A Quiver Full Of Abuse
by: John Tyrrell
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The downfall of the Duggar family, the all-too-public faces of the Quiverfull movement has been much in the news in the past two weeks.
On one hand I'm tempted to ignore this family - you've all read more than you want to about them; on the other I want to dissect and demolish every aspect of the lifestyle they promote, pointing out that Quiverfull is a dishonest theology, based on lies, maintained by a thoroughly dishonest home schooling program, and which can be continued only through a deliberate withdrawal from the real world and into an insular community in which young people can be protected from truths.
But I'll just focus on one aspect - abuse.
Over recent years, the Duggar parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, and their oldest child, Josh, have used their fame to speak out frequently and vociferously against homosexual and trans-gender rights, falsely proclaiming that gays and trans-gender individuals are child abusers. They've presented no evidence - they have just repeatedly asserted it as if it is somehow obvious.
And of course they have had no direct experience of this kind of abuse of children.
But as has become clear over the past couple of weeks they are all too aware of the sexual abuse of children in a heterosexual context - something they have never mentioned in their denunciations of the abuse they pretend is happening. They knowingly ignore the evil of their own reality - and agitate against an imaginary wrong.
We now know about the young Josh Duggar's sexual abuse of his sisters and at least one other young girl. It's incorrect to call him a paedophile as he was underage at the time, and there is no evidence he has continued the abuse into his adult years - but still, given he abused at least four of his sisters - and as they are all younger than him, we know the age gap was at least two to five years younger than him - molesting a nine-year old at fourteen is pretty perverse.
What did his parents do when they found out? They sought out a close family friend (and the only close family friends the Duggars have are fellow Quiverfull believers) - a police officer to talk to Josh. Presumably this counselling was supposed to be an informal version of scared straight, a program which is now considered to be counterproductive in that it probably creates a higher likelihood of re-offending rather than reducing the odds.
And of course Josh went on to re-offend.
As for the police officer - he knew first hand that scared straight does not work because he himself was not scared straight by knowing the consequences of his actions. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 56 years for child pornography.
And for Josh's next round of counselling - did his parents look for a professional who knew how to deal with the young Josh's perversion?
Heck no - back to the Quiverfull family friend system and put Josh in the hands of Bob Gothard - a snake-oil salesman of a minister offering Christian home schooling programs full of lies about science and the founder of Basic Life Principle Training Center which offers faith-based counselling. Elements of that so-called counselling include a blame the victim approach, combined with the idea that blameless victims are rewarded by getting special grace from God.
That seems like really helpful counselling for a young man who has problems with keeping his hands off his sleeping sisters.
Gothard has now been accused of molesting as many as 30 young women including teenagers and in light of these accusations has resigned from his "ministry." His terrible teachings remain in use, though.
And that's the best Jim Bob and Michelle could come up for their son - twice they managed to put him in the hands of a man who also turned out to be an abuser. Each time a family friend, each time a member of the Quiverfull movement, each time a sexual predator.
It says something about the Quiverfull movement that that is the best they could do. It's a patriarchal system promoting female submission that inevitably attracts abusers, protects abusers, uses almost mandatory "Christian" forgiveness to assist in the cover-up of abuse. (Can you imagine a nine year old turning down her parents demands that she "forgive" her brother?) And as preached by Gothard, Matthew 18:15-18 is the only method for this type of "Christian" to settle sins - do it within the group - don't call in outside authorities.
I strongly suspect that what we see in the Quiverfull handling of Josh Duggar is only the tip of the iceberg. And the wrongs committed by a fourteen year old will turn out to be the least of the problem. The adults will continue to prove to be far worse.
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