Monday, September 21, 2009

My Journey to Becoming Quiverfull Part IV: Back to the Bible

I know some of you have been wondering why I didn’t just get out my Bible at the beginning of this journey. Remember, though, I was already aware of the quiverfull verses. I had just interpreted them to mean something different. For instance, I’ve written in a previous post how I assumed God told Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28) and then Noah and his sons (Gen 9:1) to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, because the earth was empty then (and full now, I mistakenly believed). I just thought we were the last frontier here in Texas, but now that I realize the earth is not overpopulated I have to wonder if maybe God didn’t just mean what He said. I could give you statistics about how all the people in the world could line up next to one another and all fit in Texas, but I think it’s fairly obvious if you just take a look around you. We went to Kazakhstan a few years ago to adopt our son and couldn’t believe the wide open spaces we saw out of the airplane. It’s a huge empty country. Even in India and China where the cities are crowded, it’s not that way in the countryside. But, more importantly to me, we are released specifically in the New Testament from the ceremonial and food laws of the Old Testament. Why wouldn’t God specifically release His church from the “be fruitful and multiply” passages, as well? The absence of a repeal makes me think that it’s most likely still God’s plan that His chosen people (now the church) welcome, rather than avoid, having children.

Interpretations of the Onan incident (Gen 38) are all over the map. When I first studied this passage about a decade ago while reading through the Bible, it puzzled me. I was not quiverfull and this was a problematic verse. It appeared that Onan was killed by God for practicing birth control. The concept of Levirate marriage, or a brother marrying his deceased brother’s wife, in order to give his brother an heir, was not a strictly enforced law, but more like an honorable cultural practice. In other words, violating Levirate marriage brought shame to the family, but wasn’t punishable by death. So why did God strike Onan dead? I decided it must have been because the Messiah would come from the line of Judah. So, again I had dodged the quiverfull implications by explaining away a passage of Scripture as an exception, but not the rule. Living in this anti-child culture, though, helps me see the Onan incident in another light. Maybe God struck him dead because he was all too willing to have relations with his deceased brother’s wife, he just wasn’t willing to father her child. His Levirate marriage was on the outside only (surely he desired to avoid bringing shame on himself by refusing to marry his brother’s wife), but God sees what’s done in secret and Onan’s selfish heart caused him to disregard God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. If we interpret the Onan passage in this way then birth control is frowned upon by God, to say the least.

What about natural family planning? Many Christians argue for the allowance of natural family planning by citing 1 Corin 7 where Paul talks about husbands and wives not depriving one another except for a time that they may give themselves to fasting and prayer. I think what is in view here is an interruption of intimacy for spiritual reasons, not physical ones. I’m not going to argue that point, though. It definitely does open up the possibility for NFP. However, the key is they’ve interrupted their relations. I find nowhere in the Bible a passage that condones an intentional separation of the act of procreation from marital intimacy. Of course, God is the one who opens and closes the womb, but His sovereignty doesn’t release us from obedience to His Word.

Then there’s the famous quiverfull passage that refers to children as a blessing and reward (Ps 127:3-5). I think even more compelling than the Bible verses that call children a blessing are the many passages that show the great travail of women in the Bible who are barren (Sarai, Rebekkah, Rachel, Samson’s mother, Hannah, Elizabeth). Barrenness was viewed as a curse and when God opened the womb it was accompanied by great celebration and rejoicing. These personal examples reinforce the Biblical principle that children are to be seen as a blessing. Moreover, if these women are to be our models, children are to be sought after and prayed for.

I also pondered anew when I went back to the Bible what it could mean that women will be saved through childbearing (2 Tim 2:15). I think the most likely interpretation of this verse is that though sin entered through one woman, Eve, women could “redeem” themselves, so to speak, by raising godly children. I think this verse is making a statement about how women can make a difference in their culture for good by bearing children and training them up to love and serve the Lord. I can’t help but see the rampant feminism, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery in our culture as a flood that could very well destroy the world as we know it and childbearing as the “Ark” that God has provided to save us. The door is open, but nobody wants to go in. It seems we’d rather drown ourselves in our iniquity as a culture than seek to be rescued through the raising up of a godly generation.

So, there you have it. My quiverfull journey in a nut-shell. This is a personal conviction for me. It's something I'm passionate about and love sharing, so thank you for "listening". It's not, however, something that is up there with the gospel for me. It's not something I'd leave a church over or pick a fight about. Ultimately, I believe God is sovereign over the womb no matter what we do. I know too many people who have gotten pregnant when they were practicing birth control (I guess this was the problem, they were just practicing:) and too many couples who wanted desperately to have a child but couldn't, to believe the power to procreate resides in man. So please take this as what it is. One person's journey to a change in thinking that has led to a change in lifestyle. Maybe God will bless it and maybe He won't. That's for Him to decide.

I’m going to write one more post in this series in answer to a good question I received from a follower and friend. I welcome any other questions, as well. I’m just trying to get at the truth like all of you and I want to thoroughly think through all relevant issues. Thank you for bearing with me through this series of long posts. I promise I’ll get back to cute pictures and punch lines ASAP.


  1. I subscribe to your blog via Google Reader :) and just read all four parts of this series (so far) in the last ten minutes - you sound a lot like me :) - i remember being 25 with three children, and *knowing* in my heart that this is where God was calling me but being *SCARED* and looking for someone to talk me out of it, but there wasn't any Biblical justification for the status quo... only peer pressure. Sad. I've since decided that, as a wise friend once said, maybe quiverfull is a conviction, not a command. It would be gorgeous if every believer had a passion for raising children who knew God, walked with Him and loved Him wholeheartedly - but i think He works on us all on the things that concern Him most, and this is what He spoke to *me*...
    I've got seven now - ages 13 down to 1. And i love this way of life, love having a large family, love the benefits of many siblings, love what this life has done to my marriage and to my own heart and character. It's been nothing but blessing .

  2. Beautiful posts. We only have 4 (due to medical reasons) but we are blessed so much by them everyday! Your posts are great!

  3. I enjoyed this post and agree with much of it as well. Very thoughtful.

  4. Interesting and thought-provoking post. I like how you mention the inward motives of Onan.

    God sees the heart of His children and He judges on things unseen.

    I'm glad you are part of the effort to raise Godly children. I fear that our children will be living in a chaos that we could not imagine.

    God keeps telling me to work hard at pouring His truth into each of my kids because they will face many obstacles. Every little second counts!

  5. I have observed that a mom of many children understand ministry, serving, busyness (the good kind), priorities, etc in a very distinctive way. I have admired those who would be willing to go forward without having it all figured out beforehand. God certainly equips you for the things he calls you to do. My life is so full of good things, thanks to my four children! I have often contemplated more and wonder why we stopped. How can you limit such blessing? Thanks for sharing your heart, I will be thinking on these things for quite some time!

  6. I know your comment that "we are released specifically in the New Testament from the ceremonial and food laws of the Old Testament" is just a side point of this post, but I would like to read the passage where it's found, if you know where to find it!

  7. Hi Laura, The book of Hebrews, especially chs 9-10 explains how Christ fulfilled the OT system of animal sacrifices and temple worship. That the previous system was just a shadow or type fulfilled in Him. This is why we no longer sacrifice bulls and goats- their blood was never sufficient to take away sins (Heb 10:4).

    As for the food laws, 1 Corinthians 10 deals with this issue. It's something the NT church struggled with since so many new believers were not Jews. "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking not questions for conscience' sake (as in whether it had been sacrificed to idols), for the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." 1 Corin 10:25 ..."Therefore, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." v 31 1 Corinthians 6 also alludes to this debate on lawful foods. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them." v 12-13

    Acts 10 records Peter's vision from God in which Peter is told by God to take the gospel to Cornelius (gentile) and his household. God uses "unclean" animals to make the point that "what God has cleansed you must not common. v 15 This holds true both for people and animals. God uses the lesser to prove the greater.

    And finally, Jesus Himself points out to the pharisees on numerous occasions that all the outward things they were doing to cleanse themselves had left their hearts filthy. My favorite is when He tells them they think washing their hands will make them clean (cleansing before entering the Temple), but it's their hearts that defile them, not their hands. The reason for prohibiting unclean animals was the same as that of ceremonial washing- keep their sins and need for forgiveness always before them. Christ pointed out that it's not those outward things- eating, washing- that make a person clean.

    Thanks for the interest- hope that helps!


  8. Thanks so much for getting back to me Celee!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.