Quoting Quiverfull: Why is it Always Extremes? Where’s the ‘Middle Ground’ in Patriarchy?

Quoting Quiverfull: Why is it Always Extremes? Where’s the ‘Middle Ground’ in Patriarchy? June 1, 2014
“Pride and Prejudice”s unmarried sisters

by Russell D. Moore as posted at Ladies Against Feminism and Moore to the Point – What I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Marriage.

Russell actually makes some decent points about marriage in this piece. But he also illustrates the black and white thinking of many in the Evangelical church.

I knew on our first date that I loved her and wanted to spend my life with her. But many told us, “Wait until you can afford it before you get married.” It’s true. We had nothing. I was a 22 year-old first-year seminary student; she not much out of high school. I worked and reworked budget scenarios, and never could find one that would suggest that we could pay our bills. That’s why I kept delaying asking her to marry me, even after I knew she was “the one.” I thought I needed stability and a put-together life before I could ask her into it.

My grandmother wisely asked one night when I was finally going to ask “that girl from Ocean Springs” to marry me. I answered, “When I can afford it.” She laughed. “Honey, I married your grandpa in the middle of a Great Depression,” she said. “We made it work. Nobody can afford to get married. You just marry, and make it work.”

Apart from the gospel, those were, and remain, the most liberating words I ever heard. I bought a ring that wouldn’t impress anyone, then or now, but we were headed for the altar. My only regret is that we aren’t today celebrating our twenty-first anniversary instead of our twentieth.

My grandmother’s wisdom is akin to what sociologist Charles Murray talks about in his book The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead as the difference between a “start-up” marriage and a “merger” marriage. A merger marriage is the sort one sees every Sunday in the weddings pages of the New York Times, with a groom who’s a hedge-fund manager with a master’s degree behind him and a bride who’s a film professor with a Ph.D. and tenure. They each have their lives, and they merge them. A “start-up” is where the marriage isn’t the capstone of the life, but the foundation. It’s where the husband and the wife start their grown-up lives together, often with nothing but each other.

Read the entire posting at Moore to the Point

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.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M Dolon Hickmon

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  • Saraquill

    I noticed that he never mentions whether or not she wanted to marry him, let alone have a say in the financial planning.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Ha! Good catch! I didn’t even notice.

  • Allison the Great

    I’m glad everything turned out for them, I really am. However, I’d rather have a merger marriage than a startup marriage. I’ve spent years “starting up” and marriage is still at the bottom of my list. I’m actually grateful for this, that I didn’t go out and get married right out of high school like this man’s wife did. If I had done that, I’d be a completely different person than I am now and quite frankly, I don’t think I’d like how I turned out. Being alone, having jobs and just figuring things out has made me more compassionate, more empathetic and I can get along with people better and I am a better friend. Had I gone down the “marriage at 18 road” I don’t think I would have known how to get along with my husband, and I know for a fact it would have ended in divorce.

  • SAO

    A lot of articles in the Fundamentalist circles are about celebrating what they do. At least this time, those of us whose lives followed a different pattern aren’t demonized.

    I think there’s a huge benefit in waiting to be married until both parties are a lot more mature than a 22 year old and a teen. Among them, the fact that younger the bride is, the higher the divorce rate. (Note, I don’t have much respect for marriages that are held together only by the couple’s belief that divorce is wrong as opposed to being the love of each other’s life).

  • Well, I did enter a start-up marriage, but also followed good advice and finished college first. We got married with nothing but our incomes and a few sticks of furniture, and I don’t regret it. But there never was an issue of “can we afford it?” because we both intended from the start to continue earning our incomes– despite some voices from authorities in our church that I should immediately stop working and let him support me.

    Our church’s unrealistic ideology was that we must never go in debt, never ask for government aid, and yet live on one income. It was impossible. We chose to lose the one-income requirement. And we also discovered that it was impossible not to incur debt or never to accept government help such as unemployment, financial aid, or subsidized school lunches. So much for ideology.

  • Trollface McGee

    For women, statistically, there’s a risk that comes with marriage. A married woman is more likely to have the second-job of taking care of the house, and children if there are children, and that’s true even among non-fundamentalists. So a woman “starting-up” might have a harder time getting to where she wants to if she’s married (while a man might have the opposite).
    I don’t think there’s a set time for marriage (as long as both are mentally mature enough) but I think that at the very least you need to plan how you’re going to live together so that both parties are able to accomplish what they want.

  • persephone

    He does demonize them still, stating that his startup marriage is the foundation of their life, and any time they mention the New York Times and successful, career women it’s a dig.

  • Catherine

    I’ve known of several “start up” marriages that were successful, but the key to success there was that they postponed having children for many years until things were a little more stable, in some cases nearly a decade after their “fresh out of high school” marriage.

  • Allison the Great

    Agreed! The problem is that in this culture, they don’t care what the woman wants. If she wants anything other than to be a mother and helpmeet, she’s a selfish whore.

  • Joy

    I did go down the “marriage at 18” road. Biggest mistake of my life. I’m now happily divorced and finally getting to go to college.

  • Allison the Great

    This is off-topic, but I just happened to come upon this :


    and thought it might be something worth a look for you. It kind of ties in with the horrifying mentality that all children are born evil and normal childhood misbehaviors are all signs of demon possession.

  • Mel

    His comparison of ‘start-up’ vs. ‘merger’ marriages is a huge slap in the face to those of us who married “later” in life.

    My husband and I met when I was 28 and he was 29. We married when I was 30 and he was 31. Because we had both been working since we graduated college, we had individually survived very lean financial times. We also had accumulated some material and career advantages before we married. Far more importantly, we had both matured enough that we could love and support each other.

    Our marriage IS the cornerstone of our lives. We started our married life in the ‘for worse’ category due to a tragic death and a hard to treat illness. Two years later, we are enjoying a ‘for better’ time. Honestly, if we had faced the same problems when we were 20 and 21, I’m not sure we’d have made it…..

  • Indomable

    Shortly after my marriage (and we still don’t have kids for many sensible reasons) One of my mom’s friends asked me in a shocked, incredulous tone “so you’re still planning to pursue a CAREER?!?!????”

    She is a sweetheart who has always been there for our family, so i didn’t respond with snark

    But it blows my mind, her own cheating husband left her and now she struggles to make ends meet…because in spite of a college degree she quit her job shortly after her marriage, somehow assuming he would take care of her forever… And apparently did not learn from this, because apparently i needed to do the same thing.

    I wanted to say: “I had a wedding, not a lobotomy!”

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Yeah, Mel, same here. The hubby and I had what he would term a “Merger Marriage” and it is also the cornerstone of our lives. Had we married much younger I doubt our marriage would have worked out at all. It’s insulting that anyone would seek to devalue people that wait till they get education out of the way, know what they want in life and have taken solid steps to make it happen.

  • gimpi1

    When ideology and reality collide, it’s almost always ideology that loses. Reality trumps dogma every time. When people refuse to understand this, it often has tragic results.

  • gimpi1

    I didn’t marry until I was 41. We weren’t hedge-fund managers or tenured professors, but we both had long-term jobs, college educations and I owned a home. Merger-marriages tend to be more successful.

    Why do outcomes not matter? Marry young – often does not work out. Don’t worry about how to pay your bills – very seldom a good idea. Yet, let’s leap off that bridge because… why, exactly?

  • That_Susan

    One thing that’s occurred to me is that, statistically speaking, “startup” marriages are more likely to end in divorce than “merger” marriages. http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/article/marriage-and-divorce-patterns-by-gender-race-and-educational-attainment.htm

    I’ve just realized that this information flies in the face of many religious conservatives’ idea that the best way to protect marriage is to make it harder for people to divorce. It’s pretty obvious to me — and I think most people — that it’s a lot easier, at least from an economic standpoint, for two well-educated professionals who are unhappy in their marriage to go their separate ways. I’m not saying divorce is easy or painless for anyone; I’m just saying that well-established professionals will have an easier time with many of the nitty-gritty, day-to-day aspects of going from a shared household to two separate households.

    So why is it that these couples are less likely to divorce than those for whom divorce is so much more financially devastating — those who married young so that all their assets are intertwined, and, in many cases, those in which the wives, and often both spouses, gave up higher education in order to start a family?

    It seems to me that those likely to suffer the most pain from divorce are also the most likely to divorce. Could it be that happiness in one’s life and in one’s marriage is a better incentive for staying together than fear of economic suffering? Could it be that love and joy are better motivators than fear in ALL areas of our lives? What a humanistic and humanitarian concept — must be from the devil! 🙂

  • I was 36 when I got married. Mostly because it took that long to find the right man for me.

  • Hattie

    Dang it Saraquill, I wish I’d seen this statement 6 days ago! Well, here is a true story that kind of ties in:

    Ten years ago I was an 18-year-old freshman just coming out of homeschooling, complete with skirts and long hair. I met this guy at college named Brian, whom I wasn’t interested in.

    Around the time I graduated, Brian sorta/kinda invited himself to my family’s house for dinner. Later on I got a letter from him, asking for my “hand in dating” (I really wish I was kidding about that turn of phrase…)

    I never responded.

    Welp, Brian gave up.. for about 5 years. After which he got my # from my brother and called me up.

    During this conversation, I told him I am “different” now. I mentioned the fact that I have short hair.

    His response was basically to “reject” somebody who has never been interested in him in the first place. In his mind, my ongoing lack of interest didn’t mean anything. HE wanted us to be A Thing, therefore we were A Thing.

    Until I proved unworthy, that is.

    Looks like I’m keeping the haircut. ; )