NLQ Question on the Week: Why Do Women Willingly Join Quiverfull?

NLQ Question on the Week: Why Do Women Willingly Join Quiverfull? March 16, 2017

QuestionoftheweekThis is a series we run every Thursday. The questions are things that people who may not know much about the Quiverfull movement or even Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christianity ask about the lifestyle. Examining some of the questions involving Quiverfull theology and life can only shine a light on the toxic nature of this lifestyle choice.

One thing is for sure, if you read women’s cultural enforcer blogs online, like Debi Pearl or Lori Alexander, you will question why any woman would willingly sign up for the Quiverfull life. It’s a confusing, ever-shifting landscape of rules and must-dos without much observable benefit or advantage. So why do it in the first place?

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Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mrs. Sunshine

    I was more on the border of being QF. I felt worried about using birth control because I was told they caused abortions. I felt worried about my kids going to school and it being my fault if they did not grow up to be Christian so I homeschooled at first. For me it was all about ANXIETY. I did not want my family to be “lukewarm” so I just kept pushing myself for Jesus. I finally left all Christianity behind last year when I got medical treatment for anxiety/depression and could think clearly. I had a major realization that all those crazy things I did were essentially to protect my children from my God and realized how sick that was. Luckily they are still young and we are doing well. I do have issues with anger and regret about religion though. I don’t really know what to do about that and I am open to advice.

  • BlueVibe

    Okay, I don’t identify with the religious part of it, specifically, but it’s been noted on this blog several times that a lot of QF adherents grew up in chaotic households. Not that that’s an absolute prerequisite, of course, but people need structure. There are a lot of ways to find it, and religion is one of the most popular. It’s not that big a leap to think that the deeper one’s need for structure, the more susceptible one might be to QF/cults/some other form of intense religious or ideological community. (It’s not always religion. We probably all know that person who has strict diet or workout rules, or is a militant environmentalist, or is a hopeless workaholic, or [insert performance artist here] groupie, or some other religion-substitute. It’s the mindset, not the specific venue.) I don’t come from a very religious family but my brother tried for a little while to be more literally Christian and more pointedly [denomination in which we were raised], but he outgrew it when he got out of high school, where we were both misfits, and found a more compatible peer group in college. He didn’t need that kind of structure any more.

    I wouldn’t actually last in a situation like this, but I’m timid, socially insecure, and overwhelmed by daily life just enough to kinda see the appeal of a life that cuts out a lot of hard decisions and assures you that if you do these things, you will belong somewhere and will be important in some way.

  • Julia Childress

    I think there are several reasons. My mother pushed our family into the lifestyle – not called quiverfull at that time, but had most of the characteristics – because she wanted to be taken care of. She had lost her father and all of her financial security at a young age, and she desperately wanted to be able to avoid adulthood. My in-laws got into it via a pastor. He started out normally enough, but then he fell under the influence of early Gothard, and moved in that direction. They followed, because ya know, a minister would never lead you down the wrong path. I think the Duggars got into it when a predatory church convinced them in a time of grief that they had killed their baby through birth control. I think that their way of atoning for that sin was to go whole-hog fundy crazy.

  • Rebecca

    Well, maybe there are different ways people take hold of Quiverful philosophy. There are many women out there looking for husbands to be strong protectors, and good providers. If she also wants to stay home, homeschool, and have a large family, it may not seem like such a terrible thing, especially if the woman is married to a kind and loving husband. Not all patriarchal men are abusive.

    It would not be for me. But, I have had friends following at least some of this philosophy who seemed quite happy and content.

  • Jennny

    That resonates with my DH, a careers advisor in a high school. He noticed students from chaotic or dysfunctional families were often interested in the armed forces. He felt that some of them realised, subconsciously sometimes, they needed a strict externally-imposed structure if their adult lives were not to descend into chaos too. It was a ‘meal ticket’, if food was erratic and short in your home, to be assured of 3 good meals every day and a warm bed was enticing.

  • BlueVibe

    He was definitely not QF, but we had a family friend who said that when he joined the army for World War II, he ate for the first six months straight. It was the first time in his life he wasn’t hungry all the time. Also the first time he had good shoes and dental care.

  • AuntKaylea

    Sometimes we are drawn to explanations and formulas in attempt to manage our own struggles and pain in life. It’s easy in youth to get swept up in ideas and communities which start out helpful and good, and seem to be providing healing and direction; but are ultimately flawed.

    I was not QVF – my own infertility issues pretty much kept me from that route (although I have a lot of friends who did ATI seminars, etc); and I would say that I was deep within CPM (without the fertility cult aspect – or at least without it being pervasive in the church I was involved in).

    I think it was easy for me to desire what I thought at the time was a deeper, more committed faith in my youth, a “kind of faith that changes your entire life” is appealing as a teenager, especially one struggling with self-esteem, depression, and suicidal tendencies. There is a message that is part of CPM that says a girl is precious, to be protected, to be treasured. I heard the “more valuable than rubies” part of Proverbs 31 and latched on because I was starving to feel worth.

    I think QVF/CPM taps into a contemporary yearning for something simpler in an increasingly complex world. Some people get rid of stuff and buy tiny houses. Some of us threw off philosophical modernity and reverted to rigid gender stereotypes in attempt to seek resolution. The problem is that we chose something that only allows for black and white, when the world is full of greys.

  • texassa

    It’s the same reason people join any cult, hand over hard-earned money for magic bean “health” products, or believe in conspiracy theories – they want to be an insider with the special knowledge, product, or – in this case – favor with God that will make their life perfect. These people believe if they follow this recipe of living they will be among a “chosen” privileged favored class in God’s eyes. It’s the desire to be an insider.

  • texassa

    I’m impressed that you were able to come to those realizations and make that turnaround for yourself. I’m sorry that you are still suffering with anger and regret. It does sound like you are on a trajectory of healing and improvement, though. Time heals all wounds, perhaps?