Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce is essentially an expose of the Christian fundamentalist movements which propagate the concept that patriarchy, cloaked in the more user friendly term “complementarianism”, is God-ordained and all else is sinful, witchcraft, and rebellion – no exaggeration, all those terms are used ad verbatim by fundamentalist believers.
Joyce covers many topics and sects in this book, perhaps a bit more than can properly be discussed in depth. At times I wished that leaders of the movement that she examines were more fully expounded on, but the choice to restrict the topics is understandable as there is much to investigate.
Having a childhood steeped in this theology and movement, I recognized many names and terms Joyce expounds on. To me this book represents an awakening: I had no idea that so many writers and leaders that I grew up being taught to respect and follow disseminated such toxic views of women. The name “Mary Pride” evinced in my mind’s eye the cover of her well-thumbed book All the Way Home: Power for Your Family to Be Its Best that was frequently read in my home growing up. Imagine my consternation learning that Pride ascribed to this bizarre notion of having sex only for procreation reasons – recreational sex is not to be tolerated.
On top of that, add in the Pearls (who have surprisingly not yet been sued for the part their book To Train Up a Child has played in the confirmed homicide of three children) with their abusive ideas of “discipline”, and Bill Gothard, founder of Basic Life Principles, an ideology supporting the systemic stripping of the individual rights of women, who was charged with sexual interference and sexual abuse. Finally, Doug Phillips, founder of Vision Forum, an ultra-conservative think-tank concerning themselves in movements such as barring female access to birth control, who admitted to an extra-marital affair.
All of these organizations, leaders, and movements have sought solidarity for one reason: to ensure that women are aware of their rightful place which is, *drum roll* under men. It doesn’t matter that the men are leading hypocritical lives which victimize said women. All it matters is that women know their rightful place and in living in subservience find “true freedom”.
The actual term “Quiverfull” applies to a movement being propagated mainly in America that encourages Christian families to have any many children as possible (preferably over 5) in order to add to the ranks of Christian soldiers. Quiverfull is also closely tied in to the homeschooling and agrarian movements. Add in some Christian reconstructionism and theonomy ideals and you have a movement that is slowly growing and potentially shaping the future of America, while encouraging a distrust of government and public education. With an emphasis on arranged marriages (Daddy knows best for his little girl), Quiverfull has found support from many conservative think-tanks, and several high level American politicians have endorsed the movement and conservative theology surrounding said movement.
As with any fundamentalist movement, Joyce focuses on the interviews and stories that provide what one might crudely describe as the most “shock value”, but Joyce’s voice is surprisingly absent in the book. Careful to avoid being accused of reader bias, this book is full of directly quoted interviews and fastidiously accrued statistics. In fact, the minor frustration I experienced while reading this novel was due to the fact that there seemed to be no horrified personal opinion inserted into this book when I felt it was most deserved.
If you want to expand your world view and knowledge of the fundamentalist Christian patriarchal movements, this is a must-read. On that note, I must add that there are Christians who do not subscribe to these concepts and who believe in mutual respect in heteronormative relationships.
4.5/5 for an excellent examination of this issue. Thank you Kathryn, for bringing these practices that are so hidden to light.