There is a growing, grass-roots movement afoot amongst Christians in North America. Decentralized and led by the Holy Spirit, this movement is loosely termed "Quiverfull" or QF for short. As media interest has piqued in past years most households are now familiar with the movement; if nothing else by a passing familiarity with the Duggar family who have received great deals of media attention due to the size of their family - the Duggar's are expecting baby #18 in January 2009. Those interested in learning more about the beliefs of Christians who surrender their family planning to the Lord, and those who feel the Holy Spirit convicting them in this area will find Craig Houghton's Family UNplanning worthwhile reading.
In this slender volume Houghton develops the case for surrendering the family planning process to God using clear, compelling examples from scripture. Accurately subtitled A Guide for Christian Couples Seeking God's Truth on Having Children, readers are led through the Bible in search for God's will. The first half of the book focuses exclusively on Old and New Testament scriptures showing God's heart for children, His plan for marriage and the nature of conception. Houghton then goes on to explore historical interpretations of the topic within the church, possible reasons for the rise in contraception, common fears, keeping God's vision and his personal testimony.
I love testimonies, so after reading the foreword by Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies, I read Houghton's personal testimony near the end of the book. I wanted to know more about who this man was, and how the Lord had spoken to him about surrendering his family size. It became immediately clear that Houghton has a heart for the Lord and is deeply committed to following the will of God for his life. Learning how other families come to trust the Lord with their family size is always an encouragement to me, each family having a unique story of God's work in their lives.
I then began reading in the proper order, front to back. I appreciate Houghton's extensive use of scripture to build the case for family unplanning. With many pertinent verses gathered and grouped together by topic Houghton builds a solid argument, well founded upon the word of God. Alongside the scriptures pointing to God's sovereignty over conception, and His desire for children, Houghton includes verses that he has seen misused to justify the use of contraception, and explains their proper context and meaning. Those familiar with the scriptural case for being fruitful and multiplying will find many familiar verses within these pages.
Houghton presents a clear and logical case for family unplanning that will help any reader with questions understand the major points of his position. A work of this size, however, is not able to adequately defend common objections such as overpopulation or to answer many of the questions posed to Quiverfull families. He does refer readers to other works covering these subjects; a bibliography would have been helpful for quick reference for further studies.
Family UNplanning is written mainly from a Protestant perspective, with brief mentions of the Catholic faith with quotations from Catholic literature to demonstrate their official stance on the matter. The commentaries quoted from prominent theologians of the past regarding the bearing of children and use of contraception proves to be most edifying and refreshing. Many similar works on the subject fail to include this information that demonstrates the historical precedent for receiving children as blessings from God.
Though Houghton does wander somewhat off-topic in his chapter examining possible reasons for the decline of this teaching in the modern church, the issues he examines will resonate with much of his target audience. Delving briefly into hot-spots such as creation vs. evolution, abortion, invitro-fertilization and the inerrancy of scripture, he veers somewhat off-track, but manages to avoid the realm of politics. Many similar works have a tendency to devolve into a heavy-handed, right-wing, conservative manifesto. Family UNplanning remains blessedly free of political leanings, and focuses instead upon biblical principles.
Published in 2006, Family UNplanning is the most recent addition to the body of works focusing solely upon the Lordship of Christ in relation to family size that I know of. Like many Christian women I have already perused other titles on the subject, but this concise little book arrived in my life at just the right moment. When swimming against the tide it is so uplifting to be reminded, refreshed, and encouraged to continue pressing towards the prize; to keep our eyes focused on eternal plans and purposes.