Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood

Quiverfull, the Duggars, and Reading Psalm 127

A 2009 book ventures inside the movement.

Ever heard of the Quiverfull movement? Chances are you have and just didn’t know it. If you’ve ever watched 17 18 19 Kids and Counting with the Duggar family, you’ll be familiar with the basic premise: don’t use birth control, have as many kids as the Lord will send you, and be grateful for every child as a blessing.


The biblical source for the Quiverfull approach is found in Psalm 127: 3-5:

3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

And here’s the Twible version:

#Twible Ps 127: Blessed is the man who has a quiverful of sons. His ginormous family shall have joy and their very own reality show on TLC.


A couple of years ago an interesting book appeared about Quiverfull and the apparently retrogressive role the movement assigns to women. According to author Kathryn Joyce, it’s not so much the rejection of birth control that is of concern, but a general return to the nineteenth century. Young women are encouraged not to pursue higher education, but to marry early and bear children right away. The movement denounces legislation that would grant equal rights to women under the law, and upholds the patriarchal principle that a man is the king of his castle. The queen is there to follow his lead and do the mountains of laundry that pile up from having a supersized family.


It’s enough to make a feminist quiver, especially when you consider that one of the justifications the movement provides for having so many children is that it’s the only way to raise up a righteous generation large enough to overturn progressive legislation on civil rights and the economy.

So while I’m as fascinated with the Duggars as everyone else, I don’t want to be them. They seem like lovely people and great parents, but the politics of the movement with which they are loosely affiliated give me the wiggins.

#Twible Ps 127: Blessed is the man who has a quiverful of sons. His ginormous family shall have joy and their very own reality show on TLC.

#Twible Ps 128: The man who fears G’ll have an über-fertile wife who stays in the back room pushin’ out more kids. Yep, sign me up for that.


#Twible Ps 129: May all who hate Zion be put to shame. Make them like thatch that withers on the rooftop. (Hey, good one. That’ll show em.)

#Twible Ps 130: If you, G, should keep track of sin, who could stand? We’d be flunking out for sure. I already got a D in religion class.

#Twible Ps 131: My heart is not proud, G. I am never haughty. Except maybe now, when I’m letting you know how very humble I am.

#Twible Ps 132: A gentle reminder, G: you promised to keep David’s line on the throne. REMEMBER? We’re all getting a bit worried down here.

#Twible Ps 133: How pleasant it is when people dwell together in unity! We’ll enjoy peace for the 5.3 seconds it lasts. And…cue fight scene.

#Twible Ps 134: 3-verse, all-purpose Psalm: 1) Praise G. 2) Lift up your hands. 3) Be blessed. Why can’t religion always be this simple?

#Twible Ps 135: Other nations’ idols are silver & gold, made by human hands. Idols=BAD. But gold=GOOD, so let’s use it for a nice chalice!

#Twible Ps 136: This Psalm informs us 26 different times that G’s love endures forever. And we thought today’s pop songs were repetitive.



  • Sarah Collett

    I want to comment but am left kind of speechless. It’s stuff like this that leaves me scratching my head. On the one hand I get the willies. I’m not a fan of country/world take-over agendas. But on the other hand I feel like it is every women’s right to choose how many children they have. It is not lost on me that these women may not know the options or be the victims of indoctrination. But so was I. My mother had seven children. I went to BYU. Served a mission. And feel like so much of my life was uninformed. I have wonderful parents who vote conservative. I vote more liberal. I have abandoned many doctrines of the church and come to my own conclusions. It has been a battle to separate myself from much of what I was taught. Just because they have those children doesn’t mean they will all follow suit. No one can isolate themselves. There are so many dangers in society. I don’t know I’ll have to think about whether this is really something that we should worry about. Hum…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Raymond Takashi Swenson

    As a major religious category, the Latter-day Saints have more children per family (in the US) than any group except Muslims. Some critics of the Mormons add the standard “environmentalist” rant about population growth and its dangers to the earth to their critique of Mormonism.

    The fact is that the average rate of childbirth in the US has been below replacement levels for some years, and in two or three decades we, along with most of the world, is going to transition into a population black hole that will stop world population growth and start shrinking it well before the end of this century. The families who want to personally make up for this deficit in childbirth are nowhere numerous enough to do so, and as the previous commenter pointed out, there is no guarantee that the many children they raise are going to buy into their philosophy. Getting too would up about it just takes you down the path of the tyrannical policies adopted in China, which have led to the preferential homicide of a hundred million females in utero.

    At the same time, the most important thing that any of us can do if we are concerned about how the world fares in the coming century is to reproduce ourselves with at least enough children to ensure that our viewpoint and ethics are passed on in future generations. People who are intent on viewing children as a plague on nature have forsaken the primary means of having a lasting influence on the course of society.

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