Why We Are not Quiverfull

by Mary Stephens
July 2016

If you did not start at the first page and introduction, please go here.

Reasons We Do Not Follow Quiverfull - Part 1

 

1. Quiverfull is based on the misapplication and misuse of scripture.

Over and over again in Quiverfull teaching Old Testament promises and various teachings to the Jews are grabbed and applied to the church.  This is not a new problem and has been done by many different groups on many different subjects.  It is particularly noticeable in the Christian Patriarchy movement which is heavily influenced by Reformed and Calvinistic teaching, but it is not limited to them.  Following are some examples that apply to the subject of Quiverfull in particular.

Psalms 127:3-5 - Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

The first point in this passage is the connection to the full quiver.  Due to the fact that many of the people involved in this ideology consider themselves to be waging a "war on culture" and taking over the world for Jesus, they hold that their children (arrows) are essential to the battle and that they need to have as many as possible to shoot out into the world in order to win. 

In the first place, this is not the context of this passage.  In Old Testament Jewish terms, this passage is speaking of actual soldiers who will fight for their nation and cities. (Hence - speaking with the enemies in the gate.)  We repeatedly see thousands of Israelite men killed in battle throughout the Old Testament.  They needed more soldiers to replace those men.  Psalm 127  is not referring to spiritual warfare or cultural warfare  The unbiblical belief that we are taking dominion over and subduing the world for Jesus and/or bringing in His Kingdom on earth for Him is a key ingredient in Quiverfull teachings.  Sadly, some are not aware that their "convictions" are highly influenced by these beliefs, but have accepted teachings and views from various writers and teachers without investigating the actual source of the reasoning.

The Chalcedon Foundation was formed for the purpose of spreading the teachings of Reconstructionism.  Here is a quote from their web page

"We believe that the whole Word of God must be applied to all of life. It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion...Chalcedon's activities include foundational and leadership roles in Christian reconstruction. Our emphasis on the Cultural or Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28) and the necessity of a return to Biblical Law has been a crucial factor in the challenge to Humanism by Christians in this country and elsewhere."  [Emphasis added.]

The problem for them is that this is not what the church is commanded to do, as we will see shortly.  But, this ideology has heavily influenced the Quiverfull movement as a whole, whether an individual family acknowledges it or not.  There are those who believe that if every Christian couple had five or more children "we could take over America for Jesus."  (And, yes, there is a strong American flavor to all this, and there is the putrid aroma of white supremacy even.  We will discuss that in another part.)

In case you were wondering, the weapons of our warfare are not children!  We are not called to overcome the world by inundating it with "godly seed," as they are apt to call their offspring. 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal , but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; "Carnal" means "pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body". [Source]  So, our weapons are spiritual, which we know to be true from Ephesians 6.  Based on this, the idea that children are arrows to be used in the battle against "the culture" is both alarming as well as contrary to New Testament church teaching.  (By the way, "taking dominion" over our own thoughts and bringing them into obedience to Christ is a lifelong task.  If we strive to obey this, we won't have time to "conquer the world for Jesus" or win "the war on culture."  But, we will have time to obey our commission to preach the Gospel.)

The second point in Psalm 127 that I want to mention here, is that some people apparently have referred to translations of the Bible which call children a "blessing" and/or a "gift" from the Lord in these verses, and they like to say that they "want to accept all the blessings (gifts) that the Lord wants to give us."  (Michelle Duggar has specifically said this.)  The implication seems to be that if you decide to limit the number of children that you have, you are selfish and don't want blessings from the Lord, and ultimately you are limiting God.  (Curiously, wives are said to be a blessing in scripture and yet few of them justify having multiple wives based on that - so far!)  While children can be a blessing, they are not always, but more significantly that is not what the Authorized Version (KJV) (and some other translations) actually says.  It says "heritage" and "reward."  There is a big difference!

The heritage and reward in this Psalm is under the covenant of the O.T. Law.  We find out exactly why children are promised as an heritage and reward in Deuteronomy 7:12-14, Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. 

In the church era our rewards and inheritance in Christ are spiritual, not temporal or of this earth.  We don't earn children by being good Christians.  It just isn't in the Book.  Furthermore, there have been many Christian parents who raised their kids in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4) and still had kids who rejected the Lord or simply wandered off into sin or false doctrine.  Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise of guarantee that if you train perfectly your kids will automatically turn out well.  All flesh is still grass, and they still have to make choices for themselves.  But, this is a subject for another time.  (For further thoughts on children not being a reward in the church age, please read HERE and especially HERE.)

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Genesis 1:28, And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

There are several times in Genesis when God told men directly to "be fruitful and multiply" - once to Adam and Eve, once to Noah and his family, and once to Jacob.  A particular favorite due to the influences of Dominion and Reconstructionist teachings is Genesis 1:28.  We saw this referenced in the previous quote from Chalcedon.  [Note: It is strange that they call it their "Cultural or Dominion Mandate" when there is nothing in the verse that remotely refers to culture.]

Genesis 1:28 is used as the basis for the idea that man - in particular "Christian," Reconstructionist, Calvinistic man - has the responsibility to take dominion over the world "for Christ," that it is their responsibility to force the whole world to submit to Christ's authority in every area.  It seems rather obvious that that isn't what God was talking about specifically in this verse, but they seem to miss that.  For a certain number, producing abundant offspring, whom they assume will be "covenant children" who will help "take dominion," is essential to enforcing the plan.  This is why the influence of Dominionism is so strong in the Quiverfull movement.  (Unfortunately for them, their kids don't all follow through with it.  In fact, there are quite a few who throw off their parents' brand of "Christianity" and choose a different brand, unbelief, or some other religion instead.  Some of this probably stems from the fact that Biblical salvation is not always clearly taught.)

The truth of the matter is that only Jesus Christ has the power to enforce His dominion upon all the earth. 

Jude 1:25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. 

Revelation 19:11-15 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  This is about the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the only one who will subdue the nations.  It is not our job and it was never meant to be.

Philippians 3:20-21 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  The Lord Jesus is the only One who can subdue all things unto Himself!  Man cannot subdue himself unto the Lord let alone subdue America or the whole world.

It is another interesting point that the Lord did not repeat the command to "be fruitful, and multiply" to anyone in the Bible since He said it to Jacob in Genesis 35:11; which, by the way, was a very long time ago.  It is curious to me that it is so glibly recited for Christians today as if it were automatically a blanket command for all time and to all people, despite the fact that mankind has done a pretty impressive job of being fruitful and multiplying. 

More importantly perhaps, God never commanded it to the disciples or the church.  On the contrary, Jesus' direct command as He left this earth was ...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  Mark 16:15  And again, Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Our first calling as Christians is to make more disciples, not babies.  Your babies may grow up to become disciples, but having babies to create new disciples is not what Jesus was talking about.

The idea of using the physical womb to populate the church never comes up in the epistles to the church.  The church is obviously to grow through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are birthed spiritually (see John 3) into a spiritual kingdom and the church multiplies through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, we have no power in the matter as we read in Acts 2:47, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved Our job now is to plant and water and let God give the increase.  1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

This is not to say that it is wrong to have children, or even a large family if you want one.  But, that is not how Christ is building His church.  Praise God for those children who believe and become part of the church, but just because they have Christian parents is no guarantee that they will follow in their parents' into faith in Jesus Christ.

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Genesis 24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

Some people like to throw this verse into the mix as if it proved Christians should have large families with a view to a vast progeny.

First of all, Rebekah's family were not necessarily really godly. The reference to her being their sister reminds us that her brother Laban was one of the people significantly involved in this "blessing," and he turned out to be a bit of a rogue later on, trying to cheat his nephew out of the wages he owed him.  Whether he was a believer in the Old Testament sense is questionable.  They were probably not the best source for great spiritual truths. To use them to prove we should have large families, "200 year plans" for our families, and long and thriving lineages is a bit rich, to put it mildly.

Secondly, Rebekah had two kids.  Two.  This was not particularly her choice, but after she had Jacob and Esau she didn't seem to keep demanding more as Leah and Rachel did later.  And, although she eventually did become the figurative mother of "thousands of millions" this was in the physical seed of the Abrahamic covenant, not the spiritual sense as we are now.  We are the children of Abraham now by faith! Galatians 3:7-9 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.  Again we find that the children of Abraham by faith enter into that position through salvation - through faith - not through the womb of their mother.  And again, John 3 is about rebirth, as in a spiritual birth, as contrasted with the physical one.

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"godly seed"

The last Biblical expression that I want to address is this phrase "godly seed."  I have heard this used to refer to all children of a Christian couple, as if any child born to a Christian will automatically be "godly seed."

The only place I could find this phrase in the Bible was in Malachi 2.  From my research, some translations and Bible teachers refer to it as "godly offspring."  Here is part of the passage:

Malachi 2:14-16 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

First of all, this chapter is addressed to the priests at the start and goes on to bring in Israel and Judah (being written after the kingdoms were divided).   So, to apply it literally to the church or Christians is taking it out of context.  Furthermore, it is speaking about them profaning the covenant of their fathers, the holiness of the Lord, and the physical altar of the Lord.  This is obviously the Old Testament covenant to the Jews, not applicable to the church in a literal sense.  We might apply it spiritually and we may learn from it, but it is not to us or about us.

Then in the verses mentioned above, the Lord brings up the subject of the unfaithfulness of the men to their wives (specifically the first wife, being the wife of the youth).  I am not 100% sure what all this passage is saying.  The fact that the spirit is mentioned more than once is quite interesting.  To apply this literally, however, becomes very awkward with the reference to "the wife of thy youth" because we know that there were many men, including some of the patriarchs, who had more than one wife.  So, does that mean that only the children of the first wife could be "godly seed"?  That doesn't work because the line of Christ did not come exclusively through the first wife (see David's descendants specifically).  It is rather awkward, at best.  [Just for interest: The Jewish scholars seem to have some conflict over the meaning of this passage as well.]

Now, from what I have found, the concept of "godly seed" appears to be a foundational stone of the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy Movements.  This small phrase, extracted from one verse in the Old Testament, supports a belief system that declares that the main, and in some cases only, reason for the sexual relationship in marriage is for the purpose of producing babies who will grow up to be "good, godly Christians" - "godly seed."  The enjoyment of sexual relations is considered secondary or even sinful.  Procreation is seen as the main or only justifiable reason for it.  (It is always perilous, at best, to build up a large belief system on the basis of one verse or one small phrase in a verse.  At worst, it is downright dangerous.)  Furthermore, this belief system seems to have been founded not solely upon scripture, but upon a reaction against the errors of Gnosticism (or antinomianism).  (Once again, reactionary Christianity has a bad habit of going to wild extremes in response to anything seen as evil.)

Of course, as we have already seen, our spiritual birth is what brings us into the kingdom of God, not our physical one.  Jesus makes it very clear that there are two births, and the first (being of physical seed and producing a man or woman) does not get us into the kingdom of heaven.  He said that to Nicodemus who was a son of Abraham by physical birth and had every right to claim to be part of the physical "godly seed"!  John 3:4-7 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

In the parable of the sower in Luke 8, Jesus said that the seed was the word of God.  Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  Peter repeats this idea:  1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.  And what fruit does the seed of the word of God bear in our lives?  Salvation - the new birth, the new creature in Christ (Note: this is why it is important that 2 Corinthians 5:17 not be changed to "new creation"!  We are born again through the seed of the word of God to become a new creatureSpiritually, we are a totally different being from what we once were.) 

Then we read what Paul said in Galatians 4:19, My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,  I have marveled at this terminology before, but perhaps the Holy Spirit gave it to us for a particular purpose, namely to remind us that our desire and purpose should be to travail to see Christ formed in people - not to birth lots of literal babies into the world for the purpose of increasing the kingdom but to birth the image of Christ into already living people.

Furthermore, the word of God is also said to be Jesus Christ in John 1.  John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  This is interesting because Malachi 2:15 says "That he might seek a godly seed."  Considering what Paul wrote in Galatians 3:16, we might pause to wonder if the singular seed of Malachi 2 has the same underlying meaning.  Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.  I'm not saying that this is the meaning, but it certainly is food for thought and it is possible considering that "godly seed" is singular.  And, who is the only One who would qualify as a godly seed after all?

Someone should write a whole book on the difference between a physical "godly seed" in the Old Testament sense vs. the spiritual "godly seed" which is the word of God (both the written word and the living word Jesus Christ) that saves our souls.  There is a lot more to this subject than I have time to deal with now.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  It is your belief or lack thereof that determines whether you are born again and have everlasting life.  Your physical birth has nothing to do with it.  The "godly seed" that God is seeking today is believers in whom His word is able to form Christ - who are re-born, not in the image of an earthly father and mother, but in the image of Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

to title page. 
Continue to Part 2.

 

        

Graphics by Mary Stephens
CA