If you know anything about the Duggars, you know they’re a family that seriously loves rules.
Name an aspect of child development or adult life, and the Duggars have a whole laundry list of restrictions pertaining to it.
The most famous part of their code of conduct, of course, is the Duggar courtship rules.
Long before their kids reached dating age, Jim Bob and Michelle had developed a set of guidelines to prevent them from giving in to their biological urges.
Of course, the Duggars didn’t stop at prohibiting premarital sex, mind you.
No, they went several steps further and barred unchaperoned dates, "front-hugs," and hand-holding in excess of 15 seconds.
Jim Bob and Michelle admit that they did not follow such strict rules in the early days of their own relationship, so in a sense their kids are in uncharted territory.
The eldest of the Duggar 19 are married with kids of their own these days, and as we discussed last week, thus far, adulthood has not been terribly kind to them.
By some measures, Jim Bob’s children have failed to find success as adults.
Most of them are reliant on earnings from the media empire he created and have either not attempted to launch careers of their own, or have not been successful in their efforts to do so.
Fans have countered that argument by pointing out that Jim Bob’s offspring have, for the most part, been successful in their personal lives.
But critics — especially those in the Duggar-obsessed corners of Reddit — have pointed out that that’s not necessarily the case.
Sure, no one has gotten divorced in this generation of Duggars, but that’s a pretty low bar for a subculture in which divorce is strictly forbidden and ending a marriage is enough to make one a social pariah.
And anyone who’s been following the family closely these past several years knows that several Duggar couples have encountered problems that likely would have resulted in divorce, were it not their religious beliefs.
Take Josh, for example.
The first Josh Duggar sex scandal likely would have been enough to land most couples in divorce court.
The fact that several others followed, and yet Josh is still married to Anna?
Well, that’s just downright astonishing.
Many have pointed to this Washington Post article by an ex-evangelical woman who escaped an abusive marriage as a source of insight into what Anna might be feeling.
There’s no evidence that Josh had engaged in physical abuse, but we know that women are seen as subservient figures in the Duggars’ community, and she likely feels that divorce is not an option.
Other Duggar marriages that have put their participants through the emotional wringer include that of Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard.
Derick is feuding with Jim Bob at the moment, and as a result of the bad blood, Jill has been forced to cut off virtually all contact with her family.
Perhaps she would have taken her husband’s side and done so of her own free will.
But the fact is, we’ll never know, because she doesn’t have free will.
And what does all of this have to do with the Duggar courtship rules.
Well, the rules are based on two central tenets — men are incapable of controlling their sexual urges, and women have been put on this planet for the sole purpose of breeding.
Under this system, it’s the woman’s job to keep her man satisfied, and when he strays, it’s her fault.
It’s terrible to imagine how Anna Duggar must have felt when she found out that Josh tried to cheat on her using an online dating profile.
It’s even worse when you consider that she likely believed she was to blame for his attempted infidelity.
In such a twisted subculture, perhaps the only smart option is the one taken by Jana Duggar, who has apparently decided to opt out of marriage.
Unfortunately, in her world eschewing marriage means committing to a lifetime of solitude and celeibacy.