Holy sugar … I should know better than to actually read the Above Rubies magazine from which I have been too lazy to cancel my subscription. But this morning I couldn’t resist skimming through the pages to catch up on Colin & Nancy Campbell’s ever-growing stockpile of Holy War ammunition … er, quiver full of arrows.
Whereas, every AR article used to inspire and motivate me to fight the good fight, now it all reminds me of how my desire to love and serve the Lord wholeheartedly was twisted and exploited to scam me into embracing and supporting the Patriarchy.
Take this brief article by Esther MacDonald for example:
Proud to be a Tent Peg
A tent peg is a lowly object. It is not made out of fancy material or decorated with fancy designs. Its job is to bore into the dirt and stay there as long as needed. But here is a wonderful truth about tent pegs and other humble implements. God accords them just as much significance as He does golden altars, fragrant incense, and beautifully embroidered linen.
When the Israelites had completed all the components of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, Moses had them present their work before him to be inspected. He didn’t just ask to see the ark of the Testimony and the pure gold lampstand; He asked to see every last piece of this most important structure. Aaron’s priestly garments had to be perfect, but so did the tent pegs. (Exodus 39:32-43)
In God’s eyes, and therefore in the eyes of Moses, His servant, each item had an important job to do and each was infused with value and significance. Sometimes you may not feel like anything more than a tent peg, holding down the flapping tent of your home. But in God’s eyes it is not important whether you are made of bronze or gold. What is important to Him is whether or not you are carrying out, to the best of your ability, the function for which you were designed. That quality is what passes the inspection of our Lord and gives glory to Him.
Okay … I suppose that if tent pegs were self-aware, the lowly wooden stakes might find comfort in the thought that God cares as much about their quality as He does about the perfection of the priestly garments.
But … so what? Why should the significance of a tent peg in God’s eyes make devoted Christian women feel inspired to carry out the function for which they are designed to the best of their abilities?
Just in case it needs to be said, that function, according to Above Rubies, is to serve their husbands and produce babies.
The beguiling message of this quaint little bible study is fraught with truly insulting presuppositions, not the least of which is that while purporting to encourage women “in their high calling as wives and mothers,” comparing a submissive help meet and prolific mother to a lowly tent stake betrays the author’s underlying view that stay-at-home-moms are more appropriately related to tent pegs than to golden lampstands. Supposedly in the Quiverfull economy, being a wife and mother is a woman’s crowning achievement - so why does the author not write something less belittling like this:
Sometimes you may not feel like fragrant incense, unreservedly burning yourself up to fill your home with a delicious aroma which is pleasing to the Lord. But in God’s eyes it is not important whether you are made of bronze or gold. … blah, blah, blah …
Here’s what I think. For all their talk about the eternally paramount value of motherhood, Quiverfull women don’t really believe it. Deep down, fundamentalist Christian women feel inherently inferior … very much like a lowly tent peg.
In reality, we all know instinctually that wooden stakes were not worth as much as beautifully embroidered linen. Great care was taken to ensure that fine linen was preserved in pristine condition and if the cloth should be stained or torn, you can be assured that those responsible for the great Tabernacle would take pains to repair the damage. But a broken tent peg? Ha! Who cares, right? Toss it in the fire! I’m sure Moses could send any random Hebrew kid to chop down an Acacia tree and carve out all the stakes he needed. The fact that Moses (and therefore, his God) insisted on inspecting the tent pegs says nothing about the value of sticks … it only proves that patriarchs are micro-managing nitpickers.
At heart, Quiverfull women know they are expected, like a tent peg, to be metaphorically (sometimes quite literally) pounded deep into the dirt in order to support and uphold the whole grand spectacle of privileged male dominance, and like lowly tent pegs, they are expendable. How many times have we witnessed a widowed or abandoned patriarch quickly find himself a new, young replacement bride to raise his quiver full of arrows?
If Above Rubies women truly believed that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, self-justifying pep talks like this would not be necessary. Ironically, it is only within the narrow little world of fundamentalist patriarchy that women are in fact so thoroughly overused, taken for granted, and devalued. In the grown-up world in which men do more than pay lip-service to the value of wives and mothers, women are not so desperate that they will feel proud to be considered as significant as tent pegs.
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Vyckie Garrison started No Longer Quivering to tell the story of her “escape” from the Quiverfull movement. Over time, NLQ has developed into a valuable resource of information regarding the deceptions and dangers of the Quiverfull philosophy and lifestyle. Several more former QF adherents are now contributing their stories to NLQ and our collective voice makes these Quiverfull warnings impossible to dismiss or ignor
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce