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Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are synonymous with ultra-conservative Christianity. The couple’s reality TV show, 19 children and host of fascinating religious traditions have catapulted them into the limelight, but that’s not how their romance started. In fact, it looks like neither Jim Bob nor Michelle had the upbringing that they so heavily promote for their children and to throngs of fans. So, how did the couple really grow up?

Jim Bob Duggar grew up religious, but not ultra-conservative

Jim Bob Duggar is the patriarch of the Duggar family, and thus he seems to make most of the rules. It would stand to reason that he, and he alone, was the family member with the most religious background, but he didn’t grow up the way he raised his children.

Jim Bob attended a private Christian school as a boy and graduated from a Christian high school. He attended services, went to Sunday school and seemingly had a strong religious background, but his family was not ultra-conservative, nor did his family belong to the IBLP when he was growing up.

Michelle’s religious leanings didn’t happen until she met Jim Bob

Michelle grew up in a far laxer household. The youngest child by a wide margin, Michelle attended public high school and was even a cheerleader. She had boyfriends, a budding social life and a part-time job at an ice cream shop.

During her teenage years, she became interested in religion, and that’s when she met Jim Bob. He and a friend headed to her house to chat about God, and from there the pair started seeing each other. Their relationship, however, wasn’t nearly as chaste as they promote for their own kids. They have admitted that they did kiss before marriage but stopped short at sharing the more salacious aspects of their budding romance (if there were any).

Michelle and Jim Bob got involved with the IBLP through financial freedom seminars

Early in their show’s run, Michelle and Jim Bob explained that they attended several workshops on the concept of financial freedom. The struggling young couple was having a hard time making ends meet, and with a growing number of mouths to feed, they had to make a financial change. Enter Jim Sammons.

Sammons, a member of the Institute of Basic Life Principles, tours the country sharing his financial knowledge. He promotes living debt free and saving as much money as possible by buying used. The Duggars also do not use credit. Sammons’ seminars were seemingly Jim Bob and Michelle’s introduction to the lifestyle they currently live. With financial freedom on the brain, the pair jumped wholeheartedly into he IBLP lifestyle, and the rest is history. 

Michelle and Jim Bob are seemingly part of the quiverful movement

The quiverful movement is a concept pulled directly from the bible. According to the Huffington Post, the quiverful movement is a belief system that urges adherents to forgo birth control as God would never give a family more children than they can handle.

The family happily admits that they do not believe in the use of birth control, but they’ve stopped short as describing themselves as part of this movement. With 19 kids, however, they appear to be the poster children for the notion.  When Anna Duggar married Joshua Duggar, their vows actually made mention of their desire to leave childbearing entirely up to God. The provision within their vows struck some fans as strange. Now, however, it seems like a clear indication they grew up quiverful. Josh and Anna are currently awaiting the arrival of their sixth child.