Is Your Quiver Full?


The Duggars have 19 kids, with another on the way. (Scott Enlow/TLC)

Honestly, I’d never heard of the “Quiverfull Movement” “Quiverful Movement” until reading the book of fellow Patheos blogger, Alisha Harris.  It seems that, even in this era of an unprecendented 7 billion inhabitants of this planet, some fringey evangelical groups are promoting very large families.

The family pictured above, the Duggars, have 19 children, with another on the way.  Their kids names are…wait for it…

Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace and Josie.

Honestly, I have almost no experience with this version of Christianity — the homeschooling, have a ton of kids, bring them all to picket the abortion clinic version.  It seems very foreign to me, and almost completely unhinged from the biblical narrative.

Do you know Quiverful people?  What makes them tick?

Also, when you run out of biblical names for your kids, is that a signal that you should stop procreating?

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  • C. Ehrlich

    The name suggests a religious arms race. And so they’ve 2-upped Yitta Schwartz:

  • Pat Pope

    I don’t know but the Duggars just remind me of the stereotype of women being baby machines. I believe babies are a blessing, but this whole thing just seems off.

  • I don’t know any Quiverfull folks. I have, however, known a couple who were foster parents for a whole lot of kids, and adopted a bunch of them. They had, last I heard, 15 kids who were legally theirs.

    If you want to have a lot of kids, and you can actually put the time in to care for them (and aren’t intentionally making the welfare system part of your plan to support them), go for it and Godspeed. Seven billion people aside, the planet isn’t anywhere close to overpopulated. But if you think God wants everyone to have that lifestyle, show me the commandment. I can’t find it.

    • C. Ehrlich

      Under what conditions would it be fair to say that high human population is creating problems? How are you evaluating this?

    • Carysa

      The first commandment ever given in the Bible is be fruitful and multiply, increase in number.

      • Barry

        I thought that it was ‘don’t eat from that tree’ 🙂

  • Vicki

    I’ve thought about this and have wondered about it historically… there is a precedent for large families…but, in the past, many children died before reaching adulthood. No birth control…many kids… Not all surviving. In an era where the average life expectancy is 70-some years, how this all gets lived out in a family that chooses to allow nature to take its course looks much different.

    My own concern is what is shaping their identity…who are they if they did not have 20 kids…or if their eldest son, who is now married, experiences the inability to have a large family. How does that make them feel? How do they deal with it? That might be more telling than anything.

  • I’ve had some issues with the “quiverfull movement” and coming from an environment where I saw that took place (I was homeschooled K-12, I’m well adjusted thank you very much! Thanks mom!) I know of a family and they subscribe to this movement, they have 14 kids, even when I was younger I kinda scratched my head and thought “really?!? The woman’s to be a walking uterus?!?” Perhaps not in those words, but I did see something possibly amiss when the woman was either was pregnant or taking care of their newest edition to the family.
    Not only did I picket abortion clinics in my youth, but my parents were the ones who started the pregnancy information clinic in my town. It still goes on without them even being there, so I guess it has served my town well. I guess their sense of serving others has passed on to me, but my realm of helping is doing what I can to be an advocate, an ally, a bridge builder between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

  • I’m the oldest of eight kids and we were all homeschooled, but we were not part of the Quiverfull movement. People just always assumed we were. 🙂 It wasn’t for any religious reasons – my mom just wanted a lot of children. When I was younger I wanted a big family too, but now as an adult I’ve gradually moved toward the idea of not having kids.

  • Thinking Kentuckian

    Though no families in my most recent home church were ‘quiverful’ proponents, the patriarchal system of thought and praxis is alive and well there as evidenced by the pastor’s comment to one woman who felt called to foreign missions. He was sure she was wrong because God had given her children to care for….

  • CJ

    I know a few quiverful folks and it is a strange, strange movement. We had a fellow pop into to a discussion here:

    It got very interesting and it carried over for several subsequent blog posts.

    Anyway, it’s all part of this cult of the family stuff–the idea that family and childrearing trump every other kind of kingdom activity.

  • Kenton

    I think my wife’s cousin would fit into that description. (I think I’ve even heard him quote the proverb before.) I don’t know if it was a phase, (they have 6 kids – I don’t know if they’ve “stopped”), or if it’s something they’re still in on.

    What makes him tick? To be honest, that’s one of those cases where the less I know, the better. They are (were?) very much an isolated family. No TV. They live on a farm in a house that’s too small. Rumor has it he did all his work on a cash basis avoiding the evil IRS.

    I give some slack to the fact that his father was a charismatic controlling type.

  • nathan




    There’s some poor kid walking around middle america with the name “jinger”?

  • nathan


    It just clicked.

    it’s probably Ginger, but with a J.

    I totally thought it was Jinger, rhymes with Singer….

    my bad.

  • These are probably one of the best families to be around. Good Lord.

    Since studies are now coming out that sex selection base abortions is the dominant abortion motive now (and it isn’t the male sex being selected).

    The U.S. birth rate is barely at the level of increasing our population, being at 2.06, so there is room in the US and Canada.

    Some women enjoy having a lot of kids.

    Do you guys find yourself to be a hateful lot?

  • The first time I heard of this movement was in a college class I teach when one of the students was presenting a paper analyzing the Christian contribution to structure of western civ. The student was a thorough-going secularist and for her the Quiverful movement was like the blue screen of death on a PC. There was simply no way for her to comprehend it, see that it had any place in culture, or bore any real relationship to authentic religion. She didn’t use the phrase “nut jobs” but she I could tell she really wanted to.

  • Aaron

    My wife and I have 7 and are not part of the quiverfull movement or any other movement. We simply believe in Gods sovereignty and the danger of all forms of the pill etc.

    In other words, God is sovereign and can determine better for me regarding pretty much everything, including our family size.

    • Lauren

      If you think that birth control pills are the only way to control pregnancy, have I got news for you.
      Also, I am a married woman who believes both in God’s sovereignty AND my right to dictate what happens to my own body. The worst thing a person can do is bring an unwanted human into the world. You cannot and should not assume every woman is made to be a mother.

  • Kim

    A full quiver is 5, technically, but that is not my point. I see a couple standing firm on their convictions. They feel that God has called them to have as many children as He will allow them to have. He is the giver and taker of life, right?Homeschooling, they believe is their ministry. They are training their own children in the way they feel is right, being lead by the spirit. What I see here is not nineteen kids, I see a family that is standing strong with their individual convictions…not many Christians can say that today. I applaud the Duggars.

  • Todd

    I live in northern Iowa where people in their 40’s now came from large families. It’s a small area and I know two families where there were 17 kids. It’s a very Catholic area and both of these families are Catholic. Add good healthcare, take away birth-control and you generally get large families.

    I’m not a quiverful guy (nor Catholic, nor homeschooling) but to say that having large families that aren’t taught by the State but at home is unhinged from the Biblical narrative to seems to be rather curiously decided reading. Unhinged from the current American narrative, yes.

    I think your critique should stick to the quiverful movements theology. Your statement are inclusive of any large family really. Seems to me it is just cool now to hate on large families. And their kids. And now it seems we have this blog to gather the cool together so they can conspire and mock against these families.

  • Chuck

    Unhinged is certainly a good word for them. And obviously none of them ever read Anthony Trollope.

  • Dude. I ran into the fringe on my facebook page.

    They exist.

    Note – I posted (in a somewhat snarky passive aggressive manner that I am apt to do on occasion):

    Apparently noone told “Michelle Duggar” we are in a worldwide food shortage or having children for publicity is unethical.

    I had tried it out over on twitter and heard CRICKETS.

    On facebook however – 98 comments later I had ran into the Quiverful.

    I’m just sayin….they are alive, and vocal.

  • John

    I don’t hear any of you complaining that your parents didn’t stop with your older sibling.

  • Todd Pruitt

    I’m just wondering if Tony’s post could fit under the banner: “seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Apparently, smugness is allowed. You know, “My judgmentalism is cleaner than yours!”

    Perhaps there is some confusion over the propriety of multiple children over against multiple wives. But I digress.

    Poor Sarah, clearly seeing herself as part of the mainstream, ran into those “fringe” freaks on her facebook page. I’ll just bet they have not read Trollope! Anyway, I trust she had ample time to explain the facts of the food shortage. You hang in there Sarah. And if you need directions, there is a Whole Foods near me with mounds of food. And it’s all organic!

  • “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” – Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood
    Murder is at the heart of progressivism. Tony Jones and his ilk must be exposed at every opportunity for the wolves that they are.

  • Tim

    Tony you need to watch the Duggars’ show and cure your ignorance about them before slamming them publicly.

  • Sam Hendrickson

    Unhinged…one might think your post has that quality well defined…

  • I grew up in a small church with several families who had adopted the “full-quiver” philosophy for their homes (one family had 9 kids, another had 13). As far as their theology went, it was rooted in desire to give God total sovereignty over the size of their home. The way they practiced that was to abstain from all forms of birth control.

    I personally don’t buy their viewpoint in the least, but they were extremely loving families who provided for all their children’s needs (including college), and treated them all as significant. With that in mind, I’d say the word “unhinged” is an unfortunate one to use when describing the spectrum of full-quiver families.

  • dspl

    I remember in the early 1960s walking in on my mom and dad discussing quiverfull: she was saying, basically, she wasn’t sure she agrees with it; he said: “You don’t have a choice.”