Conversation on Quiverfull

Yesterday morning wasn’t the best time to carry on an online conversation. Wendy and I were both up late on Friday carrying on large family life: Wendy spent the day taking the teenagers to their first debate tournament while I played Mr. Mom with the little ones — both of us working late into the evening. Needless to say, we were both groggy in the morning.

Snowmen Jeubs

Last week I published a somewhat controversial homeschool article on my blog (see “Those Homsechool Apostates” on It was a response to an American Prospect piece which attempted to show a dark underlying world of homeschooling. The original article — written by Kathryn Joyce, an author whom Wendy and I have crossed paths with before — appeared to be going after homeschooling. My article was an attempt to rebut hers, and judging by the web statistics, it made a decent counter-splash.

Kathryn’s article captured my criticism on two fronts. On one side, I didn’t appreciate the anecdotal stories the article attempted to show as proof that homeschooling should be called into question, perhaps even more strictly regulated. But on the other side, the leaders of these stories — the “homeschool apostates” — were primarily debate alumni, some of them I count as friends. These two worlds — homeschooling and debate — the Jeubs are about as deep as they can get.

Which leads to Saturday morning. A Twitter feed conversation revs up with someone who has written extensively against much of what is about. If you’re subscribed to, you’re likely NOT subscribed to The two worlds couldn’t be more ideologically apart.

At least that’s what it appears. Its founder, Heather Doney, is an incredibly thoughtful and prolific writer. Her writing challenges many of the same issues that Wendy and I have been challenging for years, primarily legalism. Issues like homeschooling, patriarchy and fundamentalism get mixed into our circles and are intriguing discussion points to both our audiences.

Needless to say, Heather and I spent about two hours Tweeting back and forth some fairly intense topics. Heather pulled the discussion into a Storify format, which I embedded below. Read through the discussion below. I believe some significant issues should be addressed, issues that have rocked the homeschool/quiverfull movements lately.

You may not understand how Twitter or Storify works. Twitter is a social network that allows posts of only 144 characters, so comments are short and abbreviated snippets of larger ideas and thoughts. Storify, another social media tool, pulls these snippets together in a story format, allowing people like you to read a Twitter conversation as it unfolded on Saturday morning.

To tell you the truth, I’m pleased where this story is going. Trained debaters are unearthing some significant issues that are worth discussion. After you have a chance to read this Storify feed, I’d appreciate your thoughts in the comment section below.

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • Wade Ferris

    Interesting conversation. Brings several things to mind:

    My understanding of patriarchy is not common, I’m guessing. Patriarchy is not a hierarchy, a power structure. It was put in place by the Lord in Genesis, so the question isn’t whether it’s right or not, but if we’re going about it correctly. It is not male authoritarianism. It is leading with humility, educating, encouraging, guiding, protecting, and watching out for what is best for the family (not for the man). Often it will require the man to give himself up for his wife/family- the very description Paul talked about in describing a husband’s love for his wife and how it is a picture of Jesus’s love for the Church. Maybe the game gets shut off to read to the kids or make dinner. Maybe it is something MUCH more substantial and difficult. It is loving in the most complete sense.

    I’ve run in reformed circles for a while, and I find that the most prevalent form of patriarchy there is flawed. It assumes women are foolish and stupid, requiring their husband-father (the role husbands often seem to assume) to save them from themselves. The woman of Proverbs 31 by contrast is strong, dignified, wise. She provides for her family, she is skilled, her husband TRUSTS her, and she is a business leader, to list but a few attributes. This “woman” is not an unattainable ideal, she is who a woman who follows the Lord is/becomes. I’m happy to say that my wife is a wonderful example of a P31 woman.

    We strive to find the balance. I hope I lead well, but I don’t push/pull/force my family in a certain direction (at least, that’s the goal). My wife follows and respects me, but I’d say she makes most of the daily decisions in our home. We often discuss things and come to agreement together. I’m the leader, but by no means a dictator. Not dictating comes easily to me because that’s not my personality- others with more forceful personalities will likely lead differently. That’s something to keep in mind while evaluating people in their leading/following. There are a hundred missteps daily, but we strive to follow Him well.

    One glaring hole I see in the Storify conversation is: where is the Lord? Where is being born again and following the Lord? Where is Jesus’s sacrifice? Legalism, authoritarianism, patriarchy, love, etc. were all mentioned, but I didn’t see the Lord mentioned once. He is the foundation- without Him building the house, the workers labor in vain. Let’s not look to human rules, formulas, and ideas without looking to the Lord. In 1 Samuel we see that the Lord led people directly, and they cried out for a human king like the nations around them. And they got what they asked for in Saul. Let’s follow the Lord, not men.

    • Chris Jeub

      A very thoughtful response, Wade. I appreciate it. I’m having my doubts that patriarchy is biblical or helpful to families. I have a few counter-thoughts.

      Your first three paragraphs do lay out the patriarchy position very well. I don’t agree that your view isn’t how most patriarchal folks would view it. Sure, it’s applied differently, but your three paragraphs would get a big A-MEN at a Vision Forum conference.

      Which is what I’m questioning. I don’t believe that patriarchy, even as you lay it out, is the Bible’s formula for marriage and family. Family dynamics are not so easily explained by citing Genesis, Proverbs 31 and vague New Testament metaphors. The patriarchy movement is led by guys who meticulously dice scripture and then spit out a formula they call the patriarchy. Cult leaders do this, too, on all sorts of formulas, typically meant to control others, and I don’t buy their use of scripture. When I really think about it, it is kin to blasphemy.

      Perhaps you have a wonderfully balanced marriage, as Wendy and I do. I like how you use that term, “balance.” The Book of Life has helped us strike this balance nicely, by God’s grace. I do not see the patriarchy movement striking balance at all. I see it as a hierarchy derived out of legalism, not love.

      Your last paragraph is pulling the God card. Don’t do that.

      So, I think Heather isn’t misunderstanding patriarchy or quiverfull movements much at all. She’s someone who was raised in it and her viewpoints are very much appreciated by me. I’m glad she laid it out in the Storify format for others to learn from it, just like I did.

      • Wade Ferris

        Please define “pulling the God card”. That makes absolutely no sense to me.

        • Chris Jeub

          Glad you asked. Please don’t see my criticism as toward you personally. I see this kind of response all the time, especially when people have nothing better to say, often called “pulling the God card.” My Twitter conversation was with someone who has lost much of her faith in people who have supposedly built up patriarchal and quiverfull ministries, all in the name of Jesus. The last thing I was going to do was start throwing Jesus’ name around in vain. If you do this with others, I bet you don’t get very far.

          Most troubling is this, and Wade, I invite you to pray about this one. You didn’t see the Holy Spirit working in this wonderful conversation. In the both of us, actually. You don’t have the least bit suspicion of your formula when hearing from someone who has been abused by it? That’s not the compassion of Jesus, Wade. That’s the judgment of a Pharisee.

          The Lord was all over this, but your need to see it spelled out is spot-on proof of the legalism I’m highlighting in the conversation.

          • Wade Ferris

            You’ve sure assumed a whole lot about me in this response Chris. Maybe you’re seeing legalism everywhere because that’s what’s on your mind. You’re judging my heart while COMPLETELY misconstruing what I’ve written without bothering to ask for clarification. I’m sorry to have read your responses. A great deal of respect has been lost for you.

            • Chris Jeub

              I’m sorry Wade. I’m sensitive to this issue and I’m feeling defensive. Please accept my apology.

              • Wade Ferris

                Will do, I’ve been there. Enjoy your day.

              • Teresa

                Oh, dear. Not to be awkward, but I respect Chris so much more now. ; )

        • Chris Jeub

          You can also see it as running a couple logical fallacies. It’s ad hominem, meaning you’re attacking Heather and me (we’re not as holy as you would have been) and totally deflecting the conversation to another topic. Another fallacy: red herring. Instead of keeping to the topic at hand, you “pull the God card” and want to talk about something totally different. It actually is harmful to any progress or clarification.

          I’m being sort of blunt with you, Wade. Sorry if I’m sounding crass. I hope not to offend, because I’m not offended. I enjoy bringing clarity to this subject.

          • Wade Ferris

            Chris, I’m going to make a suggestion. Take it or leave it. You live debate. You coach it, talk about it, live it. That’s not the rest of world. My comment wasn’t ad hominem, it was an entirely sincere observation. I constantly see and hear people trying to live their lives without being mindful of the Lord, whether they call themselves a Christian or not. Frankly, a lot of Christian circles encourage that (the whole “preach the Gospel without words” garbage). That’s the point I was making. It’s NOT totally different, and that highlights my point. You’re saying that the Lord ISN’T a part of it. I’m not “pulling the God card”. The Lord isn’t a card.

            Maybe try conversing with people on a normal basis, instead of trying to argue and win a match. Instead of assuming you know where someone’s coming from, maybe you should ask or assume the best.

  • William Walton

    Regarding the conversation about love, is it not possible for a parent to fervently love a child, yet cause a problem? “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…”(Ephesians 6:4 ESV)

    It seems provoking children to anger can happen within an environment of intentional love. Intentional love it seems can be harmfully applied. I know men who fervently and intentionally loved their families, but yet destroyed them with overbearing rule. They did not think their rule overbearing. It is easy to counter that in such case, we are not showing love. This may be true in expression, but not true as concerns motive of heart.

    It seems motive of heart is not enough. Our love must be defined by Scripture, and we must be diligent in our efforts to replicate Christ. Ultimately, we must rely on the grace of our Lord for blessed effect.

    • Chris Jeub

      Heather claimed the same thing, that abusers can still love, and I pushed back on that. You may have noticed it in our conversation. I’m hesitant to surrender to that idea. We can make mistakes, but to abuse in the name of love doesn’t make sense. At best, it’s diabolical and twisted.

      I believe we’re really messed up when it comes to understanding exactly what love is. This goes for all of Christianity. I’m serious about that test I do with churches. I rarely find a list of sermons that has more than one or two references to love. I sometimes find none.

      I tested this on the largest church in the country, Lakewood in Houston, TX. Here’s a link. Do a Ctrl-F to see if you fine anything on love…

      If you’re really brave, do this with your own church. If you find a lot of love, you are blessed. If not, well, you may need to have a meeting with some folks. You’ve got plenty of Scripture to back up the idea that we should be relearning love.

      • William Walton

        Fully agree with what you are saying. We just have to learn what “true” love is, not go by our gut feeling. Chinese women used to drown their babies in a certain river at birth. They thought it would give their babies a better life. It was superstition, yet the mothers had good intentions. Strange as it may sound, they thought they were showing love. They were not guided by Truth. We can do the same, loving by gut feeling alone.

  • Heather

    Please unsubscribe me from your blog. (I cannot locate the unsubscribe button in the link provided.) I am sorely disappointed in the direction the blog is going. I joined to be encouraged and share in the joy and love of a large family. Instead it seems to be becoming less and less of that, and more and more of someone who likes to argue and always be right. The very last sentence of this post was that you would appreciate your reader’s thoughts. You did not ask them to debate you, but you seem bent on debating anyone who shares their thoughts. I have to agree with Wade here. If you are talking about Christian terms, you should define them according to God’s definition. God is not a “card” to be thrown around, He is GOD! How, as a Christian, can you leave God out of the definition of love? God IS Love! How can you leave God out of Truth? Jesus IS Truth!

    I plead with you to keep your purpose in a debate the same as Colossians 2:2-3, and strive to keep yourself from foolish arguments like that of 1 Timothy 6:4, 2Timothy 2:23, and Titus 3:9.
    Forgive me if I have misunderstood your intent, (easy to do on the internet.) But I must be misunderstanding a lot lately, and no longer enjoy the blog.

    • Chris Jeub

      I removed your email address, no problem. You are always welcome back.

      I looked up all your verses, too. You obviously feel this discussion is foolish. I couldn’t disagree more. I think it is vitally important.

      • Laura

        I’m not exactly your target audience, but I wanted to say that I felt the opposite to the above poster.

        I found this debate to be refreshing, well thought out and authentic, and I think that really important themes were discussed with more respect than is frequently found in these communities.

  • Petra2201

    My biggest problem/issue with the HA nolonger quivering movements is their seeming blind eye to the abuses that happen in “normal” families and in normal life as well. I wish ,growing up, I had more sibling eyes on me. I had a ravenous porn addiction that started around the age of 5. I found that for me privacy = feed my addiction. My mom was incredibly loving, not patriarchal, and had me in public school for the first half of my life. I found huge avenues to feed my addiction at the public school, on the ride home from school, etc. I’ve learned a lot since then I have chosen to homeschool my kids. I watch the movies they watch before they watch them, I filter their internet, we have a no closed/locked doors policy. Though I would like a few more bathrooms in my house. I agree with a lot of what you say about love and honestly rules with out love are like iron bars in a prison. When love is in place they’re more like a fence around a house. Their’s a gate on that fence and on the inside where the home and love is, their is safety. Outside of the fence is all manner of evil that wants to destroy people. As a recovering addict I have to be careful of where I go, what I watch, what I read. It can trigger a relapse and people don’t get that. I’ve got rules in my life that are meant to protect my wife, because I love her I put these rules in place for me. Sometimes they make me seem legalistic but I have boundaries in place to protect the sanctity of our marriage. It’s for her heart that I live under rules. This is something I’m trying to get over to my kids and I loathe the phrase “for the grace of God there go I”. In our homeschooled, large family house, I’m trying to get over to the kids that love is the reason behind all this. Daddy won’t go alone with another woman because he loves mommy. Daddy doesn’t go to the beach because he loves mommy, etc. etc. I realize they have suffered abuse at the hands of patriarchy, but I’m a living reminder that abuse is from the evil in men’s hearts, not necessarily just from the Patriarchal, homeschool group. Families have been large and sharing rooms for thousands of years.It’s the sin in man that cause abuse.