Jinger Duggar Vuolo, one of the children of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, is reflecting on the restrictive Christian teachings she was raised with and the freedom she found in 2017. She explained that fear was pervasive in her childhood, causing her to believe she needed to wear only skirts and dresses to please God and that even participating in activities like broomball could cause her harm.
The family were devout followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a church established by Bill Gothard in 1961 which taught women should be subservient to their husbands and discouraged dancing, dating, and popular culture. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar gave seminars for this church until 2014 when 30 women accused Gothard of harassment and molestation.
Vuolo shares that the teachings of IBLP are based on fear and superstition, leaving people feeling anxious and afraid of the outside world. Things began to shift for Vuolo during 2017 as she realized more deeply the effects these teachings had on those around her. She ultimately chose to leave IBLP entirely knowing that while still remaining a strong Christian it was time for her understanding of living her faith to change.
In making this decision Vuolo has found freedom from these oppressive teachings which will now allow her journey with faith to be an exploration full of trust, grace, joy, understanding, and love, all blessings which have been made possible through allowing space for growth and transformation. This experience has not only shaped Vuolo’s theology but also helped her embrace a greater sense of independence and peace as she continues down this path guided by open-mindedness instead restrictive rules rooted in fear.
“The teaching I grew up under was harmful, it was damaging, and there are lasting effects. But I know other people are struggling and people who are still stuck. I want to share my story, and maybe it will help even just one person to be freed.”