On the morning of Wednesday, March 25, 2009, NPR aired a story about a Christian group, referred to as the Quiverfull Movement. Here’s the link to the story:
NPR summarizes, “The movement, called Quiverfull, is based on Psalm 127, which says, ‘Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.'”
So the people in the movement have as many kids as they can. No birth control, no worries about enough money to feed everybody. It’s not like trying to have 8 kids at once, not like that. It’s about having as many kids as happen to come along over several years.
I’m not going to touch the Bible verse. Though you can imagine it might get me just a tad worked up, you know, talking about warriors and sons and how having a lot of sons makes you special. But that’s just what you get when you only let “powerful” men write and re-write and interpret a body of work over a couple or three thousand years. To me the whole thing says more about men than it does about any kind of truth.
Anyway, what I want to talk about is the attitudes expressed by Nancy Campbell, author of Be Fruitful and Multipy, and identified as a leader of this movement. Because what she said on the air really stopped me in my tracks. I just sat in my car feeling kinda sick.
Ms. Campbell says, “The womb is such a powerful weapon; it’s a weapon against the enemy.”
She goes on, “We look across the Islamic world and we see that they are outnumbering us in their family size, and they are in many places and many countries taking over those nations, without a jihad, just by multiplication.”
“The womb is such a powerful weapon…” Let me say that again just so I’m sure you hear it. “The womb is such a powerful weapon…”
It’s one thing for testosterone junkies to think of everything as a battle, every other faith tradition as an enemy, and body parts as weapons. I am not surprised by that anymore. I’m hardly even annoyed by it. Fifty years into this existence it’s pretty clear how things go with a lot of guys.
But I am always utterly disappointed when a woman starts spouting the same militaristic crap. It makes me feel about the same as I do when I hear that the most recent suicide bombing was carried out by a woman.
So here’s the rant.
The womb is not a weapon. The womb is the sacred chalice of creation. To even utter this statement, “The womb is such a powerful weapon,” a mother’s heart would have to be simply packed in fear. Fear so thick as to make it impossible to love expansively and without judgement. That a woman would take this core reason of her being, her ability to nurture and bring forth new life, and twist it into something militant, deeply saddens me. I don’t understand how it could even feel true passing Ms. Campbell’s lips.
I’ve changed my mind on a lot of things over the years. But I have not changed my mind about peaceful coexistence in this world. I don’t see where Jesus was talking about taking over the world, by multiplication or any other means. I certainly don’t see where He was talking about using the womb as a weapon. Jesus was talking about living peacefully and loving other people expansively. But you know, it’s always the people who view themselves as the most Christian of the Christians that don’t seem to get this.
I’ve always dreamed that someday each woman in the world would come to understand three things very clearly:
If hate is allowed to exist it will eventually direct itself at her children.
If war is tolerated it will eventually wound or kill one of her children.
If she herself has an enemy, her child will eventually become one to somebody else.
In my assessment of the way things are, each of us has the ability to project either peace and love into the world, or something else entirely.
If Mrs. Campbell wants to project a “something else entirely” for her children I can’t stop her. But I can hope that she will come to understand that there are still a few things around that should not be militarized. A womb being one of them.