Why Criticize the Duggars?

I have been writing for Home Educating Family Magazine for several months now. I love the layout and the amazing contributors they feature. Authors such as John Piper, Rob Shearer and Karen Andreola are all contributors. It has been exciting to be a part of it.

I was disturbed though by the Audience Soapbox article which was printed in 2012 Issue 1. This column is an opportunity for people to express a viewpoint, so some of the articles have been controversial. This months column was focusing on the Duggars though, and although they may be different from the norm, to criticize a family who are in the throes of raising 19 children just seems unfair. As Christians I think we can examine each other's beliefs but I don't think we should personally attack each other.

Below is my response.
Re. Audience Soapbox 2012 issue 1
Dulce Chale, "They Smile But Do They Laugh"
I was very disturbed by the Audience Soapbox article, "They Smile But Do They Laugh." I picture Home Educating Family to be a magazine that encourages Homeschooling families, even though the encouragement may sometimes be that being imperfect is just a part of life. However, I felt pretty upset to see Dulce Chale gang up on a very prominent homeschool family in her article. The Duggar's get plenty of flack from the secular world for being a super sized family and for sheltering their children, but for a presumably homeschool author to criticise them for having kids who seem too happy is just ludicrous. As well, from a Christian perspective God does ask us to, "serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalm 100) and to "be self controlled" (1Peter 1:13). Although we certainly cannot be happy all the time, why criticise a family for doing their best to follow the the teachings of the Bible? My 14 year old son's comment on reading the article was that perhaps Ms. Chale is not a very happy person herself.
I imagine the author's real issue is with the three ministries that she cites the Duggars as followers of. If that is truly the case, why not give biblical reasons why their philosophy is wrong and give parents real tools for dealing with parenting issues from this other perspective? It seems that people who disagree with the undeniably horrific excesses that some people who follow their teachings have been guilty of, choose to pin those excesses on the fallen human teachers instead of the fallen human parents who implement the teachings. It is kind of like saying that knives kill people. It is not the knife that is guilty but the person wielding it.
Although the author may be able to find examples of families who were abusive in their implementation of these teachings, if a person is off balanced enough that they will abuse a child, they probably would have done it anyway. Perhaps without the teaching that accompanies, regarding never disciplining in anger(TTUAC p.43) and treating your children with respect (TTUAC p.26) the results might have been worse. Although I am not a groupie of the ministries she mentions, I have seen many families benefit from their teaching.
I do understand however, that we humans can tend to excess and because of that I appreciate books such as Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson which remind us as Christian parents to always be reminding our children that God offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I don't believe that God is glorified when we allow our children to wallow in every negative emotion that they feel, reading the story of Moses makes it pretty clear what an affront that is to God. On the other hand, we as parents need to be continually offering mercy to our children even as we carefully follow God in teaching them what His word says. If God's word tells us to love, adomonish and train our children it seems that we should do our best to obey. I think this is all that the Duggar's can be considered guilty of.

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