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What Is Quiverfull?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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Quiverfull is a Christian philosophical and theological position that holds that children are blessings from God and that married couples should not take any steps to prevent their conception and birth. The quiverfull movement is not confined to a particular Christian denomination or church, although many of its adherents identify with conservative evangelical or fundamentalist protestant theology. While there are some nuances in the beliefs of those who are proponents of quiverfull, in most cases adherents are opposed to the use of any type of birth control, including pharmaceutical or mechanical contraceptives as well as "natural" methods such as fertility awareness combined with periodic abstinence. The latter belief marks a significant distinction between the movement and the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, which forbids the use of artificial contraception but supports periodic abstinence as a way of preventing pregnancy.

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The term "quiverfull" has its roots in Psalm 127:3-5, which states: "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Adherents believe that having many children is a sign of God's favor, and thus it is inappropriate to reject opportunities for pregnancy. Unlike Roman Catholics and others who believe that refraining from sexual activity during a woman's fertile periods is an acceptable way of managing family size, quiverfull families reject any effort to control childbearing. Some may even take the extreme position that it is wrong to avoid conception in cases where a woman has medical problems that could be aggravated by pregnancy.

Proponents of quiverfull argue that attempting to prevent pregnancy by any means diminishes the value of children and reinforces the notion of child rearing as an inconvenience. While quiverfull families recognize the burden of rearing a large family, doing so is seen as an indication of a family's submission to God's will and a willingness to be obedient even in the face of hardship. These families typically also uphold the notion of conservative gender roles, in which women are responsible for bearing and raising children as well as homemaking tasks. Men are regarded as the leaders and providers of their households.

Critics of this movement argue that forcing a woman to give birth as often as possible has detrimental effects on her physical and mental health. They also note that many families do not have the financial resources to appropriately provide for numerous children, which causes significant stress for all family members. Former adherents have also expressed their concern about possible exploitation and abuse within these families, as women are frequently taught to submit to their husbands but may have few options for leaving the marriage if they are mistreated. As a result of these concerns, the doctrine of quiverfull remains a controversial topic within the Christian church.

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