Friday, April 8, 2011

quiverfull... what's in a name.

Kick a weasel! 

I recently heard about a movement in the conservative Christian community called ... shockingly... Quiverfull. I chose the name because I do obviously have quite a large family, and because I've always enjoyed the Biblical imagery found in the passage in Psalms that states, "as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of the youth." Not in the sense of ... flinging our kids around like weapons... necessarily ... but in the sense that a 'mighty man' (or woman) has the ability to direct (to some extent) the trajectory of our children's lives. As parents we shape their personalities, tastes, activities, and aversions, as much as we decided what they are (and are not) exposed to, what they eat, what they talk about, and how they view the world. We fit them into the bowstring of ourselves, and our families, and from there they are able to shoot out into the world. We hope, to become the dazzling, amazing, kind, and creative people that they are. 

I still like the idea. 

But, as I am reading more about the Quiverfull movement (check out the Wikipedia article Here, if you want), I find that there are a few things I don't agree with, and perhaps don't want people to assume of me because of the name... Namely this, copied from the article. 
 It promotes procreation, and sees children as a blessing from God,[2][3][4] eschewing all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization.[5][6] Adherents are known as "quiver full", "full quiver", "quiverfull-minded", or simply "QF" Christians. Some refer to the Quiverfull position as Providentialism,[7] while other sources have referred to it as a manifestation of natalism.[8][9] Currently several thousand Christians worldwide identify with this movement.[5] It began to receive significant attention in the U.S. national press in 2004.

Though I am a Christian, and firmly believe in the inalienable right to a chance at life, I am not anti-contraceptive. I know it may appear that way... given the size of the family I tote around, but believe it or not, I did everything short of surgery to prevent more pregnancies. (finally opting for surgery after the last... because... well, seven is a big enough number even for me.) Which is not to say that any of my kids was unwanted. Unexpected, perhaps, but always anticipated and received with joy. 

Here's my opinion on the matter (...not that you asked, but just to put it out there, since we're on the topic). I do not believe that birth control is unbiblical. Some people believe that using contraceptives is a way to take the control away from God, and that you should leave it to Him to decide how many children you ought to have. I see this as very similar to the thinking that states that it is wrong to go to the doctor or take any kind of medication. Those in this camp believe that God can and will heal, if He chooses. (usually there's also a contingency in there somewhere which tells people that if God DOESN'T heal, it is due to a lack of faith on the part of the sick... which IS unbiblical.) 

Ok, so how are these similar? I see the similarity in that in both situations we have a choice. An option. An opportunity. If you get cancer, or diabetes or you child has a brain tumor, you have within your small measure of control, the option to seek medical help. If you are an adult, who is perhaps uneasy about the possibility of having children, or who knows that it would be financially irresponsible at this time, or that you are simply not ready... you have within your scope of control, the ability to do something to prevent a pregnancy before it happens. (not talking about abortion. abortion as a form of birth control is wrong by anyone's standards) 

As I see it, the ultimate result is still completely in God's hands. Some cancer patients survive, some do not, whether or not they underwent all possible medical treatment. It is still possible to become pregnant while using birth control. Trust me on that one. :) But as much as it is in our power to act, I think we have the responsibility to act in the most prudent and wise way we can. (Understand too, that I intend no disrespect to those who embrace the no birth-control lifestyle. It is very natural and beautiful. I just don't happen to believe it is the ONLY way.)

Some couples marry with the intention of a large family from the beginning. Fantastic! I LOVE big families. But I honestly never thought I would have one. I had/still have huge aspirations of what I would do in the world. For the most part, this didn't include having children. But then I met my amazing stepkids, and knew that they were meant to be in my life. And I was happy with our family. Three kids is a lot for a new wife of 22 to just jump into. I didn't need babies. And then I found myself pregnant. And had a miscarriage. 

And had to watch a tiny life floating in a mess of blood and tissue in my bathroom toilet while I sobbed all night with my head on the sink. I was done. After that I didn't want to get pregnant ever again. I couldn't go through that again. 

I did everything possible to prevent it. And then I missed a few periods. I did my best not to become too attached to the notion of a baby. A task at which I failed miserably. Then Owen was born, healthy and beautiful. And I was hopelessly smitten. I was also done. I had four kids and a full time job teaching high school. 

And then came Max, 14 months later. And I was absolutely done. (are you seeing a pattern here?) We scheduled a tubal, but there was a muck-up with the insurance, and we weren't able to do it. 

And a few years later, Annika came. And I was REALLY absolutely done. This time, a technicality in paperwork was the reason my tubal was cancelled. 

And when I found out I was pregnant with Naomi I thought my head was going to explode.  But it didn't. And despite a really difficult pregnancy, and a lot of weird circumstances, I felt more calm and peaceful and joyfully expectant with her than I had with any of the others. And this time, the tubal went off without a hitch. 

Each time a new child came along, I panicked a little and worried and had a few anxiety attacks about 'how in the WORLD am I going to do this!!!???' and then the baby came. And our home and family and lifestyle stretched to fit the new addition. And I've been forced to get my head out of itself and focus on these unbelievable little people I've been entrusted with. I've had to be resourceful and creative in ways I never thought I could. I've learned patience (or... at least a smidgen more than the 'none-at-all' I had before) and forgiveness and to find the wonder and joy and beauty in each and every moment. Even the yucky ones. 

Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for each of my kids. Disabilities, struggles, attitudes, conflicts and all. 

I know this has been long and heavy and I don't mean to wax controversial (though a little controversy can be good for the blood, and we're all adults here who can appreciate different perspectives, and embrace them with grace); and I'm grateful for those who have read this far. :)

Mostly, I just wanted to let you know that I am not affiliated with the Quiverfull movement going on, and that, if it becomes a big deal, I might end up changing the name. ... boo on me for not researching it first. Lesson learned. 

Let me know what you think, everyone. Had you heard about the Quiverfull thing? Did you assume I was part of it? Do you think a name-change is in order? Did you read all of this? (if  so... merit badge for you! :) 

Thanks for listening.
cupcakes and cartwheels,

No comments: