December 17, 2014
As much as I feel like I need to express the weirdness of this particular holiday season, I'm just not in the mood to. Yes it's strange, yes I'm having trouble getting into it, but that's what happens when you lose a family member and your kids are grown up. Instead, there's been something rolling around my little brain pan of late so instead of Christmasy blues...we're going to pick on Americas most popular uber-conservative family: The Duggars.
First off, let me say: I'm not bashing them, I don't hate or dislike them, and I'm not about to rip apart their way of life.
OK, now that that's out of the way. There's a lot of controversy with how they live and who they are. Yes they are very devout Baptists and live according to the Patriarchal Movement. This is a belief that holds the notion the father is the head of the household and the mother his "helpmeet". Gender roles are very specific and held in high regard. This particular family home schools in a Christian based curriculum as a way of making sure they children are not exposed to certain ideals. The males of the family are taught leadership and groomed to be providers and husbands, the females are taught home skills and child care. I've noticed a lot of similarities with this particular system and the Amish, the Mormons, and the FLDS.
Amish communities are enclosed, self contained entities that the participants of choose to be a part. Between the ages of 16 and 25, young people make an active choice to be baptized into the church and therefore the community. Schooling is done within the community and education stops at 8th grade. There are distinctive gender roles and a very aesthetic lifestyle. Women are homemakers, men are laborers, children belong to their parents and fathers are the head of the home. Wives are told upon marriage to be submissive to their husbands, but they run the household. All daily household activities go through the woman of the house, from the gardening to the mending to child-rearing. Female members dress in traditional, modest dresses, covering from the neck to not above the knees as well as head coverings for their long bound up hair. The family and community unit is strengthened by their aversion to technology which is believed to take away from the cohesion of the community. They rarely mingle openly with those outside the community and live plain, austere lives, driven by their profound faith. The young men and women court or date within the community or neighboring Amish communities. Rarely do Amish date or marry outside their circles. Most do not pay into the Social Security fund, they don't use insurance, and do not utilize any method of public assistance. They don't go out of their ways to recruit new members nor do they impose their belief system on anyone outside their own communities.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) is a splinter from the original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), sometimes known as Mormon. The Mormon/LDS church is also very austere with it's teachings, believing the body is sacred and that family is most important. LDS mothers and fathers share in child-rearing, hold marriage in high regard, and are very devout in their faith. Young people are allowed to chose their mates and court or date, as long as "relations" are held off till after marriage. Mormons do not exclusively home school, however there are several Mormon run/headed schools and colleges in the western part of the US. The main difference between the FLDS and LDS/Mormons, is polygamy or plural marriage. This practice is what caused the rift in the founders of the religion many years ago. Members of the FLDS communities are held to a very strict way of life. They live in closed off compounds that are guarded and walled-both to keep people out and participants in. Husbands are assigned wives by the "prophet" or head of the church, they are to be subordinate to their husband. Husbands are decreed to have at least 3 to fulfill the church requirement. Female members are clothed to the ankle and do not cut their hair. Children are typically home schooled within the compounds. They are rarely allowed to court or date prior to marriage, as marriages are arranged. When a young man, usually around 21 is ready for marriage he approaches the prophet and lets him know, as with the young women, typically between 16-25. Once the prophet has made the match he wants, he informs the two and a ceremony is performed within a week. Most of these young women are married to men old enough to be their fathers, or even grandfathers...with whom they are expected to have "relations".
History aside, what the Duggars practice is not unusual or odd in the grand scheme of things. It's only odd because we aren't used to common or generalized groups following these rules. As a primarily religiously mixed nation, we aren't accustomed to the teaching of closed entities spilling over onto single families or widely spread groups. There is a website entitled, Free Jinger , it's goal is to educate and bring forth information about abused young women at the hands of prominent religious leaders or organization members. Yes, they did take the name Jinger from the Duggar family but they are not trying to save her-exactly. It's a knowledge forum for anyone willing to find out a little more of what goes on behind the scenes of certain organizations across the US and the world.
The Catholic Church as unable to hide it ugly side, and once multiple stories came out, the populace and the media attacked it with fervor. Each major religion has an ugly side. Warren Jeffs, the most recent leader of the FLDS community, is doing life in prison for rape and child molestation--of his own wives. As long as one gender is held in more regard than it's counterpart, someone will find a way to bastardize it. One family may understand that wifely submission doesn't mean the husband gets a free ticket to slap her around or have his way, another one may not. The newest topic on the scope is husbands being allowed to spank their wives when they are out of line. There are a number of people on both sides of this coin. Personally...I think it's ludicrous. But we're not going to get into that one.
I know that there is always going to be a dominant vs. submissive in a relationship. That's how we're made, you can't have two of the same personality type and have it work...it just doesn't. They key is finding that delicate balance of, dominant but not domineering, submissive but not subordinate. As I always say: to each his own....utilizing common sense, reason, and proper consent.