Quoting Quiverfull: Fear and Readiness?

Quoting Quiverfull: Fear and Readiness? October 1, 2013

by Vaughn Ohlman from True Love Doesn’t Wait – Fear and Readiness

It is a funny difference between conservatives and liberals that conservatives seem to always question liberals ideas, and liberals question conservatives motives. Indeed, when a liberal makes a movie about an evil conservative the conservative is almost never doing what the conservative says he wants to do (ie he is a hypocrite[1]) whereas a conservative movie will often show liberals living up to their stated ideals (which just happen to be wrong, immoral, and lead to a deranged and deprived society).


A similar issue has cropped up, repeatedly, in the discussions on betrothal. There are, basically, two sets of opponents to the idea. The first is conservatives: the kind of people who are big on ‘courtship’. They have built themselves an entire edifice of extra-Biblical (and anti-Biblical) ideas and do not appreciate what we have to say.


Those conservatives who choose to enter into the discussion do so primarily over the meaning and usefulness of the Scriptures on the issues. Or they point to general principles of hermeneutics to argue against any kind of mandate for the principles of betrothal.


However the liberals (the anti-quiverfull radical feminists so popular on some sites) take a different tack. While they occasionally mention (briefly) some Scripture or hermeneutic; they often, and enthusiastically, speak to my motives; claiming for me pretty much every nasty motive the modern mind can invent.


Well, I’m a big boy, and can handle the flack. I’ve suffered worse. They don’t even bother to come over and make the comments on my site or my FaceBook page. But I do think that the motives they give are interesting ones and ones that could use some discussion. I won’t comment on their truth, which only God can judge, but I can comment on their logic and theological soundness… a more human endeavor.

The first thing they accuse me of is ‘fear’.  They think I am worried that my son will pick the ‘wrong’ wife; and are convinced that this is at least one of the reasons I want to pick for him.

Ironically this is true, although perhaps not in the way they intend. It is true that I ‘fear’ (at least as broadly defined) but the actual fear they propose is wrong.


I think my son is perfectly capable of ‘picking’ a good wife… at least, as compared to me. Indeed, if the common expression of ‘choosing’ one’s wife were literally true instead of being merely a figure of speech [2] I would consider my son fully capable of picking a very good wife, thank you very much. Perhaps not as good as I might pick but, as the picking is purely hypothetical… tis a moot point.


The second reason that the anti-quiverfull crowd will bring up, as you might have guessed from the title, is ‘readiness’. ‘A young man’ they say, ‘who is not ready to pick a wife is not ready to get married’. So they envision I must not think my son ‘ready’ to pick a wife.


This particular argument falls particularly flat. I think my son was readier to pick himself a wife at fifteen than the overwhelming majority, indeed probably the totality, of these anti-quiverful women are able to pick a husband.[3] Indeed they declare their rebellion to the Biblical qualifications for husbands and the role of the wife quite overtly. The site is dedicated to an open rebellion to a specific verse from God, after all.[4]


So why, then, do I propose betrothal as the ‘right’ way for my son to get married? Why did I think it better for me to ‘pick’ a wife for him than for he to pick one for himself?


Well, first of all, we don’t really have a marriage mart– we have dating and courting. We have two processes which force our young people into relationships which go beyond ‘brother and sister’, and yet are not yet husband and wife. I’m not opposed to, worried about, or fearful any of my sons picking out their own wife. I am opposed to the process proposed for doing it.


My actual ‘fear’ is something that my opponents are well aware of, since they have written articles about it. The term they use is ‘giving away pieces of their hearts’. Many of them were raised on the idea that dating involved ‘giving pieces of your heart away’ and that the end result would be a man or woman coming to their marriage with insufficient ‘heart’ (ie ability to love) left for their spouse.


I think (as they do) the analogy is a bad one. Ironically I would use their very arguments against them when they condemn the Duggars.[5] I am not worried that my children will run out of love during the dating process. Love is not divided, it is multiplied.


But I do worry that they will violate the image of Christ and the church.[6] We are not given the impression that Christ ‘checked out’ a variety of brides before he finally settled on the church. Instead we are told He came to ‘choose’ only and all of those His Father had given Him. It is that image we are trying to portray in our human marriages and that is the image that, I am sorely afraid, is being destroyed by our current systems.


On a purely factual basis, as well, I must say that our current system does not work. My opponents wax eloquent about the consequences of the betrothal system, but have they seen the consequences of dating? The child-murder rate, the divorce rate, the number of children living in single families or, worse, with foster families? Compare that to Scripture… where no Godly man was divorced. Or even the Christians in India, where those that don’t practice dating have an almost zero percent divorce rate.


The bottom line, of course, is that my opponents reject Scriptural pattern and precept in building their ideas for how marriages should happen. Scripture does not show the young man, fully ‘ready’ for such a decision, going out into the dating world and ‘picking’ a spouse. It does not show God encouraging or requiring such a thing.



[1] In a movie a ‘pro-family’ senator, for example, is almost always an adulterer. The movie ‘indoctriNation’, on the other hand, consists almost exclusively of quotes from liberal educators and statistics from the schools they created. http://indoctrinationmovie.com/
[2] There is no MarriageMart where one can go and ‘pick’ a wife. Instead there are a variety of systems which involve mutual veto, a whole lot of time, energy, etc. Etc. I am not proposing there should be, I am saying that my opponents often act as if there were. As if ‘picking’ a wife was the same as ‘picking’ a new stereo at WalMart… go down to the store, read up on the various models, compare prices, and, voila, choose one and take it home. We all know that is NOT the way either dating or courting works.


[3] Indeed what would ‘ready to pick’ mean? A five year old is ‘ready’ to choose the kind of ice cream that they would like to eat… and ready to choose to eat ice cream when they should be eating something else. Are my opponents suggesting that the parents determine their children’s ‘readiness’ to pick a spouse? What qualifications should they use? How is this not the same thing I am arguing for, except mediated through the child instead of direct?


[4] They are anti ‘quiverfull’ and/or anti ‘patriarchy’, both Biblical words and Biblical concepts.


[5] They use the same argument, themselves, in condemning the Duggars. They make the claim, basically, that the Duggar parents will not have enough love to go around for all of their children. And then they argue, as if it was some sort of problem, that the Duggar family has siblings helping to raise siblings. I have never heard any full quiver family who denied this. It is, indeed, one of the greatest blessings of a large family: the blessing of siblings who ‘help raise’ you. It seems odd for people who are such fans of public schools: where same age peers ‘help raise’ you, to object to large siblings groups, where at least those who are helping to raise you are older than you!


[6] Ephesians 5

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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