What Do the Duggars Teach Their Kids about Sex?

The Duggar family, conservative Christian former reality stars of 19 Kids and Counting, espoused largely chaste teachings about sex to their children long before eldest child Josh Duggar's arrest last month on child pornography charges.

Duggar parents Jim Bob and Michelle have raised their children in an environment that seemed to shield younger children from learning much about sex, with modesty central to their teachings. Tight parental control and family hierarchy are also key, with children expected to instantly "obey" their parents, according to Religion Dispatches. Husbands are also considered to be "the authority" over their wives.

A strict dress code is enforced for children. Girls are not allowed to wear pants and skirts are mandated to fall below the knees. In a 2012 blog post, Michelle Duggar wrote that the family feels a need to be "covered from our neck to below our knees mainly because God talks about the thigh being uncovered, and how that's nakedness and shame."

Michelle warned against "a visual element that might defraud someone," reasoning that "the definition of the word defrauding is to stir up desires in someone else that cannot be righteously fulfilled." Boys are taught to avert their eyes from women they believe are immodestly dressed. The family also avoids swimming in public "because it's just too hard for the guys to try to keep their eyes averted in those situations."

Duggar Family Sex Children Teachings Conservative Christian
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are pictured with several of their children on their way to tape an appearance on "Extra" in Times Square, New York City on March 11, 2014. D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra/Getty

The Duggars advocate a process of guided "courtship" instead of dating, with children who want to begin a courtship required to obtain permission from their parents. Kissing before marriage is not allowed. Instead of one-on-one dating activities, the process involves chaperoned group activities with family and friends who can "provide a safe and wholesome environment" for a prospective couple.

"The purpose of a courtship relationship is to determine if the couple should get married or not, according to God's direction," the Duggar family website states. "Every individual, family, and situation is unique, and therefore, the process of each courtship is unique. Ideally, the goal is that you should be able to look back at your relationship without any regrets, confident that you honored both God and each other."

For couples that do get married, further strict rules await. Contraception is forbidden, with the Duggar family having dropped the practice not long after their first child was born. In many respects the family appears to closely follow the teachings of the Quiverfull movement—named after a Bible verse that compares children to arrows in a quiver—but the Duggars have insisted they are not followers of the movement.

Michelle Duggar has advocated that wives should be submissive to their husbands in accordance with what she believes are Biblical teachings. She has suggested that a wife should always "be joyfully available" to have sex with her husband, even if the wife is not in the mood or "exhausted" at the end of a day.

Newsweek reached out to the Duggar family for comment.