Maternal Martyr, Michelle Duggar, Willing to Risk Life for Baby No. 20


Mega-family parents, Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar of TLC’s “19 & Counting” fame announced on TODAY they are expecting baby #20 – due in April 2012.

Despite a difficult pregnancy and premature delivery of now-23-month-old, Josie, Michelle told TLC viewers she is willing to “lay down her life” for another baby.

“We do not take for granted the wonderful blessings of life that God has bestowed upon us!” writes Michelle on The Duggar Family website. “Many years ago, Jim Bob and I gave this area of our lives to God, allowing Him to grant life as He saw fit.”

The flip side of the Quiverfull ideal of “trusting the Lord with our family planning” which Jim Bob & Michelle embrace and promote through their TV Reality show, website, and numerous books, is that Michelle also accepts the possibility of her own or her baby’s deaths, should such tragedy occur, as God’s will.

In her book, The Way Home, Beyond Feminism and Back To Reality, Quiverfull proponent Mary Pride explains that mothers who risk their lives for the sake of building the Kingdom of God are to be honored the same as missionaries:

Routinely we send missionaries off to work in unsavory climates, knowing full well that they will probably come down with amoebic dysentery, be overheated (or frozen), receive inadequate medical care in second-rate hospitals, and on the average live ten years less than other people. But we don’t tell people not to be missionaries. Instead, we commend missionaries for their courage.

Missionaries go to foreign countries to beget new Christians; mothers get pregnant to be beget new Christians. Even if maternal missionary work has some hazards (and what missionary work doesn’t?), the noble way is to face them with courage. Likewise, we really ought to honor women with medical problems … diabetes, asthma, quadriplegia, arthritis, heart problems …who are willing to serve God with their bodies as mothers. These are the unsung heroines of the modern church. (p. 57 emphasis in original)

To further understand Michelle’s willingness to risk her life, consider that Quiverfull leaders routinely downplay the health risks when questioned regarding the prudence of prolific motherhood. Again, Mary Pride, citing page after page of examples of supposedly bogus health risks and throwing in as an added bonus, the “medical dangers of not having children,” encourages women to trust the Lord in the face of suffering:

Devotees of evil will sacrifice all they have — money, health, reputation — to maintain their lifestyle. If the actual threat of venereal disease or AIDS does not deter the wicked from their pursuits, why should the mostly phantom threat of “medical problems” deter us from ours? God will stand by His daughters who are willing to serve Him.

It is this idealism which led me to repeatedly endure high-risk pregnancies and life-threatening deliveries. (I explain them in greater detail at No Longer Quivering: here and here.)  I saw them as a calculated risk though I really didn’t believe that I could die.  Why would the Lord take me when I had a husband who was blind and seven children who all depended on me?

To the Quiverfull brain, this makes perfectly good sense. Michelle has 19 children who need her.  Surely, the Lord knows how many little ones are depending on her — surely, it’s His will that she live and continue to love and nurture all those beautiful children whom He has blessed her with.  That’s job security, huh? 

 Quiverfull moms are nothing if not consistent in their submission to the will of God – for better or worse.

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  • purplemistydez

    Even though I hate the message Ms. Duggar is pushing, I wish her a healthy pregnancy.  Her and her ilk indeed make it harder for women to make personal health decisions without government interferene, but in no way would I want something bad to happen to her.  Good luck and kiss my a$$ Ms. Duggar.

  • colleen

    mothers who risk their lives for the sake of building the Kingdom of God are to be honored the same as missionaries

    What I want to know is why Jim Bob is willing to risk his wife’s life repeatedly. I mention this because I don’t believe these stupid women are submitting to the word of God. God is not an asshole (but Jim Bob sure is.)

  • progo35

    My issue with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar is this: I don’t want to know. If they want to have 20 kids, more power to them. But, I don’t want to hear about the fact that they take care to ensure that they have sex regularly so that they don’t interfere with God’s will as far as conception is concerned. I don’t want to know about their sexual practices any more than I want to know about Demi Moore’s clinical depression. I don’t think that they should get kudos for having 20 kids, because the whole thing’s become a voyeuristic freak show. I also find Quiverfull’s philosophy that if you don’t want twenty kids you are anti-motherhood/life, and that contraception is the same as abortion, offensive and illogical.

  • ahunt

    Progo…we agree! Stop it. Yer scarin’ me.

  • lindzanne

    Likewise, we really ought to honor women with medical problems … diabetes, asthma, quadriplegia, arthritis, heart problems …who are willing to serve God with their bodies as mothers.

     

    I find it interesting that this trope is the same type of argument used by even those religious fanatics who are totally ok with family planning.  It turns my stomach thinking about what the poor women who make up the Quiverfull movement are put through.  But I’m also sickened by the people who have no problem exercising their right to family planning while using Quiverfull mentality to restrict other women, and who value percieved adherance to an ideology over real life, since the above quote is the most commonly used excuse I’ve heard as to why women don’t need life-saving abortions. 

  • colleen

    I find it interesting that this trope is the same type of argument used by even those religious fanatics who are totally ok with family planning.

    Apparently martyrdom by childbirth has widespread appeal in religions which value women primarily for  submission, tractability and  willingness to gestate as many children as possible.

  • wendy-banks

    I find it really hard to feel pity for this lady. Not unlike a drug addict, instead of realizing her twisted world-view causes her problems, she “blames” other factors (god wants me to do this). Time to take off the god colored glasses and check in reality…