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As card carrying members of Duggar Nation know, young Justin Duggar announced he is marrying Claire Spivey – and even formally joined her church – on his 18th birthday.

Justin Duggar and Claire Spivey Engaged Pic

This begs the obvious question: Did his father Jim Bob arrange this almost-child marriage between the two teens?

The family tends to marry young, but Justin proposed to Claire basically the moment that he became a legal adult.

As we all know, courtships – and marriages – must be approved by Jim Bob within the Duggar cult, er, community.

Photo via Instagram

Due to psychological and social control but also financial leverage, JB retains and wields a s–t ton of power.

But though fans accuse Jim Bob of arranging a marriage for a barely legal child, is this really the case?

Justin’s soon-to-be mother-in-law insists it’s not.

Photo via TLC

Hilary Spivey, who shared this image and others on Instagram, responded to a follower’s comment along those lines.

Claire’s mother asserted: "Jim Bob has never once arranged a marriage."

It’s unclear if she’s splitting hairs here about the definition of "arranged" or what, but she has a whole lot more to say.

Photo via Instagram

"All of those kids have been equipped well for life," Hilary praised of the Duggar family, whose children have minimal life experience in society and little to no formal, real-world education.

"They can handle lots of responsibility at a young age," she went on to claim.

Hilary couldn’t resist taking a jab at a society that allows children to live thier own lives, adding: "unlike most of society today."


Claire Spivey and Justin Duggar Instagram Photo
Photo via Instagram

As for Justin’s extreme youth, Hilary also offered up a half-explanation for why she feels that this is appropriate.

"Justin’s daddy told him that he knew he would marry young," Hilary recalls.

According to her, Jim Bob told him this "’cause he was so responsible."

"Trust me…" Hilary told the concerned followers.

Photo via Instagram

Of her (many, many) future in-laws, she concluded by writing:

"We’ve been blessed to know them for years."

Well, different people define different things as blessings, but the Spiveys and the Duggars clearly see eye to eye.

In a number of alarming ways.

Photo via Instagram

Upon their surprise engagement, Justin and Claire shared a message of joy with the public.

“There is nothing comparable to finding the one you are meant to spend your life with," they gushed.

“We know we have found that in each other," the two teens claimed.

Justin With Claire on Instagram
Photo via Instagram

"We cannot wait to be married," the pair raved after Justin popped the question to Claire.

"And," they continued, "are looking forward to a life together of faith in Christ, love for one another, and happiness!”

Naturally, fans were immediately concerned about the extreme young ages of these teens.

Gazing at Claire Spivey
Photo via Instagram

There are a number of complicated social factors at work behind the almost-child marriages within fundamentalist cults.

One is the emphasis upon fertility and reproduction.

Another is a cultural disinterest in education (combined with a tradition of getting jobs within the cult).

Justin and Claire at Christmas

With actual dating of any kind being banned and substituted with closely supervised courtships, there is also another factor.

We’re talking about getting them "settled" as adults before they have time to mature, or worse, develop an original thought.

And that is precisely how Derick Dillard, a Duggar in-law himself, explained why the Duggars marry so young.

Derek Makes a Point
Photo via YouTube

When fans asked Der’s wife Jill why her baby-faced teenage brother is about to become a husband, he responded candidly.

"We want to have sex," Derick noted, a line that some mistook for a joke, but was clearly mostly if not entirely serious.

Fundamentalist teenagers are still teens, after all.

Claire Spivey and Justin Duggar Pic
Photo via Instagram

The vast majority of these children have sex drives running rampant but no outlet (often, not even masturbation).

They will do anything, even saddle themselves for life to someone they barely know, just to pop their corks.

So to speak.

Claire Spivey Picture
Photo via TLC

We’re not saying there’s no emotional attachment involved, or that Justin is getting married just so he can bone Claire.

But this is a well-documented phenomenon within these kinds of fundamentalist sects, and of toxic purity culture in general.

In this way, there is no escape from the family, or community.

Claire Spivey with Justin Duggar
Photo via Instagram

It will be years before Justin and Claire are financially independent enough to make any real choices of their own.

Jim Bob may not have "arranged" this marriage in the literal sense, but he laid the foundation for it just the same.

He set things up to push his kids to either marry as soon as possible or risk permanent servant status like Jana.

Are we wrong?