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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A cradle full of arrows

QuiverFull sounds like the name of a training regimen for Robin Hood. Far from it, it is instead a fundamentalist Christian movement that is active and growing today. The name comes from some verses out of Psalms, in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5, NIV)
From these verses, the trouble begins. Followers of QuiverFull equate all forms of birth control with abortion. According to the movement’s publications, they trust in God to determine their family size and accept every child He chooses to give them as an unconditional blessing. As you might expect, this quickly leads to large families – sometimes very large. The group operates a Web site to provide support and resources to QuiverFull families, including a handy due-date calculator on the sidebar of every page. (No joke. QuiverFull means never having to say you’re kidding.)
Many of you are probably familiar with some of the more prominent QuiverFull families, like the Duggars of TLC fame. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar welcomed their 18th child this past December and, given their birthrate for the past 20 years, probably already have another on the way. As seen on the show, the Duggars are a successful, loving family full of bright, happy children; they are the poster family of QuiverFull.
Other families do not paint such a pleasing picture of the movement: Vyckie Garrison, a former QuiverFull mom who left the movement, has become the leader of a small countermovement called “No Longer Quivering” for women who escape the lifestyle of QuiverFull. She tells her story of a family which sometimes did not have enough money for food and clothes and a husband who couldn’t be the leader he was “called” to be, but demanded her submission nonetheless.
Because QuiverFull is closely associated with the Patriarchy movement, women are typically not allowed to work outside the home. They are also required to submit to their husbands in every regard, leaving decisions and family leadership to him. This places all the responsibility of sheltering and feeding the rapidly multiplying mouths on the husband.
Jim Bob Duggar is, arguably, a marketing genius; everything he touches turns to gold. He is a charismatic, strong, dependable father figure who can handle the responsibilities of 18 children. Those traits are not universal to men any more than humility, chastity and a fine singing voice are constants among women. As a result, many QuiverFull families, including Garrison’s, suffer under the faltering leadership and failing financial support of a man who just can’t handle it, but knows that to admit as much would be forsaking his religion.
Besides the daily stresses of raising large families, QuiverFull women often face serious health risks. Garrison was plagued by difficulties in each of her seven pregnancies, and nearly died in more than one of them. But to prevent future pregnancies would have been heresy. Even women who have smooth pregnancies will eventually begin having complications – things just don’t work as well as they used to the 18th time around.
It was a suicide attempt by her oldest daughter that brought Garrison to her senses and led to her leaving the movement. For her daughter, the stresses of unhappy parents and the considerable responsibilities of helping her mother care for her younger siblings had become too much. Garrison realized that the sacrifices she was making weren’t worth it to her children, or to her.
Followers of QuiverFull take their Biblical mandate to reproduce and take back the Earth seriously. They make their progeny their mission, indoctrinating them with the beliefs of the movement from birth so they have little choice but to grow up and multiply. In a democratic society, governed by the vote, numbers are strength. Although they generally choose to withdraw from pagan society, they embrace politics and vote so that, by simply outnumbering the opposition, they can put leaders who represent their values in place.
At no time in the foreseeable future will QuiverFull be able to either deceive or strong arm their way into enough political seats to enact the policies they want. Still, it’s important that citizens, especially other Christians, be aware of the influence that the QuiverFull and Patriarchy movements have on our country. We must stay educated about extremists and not be caught off guard, like so many people were by the exposure of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints this time last year. Otherwise, we may look back and realize that some of the greatest oppression of our time took place against house wives with adorable children who we watched on TV.

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