Quoting Quiverfull: Always Being Open?

by Vaughn Ohlman from True Love Doesn’t Wait, Really – Always Being Open

Recently I have had some discussions about  a doctrine often called full quiver. I am ‘full quiver’ and I believe the doctrine to be an integral part of marriage, to the extent we included it in our betrothal covenant for my oldest son and his wife. The statement I made, that caused quite a bit of discussion, was this:

Godly Married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

In order to address the objections that have been raised to that statement, I am going to take it, one phrase at a time, and explain why I believe what I do about, well, about the statement

Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

Godly. I want to be careful, right at the beginning, to disclaim something that some people might believe when I use the word ‘Godly’. They might think that I mean ‘Christian’. That, in some way, I am saying that Jews, Muslims, Budhists, Animists and Atheists, etc, are exempt. I’m not.

What I am saying is that this requirement comes from God, and reflects God. And so, to the extent we accept it and live it out, we reflect God… even if we are atheists. Oh, I’m not saying that this makes them righteous, or that it saves them… just that God uses it to reflect truth about Himself.

Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

It should go without saying but, unfortunately, doesn’t nowadays, that I am talking about married couples: couples in covenant with each other for life. Mind you, I don’t believe that this means that an unmarried couple becomes more righteous when they engage in sex *with* birth control. Quite the opposite. The sex (being outside of marriage) is wrong, and the birth control is wrong too. When God said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ he had in mind married couples. But that doesn’t mean that failing to multiply in some sense justifies fornication or adultery.

Godly Married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

I know that this phrase doesn’t come next, but I thought I would get it out of the way. Not because it is unimportant, but because it is the key to the entire issue.

Scripture treats children as ‘a blessing’. Indeed they are one of the most frequently named blessings in Scripture. Most Christians know this but, if not, we will list many of the key passages later in this article.

 Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

I know, I know, I’m going backwards here. But this part of the sentence needs, not so much a defense, as an explanation. It seems that every time I or another full quiver person talks about this issue these words (however we express them) are misunderstood. ‘Be open’ becomes, in their mind, ‘try to have as many children as you can’.

This is not what I, or any full quiver person I have read or talked to, is promoting. To be crude, I believe that a Godly married couple will have lots of sex, at lots of times, very casually, naturally, and eagerly. I do not believe that they have to go out of their way to ‘make children’. They don’t have to figure out the woman’s fertile time of month, abstain before hand, make love on the right day, using an approved position, etc, etc.

They are to behave naturally… without trying to *stop* the children that come naturally from the activity. Of course, that is a tautology, since there is nothing natural about any form of birth control. Even Natural Family Planning, which is sometimes touted as a ‘natural’ method, is horribly unnatural. The very biology of both the man and the woman make the woman’s fertile period the most desired time for sex… so to deliberately abstain during that time is unnatural squared.

And we certainly don’t mean that the couple who, try how they might, can’t have children are somehow sinning!! There is nothing in anything we believe or teach which implies that. We are not talking about a certain number of children, but of an attitude. If God gives one, or God gives a thousand children, we need to be open to however many He gives.

Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

Now we come, finally, to the heart of the issue for many objectors. They are fine having children. They even would join in criticism, perhaps, against those selfish couples who choose to have no children. But they don’t think that the openness should extend as far as ‘always’. They want to be able to be open to not having children, some of the time, to be open to only having  a certain number of children. They would like this sentence to read:

 Godly married couples should SOMETIMES be open to the blessing of children.

This, in their opinion, strikes the right balance. This allows children to be a good thing, a blessing, but also allows a couple not to be too blessed. This allows us to have children… but not yet. To have children… but not too many. To have children… but not right now, when it would be awkward, expensive, dangerous, or annoying.

And it allows the couple to be ‘done’. To have done their duty, but to not have too much duty. This is what they think Scripture teaches… or at least allows. Few of them attempt an exegetical defense of this exact wording.

Godly married couples should NEVER be open to the blessing of children.

This is another of the possibilities for how a married couple should behave, but many of our critics, at least those who are Christians, are uncomfortable with this. The passages are too hard to ignore this blatantly. If someone seriously commits themselves to never having children, well, they are not only weird, but probably also sinning (see the note on ‘should’ below).

Godly married couples should ALWAYS be open to the blessing of children.

This is what we believe Scripture teaches, but many Christians believe that this is too harsh, too unloving, to judgmental and, quite frankly, too dangerous. This eliminates any control, any timing, any limits. The modern Christian rejects this possibility: but we believe it is the one God commands and blesses.

We will explain why we believe Scripture teaches this below, after we deal with another hard issue in our statement:

Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

We say that Godly married couples ‘should’ always be open to the blessing of children. But ‘Is this,’ our opponents ask, ‘something that is a direct command of God?’.

Unfortunately for our discussions, I don’t believe in that question. Oh, I believe in direct commands (and this is one), and I believe in direct prohibitions (which, as birth control isn’t mentioned, this isn’t one)… but I don’t think that is where our obedience to God stops, or even starts.

We have a phrase in our family for obedience. A definition. For obedience. It goes like this: “To immediately and cheerfully carry out the expressed and unexpressed wishes of those in authority over you.”

A Christian’s goal in life should not be to merely obey God’s overt commands (those they cannot wiggle out of) and avoid his overt prohibitions (ditto); but to do God’s will. To know and do God’s will.

So here, with this word ‘should’, I do not mean ‘we have found an overt command which specifically states that Modern American Gentile Christians must always avoid birth control.’ We have found, instead, commands given to all of humanity, frequent blessings, and significant metaphors…. which, together, lead us to an understanding of God’s will on this issue. His will being clear, our response should also be clear.

All in the next section, so let’s move on… or, rather, return to the subject we started earlier:

Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

Why do we believe that the Godly married couple should ALWAYS be open to the blessing of children? Let us count the ways:

1) Because God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply:

Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

— This command was given to ‘male and female’ at the very creation of the Earth. These are typically called ‘creation ordinances’ and express God’s will as to the very nature of our creation. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, part of the Mosaic code, or a law given only to Jews. It was given pre-sin, to a perfect people… thus why would Christ overrule it?

And it was not merely the ‘condition’ at the start of creation, but a command. The very first command they were given. The primordial command, to a sinless people, by their creator, on the day of their creation. Sound important yet?

Genesis 9:1  And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 

Genesis 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

—The same command gets repeated to Noah and his sons. This time post-fall and post-flood. These are typically called ‘Noahide’ commandments, and, again, pre-date the Mosaic code. So we have the primordial command: repeated.

Genesis 35:11  And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;

– And then God repeats the command to Jacob. ‘Be fruitful and multiply’. Sounds like God is serious about this.

 Jeremiah 29:6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.

— This command was given to God’s people when they were living in a foreign land. Thus lest anyone think (in the face of all evidence) that the prior two commands were given to Jews living in the promised land, for some reason connected to the promised land, here we have the same command given to Jews living in exile. And dealing with their time in exile, and the place of exile. They are to beget children, be increased, and not be diminished: there. In the land of exile. Far from the promised land.

Titus 2:4-5 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

—This command only tangentially addresses the issue of having children (one cannot love children one does not have) but it is also an important command because of the warning that is attached to it. The passage warns that, if it is not obeyed: ‘the word of God [will] be [] blasphemed.’

Another article, perhaps, should be written on the many ways that the Word of God is blasphemed nowadays… and linking that to the lack of these very traits in our young women. Who for the most part are not married (thus not loving their husbands or obeying them), not having children (thus not loving them), not keeping any home, not discreet, not chaste, and not good.

 1 Timothy 5:14-15 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

For some are already turned aside after Satan.

–This command carries a double whammy. First of all, it is a NT command, given to a Gentile church. Any idea that one might have had (despite the evidence) that childbearing was an Old Testament ordinance, intended for Jews living in the promised land, should be put to rest here. Gentile Christians, after the resurrection, after the great commission, living in a pagan land… are commanded to bear children.

And this passage also carries a warning. Paul notes that some who have not obeyed this command are ‘already turned aside after Satan’. He says that following his admonition here will avoid giving occasion for the adversary to ‘speak reproachfully’.

1 Timothy 2:11-15 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

–This is, perhaps, the most dramatic command in Scripture regarding childbearing. While it is not exactly clear what ‘saved in childbearing’ means, the phrase is still a dramatic one. The passage makes it clear that the woman is to learn in silence, and why. It speaks of her having been decieved. And then it concludes with the dramatic, if difficult to understand conclusion, “she shall be saved in childbearing.” And we will let that end our section on commands.

 2) Because God expresses his blessing via fruitfulness:

Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

–We notice that the very first ‘command’ to childbearing can also be read as a blessing of childbearing. That the first blessing God gave the new couple was that they would be fruitful and multiply. As if God thought that this was a good thing.

 Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

–Indeed the second command to childbearing can also be read as a blessing of childbearing.

Jeremiah 23:3  And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 

– Someone with more knowledge of prophecy than I have will have to tell me what this refers to, but it seems to me to be a future restoration of Israel into the promised land.Or perhaps the church? But regardless, having been driven out and then brought back in, God repeats His blessing: they shall be fruitful and increase.

Leviticus 26:9  For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Genesis 17:16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Genesis 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

 Genesis 22:17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

Gen_24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

Genesis 26:3-4 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;

And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

Genesis 26:24 And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.

Genesis 28:3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;

Genesis 28:13-14 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 49:25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:

Deuteronomy 1:11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)

Deuteronomy 7:13-14 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.

Deuteronomy 28:1-4 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

Deuteronomy 33:24 And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.

1 Samuel 2:20-21 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home.

And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

1Chronicles 26:4-5 Moreover the sons of Obededom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth,

Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him.

Job 42:12-13 So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters.

 Psalms 107:38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

Proverbs 5:18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

 Isaiah_51:2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

Heb 6:13-14 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

Hebrews 6:14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Genesis 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

Genesis 30:22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

Deuteronomy 7:13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

–Again, and again, and again we see the blessings of God of an open womb. How then those that would deliberately close the womb? That would spill the seed meant to grow in that womb?

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

–Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward. What a powerful statement! And then we read that they are ‘like arrows in the hand of a mighty man’ and that that man will will not be ashamed but will speak with the enemies in the gate. The gate, the place where the city is ruled. Because of his many sons, the Godly man will sit there without shame.

Psalms 128:1-6 A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

–The Godly man: the man that fears the Lord and walks in his ways. This man will have a wife like a fruitful vine, and children around his table. That is the way the Lord will bless the man that fears him. Wow.

How then the opponents of full-quiver? How then those that think that some blessings are enough? That the blessing of children should be limited by time, place, or number? Or kind??

3) Because the holy men and women of old saw children as a blessing, and childlessness as a curse.

1 Samuel 1:5-6 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.

Genesis 30:2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

 Genesis 30:13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

4) Because God saw barrenness as a curse.

Luke 1:36-37 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Isaiah 66:9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.

Genesis_20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

Hosea 9:14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

2Samuel 6:20-23 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.

And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.

Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

Godly Married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

So, then, here is where I believe we stand. God had given us a command to have children. He, and His people, have labeled children a blessing, and the lack of children as a curse. These blessings, curses, and commands, range throughout the entire Scriptures, from old to new, from Genesis to Revelation.

I do not believe there is any logic, therefore, in saying that a couple should only be open to ‘some’ children. If having children is a commanded blessing, and not having them is a curse, then I don’t think there is any Biblical logic in saying ‘I would rather have God’s curse right now than God’s blessing.” If children are a blessing, then each child is a blessing. If one has seven children, and says, ‘I am done, it is enough’, then one is rejecting that eighth child. Who knows who that child would have been?

The idea of ‘always’ is implicit in the very nature of the word ‘blessing’. We may, from time to time, joke with the idea of ‘too much blessing’, particularly when dealing with the ‘blessings’ that other people give us, or a garden that seems dedicated toward producing an infinite amount of zucchini, but we know, or should know, that these jokes do not apply to God. We even sing about it: comparing ‘raindrops of mercy’ with ‘showers of blessing’. We take something that is almost the very definition of ‘too much’ (getting caught out in a rain shower) and make the obvious point that, when it comes to the blessings of God, the shower is not ‘too much’.

And this is no minor issue. Even leaving aside the huge tracts of Scriptures speaking of the blessing of children, the curse of barrenness,[1] or the commands to have children, there is the fact that God, Himself, directly links children to the very reason for marriage.

 Malachi 2:14-15 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

We see here that God counts it as treason against one’s wife when a Godly seed is not sought. He states that children are, from the beginning, part and parcel of marriage. Even before we read of Adam being given a wife he was (or, they were) given the command to be fruitful and multiply. Even before we read of God pronouncing the words ‘it is not good for man to be alone’ we read of the blessing of fruitfulness. And here in Malachi He repeats Himself: he made the two one that he might seek a Godly seed.

“It is impossible to reconcile the doctrine of the divine institution of marriage with any modernistic plan for the mechanical regulation of or suppression of human life. The Church must either reject the plain teachings of the Bible or reject schemes for the ` scientific’ production of human souls.

Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee’s report, if carried into effect, would sound the death knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be ‘careful and restrained’ is preposterous.”

The Washington Post, March 22, 1931
As quoted in ‘The Baby War’

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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