A long time ago, I wrote this post about my first experience watching a show about the Duggars. Many commenters were aghast at my judgments, others agreed with me. Since then, the Duggars have gotten much more popular and though I've entered discussions about them in other places, I've not posted about them again here.
Last night, I watched "A Very Duggar Wedding," in which the eldest Duggar child, Josh, who is, I think, 20, got married. It was one of the most depressing and horrifying things I've seen lately.
Josh married a girl named Anna, who clearly came from folks of the same fundamentalist religious beliefs, or at least similar ones, to those the Duggars hold. Like Josh's sisters, his wife has long hair and longer skirts and is now expected to be under his leadership and control in her life as a baby-making machine.
Think I'm being facetious? I'm not. Josh and Anna not only didn't have sex before marriage, they "preserved their purity" by never kissing until they were on the alter. They were never alone unchaperoned. Josh made a phone call to Anna's father, asking him for her daughter's hand, before he ever mentioned the idea to her. Thus began their "courtship." See, according to their rules, dating is a no-go. You have to have a proposal of marriage before you "get to know each other" (and the getting to know seems pretty surface). Why? Because, as Jim Bob tells us happened to Michelle before she got with him, previous relationships leave you with "baggage."
When Josh and Anna said their vows, things got much, much worse. Love honor and obey wouldn't cut it here, Anna actually vowed to follow Josh as her priest and ruler, then they both vowed to have as many children as God saw fit. In an interview before the ceremony took place, Anna's father mused that he was thrilled that this ceremony was happening, in which Anna would be transferred from his authority to Josh's, as God intended. Could it be an clearer that Anna was property?
I know I'll get at least one comment here telling me that I am being insensitive to other people's religious beliefs. You know what? I am. I am not sensitive to these beliefs, and I have no problem with that. If you believe that women should naturally be under male authority, then no, I have no respect for your beliefs. If you believe that a woman should continue to have baby after baby, regardless of how she feels about it, then I have no respect for your beliefs.
The thing that turned my stomach the most, though, was the clear parallel between one generation and the next. Josh and Anna are clearly setting out to be Jim Bob and Michelle 2.0. I roll my eyes when Mark tells me that the Duggars and families like them are "building an army for Jesus," but honestly, it does seem that way. In one segment, Josh and three or four of his sisters go out to dinner, and they discuss what it will be like and how they'll see each other when they are all grown up and married and have kids. One sister points out that even if the only have 5 kids each (a relatively small number in their world, and one that probably wouldn't come about if they all devote themselves to birth control via God), they'll still have too many people to fit into a room. If we take the math to it's illogical conclusion, we see that the 18 current Duggar children, if they had 18 each, would make 324 more baby fundamentalist. If those had 18 each, that's 5,832 more. We're nearly army proportions in only three generations!
That, folks, is a lot of long dresses and matching polo shirts and bad hair.