Monday, December 20, 2010


It has been the perfect storm here the last week.  Daddy has been working lots of hours, Mommy was recovering from gall bladder surgery and then--surprise!--came down with pneumonia and a sinus infection, we(finally) moved upstairs, leaving the downstairs in complete disaray, we had the fly car for the fire department, meaning one of us was responsible to respond to all calls from 6pm-6am for two weeks(in case you're wondering, we are a volunteer fire department, but we run about 800 calls a year), and in the middle of all this, Baby decided now was a perfect time to cut his first tooth.

Translated: I haven't slept in two weeks, and Baby has come very, very close to being an only child.

That last sentence isn't hyperbole.  We actually discussed, these last few weeks, limiting our family to only one child.  They were serious discussions.  We've truly thought about it.  I'm not a good homemaker; I can cook fairly well, but I don't really keep the house very clean and I get overwhelmed(um...and bored with) quickly anything even remotely domestic.  I know it drives my husband crazy that even being off work totally for 3 weeks, the house was still a mess and dinner was all-too-often takeout(in my defense, we have been really sick here).  More than once he not-so-subtly-hinted that sterilization might be in everyone's best interest.  But each time it came up, the discussion always ended with what we know to be true: our family is not complete yet.  We know there is someone missing.  How many someones?  We don't know, and we won't choose that.  We will continue having children, on whatever timetable they come, until we know that our family is complete. 

We are not Quiverfull(the term, loosely, meaning those who believe in never using any form of birth control, sterilization, natural family planning, etc, and having as many children as come until the wife naturally cannot conceive).  We may choose not to use any form of family planning, but we are both convinced that when all of our children are here, we will know it.  My parents had eight children.  They were not in any way, shape or form Quiverfull; children just kept coming.  And when my youngest sister came, they knew they were done.  It was nothing more than a peaceful, contented feeling--the feeling of oh, we're all here now. And my parents made sure that there would be no more children after that.  And we feel the same way--there is no predetermined amount of children we have in mind.  Perhaps we will have another child and know in our hearts that we're done.  Perhaps there are five or six or seven more children in our future before we know that our family is completed.  I don't know.  What I do know is that when we have that peace about our family, I will probably have a tubal ligation done(since I have to have c-sections now, it makes the most sense).  And we will go on with our lives, and there won't be any regrets.

I bring this all up because I have been watching the Quiverfull movement with interest for some time.  I have two major concerns with it: firstly, it isn't Biblical.  Whether people like it or not, the Bible really doesn't talk about birth control.  This movement takes two verses out of Psalms and builds an entire theology upon them. 

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:

and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)

I don't have time here to detail why it is ridiculous to build a lifestyle and theology on two verses plucked from poetry, but the fact of the matter is that these verses are not talking about birth control.  They are simply stating that children are blessings.  To extrapolate from this that God does not ever desire one to use birth control is a stretch, especially since the subject of birth control is never really addressed.  God was very detailed in the Levitical laws, and nowhere is birth control(of which there is much archeological and historical evidence of use in Biblical times) mentioned.  If God could be so detailed as to what kind of fibers were okay to be mixed in clothes, I honestly think that pregnancy prevention would have found its way into the laws if it was that high on God's list of important subjects.

Besides the lack of Biblical evidence, the Quiverfull movement leaves out another important piece of Christian theology: the will of God being expressed to a particular individual.  I subscribed to the Quiverfull digest for two years while researching this subject.  Often on there someone would bring up that the Lord led them to move to this or that area, or to a certain job, or laid someone's needs in particular on their heart.  Often, women would write in terribly upset that their husbands(or the woman herself, or the couple) felt strongly that God had told them their family was complete.  Invariably, the responses back would be simply that they were not trusting God enough, that they were just afraid of finances or another pregnancy or what have you.  The logical disconnect here boggled my mind.  How can one be so sure of God's leading in one area of life, but completely a similarly strong leading in another?  Why could God tell one family to move cross-country, but be incapable of telling that family when their family was complete?  Eventually, of course, I realized that it would not fit in with the predominant theology, so the leading from God would be tossed out.

And this is my main concern about the Quiverfull movement: You cannot make your own doctrine.  If you accept God's leading in one area of life, you cannot reject it in another area because it doesn't match what you want the Bible to say.   If God is telling you that your family is complete, that you are all here now, and that perhaps you need to think about sterilization, then you need to listen to God--not a book, not a website, not your favorite blogs, not a pet doctrine or theology, not your best friend.  I find that QF'ers tend to like to twist Scripture and make their own theology and throw out all evidence to the contrary. 

So someday, our family will be complete.  We're pretty sure God will tell us when that is, and(sadly) I will have surgery done to prevent any more childbearing.  We don't know how many kids we'll have, but we do know that God is so much bigger than we are, so much bigger than any man-made doctrines or theologies or legalistic rules, and that if we toss out everybody else's opinions and listen to God's alone, we'll know when it's time. 
And it will be God's time, not ours.

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