Quoting Quiverfull: Suffering Makes You More Holy?

Quoting Quiverfull: Suffering Makes You More Holy? June 1, 2016

quotingquiverfullby Anonymous from Sow With Vision – Sowing While Suffering | Bitter Waters

Editor’s note: This is another one of those toxic reoccurring themes in Quiverfull: that suffering is somehow redemptive. Right after they tell you that your illness is punishment from God from unconfessed sin or generational curse. Or perhaps you weren’t using the right essential oils or you drank too much soda. While there’s only a little blaming for the suffering in this piece the thought that suffering and serious affliction somehow makes one more holy and closer to God is just as toxic and wrong.

Do you live with chronic pain?  Perhaps you have a child who has strayed from the Lord.  Or maybe you are looking at that mortgage payment that is now at three months past due and there are no clients for your commission-only husband.  When does suffering move from visiting us as a result of our mistakes, to visiting us because it’s God’s gift?

I have a friend, one of the godliest women I have ever met, who, like my husband, carries a daily cross of suffering. Her name is Melana (Hunt) Monroe. She is  daughter of Prayer Titan, and author of the classic book, The Mind of Christ, T.W. Hunt.  Her father passed away in 2014 leaving a legacy of prayer and faith behind him.  Currently, God is writing a powerful story of faith and courage through the Monroe family as they face unbelievable challenges. In a nutshell, thanks to technological advances, four of her six adult children have been diagnosed with a gene which causes stomach cancer.  Each one must have their stomachs surgically removed in order to save their lives and drastically increase their odds for living a long healthy life.  Melana, like her father, is a prayer warrior for her children and the spiritual fruit in her life is transformative.  I have had the special honor of sitting under her teaching and watching how these trials have given her unbelievable spiritual vision and focus. Her youngest daughter, Chesney, recently shared a quote by theologian John Calvin in her blog post https://livingstomachless.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/through-pain-comes-joy/

“You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”

Melana’s prayer life models for me what sowing while suffering looks like.  As another daughter, Katie, faces an upcoming surgery, Melana lives on her knees, praying through every detail.  God is using the faith legacy of her father, to teach others how to sow with vision, even during times of suffering.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, cultural enforcers and those that seek to keep women submitted to men 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

    When does suffering move from visiting us as a result of our mistakes, to visiting us because it’s God’s gift?

    Someone gives me a nasty insulting gift like that, it’s getting marked “Return to sender.”

    Also, major organ-removing surgery strikes me as being incredibly drastic for merely having a gene that gives a higher propensity for a disease but the disease has not yet been diagnosed.

  • Brennan

    Also, major organ-removing surgery strikes me as being incredibly drastic for merely having a gene that gives a higher propensity for a disease but the disease has not yet been diagnosed.

    That depends on a couple of things. It’s obviously an individual choice, and some will never go that far without a diagnosis. But, it also depends on the gene in question, the disease you’re at risk for, and the risk of developing it. So, people with BRCA1 or BRCA2 will commonly undergo prophylactic mastectomies and ovariectomies. If they don’t, their risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer in their lifetime is somewhere between 50% and 80%. I’m not familiar with a stomach cancer gene, so it’s hard to comment on whether this decision was rational or not.

  • zardeenah

    I keep reading Sow (pig) with Vision as the name of this blog. Miss Piggy’s religious blog, I guess.

    On a more on topic note, I suppose suffering has to be looked at this way to avoid questioning the justice of a god that could allow these kinds of things to happen.

  • THERetroGamerNY

    If suffering makes you more holy, then I should apply to be a dang saint at this point. :/

  • Nea

    I’ve heard of that too, but you can go through your daily life without breasts or ovaries – half the population already does. Not having a stomach, though, has a much larger impact!

  • Evelyn

    Sigh. She completely misses what redemptive suffering really is. It’s not something to be bragged about, for starters.

  • Saraquill

    It didn’t escape my notice that the person Sow with Vision is praising isn’t the one undergoing surgery to have a major organ removed and having to endure possible complications.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Sadly, the idea that suffering-makes-you-better is deeply entrenched in our entire culture. Lengthy prison sentences to “pay their debt to society” is an outgrowth of this meme, as are rants against “country club prisons”.

  • Abigail Smith

    Exactly. Jesus didn’t “brag” about His suffering. He told His Disciples so they’d be prepared.
    This kind of thinking in this article almost destroyed me. When we went to a Calvinist church that preached this gospel all the time, I cried through every service but didn’t know why. It’s abusive. And it denies any negative emotions…when my son was diagnosed with autism, I could not “jump for joy”. I also suffered for 20 years too long in contact with abusive parents because I was told to be joyful about it, instead of to set limits.

  • RetroPam

    There’s punishment the noun, and then there is punishing, the verb. Our culture seems fixated on punishing.

  • guest

    I really don’t know about God ever giving us the gift of suffering. I believe He can, and will, use our suffering for something good, but that doesn’t mean he gave us the disease or poor living condition to start with. Yes, there is that passage where Paul talks about knowing Christ in his suffering, but that is Paul talking (Philippians 3), and he doesn’t say that this fellowship is a gift. He, Paul, wants to be like Christ in his death, for whatever that means. Is it that he wants to give his life for the sake of the Gospel?
    Considering that the church is supposed to suffer with those who suffer, help those in need, care for widows and orphans. Considering that Jesus didn’t tell anyone off for rejecting the gift of misery, pain, disease, and death, but instead healed the sick and even rised the dead, I don’t think it’s correct to call suffering a gift from God.

  • Evelyn

    YES. I hate the idea of God scheming and deciding whose baby gets to die or other horrible things. We can unite our suffering to the Cross, and choose how to handle it when we have the strength for that luxury, but suffering is fundamentally a bad thing, a consequence of sin (ours or someone else’s), and that’s not a gift.

  • Astrin Ymris
  • RetroPam

    That’s one attention-getting article. I’ve noticed on my own how “compliance” is being imposed on Americans, by Americans, in many different ways. This article talks about one manifestation of it, and I’m as worried by the trend as I am morbidly fascinated by its creep.

    On another site, transgender issues are in the news, and I’ve felt compelled to verbally manhandle the abusive bigots who swarm to articles like that. The trouble is, I feel vaguely dirty about myself when I resort to that, but I guess I’ll always be a mama bear; it’s my nature to defend the harmless, the marginalized, and the innocent against malicious, bigoted bullies.

    It all fits, in its culturally pathological way.

  • persephone

    This is close to Mother Teresa level BS.

  • megaforte84

    Not surprised. That book “The Mind Of Christ” is what got me out of the Baptist church I was attending. Lifeway, the SBC’s publishing arm, published the workbook edition we used. I still have it lying around somewhere.

    You aren’t allowed to have any negative emotions, at all, not and consider yourself a good Christian. Righteous indignation is for Christ alone, because you are imperfect and can never 100% know some injustice is not the divine will. Depressed people are to be told to pray harder for happiness and given no other aid but repetitions of the same. That lesson was when I finally walked out.

    It’s not about ‘the mind of Christ’. Christ is barely mentioned. It’s all about conforming to the image of a perfect fundamentalist who never has an unsanctioned independent thought – becoming ‘Christlike’ defined in ways that would have probably made Jesus vomit IMO.

    If she grew up with the brain that produced THAT in the house, I’m not surprised she shows no negative emotions and tries to channel everything bad that happens to her into happy-happy religious framing publicly.

  • megaforte84

    That book “The Mind of Christ’ doesn’t allow any negative emotions, righteous anger in defense of another included (table-flipping at the Temple permitted because Christ Is Perfect And You Aren’t). I’m not surprised the household it was written in produced a person who can’t show negative emotions in the face of all that, and it’s not for good reasons.

  • Emilie Bishop

    I totally agree. I’ve always thought the Church needs to do a better job differentiating between suffering for Christ (like being jailed for being Christian) and suffering because we live in a fallen world (like illness).

  • megaforte84

    I’d add a category for ‘suffering because God’s purposes in this fallen world meant someone had to hurt over this’.

    I’ve been the person dealing with that a number of times, and not really minded because the payoff is ‘I hurt, someone else was protected because I took the emotional hit in this, I don’t mind once I get the big picture, if I’d had everything laid out and been given the chance to give permission beforehand yeah I would have consented’, BUT I really really hate it when having the inevitable case of being grumpy at God right after I realize it’s happening again is seen as a problem instead of a stage in healthy processing of events that ends in genuine peace about it all instead of faked happy-happy.

  • guest

    “BUT I really really hate it when having the inevitable case of being
    grumpy at God right after I realize it’s happening again is seen as a
    problem instead of a stage in healthy processing of events that ends in
    genuine peace about it all instead of faked happy-happy.”

    Oh, boy, do I ever hate that too!!!! Gosh, let me be a person, let me process this. Let me work this thing out with God!

    I’m thinking that some Christians just want us to accept the pain and suffer in silence, with a “joyful countenance”, so they don’t have to be bothered to suffer with us.

  • megaforte84

    And if you’re going to claim a ‘personal relationship with God’ is an essential thing, let mine actually work like a relationship. I’ve not turned my back on that relationship if I get a bit (or a lot) miffed about something. Real relationships have ups and downs, moments when people are closer and moments when they are further away.

    And if a friend pushes someone suddenly to the ground or into an object, pretty much no one would deny as unreasonable the moment of anger and hurt before the friend points out the danger they were getting them out of the way of. That’s the level some people’s restrictions on Christian Emotional Control get to – denying the momentary justified reaction that happens to be negative.

  • guest

    Sounds more like stoicism than Christianity.

  • guest

    Very true.
    Our relationship with God only deepens the more honest we are with him.

  • TLC

    In this case, not really. My sister-in-law died of stomach cancer nearly 12 years ago. When I did the research at the time, it said that if you’re diagnosed with stage zero cancer, they remove your stomach and make a new one out of intestines. So it did not surprise me to read that they were having their stomachs removed — it doesn’t take much to get to that point.

  • Evelyn

    Except Mother Theresa lived for years in a “dark night of the soul,” where she felt miserable and utterly disconnected from God but continued her work anyway because she knew it was the right thing to do, and then admitted it in a book. The fundigelical response to that was to say she probably wasn’t really a Christian and maybe she should have prayed more. Which is really funny since she was part of a contemplative order and likely prayed 6+ hours a day already. I think maybe they had to “disown” her because if CPM women looked closely, they would decide their work wasn’t the right thing to do, and that if someone as obviously saintly as Mother Theresa could be miserable, well, maybe it was okay to feel miserable and even admit it.

  • persephone

    Mother Teresa was a horrible person. She delighted in the suffering of others. Money that was given to her charity was, instead, funneled to the Vatican Bank, which expedited the necessary steps to have her declared a saint.

    She refused medicine to the suffering and dying. She had needles reused, spreading disease among the patients. She stripped out and sold anything that was not absolutely necessary to the suffering and dying of patients, including medical equipment.

    She is responsible for the suffering, pain, and deaths of thousands but, due to her bribes to the Vatican, is now fast-tracked to sainthood, something she desired above all else, because she knew it would be the only way to save her from Hell.

  • Evelyn

    Actually, the Canadian researchers who promulgated this admit that they “did not speak to a single patient, medical analyst, associate, or worker of Mother Teresa’s before writing their paper against her; nor did they examine how all her finances were spent. . . ” nor did they even visit Calcutta for a first hand look at how things were done. This writer interviewed people who actually knew her and worked with her: http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2013/04/mother-teresa-and-her-critics and an interesting take on it by a non-religious cultural Catholic who volunteered twice for the Missionaries of Charity while not sharing their spiritual commitment nor there Catholic stance with regard to contraception and abortion: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/celeste-owenjones/mother-theresa-critics_b_2824776.html

  • persephone
  • guest

    Anyone who claims they’ve never doubted or questioned any of the attributes of God has either experienced very little in life or suffers from cognitive dissonance. It’s easy to say “God is good” when you suffer no lack, the people around you do as they ought to, you enjoy fairly good health, and all your prayers seem to be answered with a “yes”. In fact, it’s easy for most middle-class North Americans and western Europeans to say that “God is good” most of the time. We have little idea of what lack looks like and we live in countries where war has been absent for a long time. Life seems fairly good.

    So much bad happens in the world, how do you explain God’s goodness and omniscience? How do you never doubt his love? If you read the Bible, how do you never wonder why it says “A” in one passage and “B” in another? Who has never questioned their salvation? Those are all questions that can lead a person to go through a long and dark night of the soul. The last thing you need is someone telling you to quit questioning or act as if all were good, ’cause, you know, “Good is good, all the time!” and “all the time, God is good!” AaaaaaaaaMEN! (snark).

    Around 8 years ago, we were attending a church where I was supposed to help lead the singing, otherwise known as “worship”. One morning I was feeling really miserable. Things at home were bad and those who were making it bad were all there in the room. The leader walked in and told me “this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad! Amen, sister?”. Well, shortly after that I stopped doing the singing and even more shortly after that I left completely, with the promise not to go back until I wanted to go back to church.

    I admire people who keep doing what they believe is right even through the darkest nights of their soul. I admire it when those we think are saintlier than most admit to doubting and struggling like the rest of us less saintlier Christians. I can’t comment on Mother Theresa’s practices, but I do admire her willingness to admit that her faith wavered at times.

  • Evelyn

    Zero. And they admit this. Their paper was published as if it were an expose, but they are quite open that it is a collection of the other people’s opinions, all opposed to the canonization of MT. They did not go back and verify any of the claims, or they would have noticed that Christopher Hitchens, on whom they rely heavily, made obvious historical errors. One of the reasons this group opposes her canonization is because she assents to Church teaching regarding abortion and contraception, which betrays a lack of understanding of what canonization is. By the way, MT herself could not have been relying on canonization to save her, because that has nothing to do with keeping her out of hell. If she’s in hell, she’s in hell, and no posthumous statement by the Church could change that or would ever claim to. She would know that; it’s Catholicism 101.

  • Evelyn

    Not quite. The Church doesn’t make her a saint; it “canonizes” her, which is just a recognition of what is already believed to be true. The vast majority of saints are never canonized or recognized in any formal way because they just aren’t famous enough to have a group willing to go to the trouble and expense of pursuing the case. Whether the Church recognizes someone as a saint or not has no bearing on their salvation in the Catholic scheme of things.

  • Evelyn

    Yes, this is one of the miracles attributed to her. I think we’re talking past each other here. My comment about canonization was directly responding to the assertion that MT had been misdirecting money to the cause of her canonization before she ever died, with the idea that *this could save her from hell.* When the Church canonizes someone as a saint, they are officially declaring that there is enough evidence to proclaim that this person is indeed a saint in heaven. The church isn’t putting that person in heaven; they were already there, and it’s just been confirmed. If a terrible person somehow made arrangements to guarantee someone would pursue their cause for canonization and fake some miracles and have them declared a saint (this is a very long and convoluted and expensive process), but they were in hell, a fraudulent canonization would not change their damnation.

  • Evelyn

    I wouldn’t bring indulgences into it at all. Using your phrasing above, I would say that canonization does not purchase sainthood.

  • Evelyn

    Oh! I think I see where you’re going now. Indulgences were never, ever supposed to have anything to do with transactions or money (though they did for a greedy bishop at the time of the Reformation, totally against the principles of the Church), so the popular usage of the word doesn’t correspond to the Church meaning. If you’re saying something along the lines of heaven can’t be bought, then we’re in total agreement.

  • guest

    I was beginning to wonder whether some Catholics believe salvation comes by some other means but faith in Jesus Christ.

  • persephone








    Literally, one short search, just the first page of results under Mother Teresa Controversy. I could search a lot more than that easily, but I’m not wasting my time.

    I would suggest that, instead of holding of other humans as somehow better or closer to your god, that you work on your direct relationship with him/her.

    Now, a little internet etiquette: Don’t use the word ACTUALLY. It’s rude. Especially if you don’t have the info to back up your statements.

  • B.E. Miller

    Angelina Jolie had her boobs and ovaries removed because of the high risk she runs genetically. I’m not that good on science, but I was reading that she runs a risk for the more virulent type, and she’s lost a grandmother, mom and aunt to the exact cancer she’s trying to avoid.

    I also wonder if that’s why she adopted… because that way she has kids who aren’t at high risk like she is.

  • B.E. Miller

    In Catholic elementary, I was brought up to believe that salvation came via good works. So under that ideology, even atheists could get into heaven, so long as they obeyed Jesus’s command to help others.

  • B.E. Miller

    Like the British ‘stiff upper lip’?

  • guest

    That too!

  • guest

    So there is an element of salvation by works in Catholicism.

  • B.E. Miller

    Give me a minute and I can find a few Catholic themed links…
    Okay, what I find seems to say both faith AND works…




    That’s just the top of my google search. I’d have to do a more in depth one….

  • guest

    Thanks for those links, B.E. Miller. I’ve never delved all that deeply in the study of salvation because I’ve always understood (intellectually) that salvation comes by faith alone, but if there is a true “new birth”, works follow as a result of “our minds being renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit”. Jesus himself said the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one-another. That’s a “work”, right? Jesus gave a new commandment. Why would he give it if he didn’t expect us to follow it?
    It seems like salvation by faith vs. works is a false dichotomy.

  • AuntKaylea

    There is a difference between finding ways to cope with one’s suffering and turning suffering itself into a measure of spirituality. I like to view this perspective as the other half of a prosperity gospel coin. I call it “the inverse prosperity gospel”. When the reality is that neither wealth nor suffering can measure spirituality, nor are they accurate gauges of such.

  • B.E. Miller

    If you go to Bruce Gerencser’s page, he’s got blog post where he talks about the different ‘factions’ within Christian that believe good works vs faith alone.


    I know he’s got an entry where he talks about how the faith vs good works dichotomy started. Jesus was ‘good works’ but Paul, was about ‘faith’ and I can’t remember some of the other early stuff. I’m trying to look for the entry now, but not finding it yet.