Fantastic post by Amy on why NOT to be QF

99% of you out there probably have no idea what “QF” is.  I didn’t, until a few years ago.  I kept seeing the acronym pop up on a homeschool forum I (now only occasionally) visit.  Upon investigation, much to my surprise, I learned that there is a movement afoot, rather like a Protestant take on the official Catholic stance on contraceptives — that is, that there shouldn’t be any.  (“QF” stands for “quiverfull” as in the Bible verses Psalm 127:4-5 “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.  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.”  In other words, as far as children go, more is better.)

Now, I had actually given this some thought, prior to hearing about QF’ers.  I have opinions regarding contraceptives, and from day 1, have used a “blocking” method (or two) that I won’t expound upon here, but suffice it to say that I was (am) not comfortable using any birth control method that allows me to conceive, but makes an unfavorable (or impossible) environment for the newly-formed embryo, causing me to, essentially, abort a day- or two- or three- or whatever-old baby.

Still, seeing how each child of mine has been such an exact, tailored fit to our family, and how valuable each of them are, I find myself wondering who we’ve missed out on meeting by the fact that we’ve blocked their creation.  I still wonder that.  I still think about how my dad was the 5th of 12, and how I wouldn’t be here if my grandparents had your standard, Western view of families and contraception.

I have also been on the listening end of postulations that “we simply can’t afford a baby” — yet observe the RV, the quads, the huge house, etc., of the speaker.  From my perspective, it’s always some sort of sacrifice to willingly have a baby — time, energy, money, focus, priorities — and I have had to rely on the faithfulness of God, many times, to provide when a baby upsets the balance, and I find myself lacking in one or more of those categories.  I think that, likely, a huge percentage of us need to fix our hope upon God’s faithful provision more, and on our circumstances less.

HOWEVER, when the achingly tragic news came out of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children on my birthday in 2001, there was a part of me that deeply understood her plight.  Reading her history, I have never come close to the disturbed religious, marital, and mental history that she’s had.  But, I could relate to her feeling (being) completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising children.  At the time, I thought (and still do), “There are some families whose desire to have as many children as possible is a detriment to themselves and to their very children they are desperately seeking to create.”  IOW, I just don’t think a one-size-fits-all anti-contraception dogma is right for all families.

Speaking of dogma, I have also observed some QF families be so completely dogmatic about the QF lifestyle that it appears to be a greater burden to them than it would be wise to bear.  But… my observations on that were anecdotal at best — just impressions from reading of and meeting those who subscribe to that ideology.

BUT, reading this absolutely smashing post from Amy, a former QF’er, and mother to seven children, solidifies that for me — that being “quiverfull” just isn’t right for everyone. 

This was supposed to be a short introduction in order to pique your interest, compelling you to read Amy’s post.  It’s ended up longer than I intended, but please, do read about Amy’s decision to no longer be QF, to get a tubal ligation, and the responses (both pro and con) that she’s received from the QF community for her decision. 

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 15, 2008, in Birth, Christian Living, Christianity, Family, Medical Stuff, Motherhood, Parenting, Pregnancy, Sad Things. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Well said. I’d say this is a pretty smashing post of your own too! Haven’t the time to read Amy’s right yet, but will later.

    Will say that I’ve had the same experience of reading the writing of QFers, and I’ve been put out with their “my way is the only way” attitude. Sort of like any group that’s so up on themselves that they’ll turn others away by their sheer enthusiasm, whether it’s misplaced or not.

    For those who don’t know me…I have 8 of my own. God’s choice, not my own. I kicked and fussed through each pregnancy.

  2. Ah, Thank Jesus for some sense…BTW who she mentions at Mars Hill Church is a really great preacher worthy of at least a listen (Mark Driscoll). He is a conservative Calvinist with 5 kids himself.

    I have often wanted a girl. God chose to give me 3 boys. We had a v 5 years ago. For us it was the best thing, but I think each person need to seek God for themselves. Our pastor has 10 spread over 25 years, they are neither starving nor stressed, she homeschools them all, but gives no one the impression they need to do the same. I don’t know if I can honestly say I want to adopt a girl right now, I have my hands full. For me it is more of a not enough of me to go around, more than it is we can’t afford it.

    Amy is a Sonlight forums person. I can say that I have “heard” her for years now, bemoaning each pregnancy, candidly and honestly saying she struggled to mother and homeschool so many. I appreciate her conclusions now. If you frequent homeschool boards for any length of time you will hear hard luck stories of large families. They all want to do “God’s will”. You gotta seek God for yourself, I think. He has not made us all alike and some families do better with more kids than other families. I try not to judge. I want to not be judged. Mothering is hard work. May God bless us all, large or small families.

  3. Ultimately, all personal stories aside–and I have a few just from my own life, the problem with QF teaching is the problem with all “pick a Scripture” teachings. Scripture was meant to be viewed as one whole book, not picked apart and some parts emphasized and some parts practically deleted to serve our purposes. This teaching does the latter.

  4. Wow and double wow! Your post and her post were fabulous! I’ve never heard of this group and having only two children myself (and my husband having a vasectomy after) we obviously don’t fall into that category. I think large families are awesome but it’s so true – what’s right for one family is not right for another. We have a wonderful family life and as much as I think it would have been neat to have a larger family, we might not have had the “success” that we do in our family had we done things differently. Thanks for sharing this, Karen!

  5. Just goes to show there is no one answer in all lot of situations. God has made us all so unique.
    I had always thought I wanted a large family but I only have two. Some days I think of having more but I don’t believe God has that for me. Parenting is a challenge of course. We have no relatives for respite. Each family has to make their own decision and we must be able to say that just because their choice isn’t our choice doesn’t make anyone wrong or better just what God has made them to be.
    Thanks for the great post!
    Debbie aka The Real World Martha(S)

  6. I don’t know that’s it’s smashing. I’m not entirely know how I feel about it. I think I feel sad.

    Those were a lot of generalizations about people who feel convicted to not use birth control, probably born out of some hard feelings from those who have been judgemental about it. But, still, I don’t feel Amy’s aricle it is entirely fair.

    Perhaps I will blog about birth control soon. There are so many misconceptions on both sides and unfortunately a lot of hurt feelings in both “camps.”

  7. Addressing Daja first — I was particularly interested in how you’d feel about the article. I think “sad” is very understandable.

    I think if Amy was new at the whole QF thing, maybe her story could be classified as “unfair.” However, she was one of the pioneers. She’d been QF for a good 13+ years, long enough to see both the positives (for there are many) *and* the less-publicized, perhaps even censored negatives — both in her own life, and in the lives of many other QF families. She has seven children, and would have at least two more, if it hadn’t been for miscarriages. If she’s now feeling negative (“judgemental”) about the QF movement, its from first-hand, entrenched experience. She simply found out that, in the long run, being QF is not a doctrine, and it doesn’t work for every family, and that some families — the children not the least of them — are better off in a family that practices at least some form of birth control.

    But, still, in a way it is sad. I can totally envision Amy’s described vision for her family, and, knowing her (online and in e-mail only) for about four years, have felt the grief of her finding out that reality was not matching the dream.

    I’m not suggesting that being QF is wrong, per se, it does work for some families, and those for whom it does work, it works fabulously and joyously, your own, apparently, included in that fabulous and joyous throng. But, I am suggesting, along with Amy, that it is NOT right for every family.

  8. For the record, I wouldn’t desribe nor necessarily align myself with the QF movement. 🙂

    See, I think I just need to blog this. I guess I’m just too complex! LOL!!!

    Coming soon….all my profound and distracted thoughts on birth control, QF, poppin’ out kids, NFP, and all that juicy stuff!

    Thanks for the food for thought, Karen!

  9. Thanks for the well written post and the link to Amy’s. I really appreciate the humility that I think I read, both there and here. Disagreement is one thing, but ripping a brother or sister is another, and I see way too much of that. Fortunately, not in this thread though.
    Daja – birth control? Misconceptions? That wasn’t intentional, was it? 😉 I just found of what QF was… what’s an NFP? Not for profit? Not for publication? Sheesh.. Too many TLA’s. (three letter acronyms)

  10. hahahaha!

    It’s natural family planning.

    Misconceptions…..*shaking my head* So funny!

  11. Interesting – My background (hardcore RC) was NO BIRTH CONTROL! EVER! Except abstinence, of course. It’s one of the big issues in terms of the gulf between the Catholic and Anglican churches.

    I went over and read Amy’s post and was deeply moved by her honesty and determination to take responsibility for where she’d been, what she might have said and done – and where she was going. Legalism – in Xianity, Islam, Judaeism, left-wing single issue politics – always seems an abdication of personal responsibility to me.

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