Quiverfull Movement

In my last post I discussed the belief that singleness is leading to a decline in church attendance. Traditional marriage defendants like Al Mohler believe that if more Christians would marry at a younger age they would not only “grow up” faster, but they’d also realize how important the local church is for their lives.Let’s take that logic one (big) step further. Today NPR featured a piece on the Quiverfull movement. These are conservative Christians who do not practice any form of birth control. They find biblical justification in Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” The belief that children are a blessing from God is a wonderful doctrine of Christianity. And there’s nothing particularly new about some Christians forgoing birth control as an expression of their faith. (The Roman Catholic Church still officially frowns upon birth control.) What the Quiverfull movement adds to the conversation is a militant motivation. Nancy Campbell is a leading voice within Quiverfull. She says, “The womb is such a powerful weapon; it’s a weapon against the enemy…. The more children I have, the more ability I have to impact the world for God.” Campbell and others believe that Christians are losing ground in the culture because they simply aren’t reproducing enough. The fear of being out number by Muslims is particularly frightening. Campbell adds: “We look across the Islamic world and we see that they are outnumbering us in their family size, and they are in many places and many countries taking over those nations, without a jihad, just by multiplication,” Kathryn Joyce has documented the “womb as religious weapon” movement in her book Quiverfull: Inside The Christian Patriarchy Movement. She says: “They speak about, ‘If everyone starts having eight children or 12 children, imagine in three generations what we’ll be able to do. We’ll be able to take over both halls of Congress, we’ll be able to reclaim sinful cities like San Francisco for the faithful, and we’ll be able to wage very effective massive boycotts against companies that are going against God’s will.’ ” I know Christians who do not believe in birth control. They have chosen to exercise their faith by trusting God entirely with their family planning. Although I may not share their conviction, I do admire their faith. What concerns me about NPR’s report is the militant motivation some are now placing on childbearing. Just as I disagreed with Mohler that marriage is a prerequisite for church growth, I also disagree that large families are the God-ordained strategy for advancing the mission of the gospel. We see neither strategy employed in the New Testament. The gospel is spread by the preaching and demonstration of God’s love for the world, not by driving people into marriage and the maternity ward. Still, as Christianity continues to lose its privileged status in Western culture we are likely to see more of these defensive tactics gain an audience. Read the entire NPR article here.

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