NLQ FAQ: What is Quiverfull?

NLQ FAQ: What is Quiverfull? June 9, 2009

by Vyckie


Q: What is “Quiverfull?”

“Quiverfull” is a convenient, though I believe, somewhat unfortunate term which we’re using at No Longer Quivering to describe a family lifestyle which is growing in popularity among evangelical Christians ~ particularly those who home educate their children.

Quiverfull ~ is the idea that truly godly families will “trust the Lord” with their family planning. Children are viewed as unmitigated blessings (“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them”) and as such, the couple is willing to have as many children as the Lord chooses to bless them with. Artificial or chemical birth control such as the Pill or IUDs are equated with abortion ~ the sin of murdering your own offspring. “Natural” birth control such as Natural Family Planning is not actually “natural” because a couple must abstain at the very time of the month when the woman is naturally more desirous of physical intimacy. All methods of “conception control” is considered a lack of trust in God to provide for the “children of the righteous.”

Here’s how I described “Quiverfull” back when I still believed it:

Radically Pro-Life – A.K.A. “Quiverfull,” “allowing the Lord to plan our family,” or “trusting God with our family planning.” It is this ideal which has resulted in our having quite a few more than the average number of children. Why do Christians seek to limit the size of their families through the use of chemical birth control? The truth be told, our reasoning generally parallels that of the abortion culture – additional children will cause inconvenience, financial hardships, lifestyle constraints – all this coupled with the desire to separate sex from procreation. How can the Church expect to speak with any moral authority on the evils of abortion when we ourselves are guilty of the very anti-life values fueled by the family planning mentality?

I say that the term “Quiverfull” is “unfortunate” because, I don’t believe that many who are involved in this lifestyle would label themselves as “Quiverfull” ~ and also because it implies a special focus on the anti-birth control aspect of the lifestyle which is not necessarily primary among those who have adopted some or all of the beliefs associated with what might more aptly be called “the Christian family renewal movement” or the practice of “biblical family values.”

(A mouthful, I know ~ which is why we continue to refer to this lifestyle as “Quiverfull” and often “QF/P” to include the patriarchal teachings as well.)

Q. Is “Quiverfull” a denomination?

“Quiverfull” is NOT a denomination ~ those families which are involved are not required to ascribe to any particular doctrinal beliefs ~ you will find “Quiverfull” families in many different denominations, though they seem to be most heavily represented in more fundamentalist denominations (Baptist, “non-denominational,” etc.) as well as churches with Postmillenial/Dominionist leanings (“Orthodox Presbyterian,” for example) and especially among home fellowships.

The teachings of the Quiverfull lifestyle are spread primarily through the Christian home school movement. Many of the publishing companies which cater to the curriculum needs of the Christian home school community also publish and promote materials which address lifestyle choices regarding biblical family structure, roles, and practices.

A few of the most popular of these suppliers include:

Vision Forum

Grace & Truth Books

Rod & Staff

American Vision

Quiverfull ideals are also promoted through magazines which are popular among homeschoolers including:

Above Rubies

Wisdom’s Gate Publications: Home School Digest / Encouraging Word

SALT Magazine

Family Reformation Magazine

There are also several websites/ministries which are led by teens who are promoting the Quiverfull family values to Christian youth:

The Rebelution

Visionary Daughters


Ladies Against Feminism

Christian parents who attend their local home school curriculum fair will find at least as much family-oriented materials as they do academic curriculum. Workshop speakers are as likely to talk about “How a wife can use reverence to build or save her marriage” as they are to teach parents how to help their high school-aged students learn advanced mathematics.

Q. What are the basic “family values” teachings which are frequently adopted by “Quiverfull” families?

Along with the idea of “trusting the Lord” in the area of family planning, here are some of the “values” which are promoted among QF/P families:

Patriarchy ~ this is the belief that by God’s perfect design, it is the father who is the head of the home ~ in his leadership capacity, the father serves as protector, provider and shepherd for his wife and children. He is primarily responsible for the wife’s and children’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and with such responsibility comes the (divinely granted) commensurate authority over the members of his household. According to this view, God works through the father and he serves as an intermediary for his wife and children. Honor, obedience and submission are highly valued qualities because they are necessary to maintain order and work together to accomplish the Lord’s vision for a godly family.

Courtship or Betrothal instead of dating ~ the father’s protection of and authority over his children extends especially to the choosing of a mate. In this system, the fathers play a very influential role in the “courtship” process. Every family seems to have its own take on exactly how courtship is to be carried out. Typically, if a young man is interested in a particular girl, he will consult with his father who then approaches the father of the young lady to discuss the possibility of a potential match. If the girl’s father is in agreement, he will then talk to his daughter ~ and if she shows an interest, the courtship (or betrothal ~ which is as binding as marriage) begins and this basically means that the couple is serious about getting married. The parents are in control of the relationship at all times. The couple is not to be alone together. The courtship / betrothal period is usually brief and it is expected that the couple will experience their first kiss at the marriage altar. At that time, the father’s authority over the daughter is transferred to her new husband.

Sheltering of the children ~ the home school mindset includes the basic belief that children are to be protected and sheltered from “the world” ~ outside influences which could be detrimental to the child’s spiritual well-being. It is often quoted that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” ~ this coupled with the scripture which says, “a companion of fools shall be ruined,” leads to the logical conclusion that children (fools) should not be socialized by other children (fools) ~ but instead should learn social skills from adults. Isolation and control of outside influences is not only considered normal and good ~ it is the godly approach to childrearing.

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood ~ the teaching is that God designed males and females to fulfill distinct roles and that men and women cannot be truly satisfied unless they are consistently filling their special role as a man or woman of God. Men are to be leaders, teachers, initiators, protectors and providers. Women are created to be “helpmeets” to the men in authority over them (husbands, fathers, older brothers) ~ they are to be submissive and yielding. Their primary sphere of influence comes from their role as wives and mothers. The woman’s home is her ministry and her children are her mission field.

Being debt-free and independent of government programs/subsidies ~ adoption of this ideal often leads to financial hardship and deprivation in large families. In order to achieve financial independence, a QF/P family will often move to a rural location or live in sub-standard housing. Wives often operate businesses out of their home, often employing the children to help with the work, in order to supplement the husband’s income. Refusal of government assistance sometimes means that these families go without medical insurance ~ a situation which can influence the parents to choose “natural remedies,” home birth, and similar non-medical approaches to family health.

Home Church / Family-Integrated Church ~ because the family (primarily the father) is seen as the primary conveyor of spiritual guidance and teaching, QF/P families often seek fellowship with like-minded families in a setting which is not age-segregated. The children worship and learn alongside their parents and peer-interaction is closely monitored by the adults / young adults who are present.

Modesty ~ a girl or woman whose clothing is “revealing” is guilty of “defrauding” her Christian “brother” ~ because she is tempting him with impure thoughts in relation to a body (hers) which is not rightfully his to possess. Quiverfull females often wear dresses only ~ many will also wear a head covering as a sign of a woman’s submission to her “head” ~ that is, her husband.

Not all Quiverfull families subscribe to all of the family values listed above ~ and not all accept and practice these teachings to the same degree. There are Quiverfull families which do not home school. There are Quiverfull couples who, while paying lip-service to the “husband as head” mandate, in actual practice are much more egalitarian (mutual submission) when it comes to the decision-making process.

Generally the longer a Christian family is involved in the home school community, the more deeply they become involved in this “family values” lifestyle ~ it is a process which transforms a “normal” family into a patriarchal cult completely at odds with the general population. In fact, the more “peculiar” (set apart) the family becomes, the more they consider themselves “true believers” following “the narrow way” as opposed to their neighbors who are on the “broad path which leads to destruction.”

Discuss this post on the NLQ forums!

Read all NLQ FAQs

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Manish Sharma

    1. Patriarchy 2. Courtship or Betrothal instead of dating ~ 3. Sheltering of the children 4. Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
    5. Being debt-free and independent of government programs/subsidies. 6. Home Church / Family-Integrated Church 7. Modesty.

    Hmm, not all my values, or maybe even not at all my values.
    My values include tolerance and a live and let live philosophy. Which is why I have no problem whatsoever with the “quiverfull”types having their values.

    Tolerance of others is the bedrock of American life. Let’s leave the “quiverfulls” alone.

  • Alyssa

    Ok…there has been a play written, books written, and the media has gone nuts over this movement? But, I am asking as a result of a few years’ research, where exactly are these people? Where are the lists of all the “quiverfull” churches that supposedly exist?

  • Ann Washburn

    I can appreciate and understand that you had a hard time with YOUR Quiverful experience. Just as not ALL Muslims are terrorists–oh, excuse me, do you think that as well?–not ALL Quiverful families are bad. And not all Christian long-term homeschool families are patriarchal cult environments. I do not want to preach at you, as you are trying to preach at me against the ENTIRE Quiverful movement (if it can be called a movement, per se). Just know that any sympathy I feel for you is strongly edged against your biases that you share on your blog, and I only found your blog by accidentally stumbling it. Believe me, I won’t be back, but since you think I am a member of a cult, I doubt you will miss me.

  • acey

    Manish Sharma, I agree with you in principle — I too believe in “live and let live,” and think people have the right to follow their own spiritual path. The problem is, how do we know that the QF wives and children are truly following their OWN paths/choices when they “belong” to men who make their decisions for them? Children born into this lifestyle are socially isolated and brainwashed so they can’t make their own decisions. If a child goes to a regular school or at least has access to scientific theory, reason, and diverse philosophies, yet still chooses the Quiverfull lifestyle, all power to ’em. But if they are not allowed to make that choice, how can you say that they’ve chosen their values? To my mind, this sort of social isolation and brain-washing is child abuse.

  • Lisa

    I have no interest in disturbing the “Quiverfuls” peace…but if people are going to be watching the Duggars, they also should know about Andrea Yates. She also subscribed to the same beliefs, and eventually murdered all five of her children in a fit of postpartum depression.

  • David K. Meller

    I am not a fundamentalist Christian, but given the damage that feminism and gender equality has inflicted upon society generally, and modern women in particular, I thank G-d for the Quiverfull movement. It is wonderful to see Christians try to heal themselves and cleanse their families from the damage that the “Great Satan” in DC, along with their stooges in New York and Hollywood, has inflicted on what was once the greatest country in the world.

    Quiverful women are not “oppressed”. They are strong women able to grow large families with the help of the good Lord and the Husband whom HE has put over her. How many modern women can handle even a traditional marriage, much less even one child, much less a household and family the size of your ‘quiverfull’ families? These pathetic and neurotic, often over-educated imitation male feminists–and the evil government that does their bidding–are indeed what is wrong with the world today, and indeed, what has been wrong for many years!


  • JC

    If there is evil in this world, it is held squarely in the hands of men like you. You call strong independent women neurotic and pathetic, when in reality, you are weak, jealous and fearful of the fact that women can exist in this world without you and men like you. Men that are sure of their masculinity and their place in this world and the next are not afraid of educated women; they don’t expect their wives to bow down to them like some misogynist God. And here’s the biggest difference. I don’t agree with the lifestyle of the Quiverful movement. I think it’s morally wrong for one couple to bring this many children into the world and I believe these relationships are demeaning to women. But I don’t dispute their right to live as they see fit, and I don’t feel the need to call them names and attack them for doing so. That is apparently not the case for you. Seems to me there’s something said about “those who are the first to cast stones”….

  • Derek

    Wow. I have seen nothing in my life but women who cheat on their husbands, break up their marriages, and spread false accusations like wildfire. The blame for this sits squarely with the Rockefellers funding feminism at the behest of the Rothschilds of the Illuminati. These people literally worship satan, and apparently you are on their side. What possible sanity could you have?

    Unlike the feminist response to simply tear everything up, ruin lives (literally you cannot find me a single family not stricken by the damned evils of divorce), and to kill millions of children, and to permanently scar, disfigure, and haunt the children of the marriages you and yours have personally injured under your guise of calling everything that moves a “misogynist.”

    As a man, the only option I have is to take every measure I can, for the rest of my life, to remove all sources of power for these tyrannical sorts–to include government, feminazis, etc. I am absolutely dedicating my life, at this moment, to fulfilling my responsibilities as a man. I will be accepting my job to protect and provide for a godly woman.

    Your dysfunctional sort does nothing but advocate corrupt and abusive women who do not accept their responsibilities. You are abdicators when things get tough. I know your kind well–quitters. Plus, you think that people having a bunch of children is wrong now? I wonder if the race matters. I never hear you nutcases going on about Asians and Africans having large families–after all, that wouldn’t fit in with your accursed Marxist narratives.

    You feminist hatemongers are all too happy to live in a man-hating society where drilling into an infant’s skull to kill it before it is born is quite alright–quite alright you all are with mass murder. You’re all too happy to break your word and be divorcers and to steal money from a man who no longer has a claim to you. Thieves and murders, a delightful combination.

    I say, is there any evil too great for you hypocrites? I can only hope that God will grant my children peace from you evildoers.

  • IphisIanthe

    I say you are the hypocrite. You speak in response only to what you have seen. An ethnocentric view. It is a very singular point of view and I would recommend meeting more people and engaging in open minded conversation with them rather than taking specific experiences and applying them en masse.