Clearing Up Thoughts About What “Quiver Full” Means

“The purpose of my post was to address our attitude toward children, NOT to advocate “producing as many children as humanly possible…

There is NO command in Scripture to have as many children as possible…

A woman is not an inferior Christian if she doesn’t have as many children as someone else. She is not sinning if she doesn’t have as many children as someone else….

Having babies is the biological default. It is the normal function of our bodies. NOT having babies is proactive. Using birth control is intentionally doing something to stop your body from behaving the way God made it to. That makes avoiding children the extraordinary act, NOT having them.”

From “Blessings, But…” by Andrea Parunak

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31 Responses to “Clearing Up Thoughts About What “Quiver Full” Means”

  1. It’s astonishing how in a mere half-century we have gone from a society which fully understood Mrs. Parunak’s point of view to one which would label her as a radical. It saddens me how pervasive our contraceptive mentality has become. I wonder what C.S. Lewis’ Uncle Screwtape would have to say on the matter…

    • Word Warrior says:

      Ooooh, wouldn’t I love to read that! Care to take a shot at it ;-)?

      • Your goal, Wormwood, is to lull the patient ever deeper into his conviction regarding fertility as something to be controlled. The Enemy has long promoted the disgusting practice by which, through an act of total fidelity and love, more souls are actually created to honor and glorify Him. Of course, we do our best to lead those very souls into our own realm, but that is beside the point; far too many of them do grow up in His embrace–especially those that are born and raised in this circle of married affection. It is a great problem, but one that we have been steadily turning to our advantage for the past half-century or so.

        The aim is to make the patient believe that children are, in fact, something which “belongs” to him and not to the Enemy. By doing this, the patient will determine whether to have children or not based on a sort of “pros and cons” balance sheet rather than how the Enemy would intend–that the patient really should accept any children he is given as blessings and as a way toward his sanctification.

        Remember, too, this last point. The bearing and raising of children is one of the surest means the Enemy has for turning hearts and wills to be in accord with Himself. The very work of training up these children and of caring for them requires the sort of self-sacrificial devotion that the Enemy promotes above all and which we above all must discourage. So, if you can convince your patient that the care of children will be a drain on him–which they will–excellent, then you need only to make the fear of this work so daunting in his mind that he will not think to weigh it against the eternal gain he might have by accomplishing it.

        And, if you can persuade him to having one or two children, only this may be even the more to your advantage. For then he is all the less likely to come to his senses later on and see realize the moral and philosophical mess he has gotten himself into by taking our view of humanity rather than the Enemy’s.

        (How’s that, Kelly?) 😉

        • adminnv says:

          Bethany,

          BRAVO!!! I love it! Especially this line:

          “..then you need only to make the fear of this work so daunting in his mind that he will not think to weigh it against the eternal gain he might have by accomplishing it.”

          Good work, Bethany. I’ve always loved the way Screwtape letters forced me to look at something from an unexpected position. It forces us to “think rightly”.

  2. Sheila, Mama to Six says:

    Kelly, I’ve discovered Christians’ views on b/c all boils down to what they truly believe about the origin of life – meaning, do they REALLY believe God is the author of life, and not man.
    (Now, to read Paranuk’s article…:))
    BTW, thank you for doing the Lord’s work.

  3. I so enjoyed rereading this – coming from a position of having made a huge mistake with regard to our family’s fertility, my husband and I both just look at each other and wince when we hear about people talk about being “done” or “waiting” when it comes to children. It’s difficult to not be shrill, shake them by the shoulders, ask “are you nuts?!?!”…I suspect that wouldn’t be very convincing, or much of a witness ;p.

    Years ago I read a book by Elizabeth George where she discussed the myriad volunteer and social issues a Christian homemaker might involve herself in as ministry, and she suggested narrowing the list to issues that spoke to our hearts and arranging them into what she called “5 fat files”, so that even if we weren’t in a season that allowed for active involvement, we could still be up to date on the applicable research, efforts, etc. One of mine from the earliest days was the Pro life posture, that now includes adoption advocacy and orphan care. Though I used to maintain those as separate files, they’ve merged under the umbrella of pro-life, as they’re vitally connected …more and more I find that anti-contracepting dovetails with that philosophy, but they are held as totally different concepts by many, including most churches. It really has been trained into us that contraception is the “norm”, somehow separate from our view of children.

    I love that the distinction was made between being open to life and “quiver stuffing”. I think that’s the misconception (NPI) many who are considering their fertility choices hold with regard to the natural state and normal result of the marriage relationship. It requires willful cognitive dissonance to read the passages with regard to children and deduce that they are only blessings according to our own criteria.

    • Jennifer says:

      “I suspect that wouldn’t be very convincing, or much of a witness ;p”

      Nope, certainly wouldn’t. Individual cases are all different. For myriad reasons, I’ll probably be waiting, and my mother chose to stop at one point.

    • “I love that the distinction was made between being open to life and ‘quiver stuffing.'”

      Oh, me too! I have always used the phrase “open to life” (http://applecidermama.blogspot.com/2009/02/openness-to-life-inconvenient-truth.html) to describe this philosophy because of what my mother experienced when I was a child. She WANTED a full quiver, but I was the only resultant pregnancy of 20 YEARS of “trying”. Quiverful is a beautiful expression of the biblical verse, but it just isn’t always what God has planned even when you’re seeking His Will regarding fertility. Moreover, as Mrs. Parunak stated so well, having as many children as possible isn’t the POINT–the point is to be willing to welcome any children God sends as blessings–and ultimately, to view ALL PEOPLE as blessings from above!!

      • Hi Bethany – and I hope both you and your mom are reassured that by what those of us who know you through your writing have gathered, her quiver was – IS – indeed full! Blessings this Advent to you and your family.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Good article, Kelly.

  5. Renee says:

    Thank you for linking this post!

    Here was my taught on the subject 🙂

    “Maybe our husband and I got the thing wrong, but when we say we are leaving our fertility to God it mean that we do not do anything (like birth control or not having sex ever!!!) to prevent blessing either that we are taking anything to make it happen (being careful to have sex only on fertile days, taking fertility drugs etc…)

    Leaving it to God mean do what God want to to do has a married couple (not withdrawing our body from one another unless for a short period of time and for prayers)

    So far we have been bless with 3 little girls 18 month apart. Will we have more, only if the Lord’s will”

  6. Charity says:

    It was great to re-read this. I do get quite tired of hearing the phrase “Quiverfull movement” just because the vast majority of people choose to do odd things with/to their bodies to “prevent” offspring. Why can’t everyone admit that *that* is what isn’t “normal”?

  7. Taryn says:

    I loved Mary Pride’s book-The Way Home(and its sequel) and Nancy Campbell’s book- Be Fruitful and Multiply. We have Randy Alcorn’s book-Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?. My daughter-in-law(29) saw her coworkers having fertility problems in their thirties. She is expecting her second baby. I had 6 children and breastfed them to age 2. Nursing delayed my painful periods.

    • Hi, Taryn – interesting you should mention the fertility problems of women in their thirties – I was reading this over the weekend:

      http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/69789/

      I’m so bad a linking on other blogs – hope copy/paste isn’t too inconvenient.

      It’s an article written by a staunch feminist who is examining the consequences of The Pill, and how it has actually curtailed rather than expanded choices for women.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Delaying painful periods is probably the best part, I understand 🙂

  9. Lillian says:

    I am a Christian woman who at the time when having children did not fully understand about birth and what God instructed women to do with their bodies. Unfortunately after having my 3rd C-section I was informed to have my tubes tied and burnt. My husband and I have often stated that we wish we were taught correctly by the church and had a relationship with God then. We wanted more children but this is what happened. I have just as of yesterday asked for forgiveness from God and myself and this surgery was done in 2004. I have lived with this guilt and condemnation all that time. If only these women understood the role of the wife birth control would be the farthest from their mind. I pray God will allow me to have children again.

    • Jennifer says:

      Do not have guilt or condemnation; you should not suffer such things. The role of the wife is not always, or simply, to bear children. My own mother had her tubes tied after her third C-section and I’m glad she never suffered such emotional pain.

    • Oh, Lillian! My heart goes out to you. As Jennifer said, please do not live with this guilt. Remember, it was Satan who made Adam and Eve ashamed in the Garden–our Good Lord called them by Name! Yes, there are consequences to our sin–even sins committed in ignorance–but that doesn’t mean our Heavenly Father wants us burneded by guilt as well. Trust that, in your contrition, He offers your total forgiveness. Remember, “…a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalms 51:17b) God bless.

  10. Taryn says:

    I have a Christian friend who has Type 1 diabetes and she had her tubes tied after her third(3 girls) high-risk pregnancy and caesarean. My daughter(20) has a baby girl and is praying about what to do after a high risk(Type 1 diabetes since age 5) pregnancy. She had a caesarean and the baby was born a month early(in NICU for a week). All is well now. I advise her to have babies in her twenties and not to wait. She pumped at first but ended up bottle feeding. I also comfort her to not feel so bad about not nursing. John 14:26 says the Holy Ghost is the Comforter(King James Bible). There are many children with Type 1 here on Long Island- we use to belong to a large support group.

  11. Taryn says:

    I agree with Kelly- that line was great. The whole thing was great and I’m not a C.S. Lewis(and his friend Tolkien) fan. I had the books- Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters- and read the rest of his books that the library had. keepersofthefaith.com has “interesting” articles and book reviews.

  12. Ginger says:

    The sad thing is how we have judged each other by number of children. I’ve seen so many say to a woman: Oh, you only have 2. Huh.
    As if she was clearly not trusting God’s providence or she’d have more than 2 kids.
    Or the pride in one’s announcement that they have 9 children “so far”. As if they were clearly more holy.

    We have 8 children and are not currently “quiverful-minded”. Friends laugh at me when they find that out, b/c we are such a testimony to children being a blessing.

    • Kim says:

      Thank you so much for saying this. My biggest difficulty in being a part of a covenant community with bunches of fertile friends (while my husband and myself still remain childless here on earth after 6 1/2 years of marriage) is feeling like “less than” with our running totals of children. I know in my heart and that the Bible teaches that I am only defined by my placement in Christ, but this is how we women seem to look at our worth. Anyway, thanks for your comment.

  13. ellowynne says:

    I think it is interesting that we often suppose that Christians will not come to their own conclusions about birth control. No one had to teach or inform me, and the bible says the very nature of things will leave us without excuse (Romans 1:20, paraphrase).

    The Native Americans and other aboriginal groups lived secluded at times, yet figured this concept of letting the body act as it should. I believe God is bigger than all this and can awaken an individual to the truth. I do not think a church should have to teach on this subject. The more people are infiltrated, the more they cant hear the purity of their own conscience. The Bible speaks for itself.

    That said, I liked this article very much 🙂

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