Quoting Quiverfull: Is Insurance Sin?

Quoting Quiverfull: Is Insurance Sin? February 25, 2013

by Jonathan Lindvall at Bold Christian Living

What particularly struck me the other day was the principle of surety. Is insurance surety? Proverbs 11:15 says, “He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, But one who hates being surety is secure.” Human logic tells us having others pool their resources with us provides greater security, but this verse seems to indicate the opposite.

Nowhere that I am aware does the scripture forbid surety. It simply makes it clear (repeatedly) that it is unwise. What is surety? The transliterated Hebrew word translated here is “‘arab” (Strong’s H6148). It is “a primitive root meaning to braid, i.e. intermix.” It has such diverse usages as Nehemiah 5:3, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine;” Psalm 106:35, “But they mingled with the Gentiles And learned their works;” and Proverbs 24:21 “Do not associate with those given to change.” A dominant usage, though, is the economic bond of “surety” (as in Gen. 43:9; 44:32; Ps. 119:122; Prov. 6:1; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13). This was apparently a guarantee on behalf of another, that his commitment or obligation will be fulfilled.

The question I am having to ask myself is, Is Insurance Surety? Perhaps we can be more precise in our questions. Am I surety for someone else by purchasing insurance? Am I surety for the insurance company? for others insured by the company?  No, I am not obligating myself for the future. I have paid my premium and that is a past action obligating them, not
me, for the future.

If I purchase insurance is someone else (the insurance company) surety for me?  Yes, but this is neither forbidden, nor addressed directly. There doesn’t seem to be anything written against someone being surety for me, just against me being surety for others.

Am I helping someone else (the insurance company) be surety for others when I purchase insurance? Clearly yes! Is this displeasing to God? This seems a distinct possibility.


I have not yet reached a conclusion on this matter, although it is apparent which direction I am leaning at the moment. I am rather certain that I should not judge a brother who has thought and prayed about the matter seriously and concludes it is wise and right for him to carry insurance. But on the basis of the above questions (worry, trust, pooling resources, and especially surety) I suspect the Lord will be leading me to abandon all insurance, and likely at least raise the question for others to consider.

Comments open below

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.

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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  • Cathy W

    I’ve heard an analysis of insurance being sin on the basis that it represents a failure to trust God, but this is a new one…

  • Sarah

    I have to comment. My son had a burning accident and spent 2 weeks in the ICU. The bill would have literally buried us financially for perhaps the rest of our lives. It could have been worse. I don’t believe God would ask me to risk the health of my son and my financial peace. I have a friend who doesnt believe in insurance, and when she told me this, I flatly said, “That’s fine and dandy. You don’t have children or a business. I think it’s completely irresponsible to risk not having insurance when you have children to provide for.” Don’t give me crap about trusting in God. What’s the point of being on born on this earth if we spend our entire lives in the fetal position waiting for God to “fix it”? No. He expects for us to do our part to the best we can.

  • Nea

    Soooo… God wants people to give aid to the needy, BUT God doesn’t like it when you pool resources by giving to a group whose entire purpose is to give aid to the needy. And it’s *totally* okay for other people to pool *their* resources to help *you* for a nominal fee on your behalf because God only gets upset when you reciprocate.

  • To me it doesn’t make sense that people who don’t use birth control, because only God opens and closes the womb; and don’t believe in global warming, because God placed the rainbow in the sky; and don’t believe in insurance or taking government aid because that is relying on something other than God, still feel the need to keep their homes crammed with guns! Don’t they trust the Lord to protect them?

  • JJ

    I think this article illustrates an overarching problem in the movement. When does one find time to LOVE others when you are clearly agonizing over buying insurance? Talk about straining the gnat! I just don’t see how you can live in America with the cost of housing and medical and not have a plan to pay those bills in case something happens. I guess the answer is to always have $200,000 cash in the bank.

  • Saraquill

    Being able to afford trips to the doctor is a wonderful thing.

  • Lindvall completely misunderstands the purpose of the Proverb, which is, don’t pledge your resources to another’s debt, because you can’t guarantee the other’s behavior and he may default and leave you holding the bag. The verse is not about pooling your resources so everyone can be helped. It’s about not making bad financial decisions. Also the Book of Proverbs is about wise living according to general principles. It’s not a set of commands from God.

    Not getting insurance today is a very bad financial decision. Would a proverb-writer today caution against Lindvall’s plan? I think so.

  • Agree, Kristen- I have always understood surety to be synonymous with co-signing, or, as you said, making yourself liable for the debts/behavior of another. Which is generally bad practice anyway…. The list of people I trust to the degree that I would co-sign for them is pretty much my husband and siblings….and doesn’t the verse in question specify a stranger?

  • Yes, a stranger.

    I’ve noticed this pattern in Lindvall before– find a reason to reject a modern practice using dubious “biblical” support, in order to be as “radical for Jesus” as possible. And the list of hardships to place on oneself in Jesus’ name just keeps getting bigger.

  • Cathy W

    That was my first reading of it – that the proverb worked out to, in modern terms, “Never co-sign a loan for anyone.” And that may be just about the sagest advice I’ve ever heard.

  • I’d say, “co-signing a loan for a stranger is a bad bet.” The verse specifies the stranger. Presumably you have some leverage over a family member that mitigates the risk, you know them better, and you’re already motivated to help them succeed in business. Someone you’ve never met before? Why risk co-signing for someone who doesn’t have any friends or family willing to co-sign for them?

  • Persephone

    He’s going to have a real problem driving then. Don’t most states require proof of insurance?

  • I was wondering about that ever since seeing various ‘no insurance’ religious types say that insurance is sinful. Here I know you can pay the state 500 bucks to drive with no coverage. But who would like to do that? Suppose you hit someone and cause 10K damage to their car, which is not unthinkable in these days of luxury autos and the like. You’d really be up the creek with no paddle.

  • Kimberly

    There is no command in this scripture to not give surety. It simply says that you will suffer if you give surety and that to a stranger. No duh. That’s a big risk. Does Lindvall just sit around and think of ways to ideologically flagellate himself and his family? The insurance model of pooling money for the use of one who might need it reminds me of the first church who sold their property and shared everything in common. Insurance isn’t surety, it’s called responsibility.

  • Christine

    This is hardly restricted to Quiverfull – it’s fairly common in various groups. We have a lot of old-order Mennonites in this area. But the rationale in that case is that the community should be supporting each other, and if you have insurance then it removes the obligation. So they effectively have insurance – as an example: if they go see a doctor they have to pay for it. But then the community raises the money for them. I’ve been told that while it’s optional, you are expected to pay a certain amount (based on how much money you have, how much money is needed to be raised, etc.)

    There are also formal “mutual aid” societies which, here at least, is legally accepted in lieu of insurance if insurance would be required. I’m not sure what the difference is, I think it’s that a) it’s not for-profit b) it has a different name (because a lot of the people who do this are very legalistic) c) members pay as the need arises rather than pre-paying into a pool. But I’m not quite sure.

  • Nightshade

    Yeah, good luck to these guys trying to keep legal registration on a vehicle with no proof of insurance…or do they even care about driving legally?