The Natural Use of a Woman? Making Babies for God’s Army No Matter the Risk

Vyckie Garrison, single mom of 7 kids, is a former adherent of the Quiverfull movement – a growing segment of Christian fundamentalist who advocate biblical patriarchy, prolific motherhood, homeschooling, courtship & betrothal, and other crazy shit like that. Garrison tells the story of how she came to embrace the extreme lifestyle and why she left at her “No Longer Quivering” blog and has created The Spiritual Abuse Survivior Blog Network.

During a recent interview on the Today Show, Jim Bob Duggar blurted out, “It’s fun trying!” when asked if he and Michelle were actively seeking to have another baby.  Today’s host, Savannah Guthrie responded to the mega-dad’s salacious remark with, “Jim Bob – you sly dog!”

Viewers may have come away with the impression that TLC’s “19 & Counting” celebrity parents, Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar hold very casual, perhaps even avant-garde attitudes regarding sex and sexuality.

But a quick look beneath the surface reveals that America’s most celebrated Quiverfull couple believe and espouse decidedly unhealthy ideas when it comes to sex and babymaking.

Although Jim Bob makes frequent displays of romantic affection toward his prolific wife, Michelle, which would suggest that the couple might enjoy sex for non-procreative purposes, the “biblical family values” advocates– whose “literal” interpretations of scripture inspire the Duggars to receive each and every pregnancy as an unmitigated blessing from God–also teach that the primary purpose of woman is to conceive and bear sons, i.e., “arrows” for God’s army.

Consider Romans 1:27: “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Quiverfull movement leader, Mary Pride, in her seminal book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality, offers the following interpretation of “the natural use of the woman” …

Since the word used for female is connected so strongly with the idea of nursing babies, whereas it has no connection at all with the idea of sexual activity, I believe that God is saying here that when women exchange their natural function of childbearing and motherliness for that which is “against nature” (that is, trying to behave sexually like a man), the men tend to abandon the natural sexual use of the women and turn to homosexuality. (pp. 27-28)

Nancy Campbell, “editress” of Above Rubies–an international Christian women’s magazine– encourages “women in their high calling as wives, mothers, and homemakers” by explaining in her book, Be Fruitful & Multiply: What the Bible Says About Having Children, that the word “woman” is a combination of the words “womb” and “man.” Woman means “womb man” or “man with a womb.”

With regard to the Romans 1:27 “natural use of the woman” passage, Campbell says, “Women were created by God’s design to function as nourishers by nourishing life in their womb and a babe at their breast.  When women deliberately turn away from their natural functions, they do it to their own detriment. (pp. 105-107)

Sure “family values” champion, Jim Bob Duggar puts on a nice show of desiring his godly wife for more than just her ability to produce yet another arrow for his already overflowing quiver … but Jim Bob’s hermeneutics as well as his politics belie enigmatic presuppositions about the purpose of marriage, sex, and Christian wives.

Speaking in regard to Todd Akin’s recent “legitimate rape” and Paul Ryan’s rape as a “method of conception” remarks, Amanda Marcotte explains the fundamentalist mentality that, “the fact that someone can make a baby means that making babies is what she is for. … Women are among an array of objects to be used. The refrigerator is for storing food. The bookshelf is for holding books. The woman is for making babies. You no more give her a choice in the matter than you would give your refrigerator veto power over what food it holds because it didn’t like your method of shopping.”

Could another pregnancy be life-threatening for Michelle Duggar? Might it be risky for baby #20? Could another pregnancy leave their 19 already-born children motherless? Yes – of course! Is Jim Bob Duggar having fun trying to get his wife pregnant nevertheless?  If making babies is Michelle’s divine purpose – if that is why God made her … why shouldn’t her husband enjoy knocking her up one more time? It’s only natural.

Jim Bob – you sly dog!

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  • morgansher

    So the way to legally kill off your wife is to make her have one baby after another until she drops dead.  Lovely stuff. 

  • colleen

    would just find another younger woman to replace her (after a short requisite period of mourning, of course)

  • thalwen

    Natural use of the woman? I feel nauseous just reading that. It does explain the right’s thinking perfectly though. Equating rape and sex outside marriage makes sense because it makes the woman “used goods.” Same with the way abstinence is taught in schools – by equating girls that have had any sexual experience to re-used tape, worthless because she’s given away the only thing that made her marketable. And having a woman die in childbirth? Perfectly acceptable, I mean sometimes products fail, if your toaster breaks, just get another one. It also explains perfectly why they do not mention the woman at all when discussing things like birth, she’s not a person, she’s a thing and the only thing that matters about things is whether they’re performing their proper function. I’d say it’s very medieval, yet I think that even back then they had more sense and humanity than these people. 

  • sdawomyn

    Homeschooling is NOT “crazy shit” like the rest of it. Do your research!

  • liberaldem

    As long as Mr. and Mrs. Duggar get air time to prosletyze for their religious views and Savannah Guthrie lobs softball questions at them and then titters at Mr. Duggar then I have no problem with continued discussion of them and their views on women in this forum.

    I particulary appreciate the posts from women who managed to leave Quiverful families and their perspective on this subject.

  • arachne646

    Most families that live this way don’t have a father with a professional career and a TV show (I believe Mr. Duggar owns his Architectural firm), and the life, especially until you have girls old enough to take up some of the chores, is brutally exhausting and frugal. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families live lives follwing God the same way, but mothers can stop having children then if and when it’s too dangerous to continue. God willing, Michelle Duggar’s ovaries will give up before she’s too worn out for a life after menopause. Less than 100 years ago, that was the way most women lived their lives–pushing out babies until they died, their husbands died, their husbands stopped having sex with them, or if they were lucky, they reached the change of life. God bless Margaret Sanger, et al.

  • lisakaz

    …with horse-and-buggy thinkers like this. I’ve never been more glad to not have children after reading this. I have to wonder, though, reading this, if these talibangelicals are trying to say that “uppity” women like me are the reason why some men are gay. I’m waiting for some pol to try that one.


  • lisakaz

    In my home town, there was one family that had quite a lot of kids, usually spaced 1-2 years apart. While I don’t recall one in my high school graduating class, there was one in my high school older than me and at least one younger (there may have been 2 by the time I was a senior). The family had maybe 10-12 kids when the mother died. The father remarried. He has a street named after him and I (and how many others) don’t even remember her name.

  • thalwen

    Not all homeschooling is crazy shit. However, the homeschooling provided by most Quiverfull and fundie families is very much crazy shit that is less about education than it is about indoctrination. 

  • roddma

    Excuse me but what professional career? 

  • crowepps

    Architects are considered ‘professionals’ however Jim Bob Duggar is actually a real estate agent, former state legislator and coauthor of a book.  I’m not sure any of those are considered a ‘professional career’.

  • arekushieru

    “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

    Homosexuality is only abhorrent if you consider it immoral.  Most rational, morally upright people, don’t. The recompense of their error? Hmm, that’s the only place I can see where the bible actually levies a penalty against men but not women. 

    However, leaving that aside, I would like to ask how it was unseemly for Adam and Eve’s children, Cain, Abel and Seth, to have children or seek each other out for ‘working that which is unseemly’? If this isn’t referring to replacing ‘the natural use of the woman’ in order to fulfill the same purpose with men, then this passage makes no sense, after all.  In other words, how does leaving the natural use of the woman, cause homosexuality, for other purposes, in men?

    Finally, didn’t Michelle and Jim Bob decide to stop using contraception after Michelle suffered a miscarriage.  Going by THAT logic, the fact that Michelle had another, much publicized miscarriage, shouldn’t they have taken this as ANOTHER sign from God, to STOP trying to have children?  Oi.