Sure, the Duggar family, made famous in the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” is Christian. But many of their beliefs are far more modest than those practiced by most Christians. For instance, we all remember oldest son Josh and his wife Anna saving their first kiss for their wedding day. Now, with daughter Jessa courting, we’ve read about 30-second “side hugs” only, Jessa and beau Ben’s texts needing to pass through their parents first, and the couple “recommending sermons to one another.” Which denomination advocates practices like these? What is the Duggar family’s religion?
The Duggars’ Religious Beliefs
Although the Duggars’ lifestyle is quite conservative, their reality show rarely mentions their specific religious beliefs. They’ve been described as “Independent Baptists,” although they hold church services in their own home rather than attending an outside church.
IBLP and Bill Gothard
They don’t mention it directly on their show, but the Duggars are deeply involved with the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), founded by Bill Gothard. The family attends the Institute’s Advanced Training Institute annually in Big Sandy, Texas, and excerpts from this conference have been shown on “19 Kids and Counting.”
IBLP is not a religion or a denomination itself, but it puts forth several teachings written by Gothard. The Institute has published home schooling materials that the Duggars use. IBLP was founded to introduce people to Jesus, and to help them find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture and expounded upon by Gothard. According to Gothard, these principles are universal, and there are consequences for violating them. One example is the suffering principle, which suggests that people should allow the hurts from offenders to reveal “blind spots” in their own lives. Genuine joy supposedly results when we forgive our offenders.
A major principle in IBLP is authority, and this comes heavily into play when a couple is “courting” (courting is the IBLP version of dating). Courtship involves a single man and woman, and both sets of their parents (“All of our family is involved in this relationship,” says mom Michelle Duggar). The girl involved is under the authority of her father, who needs to approve of her courtship partner. This squares with what dad Jim Bob Duggar has said of Jessa’s intended: “He’s the first one she has shown interest in that has a spiritual focus and legitimate calling about ministry work. When a guy is pursing your daughter, you want to check him out and see if there are any red flags.”
More from this contributor:
Becoming Michelle Duggar
Baby Name Ideas for Josh and Anna Duggar
Josie Duggar Update