Quoting Quiverfull: Fear and Readiness?

by Vaughn Ohlman from True Love Doesn’t Wait – Fear and Readiness

It is a funny difference between conservatives and liberals that conservatives seem to always question liberals ideas, and liberals question conservatives motives. Indeed, when a liberal makes a movie about an evil conservative the conservative is almost never doing what the conservative says he wants to do (ie he is a hypocrite[1]) whereas a conservative movie will often show liberals living up to their stated ideals (which just happen to be wrong, immoral, and lead to a deranged and deprived society).


A similar issue has cropped up, repeatedly, in the discussions on betrothal. There are, basically, two sets of opponents to the idea. The first is conservatives: the kind of people who are big on ‘courtship’. They have built themselves an entire edifice of extra-Biblical (and anti-Biblical) ideas and do not appreciate what we have to say.


Those conservatives who choose to enter into the discussion do so primarily over the meaning and usefulness of the Scriptures on the issues. Or they point to general principles of hermeneutics to argue against any kind of mandate for the principles of betrothal.


However the liberals (the anti-quiverfull radical feminists so popular on some sites) take a different tack. While they occasionally mention (briefly) some Scripture or hermeneutic; they often, and enthusiastically, speak to my motives; claiming for me pretty much every nasty motive the modern mind can invent.


Well, I’m a big boy, and can handle the flack. I’ve suffered worse. They don’t even bother to come over and make the comments on my site or my FaceBook page. But I do think that the motives they give are interesting ones and ones that could use some discussion. I won’t comment on their truth, which only God can judge, but I can comment on their logic and theological soundness… a more human endeavor.

The first thing they accuse me of is ‘fear’.  They think I am worried that my son will pick the ‘wrong’ wife; and are convinced that this is at least one of the reasons I want to pick for him.

Ironically this is true, although perhaps not in the way they intend. It is true that I ‘fear’ (at least as broadly defined) but the actual fear they propose is wrong.


I think my son is perfectly capable of ‘picking’ a good wife… at least, as compared to me. Indeed, if the common expression of ‘choosing’ one’s wife were literally true instead of being merely a figure of speech [2] I would consider my son fully capable of picking a very good wife, thank you very much. Perhaps not as good as I might pick but, as the picking is purely hypothetical… tis a moot point.


The second reason that the anti-quiverfull crowd will bring up, as you might have guessed from the title, is ‘readiness’. ‘A young man’ they say, ‘who is not ready to pick a wife is not ready to get married’. So they envision I must not think my son ‘ready’ to pick a wife.


This particular argument falls particularly flat. I think my son was readier to pick himself a wife at fifteen than the overwhelming majority, indeed probably the totality, of these anti-quiverful women are able to pick a husband.[3] Indeed they declare their rebellion to the Biblical qualifications for husbands and the role of the wife quite overtly. The site is dedicated to an open rebellion to a specific verse from God, after all.[4]


So why, then, do I propose betrothal as the ‘right’ way for my son to get married? Why did I think it better for me to ‘pick’ a wife for him than for he to pick one for himself?


Well, first of all, we don’t really have a marriage mart– we have dating and courting. We have two processes which force our young people into relationships which go beyond ‘brother and sister’, and yet are not yet husband and wife. I’m not opposed to, worried about, or fearful any of my sons picking out their own wife. I am opposed to the process proposed for doing it.


My actual ‘fear’ is something that my opponents are well aware of, since they have written articles about it. The term they use is ‘giving away pieces of their hearts’. Many of them were raised on the idea that dating involved ‘giving pieces of your heart away’ and that the end result would be a man or woman coming to their marriage with insufficient ‘heart’ (ie ability to love) left for their spouse.


I think (as they do) the analogy is a bad one. Ironically I would use their very arguments against them when they condemn the Duggars.[5] I am not worried that my children will run out of love during the dating process. Love is not divided, it is multiplied.


But I do worry that they will violate the image of Christ and the church.[6] We are not given the impression that Christ ‘checked out’ a variety of brides before he finally settled on the church. Instead we are told He came to ‘choose’ only and all of those His Father had given Him. It is that image we are trying to portray in our human marriages and that is the image that, I am sorely afraid, is being destroyed by our current systems.


On a purely factual basis, as well, I must say that our current system does not work. My opponents wax eloquent about the consequences of the betrothal system, but have they seen the consequences of dating? The child-murder rate, the divorce rate, the number of children living in single families or, worse, with foster families? Compare that to Scripture… where no Godly man was divorced. Or even the Christians in India, where those that don’t practice dating have an almost zero percent divorce rate.


The bottom line, of course, is that my opponents reject Scriptural pattern and precept in building their ideas for how marriages should happen. Scripture does not show the young man, fully ‘ready’ for such a decision, going out into the dating world and ‘picking’ a spouse. It does not show God encouraging or requiring such a thing.



[1] In a movie a ‘pro-family’ senator, for example, is almost always an adulterer. The movie ‘indoctriNation’, on the other hand, consists almost exclusively of quotes from liberal educators and statistics from the schools they created. http://indoctrinationmovie.com/
[2] There is no MarriageMart where one can go and ‘pick’ a wife. Instead there are a variety of systems which involve mutual veto, a whole lot of time, energy, etc. Etc. I am not proposing there should be, I am saying that my opponents often act as if there were. As if ‘picking’ a wife was the same as ‘picking’ a new stereo at WalMart… go down to the store, read up on the various models, compare prices, and, voila, choose one and take it home. We all know that is NOT the way either dating or courting works.


[3] Indeed what would ‘ready to pick’ mean? A five year old is ‘ready’ to choose the kind of ice cream that they would like to eat… and ready to choose to eat ice cream when they should be eating something else. Are my opponents suggesting that the parents determine their children’s ‘readiness’ to pick a spouse? What qualifications should they use? How is this not the same thing I am arguing for, except mediated through the child instead of direct?


[4] They are anti ‘quiverfull’ and/or anti ‘patriarchy’, both Biblical words and Biblical concepts.


[5] They use the same argument, themselves, in condemning the Duggars. They make the claim, basically, that the Duggar parents will not have enough love to go around for all of their children. And then they argue, as if it was some sort of problem, that the Duggar family has siblings helping to raise siblings. I have never heard any full quiver family who denied this. It is, indeed, one of the greatest blessings of a large family: the blessing of siblings who ‘help raise’ you. It seems odd for people who are such fans of public schools: where same age peers ‘help raise’ you, to object to large siblings groups, where at least those who are helping to raise you are older than you!


[6] Ephesians 5

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


Quoting Quiverfull: Part 2 – Your Husbands Obsessions?
Quoting Quiverfull: When is it ‘Intentionally Available’ and When is it ‘Stalking’?
Quoting Quiverfull: Part 1 – Your Husband’s Obsessions?
The Curse of Being Bound to an Image
About Suzanne Calulu
  • Independent Thinker

    Divorce in India is a very difficult process in comparison to other countries like the United States. Women who are uneducated and with very little financial resources are far less likely to divorce. Is that good for society? Not necessarily. According to statistics around 70 percent of women in India report being victims of domestic violence. In the United States according to the CDC that number is around 25 percent. According to the World Health Organization around 53 percent of minors in India have been victims of sexual abuse. In the United States that number is again around 25 percent of the population according to the Department of Justice. Christian marriages in India being around zero percent is not necessarily something to put on a pestle. India like every other country in the world has good and bad people. Nevertheless their human rights record is nothing to celebrate. It seems that Vaughn is actually validating one of the arguments against the quiverfull movement when using India as an example. Women with limited resources (due to little education and/or access to financial resources) are more likely to become victims of domestic violence and stay in abusive marriages. Skipping college or vocational school, handing all of your finances over to your husband, and not entering the workforce are a recipe for victimization. Education and access to financial resources serve as a system of checks and balances for women who may potentially be subjected to domestic violence. Fortunately the United States also has a better set of laws to address domestic violence issues than India at the present time. On a final note my user name is actually political. I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative (I am not crazy about sending money around the world and would like to see more of our tax dollars help those in the US). I am registered independent and do not fit in either box.

  • Em

    Dating equals child murder? Oh no, who knew I was causing the deaths of innocent youngsters by going out to dinner one and a while!

  • Madame

    An education, work experience, and the ability to provide for herself, definitely help a woman from becoming a victim.
    Nothing like being financially fully dependent on your husband to keep you from getting out of a bad situation, or from getting some independence in an unhappy situation.

    A stable marriage, where both spouses are free to be themselves, respect each other, and are both able to provide for themselves and their children, is bound to be happier and more stable. Submitting, accepting your situation, denying the pain of unjust treatment, decades of stuffing your feelings and subduing your will to someone else’s, will make you die inside or become bitter. I’ve seen it. A man wouldn’t want that done to him. Why would he inflict that on someone else?

    Sorry to go on a tangent… I think many QF families would balk at the talk of violence. It doesn’t take violence to coerce a person into a very unhappy, trapped position.

  • NeaDods

    They make the claim, basically, that the Duggar parents will not have enough love to go around for all of their children.

    And again, he breaks the commandment against bearing false witness. The actual quotes were *that if the anti-dating books were right about pieces of the heart, then parents would run out of “pieces” for their children.* This is not at all the same as claiming that we believe that the Duggars will run out of love.

    There’s more to the Bible than proof-texting it for the “right” to mate off kids like they were breeding stock. I don’t think ignoring those parts is going to win God Green Stamps.

  • Hannah

    Never mind the prevalence of “dowry murders” over there. Or the infanticide rates, or the fact that they had to make it illegal to find out the sex of a baby due to the supremely high risk of selective abortion. India is really not a country you want to model yourself after.

  • Saraquill

    If he’s such a “big man” that can take criticism, why is he bellyaching about it so much in this quote and previous ones? Methinks he talks a whole lot to cover up how insecure he feels.

  • persephone

    Von does the usual. Claims we only briefly quote the bible. We know that’s not true, as many of us not only reference entire chapters, as opposed to Von’s cherry picking and deliberate misinterpretation, but we also have placed these scriptures as they should be studied, within the context and society of the time of their writing.

    While some of us are radical.feminists–as if there is something wrong with that–most of us have done pretty well picking husbands. My first husband was a good guy who, although older than me, grew and matured in the relationship. My second was a decent husband for a few years, but an undiagnosed mental illness and the pressure of being a husband and father were major causes of his eventual fall into drug abuse. And that’s certainly a tale that could be told by a number of Christian wives. The difference is that I could get out and protect myself and my children, as opposed to those of patriarchal bent who would have had me stay and suffer.

    The reason I don’t bother posting on Von’s site is because it would be a waste of time, and because I don’t want to add traffic there. I post here because it’s a discussion site that’s mostly uncensored.

    Also, although I have responded here many times to Von’s postings, and he often drops by to comment, he never responds to me. I think we know why.