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 3

NOTE:  This article contains some frank references to female organs due to the very bizarre teachings of some people in Quiverfull.

3. Quiverfull can become idolatry and has cultic tendencies.


1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

NOTE: Some stories used in this series have been altered in detail in order to protect the identities of the people involved.
One of the significant problems with the ideology of Quiverfull is that it easily falls into idolatry. The first point we will discuss is worship of the family. 

The assumption that we can take over the world for Christ by having lots of babies is a foundational idea behind the larger movement as we discussed in Part 1.  This need of "raising arrows" can then quickly take the preeminence in people's lives to the point of taking the place of well-rounded Christian living as commanded to the church.  The focus really does end up on the family and it can, and does at times, become an idol.

Ephesians 4:14-15 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

More than one church, ministry, and family has become imbalanced in the Christian life because they focused too much on one subject to the exclusion of all others.  It doesn't matter how good that subject or issue may seem, when it is the "all-important" one it leads to a lopsided view at best, and idolatry at worst.  God intends us to be well balanced, not running to any extremes but teaching and believing the whole counsel of God, not just the parts that relate to our favorite topics.  Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. When anything becomes so important that we will ignore or contradict other doctrine and even deny the truth of scripture to defend it, it has become an idol.  As we already discussed in Part 2 of this series, the free will of mankind has been negated by the teachings of Quiverfull in at least some instances.  I believe there are other things that are idolatrous as well.

Furthermore, when the beliefs of so-called "Biblical Patriarchy" (or Christian Patriarchy, if you prefer) are involved, the idolatrous attitude toward the family, and especially the father in the home, can play into the Quiverfull aspect.  Because of the heavy emphasis on wives submitting and the centralizing of all power in the person of the male "patriarch", the problem can arise of the men insisting upon the wives continuing to have babies when they should stop. 

Anything that is more important in a Christian's life than the Lord Jesus Christ is an idol.  Yes, even if it is the husband/father of the home or the family itself.  1 Corinthians 2:1-2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

We have seen families that exhibited symptoms of making the father and/or the family an idol in their practice, though they would hardly admit it.  There are people who are so completely absorbed by their own family unit and its supposed importance in "the Kingdom work" (having lots of "arrows" to take over the world for Jesus, in this case) that they have little to no time to obey many of the commands to the church in the New Testament.  Sometimes it may be due to the great number of children which keep them so distracted.  In other cases, it is a need to keep strict control over the family at all times in order to maintain philosophical "purity" in their system.  But, it is not unusual to find this high level of control co-habiting with the Quiverfull belief system, because the two compliment each other; and for many, the idea of taking Dominion over America (or the world) through having babies is oddly attractive and starts with taking dominion over the wife and children in the home.  [My theory on that is that it seems easier than going into all the world and preaching the Gospel, Mark 16:15.  But this goes back to the problem of putting the family above the commands of Jesus Christ, doesn't it?]

Search the New Testament scriptures.  The emphasis is not on the life of individual families.  That is addressed, yes; but it is not the main purpose and "ideal" nurturing place for Christians.  The church, the body of Christ, the fellowship of the saints is the main emphasis and nurturing place - over and over again.  The fact that that nurturing often happened in the physical houses of the believers back then is no excuse.  The church met in the homes in many instances, so naturally that would be where they gathered for teaching.  But, it was not just about the individual family who lived in that house.


Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Romans 12:3-5 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Not only the family is idolized, but pregnancy, motherhood, and even the womb are lifted to a position that, at least in some cases, becomes an idol.  People who are not able or willing to "perform to expectations" are seen as lesser Christians, whether stated or implied.  Quiverfull women who blog will sometimes make a great deal about every pregnancy till we are not sure whether they are looking for approval and enablers, or whether they are seeking glory, even worship, in their role as mothers.  If that seems harsh, you may need to go read some Quiverfull blogs and consider this for yourself.  I am not saying they are all like that, but there is definitely an aroma of idolatry around some to exalt themselves and each other in their efforts to "have a mighty army of 'godly seed' for the Lord." (This was covered in Part 1 also.)

Here is an example of an idolatrous attitude toward the womb as given by Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies ministries:

"The womb is a holy place and the entrance to the womb is holy. It is a type of the temple in the Old Testament where the Holy Place was separated from the Holy of Holies by a thick veil. The only person who could enter the Holy of Holies was the High Priest. God has also created the hymen in a virgin to protect the entrance of the womb. It is a type of the veil that protected the Holy of Holies and could only be entered by the High Priest.

"The hymen, the protection to the womb, should only be broken by one man. God’s plan is that on the wedding night, two virgins come together and the hymen (the veil) is broken by the one who will become her husband--the priest of her home. Read Deuteronomy 22:13-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 and 2 Corinthians 6:17-18." [Source]

If this give you the creeps, it should!  This reminds me very strongly of various goddess cults and pagan beliefs around "the sacred womb" and "sacred sex", not the least of which is Kabbalism.  Yes, that is raw undeniable idolatry!  Make no mistake.  It is not sound Bible teaching by any stretch of the imagination.  There is no clear text that teaches anywhere that the womb is a type of the temple of God and that the husband is the priest who penetrates the "veil".  At the risk of being rather stark, I would like to mention that if the hymen is the veil, why can it only be broken through once?  The high priest went in once a year, every year and the veil was never removed - until it was torn asunder at the death of Christ - and now that gets extremely messy and even more satanic in its logical conclusions.  (People so seldom follow their idiotic teachings out to their logical conclusion - either in ignorance or with an ulterior motive!)  And, by the way, please go read those verses she gave and notice how all of them either do not support her exact point or are misapplied.

2 Peter 3:15-16 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.


For some, the role of motherhood also defines their identity as women.  It is the main thing in life that makes them important or worthwhile.  They see themselves as, first and foremost, mothers who are birthing God's army for the war on culture.  I still believe and maintain that our first and most important "role" in this life is as children of God and members of the body of Christ. [For more on that please read here.]  Don't mistake what I'm saying.  Motherhood is a good and important thing and godly mothers are a blessing, but a blessing that not all Christians have enjoyed.  Thankfully, God does not limit Himself to only saving and using kids born to "good, godly mothers."  He has a much bigger and better plan than saving the world through the wombs of Christian women.  In fact, there is something in that very thought that fairly reeks of idolatry when you stop and think about it.  This is especially true when we see that the more children a woman has within that mindset, the more important she becomes in the eyes of those around her, and too often in her own eyes as well.

And, so, coming back around to the idolatry of the family, we sometimes see large families admired and exalted above measure, mostly because they have "so many lovely children" who are allegedly "such a good example" - witness the Duggars and the Bates with their various reality T.V. shows.  (Sometimes the "wonderful children" aren't as wonderful as we are led to believe, either.  See Josh Duggar for details.) 

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

As we see in Colossians 3:5, the apostle Paul tells us that covetousness is idolatry.  One aspect of idolatry that becomes plainly apparent is that of coveting babies.  Large families can become proud and self-important in their own eyes, but they may even become downright greedy.  This may sound ridiculous to some people because of the financial difficulties that often accompany large families, but people covet things besides money. 

On one T.V. show about his family, Gil Bates actually boasted that his children had come to him and his wife and asked if they could fast and pray for more children.  (This was when the babies had stopped coming as quickly as they liked and perhaps Kelly Jo was having miscarriages.)  He said this as if he were very impressed with them, and yet what was the meaning behind it?  Why would a family of (then) 17 or 18 children want to fast and pray for more children?  Could it be because they were covetous or had an idolatrous attitude toward having more?  And, then too, how is that "trusting God with their family"?  It has been apparent in some of the shows they did together that some of the Bates and Duggar children have had a competitive feeling about who would end up with the most children.  Is that really what having a family is supposed to be about - comparing and competing?

There are Quiverfull couples who are never content with what they have.  They are always wanting more.  They will even resort to adoption when the babies slow down or if they don't have "enough" of one gender. Some who claim to be Quiverfull and to "trust God with our family" become very distressed and will go to great lengths to have children, or more children.  Personally, I'm not very impressed with a "faith" that will "trust God" for many children but is unwilling, and even rebellious, to trust Him with a few.  The dismay and grief that some Quiverfull people exhibit when the babies don't come soon enough and/or often enough seems more like covetousness than faith.

Another thing I've heard is, "We just love babies."  One Quiverfull couple who said this was not doing especially well with their kids as they got older, but when the "baby" got to be about 18 months old they had to have another one because the mother could not be content with life without a small baby in her arms.  This was continued even in the face of serious problems with a number of the later pregnancies, and it was only stopped when they had a baby with such severe disabilities that they needed to provide a high level of care for her.  Naturally, this disrupted the family's life as a whole.  Literally, they coveted babies to the abandonment of common sense (as mentioned in Part 2).  They were so covetous of having "another one" that they could not acknowledge the mess they were making of the mother's health and their family. 

What can we make of this but idolatry?

1 Corinthians 10:14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Cultic Aspects

2 Corinthians 10:18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Matthew 15:8-9 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

With too many Quiverfull groups and families, there is a strong flavor of self-righteousness, as mentioned.  If you don't fall into step with them, you may end up feeling like you are "backslidden", wicked, or at least deficient in faith.  Even when they try to say that they don't expect everyone to do like them, the self-aggrandizement is still usually evident.  They don't say it in so many words but it comes off sounding like this:

"We just want to trust God with our family." - Read: "See how much faith we have? Aren't we spiritual to trust God so much?"

"We couldn't afford all these kids either, but as we had them the Lord just added and added and we are so blessed." - Read: "If you don't think you can afford to have a large family, you lack faith and are a sorry excuse for a Christian!  Get with it, people.  Be like us!"

"We just want to accept all the blessings [meaning babies] God wants to give us."  Read: "We are so good and righteous for doing this.  Everyone should do this.  In fact, if you don't do this, you don't really want God's blessings in your life."

Have you heard or read any of these, or others like them?

I know that some of the people are well-meaning and probably don't realize how they sound, but they come across with such a strong aroma of self-righteousness.  Yet what can we expect from a belief system whose roots are in the ideology that they can take over the world for Christ through having babies?  Even when they don't believe that specific aspect of it themselves, the self-importance of it can influence them through the various teachers and preachers of Quiverfull.

It is sad, but this leads to another important aspect of being idolatrous as well as cultic - it ruins good Christian fellowship.  If we don't join their parade, we are at least mistaken and unworthy.  At worst we are seen as grossly disobedient, maybe even unsaved.  I know that many of them would say they don't mean it to sound that way, but as my Gramma Hoover would have quietly said, "But you didn't mean not to."

Furthermore it ruins good Christian fellowship by separating the "ungodly them" from the "righteous us".  If you don't agree to follow "the plan", you may find it impossible to even join some groups; some families will not even consider having you as a friend.  This is not given as a reason for separation in the New Testament since family size is never discussed in the teachings to the church.  This type of division is a common tactic of cults to separate their followers from the dangerous herd, and especially the "dangerous" ones who think and ask questions that make other people think.

3 John 1:9-11 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.


Shunning and shaming are another tactic used by cults.  It makes the "naughty" person feel cut off and guilty for not following the "necessary" rules (which in this case are not Bible doctrines, but traditions of man).  In some groups, if you quit "babying" you may be shunned.  If you choose not to have kids at all, you definitely will be.  Some groups may not outright condemn someone who decides to stop having children, but the guilt will be implied and the "spiritual ones" who are continuing on will be "so sorry that so-and-so stopped having children; I'm afraid they will regret that someday." **Sigh**  And so-and-so feels like a miserable failure for not keeping up with the Joneses, or Bates, or Duggars, or whoever the ideal family is in their group.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

One instance of shaming I heard about happened to a lady that I know whom we will call Jenny.  I heard the story from someone else, but Jenny has lost three babies through miscarriage, as far as I know.  On one Sunday a large Quiverfull family was visiting their church and the wife and mother of this tribe got into conversation with her.  Having discovered that Jenny was a long time wife and not a mother, she began to brow beat her about their need to have children and to adopt if they couldn't have their own.  This woman, as far as I know, didn't know Jenny well, yet she took it upon herself to shame her for not being a mother and to try to compel Jenny to live by her own standards and ideals.  I will tell you who should be ashamed of herself, and it isn't Jenny!

My sister-in-law and I were at one gathering of mostly Quiverfull ladies once.  We were talking to one lady whose life revolves to a large degree around "helping" women conceive and have babies.  When we told her that neither of us had children, and indicated that we are ok with that, it was as if we had taken her power of speech away.  She obviously couldn't think of much else to say to us after that and we eventually moved on to talk others as it was an odd situation.  If childbearing was so important to her that she was incapable of talking with a couple of childless women, what does that say about her belief system?  It was sad to see that in action.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.


Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Cults also require belief of and adherence to an ideology without rightly dividing scripture, and without sound biblical reasoning.  According to one source, Nancy Campbell tells people not to "overthink" the decision to follow Quiverfull (1).  Whenever anyone tells you to make an irreversible, life changing decision that will affect you for the rest of your life without "overthinking" it, this should set off loud warning bells in your head.  We are called to a reasonable faith and service.  God never commands us to turn off our brains to follow Him.  Living by faith does not exclude critical thinking.  When someone wants us to make a decision without exercising critical thinking, they are asking us to assassinate the intellect God gave us to use, especially in discerning what His word means by what it says.

You may run into this in some Quiverfull people.  You positively cannot reason with them from scripture.  They know they are right and we are wrong, and their use of scripture will be out of context or misapplied, as we discussed before (in Part 1).  We are expected to just accept their interpretation of some O.T. passages written to Israel and agree with their applications without question.  If we don't agree, or come to a different conclusion, we are the ones with a problem.  They are often unentreatable. 

Acts 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

Note: Always beware of people who seem peaceable and gentle but are not easy to be entreated or full of mercy!


Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Finally, we see that some Quiverfull people use the typical fear tactics of the cults to instill "faithfulness" in the followers.  Fear is often part of shaming and is very similar, but they are not identical.  If you don't do as they say then you are all kinds of wicked, you will never be truly spiritual,  God won't bless you, your wife will have painful menstruation and a miserable menopause, and the kids you do have will suffer from infertility.  Furthermore, they would have us believe that since we are not doing God's "obvious and revealed" will for every believer we must be reprobate.  Be afraid, be very afraid!

Does it sound like I'm exaggerating a bit?  Here is another quote from Nancy Campbell speaking about the womb:

"The sins of the parents from past generations can bring a curse upon the womb. It can also come upon us through our own sin or negative confession. We should be careful not to speak negatively about any of our reproductive organs. Guard how you speak about menstruation. When you call it 'the curse' or other negative names, you give an opportunity for the curse of barrenness or other disorders to come to your womb. A curse on the womb can be a failure to menstruate, painful or irregular menstruation, cramps, cysts, tumors, continual miscarriage and inability to conceive--in fact, anything that affects your reproductive organs." [Source]

Negative and positive confession are a rather superstitious idea that by the words we say we can bring curses or blessings upon ourselves.  While it is true that by our words we shall be justified or condemned, Matt. 12:37, there is a strong tendency in some people to take this idea to wild and excessive extremes and to indulge in what is little more than "magic prayers" to either counteract "negative confession" (as here) or to allegedly bring down blessings through "positive confessions".  This practice is much too reminiscent of various heathen practices of breaking curses and hexes with incantations and specially formulated "prayers" or vows.
She goes on to explain that not all of these problems are always due to "negative confession" against the female reproductive organs, but they could be; and in case you ever did say anything negative, she includes a prescribed prayer you "may like to pray" in order to be released from the "curse" you got yourself under.  However, the fear tactic comes through loud and clear; and Nancy is a noted teacher of Quiverfull.

By the way, I don't believe that all the things women suffer due to our reproductive organs and hormones are "God's blessing to us" as Nancy tries to say in the article from which I quoted.  Many aspects of our present situation I believe are due to the fall and the curse of sin that is upon all creation till the redemption of the body is complete, Rom. 8:21-23.

The most vicious fear tactics are perhaps the threat of losing one's salvation or destroying one's children. I read one instance of a man who was actually saying that if Christian women refused to have babies they were refusing to do the "good works" necessary to prove their salvation and the assumption was clearly implied that they were therefore not saved.  A good number of people have taught varying degrees of the idea that if you do not follow their particular plan, you will destroy or lose your children.  This includes various Quiverfull teachers.  These are common and cruel fear tactic used to terrify people into obeying the edicts of the cult leader.

I do not claim that all Quiverfull people use the method of fear tactics, to be sure!  But, some of the definitions of what we are or what we think if we do not follow Quiverfull are actually quite extreme.  For example women may be threatened that their husbands will not desire them sexually if they have a tubal ligation because they can no longer conquer them by making them pregnant.  Another idea that some have presented is that women who use birth control are no different than harlots who are not paid!  If these extreme accusations do not indicate a cultic tendency, I frankly don't know what does!

These are things that cults tend to use to glorify themselves and force people to join their ranks

- Exclusiveness, viewing the group as the "right ones." All others are ungodly or mistaken and are to be generally avoided.
- Shunning those who have refused to join or who left the "sacred teachings."
- Special teachings or secret doctrines which we can only learn from them or which are not available from "the others."  Also secret teachings or knowledge that are not available to the uninitiated (in this case the great faith and special "blessing" of having a very large family).
- Inducing guilt and fear to secure followers and force obedience.  Threats to those who don't follow closely enough.
- Special works or external signs (in this case having large families) which identify us as one of "the sacred right ones."

When anyone uses these as part of their belief system they immediately call themselves into question.

There are many examples that could be given here of the idolatrous and cultic teachings among various leaders of the Quiverfull movement, but I do not have the time to elaborate further upon them.  Hopefully, this will give you the ability to spot these tendencies when you see or hear them, whether it be in Quiverfull or any other teaching.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

to title page.
Continue to Part 4.


(1) Page 154, Quiverfull - Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce. [Disclaimer on source who is not a Christian.]



Graphics by Mary Stephens
Vintage graphics - source unknown