The Costs of Quiverfull Part 1 – Open Letter to Quiverfull Readers

The Costs of Quiverfull Part 1 – Open Letter to Quiverfull Readers July 5, 2016
A recent painting I did to show what it felt like to leave my old church. A black sheep put outside the fence while the former friends in the church moved on away to the top of a nearby hill, out of reach.
A recent painting I did to show what it felt like to leave my old church. A black sheep put outside the fence while the former friends in the church moved on away to the top of a nearby hill, out of reach. Thanks to Cindy Kunsman for her encouragement.

by Suzanne Titkemeyer

One of the realizations I’ve come to over NLQ recently is that there are a lot of women still in the Quiverfull movement that come visit and read at this site. I admit I haven’t exactly been nice or welcoming to them, generally running them off the comments the minute they say something nasty. I’ll continue to moderate the comments and enforce the safe space there for those in recovery, but at the same time I cannot help but feel we need to somehow be more open to those still choosing to be part of the movement. What we can do is continue to point out the poisonous nature of that theology. This is the first part of a series of posts aimed at showing the reality of life in the movement. But then again, all the posts on this site seek to do that.

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Last night as I stood in my backyard and watched the colorful 4th of July fireworks display from our local park I could not help but muse over the costs of Quiverfull, what it costs many of us during those years and the high cost to get out. It is a terrifying high price to pay both ways. There may be no free lunch, but there’s also no way to skip paying that bill either.

This post is about the costs to women in the movement to join and stay engaged.

During my years in the movement it cost me my health. Like so many coming out, like Vyckie Garrison, like many of our writers I sacrificed my own health for religion. I was convinced as a life long asthmatic to toss all my medications, my CPAP machine and my nebulizer and wait on the Lord to heal me. Deny the symptoms and soldier on cheerfully. The price I’ve paid for that has been extreme. I went from moderate asthma well controlled, to it shifting into some sort of insane high gear out of control and not responding to medications. I trudge back and forth to Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Health as part of research studies now in an attempt to find something that works.We’ve had to spend a scary large amount of money on copays and procedures or tests with no end in sight. If I’d just continued on controlling my condition with proper medications I would likely not be in this fix now that makes my day to day life very hard.

I sacrificed my uterus because I tried to be Quiverfull, ending up with a large pile of miscarriages and a hysterectomy. Had we used birth control and made an attempt to control our family size I could have avoided the hospitalizations. My body was just not built for back to back births and when I became ill our entire family suffered. Being told I was somehow being punished for secret sins just added to the pain.

It cost me a fully funded retirement 401K and the salary I would have likely earned during those years. If I hadn’t given in to peer pressure and stopped working to stay home with my children it would have helped our family pay for college for our children a bit easier instead of the insane intense scrimping we did for six years. Yes, I did some home based business things, the few that the CPM allow, but never made close to what I did make in the professional world.

It cost me peace of mind, happiness and the possibility of life without extreme stress as I tried to fulfill impossible standards in a culture that told me that nothing I did was done ‘good enough’. It was a hell of constantly comparing myself to a standard that kept moving the goalposts. An exercise in sheer frustration, guilt and resentment. I felt angry and guilty so much of the time.

It nearly wrecked my marriage by encouraging me to give lip service to the idea of my husband being the leader while sneaking around doing everything possible for him. You’re not doing anyone any favors by being their slave, you’re just enabling their weakness. It can take years to recover from this particular idea. It still rears its ugly head ten years later and wreaks havoc.

It cost me relationships with many extended family members and close friends because suddenly they were ‘heathens’ or ‘unbelievers’ and you could not be unequally yoked with them. The way I treated those I professed to love is shameful and I regret every pious unloving word now.

One of the costs was of my own self esteem, personal agency and individuality. During those years I was miserable trying to fit in that one-size-fits-all mold of what church leadership deems ‘righteous Christian womanhood’. There’s not much room for your own individuality, needs and wants in Quiverfull.

I lost my ability to think rationally, creatively and not filter everything through the strict interpretation of my pastor and church during those years. Critical thinking skills are discouraged.

Boundaries and the ability to express my own needs were trampled. Quiverfull mommas are expected to put everyone else needs first and to have no boundaries. This just leads to extreme burnout.

What did you lose in those years and how did you regain them, dear readers?

The next part deals with the losses that happen when you decide you must leave.

moreRead more by Suzanne Titkemeyer:

Finding the Strength to Give Yourself Permission to Leave

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Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin at No Longer Quivering. She’s been out of the Quiverfull Evangelical world for nine years now and lives in the beautiful Piedmont section of Virginia with her retired husband and assorted creatures. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape


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  • THERetroGamerNY

    QF members actually come here and post…? O_o That’s rather curious. I wonder how much of a lasting impact this blog has in their life…?

    But I’m mostly impressed with your artwork, Suzanne. Very nicely done, and really makes an impact even if the viewer knows nothing about you.

    I did a digital painting inspired by my own past abuses… Turned out quite a bit more darker, and weirder, than yours.

  • TLC

    Some people here may not agree with or believe this, but I am going to say it anyway.

    I am so sorry about all of this. What you said about your asthma was especially hard for me to read. My asthma was healed by prayer in my first fundagelical church. So was my son’s asthma. This is one of the few things that keeps me clinging to my Christian faith in spite of all the other bullshit.

    Even so, when I figured out it had happened and I had been healed, I asked three different pastors what to do. They told me NOT to quit taking my medications until I had it confirmed by a doctor and got permission from her to stop my meds. They emphasized that this had to be done responsibly. So I had to wait nearly 4 months until my checkup, when my tests were so good that my doctor took me off my meds. (That doctor, BTW, is very prominent allergist.) That was 11 years ago, and I have not had any problems since then.

    It upsets me greatly that these people told you to give up your treatments without any sign of healing and/or doctor’s confirmation it was OK. As someone who lived with this disease and helped conduct research studies about it, I can’t imagine the damage done to your body. I hope you are able to find the treatment you need. Hugs to you.

  • Abigail Smith

    Keep on keeping on here…you never know who you will help…When I was first starting to question everything about QF (secretly, of course), I would come here and read and get angry. It turns out that was the best thing for me..I was told by abusive parents I should not get angry, I was told by churches I should not get angry…it was actually that anger that helped propel me out….it was just misplaced anger…..and now here I am a daily reader and poster.
    Some people will never leave (it’s far too humbling) but others will. Guaranteed.

  • THERetroGamerNY

    That’s … Unsurprising. Sigh.

    That’s kinda sad, you know? That such appalling behavior fails to surprise me.

  • Mrs. Sunshine

    I quit using birth control pills when I was 23 because they “caused abortions”. I did graduate from college and was set to get my teaching credential which would have really helped my family. I found out I was pregnant and was happy but things were harder than they needed to be. I even had a good job offer after I had my first child that would’ve been great for my mental and financial health but felt bad about leaving him because I was “supposed” to be a homemaker. My mental health took the biggest hit. The isolation of staying home a lot, trying to homeschool, trying to cook from scratch ect. (I did not even adhere to the QF teachings all the way but was constanly tormented by guilt from them. I was a failure for sure). The concept that my loved ones are or will burn in hell forever;what if my kids are gay; what if I am “lukewarm”…so much for peace and joy! My marriage suffered too because my husband was not a “spiritual leader” and I felt constantly worried about our kids. Supressing my (unfeminine) gifts/skills because of patriarchy and complementarianism. Luckily, I left it all behind while my kids were young but I will never get those years that I was depressed/anxious/having suicidal ideation back or the opportunities I missed to better support my family. I still get angry about it and it has been a few years even though my family is thiriving in every way now. I could start crying about it right now. If you are trapped in this life go and BE FREE!

  • Mrs. Sunshine

    Thank you for sharing your art and story with us Suzanne.

  • Jennny

    I lost, but have now regained my creative freedom. For example I love flowers, but to have joined the local flower-arrangers club would have been considered worldly and I should only do flower arranging for the sanctuary, not for personal pleasure. I should be at bible studies for that. Likewise gardening, I used to keep the front of our property tidy because it would have been a ‘bad witness’ to have the weediest plot around. Then I thought, God supposedly created a garden and all the amazing variety of plants in the world, I’m going to indulge my passion and make a flower garden too. Neighbours are kind enough to pay compliments about my creation and I am very fulfilled with not a shred of guilt about hobbies that enrich my ordinary life so much.