Why We Are not Quiverfull

by Mary Stephens
September 2016

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

Reasons We Do Not Follow Quiverfull - Part 5
Points 7-9


7.  Quiverfull can cause suffering of the women and children.

We have already covered quite a bit on the subject of the suffering of the women and children in Quiverfull (see Part 4, especially), but due to seriousness of this issue, I wanted to mention it as a separate point. 

Ever since the fall of man in the garden of Eden Satan has targeted women and children for some reason.  My theory is that it is because God told him that the seed of the woman would crush his head.

Genesis 3:14-15 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

It also could be in part because women and children are physically weaker than men in general and the devil tends to attack the weaker.  It also may be partly because the men should be the defenders and helpers of the weaker ones and so inspiring them to hurt instead makes a mockery of their manliness and in some way perhaps Satan uses it to accuse men before God.  We know that he is the accuser of men from Job 1:6-12 and Revelation 12:10.  What better way to bring accusation against them than to inspire Christian men to abuse their strength by abusing those they should be protecting or supporting?

There are a number of aspects of the Quiverfull belief system that can and do lead to suffering for those who follow it.  The men suffer in some ways due to the heavy load of responsibility and needs that they have taken upon themselves, but the women and children usually suffer more, if for no other reason than that they usually have no real choice in the matter.  The wives are obligated in most Quiverfull environments to submit to their husband's desire to have many children, and the children obviously have no choice until they are old enough to leave home and fend for themselves.  The daughters in particular are put under similar obligations of submission as the wives to stay home and act as free workers even when they are old enough to leave.

Limited finances can lead to the lack of material needs - clothing, food, appropriate shelter, appropriate education, proper sanitation, etc.  Lack of these things can also lead to low nutrition and poor health, which can be complicated by the lack of medical help.  All of this together can result in lack of emotional and mental health. And while the father is working extremely hard to provide and the mother is working (probably even harder) to keep up with all the rest, spiritual leadership and guidance can run low as well.  In short, it can snowball into a lot of suffering for those involved.

Now, I realize that the expectations of modern Western culture are rather high, in many cases much too high.  We can get along with a lot less than what the so-call civilized world thinks they need to do "well" these days.  But, the thing is that in many cases we are not talking about people living in some remote part of Bangladesh or Brazil.  We are not talking about people living 200 years ago on the frontier.  By the way, it's easy for comfortable people in prosperous, modern places to say that people in those places "get along just fine" with their significant limitations when they have never been there to see how "fine" they are getting along.  (If you want a better knowledge of how people suffer when they lack these things I recommend you read the Jungle Doctor books.  They are a real eye-opener as to how "fine" life was for people in East Africa back in the days when they lacked a lot of these things.)

But what we are talking about is people who are living in North America, Australia, and Britain; perhaps people in parts of Europe.  We're talking about people who suffer real poverty in their efforts try to achieve the ideals of "Quiverfull" - which we have already seen is not a God-mandated lifestyle.  We're talking about families of 15 people living in a run down 2-3 bedroom house in the woods with sketchy plumbing, few schooling materials, low quality food, no heat, and who are struggling to raise a few weary chickens and a questionable garden - not because they really need to be poor but because they think they need to "trust God with their family" and keep having children when they can't afford to properly feed and clothe the ones they have!  We are talking about families of 11 living in a medium sized motorhome (caravan) behind some church building because the dad's intended "ministry" flopped and he doesn't know how to go to work and support his family properly, but they are stubbornly "trusting God with their family"!  Then there is the problem of a father who believes he has to be self-employed in order to be separate from the world and because he is obligated to start some business that he imagines his family will be able to keep going for generations to come, and you have a pretty sad mess.

Not everyone can handle raising their own food and living off the land.  It is A LOT of hard work.  Just ask anyone who comes from a long family history of farming.  Furthermore, it is not commanded in scripture.  There are a number of different occupations among the New Testament believers, and I honestly can't remember any that were said to be "self-sufficient farmers".  Funny that. 

Not all men have what it takes to be successfully self-employed either.  That takes a lot of self-discipline and a lot of hard work to support a family of even modest size.  I know this because my own dad was self-employed and supporting just six was a real challenge for him - that is six total, not six children, to be clear.  Trying to live some fantasy of "godliness" often does result in misery for the families of those involved, and Quiverfull is no exception.

The suffering caused by the lack of emotional health is a serious problem.  Women who are obligated to keep having babies in order to be "godly" are put under a terrible strain.  Since "children are a blessing" it would be "sin" for them to grow tired of having them or to be overwhelmed by their growing family.  Mothers can have these problems anyway, but when it becomes the measure of their spirituality and is combined with an abundance of children, this can lead to serious mental illness.  It can lead to abuse of the children and even further suffering if they are denied the right to seek help for the problem because "it's a sin for Christians to be depressed." 

In some Quiverfull circles natural home births are encouraged, which is another whole kettle of fish - a sticky one at that.  I know - natural home births are "wonderful" and "how God meant us to have children" and people who support it unequivocally can give you a string of reasons why it is "so important" to do it that way.  Well, I'm not going to get into the debate about home births here, but this aspect of Quiverfull can add immeasurably to the suffering of women, especially where it is pushed vigorously.  (Did you know there are clinics and whole organizations dedicated to helping with obstetric fistulas in some parts of the world where home births with little or no assistance are common?  Just one example: Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.)  And, just to be clear, things do happen here.  I know of five women who suffered serious problems from their home births, one of them being a mentally damaged child who was born with the umbilical cord around his neck when the mid-wife didn't notice it in time.

As we discussed in Part 4, women's bodies wear out from having numerous children and they sometimes develop health problems and even die young from overworking their bodies.  Sometimes a woman's body will repeatedly conceive and miscarry children because she is no longer able to carry them to birth.  This results in grief for the mother (and sometimes the rest of the family) and pain for both the mother and the baby - pain that did not need to happen!  Dangerous pregnancies are, of course, also an issue.  Preeclampsia can become part of the issue for some women, and yet the couples will still press forward in their "God-given duty" to have many "arrows" (babies) "for the Lord."

Of course, children suffer because of all of these things in one way or another.  The issue that has perhaps generated the most concern for the children of very large families, though is the various aspects of how their service becomes essential in the homes.  I think most of us have no problem at all with children helping in their homes in a general way.  From my own experiences it is a way to learn to serve and care for others.  But, my siblings and I were not not subjected to the kinds of needs and demands under which some children and young adults in Quiverfull live.  We already discussed problems and abuses with the "buddy system" when we talked about poor parenting.  We saw how an older sibling is responsible for one or more younger siblings and actually is the main authority in the younger one's life.  The authority and responsibility that this forces on the older one is sometimes beyond all reason, and the younger ones miss having a proper relationship with their parents and may be mistreated or over-parented by their "buddy".

There are stories of girls being given babies to care for and attend to with all the accompanying difficulties that one usually hears about from the mothers of small babies - sleepless nights, mid-night feedings, changing all the diapers, etc.  If the mother was ill this would be more understandable, but often it appears to be either purely selfish or because the mother is literally worn out with having babies but won't stop.

I've personally seen an older sister spanking and disciplining her younger siblings when her mother was there and perfectly capable but didn't want to be bothered, explaining to us, "She's better at disciplining than I am."  The problem was that the older sister, being 12 or younger, was not mature enough to know what she was doing and why or to love and admonish her younger siblings like she should have.  Spanking without instruction or compassion is pretty much a waste of time.  If kids aren't instructed as to what and why, they aren't going to learn to self-discipline, they are only going to become fearful or resentful.

 In an interview with Jinger and Jana Duggar one interviewer asked the two girls what the difference was between being a sister and now being aunts.  Jinger's answer was sadly telling.  She said, "I think the fun thing is, like, being aunt, like, you can just spend time with them and then, like, pass them back to your sister when they're, like,  super fussy and stuff.  We try to, you know, help out. But, that's kind of fun to spoil 'em and, yeah, there's precious memories that we're getting to build and watch them grow."  [Source of video.]  This was sad to me because she's clearly admitting that as a sister she did not have the option of handing a super fussy baby sibling back to their mom to take care of.  My own two youngest siblings are 10 and 12 years younger than me and I did help my mom out some (not much compared to most Quiverfull older sisters), but she would not have expected me to take care of them when they were "super fussy" unless she was completely tied up in something that she couldn't stop at the moment or let me do (something like cooking jam when it's at the crucial point and can't be left).  While I have no problem with older sibling being taught to change diapers, my mom tried not to overburden me with that task either as she knew it would tend to provoke me to wrath.  In fact, I think that was part of the reason that she did not put a lot of the typical "buddy system" chores on me and my brother who was 3 years younger.  She knew it was her responsibility first of all (which she said to me herself), and secondly she knew we would be tempted to have a bad attitude toward our parents and/or younger siblings.

I probably don't need to mention that attitude towards parents and younger siblings can be a problem for kids brought up with large Quiverfull families.  Also, the younger children can have serious attitude problems due to their parents' "delegating responsibility" of them to their older siblings.  There are all kinds of excuses for why it is ok for them to run their families this way, but even when it appears to work out well, there are underlying problems that we often know nothing about unless someone speaks up, and then they are often discredited by the "good kids" and parents as "having a rebellious spirit." 

I know of more than one very large family where the parents have a number of grown children who are old enough to be married and yet those parents may see one or two kids married and only have a couple of grandkids.  I know one young lady who grew up in this type of family who said that she only wanted one child after all the years of mothering her own siblings.  She has not had any children.  Some either do not want to get married, or their parents actually discourage them in order to keep their free nanny system in place.

It also is not uncommon for the quietest and least rambunctious children in such homes to be ignored or lost in the shuffle.  I realize that kids in smaller families sometimes have the same complaint - that they were forgotten by their parents.  Sometimes this is true and sometimes it is not.  In super sized families the excuse that they have lots of siblings to step in for Mom and Dad doesn't make it ok.  When there are too many kids for the parents to have good relationships with each one, the parents have gone beyond their appropriate measure.

These things do cause emotional scars and battles that are not necessary.  They lead to internal suffering that sometimes lasts a lifetime and outweighs all the benefits, real or imagined, of being from a large family.

Luke 7:22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached

Jesus Christ came to this world to relieve the suffering of mankind.  When a belief system tends to increase suffering, and not for the Gospel's sake, it should be questioned.  It should be for the glory of God when we suffer, or for the word of God and testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the i sle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:20-21 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

I know some people will try to claim that having a large family is suffering for the Lord or at least that they are learning to live better, more righteous, less selfish lives because of it.  The problem is that we are not called to make our own trials to cause us to grow in Christ.  The Lord is supposed to bring those things into our lives.  When we willfully cause trying situations for ourselves and our families, that smacks more of monasticism - of creating ways to suffer in order to create our own "holiness".  We already saw that Quiverfull is not a biblical command, so to claim that the Lord is putting them in the situation is presumptuous.  It is certainly not suffering for the Gospel's sake.

This brings us to a point that I have considered including because it appears to me that it is an issue.

8. Quiverfull may be another gospel.

Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

This is a very serious matter.  To preach another gospel than what has been given to us through the revelation of scripture makes one worthy of being accursed.  The implication seems to be that they are not saved, but are lost.  And, no surprise if they are preaching another gospel.  They could not be saved.

The problem that comes in here with Quiverfull is that from what some people teach about it, it begins to sound like having children - "godly seed" - is one way to fill the church with "good Christians".  Based on things we have discussed before (Part 1 particularly), the case might be built against some Quiverfull people as they are teaching of the building up of Christ's body, the church, through physical birth rather than spiritual birth.  Is this not another gospel?  It is not the gospel of our salvation - of faith in Jesus Christ and salvation by grace. 

Furthermore, if women who do not have children cannot be saved, as was implicated by one writer I previously mentioned (Part 3), then it is indeed another gospel.  When there is anything we can do or must do to be saved other than repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21), it is not the Gospel of God that was preached to us through scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Satan has many primrose paths that look "good and godly" at the beginning, but which lead to destruction in the end.  For those who make Quiverfull part of their salvation or a means of securing new "Christians" for the body of Christ, they are coming very near to being accursed. And some likely are accursed.  I do not say that all Quiverfull people believe this way by any means.  But, it is there. 

A friend of mine, who we will call Ann, was discussing the subject of having children with a friend who was heavily influenced by a Quiverfull environment.  Ann said something relating to children becoming Christians when they grow up or asked some related question.  Her friend said, "Our children will be Christians because my husband and I are Christians."  That is inherited salvation that comes through the flesh and not from the Spirit of God, dear reader!  Ann pointed out to this young mother that there are numerous examples that they both knew of where Christians parents had kids that rejected the Gospel.  It took her friend off guard, and I hope very much that it caused her to do some serious thinking and self-examination.  This error is out there.  There are people who believe it, and for some it is connected to their Quiverfull belief system.

Romans 10:8-10 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

9. Quiverfull appears to have connections with white supremacy.

Colossians 3:9-11 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

My last point is admittedly somewhat weak.  Although claims have been made in various quarters, it may be a little difficult to make an absolutely direct connection between racism and Quiverfull in most instances, but there is at least some underlying connection.  Most significant to me is the fact that Quiverfull is admittedly connected with Reconstructionism and Christian Patriarchy, both of which are more or less directly descended from the teachings of Rousas Rushdoony and R. L. Dabney.  Both of these men were racists and incorporated their racism into their teachings, Dabney very heavily.  In fact, Chalcedon.edu, which promotes theonomy and "Christian Reconstructionsim" makes a point of preserving and spreading the teaching of Rousas Rushdoony.  They also encourage a Quiverfull view of the family.

I think that one quote from the writings of Rushdoony should suffice to make the point that his views were racist and that he was elementally a white supremacist.  This is from Rushdoony's book The Institutes of Biblical Law:

"The white man has behind him centuries of Christian culture and the discipline and the selective breeding this faith requires… The Negro is a product of a radically different past, and his [genetic] heredity has been governed by radically different considerations.

"Unequal yoking plainly means mixed marriages between believers and unbelievers is clearly forbidden. But Deuteronomy 22:10 not only forbids unequal yoking by inference, and as a case law, but also unequal yoking generally. This means that an unequal marriage between believers or between unbelievers is wrong… The burden of the law is thus against inter-religious, inter-racial, and inter-cultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish.

"Hybridization seeks to improve on God’s work by attempting to gain the best qualities of two diverse things; there is no question that some hybrids do show certain advantageous qualities, but there is also no question that it comes at a price, bringing some serious disadvantages.
Every social order institutes its own program of separation or segregation… Segregation, separation, or quarantine, whichever name is used, is inescapable in any society."

[Source.  If you wish to read more about the connections between Reconstructionism and white supremacy, you might read the whole article there.  I have to put a strong disclaimer on some of this writer's other views, but due to his experience as an attorney who grew up and was educated in that mindset, he pulls the information together in what I thought a very useful way.  There may be some "language".]

In case you missed it, Mr. Rushdoony is basically saying that the white man is superior to the black man because he has had the Gospel longer and therefore is purer in his heritage.  This is loathsome to say the very least! 

Furthermore, since the Ethiopian eunuch took the gospel home with him to Ethiopia at a very early date (Acts 8:27-39), it is rather presumptuous to say that the white man had the allegedly genetically purifying effects of the Gospel before the blacks did, considering that the white Anglo Saxons apparently did not receive the Gospel till much later.

Even more interesting perhaps is the fact that one of the prophets and teachers at the church in Antioch in the book of Acts was likely a black man, and he was part of the group of men that were instructed to send out Barnabas and Saul (later Paul) for the missionary work that God had for them.

Acts 13:1-3 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Simeon was called "Niger" and niger is the Latin word for "black".  From all appearances, Paul had a black prophet or teacher on his "ordination committee".  (Oh, I just love how God does stuff like that to make the foolishness of men apparent!)

Getting back to the Quiverfull connection, though; we have already noted that Quiverfull is strongly influenced by the idea that we need to "take over America and the world for Jesus".  You may remember the quotation from the Chalcedon web page that I used in Part 1 regarding how it is their duty to bring every facet of life, both sacred and secular, under the dominion of Christ (meaning their dominion since they are the wise ones who know what Christ's dominion for mankind entails).  Chalcedon also promotes the typical Quiverfull views of Psalm 127 and the need to expect children as a reward and blessing from God. 

Doug Phillips and others in the Christian Patriarchy movement at large encourage large families and various degrees of Quiverfull beliefs.  They also embrace men like Dabney and Rushdoony who boldly declared that the white man was superior to women and blacks and should have dominion over both (see article referenced above for further details).  When it comes down to the plain bald facts, we cannot divorce the racism of these people from their Quiverfull notions.  The need to people the U.S. with lots of white American Christians who believe that they are taking dominion for Jesus is unavoidable in the end.

I realize that there are probably quite a few Quiverfull people who did not realize that these things all go together.  Some will point to the few black families and even speakers who represent the Quiverfull lifestyle.  Please note that I said "the FEW black families", because there is not a large group of them.

And all of this walks hand-in-hand with Quiverfull.  Though not always directly connected, it is impossible to separate.  In places where there is fear that the white Christians will be outnumbered by other races and religions, I dare say that the racist tendencies are more pronounced in the need to have unlimited (white) families. 

I can't think of better verse than this to conclude this point:

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?



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Graphics by Mary Stephens
Vintage graphic - original graphic: thegraphicsfairy.com Edited by Mary Stephens.