Being Quiverfull

My friend MamaArcher started a QuiverFull Blogroll recently and would like members to post about their own Quiverfull Journey. My husband is going to post about the journey itself; I would like to ramble a bit about being here.

Let me start by saying that I understand that God gives some families fewer children. I am not talking about those who couldn’t have more children, but those who chose not to – for any reason.

Unlike many other large families, we have never received an overtly hostile comment, though many onlookers seem unsure what to think or say. We receive many of the same comments over and over. Some are simple observations:

  • Better you than me.
  • You sure have your hands full!

Fair enough. You never wanted a houseful of children. I won’t try to convince you that you’re wrong. My hands are full, though I firmly believe that even a single child will keep a mother’s hands full. 8 children really are not 8 times as much work. Children require our full attention whether we have 1 or a dozen.

Some comments are unqualified compliments:

  • They’re beautiful!
  • They’re so well behaved!
  • Are you Christians? I could just tell…

But many comments sound more like excuses:

  • I don’t know how you do it. My two kids keep me busy/drive me crazy.
  • I would love a large family, but I just can’t afford more children.
  • I’m just not patient enough.
  • I would have had more, but pregnancy was too hard on me. I just wasn’t made for it. (***Or my doctor advised me not to have any more.)

This may sound harsh, but I think all of these really are just excuses. I think that many people, for many reasons, just honestly don’t want large families and when they see a large family they instinctively feel a bit defensive. We obviously disagree with their choice in family size. Knowing or assuming this, they will seek and find the excuse they need to justify their decision.
But an excuse is not a legitimate reason. “I can’t, because…” doesn’t sound any better coming from an adult than from the child who doesn’t want to do what he’s told. If you see a large family and immediately feel the need to defend your choice not to have a large family, maybe you need to reconsider. Do you think we couldn’t use the same excuses?

If we believe that children are a blessing from God and that large families should be the norm, we need to act upon that belief regardless of whether we really think we’re ready for the job. No excuses. Who among us is really ready and fully equipped to raise even one child? Can any of us really expect to succeed in this monumental task by our own strength and virtue?

Can you guarantee that you are patient enough to raise even one child? Do you think I was equipped to be the mother of this crowd when I was a newlywed? Do you think I’m the perfect model of saintly patience now?

Do you really have the financial stability to commit to providing for a child for 18 or more years? How do you know where your job or bank account will stand at this time next year? Are you sure you’ll even be alive next week?

Do you think pregnancy is always fun or easy for moms of many? Our hips and backs hurt too. Labor hurts, every time. We have gestational diabetes, ligament pain, fatigue, anemia, c-sections, morning sickness, children with handicaps, stillbirths and miscarriages. We do this joyfully because it is our service to the Lord, not because it sounds like fun.

Why do we do this? It certainly sounds foolish to some people. They see a large family crowded into a small home, driving an old van, counting their spare change to decide if they really ought to order off the dollar menu or just buy a bunch of bananas, all for want of a few dollars’ worth of birth control.

This is foolishness to some. Some would say it’s also foolish to pay tithes when you can’t pay your bills, or to thank God for the food you raised by the sweat of your own brow, or to abstain from premarital sex. We think Scripture teaches differently, and we are not ashamed to appear foolish in the eyes of the world.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

***If your doctor advised you not to have more children, I understand that yours was a hard decision – but it was a decision nonetheless. You had a choice and you made it. Not everyone obeys their doctor’s advice; not every doctor offers the same advice, and not everyone who goes against the advice of a doctor winds up regretting it. I’m not saying that you should have decided differently. Only that you did, indeed, have and make a choice.

see the follow-up post here: Quiverfull Clarifications

Comments

  1. God will not put you through anything you cannot get handle. He will be with you all the way. God would not give you a child you were not meant to have. Great Post! Thanks for posting! Children are a blessing.

  2. Interesting postings all! I just came across this as I was trying to figure out what the Quiverful movement had to say about adoptions (I heard some see that as a no-no), but it’s an interesting post, one that has been intensely discussed on a mama group I’m a part of.

    Disclaimer: I’m Catholic so this will probably sound Catholic, and I know to some that throws me out of any serious consideration. I hope very much God will bless me with a large family (1 now).

    God is a God of love! “God is love” screams John in the Bible. We, made in the image and likeness of God, are called to be like God, to be love. Love, by its nature, seeks to embrace somethings and reject some other things. When you get married, you embrace one and reject all others. You don’t do reject the others because they are bad, but because the one is so good. Similarly, when one chooses for a time or for the rest of their life not to seek another child, it is not because that child is bad! On the contrary, children are so so so good! But you may ‘reject’ them for your ability to parent the other children you have now well, or for your ability to be a wife to your husband (which is the 1st priority, the marriage itself), or for another reason God calls you to (missionary field for instance). It would be wonderful to say that there are virtually no situations in life, which, prayerfully considered, make postponing another child wise. But for a great number of people, there are. The beautiful thing about the great gift of freewill that God gave is that he trusts us to use it in cooperation with Him. We do this in many areas of life to prayerfully consider where to live, how to raise our children, where to work, whom to marry; so why then would it be considered wrong to do it in the area of fertility? We shouldn’t distrust ourselves that when it comes down to making the right decision, we will fail. God gives us all the grace we need to say yes with Him! I do believe that each couple can and should discern each child entering their family, for the welfare of the overall family, be that number 8 or 1. Creating a child is one of the most important things we do in life and each one deserves more prayer and discernment than almost anything else in life receives.**

    In the end of our life, we will be judged on our love, whether that was welcoming 15 children into our families or none. We please God when we are trying to be the most generous toward him. I have met very large families who could still be more generous towards him, and families of 3 who are struggling so much as is and are being as generous as they possibly could at this point (remember the widow’s mite?). But I have met other small families for whose reasons, to me, aren’t the most generous. All we can do is be as generous as we can, encourage everyone around us to be as generous toward God as they can, and be encouraged by their steps forward. The Christian walk is all about one step after another. After all, the God who knows us best, knows when we are being self-seeking and when we are being generous. In the end, God’s measure of our love is the only one that matters.

    ** NFP (natural family planning) actually never “closes the womb” like other birth control does. It merely gives the couple the opportunity to choose whether or not to engage in the marital act during a fertile time. That is where prayerful discernment of a new child each month plays in.

    Also, I love ‘surprise’ babies. Our first child whom we lost to miscarriage was a surprise. Surprise babies are God’s way of saying, “you and your family need this baby”. God’s beautiful reminder than He is always ultimately in control.

  3. Melanie says:

    Thank you for sharing! So encouraging!

  4. Sheila, Mama to Seven in September... says:

    Yes, Kat – your response is certainly in line with what I believe to be “quiverfull.” That we are OPEN to what GOD wants, concerning children.
    And, yeah, KimC, the “contest” thing. Often you do hear of someone pregnant again, and a comment will be made like, “Oh, are they trying to keep up with the Duggars? (or whomever)” It’s kinda funny for those of us who aren’t trying to keep up with anybody. :)

  5. Kat Menard says:

    Well, you knew this would stir a bunch of dander up. It is just one of those issues. This comment is at the end, so probably too late to get noticed. But, oh well.
    I married late and we have 3 children, one by adoption. While we would welcome more, through whatever means, we are not running after more. I may even, in my heart, WANT more; but, we are not running after more. We are waiting to see if God brings another child into the sphere of our family. This is what i believe quiverfull, or “faith planning” whatever one wishes to call it, is about. It is also what many people don’t understand, and get then get defensive/angry about. This is not a contest of who can have the most children; Kim (and many others) have been richly blessed with many children and others have not. It is about the principle of being OPEN to God’s will in this area. The idea that one more child would be a blessing from God, and not a curse.
    A dear friend of mine, who has 5 small children, made a good point when she said to me, “It always astounds me that someone can go to church, sing “I Surrender All” and then turn and tell me that does not include my womb.” That sounds harsh, for we are surely to use the judgement God gave us to make decisions every day. But we should also allow for the possibility that though we have made good plans, God may have different ones. And God’s calling often is often to a difficult one.

    As Christians we must be careful not to make judgements on what God has called someone else to do. We must also be careful in what Biblical commands we judge not to pertain to us.

    • Thank you, Kat – great comment! So many people see a big family and jump to the conclusion that we’re competing to have the most children. I’ve never met a single family who actually thought that way. As you said, it’s a heart issue: what we believe about children and how we feel about having another one.

  6. “I think that many people, for many reasons, just honestly don’t want large families and when they see a large family they instinctively feel a bit defensive.”

    I read recently that when someone sees a mother modestly dressed with several children in tow that it makes them feel convicted. Why? Because it reminds them of the picture of the gospel. Jesus laying down His life in sacrifice for His children. If that isn’t beautiful and encouraging, I don’t know what is. It also makes me think twice about how I speak or respond to criticism in public.

  7. While many days, I do wish that I had/could have more children. Please keep in mind that not everyone can get pregnant so easily and some of those who do have special needs children… I am just wondering if you would share the same position if several of your children had special needs?

    Mom to one adopted and one with special needs.

    • Ann,
      While I wouldn’t presume to tell others what to do, I do think that we would try to hold to the principle even if the situation was more difficult.
      Also, I don’t understand your point about not everyone getting pregnant so easily. It’s not about having as many kids as you possibly can; it’s about self-consciously leaving the planning to God.

  8. Laura, I think this is a wonderful attitude. God may fill your quiver in different ways, but His heart if for children and to see them thriving in loving families. I think adoption is a wonderful expression of our Heavenly Father’s compassion and promise to place orphans in families, and it is especially appropriate where someone (like me) has pregnancy-related health issues.

  9. Hi!
    I’m new to your blog and have just read this post. I have a few questions for you, but just want to say up front that I’m not married yet, so although children/family has been talked about, nothing’s been decided on. Personally, I want a large family. I only have one sibling, and we’re far apart in age (although this wasn’t actually a choice on my parents part, they did want more children, but it just never happened, they were so happy to even have two!)…and I don’t want that same experience for my children.
    So, I am a little fearful that I will have problems getting pregnant too, but let’s pretend that I am able to conceive easily. I also have a chronic illness, which leaves me with a lot less energy than *most* people have. I worry that having child after child after child close in age will leave me exhausted, and therefore, I won’t be a “good” mom to the kids I do have. But that’s not even my biggest thought “against” having a lot of biological kids (not judging your family in any way, I hope this doesn’t sound rude). What keeps me from fully embracing the whole quiverful thing is that adoption is something that is huge on my heart. There are so many precious children out there who need forever families, and I want to express God’s love in that way. And the more bio kids you have, the harder it is to find agencies that will allow you to adopt. Adoption can be expensive, but that isn’t going to hold us back, but I just wondered what your thoughts were on trying not to get pregnant in order to be in a better position to adopt.
    Thanks!
    (not sure if I expressed it clearly, but I do want both bio and adopted kids! so it’s not like I don’t want to be pregnant ever.)

  10. Just found this post! :D

    I am an 18 yr old unmarried, (as of yet uncourted!) girl the oldest of 4 siblings. Until I was 10, it was just me and my younger brother. I had prayed many years for more siblings, and the Lord answered my prayers with another little brother. After that, I prayed for a sister, and the Lord decided a little sister would be a great addition to our family when I was 13. I still have prayed for more siblings, but it appears that things will not change. I am so thankful the Lord sent these siblings to me later in life, so that I might learn how to be a responsible helper to my parents, my mom in particular, and better apprecate all my parent’s do for me.

    I do not know my parents convictions on the areas of having children, but I do know my own. As cliched as it sounds, I have trusted God with my life, my future and my soul, I will trust Him with the amount of children He may someday bless me and my husband with. Now that is easy for me to say, I’ve never experienced the pain of childbirth, nor the days of morning sickness, still I trust that He will not send me more children then by His grace I can handle. He more than anyone else knows my personal weaknessess and failures, and He more than anyone else has the power to work through my weakness to accomplish His goals for His glory.

    I would like to point out, that not too long ago there was no way to limit the size of your family. No limitations did not necessarily mean a large family. Both of my great-grandparents were one of 12 and they only had 3 children in the late 30’s early 40’s. The Drs at that time and before did not have the same extensive research that we have today, I do wonder how many of us would not be here today if our great-great-great Grandparents had been told to stop having children or abort a child 100 plus years ago. Back then there was no choice but to trust God with the size of your family. To think it is our job to decide the size of our family is a fairly modern idea.

    I am a faulty, sinful human being, and I am in no position to say who is in the right or wrong about any subject, most of you are my elder sisters in the Lord and I respect you for your convictions and hard work. It’s easy to brush off what I say because I have never been where you are: day to day in the trenches caring for a husband, children and a house. It is easy to talk! :D I pray though, that these words of mine are not just empty and hollow, but are solidly based on a love of the Lord and a love of His Word. I admire you all for earnestly seeking the Lord’s Will in this particular area of your lives. Keep your hope in the Lord, someday your children shall arise and call you blessed! <3

  11. shelly morrison says:

    I love hearing about other quiverfull families. we have 11 children. 7 girls and 4 boys ages 16 to 4 months.

    I do wish it was easier to find families like yours I would love to have someone to bounce ideas off of who really understands.

    god bless
    shelly

  12. Amen Sister,

    I love the way you presented this topic. And it is so true, children are a blessing from the Lord and it’s not always easy. But God equipped us to do our task and we have to really on Him for everything that we need.

  13. I am just searching for and reading all of your quiverfull posts as I am very much in need of “quiverfull encouragement” right now, having just given birth 7 weeks ago. The Lord opened our eyes and changed our hearts about a year and a half ago about trusting Him for our family planning…hence, our third child after a little “break”! Just because you know the right thing to do, doesn’t make it any easier, ya know? I’m realizing now that it was easier to have faith in this area when we seemed “ready”. The real test of faith is coming now, when I can honestly say that I don’t want to be pregnant again for a while! But, it’s not about me, right? And what a blessing all of my children are! Praise the Lord! I appreciate reading your wisdom and honesty and faithfulness! Thank you!

  14. Thank you so much for this post!

    I’m really glad you don’t get negative comments: I am only pregnant with #3 and I already hear “don’t you know about birth control” on a regular basis… it’s like people hate children or something. It really makes me cringe!

    I can’t see myself ever being quiverful, as you say, I’m lacking the faith for that, but I’m definitely open to having more children. The way I see it is I want to take it one at a time then see… unfortunately my husband doesn’t see eye to eye with me on that matter. He wants no more kids, never again, ready to go as far as taking a definitive solution! Arrrg! It’s killing me! At least, I *think* I managed to convinced him to wait a few years to take such a drastic step. I’m only 27, I can’t see myself say I’ll never have kids again, I’m too young!

  15. Loved this post – reading it late – i joined the quiverfull blogroll when it started up, but i was hugely pregnant and way too emotional to be reading everyone’s posts – now i’m loving it!
    and the reason i liked this post so much is because i can relate – the compliments i LOVE :) – the neutral comments i just laugh with them :) i hardly ever get any negative comments (one old guy at the tire store said “i bet you get a big government check!” um… no? very weird – but whatever – but the EXCUSES… i always feel so uncomfortable – i am not the HOly spirit, and if they feel guilty, i wish they wouldn’t involve me. but i guess you’re right- just me standing there with seven little ones who look like me is saying something to them, i guess. i just feel uncomfortable always hearing about things that i feel are best left private. (like the check out girl’s messy hysterectomy…) I try to be encouraging to them but i do feel like the only right answer would be to say “Oh, you’re right! What AM i doing?” LOL!

  16. This is a late comment and I’m not sure anyone will read this,but I will feel better if I can just write my thoughts out. I want to start by saying that I support big families and small families. I have three children and do not plan on having more. I feel like the “quiverfull” mentality (not large families) is a very legalistic approach to God’s word. It’s not likely that you will change anyones mind who is in that mindset, nor should you intend to. People believe what they want to believe and that’s that. I think it comes down to scripture interpretation. This is where people disagree. Some people take scripture to its most literal interpretation. Some people take it literally, but look at the bigger picture of surrounding scripture so it is in context (me), some people delve deep into the study of the scripture and learn the meanings in the original language and text. All of those ways will bring different results. Who’s right? Who knows? What I do know is that I serve a God of grace and mercy. I don’t believe that I will be judged for how many children I do or don’t have. Personally I think that there is too big an issue made out of the quiverfull topic by both parties. It’s made too important. Large family…Small family…..! Let’s just all appreciate each other for who we are without judgment.

    Outside of the quiverfull topic however, I would disagree on a parenting level with something you said. There is a HUGE difference in the abilities it takes to parent 1 child vs. 8. I have 3, but babysit 3 more. You better believe there is a difference! My weekends are so different in so many ways! Just wanted to add that.
    Thanks for the peaceful post!

    Heather

  17. Some of you obviously don’t believe that each human being is made in the image of God, and that He is the author of each human life. And THAT kind of belief is extra-biblical.
    Do you think that God only formed David’s inward parts, and covered him in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139)? Do you think only Jeremiah was known and cared for and “planned” before his birth? Do you think God only opened and closed, deliberately, the wombs of the women in the Bible?
    I think it’s sad that there are “Christians” that compare a HUMAN BEING made in the likeness of God Himself, with something as routine as the sun rising and setting, or rain falling on the earth. And, to compare our “control” over their conception with something like doctoring for health’s sake, or eating when we’re hungry.
    BTW, just because people have sexual relations, doesn’t mean pregnancy automatically ensues. ‘Got plenty of proof and testimony for that, here and elsewhere!

  18. Katherine says:

    Reading this post (and the comments) actually gave me a lot of clarity as to why this movement is extra-Biblical.

    Amen, Kaylee! I really liked your comment.

  19. I appreciated your article and the example you give as a “joyful mother of children” in your blog. It was good to read the story of your journey into and through motherhood. Let me humbly admit though, that I can’t find how your story and experience makes scripture say something it doesn’t. The Bible is silent on this issue. Yes, children are a blessing but that blessing doesn’t change whether or not you have a few or several. They are a blessing individually.

    I (and my husband) grew up with the “Quiverfull” mindset and during our teens, we began to rethink that concept in looking at scripture and also seeing the ways and means this “doctrine” was promoted. We both found it is not a command in scripture, except after creation and after the flood; both situations necessitated the demand for an increase in population because there hardly was a population. We can all see that is not the issue now (there is more than just one family on the earth). Plus, as Christ’s followers and believers in the Bible, we should note that it’s never taught on in the New Testament either.

    Now, it is simply a man-made belief that can make you look godly and holy because you are “letting God plan your family.” (I say “you” in a general term; not YOU in particular. :) ) The most children a woman in the Bible had was 6-7, except for Job’s wife. Yes, the majority of them had large families but the men had multiple wives.

    We know the joy and the struggle of raising children close together; we had 3 in 3 years. We are also a strong believer against hormonal birth control (anything that kills or could kill a fertilized egg.) What would you think is wrong (according to Scripture) about barrier methods or other means of non-hormonal birth control? (besides that a person using them is not letting God plan their family.) Natural Family Planning is okay but should be questioned because of the fact that couples have to keep themselves from each other for certain periods of time. Scripture is clear on that as well… “for prayer and fasting…” Sex is the culmination of many bodily and emotional functions. It does produce children (obviously!) but it’s main purpose was not just for procreation.

    In disagreeing with the Quiverfull concept, we don’t justify ourselves because I have health issues in my pregnancy or for any reason like that. I love babies and want to have a ton of them– my pregnancies are hard (the first half) but I have simple, easy and fun labors. I am a great candidate for joining you Quiverfull folk, really! BUT, “Letting God plan your family” is simply a cliche’ that people have adapted into their lifestyle because it “sounds” Biblical. The idea of having faith that God knows what you’re able to handle is nice but seriously: HE made sperm to create life when it penetrated the egg. When it happens, it’s as routine as the sun rising and setting. It’s truly not a doctrine from the Word of God to “let God” plan your family.

    When you are hungry and weak do you just have faith that God knows your need and will fill your mouth with food? No, you go eat. When you are overwhelmed as a mother and your body is exhausted from pregnancy and nursing why is it wrong at that point to do what you need to restore your health? If you can’t trust God to put food in your mouth then why do you think that in the area of childbirth, you have no free will?

  20. “Judge not that ye be not judged. Condemn not that ye not be condemned.” Luke 6:37

    This conversation is rather disheartening. We as Christians are throwing stones at each other instead of encouraging each other. I have to wonder about those that believe it is wrong for anyone to use any form of birth control. If the Lord has lead you personally to not use birth control then it would be wrong to tell Him no and use it. However, I don’t believe He leads everyone to do everything the same. I also have to honestly wonder about those who claim to know the mind of the Lord. It’s one thing to say what you believe, what your personal interpretation of scripture is, and why. It’s quite another to insist that you are right and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is wrong. I suspect we might get to heaven and find out we were all wrong.

    “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”
    Genesis 1:27-28

    For one thing I would submit that humans have in fact filled the earth and subdued it.

    Secondly, I would like to point out that the Lord said to be fruitful and increase in number BEFORE the fall of man. BEFORE sin entered the world. BEFORE pregnancy and childbirth became what it is today. Now I’m not trying to say that since we brought sin into the world He didn’t want us to have children. God is all knowing therefore, He knew when He created us that we would sin. He gave us a very powerful sex drive thus ensuring procreation.

    If you choose to use not birth control and instead choose to “let the Lord have control over your womb” I wonder if you ever go to the doctor? Do you get your children vaccinations? If you are sick do you take medicine? Do you take Tylenol when you have a headache? Ever? I ask these questions because illness came into the world because of sin just like increased pain in childbearing and all the problems there are with pregnancy and childbirth. If you take medicine to prevent illness then are you interfering in God’s will? He is able to heal anything. He is able to prevent illness from happening to us. I think we all can agree that God is all powerful and can do as He pleases. The point I’m trying to make is that He gave us the knowledge to develop medicine and vaccines and the wisdom to use them. When we give our hearts and lives to Him we give Him authority in our lives. We are His to do with as He will. Therefore He already has control over our wombs. I submit that God is more than able to give a baby to any of His children that He chooses regardless of any birth control being used. We all know people this has happened to. People who got pregnant on the pill or other form of contraception. I know of couples who have conceived after tubal ligation and those who have conceived after vasectomy. God gave us minds and knowledge to help us. We have learned to cope to some degree with our fallen world. He gave us the ability to prevent and treat illness. I also believe He gave us the ability to prevent or delay conception. It just seems incongruent to not use contraception because of wishing to allow the Lord to have His way but then using medications and doctors instead of allowing Him to have His will in your body.

    One last observation. Some here are being very insistent in pointing out what they believe to be sin in the lives of others. To these people I would like to respond again with scripture. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay not attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42

    “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

    Why don’t we worry about our own selves and our own families. The Bible does tell us to be able to give an answer about what we believe to those who ask. It
    doesn’t however, tell us to shove it down throat and judge and condemn them.

  21. I agree with the others who said this was a harsh post. It came across implying that no matter what, even if a woman has health concerns or might die if she gets pregnant, too bad, it’s HER CHOICE (implying that choosing to cease trying to get pregnant is wrong, wrong, wrong!)

    I think the reason people assume you have easy pregnancies or that others of the quiverfull mindset have it easy is because A)Many of them do and have said so (I’ve heard, “I just love being pregnant”; “I have such easy and fast births,” etc.) and B) Lack of grace on this issue. People assume that you have had no experience with hardship and struggle over these decisions when you make harsh and legalistic-sounding statements about what people should and shouldn’t do in this area as if there are no circumstances that might need a different answer. You say you have had it rough, and I believe you, in a sense, because pregnancy and birth are always a challenge to the body, but I wonder what you, and others in the Quiverfull movement would do if you had an ectopic pregnancy and knew that to do nothing meant to leave your lovely children motherless and your husband a widower. I have never heard of a case where God intervened and saved a mother in that circumstance. Would you decide it was His will that you die in that instance? I don’t believe it’s okay to limit kids out of selfishness or desire for personal comfort, but I see that there are many instances where Christians have to make very difficult decisions in this area. Of course they need to make prayerful decisions and seek the Lord, but I don’t believe that the Bible says that every couple MUST have as many children as they possibly can. I like how Amy Scott, in her wise post today, pointed out that Christians in China are forced to have abortions. One Chinese Christian woman told me personally that this goes on all the time and that they are always checking up on you and arresting pregnant women to see her permission papers. For the believers in China, do they “blindly trust” and not take any action against getting pregnant and watch their children get butchered in horrific murders or do they prevent children? Perhaps God’s graciousness to them is the knowledge of the body and ability to prevent pregnancy through certain non-body-altering methods. Perhaps God works out His will by giving us direction in the decision making in these hard situations.

    The fact that you came across so “all or nothing” left little room for tough circumstances like these and this is why people assume you’ve had it easy!

  22. I might have mostly agreed with you many years ago. However, life and more in-depth study of what the Bible has to say about this subject has caused us to change our position. I have a post you can read about it here:
    http://dollymama.blogspot.com/2005/08/quiver-full-anyone.html

    The short version is that while the Bible is absolutely not clear on it never being ok to prevent pregnancy, it is clear about:
    bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of God (Ephesians 6:4), and my husband’s charge to take good care of me (aka loving me like Christ loves the church- Ephesians 5:25)

    I think where QF fails is in what the Bible calls “counting the cost.” (Luke 14:28) I have lots more at the above link.

    My baby is nearly 5 years old now, and my husband and I continue to feel at peace with our beliefs about this issue. I would certainly encourage all Christian couples to examine their hearts and attitudes about childbearing, and not to just blindly set a number of kids to have a spacing between them. But, I think there is room, and even encouragement, in scripture, for wise and humble planning and a balanced perspective.

    • Why would you need to prevent pregnancy? If there was a reason that you shouldn’t have a child God would not give you one. He wouldn’t send you one and then say, “oops, I didn’t know that would kill her.’

  23. Hey Kim,
    I realize I’m a few days behind here, but I have to agree with you. I was’t always on board with lots of children, but 3 always sounded good. I recall telling my husband when the third child was a little over one that I might want another child, as if I had the place to tell God what I wanted. Well, once my heart got on board baby #4 was conceived a year later. It took that long for my mind & heart to mesh, the Lord has much patience for me. Well, our sweet baby arrived 8 wks early & like the first three was by c-section. I don’t recommend this route for having babies, but it’s what the Lord has chosen for me & I’m ok with that. We were blessed that #4 only spent 4 wks in the hospital & were so excited to have him. The doctor who did the procedure along with my doctor both told me not to have anymore children. Now, I didn’t like hearing this & thought maybe the Lord is telling me not to have more because of all the c-sections (the scar tissue made it very hard for the doctor to cut & sew me back up). Well, then while talking to some ladies at church the Lord hit me with this: if God wants me to stop having children then He will close my womb. I have no right to force or prevent life. Our new baby is currently 3 months (looks like a newborn but beautiful) & because we are choosing to let God decide no other form of birth control has entered our home. Of course, my doctor thinks we are crazy for not using anything but it’s not her decision. Since we currently live in Germany 4 children is a huge amount. The comments we get are horrible & the fact that our children are young, newborn to 7, it makes it even odder. We are truly blessed & if God sees fit to give us more then He will protect me & baby, He’s done it before. Thanks again for your post & honesty. I hope your new baby is growing well.

  24. Heather said

    “…your insinuation that mothers with less number of kids than yours are out of God’s will or making excuses.”

    I say –

    Heather neither Kim or I bother with head counts. It’s not the number of children that matter but your attitude toward having more. God may bless you with one or with 10; that is His choice and none of my business.

    Most moderns assume that no conception control = lots of children, but there are plenty of comments here that prove otherwise.

    Heather further opines:

    “Please correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m not), but ‘being fruitful and multiplying’ doesn’t state a specific number!”

    I retort –

    If you block up the womb are you still “being fruitful”? If a tree stops bearing fruit is it considered fruitful?

    If God made the human body to bear children for a certain number of years and he tells us to bear children – open ended not a bookmark in sight other than old age – where do we find the “freedom” to inflict barrenness on ourselves?

    Heather again holds forth with:
    “I have four beautiful children and consider my ‘quiver full’ and quite blessed. And NOWHERE in the Bible does it state that I am not, for choosing to stop there.

    I reply
    Not chapter and verse however – remember you are talking about self inflicted barreness. Have you ever looked at what the Scripture says about the opening and closing of the womb? Here’s a sample:

    Psalm 107:31Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 32Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. 33He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; 34A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. 35He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. 36And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; 37And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. 38He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

    Here is just one example in Scripture that shows us God’s attitude toward bareness, and toward a fruitful womb. When you close the womb by artificial means you are in effect saying bareness is a good thing. God says they that to be “multiplied greatly” is a good thing. Who is correct?

    Who determines the extent of a wombs fruitfulness? It is clear from the text that God does. If we try to bring upon ourselves a condition that God himself considers an accursed state….what does that say of us?

    Heather states with firm conviction:

    “Yes, it states that one is blessed to have a quiver full…but was there a number? No. If a husband and wife considers their ‘quiver full’ at one, two, three, four…then so be it.

    I retort
    …have you ever shot a bow? Ever seen a quiver?

    I’ve never considered my real bow and arrow quivers full at 1 or 4.

    Heather again:
    “God never said they were cursed, unblessed,etc.”

    Again I reply Psalm 107 (see above)

    Heather gives us this in her final shot
    “Your blog was mean and spiteful of those who have less than HUGE families.”

    I reply:

    No, it was a Scriptural exhortation on the topic of closing the womb artificially. You have misread the post. You did not see any of the qualifiers (or you choose to ignore them) and you have been unnecessarily rude and harsh. Frankly you owe Kim an apology for making the kind of accusations that you did. If you see something in the Scripture that supports the idea of artificially imposed bareness I’d be happy to hear it, but I’m not willing to hear any more character attacks.

    God Bless
    Pc3

  25. Heather,

    Hopefully you have read Kim’s follow-up post to this. It may answer your misunderstandings.

    “I’m obviously not the only other mother on here that was offended by your insinuation that mothers with less number of kids than yours are out of God’s will or making excuses.”
    Nowhere in this post did it say “you must have X-number of children to be in God’s will”. In fact, that idea is so opposite to a quiverfull mindset, because being “quiverfull” does not have to do with the number of children you have, but with your attitude. It is the attitude of trusting that God knows what’s best for your family in every area, including when He chooses to give children. It in no way means that people who have smaller families are somehow not as good as those with larger. It is about being content with the number of children GOD CHOOSES to give, whether it be few or many. God has blessed you with 4 children, and indeed you are truly blessed!

    “No. If a husband and wife considers their ‘quiver full’ at one, two, three, four…then so be it.”
    Here is where “quiverfull” families would disagree with you- it is not up to a husband and wife to decide when their quiver is full- that is totally God’s authority. God is giver of life, the opener and closer of wombs, not us. Why should we presume that we (in our human wisdom) know when we should have children and how many we should have? We don’t even know what will happen in the next 5 minutes- God knows what will happen every day, forever. Why do we trust God with our salvation and so many other things, but so often take this area into our own control? Is God not able to be trusted in this area?

    God can be trusted, and I am sure we all agree that He can be. That is exactly why my husband and I have left our family size in His capable hands. Similar to Kim, we do not generally like to call ourselves “quiverfull” because we are simply following God and His Word, we don’t feel the need to put a label on that. As Christians we strive to place our trust in God in everything (of course it can be hard at times!) so it doesn’t really make sense to say “God we believe that you are the giver of life and we trust that you know what is best for us, but we’re going to use birth control until we think it is the right time to have a child.”

    Huh? As if we know better than God?

    It just doesn’t make sense.

    We do not know better than God and we never will. Only He can be trusted with such delicate decisions. God doesn’t really need our interference. He knows what He is doing.

    Amy

  26. Hello,

    Thanks so much for your honesty and convictions regarding your family. I am a new wife and homemaker. My husband and I look forward to having as many children as God will allow. I have had similar discussions about this, some agree and others do not. However, my husband and I will stand firm on what we believe God has placed on our hearts about having children.

    Thanks so much for your teaching and encouragment!

  27. Angel,
    You are absolutely right, and I should have mentioned this since it is one of my underlying presuppositions.
    My husband and I didn’t arrive at this conviction at exactly the same time, and regardless of which of us felt the pull first the key point was when *he* did, because his role in this house and in our relationship is to lead.

  28. Although I adore families who ascribe to the “quiver full” mindset and I would not mind being one of those families, a lot of you have overlooked one crucial thing. We have a responsibility to be governed not only by our King, but our husbands as well.

    My husband is from a family with two children and after our three decided to permanently inhibit his ability to father children. While we are now in the process of fostering to adopt and hope to expand our family from 5 to 6 members he has no desire whatsoever to reverse his decision to stop fathering children naturally and I MUST respect that decision.

    Isn’t it possible that my husband’s quiver is full based on his thoughts and prayerful consideration on the matter even though I would not mind more children? As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango”.

    My husband is the head of this family and I respectfully stand by his decision on this matter.

  29. I’ve linked to this insightful post!

    http://gombojav.blogspot.com/2008/02/blog-o-week_24.html

    Blessings,
    Daja

  30. Quiverfull adoption!

    Kim, this was fantastic. I whole-heartedly agree. Hubby and I have been able to grow (and are continuing to grow) our family through adoption. We know our quiver is not as full as the Lord intends so we continue to seek Him for our next blessing. I hope those ladies who were questioning quiverfull and adoption will visit me at my blog.
    http://preciousinhissite.blogspot.com/

    Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to sharpen the iron around you!

  31. mj,
    I just added a new post with some clarifications on many of the points raised here in the comments.

    Ladies,
    Thank you for your input on this important topic. I know we won’t all see eye to eye, but I think we can agree that each of us is striving to understand God’s will as expressed in His Word.

  32. …Rom 14:3 Do not let him who eats despise him who does not eat; and do not let him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has received him…

  33. I think you are right they most reasons are excuses. Naturally God deals with us all in different ways, and we all have different callings in life. But, for a woman who is home there is no excuse to stop what God has given her.

  34. I keep reading on here that ‘God opens and closes the womb’. That’s true, but that does not mean that people too can’t control how/when they have kids. There is such thing as the rhythm method..without the use of condoms or bc. But I’m not going to judge someone that does! God never prohibited it. If so, I should be beating myself up for every mentstrual cycle I have and the ‘lost’ child I never conceived. Comments like ‘marriage is for children/procreation’ reduce the sexual intimacy between a husband and wife to nothing more than mating for offspring. God didn’t just intend the marriage for procreation alone!! Nor sex for procreation alone! It is a beautiful physical and emotional union between husband and wife. God would not have included Song of Solomon in your Bible if that were not so. So to proliferate the message that marriage and sex is only for kids/procreation is just ludicrous. Not every sexual encounter between spouses have to be to create a child! Yes, children are a wonderful blessing but it’s not the aim of every couple to get pregnant each time they are together! Nor is it the aim of every woman to birth a child at every opportunity until menopause. Please…show me the verse that says that…would LOVE to see it.

  35. Karen, that was a beautiful comment you left.

    The one thing I think we need to be reminded here is that GOD opens and closes the womb. He can open it any time He pleases and close it whenever He pleases. If we truly believed that, why should we ever use BC? Does God make mistakes?

  36. Hopped over here from “Milehimamma” (did I spell that right?) I haven’t visited in a while. I hope your sweet family is enjoying good health!

    Me…I would have loved to have more kids. It didn’t work out that way, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m happy with my four wonderful kids and look forward to grandchildren. You are so right to say an increase in the number of children doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in work–each child is an individual and one will need more attention than others at any given time. It’s amazing what we moms and dads can do when we need to do it, LOL!

    (I do have to say this, though: there are people on this earth who have no business being near children, let alone having them.)

    When I was pregnant with my third, I happily told someone the news. Her response? “Was this planned?” I was so taken aback I just muttered, ‘yes.’ What I should have said was, “why is that your business?” Or, “we plan to have as many kids as God wants to give us.” Why is it that, when you have a boy and a girl for your first two, everyone assumes you’re ‘done’?????

  37. Sometimes when we present a defense of something, we’re not shooting arrows out to the opposite side – we’re simply forming and laying out a defense…an explanation.

    *Many* people with large families get feedback like Kim expressed in her post. From reading the comments, I am convinced that those that are offended by the post would never actually be the ones to say, “Better you than me!” or “I’m just not patient enough!”. You probably read Kim’s blog because you enjoy reading about her family, her adventures, and can relate to how much she loves being a wife and mom.

    But there is one thing to keep in mind: while we cry out for sanctification in this 21st century life, we must, as much as ever, turn to the Word of God for our counsel. We must be careful to to apply a Biblical worldview to the daily walking out of our lives, and have nothing to do with a worldview that is rooted in our own culture (being that American culture no longer embraces the absolute truths of God).

    All this to say that when we hold up a hand and declare, “Don’t tell ME I haven’t heard from God right!” remember – we’re not perfect…we’re not perfectly sanctified (yet!), and we all make mistakes. Is it possible that the hard way – the uncomfortable, unconventional, the difficult to explain way – could actually be the correct Path to be on? Have I always “heard right ” from the Lord, or have I ever mis-heard or misunderstood? Where do we go when that happens? The safest place, the ROCK of our foundation, is His Word.

    May the Lord help us to hear Him only. To go to Him for our wisdom and life choices *only*. And to trust that His way is best…no matter what curve-balls the world throws our way.

  38. wow 62 posts were added here and nothing from Kim, where are you dear?

  39. I’m obviously not the only other mother on here that was offended by your insinuation that mothers with less number of kids than yours are out of God’s will or making excuses. Please correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m not), but ‘being fruitful and multiplying’ doesn’t state a specific number! Multiplying…gee, ONE child and I have MULTIPLIED already! I have four beautiful children and consider my ‘quiver full’ and quite blessed. And NOWHERE in the Bible does it state that I am not, for choosing to stop there. Yes, it states that one is blessed to have a quiver full…but was there a number? No. If a husband and wife considers their ‘quiver full’ at one, two, three, four…then so be it. God never said they were cursed, unblessed,etc. Your blog was mean and spiteful of those who have less than HUGE families. I myself love seeing large families, but I also know my own physical and emotional limits as a mother. Yes, large families are blessed, but so are small ones.

  40. It is a decision when a woman decides to follow doctors orders, but when we have to choose to remove our finger that will kill us because it has gangrene, it does not mean we are rejecting God’s blessing of a finger. We love our finger, we miss it everyday, and struggle with desire to have it. This may seem over the top, but I know women who have had to make the choice of life or a uterus. They choce life and struggle with it, but i do not see it as any different as removing a finger with gangrene in it. They accepted God’s blessings, they are not intentionally killing their children and they are accepting a different path God chose for them.
    Did you know in some countries the doctors choose for you? I am not talking about just China, but Russia, where if you have two c-sections, you will wake up with your tubes tied.
    My FIL would rather a woman die than stop having children, no exceptions. I see this as holding something up that is not in God’s word.
    I will never call myself “quiverfull”, and not because I think using BC is right.
    I think only in certain circumstances and most kinds that are available have other issues with them, so only certain kinds can a Christian even think about, like NFP.

  41. I don’t have time to read all the comments, but to your post, Kim, WOO HOO!!! We think along the same lines.

  42. I thought I might clarify – the fact that the medication is an abortifacient doesn’t mean I am justifying the use of abortifacients for the purpose of abortion. The contrary is true.

  43. Hello Kim and all –
    I enjoy your blog, and enjoy reading about all the big families.

    I struggled with this issue a few years ago, but no longer. When I had my first child, I developed rheumatoid arthritis. I had another child within 14 months and was diagnosed when she was 6 months old. Those first years were the hardest I’ve ever had to endure. I remember not being able to pin their diapers because the pain was so excruciating. Off and on medication, through some really hard times and some not so bad, and fast forward a few years, I now have 5 wonderful blessings. My hands are permanently deformed now, but, thanks to medication, I live a relatively normal life. I would love to have been one of those large families, but am content with what God has provided.

    The medication I take is, or was at some point, used as part of an abortifacient. It’s a mild form of chemotherapy, and it has kept me from ending up in a wheelchair because of the debilitation of RA. Though I’ve tried many meds, this has been the only thing to stop the disease – the only thing preventing me from living a life of constant pain. Pain so bad that I could not dress myself, that it hurt horribly to wipe myself, much less bathe myself, pain so bad that I dreaded going to bed knowing that I will be a cripple in the morning, or pain so bad that I couldn’t even turn myself over at night.

    I believe that for me, risking pregnancy is akin to sticking my hand in a pit of vipers. Of course God can perform a miracle, but do I tempt Him? Why would it be more Christ-honoring for me to go down that path than for me to go on the way I am, caring for the children He entrusted to me, thankful for them, thankful every day that I can get out of bed without pain, dress myself, and actually perform the duties of a wife and mother? Why is one choice more noble than another? If we felt God leading us in that direction, that would be one thing, but as we don’t, our choice seems to be judged here, albeit in a loving manner.

    I have read (in a pro-quiverfull book) that if a woman is truly too sick to have children, that she and her husband must stop having relations. I simply do not buy this. While I do believe that it is much better to have a quiverfull, and am opposed to the general 2-child mindset of our current culture, I do not agree that procreation is THE priority here. Making blanket judgements like these seems to me legalistic and unwise. I believe God’s will in these gray areas is found with much prayer, much study in His Word, and God’s own leading of hearts.

  44. Amen, to Kim’s post, and I lovedSandy’s comment!

    I don’t understand what is so alluring about birth control. Why am I not supposed to take drugs in high school, but the minute I’m married, I’m supposed to start taking drugs for the next 30 years that alter my natural body functions?

    Why does the bible describe children as blessings from God, but I’m supposed to tell God, “Absolutely no more than 1 or 2 blessings, and make sure they’re cute and healthy? And Lord, just so you know I am serious, I’m going to take drugs to prevent any further blessings!”

    This makes no sense from people who claim Jesus is their Lord and Savior.

  45. This is my blog pick of the week!! I’ll link to it tomorrow.

  46. Natalie, thank you for not being one of those people who make rude, thoughtless comments about the fact that my son is an only child. Plenty of people do. I have been told he will be self-centered, unable to share, unable to get along with others and that he will hate his parents for allowing his “lonely only” status. He is none of those things. He’s the most joyful, most God-confident, well-adjusted child I know. Yes, we get asked questions like, “Are you trying to have another?” as in “Are you as a married couple engaging in intercourse with or without birth control?” People are rude to us just as they are to parents of large families. Some people just don’t have that “tact” gene.

    Again, happy for all of those with “quiverfull” families but especially happy for my little family and how God has blessed us and honored our faith. What a wonderful creator who has made us all unique!

  47. Kaity,

    You asked about adoption and families. I have not heard of “quiverfull” before following a link today, but if it’s what I think it is, then I guess I’m “quiverfull” despite having only two children, one of whom was adopted. You can read a post I made about it last month here:

    http://ginkgo100.blogspot.com/2008/01/family-planning.html

    Adoption, however, is a very personal and often difficult choice. Unlike biological children, all adoptions start with a tragedy, a child losing his first mother. If you are interested in building your family through adoption, I recommend reading The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier.

  48. I am in full agreement on the quiverfull philosophy… in fact, I just wrote a post on my own blog in favor of it. I do disagree, however, that ALL choices to limit family size would be against God’s principles.

    For example… if I came up with uterine cancer WHILE pregnant, there would be no question about my refusing chemo for the sake of the baby, even at risk to my own life.

    However! If I came up with uterine cancer in between pregnancies, there would be no question at all whether I would have a total hysterectomy or not. Of course I would do whatever necessary to save my life so I can be around to mother my children God has already given me.

    I have another friend who gets such low blood pressure when pregnant that she faints even when doing simple things like brushing her teeth. This gets worse each pregnancy. At least once this pregnancy she has fainted and hit her head while her children were sleeping and her husband was working. That puts her AND her family in grave danger. I do not see the decision to limit family size as contrary to scripture in that case. (BTW- she is having her 8th).

    I guess those decisions don’t seem to negate my belief that children are a gift of God, and He is in control of my womb… including the ability to be here or not. I would still see me as walking in the quiverfull beliefs in a case like that.

    The point is to trust God to open or close the womb… to know what is best for our families, and to lead us in the way we should go, right? I welcome comments on my own post on the subject if people want.

  49. I caught plenty of flak when we had three children when our oldest was only 2 and a half. I was outside the norm.

    After that to make a very long and painful story short, we decided we were done. I do not regret it. I had a broken marriage that had to be fixed, and I was able to raise those three children in an intact household -the marriage is well now (a marriage, by the way, that many would have counseled me to leave.)

    I like seeing big families, have no problem with others who have them, but I also have no problem with our decision. I’m sorry that so many quiverfull families seem to judge those of us who are not. It smacks a bit of insecurity on YOUR part. I am truly happy for your families, but I am truly happy with my own.

  50. Hi Kim,

    I appreciate your point of view on this, but please understand there are so many women who long for more children and are prevented. To accept the Lord’s will in this regard involves dying to self over and over, and sometimes we are more successful at it than other times. I think I would prefer the negative comments you get, which are mostly from unbelievers, to the prying questions I’ve gotten from believers who feel entitled to know very intimate details of my life in order to determine if I’m walking contrary to Scripture or just not blessed with many children.

Trackbacks

  1. […] friends and family may not agree with us on whether to use birth control, but they need to know that certain methods do far more  than simply prevent pregnancy.   If our […]

  2. […] Fruitful and Multiply. Since the topic of childbearing seems to be a hot button around […]

  3. […] own, and we strive to avoid jumping to conclusions about where people might stand on the issue. Ann’Re mentioned this in her comment, as did KMC, Hilary and […]

  4. […] own, and we strive to avoid jumping to conclusions about where people might stand on the issue. Ann’Re mentioned this in her comment, as did KMC, Hilary and […]

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