Jinger Duggar Vuolo says she no longer believes drinking and dating as sinful activities: 'I could be so consumed with that'
Jinger Duggar has had a change of heart.
The former star of TLC's 19 Kids & Counting and Counting On is opening up about how her views on everything from alcohol to birth control have changed since leaving the religious organization she was raised in. Those views differ greatly from the ones she was taught in her family's strict Christian church, known as the Institute in Basic Life Principles.
"I would look at people who are dating and think, 'Oh, they are setting themselves up for a life of disaster because this can't lead anywhere good,'" Duggar, 29, told People in an exclusive interview. However, she no longer sees dating as sinful.
"I've seen more people honor God — and live a very beautiful life — who have dated, and sometimes even better than courtship. I could be so consumed with that — with having a chaperone, with not kissing before you're married, and not holding hands before you're engaged. All of these things that I had set up for myself that now I kind of laugh at," Duggar continued.
Duggar, who left her family's church in 2017, shares her journey in her new memoir, Becoming Free Indeed. Another issue Duggar has pivoted on is the consumption of alcohol. In contrast to her former church's beliefs, she chooses to follow the lessons of the Bible.
"On every topic, I have had to come back and say, 'Well, what does God's word actually say?' The Bible is very clear about drinking, and it simply says that alcohol is not a sin," explained Duggar. "Jesus made wine at a wedding."
While she still doesn't consume alcohol, Duggar says she doesn't "have a problem with other Christians. It's their liberty to drink if they so choose."
Now a mother to two daughters, Felicity Nicole, 4, and Evangeline Jo, 2, with husband Jeremy Vuolo, Duggar says her views on birth control have also changed. Previously, she "always thought that was totally wrong." But these days, she says she "just no longer see it as that."
Duggar also previously had to adhere to her religion's demands for modesty in clothing. Never allowed to wear shorts or pants growing up, Duggar thought she "had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God," she told People in an earlier interview this month.
"If I step outside of what I think is expected of me, I would think God's going to be so displeased with me and it could bring harm on myself," she added, calling the teachings she grew up under "harmful" and "damaging." While she notes there are "lasting effects" of that influence, she still recognizes a tremendous sense of "beauty of this journey" because she is free.
While Duggar dealt with fear and shame over her clothing choices, she also struggled with an eating disorder. Earlier this week, she explained on an interview with the podcast Relatable with Allie Beth Stucky the lengths she went to in order to avoid gaining weight.
“For me, it was probably comparing myself with other people and not feeling good enough,” Duggar said, noting that it was based on “wanting to be accepted” and “wanting to be pretty.” She would attempt to get up as late as she could in the morning, and sleep in as long as possible, all in the hopes of skipping meals and eating "as little as I could at a meal because I didn’t want to get fat.”
One thing that hasn't changed since Duggar left the church is her support for Anna, the wife of her older brother Josh Duggar, following his child pornography conviction.
"I am always here for Anna and the kids at any point that they would want to talk, or in any way I could help and love on them," Duggar told People in an interview earlier this month. "I know that they've just been through so much and so I just always am here for them whenever they need help."
Duggar added she has not spoken to her brother in years, and doesn't "have any desire to talk to him." He is currently serving a 12-year sentence in federal prison.
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