Posted by melodieshouse on January 19, 2011
I’ve been wanting to say something as a mom and as a Christian for quite some time about the movement known as Full Quiver or Quiverfull. A midwife I know blogged about the notion of a full quiver and what it means to her over on MommyMidwife’s Blog last week. I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with her viewpoint on family size – that it’s a personal decision that’s between a wife, husband, and God.
What MommyMidwife didn’t mention is that the Quiverfull way is more than choosing to reject birth control and having as many children “as the Lord blesses” a couple with. It’s a patriarchal lifestyle of seclusion from modern society. The husband/father is the prime authority figure and the wife/mother/daughters must submit to his authority. They homeschool practically universally, for religious reasons, and usually birth at home. The father is typically self-employed, running a family business, and homesteading or living off the land is not uncommon especially if the family lives in a rural area. College education seems to be looked down upon, especially for the daughters. Daughters are expected to be married off soon after the completion of their basic education by a young “Godly” man who “asks her hand” in marriage and has the approval of her father. The females dress “modestly” which means no pants or shorts but long dresses or skirts, and they keep their hair long. A lot of these families do home church as well, probably because they have trouble fitting in a modern congregation, even if it’s Evangelical. Those that do attend a church seem to be of the Fundamentalist persuasion, though there are Quiverfull adherents that hail from across the board of Christianity. It is a backlash against feminism towards the other extreme, and seems like a lifestyle that is at odds with, and deliberately so, the “seven mountains” of (modern) culture: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion.
Pioneers of the movement are authors Mary Pride (The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality), Nancy Campbell of the Above Rubies ministry (Be Fruitful and Multiply), and Rick and Jan Hess (A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ). Website resources for the movement are Above Rubies and David and Suzanne Bortel’s Quiverfull. If you read the articles on the Articles page and look at the offerings in the Books and Resources page of the Quiverfull site you’ll gain a good understanding of what the Quiverfull movement is about.
Of course the most well-known Quiverfull family is the Duggar family of Discovery Channel/TLC fame.
I’m really perplexed by the very Old-Testament-style legalism of this movement and its twisting of Scripture to justify its purpose. Yes, children are a blessing from the Lord, but they’re also a tremendous responsibility. The New Testament also teaches the virtues of not marrying (and hence not having children) for the sake of the Kingdom of God – as one can totally devote himself or herself to the Lord’s work. Some will be called to a life of celibacy. Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 (NKJV):
For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.
Here’s what 1 Corinthians 7 has to say (NLT):
1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. 4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
5 Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. But God gives to some the gift of marriage, and to others the gift of singleness.
8 So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.
25 Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are. 27 If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. 28 But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.
29 But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
32 I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
36 But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin. 37 But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. 38 So the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord. 40 But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.
I’m going to blog on this some more, but one post is too long so stay tuned. I’m going to address more of the Quiverfull movement’s sectarianism (some might call it cultishness), unbalanced views of patriarchy and female submissiveness, a strange take on growing the Kingdom of God and hints of racism, whether intended or not.