Friday, June 28, 2013


I am not a fruit. I know, I know, you never would have guessed it. I am not a fruit, nor am I a seed. I am not an arrow, and I am not a soldier--or any part of an army, for that matter. I am not even a gift. I am myself, and I belong to myself.

There is a trend among Quiverfull circles (and other Christian circles to a lesser extent) to view children as objects, that is--as should be glaringly obvious--to objectify them. Blank slates, fruit of the womb, arrows in the quiver, a man's seed, even the soldier analogy is objectifying in its premise of conformity and hierarchy. Of course objectification does not rely purely on language, but language is a powerful indicator of where ideals lie. And these phrases are indicators of how the people who use them view the roles of children and parents.

Calling children "gifts" is one of my least favorite terms, because it is so objectifying, and possessive. One does not give a gift for the gift's sake, but to bring pleasure to the receiver. A gift is an object, a tool, a non-entity. The one given the gift can do whatever he or she wishes with it. Of course, no gushing parent calling his or her child a "precious gift" is really trying to say "look at this baby. It's mine, all  mine and I will do what I like with it so it grows up to be exactly who I want it to be or else", but again, language is an indicator.

The soldier or army analogy is even worse. Comparing children to soldiers is sick. Child soldiers are a tragedy. The militarization of Christianity is a subject unto itself so I'll leave it at "Comparing children to soldiers is sick". That rather sums it up I think.

A huge problem with this sort of objectification is that it feeds into one of the most important underlying concepts of fundamentalism. Control. Objects and soldiers are things that the parents can control. By reducing children to "blank slates" waiting for the "way" to be carved into them, children are made easy to control ("guide", "mold" or "raise up" are preferred terms).

I wonder if this is why so many Quiverfull "success" stories focus on pregnancy, babies, and young children. Because there comes a day when children aren't children any more, and some of them decide they don't want to wear the uniform. When you subscribe to the idea that children are given to parents so that their parents can turn them into soldiers, if it doesn't work out the child is counted as a failure. This failure is usually seen as the child's fault. They "aren't spiritual enough", they are "hardhearted", if they had only listened when they were young. Generally no matter how happy or healthy the child turns out to be, if he or she isn't a soldier for the Lord, it means failure.

It's a recipe for pain, and sometimes even abuse. Children are simply people, treat them as anything else and hearts are liable to get broken.

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