Quoting Quiverfull: Manipulate or Instruct?

Quoting Quiverfull: Manipulate or Instruct? March 5, 2013

by Jay Younts at Shepherds Press – February 28, 2013

All’s well that ends well is one of those proverbial threads that form the tapestry of conventional wisdom.  In this case the tapestry is threadbare in spots. This thought leads to the idea it doesn’t matter how we get our children to obey as long as they obey. This thinking may well achieve its purpose today, but create serious problems in the years ahead.

Specifically I am talking about the distinction between instruction and manipulation when raising children to live for God.

In it’s truest sense instruction means to teach children about God and his ways so that they are challenged to long for a deepening relationship with God. (see Deuteronomy 6:5-7 & Ephesians 6:4)

Manipulation cares not the for establishing of a relationship with God. Manipulation is for rescuing oneself from a crisis of the moment. The American Heritage Dictionary, my favorite dictionary by the way, defines manipulation this way:

To influence or manage shrewdly or deviously.

To illustrate:

This particular afternoon the pressure is on. It seems as though there are 17 appointments, 6 music lessons, and 4 sports practices all scheduled for the same afternoon. Then, as mom heads out for the first appointment, she remembers that the new family at church is coming for dinner. Dad just called to say he is hung up at work and can’t make the pick up at the sports practice.  The kids are wired.  Mom says to them something like this:

“I have a lot to do before dinner. I really need your help. If you guys are really good and don’t slow us down, then I will buy your favorite ice cream for dessert. So will you all promise me you will be really good today, please!” The kids roar their approval as they begin to debate what is their favorite ice cream.

This is an example of manipulation. In the short term this strategy appears to work. The kids were marginally better than usual and mom did have to buy two kinds of ice cream because the kids couldn’t decide which was their favorite. But, all the scheduling worked out and the new family was pleased with dinner and dad showed up a few minutes early to help out. All’s well that ends well. But, not really. The delight in helping the day go well so that God would be honored was exchanged for the anticipation of ice cream.

Things went well this day, but where was the training that one day the kids would be faced with the choice of choosing the affirmation of their friends over against doing what will bring honor to God and build a deeper trust in him.

Notice how carefully Ephesians 6:4 is worded:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

There is a clear and chilling implication in this verse. If you leave out the conscious acknowledgement of God and his power as you train your children you will provoke them to anger. Your children must understand it is the Lord’s instruction that you are bringing to them. Failure to weave his words and his honor into your daily training will provoke your children to anger.

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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  • Mayara

    So, would “you better behave today or God will send you to hell” be manipulation or instruction? (no, no need to answer it, thanks)

  • suzannecalulu

    The sad thing is what he is calling ‘manipulation’ is actually a good parenting principle out of the “Love & Logic” books. Rewards for helping momma out of a pinch or cooperating for the good of the family is a good thing and if it takes ice cream cones to insure that I’m much rather do that than threaten with the switch, which is where I think he’s not speaking of but headed in that direction.

  • His example is not manipulation. There is a clear and above-board tit for tat. Everyone knows exactly what is going on and communication is clear. (Well, sort of. “Be good” is not clear communication. “I need you guys to do the dishes, walk the dog, make the salad and wash the baby while I’m cooking, all before 5:00. Who’s going to do what?” is better.) Ice cream is not just for kids, either. The whole family likes ice cream, and it’s acknowledgement of everyone working together to make a tough schedule run smoothly.

    The way I read “instruction” is education. If I instruct someone on how to enter their time in an online corporate tool, or how to measure spices for a pumpkin pie, I’m not giving them orders. When I open a commercial sewing pattern, it comes with a sheet of instructions. These are not orders that I need to obey so I won’t go to hell — they are an explanation of how to do something. If I don’t follow the instructions I might get a better or worse result than if I do follow them, depending on the quality of the instructions.

    He seems to read “instruction” as “I instruct you to do it so that God won’t hate you.” Which I don’t believe is the meaning of the verses he’s quoting — and which absolutely would provoke me to anger if I were on the receiving end of it.

  • madame

    by this man’s standards, God is #1 manipulator, then. The Bible is full of promises of blessings for those who obey Him and curses (or troubles) for those who don’t.
    This analogy is really good, Alison.
    ” When I open a commercial sewing pattern, it comes with a sheet of instructions. These are not orders that I need to obey so I won’t go to hell — they are an explanation of how to do something. If I don’t follow the instructions I might get a better or worse result than if I do follow them, depending on the quality of the instructions.”
    When we instruct our children with God’s wisdom, we tell them about natural consequences, about how doing things right usually leads to things working out the way we want them to, etc…

    I don’t see the manipulation in Jay Yount’s example, either. Sheesh! How is a mother facing a stressful situation supposed to handle it? I’d offer the ice cream!!!!

  • Betty Crux

    I just want to go to the people that take the time to come up with this logic and say “Shut…..up.”
    Really? Are we THAT bored at home that we are going to take something as trivial (sorry, it’s trivial) as this and make it into an huge ethical issue? Get out.

  • What a weird way of reading that verse. As if the word “but” meant “in other words.” “Don’t provoke to anger” means don’t treat them harshly, unjustly or arbitrarily. Also, the actual Greek text says something more along the lines of “nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” In other words, don’t be hard on them, but instead take care of them and teach them self-control, right and wrong.
    Our children will be angry if we provoke them to anger!” Raising them with nurture is what we’re supposed to be doing instead.

  • Kimberly

    I shook my head after reading the excerpt and agree with all the comments. Do these people just try to come up with ways to make living a Christian life more difficult every day? How like the pharisees in legalism and misinterpretation.