Does the Bible Command Us to Keep Having Babies? An Argument Against the Quiverfull Movement

In the last week, we have addressed fundamental ideology and how the Above Rubies group is connected to fundamental ideology.  

See this post and this post for more info about fundamental ideology.

It’s important to mention here that fundamental theology is not always the same as their practices which makes discernment critical. I’m describing their practices and calling it their “ideology,” because it sometimes (often) differs from their stated theology.

The first Above Rubies conference I attended was enlightening.  I was barely able to walk, a friend had sponsored me so I could attend, and I was just grateful to be able to go.

But I knew nothing about the group.

Before the sessions even started, a women walked up and asked my name. Without even introduing herself,  she asked how many children I had. When I told her I had two boys and their ages, she proceeded to announce to me that I was in sin for only having two children.  Then she abruptly turned and walked away.  As she walked away I realized she never even told me her name.  She avoided me the rest of the weekend.

She had no idea why I had only two children.  She didn’t ask, and it’s not really any of her business.

But that was my opening exposure to Above Rubies. I was determined to keep an open mind and enjoy myself.

I did enjoy myself but with slowly growing concern about the beliefs of the group.

The group (or its leadership or maybe just a large portion of the attendees) subscribe to the idea that women were put on this earth to be baby making machines. Follow the link to see this discussed more thoroughly.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we were created to have babies, be mothers, and have families.

But that’s not all we’re here for.

We are here to bring honor and glory to God, and there are many ways we can do that –not just having babies.

To minimize a woman to baby-maker is to empty her of full purpose.

God also intends for us to bring glory to Him through our spiritual gifts among other things.

I do think it’s best if a mom stays home with her kids (It is my philosophy that it is best, but it is not commanded in the Bible; I’ll address that another time).

I do think that God intended us to have children if we’re able as evidenced by the command in Genesis.

But the honest truth is that no number was given.

We were not commanded to have a minimum number of children.

People try to jump through hoops to say that a specific number was given, but you simply can’t do it without twisting scripture.

Twist not scripture lest you become like Satan. -Paul Washer


In areas not specifically commanded in scripture, it is up to our Christian stewardship.

We have lovely freedom in Christ!

I should mention here that I have not actually read any of the Campbell’s books. I was unable to read books for a long time due to extreme brain fog. I have however, read articles, attended conferences, watched videos, and spoken extensively with Above Rubies followers.

Mrs Campbell is a very nice, sincere lady. You can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong.

Sincerity doesn’t mean you’re biblically accurate.

Let’s address the arguments in favor of having as many babies as you can — the Quiverfull Movement– and discuss why those arguments are not biblical.

Please note that the following ideas were told to me by Above Rubies followers. I haven’t read enough of their literature to know how they back their position. My previous blog post discusses other problems in Above Rubies and how they espoused Mormon-esque theology. 

Argument number one: The bible says you have to have at least 4 kids.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28

The first argument in favor of the quiverfull movement is that the Bible says be fruitful and multiply, therefore if two people get married they biblically must have at least four children in order to be multiplying because 2 x 2 = 4.

This argument is really illogical. You have to do some significant hoop-jumping to get to this conclusion.

I can’t even wrap my head around the logic of this one.

But that doesn’t matter.

The facts are that the bible does not specify a number.

Multiply here is a generic word meaning increase in number.

From Google:

Multiply (verb)

(of an animal or other organism) increase in number by reproducing.

Going from 2 to 3 is still increasing in number. To say otherwise is stretching –it is adding to scripture.

If you try to make it say a number you are twisting not only the definition but also scripture.

Guess who wants you to twist the Bible?


He’s the master of scripture twisting. He wants us to live by man-made rules and not in the freedom of Christ.

The freedom of Christ brings peace. Rules do not.

The lack of peace can ruin our families.

Satan wants to ruin our families, and he’ll do it any way he can –even if that means trying to get people to try to be “more godly” by making new and extra-biblical rules.

We can’t be at peace apart from Christ. It will not come by following extra-biblical rules.

Rule following makes us feel like we are good enough and like we don’t need Christ instead of understanding that we’re nothing without Christ and need to rely entirely on His grace for everything –not just for salvation but for everyday life.

Rule following makes us dependent on our own righteousness which gives us something that we think we can boast about.

Argument number two: You need a quiverful of children which is eight.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5

Although the proponents of the Quiverfull Movement say a quiver had eight arrows, the facts are different. Based on my research, I found that traditionally a quiver could hold between 4 and 24 arrows, so, if I believed this was a command (I don’t), then that would mean a minimum of 4 children.

Someone decided to use eight as a number to try to force everyone else into their beliefs, but that’s not the truth.

That being said, this passage is NOT a command. We will address that in the next point.

Argument number three: We are commanded to have many children.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5

Those who take this point of view, unfortunately, don’t have a very solid grasp on bible interpretation.

The big error in this argument is assuming that a blessing is a command.

A blessing is NOT a command.

How we approach scripture matters. We need a consistent approach that follows clear rules.

One of these bible interpretation rules is that you look at the context of a passage and take it at face value within that context.

A consistent approach to scripture means that if we take one blessing as a command then every single blessing in the bible must also be a command.

God doesn’t make mistakes: He wouldn’t accidentally write one blessing that He meant to be a command.

So, that begs the question “Can every blessing be logically converted to a command and still make sense?”

I would argue that some of them cannot.

For instance, Matthew 5:2-11:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

If it is true that every blessing is a command then logically and for the sake of consistency, the above verses would have to be commands as well.

If that is true then if you’re not mourning, being persecuted, and being mistreated you are in sin and disobeying the commands.

This does not make sense.

Nowhere in scripture is it indicated that blessings are commands.

Blessings mean “if this happens you’ll get extra benefits.”

Is it a motivation to do it? Sure, who doesn’t want blessings?

But are you in sin if you do not? No, absolutely not.

Are you in sin for rejecting God’s blessings as some people have proposed? No, that’s a stretch.

The bible simply doesn’t say that.

If you can get out of a situation where you’re being mistreated should you? Would you stay in persecution just because of God’s promise of blessing believing that if you left you were sinning? No, of course, you wouldn’t stay.

Remember that we have to approach scripture in a consistent manner. If it doesn’t work with all the blessings, it doesn’t work.

So what does that Bible say about how many children we should have today in the Age of Grace?




The entire Bible is silent on the number of children, and the New Testament doesn’t even command us to have children.

It simply doesn’t. You cannot make it say something it does not say.

God is all knowing, and He was pretty good about inspiring New Testament authors to repeat parts of the Old Testament Mosaic Law that were important to still follow. If it is not repeated, it died with the law when the law was fulfilled by Christ.

Not only is it not commanded in the Old Testament, nothing is restated and reinforced in the New Testament.

Now, the command to be fruitful and multiply was given before the law. It is part of the Adamic covenant. I do believe we are under that command but that only specifies that we should have offspring, not when and in what number.

God is not the kind of god who leaves us guessing. If He wanted us to do something He would tell us clearly and plainly –without hoop-jumping.  

What does the New Testament say about having children?

The closest thing it says regarding children is that a man has the responsibility to care for his family and if he doesn’t, he’s worse than an unbeliever.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

My husband firmly believes that this is an indication that you ought to behave in wisdom about how many children you have. He takes this passage very seriously!

Birth control existed in various forms before The Pill all the way back to prehistoric times. The Bible doesn’t address birth control meaning that this, too, is part of your Christian stewardship (except of course in the case of abortive methods which would be murder).

If the bible doesn’t specifically address it, it falls into your Christian stewardship.

I have said this over and over.

Don’t live in bondage to man-made rules.

According to this passage, you ought not to have more children than you care for. If you can’t care for them all you’re “worse than an unbeliever.”

Those are some pretty strong words!

And it is directly opposed to the Quiverfullers who claim you should just keep having as many babies as you can and God will reward you for it.

But that lacks wisdom.

It assumes that God will keep promises based on commands He never made. It presumes upon God. That is a very dangerous place to be: assuming that He will do what you want even though He has not promised to do so.

I know women who have kept having babies against their husband’s wishes, and their husbands left them. Their husbands may have been wrong, but so were the wives.

I know an autistic couple who just keep having more and more babies because someone told them that biblically they must have as many as they can. They can’t even take care of the children they have. He is unable to work, and she is unable to care for their children.

Romans 14 allows for us to have different opinions on issues not specifically addressed in scripture.

If you prefer having a houseful, good for you!

As long as you can care for them as the scripture actually commands.

Heaven knows I would have preferred a passel of babies, but my health didn’t permit it.

But, don’t make commands where God doesn’t.

Don’t pretend to speak for God!

Don’t call something sin unless God does.

Don’t condemn other people who don’t keep having as many children as they can.

Behave in wisdom and understand that what’s wise in your situation may not be wise in another person’s situation.

And don’t tell someone who has decided that they aren’t going to have any more children that you’re going to pray they get pregnant anyway so they’ll no longer be in sin.

That’s just rude.

When in doubt, treat people with grace and don’t pass judgment unless there is a valid and clear New Testament passage that you can site for your accusation.

The Quiverfull Movement is not biblical. It is twisting the scripture to suit its beliefs.

May we have the wisdom to stay far away from it and repent from the false doctrine of Quiverfull if we followed it.


Sarah Forbes

PS As always, if you disagree with me, pray for wisdom and ask the Lord if I could be right instead of arguing or commenting oppositionally.

PPS Even if you think my assertion that Above Rubies is Quiverfull is wrong, my explanation about why Quiverfull is unbiblical is solid. What a group supports could be up to opinion or even change over time,  but the bible is not up for opinion and does not change over time. See this post for an explanation of why I believe Rubies is Quiverfull.  Also, see this post for an explanation of why Onan’s story in the Old Testament is not a command to keep having babies.


9 thoughts on “Does the Bible Command Us to Keep Having Babies? An Argument Against the Quiverfull Movement”

  1. I almost fell into the Quiverfull trap. How ironic that I saw this post the day after I had my birth control put in and the day I received the Above Rubies magazine copy! You have reminded me to cancel it. I feel like I have so much to say on my personal story on this, but I praise God that He led me through Scriptures in a logical way. Now I feel free and am overflowing with thanks.

  2. I agree totally with your post. I became a first time mother at the age of 48 through adoption. My husband and I were never able to have children. I did for a time have the magazine Above Rubies come into my home. However, I found I could not identify with the articles in the magazine. I surely had my hands full with the two boys I was raising and knew I would never give birth to a child. I would surely not fit into their plans for having and raising children. I am confident I have the children God wanted me to have and that it was his timing.

  3. I stumbled across this article when a friend mentioned your magazine and I was trying to put in words how I felt about their magazines. Thank you for posting this! Thank you for getting the truth out there that we need to be responsible. As my godly mother once said…. we are not rabbits! We actually have been blessed with quite a houseful, and I would definitely advise others to be responsible and realize limitations!

  4. This was very timely, someone just asked on a ladies discussion group what “Above Rubies” is about. Your blog came up on a google search.
    I had been briefly distracted by QF ideology when I was younger and more prone to extremism (ah, the hot-headedness of youth!)
    Some complicated pregnancies, and some Godly leadership from my husband finally got my head right, and my heart less led astray by convincing, yet ultimately unbiblical, arguments. Even when I was most avidly “quiverfull” leaning I knew God sometimes gives families only one or two children. I was almost an only child, despite my parents’ dearest wish for more. Acting as if women are sinning for not having children ignores the very real pain of infertility, and it’s a sick form of legalism.

    Thank you for speaking up about this with scripture and grace.

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