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 www.quiverfull.com. 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.