Kathryn Joyce is a journalist whose work has focused on religion. In writing Quiverfull, she examines the philosophies and motivations behind what she calls the "Christian Patriarchy"movement within Christian Evangelicals (sometimes known as ultra right-wing-conservatives). It is evident from the outset of the book that Joyce spent a considerable amount of time not only reading the philosophies driving this movement, but also countless numbers of hours interviewing its mavericks. She even attended weekend retreats for Christian women, doing so as a self-proclaimed non-Christian (at the retreats she was told that "she really should get saved.").
It is unusual for me to read a non-fiction book on a subject about which I am very knowledgeable. I've read a majority of the books Joyce references in Quiverfull. I was unfamiliar with about 5% of the people she references. I've heard many of their lectures. I've read their blogs. I've read their books. I've read their magazines. So, I can say, without a doubt, that Joyce's reporting was quite accurate. This is fair and balanced reporting from a journalist who doesn't agree with what her subject matter believes. That is so heartening, isn't it? But it is precisely her accurate reporting that is so disheartening to this Christian.
Joyce divides the book into three categories: wives, mothers, and daughters. She explains, in detail, how this Christian Patriarchy Movement is spreading through Evangelical Christian circles. She talks about how wives are to be submissive to their husbands, how women are to stay at home with their children, and how daughters are to refrain from higher education for the purpose of learning the art of housewifery so that the entire cycle can begin again.
Now, if you are not a Christian, you need not read further. But, if you, like me, call yourself a Christian, read on because I have something to say.
[Stepping on soap box]
Evangelicals, as of late, have done a lot of whining and complaining about how the media has taken their line of thinking out of context, blah, blah, blah. Here is a case where, for the most part, Joyce (the media) didn't take things out of context. What she shows is that the Evangelicals have taken things way out of context. Joyce paints a picture of a group of people who have a serious misunderstanding of the Bible. And I have a ginormous problem with that. My problem is that my faith in which I am a devout believer is sorely misunderstood by the very people who claim to share that same faith. In short, the Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy movement has condensed the Gospel into a list of rules, including but not limited to: wives are to defer to their husbands on every matter (no matter how minuscule), wives are not to drive at night, women and girls are not allowed to wear pants, women are supposed to have as many children as possible, women are not supposed to work outside of the home, mothers are supposed to homeschool their children (public or private school is not allowed), daughters are supposed to be committed to helping their fathers' work in lieu of attending college, fathers are only supposed to work in their own small businesses, and the list continues. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with practicing any of the above. I am saying that it is wrong to think that a requirement of Christianity is to do all of the above.
A disturbing theme seen throughout the book is the claim by the Quiverfull followers that following these rules will fix the problems in our nation. Says Rachel Scott in her book Birthing God's Mighty Warriors: "When God's people are plentiful, we can come up against society going in the wrong direction, against wicked political systems, against immoral laws and antifamily legislation, and make them back down!" If this sentence weren't so horrific, it would be funny. "God's people" are messed up. They are not perfect. Their rules are not sufficient to clean up a "society going in the wrong direction". There is an attitude of perfection by the followers of this movement. Such an attitude is divisive, isolating, and simply incorrect.
My understanding of Christianity does not have these rules as a requirement for membership. The people who loudly advocate the following of such laws have misunderstood what the Bible says. They have reduced the Christian faith to nothing other than the various religions they criticize; they've turned it into religion that is centered on what humans are supposed to do. The Christianity I understand is the opposite of that. It is centered not on what I do, but on what someone else did for me. And that, my friends, is the only faith that fills this quiver.