but am not sure I could do those early years over again.

      I'm totally with you on the positive effect of normalcy. I was homeschooled, but played with neighbor kids all the time, and wasn't raised in a bubble by any stretch, and I am thankful for that.

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  11. This is such a good explanation and inside look into a dynamic that most people don't really grasp. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Darcy! Your blog has been a great help to me in sorting through these issues.

  12. You mentioned the "chewed gum" analogy. Aside from the offensiveness of comparing women to an inanimate object for consumption, I will note that, outside of the song "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?" it is pretty rare for people to chew the same stick of gum twice. If Christian Patriarchy really has any interest in creating faithful marriages (and to me that's a pretty big "if"), they could start by not comparing women to an item that is used once, then thrown away.

    I'm sure it would make their heads explode to know that I was not only not a virgin on my wedding night, but had spent 15 years being a Very Bad Girl before I ever dated the man who is now my husband. Yet I've been faithful to him for 25 years, we've been married for 20, and we are still in love. And, of course, we consider one another equal partners. Heck, we've yet to yell at one another.

    I hate to advocate "sexual immorality," but it sure worked for me.

    1. Why not advocate sexual immorality? The people I know who were sexually immoral are the ones who have strong, long term marriages. The people I know who were sexually moral are the ones who ended up divorced.

      I'd have to sit down and play with the numbers to get something accurate, but I think about 80% of the immoral marriages lasted, and about 50% of the moral marriages lasted among people I grew up with.

      Of course this was in Canada, and our culture is different.

    2. Okay, I admit it: "I hate to advocate sexual immorality" was a joke. Like most of Modern America, I don't consider sex immoral so long as all involved are informed, consenting, and not breaking commitments to others.

    3. My experience as a divorce attorney also led me to the conclusion that sexual experience before marriage doesn't correlate particularly strongly with bad marriages. Or vice versa. Although, like Wayne, I have noticed that the shotgun marriages in my extended family (which go back as far as our family history) have tended to be the happiest for some reason.

      What I would go so far as to say is that American Evangelicals give FAR too much weight to sexual "purity" and far too little to helping people form strong and healthy relationships. And I would consider "equal" to be a key part of that. Perhaps one could say the Golden Rule at work...

  13. Please don't talk about Evangelicals and Patriarchy in the same breath. While those in the Patriarchal movement may consider themselves Evangelical, there are many more Evangelicals who are absolutely appalled and sickened by what transpires behind those patriarchal closed doors.

    1. I understand that Evangelicals are not a monolithic group, and that some have stood up to Christian Patriarchy. However, I stand by my statement that the influence of Patriarchy (and Gothard in particular) run very deep. Evangelicalism is far more "Culturally" Fundamentalist than when I was a child. (See my blog post on that subject.)

      I will also note that Evangelical churches have supported guys like Gothard for 4 decades. Very few voices called him out as a false prophet. So Evangelicalism's hands are not clean.

  14. Josh and Anna Duggar were married in Florida, not Arkansas, so there is no question of their having a covenant marriage.

    1. As I pointed out above, the issue is which state issued the license, not the state where the ceremony took place. I obtained my license from California (where I reside), but I could have married out of the state - or even out of the country.

  15. I really feel sorry for Anna. She's in a nasty situation, without the knowledge that most women her age have as to possible options.

    It is possible that Anna and Josh can make their marriage work. Possible. But Anna is in a position where she has very little power, partially because of her upbringing, and partially because of her situation (four small children require a lot of work). When you have a power imbalance that big, with Josh having 99% of it, poor Anna is most likely to try and stick it out.

    Josh needs help. Professional help. The sort of help his background tells him is bad, so he is unlikely to get it. Without that help, I personally think there's no way to salvage the marriage. The only question is how long it will take before things get totally unliveable.

    Josh has already played his 'Get out of Hell Free' card, which is a really bad sign.

    I wonder if Anna has any relatives who aren't involved in the movement? If she does, that might provide her with the resources she needs. Of course Josh, his parents, and her parents are likely to try and deny her access to that sort of resources.

    1. I read, somewhere (Jezebel maybe), that her brother has publicly posted against Josh and offered to pay to help get her and the kids out of the house, but that his parents won't support her getting a divorce. It was posted on a few different (varying in credibility) websites yesterday.

    2. I've seen that as well, and I think it is credible. I am thrilled to see at least one child made it out of the cult (just like some left the Westboro Baptist Church).

  16. Anna is in an extremely difficult situation right now, but it sounds like at least some relatives would back her up if she got divorced, and most of the internet definitely would. IT's also interesting how much of the fundamentalist community is now disguisted with Josh -- even Kevin Swanson is calling Josh a hypocrite. This tells me that if Anna does want to divorce Josh, that she will have the Biblical grounds to divorce and at least have some back up, much more so than if she had wanted to divorce him for what he did when he was a teenager. It's hard to say what anna will do; she has a lot to think over, and I wish the media would quite making assumptions. It's just a juicy story for them. They have no idea.

    1. I find it interesting how many people are quick to assume that there is a "biblical" ground for divorce. No doubt, his actions *should* be grounds for divorce - and most Christians would agree.

      However, what Josh did wouldn't have been considered adultery during most of recorded history. (Adultery was sex with a married woman, and there is no indication that the woman was married.) Likewise, until very recently in history, only men could initiate a divorce. And even when women could, they couldn't unless he failed to support her. So while I (and most others) would give her grounds to divorce, it is only the triumph of feminism that gives her even a legal grounds to divorce at this time. Just something to consider.

      I am encouraged to see that some are supporting her, even in her family. Still, I can be pretty certain that leaving will not be as easy as it would be for someone outside the Christian Patriarchy culture.

  17. Since you want to know: I found two typos...

    What strikes me about the whole description of the girl he wants is how ordinary and mundane it all __us__, unless you have been indoctrinated into Gothardism and Christian Patriarchy.

    At the very end - Still, as the Patriarchy movement continues __is__ very public meltdown,

    1. Thanks for the corrections. I have located and updated the post.

  18. This article, while not being as useful as your previous one on the Josh Duggar situation (in my view), still has some items that interested me. I disagree with your views on some aspects of sexuality quite strongly, but I did find your comments regarding the romances of Chivalry in Medieval times to be thought provoking, and I intend to do further research on that. I've thought it was rather curious that men like Doug Phillips have exalted eras such as the Victorian Era (when there were said to be 25 men per 1 prostitute in London), the Titanic (during the Edwardian Era, named after the profligate Edward VII), and Chivalry (which now appears a dubious source of "morals"). I have stopped thinking it is a coincidence.

    You made a mistake on the 4 kids in 5 years bit. What I found was that Josh and Anna were married in Sept. 2008 and their fourth baby was born July 2015, just under 7 years later. In Quiverfull terms, they're running a little behind. However, having seen a lot of the shows myself, I would tell you that Anna has said things more than once that gave me the impression that having babies is her identity and main purpose in life. I find that very sad, and also detrimental to a healthy marriage. As a woman who married for the first time at 38 and has no children, I find the whole business of marriage and babies being a woman's only "biblical" identity quite offensive and hurtful.

    Anna's impossible situation is ever worse than you think. According to some sources, Josh and Anna also owe the state of Arkansas around $14,000 in back taxes (several year's worth). With Josh out of work and now hidden away in some rehab program (apparently), the burden of that may well fall on Anna. Since the cancellation of the Duggar reality show, it's unclear what the Duggar cash flow might be at this time and whether they would be able to help Anna out. (Btw, having watched a lot of the old episodes of the reality show, I've seen Anna go from being a naive, bashful mouse to a fairly confident, much more informed woman. Despite the issues of the reality show, I think the travel and contact with people outside her patriarchal box has educated her in ways most women in her world don't experience.)

    Thank you for explaining Covenant marriage. I don't have any use for the whole covenant culture, but I had no idea the extant of the marriage covenant from a legal standpoint. No wonder Patriarchy is so set on it. I take the teaching of Jesus Christ to be anti-divorce, myself, but I've read and heard of situations where I couldn't encourage the wife to stay, especially when the kids are being abused. Whether actual divorce is inevitable is not for me to say. Since Jesus made it clear that it's better to die a miserable death than offend a child (Luke 17:1-2), I think it's safe to assume that He holds abuse of children as worse than divorce, of which He didn't say such rough things.

    1. If I haven't already done so, let me say thanks for the thoughtful contributions to the discussions on my blog. Welcome aboard!

      I'll correct the years bit. According to my research, the first child was born in 2009, and the last (for now) in 2015, which makes it 4 in 6 years.

      As far as being "behind" or not in Quiverfull terms, it does appear the the first child was within a year of marriage, and then they are spaced *roughly* two years apart thereafter. This would be a reasonable rate of reproduction assuming no birth control, but with breastfeeding for a little more than a year. (It also assumes that breastfeeding delays ovulation in their case. If nature had been left completely alone, all of my kids would have been spaced 15 months apart. But even *I* am not that crazy...)

      I too have noticed that for all the supposed "purity" of the past, there sure were a LOT of prostitutes. In 18th Century Paris (which was fairly representative of cities at the time), fully one in ten women were sex workers. That is why I am becoming more and more convinced that what has changed in our modern world isn't *male* sexual behavior, but *female* sexual behavior. Before, men could sleep around with impunity. There were no legal consequences in most cases, and, morally, promiscuity and adultery would be winked at. Boys will be boys, and everyone sows his wild oats... But also, back then, there was a clear line between "good" girls, and "bad" girls. This persists in the constant reminder in "Purity Culture" that there are women you sleep with and women you marry, and those aren't the same.

      Just as one more bit, although I probably should make a complete post of it some time, is the fact that we often read Christ's teaching on divorce out of context.

      In the New Testament world - to say nothing of the Old Testament world - women could not initiate a divorce. Only men could do that. And when a man divorced a woman, he was essentially abandoning her. She would either have to live off the charity of her relatives (if they would take a tainted woman back), starve, or prostitute herself. Thus, there was a huge argument between two rabbis of the time: when *was* it okay for a man to throw a woman to the wolves, as it were. Christ came down on the side of reserving such a terrible act to cases where the woman chose to sexually unite herself with another man. To take this teaching and use it to insist that women stay and suffer abuse (hello, John Piper) or worse, to allow children to be abused, is a gross abuse of the meaning of the passage, in my opinion.

    2. Well, I'm glad to have made a positive contribution to the discussion. I've found we can learn a lot more from respectful discussion with people who are headed in a similar direction but aren't on the same exact page as we are than we do if we only talk to people who agree with us entirely (which isn't possible anyway).

      You are right that Josh and Anna were on schedule, now that you mention it. I guess I was comparing them with Quiverfull people who are more prolific, such as JimBob and Michelle and others.

      I don't know if I mentioned it here before or not, but I've wondered if there is some connection/similarity between the ancient cults surrounding sacred virgins and sex, and the modern idolization of the young female virgins and sex in Purity Culture.

      In your last paragraph I can see the point you're making, but I don't entirely agree. In Mark 10:2-12 it seems very clear to me that God never intended marriages to be taken apart. The exceptions are made in other passages (Matt. 5 and 19, etc.), but in this passage it's categorically condemned. Furthermore Jesus Christ indicates in Mark 10 that a woman could put her husband away; or perhaps to be quite particular - "shall" - which is future to some degree and brings up the curious question as to whether this had a prophetic flavor rather than applying strictly to that time. Having said that, though, I also don't believe that God intended these passages to be used to bludgeon women into staying and suffering actually abusive marriages, or to allow their children to be abused. I will give it further thought as well.

      In reading your comment I also couldn't help but think of the woman at the well in John 4. It's obvious that Jesus planned His arrival there especially to meet her as she came at an odd hour to draw water (presumably to avoid meeting other women who would despise her). There He told two of the most amazing truths about the new way He was establishing to a woman divorced five times who was "shacking up"; then He let her go into the town and be His evangelist to bring the men out! And, of course, included it in His revelation. That just makes me smile. There's something very satisfying about it and it makes me appreciate God's sense of humor.

      Finally, I'd just say that I think a lot of misguided things have been believed and taught under the guise of "taking the Bible literally." It's interesting to see how many things are not just what man claims them to be when we stop and look at what God actually said.

    3. P.S. I ought to say that we can learn from discussing things respectfully with people we don't agree with in general (not meaning you and Amanda), but I appreciate that you exercise critical thinking and that you try to be even handed in dealing with various aspects of the subjects I've read on so far.

  19. Have you found any information that actually confirms that Josh Duggar really is in rehab? I'm just curious as everything that I've found looked more like hearsay than anything factual. My sister-in-law keeps wondering if he actually skipped the country and/or that the family sent him packing to get him out of their hair. :-) She grew up in the cultic Independent Baptist world and to say she's suspicious of their antics would be an understatement.