Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vasectomy, anyone?

On Monday morning as I was trying to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I reached for the remote to turn on the television so I could perform my morning ritual of catching up on the news and weather for the day. After I caught up with the goings on of the previous night, I turned the channel to The Today Show, where I was introduced to 21, bright, shiny, smiling, yet somehow unnerving, faces. I had never seen these faces before, but I had just received my first glimpse of the Duggar family. Never heard of the Duggar family? Oh, you will.

The Duggar's live in Tontitown, Arkansas, where they comprise about 2% of the town's population of approximately 950, which is 96% white, 1.7% Native American, and 2% other ethnicities. The Tontitown website states that the town is diverse because of its people and ideas. A tad ironic considering the town is 96% white. Anyway, did you catch the part that the family comprise 2% of the town's population? Yep, 2 adults and 17 children with 1 more due next month.

The Duggar's have made quite a name for themselves, gracing television shows on The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel, and news programs throughout the country. It seems every time another Duggar is born, the media ascends on Tontitown like vultures to get the latest scoop. They recently put the finishing touches on their first book, The Duggar's: 20 and Counting!

Mr. and Mrs. Duggar have given no indication that they are going to stop having children anytime soon. In fact, they have gone so far to say that as long as God wills them to, they will keep having children. Perhaps Mrs. Duggar is aspiring to be like the wife of Feodor Vassilyev, who holds the world record for having the most births by one woman at the staggering number of 69. The Vassilyevs lived in a small town 150 miles east of Moscow in the 18th century. Mrs. Vassilyev lived from 1707 to 1782, and gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. One would believe that after the eighth set of twins she would have ceased.

When Jim Bob and Michelle married in 1984, they decided that they weren't ready to have children, opting instead to begin using birth control pills. After 4 years of marriage and deciding that they were ready to have their first child, Michelle stopped taking BCPs. She conceived, but during her pregnancy decided to go back onto the pill. Maybe she didn't know that you can't get pregnant immediately after conceiving, rendering BCPs useless. But it was during this time of being back on BCPs that she miscarried.

Understandably, Jim Bob and Michelle were distraught. After the loss of their first child they were told by their obstetrician, also a Christian, that what caused the miscarriage was the use of BCPs during pregnancy, even though there is little evidence to support such a claim. However, I am not an obstetrician, so I can't ultimately make the claim that BCPs cause miscarriages. But I am rather skeptical of this claim by Michelle and Jim Bob. Perhaps they didn't know that once your pregnant, there is no need to go back on the pill. This story just smells fishy to me. Even if they were so concerned, they should have taken the time to educate themselves of the potential dangers or resuming a BCP program during pregnancy.

Baptists, Jim Bob and Michelle advocate the Quiverfull movement, a belief that couples will receive God's blessing by delivering babies to the world, and discourages any form of birth control. The name of this movement uses Psalms 127:3-5 as its inspiration, and this passage can be found in the header of the Duggar website. The Duggar's also believe that the Bible is the "owner's instruction manual for life." I wonder if they actually took time to read the Bible, including the chapters and verses that advocates genocide, murder, incest, lying, infanticide, abortion, rape, and child sacrifice in the name of their god. My favorite example of Biblical infanticide and how much the god of the Bible hates children can be found in 2 Kings 2:23-25:

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!"
He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

I seem to remember Jesus warning against causing children to stumble. So much for godly love.

Anyway, aside from these biblical shortcomings, I do have to say that the Mr. and Mrs. Duggar seem to be doing an admirable job of raising their kids. They do seem to be intelligent, and they sure are cute. No scathing remark here. I truly mean it. The kids are the best things about these two. But it seems to me that these two are truly irresponsible citizens of the world, and the same goes for anyone else who seeks to follow their path.

Throughout the world there are millions, if not hundreds of millions, of children who seek a better life. Abused, tortured, orphaned, murdered, raped, and sold into slavery. Not to sound "holier than thou" in my sentiments toward Jim Bob and Michelle, but I can't help but wonder, if they wanted to have children so much, why not rescue children from countries like Sudan, Chad, China, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Colombia, or even here in the United States? They would have committed an infinitely preferable display of humanity if they chose to adopt as opposed to conceiving every 9 months.

But I think possibly one of the greatest troubles I have with the Duggar's is that their house is claimed as a church, which rewards them tax-exempt status. I don't know for certain that this is fact, but if it is, the claim that they are debt-free is dubious at best.

In previous documentaries that showcase the Duggar family, it has been stated that the girls will not be allowed to attend college, and that the oldest is currently taking online courses because he hopes to start a career in law. I hope that the boy has more motivation than that. It's hard to get into some art programs let alone law. The real irony that I find is that these kids are being raised to believe that mankind and dinosaurs once walked the earth together. It's an insult to those with careers in the sciences that cable channels like The Learning Channel and The Discovery Channel have broadcast entire series based on the Duggar's.

If it is true that the girls will never be allowed to attend college, in my opinion, it is another blatant example of sexism and control within a religion that is dominated by men. This coming from a 36-year old white guy. But the sexism doesn't end with limited education for women. One need only look to Michelle, herself. I feel only a limited amount of sympathy for Michelle, but I still feel sympathy. It's sad to think that the only worth she can gain from life is to give birth every 9 months.

Don't misunderstand me. Let's be honest, when it comes to parenting, women admittedly do most of the work. That work load is doubled when the mother holds down a job, if not 2, even 3, just to make ends meet. But, Michelle's value has been greatly dimuned, not only by Jim Bob, but Michelle as well.

Anyway, that is the story of the Duggar family. A heavily distorted view of the Bible (without the slightest understanding of where it came from), indoctrination, and a poor perspective on the lives of women as well as the global community. 90,000 diapers, 200 loads of laundry per month, 17 children. And counting.

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