Kathryn Joyce has just published a book called Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, about a growing movement among Christians in the Southern US. The name Quiverfull comes from 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.”
It’s no accident that the passage refers only to sons and men, since they’re the only people who benefit from this movement. The crux of it is that women are to submit completely to their husbands, becoming nonstop baby factories who are expected to continue producing and raising spawn until they die.
In an article at Salon, Joyce describes one of the stories she researched while writing the book. Vyckie Garrison was at the end of her rope when she met the man who would marry her and steer her into the Quiverfull movement. From the article:
She’d had her first three children by cesarean section, but after coming to the Quiverfull conviction, she was swayed by the movement’s emphasis on natural (even unassisted home) birth. During one delivery, she suffered a partial uterine rupture and “felt like I’d been in a major battle with Satan, and he’d just about left me dead.” The doctor who treated Garrison lectured her for an hour not to conceive again, but she felt that stopping on her own would be rebellion. When she turned to her leaders for inspiration, she received a bleak message: that if she died doing her maternal duty, God would care for her family. For six months, she couldn’t look at the baby without crying.
It’s obvious that this movement is dangerous to women and to the children they’re raising. Each woman is expected to have around a dozen kids, and the oldest daughters are expected to help care for the others. Raising a child to believe something makes the brainwashing that much easier, which I guess is why so many cults build into their philosophy the idea that a ridiculously high level of reproduction is of the utmost importance.
Joyce’s article goes on to show that leaving the Quiverfull movement is nearly impossible for women who grow to be so utterly dependent upon their husbands, and who worry about losing their children and becoming outcasts from the community. It’s very reminiscent of the FLDS, the crazed hardcore sect of Mormons â€“Â there seem to be many parallels between the stories from the women who escaped both cults.
In slightly optimistic news, those women who escaped the Quiverfull movement are establishing a presence online and finding one another, offering support and encouragement. Check out the blog No Longer Quivering, run by Vyckie and another survivor, Laura. I’ll definitely be picking up Joyce’s book to learn more about this growing, disturbing movement.