Quiverfull: Outbreeding the World

Yes, the Quiverfull movement really wants to out breed the rest of the world. That’s kind of the idea. You hear all the time in families influenced by Quiverfull ideas the travesty of the average Western family only having two children, and how that presents an opportunity for those true Christian families that have many more than that average, and about how if we don’t do something the Muslims with their huge families will take over the world. I got these messages loud and clear growing up. I was taught that I was to change the world with my uterus.

Today, I came upon a Quiverfull article illustrating exactly the ideas I’m talking about here, and thought I would post it in whole for those readers who may not have had exposure to the ideas I did growing up. I have put the parts I think especially important in bold.

 

 

The Population Bust An Opportunity

By David Crank

The predicted population explosion has not occurred. In most countries around the world, birth rates are reported to be at or below the replacement rate (2.1 births per woman). Worldwide the birth rate in 2000 was estimated at 2.9 per woman, as compared to 5.4 in 1970. In the U.S. the rate has been near the replacement rate (reported to be 2.01 births per woman in 2002). Virtually all population growth in the U.S. is resulting from immigration. A number of countries are seeing a reduction in population that is of great concern, and are now trying to encourage couples to have more children – with little effect.
The population bust creates a very real opportunity for segments of the population willing to move counter to this trend. As American Christians, most of us would like to see our society and government change in many ways. We would like to see an end to legalized abortion, we would like to see strong Christian influences and witnesses throughout our society, we would like to see major reductions in pornography, immorality, gambling, misuse of drugs and alcohol, homosexuality, and a host of other evils that have been growing in our culture. What can we do about these things?
We can work to change laws, to influence our neighbors, to teach and preach and write about these things, etc. However, all of these efforts would be much more effective if there were many more of us working towards these ends. We need more Christians, and not just ones who make a one time profession and then continue living much as before! We need to make many more disciples and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:18-20).
We all know this, but sometimes we overlook one of the most effective ways to achieve this over the longer term. With each child born into our families we have an incredible opportunity to present the gospel to them and disciple them thoroughly over a period of perhaps 20 years. The more children we are able to have and raise for the Lord, the greater our long-term impact on our culture. In a period when the general population is barely producing enough children to replace themselves, the potential impact of a high birth strategy is greatly amplified.

The Impact of Your Family Alone

Just how much impact can just you and your spouse have on the future world merely by birthing and raising children for the Lord? Assuming all of your descendants are able to find godly mates outside of your family and, on average, reproduce at the same rate you do, and these descendants are all faithful to follow in the same footsteps …

If 6 children per couple:

Generation #1: 6 children
Generation #2: 36 children
Generation #3: 216 children
Generation #4: 1,296 children 

Total direct descendants: 1,554

If 8 children per couple:
Generation #1: 8 children
Generation #2: 64 children
Generation #3: 512 children
Generation #4: 4,096 children
Total direct descendants: 4,680
If 10 children per couple:
Generation #1: 10 children
Generation #2: 100 children
Generation #3: 1,000 children
Generation #4: 10,000 children 

Total direct descendants: 11,110

Compare these numbers with four generations of 2 children per couple:
30 total direct descendants.

Population Numbers

What percentage of the U.S. population is truly Christian? And what percentage of these are truly seeking to live for the Lord and to evaluate everything by the standard of the Bible?
Suppose, for example’s sake, that 10% of the U.S. population was truly Christian and serious about their Christianity, and were willing to have a few more children that the typical unbelievers (say 4 children instead of 2). Then suppose 1/5 of these, or 2% of the total population, were willing to seriously diverge from the norm of our society by not using birth control and being willing to accept as many children as God would bless them with (suppose an average of 8 children per family). Then suppose succeeding generations were convinced to do the same, while 90% of the population continued to average 2 children per family.
Given this scenario, how might the population mix change over a few generations? (Assume a population of 100 million for simplicity and that all spouses are taken from within the same group).

Generation #0
90% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

8% Serious Christians  (avg. 4 children)
(8 Million)

2% “Quiver Full” Christians  (avg. 8 children)
(2 Million )

Generation #1

79% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

14% Serious Christians  (avg. 4 children)
(16 Million)

7% “Quiver Full” Christians  (avg. 8 children)
(8 Million)

Generation #2
58% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

21% Serious Christians (avg. 4 children)
(32 Million)

21% “Quiver Full” Christians (avg. 8 children)
(32 Million)

Generation #3

32% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (avg. 2 children)
(90 Million)

23% Serious Christians (avg. 4 children)
(64 Million)

45% “Quiver Full” Christians (avg. 8 children)
(128 Million)

The Outcome. Isn’t it amazing how fast a small difference in birth rates can change the makeup of a population? In two generations – that would be the grandchildren of a young couple starting out right now, a 10% population segment of Christians could almost overtake the unbelievers and nominal Christians – and that’s without counting any conversions resulting from evangelism outside your immediate family! By the 3rd generation, that original 10% could represent 68% of the whole!
Of course it is really a bit more complicated than this. These numbers just look at each generation separately, in actuality about 3 generations are living at the same time and young children do not have a great influence until they grow up. So it might take one more generation to change the actual voting majority. There are also other factors which would impact the final numbers, but probably not a great deal.
Essential Conditions. There is however one other necessary requirement for reaching this end. The Christian parents averaging 4 or 8 children must also successfully raise their children to similarly follow the Lord and to also marry and reproduce accordingly. Many children straying from the faith or following the world in averaging only 2 children per family, and things do work out nearly so well.
Is This Truly Feasible? What I see when exhibiting at homeschool conferences is encouraging. Particularly among those Christians who have been home schooling for longer periods, larger families are very common. I would guess that the average number of children among Christian home schoolers is around four and going higher. We meet a good number of such families with 8, 10, or 12 children! Though there will always be some unable to have children at all, and others blessed with only one or two, I would still expect an average of 7 or 8 children per family among those not using birth control. Doing a little genealogy research on various branches of our family, I found the average number of living children in the 1700 and 1800s to be in that range or higher – in spite of higher mortality among infants and small children.
And is it feasible for Christian parents to on average lose less than 10% of their children to the world? Statistics have been published indicating that as much as 80% of the children from Christian families are turning away from the church as young adults. However, this is clearly not happening among most home schooling families. Some young people from fine Christian homeschooling families are lost, but I would estimate the number as well below 20% at present (from those families who homeschool through high school).

 

So yes, I think such a change is very feasible and could be driven heavily by the homeschool movement – IF – we would (1) be diligent in speaking out against the world’s view of children as burdens; and (2) strongly encourage one another and others to trust God in this area; and (3) truly welcome more children into our own families, if God would provide.
Notice the assumption that if you raise your children properly they will grow up to be your ideological clones and copy your exact lifestyle. Of everything I read in articles like this, this is the part I find most destructive. It’s not just about raising children who love Jesus, it’s about raising “true” Christians (aka ones who agree with you on every minute point of theology, morality, and politics) who will have six, eight, or ten children like you. Raising Christians who “stray from the faith” (aka questioning even a single doctrinal point, such as young earth creationism or anti-gay rights) or “average only two children like the world” represents failure.  

“Some young people from fine homeschooling families are lost,” the article says. I am one of those “lost” young people. So are those whose blogs are listed under my “Links” tab. And let me tell you, for those “lost” young people this kind of thinking wrecks havoc with familial relations.


Also, it really does seem that this strategy represents an abandoning of the original Christian strategy of evangelicalism. Rather than making Christians by giving birth to them, why not make Christians by converting them? Has conversion failed? If the only way you can get others to share your religious beliefs is by birthing and indoctrinating them, you have a serious problem.

Oh and also, apparently infertility doesn’t fit in this model either.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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