“Quiverfull creates two kinds of men: those who control and those who become controlled …”
I was thinking about the things that almost destroyed me and Dawn’s relationship. This wasn’t the only issue but it was a big one. I’ll just let my mind put the words together and not try to make it pretty or anything.
When Dawn was first convinced to go to a Quiverfull / homeschool mentality, I was not. I had issues with the movement and even that group of friends. They talked about being submitted to their husbands but I never saw it. If their husbands didn’t follow the writings of the prophets of the movement, then their husbands were looked down on. We would be told about other men who were involved in their families as good leaders, who had their own businesses, who did this or did that, built this and could fix that and lived on a farm etc., etc. But I saw and spoke to their husbands. With rare exceptions, they were either control freaks or they had been beaten into submission themselves trying to live up to the principle of the “man” that their wives read about in books from the movement. Watching some of them read about other men in the movement reminded me of watching some women read romance novels. That sigh, that side-glance at their not-quite-cutting-it husbands seemed very similar.
And the men that weren’t control freaks were trapped. Think about it. Here’s a paraphrase of a conversation that happened between Dawn and me.
Dawn: I believe that God determines when someone is going to get pregnant so doing anything to prevent it is sinful.
Brad: So using condoms would be bad?
Dawn: Yes. And any other abortifacient method.
Brad: So should we just try to figure out when you might get pregnant and avoid those times?
Dawn: No that’s still trying to control God. And I would cry if we used a condom or did anything like that. I couldn’t violate my principles.
OK. That conversation seems harmless enough. But here’s the problem. My thoughts on the matter didn’t matter. What could I do? Having sex with a condom meant I was a heathen and forcing her to go against her principles. A good man who is not Quiverfull cannot do anything once his wife becomes Quiverfull.
We had the same issue with head coverings. The group she was in believed they should wear head coverings to show that they were submitted to their husbands. But I didn’t think that was necessary. It was an outward show of something that, at the time, I didn’t believe was true anyway. These women were not submitted. And besides, I wasn’t looking for a servant. I wanted a help meet, someone to stand by my side. It was funny. To show that she was “submitted to me” she was going to wear the head covering whether I wanted her to or not. It seemed ironic.
Homeschooling was very similar. I was, however, definitely for homeschooling. But my reason was that I felt it would give my kiddos the best education. Saying that I thought it was fine that other parents put their kids in private and (God forbid) public schools caused no small problem amongst our homeschooling friends. If I had mentioned during that time that I thought the kids should be in public school, there would have been no discussion on the matter. Dawn and her ever-present invisible group of prophets, friends, writers and voices in the movement would have condemned me as being ignorant and misguided. They would have prayed that God changed my mind and put me on the right path.
But I got tired of it. I didn’t need a priest to stand between me and God any more and I didn’t need a movement to make me into a man or to convince the women in the community that their husbands should follow this checklist to be a real man. I have friends. I have a bible. I have history. I have parents. I have resources. But ultimately I have a mind and a will. I don’t know how many times, when alone with other men, the men would admit that they were in charge because their wives told them they had to be. Their wives told them what real men do and the guys read the books their wives gave them and broke their backs trying to be like those guys. It was unspoken, but it was tangible.
I think of a song by Hawk Nelson called “Everything You Ever Wanted.”
“I tried to be perfect. Tried to be honest. Tried to be everything that you ever wanted. I tried to be stronger. Tried to be smarter. Tried to be everything but you…” It was how I felt.
The wives submitted to the desired image of their husbands as described by the keepers of the measuring rod. But if their husbands had said, “I don’t know about all of this stuff”, they would be scolded, “educated” on the facts or worse. Other husbands (the control freaks) would be brought in to “correct” the questioning infidel and, in the end, the shame of it all would put the doubting Thomas back in his place. Not under the thumb of their wives, although it would appear that way, but under the thumb of the movement. “Do it this way and God will bless you and love you.” But my Bible teaches me that while I was unlovable, God loved me. (Not trying to preach!)
Wow, that was long. Sorry it was disorganized and rambling. Anyway, I hope that says something about it. I know it was totally different from Vyckie’s experience. But I think the movement creates two kinds of men: those who control and those who become controlled. The women play opposite roles to the men. I could go on forever, but I won’t. Hope this at least starts the discussion.