Full quiver legalism

As I discussed in A Full Quiver, our culture is awash in negative attitudes toward children with almost no vision for the biblically described blessing of a full quiver. Yet, because many who embrace the full quiver vision tend to add legalistic rules to their beliefs, I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss those as well.


There is a tendency for us Christians who love God to take any biblical idea or principle of wisdom and create a rigid legal framework out of it. For example, it’s wise and good to study the scriptures, so we might make a rule that all Christians should have daily devotions. While reading the Bible is a wonderful and highly beneficial thing, God certainly has never prescribed when or how often we should read his Word, and we shouldn’t take it upon ourselves to do so either.

God wants us to know that he loves a fruitful womb and that children will be a tremendous blessing to our lives. But he certainly has never, in the history of the Bible, imposed any legal requirements on any of his people about how many or how often they should have children.

Is contraception wrong?

Some Christians teach that you should never use any contraceptive means to delay when you have your next child or limit the size of your family. Their thinking is that, if the Bible teaches that having children is good, then preventing a good thing must be wrong. But the Bible never forbids contraception and we should never take it upon ourselves to forbid what the Bible is silent on.

The sin of Onan

The only scripture that I’ve heard even offered as teaching the sinfulness of birth control is the story of Onan. Onan was asked by his father to marry his dead brother’s widow so that she could bear children as an heir to her family household. Onan married her, but purposely spilled his seed when he went into her because he didn’t want to produce an heir that wasn’t his. The Bible says God was displeased and killed him.

While this passage is used by some to teach that God is displeased with any attempt to prevent conception, it should be obvious that God’s displeasure was only with Onan’s deception.

Trusting God

You might hear someone say, “We are trusting God for the size of our family.” The implication is, if you do anything to prevent or delay having children, you are not trusting God. But this idea misconstrues what it means to trust God. Trusting God is believing what God says, and since God never said that he would determine our fertility or conception, then trusting God with our family planning is really just leaving things to nature and chance (which may be totally fine). If we applied this concept to our health, then trusting God would mean we wouldn’t do anything to treat sickness or disease. God doesn’t manage our health or our family planning any more than he manages our meal planning.

Two cautions when making choices about your family

God wants us to be grown-ups and make wise decisions about our families. He wants us to seek his wisdom but he certainly isn’t going to make those decisions for us, or expect that every family will make the same decision. Wise decisions about family size and spacing may look different for different families because not all families are the same.

Stolen Joy

First, don’t allow legalism to steal the joy God desires for your family. If you believe in the blessing of having children but you just need a break before having the next one, then make that decision together as a couple and don’t allow misguided obligation make you feel condemned for that decision.

If a difficult life circumstance leads you and your mate to decide to delay having children indefinitely, don’t come under condemnation simply because your quiver is not as full as someone else’s.

Regretted Decisions

Second, having children is a blessing that sometimes requires a long term vision. If you only think about the next few months or years, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make decisions that you might regret later. We need to look to heaven to find wisdom in all the decisions that we make in life, thinking not just about the next few months and years, but also about the next decades and generations.

I’ve heard so many stories from both men and women who have made difficult-to-reverse decisions to end their fertility only to regret that decision later on. Don’t make a short-sighted decision you’ll later regret.

Embracing a vision for a full quiver does not have to be a legalistic obligation. Let’s be parents happy to welcome lots of little ones made in God’s image into our family without all the unhelpful and unbiblical rules about how we do that.

Nathan Rambeck is a full-time husband, father and software engineer; and a part-time Bible teacher, abolitionist and evangelist. He lives in the Dayton, Ohio area with his wife Jamie and 6 children. (Facebook)