Quoting Quiverfull: Children Are ‘Commodities’?

Quoting Quiverfull: Children Are ‘Commodities’? November 14, 2014

jesuschildrenby Kelly Crawford from her blog Generation Cedar – What Makes Jesus Indignant?

What makes Jesus indignant? Making fun of abuse survivors is probably pretty high up on that list.

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”   Mark 10:13-16

John MacArthur expounded on this passage and his points stirred some of my own thoughts.  If you’ve read my blog at all, you know I feel like Christians, generally speaking, have adopted a jaded view of children.  The comments made about larger than normal families reveal that we really do view children more as commodities–and therefore, too many are a burden.  My ongoing prayer is that those who proclaim Christ (myself included) will imitate Him.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, influential bloggers and cultural enforcers 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 and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

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  • Nea

    The comments made about by larger than normal families reveal that we really do view children more as commodities; rather than individual people beloved of God the way they are, we call them rebellious sinners for fighting being shoved into pre-determined gender and family roles, compare them to animals that need harsh training, and refer to them more often as “arrows,” “soldiers,” ” my (insert birth rank and gender)” and other faceless tools and possessions than unique, beloved humans. We dress them alike, and often give them names following a specific pattern (all the same initials, or incorporating the same sounds), inform them what hobbies and skills they will pursue, all regardless of their individuality. And we do it because WE get more praise within our community for each little arrow/clone produced; and viciously attack our own young if they expose any imperfection such as their own wants or needs.

    Fixed it for her. Pity; it started put so well and then derailed SO badly.

    Also? Christ was unmarried and childless; so calling us to imitate him with, say, a TLC show about your many kids doesn’t make as much sense as you want it to.

  • Saraquill

    Maybe they should start having as many children as J*sus did.

  • Of all the verses out there that could be construed as supportive of a Quiverfull lifestyle…this one was one of the last I would have thought of. Objection: relevancy!

  • BlueVibe

    Let me start out by admitting that my background in Bible study is somewhere between incredibly weak and nonexistent, so I’m probably wrong, but . . . I didn’t think the “children” bit was really about children. I mean, the first part, yes, but I thought the second part was about being open to Jesus/salvation/etc. in the manner of a child, guilelessly and ready to be taught and protected. So the actual kids are kind of just being used to illustrate a point. Which I guess would support the idea of children as commodities, but in a backwards kind of way: They are imitating Christ . . . in using children as tools. I mean, it sounds like he meant well, but it maybe still wasn’t about kids.

    Functionally, though . . . I think there are limits. My mother wanted four kids but my dad was adamant about only two, partly because he was worried about affording us, but also because he was the third of four (three boys and then a girl). His oldest brother was my grandfather’s pet, and the youngest and only girl was my grandmother’s, and the two boys in between were pretty much ignored. I don’t think it was intentional, but my grandfather was busy with work and my grandmother had a lot of housework to do, and they just couldn’t manage to spend as much time with each kid as they needed. Dad did not want any of us to be middle children. (Mom says now that Dad was right, or at least right enough. Once she started to see us as individuals, even as babies, she felt she didn’t need more kids.)

  • Anonyme

    Children aren’t commodities unless you can buy them in bulk at Costco. 😀

  • That verse? It does not say how many kids you should have. It tells you to love them – your own and other people’s – and respect them. To learn from them (after all, the kingdom and how to receive it is seen in them) . It says not to treat them as commodities, yes – but since when do having only a few mean treating them as commodities?
    As a child, I felt the most like a “commodity” when my (not Quiverful) parents insisted on treating all four of us the same, not admitting my needs or age or gifts (Having to go to bed the same time as an 8 years younger brother – I am the oldest; not being able to go to a movie to which I cannot tag all of them along; etc.) I would imagine there is a lot of that commodity treatment in large families.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Having kids to provide cannon fodder for the Culture War IS treating kids as commodities. So is adopting them from countries where trafficking is rife so that you can pat yourself on the back for “rescuing” them. Disrupting adoptees who prove to be unsatisfactory is also treating kids as commodities.

    Fighting the provision of ACA compliant healthcare plans, restricting access to abortion, and slashing food stamps so that there will be more babies available for adoption is the ultimate example of “treating kids as commodities”!

  • Independent Thinker

    “If you’ve read my blog at all, you know I feel like Christians, generally speaking, have adopted a jaded view of children. The comments made about larger than normal families reveal that we really do view children more as commodities–and therefore, too many are a burden. ” This is the biggest excuse in the homeschooling community by fundamentalist patriarchal Christians that are doing a poor job of educating their children. I have heard a thousand different versions of this same message. I don’t have a jaded view of children. I have a jaded view of parents who hoard them and don’t adequately educate them or prepare them for the future. When your ten year old can’t read Cat In The Hat and your teenager has no idea what the Periodic Table of Elements is I take notice. I don’t view children as commodities. I view you as a baby hoarder more concerned with feeding your attention addiction than being a mom who is actively engaged as a parent with each of your children. Stop blaming me for your failures.

  • It seems to me that that verse that Quiverfull families use to justify not planning the size of their families treats children as commodities.

    4) Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

    5) Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

    – Psalm 127

    Aren’t “arrows in the hands of a warrior” commodities?

  • I always look for relevancy, unfortunately. I credit that with being a big part of why I wound up an atheist.

  • I completely concur. 🙂

  • MizzKittay

    I really like this comment. I don’t look down on the children for being born into large families, I look down on the parents.

    Children are a lot of work. Like. A lot. Of. Work. They all need individual attention and praise specific to them (in my opinion). Saying “Great job Johnny” is good. Saying “Great job Johnny I like how you … (clear the table without whining for example)” is even better. That way the child knows what it is you like and can duplicate the results in the future for more praise. If you have 5 other kids running around your a lot less likely to notice little Johhnys’ actions. Oh hey, if there was a post about mothers feeling unnoticed how about their kids? Why can’t we put that shoe on the other foot too? Too selfish to notice perhaps? Is the word narcissist applicable here?

    I think it should be considered a form of abuse (neglect maybe) if your 10 year old can’t read Dr. Seuss or that your teenager doesn’t know what the Periodic Table is.

    Baby hoarder… yeah that about sums it up nicely. I think your right. That having that many children serves as a feeder for a mothers attention. I guess MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM all day is better than silence??? Though silence doesn’t have that much frustration with it.

  • Mel

    Talk about hypocrisy.

    MOST families (excepting Amish and some Mennonite families) understand that children require using commodities for their first 20 years or so rather than generate commodities. (The math is different if you are doing old-school manual farming; in that case, a kid starts generating income for the family between 8-12 years of age.)

    Because of that, MOST families talk about if they have enough commodities – time, energy, food, shelter, clothing, cash – before they reproduce.

    In QF, the kid IS the commodity. The kids are used to gain social status and produce income (Who would watch the Duggars if they had 4 kids? How many homeschool/home business mom bloggers brag about using their kids as labor in the business?).

  • Mel

    Does she actually know what a commodity is? Having excess commodities is not a problem. I think the word she wants is “luxury” and yet again I am terrified about her homeschooling kids….

  • Mel

    I mentioned this in a later comment, but I don’t think she knows what a commodity is. Having excess of a commodity isn’t a problem if you think about it for a moment. If you have excess cash, you can spend or store it. If you have extra space, you can chose not to use it or create a new room. An extra cow can be used for milk, butchered for meat or sold for cash.

    I’m pretty sure the word she means is “luxury”. The paragraph makes much more sense if most people see children as a luxury item – right down to her disdain for others.

    Luxury and commodity are NOT synonyms – at all. They aren’t quite antonyms, either, but they don’t mean the same thing.

    And SHE feels like she’s doing a better job teaching her kids than I could as a trained teacher……

  • Independent Thinker

    I don’t think she does. I think the underlying message is your judging my bad parenting and it makes me look bad. If I flip the issue on you and say you are the problem I’m off the hook at least temporarily.

  • Independent Thinker

    We homeschooled for four years and I actively engaged myself in the homeschooling community at that time. I have met many great homeschooling parents but double the number are not doing a good job. The ones not doing a good job have an excuse for everything. They don’t use third party accountability like learning centers (Sylvan or similar), community classes like art camps at the local museum, and they consider “character qualities” more important than academic achievement. Smaller homeschooling families in general have more money to spend on extracurricular activities, travel, and top of the line educational materials. They are constantly under attack by large families for being “worldly” “materialistic” and “selfish”. You and I are definitely on the same page about a lack of education for a normal child being neglect. I have actually ended friendships because I simply could not turn a blind eye to how bad of a job some moms are doing as homeschooling parents.

  • Saraquill

    So making a point to give (general) your children a broad education is morally suspect? Sigh.

  • Astrin Ymris

    The Adoption Reform community calls the parents of adoptive megafamilies “Child Collectors”. It seems to me that could work for biological megafamilies, too.

  • Saraquill

    I started to laugh until I realized that some do. (See one of the books linked in the right sidebar by Kathryn Joyce.)

  • Astrin Ymris

    Re: “…I think the word she wants is “luxury”…”

    Or possibly “liability”. That fits the meaning she’s trying to convey better. It takes a lot of money to raise kids to a self-supporting adulthood, and unless you exploit them (as Mel describes below) they aren’t revenue-generating assets.

  • Jenny Islander

    So “Be sure to include your children in your spiritual practices instead of pushing them off to one side, and remember that their faith and trust is something you should emulate” = “Have tons and tons of kids.” Okay then.

  • Independent Thinker

    The bible has all of life’s answers according to their mentality.

  • L’Anne

    This– the line about kids as cannon fodder in the Culture War– reminds me of a deleted scene in Jesus Camp, where the kids are at a Pregnancy Care Center, and one of the kids cries about an abortion clinic: “they’re killing your soldiers, Lord! They’re the army of God!”

  • L’Anne

    I also wish I knew how she is defining “jaded.” I would describe a jaded view of children as seeing them as little sin bags that require discipline, punishment, and “training” to instill instant obedience and constant expression of happiness.I think a jaded of view of children is that they are supposed to copies of their parents so they must be isolated and indoctrinated.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    When I decided to post this I read this as “Anyone not popping out kids like a Holy Pez Dispenser and not raising them exactly like I think they should be raised is an evil kid-hating sinner going straight to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!”

  • Bill

    You raise an interesting concept, “don’t adequately educate.” I wonder how educational scores, for instance, SAT are with home schooled children compared with those in public school systems. Anybody ever done an objective study on that? Another set of data I’d like to see is what it costs the taxpaying public to educate a child in a public system versus what the public expense is for home schooling. Any fresh data on that one?

  • Independent Thinker

    Yes, studies have been done on this issue. Those studies are actually published in the HSDLA associations annual report that is readily available online. To sum it up homeschooling is not as expensive as public schooling. Nevertheless, it has been found the more money the parent spends on educating the child the better the outcome academically. Not all parents are willing to put a significant investment in their child’s education.

  • Mermaid Warrior

    “Child collecting”, weirdly, reminds me of animal hoarding. People who care about having more animals rather than making sure the ones they already have are properly cared for.

  • B.A.

    I have a co-worker who loves to brag about her large family(she’s the youngest of 6 kids). I have explained,more than once,that my mom had some health issues that prevented her from having more than 2 kids–I am her 2nd daughter. I always emphasize how grateful and thankful Mom is to have my sister and me,and she has NEVER held a pity party. I don’t know if it gets through to my co-worker or not,but I still say it. NO ONE is allowed to put down my mother over something she couldn’t control!

  • Astrin Ymris

    Here’s some data!


    To sum up– the so-called “homeschool advantage” disappears when you correct for SES. People who homeschool (at least those in Alaska who participated in the correspondence program) are less likely to be “economically disadvantaged” than public school attendees, which skews the data.

    This makes you wonder about the homeschoolers who weren’t willing to let the Eebil Gubbamint have enough access to their kids to participate in this program.

  • SAO

    The stats I’ve read, (probably dated) say Homeschooled kids generally do better than publicly schooled kids, but that’s because the SATs are voluntary. The kids who are never going to pass them don’t take them, I’d assume that’s more true than ever now, when you can look at sample SAT questions free on-line.

    Many states don’t require homeschooled kids to have much in the way of objective testing, and that’s, to my mind, the biggest problem with homeschooling.

    So, statistics about the homeschooled are skewed by the sample of homeschooled kids who are tested.

  • SAO

    We devote more resources to things we consider precious. Parents of small families have more time, money and attention to lavish on each kid. In fact, one of the reasons many parents don’t have more kids is that we don’t think we have the resources to give another child what he needs.

    It is the people who have more children without considering the needs of each child and the parents’ ability to provide it who treat children as commodities.

  • Bill

    OK… and “those who never take them” come largely from which group? Public schools or home schools? But I don’t think I alleged SAT as the sole indicator. It was only one example. “Objective testing?” Is that like, let’s say, how soon they get a real job in life? How soon or often they “move up the job ladder?” Or, taking it another direction, do we have any stats on how many home schooled people get into crime compared to publicly schooled people? The proof is in the pudding. Show me the pudding. My mind is open.

  • Bill

    However… even with the multiple thousands of drachmas (or whatever) spent on each child in public, brick-and-mortar juvenile incarceration centers (aka schools) there is still remains a group think, status quo, averagish, inside-the-box mentality/philosophy. In privatized education one’s academic exploration is not limited by those parameters. For example, while you might find some academic freedom in a home school for the following nuance, what would you wager you’d never find as much freedom in a public school, an example to wit:
    “Now, Class, the new set of words for our vocabulary lesson today are:
    1) gruber (noun) – An attempt to exploit the naivete of
    2) gruber (verb) – To attempt to exploit the naivete of
    3) grubering (verb) – The action whereby the naivete of others
    is exploited.
    4) gruberism – (noun) – The eventual outcome of the
    exploitation of the naivete of others.”

  • Independent Thinker

    I am not against homeschooling. I just understand some families poorly execute homeschooling and the way the laws are written allow them to go unchecked in states like Texas. You can have it both ways. You can allow families to homeschool but use third party resources public OR private to make sure they are doing a good job. These include teacher evaluations, testing, hybrid schools, and numerous other options beyond just letting mom and dad wing it.

  • Independent Thinker

    From someone raised in the south I loath the “I’ll pray for them” phrase. Praying is often easier than actually volunteering to help them thru the problem.

  • SAO

    Thank you for your excellent example of how homeschooling can combine groupthink, inside-the-fundie-box mentality, and a bad education all at the same time!

  • Bill

    I forgot one…

    gruberish (adjective) – Nefariously exploitive of naivete.

  • Bill

    “Independent Thinker?” So how do you define “good job?” The examples you cite are certainly not “independent!” “Resources” have to do with information distribution. So who deterimines what information is distributed and to whom? When do a person’s First Amendment rights come into play? Seems like the theory of “freedom of speech, religion, and press” get assailed when we require all young residents to be “enrolled” (incarcerated) in compulsory, force-fed information programs… under penalty of law! In some locations they are even coerced as to what food to eat! I get a real chuckle out of those who claim home schools militate against a child’s freedom… as though some public, government-controlled data center gives them freedom! LOL HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! 🙂

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    …and I chuckle when crowing homeschooling advocates trot out their tin foil hat anti government theories when their homeschooled kids cannot get or hold a job more complex than working the drive thru window at ChikFiLa for minimum wage and my public school college educated children of the same age have professional careers and no real money problems. I guess America really needs an undereducated class of people or operate the gas pumps and fast food places. Why on earth would any parent sacrifice their child’s future for a theology? It’s surely not very loving.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Also, a warning. You’ve been inching closer to person insult territory since arriving here and I’ve said nothing. But with your ‘Independent Thinker’ crack you’re starting to go in that direction. I do not tolerate that here. One of my biggest beefs with True Christians ™ coming here is that they cannot construct a rational argument without throwing in some personal digs. They get banned very quickly for that. Please read our comment policy before posting again.- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/comment-policy-please-read-before-posting/

  • Independent Thinker

    Third party accountability works like an insurance policy. The certified teacher makes sure the child is performing at or above grade level. In the case of special needs children progress can be tracked over grade level skill attainment when a significant impairment is present. A good job by the parent means the child is at or above grade level for children without special needs that directly impact their ability to learn and retain information. A bad job is the child is below grade level standards. Food has nothing to do with homeschooling law. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t waivers from educating your kids on algebra or biology.

  • Amarad

    I was raised in homeschooling right up until college. We may not have been middle class and we lived in podunk. But my mom put every spare dime she could into materials, tools, textbooks and programs for me and my sister. She was a big believer in libraries and very early adopter of the internet and computers (we got a friends hand-me-down Xerox). We went to used bookstores to clear out all kinds of materials.

    The difference being that although we didn’t have a lot of money, there were only two of us. She could spend a lot of time on our individual needs, researching solutions for our individual learning blocks (I had a real problem grasping the concept of an unknown sum AKA ‘x’ when we hit math.) And, she was as agnostic as it gets – so she ended up in the same situation of being attacked constantly by the large-family christian homeschoolers.

  • Independent Thinker

    Your mom sounds like a great person. That’s awesome that she dedicated herself passionately to your education.