Now that I've outfitted my email inbox and comment sections with Kevlar vests, I thought it might be time to present my thoughts on the Quiverfull movement and concept.
I suspect most of the readers here are fully aware of Quiverfull and it's meaning, but for those who aren't...Quiverfull is based on Psalm 127:3-5 (which we'll dive into in a bit). It's the belief that birth control is wrong, even sinful, as God alone controls the womb, opening and closing it as he sees fit, and couples should accept as many children as God gives them because they're blessings. Attempting to control family size is seen as a lack of faith that God will provide for the material, emotional, and medical needs of as many children as he blesses you with. Ironically, the only part of this belief that fits Psalm 127:3-5 is the idea that children are a blessing. None of the rest of these ideas are mentioned in that passage, or any other, but instead are the commandments and ideas of men and men alone. Men with sociopolitical agendas. Men who are making a lot of money from the sale and promotion of these ideas.
Now, lets look at Psalm 127:3-5...
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
If you'll look literally at what's being said there (and those who follow this kind of fundamentalist movement prefer literal interpretation if asked), it's speaking in a militant, confrontational, and adversarial context. It was written in a time and to an audience that, although under monarchy, was still largely tribal in nature, and it's speaking of children as weapons of warfare in one's personal army, which often they were. Yes, it's very clear that children are a blessing, but it's speaking in the context of having plenty of children for personal soldiers when one's enemy or enemies attempt to make trouble.
If you'll examine the passage closely, nowhere, I repeat: NOWHERE, do you see any mention of birth control, any discussion of what constitutes "faith" with regard to family size (in fact, it would seem to be suggesting a scenario where faith is put in human numbers), it says absolutely nothing about God's control, or lack thereof, of the womb, nor does it give any specific indication of quiver size, what specific amount constitutes "full", what specific amount constitutes "blessing", or when one has delved into gluttony, as one can with any blessing.
There are many things in the bible that are mentioned as blessings. Why aren't entire lifestyles built around those things? Food, for instance, is very much a blessing - but gluttony is sinful. As to the idea that God is in control of the womb, if one's faith was TRULY in God, one would realize that God could work around birth control as if it were the French army. If God has already determined FOR you how many children you're gonna have, do you think a little pill or a piece of latex can stop God? Doesn't this belief ultimately render God far less than sovereign, particularly given that most who practice it are of the reformed faith?
Do I demonstrate a lack of faith by driving my car? I mean, if God controls the womb, he'd have to control transportation and everything else, too, right? And, there are instances in the bible of God supernaturally transporting people where He wants them (Elijah and Philip the evangelist come to mind). So why am I taking it upon myself to get where I want to go and failing to trust God? The thing is, I'm not interested in debating whether or not God controls the womb (I'll even concede the issue without a fight), because to even get there you have to skip the fact that people control the sex.
A good wife is a blessing, biblically. Does that mean I can have a quiver full of them? I mean, the guy who wrote Psalm 127 had a thousand of them! A thousand! "Yo Solomon...Go boy!!!" Right? Easy for him to have a quiver full. If he were to dedicate one day to each wife for intimate relations, it would take him over 2 and 1/2 years to make the rounds - and he'd need lots of Red Bull and an extended vacation when he was done. Ironically, his "blessing" eventually led him away from the Lord and into blatant idolatry.
So, biblically, the ideas behind Quiverfull aren't really supported...at all...and as I said before, they're the ideas and commandments of men speaking where the bible doesn't.
In the earlier stages of our relationship, when things were taking a more serious turn and an eventual marriage began to look more like a probability, my ex and I had this exchange...
Her: How many kids do you want?
Me: Hmmm. I've always thought 4 was a nice round number. Ideally 2 boys and 2 girls.
Her: Ohh, ummm, ok. (I could hear disappointment)
Me: How about you?
Her: I've always wanted a large family.
Me: (with growing concern) Define "large", please.
Her: 10 or 12 or more.
Me: (as spittle makes it's way down the wrong pipe) *cough*...ummm...*cough* *snort*...Just how many jobs do you want me workin'?
Her: Well, I've always believed that God controls the womb.
Me: Why do you believe that?
Her: Well, I believe that birth control is a form of abortion.
Me: Why do you believe that?
She couldn't answer those questions because she wasn't aware of the answer: Indoctrination. These ideas had been drilled into her head her entire life, presented, wrongly, as biblical commands, and she had no choice but to accept and believe them or be labeled "rebellious". This is a sad, sad testament and heritage that's being left to the second generation of this movement. Their parents had a choice to follow these extra-biblical beliefs. The children don't, and shame on the parents who are force-feeding these commandments of men on their children on the level of "thus saith the Lord." As my friend Hillary McFarland said recently, "Why is it sometimes easier to trust God with an open womb than with our adult Christian daughters?"
I touched earlier on the militant, combative context of Psalm 127:3-5. If you'll look at the sociopolitical agendas of the proponents of Quiverfull, and it's kissing cousins, I think you'll see that it fits. 200 year plans, political involvement, isolationism, persecution complex. It all fits. The men at the forefront are fighting a culture war. They share a common enemy with Communism and radical Islam: 20th and 21st century western society. They hope to eventually choke out the enemy by sheer force of numbers. Faith in the strength of human numbers is dangerous. Just ask King David, and the thousands of Israelites who died because of his census.
For those who have large families by choice, able to care for them and meet the needs of the children, without older children being forced to become defacto moms and dads and forced to help financially sustain the household...more power to ya.
For those who have mega families according to "biblical command"...make sure that you haven't accepted the words and commandments of men as the words and commandments of God, as I unequivocally believe you have. The difference could determine the quality of life, and quality of relationship with the Lord, of your children.