The latest issue of People magazine has the Duggar family featured in its cover story. The Duggars, as you probably already know, are a large family also featured in a reality television show with Mom (Michelle), Dad (Jim Bob), and their now 19 children. The aforementioned magazine cover has a picture of Michelle and Jim Bob along with the Duggar family’s latest addition, Josie Brooklyn, born this past December via emergency C-section. Also on the cover is the copy “How Many Kids Are Too Many?”, and “The Duggars Under Fire”. At the bottom of the cover this explanation is given: “As their 19th child, Josie, fights for life, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar say they might have more children- igniting a controversy over their supersize family”.
Actually, controversy about the Duggars long pre-dated the birth of baby Josie and any recent acknowledgment that there may be more little Duggars yet to come. Criticism of the Duggars goes back a few years, even before the time they came into the national spotlight in 2004 when their first special was aired on the Discovery channel.
The criticism directed at them runs the gamut: Their religious views, their environmental impact (the Duggars do, no doubt, produce a lot of CO2), the health risks they’ve taken, and their view that they have all the emotional and economic resources required to have 19 children (and maybe more).
They are said to be a part of the “Quiverfull” movement, a stream of doctrine and practice within evangelical Christianity that, among other things, emphasizes the great gift and blessing that children are. The movement takes its name from Psalm 127:3-5:
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy 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.
There is much to be said positively for Quiverfull. They obviously possess a high regard for children, have a great emphasis on the family, and reject the modern day feminist dogma that says women can’t be fulfilled simply by being mothers and homemakers. They aren’t mere throwbacks to a 19th century social model, rather they stand as a living antithesis of what the world around them believes and does.
Yet, while Quiverfull is not a monolithic movement, it nonetheless has a number of tenants within it that are generally held, and may be seen as troubling even within the most conservative of evangelical circles. For example, the notion that “birth control” by any means in any circumstance is always wrong is something that many (most?) evangelicals cannot accept as a Scriptural teaching. John Piper’s Desiring God Ministries has argued that there is no inconsistency in believing that children are a gift from God, and yet regulating the “timing and number” of those children: “Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it.”
But for the Duggars, stewardship of these gifts from God doesn’t include such matters as Piper contemplates. Their idea of stewardship is post-conception.
And we should be okay with that.
Despite all the critical noise in the media and on the internet (which, arguably, they brought upon themselves with their television show), the Duggars seem to have been successful by every measure in their endeavors to raise all their little gifts from God. It is a commitment and lifestyle that they have chosen. While one might not agree with a number of Quiverfull movement views, the Duggars and others like them need to be defended from all the spurious attacks that are made against them. They get hammered on because they take the Bible literally. They get scorned because they believe in creationism. They are the subjected to these stupid environmental/resource criticisms that are utter Leftist drivel.
Moreover, the current trajectory of our society would suggest that somewhere down the line we will have government legislation that limits the number of children families can have. Recently Diane Francis wrote in the Financial Post : “The “inconvenient truth” overhanging the UN’s Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world. A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.”
Perhaps you had a small family by choice. Perhaps you think that the Duggars have some far-fetched ideas. Whatever the case, you might want to consider supporting the Duggars’ right to live and procreate as they please.