A Lesson In Light Of The Duggars (IBTR #69)

You have surely heard the firestorm of news that involved the Duggar family over the last week. I will not add in this article to the piling on that has been done to them, but want to consider an issue that their story suggests that fits this series.

As for the Duggars, my heart goes out to them. I was not a fan of their show personally, but that is only because I can’t endure reality TV. There is just something about sitting on a couch in my living room watching a family on TV sitting on a couch in their living room that just does not appeal to me. But it was nothing personal, my children loved it, and I had no problem with that.

I have spent a good deal of time talking about this story with my wife, and again, I feel sorry for them. It appears that situations involving minors are a sealed subject by law for everyone else in America, so I don’t get that. A lot of people have said the girls involved are the issue, but in the sloppy way this was told to the extent of revealing victims, the girls have been victimized all over again, so I don’t get that either. There is probably a lot we don’t know, but I wish every story of sin looked so beautifully redeemed 12 years later, so I don’t get that either.

I wish I could believe this really wasn’t about the family taking a stand on homosexuality, but I am struggling not to—there are a lot of rattling skeletons in closets out there, but why the great steps to expose them here? The only point from the other side I see is that in light of this situation it likely would have been a good idea to not do a reality TV show. But it is easy to pontificate after the whole story and its consequences are out, rather than in the caldron of such a family crisis where the way forward might not look so clear. In any event, I am glad the show is off the air so this family can focus on each other and recovery without so much spotlight.

So, how does this story suggest a discussion in this Truth Revolution series that involves the Independent Baptist world? It has to do with all-too-prevalent and erroneous ideas about raising children that too often find a home in our circles. I am in no way an expert in child-rearing. My children are not yet raised. But I can discuss one thing my wife and I have learned on this journey.

We have been told that we can raise our children by a certain formula and it will guarantee results. Some latched on to the Duggars (which is not the fault of the Duggars) as proof it can be done. I really don’t even know if they ever said such a thing, but some did it (and the rest of this article is not about them at all).

The plan for many came to include much sheltering, courtship as the only path to marriage, side hugs, and the first kiss being at the wedding, or some similar variations on the theme. Of course, we all know that there is some level of sheltering in raising children. There must be clear boundaries too. But does that Independent Baptist process guarantee results? Or has the process once again overtaken the goal?

Is the process just an oppressive set of guidelines to be rigidly followed? Or should each set of parents take the matter to the Lord? And do you really believe that was the first kiss at the wedding anyway for many who proclaim it?

And are there any guarantees anyway? My children have free will and a sin nature and that may cause problems. Even worse, me and their mother have a free will and a sin nature as well and often fail to execute parenting even at the level we actually want to, and that will cause problems. I am not always the Daddy I want to be, I do not always live by every principle I believe in, and quite frankly, sometimes I blow it.

If I am not careful, I will only focus on the process, which is oriented to their behavior. That overlooks the other dynamic—my behavior. My children and I are probably pretty equal in behavior that is off. Side hugs alone will not fix that.

My wife and I have grown on our journey to love the idea of realness with our children. Don’t take me wrong, we still have discipline and boundaries, but our own crossing of boundaries is worthy of family discussion too. We put up safeguards, but we can survive if they kiss their prospective spouse before the wedding day. We pray we can teach them what they do need to wait on before marriage. That is, however, a matter of prayer and wait and see. Other parents have been disappointed before and we are not so special, nor have such a great process, that we know we are above things not going as we planned.

That brings us to the biggest truths about raising children. It needs humility and prayer more than a process. If it goes well, it will be the grace of God. Our best bet is to be real, but distinctly Christian, to admit our mistakes as readily as we correct theirs, and to throw them and us on the mercy of the Lord.

We must not teach our children that the process is the way either or we will only throw on them the error of our generation. Thinking that we could focus solely on externals and some how please the Lord has done a number on many of us. Let’s not do that to them, or if they fail, they will have nothing left to do but walk away as damaged goods. That will make them miss the wonder of the grace of God, and what could possibly be worse than that?

There is a reason the Proverbs say, “My son, give me thine heart”. It is the heart, it will always be the heart, and no process can capture a heart. It will take more than that–far more.

Find all articles in the series here.


7 thoughts on “A Lesson In Light Of The Duggars (IBTR #69)

  1. One of the best responses I’ve seen out there.
    I am glad that he was revealed because I don’t want the idea that following the Duggar’s (Gothard’s) rules will prevent heartbreak or “giving away pieces of your heart” to be accepted by those who watch the show/follow the Duggars. I am sad that the girls had to go through this again BUT if they receive real help this time (not Gothard’s “How did you bring this on yourself?” help) then it is actually a good thing for them as well.
    When my mom’s heart breaks because not all her children are still IFBx or even practicing Christians, I remind her that we all have a free will. No matter what she and my dad did–right or wrong–we are individuals who made our own choices. She quotes, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” and I remind her that is a Proverb, not a promise. You can absolutely raise your children right and they can still choose to do wrong. Rules can’t “save” them, anymore than Mosaic Law saved the Israelites. It’s a heart thing.
    I have spent time the last few days praying for the Duggars. I hope that everyone who reads this post will also take time to do the same.

  2. There are two ways of dealing with such situations, when in their position. They chose to go public with their lives, lifestyle and decisions. They chose to become public. At that point, they should have known from US history, the media practices today, etc. that whatever they had in their past that would be a potential weak spot in their message would eventually come out. So, they could either try to hide it and hope nobody ever found out, or they could have been honest and up-front about it, and shared it from the start. Of course, that also carried a risk of them never getting on air, but which was more important? Integrity or ??? (I don’t know what to put there) They apparently chose the ??? answer. One wants to feel sorry for them–and I do, but the balance is that they chose a path long ago that has led inexorably to this point in time. In other words, today was the inevitable result of decisions made long ago. My heart mostly goes out to those girls, who must be made to suffer once again by people who pretend to care, but who only want to use them and abuse them once more. It’s a sick world. (and yes, their parents let them down with their decisions, and the fact that they now “suffer” too should, I hope, give them pause to reconsider the path they have chosen, and the people they have chosen to follow. And yes, I do find it hard to sympathize with the parents–my sympathies are all with their children, who, in the end, are all victims of ???) I can hope and pray that Christian parents will reconsider how they parent, and reconsider any pragmatic “solutions” they are applying in their lives.

    (I have tons of thoughts on the “process” part of the post, but don’t know if I want to post them here…)

      • That parenthetical statement was actually put in place of the deleted text, and after I clicked on “Post” I realized I shouldn’t have posted that either. I decided what I wrote may come across too harshly–not because I am upset at anybody else, though. I am guilty myself of most of what I decry, and it is my own frustration at my own failings that gets me riled up…

        But as I have pondered this whole thing, I realized there might be another way. It doesn’t say exactly what I would say, but I think that Charlotte Mason’s 20 principles probably say the most important things even better, especially because they are said in a neutral tone. 🙂 Anyway, here’s the link first:

        And now more. Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the Victorian times, through 1923. When you read these principles, and realize that she wrote these at the same time that Dewey and many other humanists were transforming education in an entirely opposite mold at the same time, it’s amazing.
        I want to add one other point. Principle 2 causes problems with a lot of modern Christians because they don’t understand what she’s actually saying (but I don’t really have that concern for you, but others reading may) because they look at it from a modern, Christian mindset. But if you think that when she wrote this, things like eugenics were coming to the fore, and it was firmly believed that some people were just born good, and some just born plain evil–they were set in stone at birth. This was the point she was addressing–an evolutionary one, in fact.

        As to the principles, she wrote them over time, so some seem a bit less “principley” than others. You can probably skip principles 13-15, in fact, as they are specific to one element of their style of teaching, and aren’t really principles in the sense the others are.

        One other point. While these are called principles for education, if you read through, you will realize that these are principles for rearing children more than just education. Many of the “educators” were, in fact, parents, as they had a home correspondence education system as well as schools. And I presume that anyone reading this will realize and see the beauty of what she’s saying.

        I’ll add one point of my own. People are individuals. We would be hugely mistaken if we think that it is our task to produce children who are just like us–but that is what many parents unwittingly try to do. But think about it. It is entirely possible (if not likely) that two very quiet and introverted parents (my wife and I) may have an extremely outgoing and extroverted child. Or the opposite may be true, a couple gregarious and outgoing parents may have a quiet and retiring child. Or two parents who really don’t care much about reading or “book knowledge” have a probing, inquiring child, who wants to read and learn everything. Or it may be that two, highly educated and cultured parents have a child who is absolutely not interested in that stuff, and only wants to play sports. It goes on and on. The mistake parents make is to presume that their child ought to be just like them. These principles answer to all such differences, and help the parents to help a child to grow as they truly are, and to mature and be responsible adults, and Lord willing, Christians who love the Lord and are willing to serve Him.

        And…. I wrote another tome. Oh, my deleted rant, if I could relate it to these principles, focused more on principle 4.

  3. To all in a position of leadership, whether it be the home or the structural church: If your intention is to protect your reputation, you are already off the path that Jesus walked.

  4. Pingback: It’s Time For An Independent Baptist Truth Revolution! | The Reagan Review

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