Quoting Quiverfull: Children As Pets?

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

Doug Phillips paraphrasing Geoff Botkin from Geoff’s teaching “Children As Pets” at the “Baby Conference” July 2010

Mr. Botkin went onto describe how our culture and even some Christians believe that when families make a deliberate choice of when and how many children to have, the children are better loved, cared for, and protected.

But is this not also true of pets? Like pets, children are seen as having no future, no context in God’s created order, no responsibilities, no designated understanding of their place in God’s Kingdom, and no sense of personal duty. However, unlike pets, children have souls, are discipled, and then become disciple-makers of their own children. In our present cultural context, this means discipleship in an excessive, self-centered, and immature approach to life and culture.

Sadly, most Christian children learn to view the world not as God’s battleground, but as a playground, Mr. Botkin noted. Children made in God’s image become enslaved when they are treated like spoiled pets in a culture that emphasizes cuteness, sentimentality, and image over obedience and duty.

Men with hobby lives have hobby families in the artificial world of their own making. Artificial worlds make artificial lives, and the result is a death culture. We have a superstar mentality. We believe we can do what we want, get adulation, and have the world revolve around us.

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About Suzanne Calulu
  • Rebekah

    Just…what? I’ve read this quote three or four times and I can’t even follow his leap of logic to get to what he’s trying to use as a reason to not family plan.

  • http://alisoncummins.com Alison Cummins

    I can’t decipher this enough to identify the logic leap.

  • http://alisoncummins.com Alison Cummins

    Perhaps he’s agreeing that “children are better loved, cared for, and protected” when they are wanted and planned-for, but he thinks that loving, caring for and protecting children is spoiling them. So the statement is true but irrelevant. Children don’t need to be loved, cared for or protected — they just need to be discipled.

    If that’s it, aren’t these the folks that go on about how important it is to “shelter” children? Isn’t it contradictory to say that children need sheltering but not protection?

  • Cathy W

    I think it works out to “Family planning results in spoiled children, who will not want to go along with God’s plan, so you need to have more children than you can pay individual attention to”.

  • suzannecalulu

    The way I was reading it was that he said those people that use family planning to only have a few children tend to treat their kids like someone with a pampered and babied chihuahua or Persian cat. Insulting on two levels. He assumes that anyone that will not be quiverfull will not raise their children to his standards, just make them self centered whiny brats with no use. Plus he thinks there’s no way you could have an animal companion and care for it without making it spoiled. He’s trying to compare bananas and apples and say without quivering use the rod piles of children you’re not going to raise good arrows.

  • Jenny Islander

    I have to say that when I read Quiverfull and other fundamentalist parenting authorities, I get a distinct vibe of, “Why should I have to pay attention to kids anyway? They’re boring and messy and loud and they always interrupt the really important things I am trying to do, plus they never give me the respect I deserve and they think their little projects and problems are important, psssh.”

    Hence, “discipline” the children by hurting and shaming them until they are compliant and silent whenever you’re around. Or teach them to recite ritual acknowledgements of your authority. Actual discipling, with a relationship that allows questioning and even (gasp) arguments–not so much.

  • Red

    He’s probably right that families which plan for a small number of children do child-rearing differently than families who simply accept a large number of children and have no control over it.

    However, the burden is on him to prove that the small-family way of doing it always results in spoiled children who don’t follow God’s will. He’s stating this as a fact, but can he back that statement up? Being able to back up that statement is the thing that his ENTIRE argument for non-family-planning hinges on, so he’d better be able to. Because if those children aren’t raised as spoiled pets, then his observation that small vs. large families do things differently is just a neutral statement of fact, rather than an imperative to see one as*better* than the other.

    Much of this boils down to parenting philosophy, anyway. My philosophy of parenting is far different from his–I believe children need understanding more than they need iron-fisted discipline. I could, despite my bc use, accidentally get pregnant–that child would be totally un-planned, as he’s advocating, yet I would still choose to raise that unplanned child in a way he probably wouldn’t approve of. It would have more to do with my parenting philosophy than with whether the kid was a surprise or not.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    I agree a lot of times culture emphasizes cuteness and sentimentality in children (especially girls) but obedience and duty is not the way to counter this because both ideas promote passiveness. Making a person passive (by encouragement or force) is how you control them, and when a person is rendered passive they are vulnerable to abuse. Also, I don’t think the author has an understanding of what it means to be a pet. A pet is a living thing that is not considered to be able to decide their own destiny and is kept for another person’s pleasure; which is to me how women/children in a patriarchal environment seem to be treated.

  • Verity

    In my experience, Christian homeschooling treated me and my peers as pets–children with no futures of their own, who existed merely to make their parents appear “good” and “loving,” and who were expected to act with all the robotic, doll-like attributes of a Stepford child.

    Note the “playground” versus “God’s battleground” code words, as well. Instead of enjoying life, children should be trained to be soldiers engaged in a never-ending war? What kind of life is it when we have to constantly categorize others as “friend” and “enemy”?

    It seems to me that conservative Christian culture emphasizes cuteness and sentimentality more than modern, secular culture. Think of Elsie Dinsmore and all those tales of demure Pilgrim daughters. *shudder* When a secular family allows its daughters to be tomboys, train in martial arts, do science experiments, and ride motorcycles…and when a fundamentalist family trains its daughters to wear skirts, act modestly, sew crosstitch, and maintain a sweet, demure personality, it’s the conservative Christians who value sentimentality and cuteness. Phillips and Botkin are, oddly enough, projecting fundamentalist qualities and flaws onto seculars in this quote.

  • shadowspring

    Well put, Verity.

  • http://karen-lifetheuniverseandeverything.blogspot.com/ Karen

    There’s so much wrong with this quote, much of which has already been noted by others already. But I was struck by the idea that the only ‘proper’ view of the world is as God’s battleground. I’ll agree that acting as though the world is nothing but a playground is not a healthy worldview, as there is need for responsibility and hard work as well as play. But God didn’t create a battleground. God created a beautiful world with resources to be both enjoyed and tended. Throughout history, to my knowledge, no one has ever built a battlefield; battles happened on farmland, in cities, in meadows and woods, along trade routes on the seas, etc. The only thing that made them battlefields were the fact that people chose to do battle there. The world is no different. As Verity observed, categorizing people as either ‘friend’ or ‘enemy’ and waging an endless war is no kind of life, and it’s certainly not the kind of life God created us or the earth for.

  • Rae

    So…. all I’m getting is he’s saying that children who were planned have completely pointless lives?

    And I live in SoCal, the center of people spoiling their pets. I’ve seen chihuahuas in designer sweaters and spaniels in Baby Bjorn carriers, and gluten-free organic dog snacks, but at that income level and culture buying designer clothes and gluten-free organic snacks and Baby Bjorn carriers for human children isn’t even the beginning of what these same people do for human children…

  • Flower

    I agree with you. What was written by this person made no sense at all. There’s logic?

  • texcee

    It disturbs me that these types of “Christians” are so belligerent and see life as warfare. Jesus never taught this. He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.” LOVE THY NEIGHBOR … that doesn’t just mean the person who lives next door (and we all have issues with our neighbors, don’t we?), but eveyone. We are to love, forgive, and pray for them, not gear up to do battle and raise our children to be the soldiers in our spiritual wars. Foolishness!

  • Nea

    Christian homeschooling treated me and my peers as pets

    That’s what I’ve been thinking more and more. And not just pets, but specific pets – obedient, loyal service dogs who exist to provide helpful work that was assigned to hem, see the man as the unquestioned pack leader, and show off the glories and virtues of his skills as a trainer. Of course, the horrible thing for us secular pet owners is looking at these people praising the notion of treating actual human beings like that and thinking “I ask my pets to obey, but I don’t ask them to hide their emotions or act as if they don’t have personalities.”

  • jaimie

    It sounds like he is getting dangerously close to insulting my pets; two spoiled and very cute dogs. I won’t stand for it!
    My kids are pretty cute too.


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