All God’s children: Life in the Quiverfull movement
Vyckie Garrison wasn’t sure she wanted to use her real name in this article. Until last year, Garrison (then Vyckie Bennett), a 43-year-old single mother of seven living in Norfolk, Neb., followed a fundamentalist pronatalist theology known as Quiverfull. Shunning all forms of birth control, Quiverfull women accept as many children as God gives them as a demonstration of their radical faith and obedience as well as a means to advance his kingdom: winning the country for Christ by having more children than their adversaries. This self-proclaimed “patriarchy” movement, which likely numbers in the tens of thousands but which is growing exponentially, bases its arguments on Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Quiverfull women commonly give birth to families of eight, 10 and 12 children, or more.
But there’s a lot more to the Quiverfull conviction than you see on the Duggars’ folksy show. In 1985, homeschooling leader Mary Pride wrote a foundational text for Quiverfull, “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality.” The book argued that family planning is a slippery slope, creating a “contraceptive mentality” that leads to abortion, and that feminism is incompatible with Christianity. As an antidote, Pride told Christians to reject women’s liberation in exchange for the principles of submissive wifehood and prolific stay-at-home motherhood. The core ideology was a direct contradiction of Roe v. Wade: Women’s bodies and lives did not belong to them, but to God and his plans for Christian revival.