Quoting Quiverfull: Snappy Answers?

Quoting Quiverfull: Snappy Answers? January 4, 2013

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.

Kelly Crawford at Generation Cedar – January 3, 2013


What I would like to say when people act like I am some bizarre form of life because I am still having babies, and because I have chosen to pour my life into a job that has eternal implications:

“Why is it strange to you that I have not done something to stop the natural process of reproduction? Why is the burden of proof on me, the one whose body is functioning as it was intended to do? Why is it strange for humans to have babies when the rest of Creation constantly demonstrates the natural and important cycle of life? Why would God make women to naturally bear children for a season of life but then expect us all to chide the ones who actually do? What kind of “wisdom” defies the healthy human body and circumvents its normal function?

You need to know that I wouldn’t care about you using (non-abortive) forms of birth control if it didn’t make you so hostile to my not using it. And I’m not one who thinks it’s always a sin to prevent children either. Things do go wrong. Bodies break. But that’s not the issue you have with me. When birth control became normal, anything else became abnormal. The truth is, birth control is not normal. You may choose to use it, and that’s fine, and I won’t even ask you nosy questions about your choice, but it’s not your default state of being, it’s a deliberately and unnatural, altered state; and you need to be honest about that–that’s all.  I am not the one who has done anything weird. I haven’t done anything at all. I shouldn’t have to explain (or feel strange about) a naturally-occurring event. That is weird.

‘How do we afford them without welfare?’ (Yes, we’ve had acquaintances start rumors about our being on welfare.) How do you afford that car you’re driving? I wasn’t going to ask because I don’t think it’s my business, but since you initiated the conversation….how do you afford manicures? Yearly vacations? Out to eat every week? Gas, driving all over the place? Shopping at the mall? Buying your children a bunch of things they don’t need? Living in a house three times bigger than your family size? Those boots? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.

As a Christian, and as a human, I am doing a perfectly normal thing, marveling at the miracle of life each time I am given the privilege of ushering a new one into the world. Please stop making me feel like a freak.

So, since I don’t make strange faces and insult you when it appears that you have surgically destroyed a healthy part of your body, could you give me the same courtesy for just being…normal?”

Comments open

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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  • But is that true that they don’t care about others who do use birth control? That they don’t judge? Aren’t they the types of people who are voting for women’s reproductive rights to be taken away?

    She tries to make herself sound so innocent and persecuted, while simultaneously lashing out and insulting others.

  • Karen

    For once, I’m in agreement (basically). Ain’t nobody’s business but hers on how many children she has, so long as she can provide for them and give them a happy, stable home to grow up in.
    As for all the birth control stuff, eh, I dunno. It’s part of human nature, in a way, to take control over how our bodies function, so from that perspective it’s just as natural to use birth control.

  • Karen

    well, we don’t know that about this particular poster. I try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word until I know for sure where they stand and what their actions have been. She may very well be the one tolerant voice in the QF/P movement, and we need to applaud her for that.

  • Andrew

    I have always believed it is up the couple as to how many children they have. But there is nothing spiritual about human reproduction aside from two people becoming one flesh (the child). This is how the poster is misguided.

  • She is a Quiverfull voice for the movement so her complaining of being persecuted for having so many kids is pretty disingenuous considering many in her movement do judge others for not having children and will say many equally petty nasty things to non-Quiverfull in their church.

  • Phatchick

    And it’s not like birth control is a new thing; women have been trying to prevent pregnancy for several thousand years now. It just that now we have access to better, more controlled methods than they had in the past.

  • Nea

    What kind of “wisdom” defies the healthy human body and circumvents its normal function? [snip] … it’s a deliberately and unnatural, altered state; and you need to be honest about that [snip] I don’t … insult you when it appears that you have surgically destroyed a healthy part of your body

    That seems to depend on whether the reader thinks being judged harshly is insulting or not. Because she’s spending way more time judging other people than she is simply defending her lifestyle as right and good for her. Not just judging, but misjudging. How can she know that birth control = “surgically destroying” anything? How does she know that any other woman’s uterus and ovaries, and fallopian tubes were all healthy in the first place?

  • texcee

    One thing missing in a lot of these pro-children arguments is “quality of life”. Just because you CAN pop out a dozen kids doesn’t necessarily mean that you SHOULD. Can you provide materially for all those kids? Can you provide emotionally for all those kids? Do you pass off the babies to be raised by their siblings while you and your husband are in the bedroom making the next one? Are you living on a shoestring and/or welfare because you chose to have a huge family? Can you feed and clothe them? Educate them? Train them to be productive citizens and contribute to society? Can your children function independently and make their own way in the world? What if your mate dies or leaves you and you are now responsible for providing for your family? As your body physically ages, will you continue to have children that have a higher chance of dying, being born with genetic birth defects, and which may cause your own death or disability? Who is going to take care of all those children then? These are questions that should be addressed before a women chooses to become pregnant and “leaving it up to God” is a very foolish and risky business!

  • thalwen

    There are non QF/non-fundamentalist women who have large families and they generally aren’t criticised for their choices (there are people out there that will judge anyone for anything of course). The difference is, the QF type people tend to constantly flaunt the fact that they have a lot of kids and that people who don’t are unnatural/unGodly/etc. That tends to not go over well which the QF types tend to interpret as persecution of their beliefs, instead of someone being legitimately not very pleased by being called an unnatural child killer or w/e.
    And we do unnatural things all the time. We expose our food to fire in order to improve the taste and kill bugs and bacteria. We neuter/spay our pets, an unnatural surgery which de-functions perfectly healthy organs – because it’s better for our pets. And yes, we use birth control and sterilisation because, like her, we are fully capable of knowing how many kids we want and don’t want.

  • Well, the thing is that it used to be normative for women to have lots of children, particularly during ages when each child meant an increase in farm labor and thus income. Today each child represents an increased cost of living. Given that scenario, it really isn’t strange that people wonder how a QF woman can really afford to take care of all her kids.
    That said, I don’t think a woman should automatically be looked at askance for having a lot of kids– but she really should reasonably expect raised eyebrows.

  • Nightshade

    1. If she truly doesn’t care what I do, and wants me not to care what she does…deal! My experience with most of these people however is that they support freedom to make their choice, not those who make different choices. Stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours.
    2. What’s with this whole ‘unnatural’ argument? If you live in a cave, wear leaves and animal skins (although clothing of any kind could be considered not natural…), eat only what you can forage and hunt for, and don’t use heat other than an open fire, electricity or communication methods except for your own voice, then your ‘unnatural’ statements can carry some weight. Don’t go against nature yourself, then at least I’ll listen to what you have to say. Until then, don’t tell me I’m being unnatural. Pot, kettle…you get the picture.

  • texcee

    My father was one of 9 siblings and my mother was one of 12 (two of which had died in infancy). Both my parents came from rural families and every hand was needed to labor in the cotton fields. Only two of the 19 went farther than the 8th grade because it was the height of the Great Depression and all were needed to work. Both of my grandmothers were old before their time, worn out, white-haired, and bent from ceaseless work and childbearing. Both bore as many children as God sent them. Between both sides of my family, I had 34 first cousins — FIRST cousins. I have lost count of second and third cousins and their families. Both of my grandmothers died before their time. I can’t help but think that multiple, back to back pregnancies and child-rearing contributed to their deaths.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Honestly, with 7 billion people in the world, I’m not such a big fan of people choosing to have giant broods. If you want to raise a large family, there are plenty of children out there who needs loving homes. But I know not everyone thinks as macro as I do about this stuff and so I try not to be judgmental about it. I certainly do think that it is inappropriate to question people you don’t know very well about how they can afford their children. People’s finances and priorities are their business. But, of course, I do agree with others here about how people ought to think about whether they can provide good quality of life for the children they plan on having. Making babies isn’t all about you feeling righteous for being one with your body’s nature of something. It involves, you know, other people.

  • Anthropologists tell us that, in hunter-gatherer societies – the environment human reproductive biology evolved in – women tend to have children spaced about three or four years apart. They nurse their kids well into toddlerhood and carry them until they can walk fast enough to keep up with the rest of the clan, so they tend not to be fertile after a successful pregnancy until the kids decide to wean themselves. They hit puberty late, since their diets tend not to be fat-heavy and a certain percentage of body fat is necessary for menarche. And they tend to enter menopause relatively early. So, in the environment we evolved for, a woman might have a fertile span of thirty years and bear seven or eight kids, of whom perhaps four would survive the dangerous early years and reach adulthood. That’s more than in our modern society, to be sure, but significantly less than many of the Quiverfull women are pushing for – and most of those kids will survive to adulthood. A surviving family of four kids is a large family by modern standards, but not so huge as to stand out that much.

    The environment that our religious culture comes from, after we settled down, started eating a lot of starches in the form of grains, and invented agriculture, allows our reproductive biology to churn out kids much faster than we really evolved for. Our current medical technology allows us to continue bearing well after events that would have rendered hunter-gatherer mother or an Iron Age farmer mother infertile (or flat-out killed her). So the argument that a Quiverfull mother is just doing what her body is intended to do is – well, at best it lacks nuance and any sense of history.

    Having said that, shaming a woman for what she does with her reproductive capacity is always problematic, whether it’s ten kids, two abortions, or one course of fertility treatments. Whether it’s “too many” children or “not enough,” mothers and would-be mothers just can’t catch a break in this culture.

  • Chervil

    Yeah. Sounds like someone is feeling a little full of themselves. I had an aunt who would do this brag/complain thing, for her it was money, as in “uccchhhh, my daughter’s house is too big.”

    If this woman wasn’t fielding questions about her life choices, which are unusual in today’s times, but many people field rude questions for various reasons, she’s hardly a standout, she’d wonder why no one was noticing how godly she is.

  • “What kind of “wisdom” defies the healthy human body and circumvents its normal function?”-Kelly Crawford

    Irony moment: The first time I heard that argument, it was from a rebellious 20-something who tried to say teens should be allowed to get sexually active as soon as they physically can, that Christianity is wrong to confine the sex act to marriage.

    Judge for yourself if the one argument is as valid as the other.

  • You are so right. God gave us common sense and approve of “counting the cost.”

  • When we put on clothes, we do something unnatural. We were born naked.
    When we refrain from sex before marriage, we do something that animals don’t do in nature. When we mask our body odor by bathing or deoderant, we do something unnatural.

  • Mary

    If women should bear children willy-nilly because our bodies were made (some of us at least, to varying degrees) to be able to have kids if we didn’t want to prevent them, then shouldn’t men also be fathering as many kids as possible? If doing what your body would naturally do without medical or social intervention is the right, proper, and holy thing, then one would think that her husband would be trying to get his seed out there as much as possible- hell, not just with her, if we’re sticking to “natural” biological imperatives. And for that matter, if anything that circumvents normal body function is unwise, then she should also teach her kids as they grow up to masturbate whenever it’s convenient, (which I personally think is healthy, but which most QF/P folks would probably die of horror at) and to not be shy about jumping into bed with other teens they have a crush on. (that I would not advise. =) )

  • madame

    Kelly Crawford is quite judgmental, not exactly tolerant or live and let live sort of person.
    Good points made against her claim that birth control is not natural. The Bible instructs people to do many unnatural things, such as cutting off pieces of skin, killing innocent animals, isolating oneself for various reasons that wouldn’t have needed isolation, the marriage of a rapist and the raped woman, teaching children to go against their nature, indeed, beating them (if you read it literally). Those are just off the top of my head.
    I don’t think the Bible supports going with the natural flow in every case.

    I also agree that the decision to have or not have children is personal, to be met by the couple after careful consideration. A decision to stop having children is not evil, selfish, or even against nature in every situation. Wouldn’t it be going with the natural flow of one’s body to stop having children if pregnancies are wearing your body out? what if you are suffering a chronic illness? What if the father is chronically ill and can’t keep working longer hours to support an ever growing family? They just don’t make room for such situations in QF.

  • I do. I’ve been reading her blog on and off for a few years. She’s not at all “live and let live” in most of her posts and is very much about pushing Qf/P as what god intends. This post of hers is quite unusual in comparison to her other posts.

  • madame

    Someone finally addressed an ignored issue in the QF mentality: the world is not the US, and some people are raising families far from the place where their families live, so visiting relatives involves expensive travel.
    Raising a large family in a small apartment in downtown capital is not the same thing as having a large family in a large country home.

  • madame

    Well, she had a post up yesterday asking her readers their opinion on whether birth control is a neutral issue or not. She got some very respectfully worded replies supporting that the choice of using or not using birth control is personal, and the post is no longer to be found on her blog. The discussion was taking off on a very positive note, but now it’s gone.

  • In the past, I have read a blog post of hers that talked about how marriage isn’t to make you happy, but holy…yet being a good wife makes you happy somehow or something.

  • Also, she might have mellowed out since her home was destroyed by that tornado, but I doubt it.