David Crank explains the purpose of Quiverfull child bearing this way:
As American Christians, most of us would like to see our society and government change in many ways. We would like to see an end to legalized abortion, we would like to see strong Christian influences and witnesses throughout our society, we would like to see major reductions in pornography, immorality, gambling, misuse of drugs and alcohol, homosexuality, and a host of other evils that have been growing in our culture. What can we do about these things?
We can work to change laws, to influence our neighbors, to teach and preach and write about these things, etc. However, all of these efforts would be much more effective if there were many more of us working towards these ends. We need more Christians, and not just ones who make a one time profession and then continue living much as before! We need to make many more disciples and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:18-20)…
…Suppose, for example’s sake, that 10% of the U.S. population was truly Christian and serious about their Christianity, and were willing to have a few more children that the typical unbelievers (say 4 children instead of 2). Then suppose 1/5 of these, or 2% of the total population, were willing to seriously diverge from the norm of our society by not using birth control and being willing to accept as many children as God would bless them with (suppose an average of 8 children per family). Then suppose succeeding generations were convinced to do the same, while 90% of the population continued to average 2 children per family.
Given this scenario, how might the population mix change over a few generations? (Assume a population of 100 million for simplicity and that all spouses are taken from within the same group).
Generation #0: 90% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (90 Million); 8% Serious Christians (8 Million); 2% “Quiver Full” Christians (2 Million )
Generation #1: 79% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (90 Million); 14% Serious Christians (16 Million); 7% “Quiver Full” Christians (8 Million )
Generation #2: 58% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (90 Million); 21% Serious Christians (32 Million); 21% “Quiver Full” Christians (32 Million )
Generation #3: 32% Unbelievers & Nominal Christians (90 Million); 23% Serious Christians (64 Million); 2% “Quiver Full” Christians (128 Million )
If I draw a graph of what he say, it seems, at first glance, like this is a workable plan to “see strong Christian influences and witness, and a major reduction in pornography, gambling”, etc. In this diagram, every square represents 2 million people:
But note that the amount of unbelievers/ nominal believers are not actually decreasing. There is as many unbelievers in generation #3 as in generation #0! Instead of a strong witness, the focus on witnessing to unbelievers was lost in favor of child rearing. Pornography and homosexuality* and these other things were not decreased. 90 million unbelievers/ nominal Christians will include as much “pornography, immorality, gambling, misuse of drugs and alcohol, homosexuality, and a host of other evils” in a country where the 90 million is a minority, as in one where they are not.
God called us to proclaim the gospel to the whole world. What would he say to those who make their own babies and reach only them with the gospel? If it is not the will of God that anyone goes lost, then I could imagine Him grieving over a callous projection in which Christians become, in Crank’s own words, “the actual voting majority”**– but in which Christians are not bringing in anyone from outside their families to become part of God’s family.
Something else is omitted in Crank’s projection: He himself admits that Quiverfull parents are losing some children to the world:
Some young people from fine Christian homeschooling families are lost, but I would estimate the number as well below 20% at present.
Well below 20%? Okay, I will use Crank’s projection, but estimate that one in every eight children (that is 12,75%) do not follow the ways of the parents , and becomes part of the unbeliever/ nominal believer group. Note how the number of unbelievers/ nominal believers are now actually increasing(90 million in generation #0; 118.4 million in generation #3):
Quiverfull increases the number of unbelievers and nominal believers? Who knew? In this, I did not even take into account that many Quiverfull adult children do not find a spouse, for various reasons, thus those who do have children need more than 8 to offset the childless.
By comparison, see what happens if Christians have children at the “normal” rate of 2 children who reach adulthood per couple. Instead of spending all their time discipling 4 or 8 children, they disciple both their children and other people. It is entirely feasible to imagine that serious Christians with only 2 children will have time to teach and disciple someone else too, and that God will send the disciples their way if they prayerfully commit to it. I will estimate very conservatively and assume a serious Christian single could make on average 1,5 disciples in a lifetime, and a serious Christian couple 3 (2 members of the couple making 1,5 disciples apiece), which may include their 2 children. I will assume a very serious Christian could make 3 very serious Christian disciples in a lifetime, of which some may be his or her children:
In diagram 2, unbelievers and nominal believers increased from 90 million to 118,4 million. It went from 90% to 48% of the whole, but that is only because the believers were growing in numbers so quickly. When believers have as many children as unbelievers, but disciple a few people outside their family (diagram 3), the unbelievers decreased from 90% to 19%. In numbers, that means from 90 million to 19 million!
Now, let us see what would happen if Christians avoid Quiverfull ideas. Instead of having double/ four times as many children, serious Christians commit to having half as many children (average 1 child per couple, not 2) and the very serious Christians believe1 Cor. 7:32-34, and have none. We still assume 1,5 disciples for the average serious Christian, and 3 for every very serious Christian:
In the third generation, there will, theoretically, not be any unbelievers to disciple any more! Everyone will be a serious Christian or a very serious Christian! If you want to convert the lost, you will have to move out of your country to become a missionary.
In short: Quiverfull is not the way to reach the world for Christ. It could be a way of the flesh to get a voting majority, but it does not bring the world to Christ. (And even if you want a Christian voting majority – evangelism is the way of Jesus and still works better.)
* Homosexuality: Please do not assume anything about my opinion on homosexuality from this article. The point of this article is responding to an argument which does use this word.
** According to David Crank, it may take 4 generations to become the voting majority, since many from older generations are still alive when generation 3 starts to vote. But some in Quiverfull/ Patriarchy movement, for example Brian Abshire, say women should not vote. If the world let their women vote and Quiverfull let only men vote, Quiverfull believers will need to be more than ⅔ of the population to be a voting majority.