Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Two, four, six, eight -- God commands you procreate!
Some choice quotes:
Quiverfull beliefs are absolutist. Purists don’t permit even natural family planning methods, such as tracking fertility cycles (the only form of birth control condoned by the Roman Catholic Church). Also taboo: any form of artificial fertility treatment. “The point is to have a welcoming heart,” says Mary Pride, a mother of nine whose 1985 book, “The Way Home,” celebrated a return to traditional gender roles. It has sold about 80,000 copies and has inspired many quiverfull families. “You shouldn’t be unnatural in going to a fertility clinic or in trying to avoid having children by regulating when to have sex with your husband,” says Pride.
The anti-birth control message appears to be gaining ground among some evangelicals. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has become one of its most prominent advocates. “If a couple sees children as an imposition, as something to be vaccinated against, like an illness, that betrays a deeply erroneous understanding of marriage and children,” says Mohler. “Children should be seen as good by default.”
Though Ken admits life isn’t always easy—last spring, all eight kids came down with chicken pox at once—he says the family became “exponentially happier” after relinquishing control of Devon’s womb to God. He’s counting on his eldest daughter Peyton, 12, to carry on the tradition. She “will stay under my covering until I turn her over in marriage to a God-honoring young man,” he says. Hopefully, he adds, they too will reap a full quiver.
Let's unpack this a bit, shall we? Who can spot the instances of devaluing a woman's right to control her own destiny? Anyone? Anyone? How about the pressure on a young girl to carry on a 'tradition' that her parents made up? Anyone see that? On, and don't forget, you can't decide not to have sex with your husband just because you don't want to have yet another baby this year. Shoulda thought about that before you got married, shouldn't you?
In order to have this kind of family, the mother is required to stay at home. It is simply impossible for her to work and take care of 8 or more children at the same time. However, Daddy's gotta work so much that he's not home much, so Mom takes on the bulk of child-rearing. Plus, she's homeschooling the kids, of course. Let's build up that sense of insolation, shall we? (Can anyone say Andrea Yates? I thought you could.)
I take issue with the notion of children as good, by default. Maybe for most people, they end up that way. But often that's because of a conscious choice on the part of the parent. For me, no, children would not be good by default. A child would be a huge impact on my health and probably would shorten the length of my life. I love that language -- vaccinate against! Oh, if only! Seriously, if we could come up with a vaccine that would make you infertile for what, five, six years at a time, would that not be a GOOD thing? We could end teenage pregnancy, bam! We could give men /and/women a seriously powerful method of planning their families. A freaking vaccine would be awesome, but alas, not in this guy's view. Oh well.
You know, these people never talk about relinquishing control of their reproductive organs to God. It's always, well it's the womb that must be given over. Why? Why isn't it the damned sperm that must be given up? Why isn't Ken talking about relinquishing control of his penis to God?
And frankly, poor Peyton is going to need a ticket to the Underground Sisterhood Railroad in a few years. Listen to the language her father uses to talk about here -- that's now how you talk about a person, that's how you talk about a possession. He's literally going to 'turn her over'. For gods sake, people! This isn't a spare key, you know. It's your child, a living, breathing person who will have her own ideas and desires. What if she doesn't want to have any children? What if she's a lesbian? Or asexual? What if she wants to go to college and skip marriage altogether? What if she wants to make porn, for gods sake? She's got rights, as a person, that go way beyond being covered by daddy and then handed off to hubby.
These people freak me out, because I can just imagine how many closet Quiverfuls live around me, thinking -- oh, if only I could find a woman willing to let me stick it in unwrapped and pop out baby after baby! Gah.