Quiverfull Movement


"... thousands of mothers like them call themselves and their belief system "Quiverfull." They borrow their name from Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth..." Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement but as an army they're building for God.

"Quiverfull parents try to have upwards of six children. They home-school their families, attend fundamentalist churches and follow biblical guidelines of male headship--"Father knows best"--and female submissiveness. They refuse any attempt to regulate pregnancy. Quiverfull began with the publication of Rick and Jan Hess's 1989 book, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, which argues that God, as the "Great Physician" and sole "Birth Controller," opens and closes the womb on a case-by-case basis. Women's attempts to control their own bodies--the Lord's Temple--are a seizure of divine power...

""Family planning," Pride argues, "is the mother of abortion. A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could be popular"...

"Quiverfull's militaristic language, which describes children as weapons of spiritual war, as arrows shot out by their parents...

"...on the 2,700-family-strong online forum Quiverfull Digest (www.quiverfull.com) responded in irritation to Brooks' misunderstanding of the movement's aims. Raising a large family, she replied, was itself her "battle station," as deliberately political an act as canvassing for conservative candidates, not to mention part of a long-term plan to win the culture war "demographically"...

""The Bible says "be fruitful and multiply." That's my belief system. They don't believe in God, so they think we have to conserve what we have. But in my belief system, He's going to give us a new earth." Overpopulation isn't a problem in a universe where God promises a clean global slate...

"...most prospectives actually learn about the Quiverfull conviction through the movement's literature: Pride's and the Hesses' books, Nancy Campbells Be Fruitful and Multiply, Rachel Scott's Birthing God's Mighty Warrior or Sam and Bethany Torode's Open Embrace...

"...an out-and-out offensive against birth control as the murder-through-prevention of 3,000 lives a day and also as the future undoing of Western civilization...

"Pundits warning of a coming "demographic divide," wherein fecund red staters will far outnumber barren blue state liberals, are further ratcheting up interest in fertility politics...

"...the magical thinking that goes along with a faith strong enough to convince poor families, who are struggling to make ends meet as it is, that God will provide for them unequivocally...

"If just 8 million American Christian couples began supplying more "arrows for the war" by having six children or more, they propose, the Christian-right ranks could rise to 550 million with a century ("assuming Christ does not return before then"). They like to ponder the spiritual victory that such numbers could bring: both houses of Congress and the majority of state governor's mansions filled by Christians; universities that embrace creationism; sinful cities reclaimed for the faithful; and the swift blows dealt to companies that offend Christian sensibilities...

Thus, patriarchy, and its requirement that wives submit to their husbands, becomes a mission in itself, the inversion of a reactionary movement into a seeming revolution against modern society. As Pride writes, "Submission has a military air... When the private is committed to winning the war, and is willing to subject his personal desires to the goal of winning, and is willing to follow the leader his Commander has put over him, that army stands a good chance of winning"...

"...the statements made by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler last year, who wrote that deliberate childlessness among Christian couples is "moral rebellion" and "an absolute revolt against God's design"...

"Longman says that no society can survive to reproduce itself without following patriarchy. "As secular and libertarian elements of society fail to reproduce, people adhering to more tradition, patriarchal values inherit society by default"" (Kathryn Joyce. "The Quiverfull Conviction: Christian Mothers Breed 'Arrows for the War.'" The Nation, Nov. 27, 2006: 11-18.)


Colby Glass, MLIS