I didn’t know very much about the Duggar family until I spent an afternoon “binge-watching” 19 Kids and Counting. The show airs on the TLC Network and, to be honest, I had kind of lumped it in with the other TLC programming about people who don’t fit the cultural norm.
Almost daily I see a newsfeed with a headline about the Duggars and finally, one afternoon, I found myself watching one episode after the next. I watched Jill Duggar get married. I watched several more shows about the family and then I watched Jessa Duggar get married that evening.
I think the only other binge-watching I have done was when Jim and I spent a couple of weeks watching the first three seasons of Downton Abbey. I wasn’t at all surprised to find that I loved every minute of that PBS series. I was very surprised at the end of my 19 Kids and Counting marathon to realize that I had been rather fascinated with that program as well.
The Duggars are a conservative Baptist family who live in Arkansas. They home-school their children, teach them to live and dress modestly and raise them with strong emphasis on family, faith, personal modesty and integrity. I have to confess that when I heard or read something about the family, I didn’t consider them to be an average Christian family. What surprised me after my afternoon of binge-watching was this: they aren’t average, and I was impressed by that.
Michelle Duggar conceived a baby while on birth control and then had a miscarriage. They named that baby Caleb, held a memorial service and decided they would not use birth control again. They felt God would determine how many children they were to have. Their children, so far, have adopted a similar commitment. We might be hearing about a lot of new Duggars in the years to come.
Many of their family choices are different from my own and I don’t believe there is a single blueprint for the Christian family. I honestly believe Michelle and Jim Bob, the Duggar parents, pray and seek God’s wisdom for their lives. They have taught their children to do the same. Jim Bob Duggar was a state representative for several years and both he and Michelle have real estate licenses. They are committed to living debt free. The Duggars live comfortably, but carefully with their budget. The children have many family responsibilities and while I am sure there is some complaining that never makes the television show, the kids work hard to do their part.
What I find most fascinating is that the world seems to enjoy watching this family each week. The popular show has drawn the attention of many major media groups. I have held off writing a blog post about them simply because I didn’t really know what to say. I don’t believe the Duggars are a definitive example of a Christian family. I do believe the Duggars are a strong example of a great Christian family.
I think the viewers watch a family that has to manage to feed, clothe, educate and entertain a LOT of children and we enjoy seeing how they live that life each day. I think people are fascinated by something more than those “unique” aspects of the Duggar household. I think the people that watch this family see the reality of God and find his Presence in the home to be fascinating as well.
The Duggar children treat their mom and dad with great love and respect. The Duggar children treat one another the same way. They are good people who have a lot of siblings, a lot of friends and a lot of faith. This family understands and lives what Jesus taught mattered most. They love God and they love others.
The most fascinating and compelling part of this television show is that while a person is watching a large family live their daily lives they are also watching the Lord at work in those lives. Every episode I watched I noticed how the various members of the Duggar family portrayed the love of God.
It was that love that kept me in front of the television set that day and I’ve watched the show several times since. God’s love is visible in the life of a person who makes Jesus both Savior and Lord. All of us have the ability to make God’s love visible in our lives as well.
The Duggars are a great reminder that the love of God, through his children, is powerful and the world is compelled to notice. Who is watching you, your family and your friendships? Do they see the love of Jesus at work? We all have an audience too. Let’s help them see Jesus when they see us.