Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Culture Lesson: Quiverfull

My mom requested I cover the Quiverfull movement. So. There may be some unjournalistic bias, and if you are personally hurt, I am so very sorry. (Feel free to comment, but be mindful of the policy.)

Quiverfull A faith-based movement subscribing to Psalm 127 (see below) as a means to populate the world with God-fearin', women hatin' Christians.

I think this Bitch article defines the movement best:

The Quiverfull movement has no real founders and no established hierarchy, but it is gaining momentum just the same. It takes its name and its justification for existing from the Bible's Psalm 127: "As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath a quiver full. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." (As with many passages of scripture, there are some eyebrow-raising variations on this Psalm; for example, the New International Bible used by many evangelicals translates it to read "sons" instead of "children," and proclaims that the quiver of tykes will actually "contend with their enemies at the gate," which sounds a tad more ominous than just talking.)
That article, by the way, has been forwarded and sent to just about every quizzical eyebrow raised my way, so please, do read it.

A run down of the movement's core beliefs:

  • Reject birth control.
  • "Infertility treatments are seen as a usurpation of God's providence," so an "empty quiver" or barren uterus is God's choice. Chin up, he may miraculously intervene. (It worked for Mary's cousin, didn't it?)
  • Adoption is OK.
  • Return to Biblical Patriarchy where the mother is the homemaker, father is the head of house, and "children adhere to both."
  • Children should be "sheltered" from "aspects of culture they as parents deem adversarial to their type of conservative Christianity." (Homeschooling and no TV is fairly standard.)
  • Homesteading is heartily encouraged. (Build your own compound so that the head of the family may be head of the church.)
  • Feminism results in heathenism. (My own words.) A woman's job is to give birth and raise children, but there is no equality in the movement, and those of the movement are vocal opponents of feminism and gender equality. There is also an unsettling obsession with purity.

The most public Quiverfull family is the subject of TLC's 18 Kids and Counting. Known for their regular Today show appearance to proclaim pregnancy, Jim Bob and Michelle are expecting child No. 19, homeschooling their brood, describe themselves as "conservative Baptists," and rely on the older girls to raise the brood.

As an aside, Andrea Yates is another well known follower of the Quiverfull movement, though Michael Peter Woroniecki, the preacher she and her husband followed, has not been named as a nominal Quiverfull leader, and many families bristle at the comparison. Mark Driscoll is the least official follower—he claims gender equality in addition to his position as the leader of his own church—but told Salon he hopes to populate the Earth with Mars Hill spawn.

How many descendants can the Duggars expect with 19 children? If Rachel Krishevsky is an example, the Duggars can expect close to 3,000. Krishevsky, who died last week in Israel at 99, had 11 children and 1,400 descendants. Krishevsky has not been described as part of the movement, but her belief in being committed to God and adherence to "be fruitful and multiply" was passed to her children and grandchildren, who followed suit. Surely the Duggars, their charmingly robotic offspring, and other families will leave a similar legacy.

Multiply & Conquer, Bitch
Arrows for the War, The Nation (do be sure to read this too)
Quiverfull: More Children For God's Army, RH Reality Check
Israeli woman dies, had 1,400 descendants, UPI
Life with with "Quiverfull" Family, photographer Rick Wilking for Reuters blogs
Come as you are, Salon (Mars Hill Church)
Duggar family Web site
Quiverfull Wikipedia article
All God's children, Salon
No Longer Quivering, written by ex-Quiverfull(s)

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