Jinger Duggar Vuolo Reveals ‘Cult Like’ Upbringing

Jinger (Duggar) Vuolo is opening up about her decision to expand her closet and begin wearing pants — a change she made after living more than two decades without them in her wardrobe.

One of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar‘s 19 children, Jinger wore only skirts and dresses while growing up, as seen on the family’s former TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting.

“My mom had always dressed us girls in skirts and dresses, a standard that was taken from Deuteronomy 22:5, which says, ‘A woman shall not wear a man’s garment,’ (ESV) and I never really questioned it,” Jinger, 27, writes in her and husband Jeremy Vuolo‘s new book, The Hope We Hold: Finding Peace in the Promises of God, on sale now.

“Modesty was a huge topic in our house, and we believed that wearing skirts instead of pants was a central part of being modest. But I wanted to discover for myself what the Bible had to say,” continues the Arkansas native.

 Jinger Duggar and Husband Jeremy Vuolo Detail Why Their Romance Almost Didn’t Happen in New Book

After marrying Jeremy, 33, in November 2016 and relocating to Laredo, Texas, where he worked in ministry, Jinger would often have alone time at home, where she began “digging into” the Bible, she recalls in the book.

“Since Jeremy and I had begun studying Scripture together, I had become more aware of the different beliefs and doctrines Christians held,” the Counting On star writes. “I realized that not everyone interpreted different passages of Scripture the way I always had, and I wanted to find out why.”

She continued studying scripture, listening to sermons and reading commentaries in addition to discussing her thoughts with Jeremy.

“Growing up, I had a set of standards that I took as givens,” she states in the book. But as she “reexamined and compared them to Scripture, my convictions were changing.”

Through her studies, she “realized that biblical modesty is deeper and more profound than wearing skirts instead of pants,” she writes in The Hope We Hold. “Modesty isn’t only about what you wear. It’s about the position of your heart.”

Wanting to “follow what the Bible said,” and searching through it “for answers,” Jinger notes that she “never found a passage specifically forbidding women from wearing pants.”

At the time, Jeremy was admittedly “caught off-guard when Jinger came to me questioning whether she should continue to only wear skirts and dresses,” he writes.

His goal, he continues, “wasn’t to tell her what to do or make the decision for her, but simply to point her back to Scripture. I saw in her a true desire to understand what the Bible said and do exactly that, just as I had since the day we met.”

Finally, upon finding “certainty from the Bible, my heart was free,” Jinger writes in the book, adding that she “felt no inner conflict” when she started wearing pants for the first time.

But the change wasn’t easy. Jinger “struggled” with holding a belief that went against her conservative family’s stance. “I knew they deeply cared about their convictions, and I didn’t want to hurt them now that I didn’t share those convictions,” she writes, adding that she “felt emotional as I worried that my parents would think I didn’t appreciate how I was raised.”

Ultimately, she came to the realization that she “had to walk in truth and follow what I knew the Bible said,” adds the mother of two, who shares daughters Felicity, 2, and 5-month-old Evangeline Jo with Jeremy.

Currently, the couple is living in Los Angeles, where Jeremy is pursuing graduate studies at The Master’s Seminary.

“In recent days, God has made it overwhelmingly clear to us that he is leading us out of Laredo. Through much prayer and counsel, the next step for our family is to relocate to Los Angeles to attend Grace Community Church as Jeremy pursues graduate studies at The Master’s Seminary,” they told PEOPLE in March 2019.

“As excited as we are to begin this new adventure, leaving Laredo this July will be one of the hardest things we’ve ever done; our friends here have become like family,” they continued. “Please pray for us as we open this new chapter of our lives.”

The release of Jinger and Jeremy’s book comes in the aftermath of her eldest brother Josh Duggar‘s arrest for child pornography charges. (He has pleaded not guilty, and a judge ruled on Wednesday to release him to third-party custodians as he awaits his July trial.)

After Josh was taken into custody last week, the couple spoke out, saying in a joint statement, “We are disturbed to hear of the charges against Josh. While this case must go through the legal system, we want to make it clear that we absolutely condemn any form of child abuse and fully support the authorities and judicial process in their pursuit of justice.”

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