Quoting Quiverfull: Male Friends?

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.

From Visionary Daughters by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin August 1, 2008


Where young men and women are friends, is there too great a danger of emotional entanglement?

Few of us have ever seen friendships between young men and women conducted in an entirely pure and honorable way. The guise of “friendship” is often used to excuse a kind of relationship which is inappropriate. All of us have seen a superabundance of pointless and destructive flirtations, and lots of “friendships” that spun out of control and ended in broken hearts and broken relationships. After doing the math, some conclude that it’s safer to avoid co-ed friendships entirely.

We believe the problem is not with friendship, but with sin. Sadly, sin and selfishness are what drive most the relationships of today’s youth.

Comments open below

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


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  • I always want to respond to this sort of nonsense with “Oh, that’s not true! My lesbian student and my gay student have a great, healthy friendship, with no sexual tension or flirting at all!” and watch the person who said it flail around with why that’s not okay, either. But really, the heteronormative assumptions are practically in-your-face on this one.

    I’m not sure what they mean by “emotional entanglement,” either. Is it just sexual tension? I’ve known pairs of purely platonic friends who were still the most important people in each others’ lives, more so than the people they were dating or even married to; is that okay, or is that “emotional entanglement” too?

  • Evelyn

    I am in my early thirties and have only recently found the freedom to have friendships with men, usually but not always the husbands of my female friends. I have been missing out on 50% of the world! It’s a whole different style of communicating and relating, and I have learned and gained a great deal. I can’t help but wonder if I had known what it was like to be good friends with guys, if I would have made a less disastrous attempt at marriage.

  • Nightshade

    Given their definition of pure versus inappropriate, friendship between men and women is impossible! I know that way of thinking has messed with my ability to have male friends, years later and even though I have discarded those beliefs.

  • One of the reasons I was attracted to my beloved is that he has remained friends with his exes. To me, that means that he regarded them as human beings from the start and that he’s good relationship material. (Eleven years down the road, that assessment seems to have been correct.)

  • Rae

    I’ve found that when young men and women aren’t really allowed to have platonic friendships, they don’t know how to interact with each other as human beings, and instead see the opposite sex primarily in the context of potential romantic partners. Which isn’t healthy at all.

    This is something I noticed in even a moderately fundamentalist church – the girls would be like “Boys! This boy and that boy! They’re so cute!” and make intricate plans to not-really-flirt at youth group activities. But I had a brother who was close to my age and I was like “Do you know what boys are LIKE? They smell bad, and leave the toilet seat up, and eat ALL the food, and leave smelly athletic gear everywhere! Why would you want one?!?”

  • Same here! Minus the 11 years. It will be one year this January.

  • Jenny Islander

    Fundamentalists frame every interaction between a man and a woman in terms of whether she is “making” him think about sex, and they describe sexual thoughts as some kind of irresistible tide. No wonder fundamentalist women can’t have men friends.

    Me, I grew up in a lukewarm worldly etc. etc. mainstream (spit) church, and I had tons of male acquaintances my own age with whom I never had sex or even came close to having sex. We had common interests and we hung out together. I wasn’t anxiously examining every single one of them in an attempt to find (cue harp music) The One, and I was raised to consider whatever funny feelings a man got in his pants to be that man’s problem and not mine, and somehow we did not end up in an orgy pile. I did marry one of them, though. Because, you know, we were, you know, friends. And one day there was something more there. And instead of him being this mysterious Male who I had to try to understand by finding just the right book to guide me to Spiritual Wifehood, I was marrying my friend, who I knew I could count on, and who liked me, and who was the first person I thought of when good or bad things happened in my life, and who had told me secrets he did not want to entrust to anyone else, and who was also (ahem) hot. No courtship checklist required.

  • Jenny – Your story sounds extremely similar to mine, which is what I was just about to post. I was raised to view people of the opposite sex as human beings – as potential friends, not potential “mates.” And something more than friendship did develop with one of those friends. I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart for 14.5 years. As for the rest of my male friends? I still keep in touch with most of them, and in all this time there has not been one iota of “inappropriate thought” towards any of them. I have long bemaoned that while fundamentalists say that the world treats young people like animals with no self control [hence the passing out of condoms in schools and sex ed, etc], but that is simply not true…they then turn around and also treat them the same way, only instead of permissiveness, it’s done with control. Instead of “You can’t handle being in the same room with a member of the opposite sex, so have some birth control,” it’s “You can’t handle being in the same room with a member of the opposite sex, so don’t talk to them at all.” It’s like they don’t trust the job they did parenting their own kids!!

  • saraquill

    Have the Botkin sisters ever interacted with male peers that weren’t kin?

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    The attitude behind birth control availability is not “You can’t handle being in the same room with a member of the opposite sex, so have some birth control.” It’s “The responsible way to handle doing some of the things you might possibly want to do with certain persons of the opposite sex while in the same room with them is by using birth control.” Let’s not play the fundamentalists’ own game.

  • Holly

    Funny–after my ex-boyfriend and I split up we immediately transisitoned into best friends and the physical side of our relationship was over just like that. After his untimely death I mourned (and still do) the loss of my friend not my romantic partner.

  • Jenny Islander

    Yes, this. “Look, you may or may not decide to have sex, but it is well known that you are at the age when people tend to talk themselves into having really stupid sex, so here’s some birth control. And also here’s a detailed talk about failure rates, STDs, pregnancy, relationships, and drinking.” At least that was what I got in public school health class. Call it “How to Be a Smart, Responsible Horndog.” Or “How to See the Class President Sink Lower and Lower in His Chair Because the Lady Talking About Genital Warts and Demonstrating Proper Condom Usage on a Banana is His Mooooommmmm!” (Mrs. Sugita was of the opinion that if we couldn’t talk about it, we shouldn’t be doing it. A very sound opinion IMO.)