For those who do not know, 19 Kids and Counting is a show on TLC about the Duggars of Arkansas. The parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, began using birth control after the birth of their first child. Michelle conceived in spite of the contraceptive, and suffered a miscarriage. The deeply religious couple decided together to discontinue the use of birth control and to have “as many children as the Lord allowed.”
Now the couple, at ages 49 and 48 respectively, have 19 children, and 3 grandchildren. The children are home schooled, they live in a huge house that they built themselves and are debt free. The girls all wear skirts, long or knee length as they choose. Their views on dating are very different than the main stream, but there are other families like theirs that adhere to the same basic values and rules. Hugs are permissible, but they practice what they call “side hugs” which simply means not full frontal hugs.
They do not participate in causal dating. The purpose of dating, or courting as they call it, is to decide if this person is possibly a life partner. Once the couple has gotten to know each other and believes that this person could be their future spouse, they enter into “courting.” Courting is the process of getting to know an individual more in depth, with the goal of determining if this person is to be your marriage partner.
The Duggars seem to attract their share of detractors who harshly criticize everything they do, including courting. During the courtship period, the couple is always chaperoned. Sometimes it is Mom or Dad; other times it is one of the siblings. This provides accountability and helps the couple remain pure until marriage. Rather than unrealistic views, the Duggars seem to have a right understanding of the temptations facing couples when indulging in too much time alone and too much physical contact.
They acknowledge this further by recommending a short courtship period, lasting only long enough to determine the viability of the relationship, followed by an equally short engagement. Their position is that the engagement should last only as long as it takes to plan the wedding. The reason for this is as stated above, to avoid unnecessary temptation.
Although some people seem to view these practices to be extreme, the purpose is to protect those involved. Perhaps we all know some young person who had planned on saving themselves for their true love and, thinking true love had finally come, shared a physical relationship with him or her only to go their separate ways further down the road. There are many regrets in this scenario. Obviously marriages break up all the time, and no one is immune to this, but having a commitment of “till death do us part” is a lot more secure.
What puzzles me is this: anytime I read an article either by the Duggars or about the Duggars, there are always very harsh comments about their lifestyle. It is really outrageous what people say that doesn’t even make sense.
Why all the vitriolic comments? People attack as if they had murdered someone instead of making an attempt (a very successful attempt) at living a virtuous, modest life and serving the Lord in the manner they feel He has prescribed for them. This is the point that somehow always creates criticism and friction. Trying to live according to God’s laws, without attempting to shame or even convert others overtly – just trying to live out your faith – seems to draw automatic weapons fire wherever we are. Why is that? Stop by next Friday and we will explore that together. Bottom Line: modesty and being a godly role model has not gone out of style. There will always be a remnant of God’s people who will stand up for Him and what He represents, no matter how many others are living like He doesn’t exist.