It would seem inevitable that I would be drawn into the ruckus over Quiver-Full theology at some point. I mean my wife and I do have seven children at present with a set of quadruplets in the middle. We are Evangelicals, Caucasians and value family dearly. We also refuse to rule out having more children as the curious inquire about our reproductive status and intents. Of coarse we do this mostly to annoy those who assume it their business to ask. These are after all very personal subjects, minefields for many couples who face uncertainty over timing, numbers, finances, fertility, haunting upbringings and outside family pressures.
In all this along come the Quiver full folks with a most simple solution. Be all you can be! No limits on numbers or blessings shy the Divine Will of God Himself. Tie in a bit of the Old Testament here and there breed with passion and zeal and viola problem solved! Yet we have mostly sugar and surface luster here. To delve a bit deeper is to see some bitter shadow very close by.
There seems to be an association with Q.F. adherents and several other practices that are proffered by some “religious folk” to be “righteousness fortified” if embraced “faithfully“. Follow the links and suggested book selections on most of their web sites and you find alternative medicines, herbology, home schooling, strict male headship/female submission, midwifery and other marginally legitimate, or at least legal, personal and family lifestyle choices advocated strongly. Trouble is these are being advocated not as personal life style but as “a correct Biblical Christian life style and doctrine”.
Taken individually any of these are permissible personal choices for ones family but when lumped together and rooted nearly entirely with Old Testament scripture what is created is a new system of legalisms based on old practices. Even more this legalistic pathway draws its adherents deeper and deeper into a Christian exclusive environment were whiffs of paranoia and conspiracy mix with isolation and marginalization.
I could go through a litany of anecdotal occurrences my wife and I have encountered over the years as we have been in contact and ministered to many who would be the forbearers of this movement. The common theme in most of them would be something like this; The extra Grace and Favor we get by honoring The Lord in our (natural diets, herbology, home schooling, home birthing/midwifery, rejection of birth-control and copious number of children…) offsets our; (lack of finances, crushing debt load, reliance on Government assistance…).
Now not all Q.F. folk may have financial struggles. We can site Angela Yates whose husband was a NASA engineer. Still their choice of life style was painfully and intentionally modest. A modified school bus at one point in fact. This all being part of the collective effort to live simply and deny one’s fleshly appetites. Sadly when the rejection of modern medicine, extreme female submission, stifling isolation and proliferation of children with all their needs for time and nurture were combined around the Yates’s. Mental illness, stark denial and misplaced faith led to infancide of their five children at their own mother’s hand. Truly that is an extreme case but let those who have ears…
Boiled down to its basics no one can argue that God love’s families. Large ones and small. Mega families as His perfect will and plan is little more than rhetoric as one considers those who face fertility struggles. The debate can quickly shift from there to fertility treatments, which are anathema to the Q.F. crowd. Yet might effect parents the “large family” that it would seem is so desirous. The argument is that fertility treatments as well as birth control measures are of man and his will not God’s. Here is where the argument falls apart.
Birth control of whatever type is indeed a decision whose origin is the human heart and mind. Whether hormone, reproductive timing or abstinence based it is an action rooted in human desire. So to is the desire to have children. Whatever the mechanics these start with us. Does God not know each individual before the foundation of the earth was laid as Scripture states? Is there any development of man technological, theological or accidental that is a surprise to God? Doe’s anything catches Him by surprise. You see murder by bare hands (like Mrs. Yates), blade, firearm, poison or laser beam by New Testament standards first occurs in the heart. Indeed Christ said that to contemplate such actions in our heart is the same as committing the deed. God gave us free will and free moral action no matter what we use to accomplish our intents God looks foremost upon the heart and not the instrument. If you adhere to this philosophy and abstain by this Q.F. theology you sin as much as if you took a pill or even had an abortion.
This is the nature of law and legalism. To embrace it is to be guilty of it. No matter how hard the best Q.F. may try the first time the thought passes their mind and heart ”we should stop” they receive the taint of their most dreaded sin.
So for the consideration of the brethren: projecting spiritualism upon those things that are not spiritual is the core error here. This is as old as any legalism man has ever created. God sees behavior but looks at the heart. The bottom line of Christian truth is no matter how well you try to act or exemplarily you follow all the rules your salvation is in Being Forgiving the fact that you have and will fail. Faith and not works least any one should boast is more than a safe bet. Let your conscious, understanding of the bible and the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit be your guide. Love your family and serve one another but do not let any group place the impossible burden of their extra biblical practices on the back of those Christ set free to liberty and abundant grace filled life.
For those who are just bewildered and looking on understand that most of us are really good family loving people. Sometimes we just have to find a way to feel better about our circumstances. Painting God all over them and asking others to do the same is just the easy way some are tempted into trying.
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