There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them." - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
"The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." - C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
The Quiverfull Movement, a relatively new phenomenon within Christendom, first caught the attention of the media back in 2004. If you'd like to read more about it, we've provided the link to the Wikipedia article which we found to be very informative:
It seems that the Quiverfull Movement became popular within homeschooling circles first, but more and more it's being embraced by those in mainstream Christianity. Why? We'll get into that… Have you ever wondered how Christian leaders might "sell" the Quiverfull (QF) approach to family planning to their followers? We think you'll be in for a surprise!
Today we'll be focusing on one denomination that appears to be embracing the Quiverfull Movement — the Southern Baptist Convention. Actually, the supposed 16 million members of the SBC probably don't know anything about QF yet, but SBC leaders are beginning to promote QF at seminaries where future pastors are being trained.
Before we share our findings, we want to address this question: "Why would the SBC promote the Quiverfull Movement?" Here's a headline that we believe reveals the answer: Southern Baptists face numbers crunch. The article begins as follows:
"Baptisms have dropped to a 20-year low in the Southern Baptist Convention, and membership and giving are down, too. The declines are causing hand-wringing in the nation’s largest Protestant body… What will they do?"
To read the article in its entirety, go to this link:
It's a real dilemma to be sure. It's interesting to note that the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC began in 1979. With every passing year the Southern Baptist Convention has become more and more fundamentalist (hyper-conservative). To be clear, both of us are conservative Christians. Isn't it ironic that demographic data reveal that over the last 20 years the South has experienced a surge in population while the SBC has been shrinking? Ever thought about where most Southern Baptist churches are located? Hint: they're not predominantly in the North or West! Why aren't Southern Baptist congregations reflecting the population trends in the South?
How can the Southern Baptist Convention reverse this trend of declining membership and more importantly declining giving? Answer: Quiverfull! You have to admit it's a clever idea… SBC leaders have begun to promote Psalm 127 as God's command that couples should have a full quiver. After all, it's in the Bible, and we must take God's Word literally! Some Bible scholars believe David wrote this psalm for his son Solomon, while others believe that Solomon himself wrote it. No one would dispute that Solomon certainly had his quiver full with 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).
Let's look at Psalm 127. The following passage is taken from the New American Standard Bible.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a quiver as "a case for carrying or holding arrows" or "the arrows in a quiver". We believe those supporting the quiverfull movement have taken Psalm 127:5 further than Scripture goes and are advancing their extra-biblical interpretation.
We now turn our attention to ways we believe this QF agenda is being advanced within the SBC. We are attempting to present our findings chronologically. During 2004 when the quiverfull movement first began to garner attention, Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, became vocal about married couples who willfully choose not to have children. Here's the link to an article he wrote entitled Deliberate Childlessness that was first posted on June 28, 2004.
Dr. Mohler writes: "The church should insist that the biblical formula calls for adulthood to mean marriage and marriage to mean children." In his concluding paragraph, he makes this comment: "The church must help this society regain its sanity on the gift of children. Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral rebellion."
As we have mentioned before, Al Mohler visited a Southern Baptist church in our area shortly after writing the above article. In a public forum at the church, he called the singles ministry there "an abomination". Enough said…
Next, there's an interesting article on "The Official Website of Dorothy Patterson." Dorothy is the wife of Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Her article is entitled: “Convenient Contraception or Challenging Parenthood: Personal Agenda vs.God’s Plan” and can be found at this link:
Here's an interesting excerpt from her article that seems to promote the QF approach to family planning.
Are Oral Contraceptives Abortificants?
"There seems to be little question, medically, about whether or not oral contraceptives cause a thinning of the endometrium or uterine lining. Most women who use the pill notice the visible results of this as their menstrual period lessens in volume, shortens in length, or disappears altogether. Few physicians would question whether or not a thinned or absent endometrium would discourage or prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. Hormonal changes that take place immediately after conception do cause the endometrium to thicken. However, regardless of post-conception changes, the condition of the endometrium before conception will effect implantation, which is why a thinned uterine lining is considered to be a “contraceptive” benefit of the birth control pill.
Dual-hormone oral contraceptives primarily function to prevent conception. Secondarily, however, they do work to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg that breaks through in the ovulation process. Birth control pills are considered to be 99% effective, including the prevention of ovulation, the prevention of fertilization, and the prevention of the implantation of a fertilized egg. Little research has been done to determine what percentage of the time ovulation and conception are prevented and what percentage of time implantation, i.e., medically-induced miscarriage or abortion, is prevented. Even women who are consistent and regular in their pill-taking ovulate a small percentage of the time. A woman who uses dual-hormone oral contraceptives very consistently could experience a “medically-induced miscarriage” at least once every 2-3 years.
While taking an oral contraceptive is certainly not equal to purposely getting an abortion, the ethical considerations are similar. One function of oral contraceptives is to help prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. If life begins at conception, this function of the Pill is not contraceptive but abortive. Although the percentage of times the Pill actually function this way may be comparatively low (1 – 10 %), it is one of the designed functions. Many women who take oral contraceptives do not desire to have an abortion. However, a woman’s choice to use the Pill does introduce the possibility of this occurrence."
While we don't know exactly when this article was published on Dorothy Patterson's "official" website, we do remember reading it prior to a controversial sermon that was delivered at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) last fall. Dr. Thomas White, vice president for student services at SWBTS caused quite a stir when he declared during a campus chapel service that the use of birth control pills is "murder of a life." His remark was made about 19 minutes into his exposition of Psalm 127. We're providing a link to the videotaped sermon in case you'd like to hear Dr. White's comment for yourself.
As you might imagine, Dr. White's declaration caused quite a furor in the community with the secular press having a field day. A local news station, WFAA-TV, covered it extensively as this link shows.
Here's an excerpt from their online report:
"A Southern Baptist leader and teacher has a message for women: Taking birth control pills is "murder" and a "sin." The opinion of Dr. Thomas White is reverberating around Baptist circles, and causing at least one Tarrant County pastor to publicly disagree. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth shapes the Baptist pastors of tomorrow, determining the future of the church. That's why Dr. White's sermon earlier this month is getting so much attention. Dr. White is a mentor at the seminary, charged with helping future pastors make the right decisions. But earlier this month, a repentant Dr. White addressed those students.
He confessed that he and his wife had employed birth control pill years earlier. "The reason that we did it was my own selfishness," he said. "I wanted kids, but I wanted kids — not in God's timing, but in my timing." Dr. White now condemns the use of birth control pills, saying, "It's murder of a life." Dr. White condemns the practice because although the pill is supposed to work by preventing the release of an egg, it can also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall.
Dr. White declined a request for an on-camera interview Tuesday, citing a busy schedule. In an e-mail message, he said he's not against all forms of birth control. In his sermon, however, that point was not made. Instead, he went further, speaking against the attempt to control conception. "Some of you are involved in that exact same sin," Dr. White said."
You might be interested in seeing how the Religion Blog of the Dallas Morning News covered Dr. White's comments.
The above blog post concludes as follows:
"WFAA quoted Dwight McKissic, the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington and a former trustee of Southwestern, as saying White's interpretation is not in keeping with Baptist doctrine. 'I want the world to know that Baptists have never adopted a position that taking birth control pills is sinful', said McKissic, who has had his past run-ins with the seminary's leadership. This is fundamentalism run amok, and I'm concerned that once was the world's largest theological seminary is degenerating into a Baptist fundamentalist indoctrination camp.'"
SBC Today gave Dr. White the opportunity to explain what he was trying to say. Here's the link and White's response.
"Since I had the privilege of preaching in the chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on October 7, 2008, I have received many emails and phone calls from students, faculty, and others outside the seminary offering both appreciation and concern over what I said during my exposition of Psalm 127. The response has allowed me the opportunity to elaborate on my views and sharpen my position by hearing those who disagree. In fact today I spoke with a reporter from the Associated Press on the subject..
During the exposition of Psalm 127 approximately a 6 minute segment discussed some of my personal decisions regarding birth control and my support of life as a gift from God. I could not address every issue and left many questions intentionally unanswered including the appropriate size of each person’s family.
To clarify, I do not believe all birth control is murder. I do believe that human life begins at the moment of conception. I am opposed to abortifacients which prevent the progression or continuation of life. The third function of most birth control pills prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall and this function is what I referred to as murder. I am opposed to abortion, the morning after pill, and the third function of most birth control pills. This is part of what I attempted to communicate in my sermon.
We live in a society which largely feels that children are a burden but the Bible tells us that children are a blessing. We live in a society which largely feels that children will make a rich man poor, but the Bible tells us that children will make a poor man rich.
I don't speak for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on this matter but my view is consistent with the confessional statement of the institution. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 article 15 titled “The Christian and the Social Order” states, “We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
Here are some websites that you may refer to for more information on the birth control pill. I do not endorse everything on these websites, but they will help you begin researching the issue for yourself."
It's significant to point out that there are six Southern Baptist seminaries that are training future pastors. So far we have mentioned two of them. Dr. Mohler at Southern Seminary has called "deliberate childlessness" rebellion against God and Dorothy Patterson (mouthpiece for her husband Paige) and Dr. Thomas White at SWBTS have labeled the taking of birth control pills as "sinful". Obviously, if women believe this to be true, their quivers will most likely increase. Before we go any further, we want to mention that the Mohlers and the Pattersons each have two children. God blessed both couples with a son and a daughter.Maybe they should start adopting children now to show their own commitment to their state judgements on others.
Now let's focus on a third Southern Baptist seminary that appears to be promoting a QF agenda.
Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered a somewhat controversial chapel message on April 16, 2009, which can be heard at this link:
There are several points in Dr. Akin's message with which we agree; however, he made some specific statements relating to childbearing that really caught our attention. Perhaps the best way to explain what we discovered is at this link:
"Southern Baptists have been seduced by the sirens of modernity in a very important place," he said. "We have been seduced in how we do family and how many we should have in the home."
"For example, we have been seduced with respect to the gift of children, who often now even in our churches are viewed as a burden, not a blessing," Akin said. "Less is best, or at least less is better. The result is we have less children."
Akin said another seminary president, Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, showed him statistics that declining baptisms paralleled the trend toward Southern Baptists having smaller families.
Akin said he remembered when he was a seminary student and Bertha Smith, an iconic Southern Baptist missionary who died in 1988, "scared the daylights" out of seminarians by telling them that using birth control is a sin.
"God killed Onan for it and he might kill you too," Akin recalled her as saying, a reference to story from Genesis about a man whom God kills for refusing his obligation to sire a child for his sister-in-law after his brother died. "Then she said this, 'Listen, we will never win the battle against the religion of Islam, because they have children and we don't. And it's a very simple matter of mathematics. Eventually they will outnumber us.' She was a prophetess."
Akin said that is demonstrated by looking no farther than Europe. "Islam will take over Europe and it will never fire a shot," he said. "They will simply outnumber them as white Europeans have less or no children, and Muslims continue to have them at a very large, healthy rate."
"You say, 'What are you saying?' I'm saying you need to have a bunch of kids," Akin said. "It has a missiological motivation."
In case you haven't been reading our blog for very long, we have previously stated that both of our families were faithful Southern Baptists until this year. One of us used to attend chapel services at the local SBC seminary with great regularity, and both of us know a number of the professors who teach there.
Last fall we began conducting research on trends within the SBC, particularly what is being promoted at the seminaries. The information we have discovered is shocking and has driven us out of the denomination. Where is the SBC headed? Only God knows…
It seems to us that the Southern Baptist Convention has spent the last several decades sowing to the wind with its ever-narrowing interpretation of the Bible. We believe SBC leadership has taken certain passages of Scripture far beyond where God intended for them to go. The misinterpretation and misapplication of Psalm 127 is the most recent example. As a result, we believe the SBC is now reaping a whirlwind that the CR leaders alone have caused.
We leave you with two questions:
Is the Quiverfull Movement the answer to dwindling church rolls?
During these recessionary times will SBC leaders be able to convince members "to be fruitful and multiply"? Suddenly, "church growth" has taken on a whole new meaning!