Over the past months, I’ve been writing a series of articles about Bill Gothard, Christian Reconstruction, Gary North, ATI, the now defunct Vision Forum, Mark Driscoll, Patriarchy, godly families, and so forth and so on, to the point where I have about 30 articles, enough to start putting a book together on it. I have about 10 more topics to cover. This one is inspired by several recent articles on Quoting Quiverful.
There have been numerous discussions and articles about the Duggar family, and the entire Quiverfull movement in general, along with the effects of patriarchy on children and wives. It is a tragic situation, which is only going to get worse with time. The reason it is going to get worse is when you are dealing with families like the Duggars, or any family, ‘issues’ will begin to surface, later in life. We all have them. Just today, my mother and I were discussing something that happened between my sister and I, a good 20 years ago. She mentioned something between she and her sister. On the surface, they weren’t big deals, but, over the passage of time, certain things cause problems. If you are a reasonable, and fairly well adjusted person, with a modicum of intense therapy, we all get over things. But – if you aren’t well grounded, and have serious family ‘issues’, the problems are going to become more and more exaggerated over the years, until the situation explodes – no matter who you are.
Long story short – Bill Gothard’s world is one of absolutes. Without going into annoying details, there are umbrellas of protection. Let’s just say that the ultimate umbrella is God, then Bill Gothard, then the godly patriarchal hubby. Having taken his commands directly from God, he, this godly man of God, well, he speaks for God. He’s basically the Grand Pubah of his home, until the day he dies. He tells his wife what to do, and she does it. He tells the kids, even middle-age kids, to jump and they are to ask, how high, or they are basically disobeying the godly patriarch, who in speaking for God, has his status of words right up there with the gospel. He speaks for God. You disobey him and you sin. It’s that simple.
These are godly men who rule their families with iron fists. They are to be obeyed. Their numerous off-spring, raised in less than ideal conditions, unless one is a Duggar and a million buck an episode pay day, are over-worked and under-educated almost from birth. Because it is possible these godly men don’t even comprehend the difference between good and evil, what they are teaching their numerous white off-spring might not be compatible with society in general. When you are responsible for your child, and are incapable of teaching them values and lessons which are incomparable with living in the real world, well, you have a serious problem – or your children do.
The Duggar video of the kids playing air-guitar, to religious music, is a case in point where a parents’ values are going to come back and hunt their children. Every parent has a God-given right to humiliate their kids and make their lives a living hell by embarrassing them in front of their friends. I still shudder when I think of some of the things my mother did to me. Granted, today they are hilarious. Back when, they were the end of the world as we know it. This is normal behavior. If I were to have had kids, I can only imagine the psychological scars they would be enduring.
Normal is normal. Abnormal is having a couple dozen kids and expecting the older daughters to surrender their lives to care for them. Abnormal is refusing to allow them a reasonable education. I am a very strong advocate for home-schooling done right. My sister did just that, turning out three well educated children. The oldest is a graduate of Rhodes College, the youngest FIT in NYC. My nephew is an EMT who is constantly learning and taking classes for additional certifications with very real long-term goals which involve higher learning. My sister turned life into a learning situation. They spent six weeks in Paris, studying French, with all three fluent in it. They were ‘literally’ raised in the art museum across the street from the historical district home where they were raised. Their father is a science freak and a Trekkie. Enough said. They know their art, history, science, music, culture, sociology, and are not exactly bigots. They partnered with other families to provide science labs, private tutors, and additional study topics. There were socials, little league, soccer, basketball, and my nephew is an Eagle Scout. They did not, though spend much time, at all, studying religion, other than comparative religions. For the situation, they received the best education possible.
Home-schooling for religious reason, to keep children sheltered, protected, and ignorant is wrong. It should be illegal. Forcing godly daughters to remain at home, as unpaid servants, while mommy churns out one little rug-rat after another is also wrong. Fact is, it should be as illegal as some forms of child labor. My cousin, Genny, now a Presbyterian minister, was one of six children. She and her husband had seven until they discovered there was a connection to champagne and took steps to prevent number eight from coming along. They told a few lies along the way, like there were no such things as movies unless on DVD or tape, and real families did not go out to eat, but it was all in good clean fun. They raised seven very well educated, fairly well adjusted kids.
That’s normal. What is not normal is dictating what a child is to wear (beyond the usual parental give/take, battles of the skirts, hair, make-up, and oh no you aren’t wearing that out of your bedroom kind of thing). It isn’t normal to chose a child’s spouse, not allow dating, and to not allow a child to learn how to develop critical thinking. When a father holds his daughters back, forcing them to remain at home, as grown women, there is something almost incestuous about it.
Parents have a right, and a duty to instill basic values in their children. Children, like kittens and puppies need to be ‘house-broken’. They need to learn that there are rules and regulations which require certain basic modes of behavior. When children aren’t raised to reflect these rules and norms, they can turn out to be monsters, doing horrific things to others, unable to survive in society.The same thing can happen in families where a patriarchal parent dominates them to the point where they are unable to survive in society. They can become monsters, just like their patriarchal and possibly abusive parents. When Michael and Debi Pearl’s abusive ‘training’ techniques are used, it is nothing short of physical and emotional abuse. Bill Gothard demands that women wear certain clothes, their hair a certain way, and be modest. His demands and requirements are abusive. They are cruel. They denigrate women.
Thanks to the spin placed on the Duggars, people see a fake world, where families are big, helpful, and happy. They don’t see the hardship, the lack of food, old clothes, no education, the physical and emotional abuse. The don’t see what happens behind closed doors.
Having learned from experience, a person doesn’t have a tendency to start truly dealing with the psychological impact of childhood abuse until you are in your late thirties and early forties. We are starting to see this with the first group of adults who were raised under the influence of the cult of Bill Gothard. What the parents of this current generation aren’t quite comprehending is what is going to happen when their children finally experience some of the big, bad world outside of their cult. It is not going to be pretty. The therapy bills alone are going to be enormous. There is no way parents will ever be able to pay for the damage done to precious lives and psyches.
By this time, just due to his advancing years, Bill Gothard should be long gone. With luck, so will his methods of teaching, his cult, his heresies, and his absolutely perverted misrepresentation of Christianity. What will emerge is yet to be known. What we do know is that a number of godly patriarchal children will walk away from their families, never to look back either due to their desire to get away or the vicious unrelenting cruelty of their parents. Many will turn their backs on Christianity and religion all together. We can’t even grasp the number who will turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate away their problems and memories. There will be suicides, and lives ruined, innocent lives lost due to parental devotion to a cult which is even more pervasive and perverted than Scientology could ever think of becoming. Unfortunately, more than a few will turn out to be clones of their godly parents, ill educated, domineering, emotionally and possibly physically abusive to their own children. The possibility of mulch-generational abuse is always going to be there.
Just like others who have been raised in less than optimal situations, the children of the Gothard cult will learn to adapt in order to survive, if they survive. In many ways, they are not the ones I pity. The most pathetic ‘victims’ of all of this will be their godly parents. Most will remain clueless, blaming the sinful world for their adult children turning on them. So hardened by Calvinism and the extremes of hard-core right-wing religion, how many will even be capable of the introspection needed to get help – for themselves. In many ways, they are going to end up getting exactly what they deserve. That it a tragic end – getting what one deserves in life.