To be honest, I don’t watch the show. I don’t even own a TV. But I’ve read the articles, seen the Pinterest pins, the Facebook comments, etc. The most common thing I see in comments posted on these various sites is people offended because they believe that if someone practices a lifestyle of modesty, holiness and purity, that it must mean we believe all who don’t do so are horrible, vile people. This is the farthest thing from the truth.
Now, I am not the same denomination as the Duggars. I don’t believe everything they believe or subscribe to their way of life 100%. That said, I am a conservative Christian–Apostolic Pentecostal–and I do believe that living modestly and following purity in relationships is glorifying to God. In response to some comments I’ve seen people make about their ideas, here’s what I believe they aren’t saying in their answers:
1. It’s women’s fault that men lust over them because of how they dress
The Bible says that each person needs to work out their own salvation. In other words, each person is responsible for themselves to do the right thing. If a man lusts, it is not the woman’s fault. Most Christians attest to this. But you will hear Christian women, especially those who dress with a high degree of modesty, say that one reason we dress this way is so we don’t become a stumbling block to men. Is it our fault if they lust? No. Does it help men to lust less if we aren’t showing cleavage, wearing short shorts/skirts or tight pants? Yes. So for this purpose, we want to help men struggle less by covering up more.
On a related note,
2. We ridicule women who don’t dress like us
This is another false belief many people have. I read an article someone wrote about a passage in the Duggar girls’ book about how they have a code word for women who are dressed so immodestly that they want to warn the guys in their family to not look, that way they don’t see something that might cause them to have lustful thoughts.
Now frankly, I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before. My husband and I are in public pretty much every day and never once have I felt the need to warn him that a woman isn’t dressed modestly and never once have I seen him checking out other girls. It’s the same for me if we pass guys who are shirtless or wearing speedos or whatever. Pretty much we just don’t stare. It’s a societal norm in the US anyway to not stare at people. For many Christians, if we see something that we don’t think is glorifying to God, we just glance away when we see it and don’t dwell on it. Because the Duggars do this, the best assumption is that they are just trying to help the men in their family avoid seeing things that might make them think lustfullly; a lot of times this is also why they and other conservative Christians will avoid places where they know a lot of people will be dressed minimally (like beaches, water parks, nudist colonies, etc).
We definitely don’t ridicule those people or think less of them. Just as we are free to dress how we want, so are they. We are taught to treat all people with respect, regardless if they are Christian or conservative or not. Jesus didn’t treat non-believers horribly; He showed them love so that they would come to Him. We would love it if everybody became Christian because we’ve experienced first hand what it is like and would love to share that with everyone, but we also know that not everybody is a Christian, and we aren’t surprised that non-Christians don’t share our modesty standards. We don’t even really expect it. But we also choose to try and not put ourselves in positions where we might see people dressed immodestly because the Bible teaches us to not put ourselves in those positions. It also teaches us that we do live in the world, however, and it cannot be fully avoided, so you do the best you can.
3. We believe people who don’t have the same purity standards are whores or “Jezebels”
If there is one thing that the Duggars are known for, it’s that many of their kids (of dating age) are choosing to wait until marriage to have their first kiss or to have sex. They have pretty stringent dating (or courting) standards to avoiding putting themselves in a place where they will be tempted to give in to the [natural] desire to do so. I know where they’re coming from. I, too, waited until my wedding day to have my first kiss and to lose my virginity.
But I don’t judge people who didn’t. Let’s be real here: God gave people a natural desire to be intimate with someone. When you love somebody, it is very natural to want to do these things with them. But, we also acknowledge that God designed sex to be within the confines of marriage. And, even with protection, I’m sure most people will agree that abstinence is truly the only 100% effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs. If somebody isn’t a Christian (or of another faith that teaches abstinence until marriage) it doesn’t surprise me if they have sex outside of marriage. The media largely promotes it now, and many people think that it’s perfectly normal. Do I wish it wasn’t? Of course I do. I know that a lot of heartbreak comes from it. Do I also acknowledge that even some Christians have sex before marriage? Yes. Truth is, if somebody plans to not have sex until marriage but does, hey, mistakes happen. We all sin. That’s why Jesus taught us to ask forgiveness and to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and do our best to not do it again. I don’t judge people who fall into sin (and I’m sure the Duggar girls don’t either). We pray that they are able to overcome what happened and realize that there’s grace and mercy in God.
As far as waiting until marriage to kiss? This is a personal preference. Many people will say, no it’s not, the Duggar dad doesn’t allow his kids to kiss before marriage. Honestly, as anyone who was ever a kid (hey, that’s all of us!) knows, if you want to do something you’ll find a way to do it. I don’t know if on the show he has ever said they are not allowed to, but in the articles I’ve read, they kids say that it’s their own decision. As someone who decided to wait, I can attest that it was my own decision. I was never told that I couldn’t, or that I should wait. I just thought it would be a great gift to my husband that I waited for him. I also knew that if he was willing to wait for it, that he valued me for me, and not just my body, and that our relationship would be built on things such as character traits rather than physical things. But never once in all the years I waited to have my first kiss (I married this past December at 27 years old) did I ever once think that anybody who didn’t wait until marriage was wrong, sinning, or less spiritual than me. It was simply my decision.
When I read what the Duggar kids say is why they are choosing to wait, I don’t read judgmentalism and condemnation towards others; I read simply what was my view when I made the same decision. And, I will agree with them as well that another good reason to wait is that when you start kissing, it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and and get more physical. By waiting, you are giving yourself one less moment of temptation to put yourself in a position you don’t want to be in.
4. If you need a chaperone on your date, you’re not trustworthy (or your parents don’t trust you)
This is also not true. They (and many conservative Christians) choose to have chaperones on their dates because, again, it makes it easier to not be in a position to fall into temptation. When my husband and I were dating we made it a rule of thumb that we would do our best to not be in a private place alone (like my apartment or his) where we knew that if in the heat of the moment we weren’t thinking straight, we wouldn’t be tempted to sin. We didn’t do chaperones, though, because our opinion was that if we were in public, we wouldn’t be doing that anyway. Making this decision ahead of time did ensure that we waited until our wedding day, which is exactly what the Duggar kids decided to do.
I hope this sheds a little light on the motives behind the practices. The last thing a Christian would want someone to take away from their lifestyle is that we are judgmental and disapproving of other people. But while we also don’t go around just commenting to the world 24/7 about our lifestyle, it’s very common for people to ask (which is why you see about a billion interviews with the Duggar girls asking the same questions). Now, like I mentioned, I don’t agree 100% with everything they do in regards to their lifestyle or beliefs, but as someone who dresses similar and has similar dating standards, I wanted to let people know more about our thoughts behind the actions. So next time you read an article about their modesty or purity standards, don’t see it as them putting down others, see it as them explaining why they choose to live the way they do. And if you have more questions about why they (or other conservative Christians) do things a certain way, feel free to ask. I’m not Southern Baptist so I can’t give direct answers on all of their whys, but as an Apostolic Pentecostal I can give biblical answers and reasons behind why we live the way we do or dress the way we dress.
(As with all my posts, while I encourage healthy question asking, I do not approve comments that talk bad about people or make statements stated as fact about the Bible that contradict the Bible. Please keep this in mind when commenting.)