Saturday, March 14, 2009


Salon has an article articulating the Quiverfull movement and one woman's escape from this theo-patriarchal system. The quick skinny:
Shunning all forms of birth control, Quiverfull women accept as many children as God gives them as a demonstration of their radical faith and obedience as well as a means to advance his kingdom: winning the country for Christ by having more children than their adversaries. This self-proclaimed "patriarchy" movement, which likely numbers in the tens of thousands but which is growing exponentially, bases its arguments on Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Quiverfull women commonly give birth to families of eight, 10 and 12 children, or more.
Nevermind the blantant patriarchy and the demeaning subordination of women to men - that's bad enough - but to have that many children, like the Octomom, only stunts the development, possibility, and opportunity of each child. As the father is at work, the mother only has a finite amount of attention and stamina she can offer, and spreading her resources (economic, relational, etc.) around to a dozen or so children diminishes and starves their potential. I understand the pro-life argument, but having this many children, in an oppressive environment, is just not healthy to mother and children. To me, the morality is questionable.


Darren Staley said...

In earlier societies I can see how a large family was beneficial, for all the obvious reasons: boys to help in the fields and girls to help with the housework.

Our society, and the global society for that matter, just doesn't fit that framework anymore.

The labor market is becoming more and more specialized making education key. In order to get kids into college it takes both parents working in most cases. This leads to less early childhood development.

There comes a time when you must think about the type of environment, and not only in the home, that a child will be reared in.

Am I advocating a China-like policy? No, of course not. But we have to stop acting like bringing more and more children into the world is a de facto wonderful thing.

Birth control and adoption should be our main focus now, in my opinion.

Kent H said...

I don't get the big deal guys. I am amused that my friends on this blog who are obviously more liberal and would be yelling about reproductive freedom here were we discussing abortion, are now somehow shocked and awed that a woman may actually make this kind of reproductive choice.
Now admittedly, I know no one in this movement (outside of the Duggars on TLC), and if it is oppressive, we have a different discussion. But it doesn't seem to me that simply have a gaggle of children is detrimental to this new environment we have.


Darren Staley said...

Just to clarify in response to Kent, I fully support the right to choose in this case, even as I disagree with it personally. I also disagree with abortion personally but support the right to choose.

Drew said...

The matter here Kent is one of legislation. While I question the health and well-being of every child and mother in a 14 person household, I would never want to legislate my morality on this. If someone wants 12 babies, go for it. I find it morally questionable, but I am not seeking to legislate my morals.

A Faithful Reader said...

In ancient societies men were born to be warriors, and women were born to give birth to more warriors and warrior bearers. The work was divided between public and domestic. Men were the masters of the public and the wife/mother was ruler of the domestic side (the fields, the produce, the selling and management of the household). The only thing that is different here is that the men are warriors for Christ and the women are warrior for Christ bearers and bearers of warrior of Christ bearers. The issue is survival of the clan and religious system.

A woman's right to choose, which I wholeheartedly support, seems to be to these brothers and sisters counter to the goal of out producing the competition. Unless women choose to have many babies to grow up to be Christians.

The question, "Is it better to populate the planet with Christians or to evangelize those that are not Christian into becoming Christians?"

The next question, "Is rearing a child in an environment of less attention and probably less love, going to produce a healthy Christian of the future?"

For me the ancient solution of raising the number of Christians by out producing the competition seems short sighted (less resources, less attention, less space, less less less) but it is the way the church has coped in former times. I am told by friends who adhere to Roman Catholic traditions that they see the Roman Catholic stand against birth control is clearly a stand to continue the practice of out producing the competition.

Just a few random thoughts on the subject.

Matt F. said...

Okay, Kent, here's the big deal. I do believe that women should have reproductive choice. I believe that you have the right to try to convince any women not to have an abortion. I don't think you should make that choice for them. That being said, I have the right to try to convince women that they shouldn't intentionally have more children than they are able to support, which seems to happen quite often in this movement. No two people have the energy or parenting skill to care for 18 people. Children aren't puppies, you can't have a litter and raise them together and expect to do a good job. Having this many children is an inherently selfish act. Everyone knows that two parents can't give a dozen kids the amount of time, attention, and financial resources that a child deserves. That being said, I think it is the choice of any parent to have as many kids as they can. I would not want the government to step in on that front, just as I would not want the government to step in on a woman's decision to use contraception or have an abortion. My position in regard to the quiverfull women, when I would tell any of them that they are being idiots, is not in any way contradictory of my pro-choice position.

Kent H said...

Well Matt,
First of all, in what little research I've seen on this movement, nearly none of these families accept any federal money at all. So the financial thing may be pretty generalized.
Secondly, nearly every child who grows up in these families have higher than average standardized test scores, would raise their children the same way, have nearly zero violent crime, drug, alcohol, or abuse issues and they tend to have generally good physical health. So I'm not sure what part of this is selfish or detrimental to society, etc. I don't think "everyone knows" any such thing.

Drew said...

Kent, do you have links to those stats? I am curious to see them myself.

Kent H said...

I actually googled "quiverfull family" or something like that and found several web sites that touted the movement from a family health perspective. But I honestly didn't write down which searches and which sites the stats were on. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

A wise woman once told me as christians we have no right to judge others for we are not God. I have passed this on to my children and am reminded of this when I read articles like this one.
I am the oldest of eleven children. My siblings or I have never felt deprived of attention from either of our parents. We often felt we had more than families with two children.
We all are educated, have great work ethics, and treat people with respect. It did not hurt us that we had to share a room, or wear hand me downs, or wait our turn for the bathroom. If anything this taught us to not be materialistic and to appreciate and take care of our things,and patience. We are also all healthy and fit and we all have great teeth.
What is not mentioned is that many Quiverfuls and other large families do not always live a fast-paced life like many people do today. They are also spending more family time together instead of worrying about who needs to be picked up here and dropped off there. Most large families also eat meals together.
I have seen alot of benefits to growing up in a large family. I also think that people who want to judge large families need to spend a few weeks living with a few. I think some attitudes may change. I haven't seen any Quiverful child act disrespectful or spoiled, however I've seen many only and small family children act this way.
I only remember one negative thought I had to my family situation. The weekend of my 16th birthday we were suppose to go used car shopping and get me a car. However God had a different plan and I got a baby brother. I remember being so mad at the time. Now I look back laughing, I don't see that first car it's in a junkyard somewhere. That birthday blessing is a Junior in high school this year playing soccer, running cross country and an active member of my home churches youth group.