Article: “How Full Is Your Quiver?”

The mainstream media seems to be catching onto the “quiverfull” movement. An Internet article on Newsweek Online features a family from San Antonio who recently acquired The Bortels affirm the idea that families are increasingly surrendering the reproductive side of their lives to God, and they are enjoying the fruits of its obedience. (Read “How Full Is Your Quiver?” here.)

I suspect, though, that Newsweek and MSNBC miss the mark by inserting hotly sensitive words into the context of explaining the quiverfull movement. The article claims quiverfull families are “purists.” They define purists as those who purify themselves from any form of birth control. I suppose we are purists, then, if this is how Newsweek defines it. However, “purists” have a negative religious connotation that does not sit with how the Jeubs view family and children. “Purists” seek to cleanse every questionable area of sin from their lives, usually with the erroneous understanding that we can somehow attain perfection in this world. This dysfunctional view of self as we relate to God has historically led to phariseeism, witch hunts and disappointing hypocrisy.

The article also claims that quiverfull evangelicals are in reality turning into Catholics. “What quiverfull looks like is a group of Protestants who are more Catholic than Catholics.” The article also seeks the commentary from a sociologist who claims that the only functional use of children existed in the past when they were “helpful economically, but today, they become a disadvantage, especially to younger kids who don’t get as many resources.” Trying to boil our convictions down to dogmatic and economic equations misses the mark of what quiverfull families truly believe.

While we can’t speak for every large family, we believe the mark of our life to be quite simple and liberating. Instead of viewing children as an economic burden, we see them as blessings from God. Having children isn’t a method of “purification”; it is an enlightenment of children as gifts, a realization that is often in opposition to the view that children are a disadvantage. The title of the article, “How Full Is Your Quiver?”, suggests that this liberating understanding is really some sort of contest, a works-based race toward who can have the most kids. “Quiverfull” means simply that we will take God’s gifts as God gives them. The “full” in the quiver is entirely relative. A family with one child can be just as quiverfull-minded as a family with 13. The number isn’t where the “purification” is; it is in the obedience and love we have for our God and the plan He has for our lives.

In defense of the article, though, it is nice that the mainstream media is recognizing the quiverfull movement. We wrestle with the stereotypes of radical fundamentalism all the time, but it isn’t surprising that popularists misunderstand the love of Christ and the liberating freedom of allowing Christ to fill your quiver. The article claims that the “quiverfull movement is absolutist,” but that hangs on what is meant by “absolutist.” If this means that we look forward to a growing love for God (which includes his plan for our lives) and a growing love for each other (which includes the children we are given), then yes, I guess the Jeub Family are a bunch of absolutists.

Those who live the quiverfull life understand what I’m saying. Imagine loving your spouse without worrying how pregnancy will “disrupt” your plans. Imagine a faith in God that looks forward to the exciting plan God has for you rather than a faith that requires you to develop a religion that fits your man-made plan. Imagine your family experiencing the fruitful and joyful love for each other believing everyone is a gift to this world. This is the quiverfull mindset, and it is a freeing and exciting way to live.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Charlotte

    Wonderful article! I caim upon your site through a link after finding large family logistics. We were “enlightened” a short time after that. My husband and I are fullfilled to overflowing with our three sons, and “wait hopefully and expectantly” for more. Your site has as well as others like it have helped us far more than you know.
    Thank you

  • Chris Jeub

    You’re very welcome, Charlotte! God bless the growing plan in your life…with more children or with the open heart to your three sons. Both paths are beautiful with God in control! -Chris

  • Deborah

    Jeub Family,
    Thanks for these links! I am fascinated by what God is doing through the “quiverfull movement.” It sure seems that Christians are more and more open to larger families, even if they aren’t sure they want a quiver “full” just yet :) It seems so obviously a God-thing, with all these little grass-roots movements taking place in so many different locations.
    God did not change our hearts on this issue until after we squandered our fertility. We had three sons when my husband had a vasectomy (our reasoning was so that we had room in our home for adopted children, then we got cold feet about adoption). Three years after the vasectomy, my husband had a reversal. That was one year ago next week. No new blessings so far…I think we may have missed our chance. I still rejoice in God changing our hearts! We talk to everyone we can about not doing anything “permanent” in regard to fertility, and I think have been able to sway some.
    I really, really, really want another soul or two or three for our quiver, whether through birth or adoption! For now, we are content with the precious gifts we already have, and work on sharpening these wonderful boys into the arrows they are destined to become!!
    I’ll be back to explore your site more fully.

  • Jennifer

    Yes, yes, yes! This is the very thing I have had to explain to people. I do like to check out your website from time to time, and every article you have on here seems to be right in line with my own experience.

    Many times when talking with others about what “quiverful” means, I’ve had to remind them that it isn’t about a contest to see who gets the most kids, it is about keeping our hearts open to His Will. I know for me, there were many times when I came to the realization that it was not about how to prevent pregnancy in a way that still honors God, but how to really embrace whatever God has planned for me. I am so grateful now for the seven children God has blessed me with….so far….

    I am from momys digest, so I have talked to your wife on there a few times, and that is how I found your site. Keep writing the truth!


  • Debbie

    I’ve been enjoying your website and the Focus on the Family recording. Hopefully we can catch the Learning Channel broadcast via one of our friends with Dish or cable.

    Thanks for your faithfulness to God’s principles. My husband and I have been married a year and a half, and the Lord chose to bless us right away with a daughter. We hope and pray for more kiddos as He enables us. I’m amazed how many friends of mine question us for not using birth control. We can’t wait to see how God forms our family. Our scripture passages for our wedding were Psalms 127 and 128.

    God bless you all,

  • Jodie

    Thank you for your encouraging words! We are a young family: husband 25, me 23, with two little ones 3, 21months, and one due in 10 weeks! We had never felt right about birth control. Through prayer and God’s Word our hearts were changed to understanding that we CAN trust Christ! We have been burdened with this since after our first was born, and we did not realize their where so many other people who believe the way we do! It is exciting to know we are not the only ones, and God keeps bringing people into our lives to encourage us on! God bless you!

  • Myra

    You know, I stumbled across your website & love the content. We are conservative Catholics who struggled with infertility for 10 years, adopted our daughter in 2001 & have had 5 pregnancies since then, three ending in miscarriage, 1 in 2002, 2 in 2006/7. We have one son born prematurely in 2003 & having cerebral palsy & another son born in 2004 & no issues. My mother thinks we’re crazy for wanting more & my having become pregnant the last times, especially due to Andrew’s disability, but he really has opened our eyes to watch him grow. I fight the anti more than 2 or 3 kids attitude all the time. I hope we are able to have one or two more, since I am already 39, that may be it for us. We did want more, but God’s timetable was not as we wanted. We admire families that are able to have & raise several children & are surprised to learn how many non-Catholics are having large families.