…However, there is another fact that many young mothers don’t yet realize because they haven’t yet experienced it. And that is that it gets easier to have another child when you have older children. It’s not the mothers of six, seven, or more children who feel so overwhelmed.
What happens is your little children grow, and as you train them, they become such wonderful helpers. When a new baby comes into the home, instead of this little one adding a burden to the home, they bring more joy and blessing, not only to you, but the whole family. When you have children who are growing older, you have so many hands on deck to help–to hold the baby, to goo and gah at the baby and keep your baby smiling and laughing, to bring this and that to you while you are nursing, to help with the dishes and housework, to cook a meal, and to keep the home running smoothly. You are getting to the reward time of mothering…
Campbell reveals the dirty little secret of the Quiverfull movement, that having a large family requires older children to become surrogate mothers to younger siblings. Non-Quiverfull parents look at the Duggar family or the Bates family and ask, how does the mother properly care for all those children? She doesn’t. The real mothers are the older siblings who are tasked with everything from feeding their younger siblings and changing their diapers to educating their younger siblings and making sure they are dressed. While learning to care for younger children is not inherently bad, Quiverfull families often require older children to be full-time caregivers, robbing these children of the opportunity of enjoying childhood. Instead, their workload is viewed as preparing them for their future adult life as a Quiverfull family. From elementary age forward, these children are forced to take on roles meant for adults. Is it any surprise that some of them, as soon as they are old enough to do so, flee the Quiverfull cult?
Polly and I have six children, ages 36, 34, 31, 26, 24, and 22. We have two distinct families, the three older boys and the two younger girls and boy. There is a five-year space between the two groups, at the end of which we adopted the Quiverfull belief concerning children. Devout Calvinists who believed God was sovereign over the womb, we determined to have as many children as God gave us. In rapid succession, the ever-fertile Polly popped out new little Gerencsers every 18-24 months. After the birth of our sixth child, the obstetrician told us that Polly should not have any more children. His words? She’s too pooped to pop. He warned that having another child could kill her.
When confronted with the reality of our theological beliefs, we decided to listen to the doctor and not have any more children. Polly had a tubal ligation and the Gerencser rabbit was killed. Did we betray our beliefs? Yes. Were we hypocritical? Yes. I had preached sermons that asked women who could no longer have children to pray that God would reverse their tubal ligation. I even implored them to come to the altar and cry out to God, asking him to open their womb so they could once again have the blessing of God on their life. I can only imagine the deep pain such sermons caused, a fact that haunts me to this day. Fortunately, God didn’t answer their prayers. Every closed womb stayed closed, all praise be to Jesus!
Our three oldest sons had to grow up in a hurry. While they have wonderful stories about childhood, about playing in the woods, riding bikes, and sword fights, they also have stories about being required to live in an adult world by the time they were ten. While they have accepted and come to terms with the why’s of their childhood, it doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t get to enjoy manying of the things non-Fundamentalist children get to enjoy. Not only were we part of the Quiverfull movement, we also home schooled and I was a pastor. All of our children, but especially our older children, were forced to live in an adult world much too soon. While it has made them mature and wise beyond their years and given them a strong work ethic, I can’t help but feel sorry for what they were deprived of growing up. No, they are not scarred for life, and all of them have grown up to be wonderful, productive adults, but nothing can change the fact that they missed out on a lot of normal childhood experiences because of their father’s job and their parent’s beliefs. I hope someday that several of them will put pen to paper or keyboard to screen and share how they view growing up in the home of Rev. Bruce and Polly Gerencser’s home.
If there is a silver lining for our family it is that Polly and I, along with our six children have escaped the cult and are now free to live our lives as we see fit. None of our children are Evangelical; most of them claim no religion, and those who do are live and let live Catholics. It’s refreshing to know that our ten grandchildren will not be raised under the curse of Evangelical Christianity and the various other beliefs that once enslaved our family. We’re pleased to watch our adult children allow their children to enjoy childhood, while at the same time teaching them the value of work and service to others. There’s nothing wrong with a teenager doing housework, cooking, or learning to change a diaper. After all, part of parenting is preparing children for adult life; and cleaning house, cooking dinner, and cleaning up a baby are all part of the “wonderful” adult experience. The difference now is that our adult children don’t expect their children to be stand-ins for them. Their is a balance that was not part of their life when Mom and Dad were lovers of Jesus, ardent home schoolers, and disciples of John Calvin.
If you are not familiar with the Quiverfull Movement, please read Vyckie Garrison’s article, What is Quiverfull?
I originally wrote this article in October 2013. Since it is rumored that Josh Duggar is seeking addiction treatment at Reformers Unanimous (RU) Residential Recovery Center in Rockford, Illinois, I thought readers might be interested in what I have written here. Since I originally wrote this article, RU has changed their website and some of the links no longer work.
Stories of Victory: RU tired of hearing the “war stories” of people who have no real freedom in their life? If so, try RU! Every week, our students share how God has changed their lives through real-life, relevant stories. This weekly 40 minutes of encouraging testimonies will get your weekend started off just right.
Great Teaching: RU tired of talking about problems and doing nothing about them? If so, try RU! Every RU class ends with a 30-minute teaching lesson that will explain valuable principles from the Bible that are integral to your recovery process.
Complete Curriculum: RU tired of being told what’s right and not being given the tools to determine what is right? If so, try RU! We have one of the best comprehensive curriculums in America. It is one of the best-selling, too! Thousands of people have used our curriculum to learn the truth about addictions and Christian apathy. For more information see the back cover for our personal recovery curriculum.
Motivational Awards: RU tired of trying to find the stamina to do the right thing in the face of mounting adversity? If so, try RU! We will not only encourage you and help you to do the right thing, but we will also motivate you to do so. Though an award system is just a small way of doing this, it is evidence of a program that believes in acknowledging accomplishment and rewarding participation.
Free Personal Counseling: RU tired of having to get advice from people who know little about your struggles, or RU tired of having to pay hourly fees to hear yourself talk? If so, try RU! We offer free group and individual spiritual counseling on a wide variety of topics from addiction, to marriage, to finances, to family, and many other areas. You will have a leader, a helper, a director, an even the pastor. The pastor of this hosting church could make himself available to support your many needs in life.
Well-trained Local Leadership Staff: RU tired of attending programs where the leaders and volunteer workers have the same problems as you? if so, try RU! Our leaders have been set free from the power of sin and can speak openly about it. They do not seek anonymity. They proclaim earnestly that Jesus is the reason for their freedom, and they have been well-trained to use our program and its tools to get that salvation message to you and to those whom you love.
Exciting Children’s Program: RU tired of trying to find someone to help you with your child’s issues while you are still trying to deal with your many issues in life? If so, try RU! We will not only care for your children while you attend our class, but we will entertain, teach, and develop your children to help them avoid the same pitfalls that ensnared many of us. They will enjoy games, prizes, snacks, play time, awards, great teaching, and many other things. Our “Kidz Clubs” are the weekly highlight of most every child that attends.
Residential Treatment Centers: RU tired of trying to find residential treatment that is effective and affordable? If so, try RU! We operate a beautiful 100-bed facility for men and a gorgeous 40-bed facility for women at our headquarters in Rockford, Illinois. We are also aware of many RU type transitional homes that may be available for your use. To learn more, visit ruhomes.org.
Local Church Support: Steven Curington believed, as does the pastor whose church hosts our meetings, that the local church is God’s support group. It is designed by God to meet the spiritual needs of all people. When the spiritual needs of people are met, then other needs fall in line and become easier to manage. We as a program, strongly encourage you to visit the church that hosts this meeting for addicted people. Something must be different about this church if they are so willing to have this program for you. Why aren’t others?
…a six-month intensive discipleship program for men and women with troubled lives. We provide a reconstructive learning atmosphere where the non-functioning person can be trained in a supportive environment of discipleship consisting of: study, mentoring, Bible education, and work place training.
RU’s website states that the Schools of Discipleship program has a 80% success rate after one year and 79% of those who are “victorious over addictions” are gainfully employed after one year.
RU has a medical staff that (link no longer active):
advise Pastor Kingsbury, and the North Love Baptist Church on decisions that arise in the ministry related to health care for the addicted, mental health, communicable diseases, and medical liability.
The medical staff doctors are Dr. Morris Harper, Dr. George Crabb, Dr. Timothy Gaul, and Dr. Maureen Gaul. Crabb is located in Florida, the other three doctors are located in Pennsylvania. (as far as I could ascertain from a cursory web search)
Until a few years ago, I had never heard of Reformers Unanimous (RU). My former drug-addict son asked me if I knew anything about RU. He had attended a RU meeting with his cousin at the Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio. I told him I had never heard of RU. He then told some “interesting” stories from the RU meeting he attended.
After hearing this, I decided to take a closer look at RU. The rest of this post will focus on a booklet published by RU titled DSM One: Diagnostic & Spiritual Manual. This booklet provides a birds eye view of RU’s addiction philosophy. DSM One is written by RU medical staff advisory doctor George Crabb.
On the copyright page, Reformers Unanimous attempts to stop people like me from reviewing their literature by stating:
Any written or published critique, whether positive or negative, may not quote any portion of this book without written permission of the publisher to avoid any discrepancies in context.
After contacting my crack legal team, I am confident that RU’s attempt to scuttle a review of their materials has no legal basis and is contrary to the doctrine of fair use. (See Electronic Frontier Foundation FAQ) This review is done on a non-commercial basis and is meant to be a critique of the teachings found in DSM One.
According to the back cover of DSM One, the purpose of the book is:
Churches today, along with Reformers Unanimous (RU) chapters around the world, are ﬁlled with hurting people struggling with serious personal problems. Many church and RU leaders find they are unprepared to deal with these people that have very serious non-physical problems because the psychiatric world has proclaimed themselves to be the master of this domain. As a result, psychiatric terminology has invaded the church and their RU programs. Most Biblical counseling training provides little to no education regarding these terms and little to no training on what the Bible says about these non-physical problems. Dr. Crabb’s desire in writing this booklet is to help the Christian leader understand the practical implication of these terms and what the Bible says about these non-physical problems of life. Dr. Crabb takes the mystery out of these terms and clearly presents the Biblical viewpoint.
The purpose of Reformers Unanimous and the DSM One is to help IFB church members (virtually all the RU chapters are sponsored by IFB churches) who are hurting and struggling with serious personal problems. Crabb and RU is concerned that the psychiatric world and its terminology has invaded IFB churches and the RU program. The DSM One book is RU’s attempt to give pastors the tools necessary to help church members who have “serious non-physical problems.” Crabb wrote the DSM One to help pastors and church leaders “understand the practical implication of these terms and what the Bible says about these non-physical problems of life.”
According to the back cover, the DSM One book, “takes the mystery out of these terms and clearly presents the Biblical viewpoint.” While it is “slightly” encouraging to see IFB churches admit they have the same problems that the “world” has, it is their methods and desired outcomes that I have a problem with.
The DSM One has sixteen chapters and three appendices. The book covers:
The Bible has the answer for every problem you are facing
The reason you are _______________________ (fill in with one of the disorders/problems mentioned above) is because you are unwilling to submit to God and the authority of His Word, the Bible
True, lasting victory over ______________________ can only come through submitting oneself to the teachings of the Bible (as interpreted by RU, George Crabb, and the local church pastor)
Dr. George Crabb, the author of DSM One, has little to no training in the field of psychiatry. He is an osteopathic internist and states he is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Crabb is an IFB pastor’s son. His father was the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Warren Michigan. When I originally wrote this post I was able to find active web links for Antioch Baptist Church and Antioch Baptist Academy. Those links no longer work. (I did find that there was a sex scandal that resulted in the pastor, Christopher Settlemoir, being arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for child sexual assault. The victim sued the church and you can read the sad, sordid story here.)
The lack of psychiatric training is not surprising for those of us raised in the IFB church movement. The psychiatric and psychology community are routinely demonized by IFB pastors and are considered tools of Satan used to keep people from submitting to the authority of God and the Bible. Crabb is pretty much like the actor in the Holiday Inn commercial. He is not a psychiatrist, but he is a Bible-believing Christian with a medical degree. Since Crabb believes virtually all mental health problems are a problem of not submitting to the authority of God and the Bible, there is no need for any serious training in the mental health field.
The Duggars have a history with Reformers Unanimous, speaking at its national conference in Rockford in October 2014. But, Brad Woodbury of the organization’s development team would not confirm that Duggar entered treatment in the Forest City.
Woodbury went on to say that the residential program, which costs $7,500, is voluntary and work-based. Members are responsible for tasks like cooking and construction. Reformers Unanimous in Rockford has men’s and women’s residential treatment programs, with room for 40 men and 20 women. The length of stay in its long-term addiction treatment center is approximately eight to 10 months.
“The residential program is for people who need to be in a place where they can grow in their relationship with Christ,” Woodbury said. “We do not focus on the addiction. It’s about your walk with Christ.”
Do you remember when it first dawned on you that your relatives are all a bunch of crackpots and weirdos? Seems like I was around 8 or 9 — my mother worked all night in the casinos and slept most of the day, leaving me alone to protect my naïve older sister from the depraved advances of Mom’s alcoholic boyfriends and worry about my big brother’s drug addiction. I couldn’t count on my grandparents to help — they were too preoccupied with their own divorce, dating, and remarriage dramas.
“Holy sugar,” I thought to myself, “these people are seriously messed up!”
That’s about the time the fantasies began. My home, I imagined, was a three-ring circus — and my relatives were the freaks and the clowns. In my daydreams, I was not really one of them. No — surely, I was of aristocratic origin. My REAL family were royalty in a faraway Kingdom and I was born a beloved Princess in a fancy castle with many servants and my own Fairy Godmother. Somehow, I’d been separated from my blood kin as an infant — I was captured by gypsies and sold in a black market adoption — that’s how I ended up being raised by this group of crazies!
ABC’s Primetime Nightline recently aired a segment featuring the Gil & Kelly Bates family — a conservative, Evangelical mega-family of twenty. The Bates, who are close friends of JimBob & Michelle Duggar of TLC’s “19 and Counting” fame, hold to the extreme fundamentalist ideals of the growing “Quiverfull movement.”
During the one-hour special, Gil, Kelly, and their children explained the family’s lifestyle which, to all modern appearances, represents a throw back to the imaginary 60′s-style “Leave It to Beaver” family combined with strict, Victorian Era sexual mores and the atavistic gender roles of ancient goat-herders. The Bates eschew all forms of birth control and adhere to the marriage model of the biblical Patriarchs — with Gil as family leader and Kelly as submissive “help meet.” Kelly and the girls adorn themselves in modest, hand-sewn dresses, while Gil and his clean-cut sons teach bible study and participate in local Tea Party politics. Aren’t they lovely? Don’tcha wanna be just like them?
I sure did! I left home at 15 and embarked on a quest to recreate my long-lost perfect, happy family — my REAL courtly family, where I truly belonged. After a false start involving marriage at 16, a baby at 19, and divorce after seven years of abuse rivaling the most astonishing freak show acts Mom’s circus family had ever performed — I remarried, found a “bible-believing” church, and worked hard within the Quiverfull counterculture to implement the best of the best biblical family values into our home life. I had six more children. I homebirthed, homeschooled, and home-churched. I submitted to my husband and joyfully sacrificed my time, energy and talents to build him up and help him to succeed. I published a “pro-life, pro-family” Christian family newspaper to inform and encourage other Christians to defend “Traditional Family Values.”
In 2003, we were honored as Family of the Year at the Nebraska Family Council’s “Salt & Light” awards. I’d finally made it! I had built my own Magic Kingdom where my husband reigned as King and I was his Queen, the children were our loyal subjects and we could all live happily ever after …
Like the Bates family, we were the perfect picture of the “biblical family values” fantasy — an idealistic vision of big, happy families: devoted husband and wife surrounded by a passel of respectful, obedient children — we were all sweetness and smiles. It is this mesmerizing dream world which energizes and motivates Tea Party Republicans like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann to work tirelessly to implement the “pro-family” theocratic agenda into every aspect of American society: not only in politics, but religion, family, media, education, business and entertainment.
Fundamentalist Christians are convinced that contemporary American society is the World’s Most Spectacular Display of hideously mutated, diseased and anomalous freaks. ”Step right up folks!” the preacher yells, “and witness a grotesque parade of ho-mo-sex-uals, lesbians, Wiccans, radical feminists, godless liberals, secular humanists, and …” (congregation gasps!) “Muslim extremists!!”
Simultaneously fascinated and horrified, respectable religious parents scramble to shield their innocent children’s eyes and ears from the depravity and corruption of “The World.” They homeschool and form special Chastity and Creation Science clubs designed to insulate and isolate their vulnerable young from the miscreants and most depraved elements of popular culture.
It’s completely understandable and normal for preteens to create imaginary worlds — their own private, safe hideout where they can dream of nobility, of rising above and doing so much better than the clowns running the Big Top’s Museum of Mutantstrosities. The grown-ups watch in silent, knowing amusement as kids disavow their relatives as “psychos” and “bozos.”
But when otherwise responsible, Christian adults in recent years set out on a mission to create a radically distinct way of life based on “biblical family values,” the resultant countercultural movement known as “Quiverfull” has become an all-too-real Hall of Mirrors horror show.
In my own life, perpetual pregnancies destroyed my health, and my indiscriminate acquiescence to my husband’s every whim transformed him from a loving father into a tantrum-throwing tyrant. Burnout and disillusionment led to abuse, neglect, family disintegration and a particularly nasty divorce.
When the dust settled, I took a good look at myself in the mirror. I could no longer deny the strong family resemblance — I saw my mother in my own face staring back at me. After all those years of fighting and denial, I had to finally accept the fact that I really am one of them — I belong to these crazy people. I, too, am a conspicuous oddity — a bizarre spectacle and an embarrassment to my own noble children.
Funny thing is … these days, I don’t mind so much being associated with my misfit clan of circus freaks. Life experience has given me perspective and a deep appreciation for the inevitable realities and desperate circumstances which deformed and mutated Mom and the rest of us into shocking and extraordinary creatures worthy of society’s disquietude and awe.
Black market adoption fantasies and youthful idealism are important wayposts on the journey to adulthood. Rebellion against blatant injustice, hypocrisy, moral compromise and the myriad of other common grown-up failure is a healthy manifestation of a kid’s personal power and strong moral agency. Arrogant and annoying, yes — but in moments of truth we have to admit, the kid’s got a point.
Society sucks. Bigotry, racism, inequity, corruption, greed, depravity, malevolence, and all manner of evil abound. Let’s just face the fact that in many ways, the contemporary American social and political scene has devolved to become the World’s Greatest Freak Show.
No wonder Tea Party Patriot families like the Bates and the Duggars escape into their own personal fantasy-land.
Ironically, with maturity comes humility — along with a profound sense of connection and belonging to that wacky bunch of buffoons who share our DNA. We see our people with new eyes. Sure, Grandma’s got a beard and Uncle Stan is a charlatan — Aunt Betty’s such a lunatic, she may as well have two heads. But in the end, they’re all we’ve got. That perfect, royal family whom we imagined searched frantically for us for years and never gave up hope that one day we would return to our true home? They’re not real. Cousin Roger is real — never mind that he doesn’t have a lick of sense and the only thing he’s good for is shoveling elephant shit — he’s the one who truly understands you, knows all about you, and loves you anyway.
Tea Party family values are the fundamentalists’ desperate attempt to deny their own imperfections, vulnerability, and their inescapable mortality. Sure it hurts that they look down on us regular folk — those of us who make no pretense of actually having our acts together — they avoid being seen out in public with us, they disown us, and they shrink away in fear of catching our cooties.
But take heart — perhaps they’ll grow up.
I did. Not saying I don’t still sometimes get all starry-eyed and visionary over the possibility of influencing our society for the better — I’ve got a bit of spunk left in me and I’m doing what I can to stick it to The Man. But I no longer think of myself as qualitatively different or “other” than all the rest of my fellow human beings — my family. My freakish, crazy, wonderfully imperfect people.
I don’t believe in God anymore, but I still have faith. I have hope and I trust that collectively, we’re all gonna make it — we are learning from our mistakes and growing more compassionate. Our shared experiences make us wiser and I have confidence that better times are just ahead.
A few readers are surprised I haven’t written anything of substance about Josh Duggar sexually molesting five girls when he was a teenager. One reason for not writing anything is because there are plenty of news stories and blog articles about the matter, so all I would be doing is repeating what others have said. Suzanne, my dear friend at No Longer Quivering, has posted numerous articles on Josh Duggar. I urge you to check them out:
Josh Duggar committed felony sexual assault when he molested five little girls
The Duggar family covered up Josh Duggar’s crimes
Their church and elders covered up Josh Duggar’s crimes
Advanced Training Institute covered up Josh Duggar’s crimes
The police covered up Josh Duggar’s crimes
TLC ignored rumors of Josh Duggar’s crimes
The Duggar family, all of them, have long been publicity whores, allowing the public unprecedented access to their life. They should have made sure there were no skeletons in their closet. They didn’t, and now they are paying the price. They will be remembered in the same light as June, Honey Boo Boo’s Mom. While I derive a small bit of perverse pleasure from seeing HouseDuggar brought to the ground, I remind myself of Josh Duggar’s victims and the Duggar children. They are the innocent ones and they will ultimately be affected the most. Their lives, from this day forward, will never be the same. Their parents didn’t ask their permission when they started pimping them out to TLC. They are collateral damage left in the wake of their older brother’s criminal acts and their parents willingness to use/misuse them for material gain.
One good thing to come from Josh Duggar’s crimes is that a bright light is now shining on the Quiverfull and home schooling movement. What was once done in secret is now known by all. This is a good thing. Duggar’s crimes also shines the light on Bill Gothard and Advanced Training Institute. Again, this is a good thing. The only way to kill the fundamentalism of the Duggar family, Bill Gothard, and the Quiverfull movement, is to continue to expose their deceit, hypocrisy and, in some cases, crimes.
Let the defenders and supporters of the Duggar family whine, complain, fume, and object. Their words fall on deaf ears. They are more interested in maintaining things as they are than they are defending those who are harmed by fundamentalist Christian beliefs and practices. Those of us who daily make known the foibles of fundamentalist Christians know that our greater objective is to help those harmed by the pernicious teachings of people like the Duggars, their church, and the religious circles they are a part of.