Guest / Limited Access /

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
by Kathryn Joyce
Beacon Press, March 2009
272 pp., $25.95

It's a Monday night. Two back-to-back episodes of Jon & Kate Plus 8 are on TLC. Tomorrow night the network will run Kids by the Dozen at 7 p.m., followed by four episodes of 17 Kids and Counting during its 8-10 p.m. slot, followed in turn by another round of 17 Kids from 11 to midnight. After that — if you're still awake — you can catch a few more rounds of Jon & Kate.

Looks like someone at TLC thinks big families might just equal big bucks in its current programming lineup.

Tie all that in with the media flurry about Nadya Suleman, the single mother in California who gave birth to octuplets conceived by in vitro fertilization in January, bringing her total number of children to 14, and suddenly we have — a trend? A fad? What's with all the large families? Or perhaps the real question is, what's with all of us who are watching them?

Why are we so interested in large families? Families like the Gosselins (Jon & Kate), the Duggers (17 Kids), and the Sulemans are sparking heated discussions among observers, including Christians. Outsider interest in how many children a woman has is nothing new, yet among considerations of failing Social Security and environmental concerns, this interest seems to be intensifying toward apprehension, even alarm. Women of childbearing age are used to fielding questions from family, friends, and complete strangers about their fertility: How many children do you have? How many children do you want? But these questions pale in light of the larger, more philosophical question at their base: How many children should you have?

That simple question implicates wide-ranging ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedShould I Attend the Wedding of a Gay Friend or Family Member?
Subscriber Access Only Should I Attend the Wedding of a Gay Friend or Family Member?
The invitation will come soon enough. Four views.
TrendingAttempt to Market Anti-Porn Ministry to Mark Driscoll Fans Goes Bad
Attempt to Market Anti-Porn Ministry to Mark Driscoll Fans Goes Bad
Craig Gross on XXXchurch email blast to Resurgence list: 'They sold us your email for a penny.'
Editor's PickThe Dance of Suffering and Love
The Dance of Suffering and Love
What to do with our grief for the world.
Comments
Christianity Today
Deconstructing the Quiver
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.