Let's start with the bottom line. I have absolutely no problem with people having 18 children as long as the children are well cared for, not abused, and not supported on the taxpayer's dime. However, I do have a problem when someone attempts to say the Bible mandates having a boatload of children.
The Duggar Family has become quite the 'Quiverfull' role model. Here's a link to a recent appearance they made on The View.
The Duggars currently have 18 children, but expect that number to increase. They are conservative Baptists and are the 'face' of the Quiverfull movement. They homeschool and believe and practice many of the ideas of the highly controversial Bill Gothard. For example, Gothard claims that even modern Christian music is sinful! We have provided links for more information on this unusual, controversial individual, as well as Doug Phillips, who have greatly influenced Christendom since the 1970s. You may be quite surprised by their teachings.
Here are the links:
The Duggars claim that birth control caused them to miscarry a pregnancy. So, they decided to let '´God plan' their family. Since making that decision, Mrs. Duggar became pregnant and has subsequently popped out a kid about every 1½ years.
Here's an interesting web site that explains how the Duggars came to have such a large family (check out the photos for a glimpse into their lifestyle).
Jim Bob Duggar brags about his family's debt-free lifestyle and gives credit to Jim Sammons for teaching him how to do it. Never heard of Jim Sammons? The following link will explain who he is and the Duggar connection to Bill Gothard (whom we will spotlight soon).
"The Duggars live debt-free, which Mr. Duggar has said is “the fruit of Jim Sammons' Financial Freedom Seminar” he attended years ago. (Sammons is the Chairman of IBLP's Advisory Board – IBLP is the umbrella organization for Gothard's ministries – and previously served on IBLP's Board of Directors, and is current president of IBLP's Advanced Training Institute International, which promotes Gothard's homeschooling materials. IBLP does not offer any financial program through its ministry other than Sammons', though Sammons offers his materials through entities other than IBLP.)"
They homeschool utilizing resources from Bill Gothard's ministry. Check out the Duggar family's "official" website
where you will discover that they link to the following: The Institute in Basic Life Principles, Vision Forum Ministries, and The Advanced Training Institute. We encourage you to check these out!
Each older child cares for an assigned younger child and is responsible for completing carefully assigned chores. The family shops at thrift stores and even makes its own laundry soap. We have provided the link to this recipe as a service to our loyal readers. If the recession has hit your family hard, learning how to make your own soap may be a Godsend!
Interestingly, although they claim to have built their own home, the Discovery channel and other sponsors donated quite a bit of moola. Mrs. Duggar is quite grateful! In a rare, candid moment, she claimed there were times that she was depressed living with all of the kids in a small house. So, now all is well. They have a 7,000 square foot home, a good income from Dad Duggar who is involved in commercial real estate and works from home, and all sorts of freebies from corporate sponsors. Here is the proof.
Here is an excerpt from that site.
“Discovery Channel has been instrumental in helping the Duggars with financing for their new home, which was built just for them. The planning, construction, and eventual move in to the new home was documented in 16 Children and Moving In. Appliances, furnishings, and food have been donated to the Duggars through private sponsors and large corporations.
The house took three and a half years to complete, and was planned and built with hard work and input from the entire family every step of the way. With over 7,000 square feet of space, the house is more than twice the size of their former home. The house has:
• Nine bathrooms
• 20 feet of kitchen counter space
• Two of each major kitchen appliance
• An industrial kitchen for entertaining and holding meetings and seminars
• Two garages used for storage rather then vehicles
• A school room
• A playroom
• Four washers and four dryers
• An intercom system
There is even a climbing wall in the house.”
Their eldest son just got married (at the age of 20) and in October, his wife will deliver their first child. There is no discussion of college education for him or the other children. Also, mom and the girls share the same taste in haute couture — very long hair and skirts or dresses to the ankle. No rebellion is apparent (or should we say allowed) with this perfect brood.
There are many thoughts currently running through my head. However, I will share only the polite ones.
1. Using Old Testament Laws to Mandate Current Practices
Many Christians make the mistake of applying Old Testament commandments to the post apostolic era. During the early days of the Old Testament, the people lived under a theocracy, meaning God functioned as the lawgiver, the CDC, the Department of Transportation, the local food inspector, etc.
Does anyone adhering to the 'Quiverfull' movement eat shellfish? Using their method of Biblical interpretation, they should be banned from eating shellfish, pork, etc. But, I'll bet they do because they would claim, 'it doesn't apply any longer.' That would be a correct assumption.
Have you ever wondered why God outlawed the consumption of shellfish in Old Testament times? The obvious reason is that shellfish are bottom dwellers. Back then many people threw their body waste into the water. This, in turn, was eaten by the shellfish and then ingested by whoever or whatever consumed the shellfish. The bacterium, E.Coli, is responsible for serious diarrhea. In those days, without adequate hydration, one could easily die. So, God obviously had a logical reason for banning this tasty delicacy.
Why don't many of us follow this Biblical command today? In the United States, shellfish are routinely inspected for bacteria. Also, in most locales, it's illegal to dump waste products in fishing waters. Therefore, shellfish, on the whole, are now safe and overseen by authorities to prevent an outbreak of disease.
The current problem for most Christians is what part(s) of Old Testament law is/are still relevant for us in the 21st century. It's this confusion that I believe causes many unusual ideas within Christendom today.
2. Scripture Taken Out of Context
Our Lord is a God of logic and love. He's not in the habit of telling people to do things just because He can. Why was it a blessing to have a quiverfull of kids during the time of the Patriarchs or even in America as recently as a hundred years ago? Day-to-day life was hard! Disease was rampant and the death of children was a sad, yet routine, fact of life.
Intense labor was necessary to eke out enough food for survival. Homes were built by hand. Water needed to be hauled and wood needed to be cut for warmth and cooking. Clothing was made by hand from wool that came from one's sheep. The lack of refrigeration made it necessary to grow crops or raise livestock and consume much of it immediately. Several years ago I stood in a dark dugout in South Dakota. It was hard to believe that people had to live like that for years. All of this is well documented in The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Dependable labor came from ones' children. Many children were necessary to scrape out a hard life.
Today, our children easily survive into adulthood (vaccines have contributed greatly to their longevity), and life expectancy has almost quadrupled that of Biblical days. We have easy access to food, water, and medical care. Most anyone can attend college and find a career (although the Duggars seem to ignore this possibility).
So, perhaps the need to produce a quiverfull was a product of a bygone era. I find it revealing that there is no specific teaching on this in the New Testament.
WHAT IF EVERYONE HAD A QUIVERFULL?
THERE WOULD BE:
Stress on the Economy
I think the Duggars appear to be nice people. But, imagine if everybody followed their example? The Discovery Channel would not be around to provide income to all of these families. Many people do not have a means of earning enough money to build a huge home like they have. In fact, many people would need to apply for Medicaid and Food Stamps. Just look at the Mormon cult of Warren Jeff. They ALL receive welfare. I have tutored many children in low-income settings. Would it be fair to impose this belief on those living in poverty? How about all of the children without parents in Africa? Why isn't adoption an option for couples like the Duggars who truly want a quiverfull?
Psychological and Physical Stress on Mom
The stress of a large family in a small home can be overwhelming! Even Mrs. Duggar said that she was overwhelmed and depressed in the early days of the burgeoning family. Many such families do not offer the father an opportunity to work from home. The mother is alone, expected to homeschool, keep the house, clean, prepare great meals, and be happy for daddy when he comes home. One only needs to look at the tragedy of Andrea Yates to see the potential for disaster.
There are also potential consequences to multiple pregnancies. Prolapsed uteruses, bladder and kidney problems, increased venous thrombosis, cervical incompetence, increased incidence of pregnancy-induced diabetes, and iron deficiency are only few of the potential health risks that can threaten the health of a quiverfull mom. Sleep deprivation can also lead to unsafe supervision of children, particularly when the mom is responsible for them 24/7.
My second child, a daughter, was diagnosed with a massive malignant brain tumor while I was pregnant with my third. Those years were stressful and painful. There were times when I wasn't sure I could manage all that was demanded of me. Perhaps I'm weak, but I'm grateful that I wasn't expected to make my own laundry soap or homeschool during those difficult years. I'm not sure I could have emotionally handled such extra burdens.
Stress on the Children
There's no question that it can be fun to have brothers and sisters. However, there's an expectation, especially if a family homeschools, for the older children to be the primary caretakers for the younger children. After all, the mother needs some relief from her full quiver! Undoubtedly, the older children often feel this stress. Spontaneity in conversations with parents is often impossible. The Duggars even have a sign-up sheet for anyone who needs to talk with a parent. How sad! (Take a number is usually seen only at the deli).
Mrs. Duggar claims she spends more time with her children because she home schools them. Do you really believe that? I think the following comment from an article entitled, ´OMG, Not Another Duggar Baby' is revealing.
Here's one mom's testimony:
“Oh how I used to admire and practically worship Michelle Duggar ~ she was my role model ~ my inspiration.
Our family shared a lot of the same beliefs ~ we were committed to letting the Lord "plan our family" ~ and even though I had c-section deliveries and complications which nearly killed me ~ I would have continued to live and espouse the lifestyle ~ that is, until the pressure of being perfect drove my oldest daughter to despair. When she ended up in the psych ward after attempting to kill herself ~ I finally woke up to what a warped and twisted belief system and lifestyle we were following.
I am no longer having all the babies which "the Lord chooses to bless me with" ~ I am no longer striving to be the perfect godly wife and mother ~ I am no longer homeschooling (brainwashing) my kids ~ and I am No Longer Quivering."
Several people commented that they or their husbands came from large families and are now restricting their own family size because they want some peace and quiet.
Finally, the theology of Quiverfull couples on birth control is simplistic and not well thought out. They claim that God plans their family. Well, do they apply the same thought process to all aspects of their lives? Why not let God decide to heal a child from pneumonia? Surely, if God wants the child to live, He would heal him or her naturally without any newfangled medical procedures or medication. Why give vaccinations to children? Why struggle to save a premature baby's life? God can take care of it, and of course, they probably wouldn't have survived just a generation ago. Why give insulin to a diabetic? God can take care of that lack of insulin. Hopefully, you get the picture. Sadly, this is beginning to sound like the Word of Faith movement!
We live in a fallen world. God has given us the tools to discover His creation and produce antibiotics, healthy shellfish, the ability to treat infection, and the means to fight cancer. Why is family planning somehow different from using 'artificial' antibiotics? How does one draw a line between what is Biblical and not Biblical?
Is Uniformity a Biblical Guideline?
I'm a bit troubled by the uniformity of dress and appearance among Quiverfull families. The girls all look exactly like Mom with long skirts and long hair. What is it in their theology that commands such uniformity? Is short hair against God's commandments? Well, some would say yes. In the New Testament, women are commanded to keep their hair long and covered with a veil. Yet, even the more conservative churches today do not require ankle grazing skirts and long hair. You may be surprised to learn that veils are making a comeback! Deb and I recently visited a Sovereign Grace church near us. We were startled that several women were wearing head-coverings.
Does this show a lack of basic Biblical training in Scriptural interpretation? For example, a woman in the New Testament era was thought to be a prostitute if her hair was short. To avoid such a misunderstanding, women logically wore their hair long.
My daughter is currently attending a Baptist college. The first day there, I spied a young lady dressed in an ugly brown flared skirt that extended down to the bottom of her calf, athletic socks to her knees, brown laced up shoes, and strange, old fashioned glasses. Don't parents who raise children to dress in such a way realize that such an appearance might detract from their ability to reach out and impact their culture? Here's an example of what I'm talking about.
Two years ago, my family took an Alaskan cruise. I met two delightful couples from the Netherlands on the ship. They found out that I was a Christian and deliberately sat next to me in order to ask me questions. They wanted to know why I wasn't dressed like a Christian! (I had on jeans and hiking boots at the time). 'What is a Christian supposed to dress like?' I queried. Well, in the Netherlands, according to these kind folks, Christian women dress with long stockings, long skirts, long hair, etc. In fact, they are called, 'The Long Stockings' in their native tongue.
I immediately got down to business and started describing what is required to be a Christian. I reassured these well-dressed women that Christians can be stylish! I explained that many Christians fear the world and deliberately isolate themselves by their style of dress to keep themselves 'pure'. I further explained that for some, it's easier to dress strangely to keep people at a distance than to bravely and cogently discuss the Gospel. They were fascinated and asked me lots of questions. One of the women told me she often wondered what happened after death. She told me that she might be able to believe in God as long as she didn't have to wear scratchy stockings. How sad that Christians in her native country have given her this impression…
My Wonderful Kids
I read about how the Duggars were planning a big trip to Dollywood. There were so many things to do in order to simply get the kids there. Once again, they received help from corporate sponsors who received great publicity on The Discovery Channel. Tune in tonight at 9:30 p.m. for another Duggar adventure!
I'm grateful that God blessed my husband and me with three wonderful children. We have travelled to over 40 National Parks together. I have enjoyed sitting with my son as he struggled with expressive language issues and teaching him fun ways to learn how to speak when he was much younger. (He is a rising high school junior who is now considering becoming a lawyer). I enjoyed helping my kids with their homework, often having interesting and lengthy discussions on what they were learning. I enjoy taking my son and his friends to the beach, to theme parks, and to soccer tournaments. This coming week I'm driving to see my daughter in Birmingham. I have even loved watching television shows and movies with my kids. My husband and I have enough disposable income to have dinner at nice restaurants and even Chuck E Cheese, enjoy the theater, and take the entire family skiing. We have stayed in historic hotels and musty old cabins. We have laughed and cried together and have cultivated loving relationships.
Many things that I have done with my children would have been next to impossible with 18 children! All three of my kids are committed Christians with their own gifts and talents. I know all things are possible with God, but I have a confession to make. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I would not have done well with 18 children. I'm glad the Duggars have a great life, but I highly doubt there are many people who could manage such a quiverfull.
So, the Duggars have 18 children and are blessed. Praise the Lord! I have three kids, and I am blessed! Let's make certain that our personal choices regarding procreation do not become 'commandments from the Lord' for one another.