Quiverfull is a relatively recent natalistic movement among conservative evangelical Protestant Christian couples, chiefly in the United States, who believe children should be eagerly accepted as blessings from God. The movement eschews all forms of contraception, including natural family planning and sterilization. Someone of this persuasion might call themselves a "quiver full," "full quiver," "quiverfull-minded," or simply “QF” Christian. Roman Catholics and some others might refer to the Quiverfull position as Providentialism. Others might refer to Quiverfull as simply natalism.
Some of the beliefs held among Quiverfull adherents have been held among various Christians during prior eras of history. Initially, all Christian movements opposed the use of birth control. As birth control methods advanced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most Christian movements issued official statements against their use. Then in 1930 the Anglican Church issued a statement permitting birth control "when there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence." Coinciding, a feminist movement which began about a decade earlier under American Birth Control League (which eventually became Planned Parenthood) founder Margaret Sanger emerged to welcome modern birth control as an important tool to improve the lives, health, and self-empowerment levels of women. In the decades that followed, birth control became gradually accepted among Protestants, even among the most conservative evangelicals, however was rejected by the Catholic Church and the Amish.
It was within that context that Quiverfull as a modern Christian movement began to emerge. The movement was sparked after the 1985 publication of Mary Pride’s book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality. In her book, Pride chronicled her journey away from feminist and anti-natalist ideas of happiness, within which she had lived as an activist before her Christian conversion in 1977, toward her discovery of happiness surrounding what she felt was the Biblically mandated role of wives and mothers as bearers of children and workers in the home under the authority of their husband. Pride argued that such a lifestyle was Biblically required of all married Christian women but that most Christian women had been duped by feminism, including in their acceptance of birth control.
As the basis for her arguments, Pride selected numerous Bible verses to lay out what she felt was the Biblical role of women. These included verses she saw as containing her ideas of childbearing and non-usage of birth control, which she argued were diametrically opposed to what she called "the feminist agenda" by which she had formerly lived. Her explanations became the basis of Quiverfull theology or philosophy. The name of the Quiverfull movement comes from the Old Testament Bible verses in Psalm 127:3-5 that Pride cited in her book.
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 (emphasis added). </cite> KJV
After the publication of Pride’s The Way Home, various church women took up her book and ideas and spread them through informal social networks. Around this time, numerous church pastors issued sermons in accord with Pride's ideas and various small publications and a few Quiverfull-oriented books emerged. As the Internet blossomed onto the scene several years later, the informal networks gradually took on more organized forms and Pride's ideas gained wider proliferation. Numerous Quiverfull-oriented organizations, books, digests, listserves, and websites followed that reiterated and expanded upon Pride's ideas. The largely decentralized "Quiverfull" movement resulted.
From their onset, Quiverfull ideas have often had a rather polarizing effect between Christians who hold Pride's ideas as correct Biblical interpretations and those who are skeptical of or disagree with them.
To date, no research exists to indicate how many Quiverfull adherents exist.
All Quiverfull adherents agree that God's normative ideal for happy, healthy and prosperous married couples is to take no voluntary actions to prevent having children. Quiverfull theology holds the Genesis creation and post-Noahic flood Bible passages to "be fruitful and multiply" (see Genesis 1:22; 9:7) as commandments currently in force. It considers children to be unqualified blessings, gifts which should be received happily from God. Quiverfull authors Rick and Jan Hess argued for this belief in their 1990 book.
"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord." (Psa. 127:3) Do we really believe that? If children are a gift from God, let’s for the sake of argument ask ourselves what other gift or blessing from God we would reject. Money? Would we reject great wealth if God gave it? Not likely! How about good health? Many would say that a man’s health is his most treasured possession. But children? Even children given by God? "That’s different!" some will plead! All right, is it different? God states right here in no-nonsense language that children are gifts. Do we believe His Word to be true?
Quiverfull adherents such as the Hess's extend this idea to mean that if one child is a blessing, then each additional child is likewise a blessing and not something to be viewed as economically burdensome or not affordable. When a couple seeks to control family size via birth control they are thus "rejecting God's blessings" he might otherwise give, as well as breaking his commandment to "be fruitful and multiply".
Accordingly, Quiverfull theology opposes the general acceptance among Protestant Christians of deliberately limiting family size or spacing children through use of birth control. Adherents believe that God himself controls via Providence how many and how often children are conceived and born, pointing to Bible verses that describe God acting to "open and close the womb" (see Genesis 20:18, 29:31, 30:21; 1 Samuel 1:5-6; Job 38:8; Isaiah 66:9). As Hess and Hess (1990) state, couples "just need to trust God to provide them with the perfect number of children for their situation." Quiverfull advocates such as Hess and Hess, Nancy Leigh DeMoss (2002), and Rachel Giove Scott (2004), believe that the Devil deceives Christian couples into using birth control so that children God otherwise willed to create are prevented from being born.
A minority of Quiverfull adherents, such as represented by Samuel Owen (1990), consider that there may be aspects of a fallen universe that sometimes justify an option to use a non-potentially abortive birth control method. Example situations include serious illnesses, inevitable Caesarian sections, and other problematic situations such as disabling mental instability and serious marital disharmony. Owen (1990) additionally argues that birth control may be permissable for married couples called to a "higher moral purpose" than having children, such as caring long-term for many orphans or serving as career missionaries in a dangerous location. However, this view is outside of the mainstream Quiverfull view that it is solely God’s prerogative to "open and close" the womb.
Despite some variance in beliefs, groups of Quiverfull adherents can exhibit a cult-like "groupthink" and often contain self-appointed "mindguards" who attempt to shield members from dissenting viewpoints.
The key practice of a Quiverfull married couple is to not use any form of birth control and to maintain continual "openness to children", to the possibility of conception, during routine sexual intercourse irrespective of timing of the month during the ovulation cycle. This is considered by Quiverfull adherents to be a central part of their Christian calling in submission to the lordship of Christ.
A healthy young Quiverfull couple might thereby have a baby every two years, meaning that as many as 10 children or more might be born during a couple's fertile years. In reality, however, most Quiverfull families do not become that large because general health problems or infertility may intervene, or the couple may have married later in life, or the decision to stop using birth control may have come later in the marriage. Quiverfull adherents advocate for child spacing through breastfeeding, so return of fertility after childbirth could be delayed by lactational amenorrhea, though the method is not certain.
Quiverfull authors advocate for Biblical Patriarchy and for adherents to protect their children from culture, which it deems adversarial to Christianity. Quverfull mothers are inclined to be homemakers who homeschool their children under the authority of their husband. However, these are more correlates to Quiverfull practices than integral parts of them.
Confusion with Roman Catholicism Edit
Both Roman Catholic and Quiverfull theology interpret Genesis creation and post-Noahic flood passages to "be fruitful and multiply" (see Genesis 1:22; 9:7) as commandments rather than only actions that result in blessings. They both consider childbearing both a duty and blessing of marriage, and extoll the blessedness and beneficial results of having children.
However, Roman Catholic theology emphasizes the relationship between sexual intercourse and fertility, rather than children per se, as part of the natural law of God, and considers artificial interference with fertility such as barriers or hormones to be a grave sin. While frivolous or materialistic reasons for avoiding children are seen as immoral, the Roman Catholic Church does permit natural family planning (NFP) for grave reasons (although the translation of the word grave is sometimes debated). Use of NFP to avoid pregnancy may be actively promoted in extreme circumstances such as serious health problems, dire poverty, and active persecution.
In contrast, the Quiverfull position emphasizes the continual role of Providence in controlling whether or not a woman conceives due to God "opening and closing the womb", and considers childbearing an aspect of marriage which should normally not be avoided. The movement views all contraceptive methods as alike in simply furthering such avoidance. The principle is that one should not try to avoid conception in the first place, so the qualities of one contraceptive method versus another are irrelevant, except as regards potentially abortive birth control methods such as IUDs and oral contraceptives.
Confusion arises when Roman Catholics adopt the Quiverfull label without understanding the distinctions.
- Campbell, Nancy. Be Fruitful and Multiply. Vision Forum, San Antonio, TX: 2003. ISBN 097241735
- Hess, Rick and Jan. A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ. Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, Brentwood, TN: 1990. ISBN 0943497833
- Owen, Jr., Samuel A. Letting God Plan Your Family. Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL: 1990. ISBN 0891075852
- Pride, Mary. The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality. Good News Pub, Wheaton, IL: 1985. ISBN 0891073450
- Provan, Charles D. The Bible and Birth Control. Zimmer Printing, Monongahela, PA: 1989. ISBN 9991799834
- Scott, Rachel. Birthing God's Mighty Warriors. Xulon Press, Longwood, FL: 2004. ISBN 1594674655
That contain a Quiverfull position Edit
- DeMoss, Nancy Leigh. Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free. Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL: 2002. ISBN 0802472966
- Farris, Vickie. A Mom Just Like You. B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN: 2002. ISBN 0805425861
- AboveRubies.org - Magazine published by Quiverfull author Nancy Campbell
- The Mother's Companion - Magazine published by a Quiverfull family that contains articles on the subject
- "Birth Control" by Full Quiver Mission
- Excerpts from the Foreword to Be Fruitful and Multiply by Nancy Campbell
- "How We Became Quiverfull-Minded (QF)" Carla Schneider
- "The Case Against Birth Control" by Nate Wilson
- "The Value of Children: The Blessings of a Full Quiver" by David Crank
- "Quiverfull" by Elizabeth
- "Quiverfull Response Letter" by Pete and Corrine Kligmann
- Transcripts of the August 26, 2002, and August 27, 2002, Revive our Hearts radio broadcast with Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- "What Does it Mean to be 'Quiverfull'?" by Jeff and Ann Nelson
- "What is Quiverfull?" by LotsofKids.com
- "What is Quiver-full / Full-Quiver?"
- "When Your Quiver Overflows" by Stacy McDonald
- "Who is in Control? Trusting God for His Perfect Plan for Our Lives" by Archer Ministries
User groups, forums, blogs, other conversationsEdit
Forums (Message boards)Edit
- Christian Moms of Many Blessings (Children) Forums - registration required to view
- Forum thread at ChristianHomeschoolFellowhip.com Forums
- Forum thread at Crosswalk.com Forums
- Forum thread at Heart of Wisdom Forum
- Forum thread at Midwifery Today Forums
- Forum thread at Mothering.com Forums
- Forum thread at WomenOfFaith.com Forums
- FullQuiverMission.com Forums
- Quiverfull Forums at PatriarchsPath.org Forums
- Ever Growing Quiverfull to the Full! - Xanga.com blog ring
- "Quiverfull?" - blog discussion about Catholic Natural Family Planning vs. Quiverfull
- The Full-Quiver Homeschool House Blog
- "Quiverfull Responses to Frequently Asked Questions and Common Objections" by Matt Colvin
Criticisms of QuiverfullEdit
- Quiverfull Daughters: Little Mothers, Little Sisters by Hillary McFarland
- Quiverfull Daughters: The Aching of Esau by Hillary McFarland
- "Confessions of a Full Quiver 'Victim'"
- "'Full-Quiver' Theology Appeals to Race" by Miguel De La Torre (EthicsDaily.com)
- "'Full-Quiver' Baptists Say No to Contraception" by Bob Allen (EthicsDaily.com)
- "Justification by Wombs...?" by Molly Alley
- "Not Trusting God?" by Jeremy Pierce
- "Parableman on Quiver Full 'Theology'" by Jeremy Pierce
- "Quiverfull According to Psalm 127" by Molly Alley
- "Quiverfull Schmiverful"
- "The Bible and Family Planning" by James B. Jordan - Article begins on page 4 of source
- From Democratic Underground Forums - includes material from Quiverfull e-mail discussions
See also Edit
- Biblical Patriarchy
- Christian views on contraception
- Men's movement
- Patriarch magazines
- Prairie Muffins
- DINK: acronym Double Income, No Kids