Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Missing Michelle Duggar by Rose McCormick Brandon

When I slump in my chair and search for a television show conducive to relaxing, one that doesn’t leave my soul disturbed or my mind burdened, I often find nothing. Except the Duggars – a family of nineteen children headed by Jim-Bob and Michelle. Scrubbed clean, they discuss archaic subjects like courting, saving kissing until the wedding day and side-hugs. They play, shop, bake, pray, deliver babies and travel while people like me watch. Though much in their world is foreign to me, I like the purity of it.

Now there’s a word much maligned – purity.

In a sea of morally-challenged, barely-dressed women who flaunt their immodesty on television, Michelle Duggar is a breath of decency. Yes, she may go a little overboard with the sleeves, long dresses and no pants but her extremes help to bring balance to a society that has lost its modesty almost completely.

I marvel at Michelle’s organizational skills. Her family’s visits to the local grocery store, even their laundry routines and famous child jurisdictions fascinate me. Occasionally when the entire brood has appeared on a morning show, I noted that no teenagers rolled their eyes and the younger ones didn’t elbow, pout and clamor for their mother’s attention. How does she do it?

Now, Michelle’s show, Nineteen Kids and Counting, has ended.

It ended abruptly after the news broke that their oldest son, Josh, sexually molested younger girls when he was fourteen or fifteen. Criminal behaviour. No sympathies there.

Except to say that rehabilitation for teenage transgressors is generally good for society.

When the news of her son’s sins hit the air waves, criticism of Michelle and her husband roared into demolition gear. They criticized them for not having their son charged. Would most parents have called police? At present, not enough is known about the crime to answer this.

Michelle’s one of those nutty homeschoolers they said. In some minds, that relegated her to the nether regions with those in the armed isolationist movement.  A right-wing religionist, one journalist wrote. I know many homeschoolers. Almost all are building intelligent, high-quality students who go on to do well in life. They’re not anti-social nerds. I never considered homeschooling my three children. And if I had it to do over again I still wouldn’t. But I appreciate the enormous commitment of moms who turn their homes into classrooms, search out curricula and organize their lives around their children’s education.

Media types implied that Michelle must be responsible for her son’s behaviour. Where does that thinking land parents who, in spite of their best efforts, produce thieves, sexual deviates, murderers and an assortment of criminals? Many Christian parents grieve over choices made by their children. They lay awake at night, search their memories, lost in a sea of guilt attempting to understand where they went wrong. Contrast this with parents who lose not a wink of sleep, nor take any responsibility, for leading their children into lifestyles that cause them pain and dysfunction.

Another criticism. Michelle is a proponent of extreme motherhood. She is famous for saying, “Children are like flowers. You can never have too many of them.” Who can argue with her logic? She has chosen not to use contraceptives but to have “as many children as God gives her.” Most women don’t choose this option but it is an option and she has a right to choose it.

I want to hear Michelle talk about her sorrow over her son’s behaviour. Explain how she got through it, how she handled it, how it affected her. (She may get that chance in an upcoming interview with Fox.) Some people need to hear her – not to rebut her – but because a spoonful of godly wisdom may drop from her lips into welcoming ears.

With several exceptions, a lot of U.S. style television evangelism isn’t worth watching. That jet-owning, mansion-living, thousand-dollar suit crowd attract deserved criticism and stain the reputation of Christ-followers. Their distorted Christian message bears little resemblance to Jesus or His message in the Bible. 

In contrast, Michelle Duggar talks from the heart about God and how she depends on Him for wisdom and strength. When her youngest child lay in hospital for weeks, I was touched by her teary words about how she’d grown closer to the Lord during that difficult time.

I like her way.

In the dry-as-a-stick TV land of distorted evangelism and immoral lifestyles, Michelle Duggar was a welcome oasis.

And I miss her.
© Rose McCormick Brandon 2015. Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books: Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children, One Good Word Makes all the Difference, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me and Vanished. Visit her website Writing From the Heart. Two blogs: Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow.


Susan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janis Cox said...

What a beautiful tribute to a lovely godly woman. And no matter what you do, you can't make choices for your children. Praying for forgiveness for all concerned. Thanks for telling us the story. I haven't watched it as we don't watch TV but I read many homeschooler mom blogs and they have hearts of gold.

fudge4ever said...

Well said. I hope she has a chance to explain their journey.
Pam Mytroen

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Thanks Janis and Pam. There's such a deluge of criticism against this family that I hesitated to write this but as women of God we must stand together in Christ even if there are differences in the way we carry out the business of being salt and light.

N. J. Lindquist said...

I'm sorry, but I really can't agree that this program should ever be returned to television. After watching a couple of times, I avoided it, and actually cringed every time I saw it.

I would suggest you read these blogs.

I also recommend this book for a look at how closed communities can breed this kind of problem.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Rose. I'd never viewed The Duggars show. However, I'm glad that you have written this piece. I appreciate and agree with how you respond to the criticisms levied at this family, without excusing what the young fellow did.
More and more we see and hear, coming from the hearts and mouths of people who've abandoned all restraint, intense vitriol and inflammatory language - truly hateful language - levied against people who would dare to hold, promote and declare values that run contrary to their hedonistic way.~~+~~

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

N.J. I appreciate your view on this. There are many things in the Christian community that make me cringe. Probably some of them don't make other Christians cringe. I don't espouse hardly any of the narrow views the Duggars hold, however, the hate directed at them is uncalled for - and I suspect that it's not solely about their son, it's about the fact that they are Christian. If this is the case, then we as Christians need to watch that we don't join in denouncing them. At the same time, it's important not to condone sinful behaviour.

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Peter - you put into words so well what concerns me - the increase of hatred directed toward believers by people without moral boundaries. The Bible warns of this but it's still disconcerting to see it.

N. J. Lindquist said...

Most of the "hate" I've seen directed against them is for not getting appropriate counseling for their daughters who were molested, sending their son to get "help" from two men who were later convicted of molesting women or children, going on TV and acting as if they are the perfect family when they obviously weren't, and being part of a cult-like group (Quiverful) that treats women and girls like second-class citizens and men like little gods/dictators. One of their beliefs is that if men/boys molest women/girls it's the woman or girl's fault. They may invoke God and quote the Bible, but what they represent has nothing to do with the God I love and serve.

N. J. Lindquist said...

I posted the above comment and then went to facebook where the first thing I saw was this post, which I felt was relevant to this conversation.

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