Stories, and how to use them

10 Scriptural Reasons

Well, today we’re going to tackle a fun topic; 10 reasons that rock music is evil. I tried writing some on this topic last night, using Ten Scriptural Reasons Why the “Rock Beat” Is Evil in Any Form, and I ended up feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer weight of so many misuses of Scripture, faulty uses of logic or outrageous statements. How can you respond to so much?

Upon reflection, it seemed best to break this response into several parts. Today I won’t actually spend a lot of time in this booklet; I’d like to speak a little bit about my own experiences with music and IBLP. Then over the next few weeks I’ll see if I can go through these ten points and cut through some of the faulty logic to expose the prejudices behind it. To help us all keep our sanity, I’m going to randomly insert links to unapproved music. Here’s the first one: an Indian band called Thaikkudam Bridge does a cover of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters. It’s awesome.

Before I talk about my experiences, let’s talk for just a moment about one of Gothard’s favorite techniques for proving a point: the personal testimony. You could make a very good argument that this is Gothard’s primary method of making his case, whatever the topic. Ten Scriptural Reasons contains no fewer than ten personal testimonies. These testimonies take up a significant portion of the booklet: out of 16 pages, fully six and a half are testimonies. The problem with personal stories is that they cannot prove a point, they can only illustrate a point. Testimonies have their place in a logical argument, but their limitations must be understood.

Allow me to illustrate with a different (and controversial) topic: global climate change. Let’s say I want to argue that the Earth is not experiencing a significant rise in temperature (please keep in mind that I’m just giving an example here; I have no desire to get into the climate debate). If I were to first state my thesis (The Earth is not experiencing any significant rise in temperature) and then follow that with 10 stories about unusually cold days in different parts of the world, I would be laughed out of the room. Why? Because isolated events cannot prove or disprove the truth of a global trend, event or principal.  It is entirely possible that the global warming is happening even though there are isolated events that don’t fit the trend. In the same way, you cannot prove that global warming is happening by giving examples of hot days in recent years.

This is not to say that examples or personal testimonies have no place in a good argument. To construct a good argument that global warming is not happening, I would have to demonstrate a global trend (or lack thereof) using measurements taken over a long period of time and in multiple locations. I would have to reference the work of respect authorities on the subject, and show how their research supported my point. I would have to present a weather model that explained why the factors my opponents say cause global warming are not having a warming effect. After I’ve done this, I can use examples to illustrate the point I’ve already proved. The hard numbers, opinions of authorities and well researched weather model are my evidence; the stories help people to understand how this evidence can be seen in the real world.

Here’s Come With Me Now by Kongos. Garage band sound mixed with steel guitar and accordion; how awesome is that?

It’s also important to make a clear distinction between a personal story and an expert witness. These two perform very different tasks in a logically constructed argument. Personal stories (be they your own stories or somebody else’s story) are from people who have no particular expertise in the subject matter. Your uncle who tells stories about Mexicans taking our jobs is an example. Me talking about oils spills in the Gulf is another example. While our stories are not without value, they are not to be given particular weight. These stories (and the opinions they directly or indirectly communicate) are just a few among literally millions on the subject.

Expert witness, on the other hand, should be given much greater weight. These are the opinions or stories of people who have spent significant amounts of time and energy studying, discussing, researching and examining an issue. They often (but not always) have some academic evidence of their expertise. They are recognized by other in the field as reliable, honest and knowledgeable. Opinions and stories from these people can be used as evidence to establish or support a thesis. Their opinion is more weighty; it simply matters more.

An important note: Experiencing something does not make you an expert. A war refugee is not an expert on war, someone who helps clean a beach is not an expert on oil spills, and a teenager who listened to rock music for a while and then rejected it is not an expert on rock music. To be an expert, you must have a deep understanding of the topic outside of your own personal experience. In the same way that feeling the cold in my hometown does not qualify me to make judgments about global temperature trends, observing rock music‘s effect on myself does not qualify me to judge rock music to be either good or evil.

I really like the band Cake. Here’s one of their best.

In a strange twist, I am now going to tell my personal experience with rock music! Allow me to explain why my personal story is pertinent, even though I just spent 700 plus words telling you that personal stories cannot prove a point; I’m not trying to prove a point with this story. Everything you just read related to constructing a logical argument to prove a point. I’m sharing my experience in the hopes that it may resonate with some of you who have had similar experiences. What I’ve written below is not a logical argument: it’s just something that might help some people think about their own experiences. Maybe I’ve felt something that you’ve felt too.

As a child there were many things that I was absolutely sure of. God was real. Bill Clinton was evil. Biking downhill fast was always worth the effort to get to the top of the hill. You should go to church on Sunday. Public school was a horrible place. The park on the other side of town had the best slide (because it was tall and had waves in it). And rock music was evil.

Really, really evil. Not just that some evil people listened to or performed rock music. Not that some parts of rock culture were wrong. Not that I didn’t like the sound. It was, quite literally, demonic. The beat invited demons into your heart, it could cause heart attacks, and it made plants die.

On the few occasions that our family ate out, my siblings and I could hardly contain our excitement. Mom and Dad would put together a list of possible restaurants and we would drive to the first one. Awesome smells would waft into the van, and we would excitedly talk about what food they might have. “This one is a Mexican restaurant!” “This one has barbeque sandwiches!” Dad would get out of the van and we would hold our breath. Were we going to eat here? Could this actually be the place? Sometimes Dad was gone a long time, other times he returned quickly. By the time he walked out of the restaurant, it felt like a black hole had opened in your stomach. Please, please, let this be the place. We all tried to judge from Dad’s expression, or the way he held his shoulders. What had the manager said?

It seemed to take an eternity for Dad to get back into the van. We all held our breath as he answered our unspoken question: Had the manager agreed to turn off the music while we ate?

Rock music was serious business in our family. We left two churches before I was 10 years old over the issue of music. I remember walking up to our pastor during greeting time to tell him about the evils of the music during praise time. Almost every time somebody sang a special our family would stand up, file out of our pew and stand in the foyer until the music was over. One time my parents let me go home with another family after church to spend the afternoon with their boys. On the way home they were listening to soft Christian rock. I knew what to do (we had been trained for situations just like these!) I boldly asked that they turn off the music, and explained that it was wrapping God’s message in Satan’s methods, and it was evil.

At the same time, I loved rock music. I didn’t dare admit it to myself. My mother was going through counseling at the time, and her counselor gave her a tape with Christian music on it. Mom didn’t actually buy into Gothard’s teaching on music, but didn’t tell us for years. (I assume this was because of the submission teaching that is so heavily emphasized in IBLP circles, but I’ve never actually asked her…I need to ask her about that…) She kept that tape in a high drawer and only listened to it on a Walkman with headphones. But whenever she left us at the house, I would run straight for that drawer, pull out the tape and listen to Our God Is An Awesome God over and over and over again. I don’t know how to express the feelings of those moments; time has dulled a lot of the memories. But the emotion was strong. I felt alive and inspired. For some reason it made me feel like I was part of a greater whole, something much bigger than the isolated world of my family.

I told myself it wasn’t actually rock music. I can’t even remember how I justified that in my mind.

(Side note: I just talked with my mother about this. She told me that her marriage was going through some very rough waters during those years, and “I had much bigger battles to fight in my marriage than what was on the radio.” She told me that she actually did communicate to us that she disagreed with Dad and Gothard about music. I don’t doubt her, but I was a stubborn kid, and apparently ignored what she said. Was this perhaps some evidence of the male chauvinism so prevalent in IBLP circles?)

When I was 13 my family moved to Wilbur, Washington, a tiny farming community not far from the Grand Coulee Dam.  There were 170,000 people in Amarillo, and I didn’t have a single friend my age. Wilbur had 800 people, yet oddly I found my first friends in that little town. JC was the son of a local pastor. He and his brother David were both homeschooled; they were a lot like us. Grady and his sister Chelsa were wheat farmers kids, also homeschooled. Annie and Melissa were in public school. We were an odd group, but each of those people impacted my life greatly. Soon we had a small Bible study, and JC and I were putting out a home school newsletter for the county. Almost every day of the week one or all of the “Wilbur Gang” would spend time at our home.

My friends all listened to normal Christian music. I was unsure of what to do; they were nice about not playing it around me, and I was suddenly uncomfortable saying that I had problems with rock music. I blamed it on my dad. Then my sister quietly shared a CD with me. It was highly secret contraband; she has purchased The Back Street Boy’s Millennium CD. I wasn’t sure what to think, but we listened, and again, I loved it.

Secretly, I began listening to different types of music. I found a country station, and listened whenever I could. At some point along the way I learned about my Mom’s feelings on music, and things became less secretive; we just made sure all music was off and hidden before Dad got home. I discovered Merle Haggard and George Strait.

After my parents learned about my porn usage, I tried valiantly for some time to deal with the lust in my life. The Rock by Clay Crosse was a great help during that time. (Wow…I haven’t listened to that song in years. Talk about taking you back…)

Though my teen years I struggled to figure out the truth about music. I knew enough about music theory to see the holes in the “syncopation is evil” argument. Loren Elms said that syncopation was like spice; so I reasoned that rock music was like spicy food. It was ok to eat some, but you couldn’t eat only spicy food. Then I thought that maybe syncopation wasn’t the real issue; there was some music that was evil, but the amount of syncopation wasn’t what made it evil. But then what did make it evil?

It took me a lot of years to come to the point I’m at today. I realize now that music, like all art, doesn’t fit so easily into these neat little boxes that Gothard wanted to paint. I don’t have all the answer about music, and that’s ok. God created music, and when we sing, or write or make music, we are expressing part of God’s creative nature, and that is a beautiful thing.

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The difference between counseling and accusing

Welcome back! Before getting to today’s bathwater, I want to thank everyone who has responded so kindly to My Story, which was published last week. Since getting away from IBLP thinking, I have heard so many stories of horrible abuses in homes, and of parents who disown their children over Gothard’s teachings, and I don’t want to defend those parents. But many other parents (maybe even yours) need to be cut a little bit of slack; Gothard is a smooth, slick salesman, and a lot of honest people who only want the best for their children have been taken in. My sister summarized things quite well when she said, “‘How do you end up in a cult?’ Short answer: be a very vulnerable, hurting person.”

Moving along: today we’re returning to A Comprehensive Course in Effective Counseling, part 1. Last time we looked in this little 15 page booklet, we were told how a 3 year old was a guilty party in her own rape because she didn’t cry out. I wonder what life changing principle we’ll be looking at today?

Gothard spends several pages explaining what Biblical counseling is. He gives multiple definitions, and then an example of each type (or side) of counseling. The first definition he gives is Counseling is helping another person go beyond his own perspective and see a problem or circumstance from God’s point of view. I find it very interesting that this definition says nothing about helping people resolve a problem. Counseling based on this definition is not actually seeking to understand a person’s problems and help them resolve those problems: it’s just a method for finding a way to point the finger of blame, and explain how the person being counseled is wrong. The example he gives shows this very well.

What is counseling

Notice how this “counselor” actually does nothing to understand this woman’s problem. Maybe these conversations were a test from God. Or maybe one (or both) of the parties needed to learn some communication skills. Maybe the mother was domineering and critical. Maybe the daughter was abrasive and confrontational. Maybe the mother’s love was conditional, based on her daughter holding the “right” opinions. Maybe the daughter was that way. Maybe both were. Maybe the daughter was changing while away from home, and this scared the mother. Maybe one or both of them were manipulative.

What was the problem? The counselor will never find out, because he’s decided he has all the answers before he’s even heard the problem. (Doesn’t the Bible have something to say on that subject?) And now that he’s told her the answer to her problem, notice how he’s placed her in a position where she can’t return to him for further counsel! If she ever has an argument with her mother on the phone again, she’s obviously failed the test. In one single sentence, this person has moved from counselor to accuser. To return to him if the problem continues is to just set yourself up for a finger-wagging session.

Incidentally, the counselor can now pat himself on the back for doing such a great job, because it obviously worked. He said one magic sentence, and she’s not told him about any arguments with her mother since!

This reminds me of some “counseling” I received while I was in LifeFocus.  I was talking to my team leader about lust, and he told me that whenever tempted to lust, I must immediately cry out (in a loud voice), telling God that I was being tempted to lust. He said it didn’t matter where I was: the dining room, on a job, hanging out with friends or strangers, even in mixed company; I had to cry out right then and there. Can you guess how many times I did that? Yea, not even once. So from his perspective, the problem was solved! No more lust!

Returning to this woman who argues with her mother on the phone, I can’t help but notice that this advice essentially boils down to “Don’t argue with your mother, or you have failed.” It’s not actually advice. This counselor offers no help in how to go about having peace with her mother.

Real counseling takes time. The counselor has to learn about the person and the situation. Then advice has to be practical and applicable in real life. A good counselor understands that change doesn’t happen immediately, and doesn’t set up a situation where silence equals success.

Citing sources

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Short post today because I don’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to quickly address something that crops up very frequently in IBLP material: the uncited source.

Here’s an example from The Amazing Way. Gothard is telling us how to have “total health” by relieving stresses. On page 58 Gothard writes about a doctor who was bitter over the death of his son and then developed cancer. This doctor was curious about the relationship between his cancer and his bitterness, so he carried out a study with twenty thousand patients. Gothard tell us that this doctor found a direct correlation between bitterness and cancer. He goes on to say that when this doctor “showed his research to the university that gave him his degree, they refused to examine it.”

Notice the complete lack of anything that would allow you to track down this doctor, this school or the study. We don’t know the doctors name, where he practiced, when he did this study, if it was ever published, which university refused to look at it (and why the refused to look at it); nothing.

We are left with Gothard essentially telling us “Somebody once did research that supports my theories.” Well, sorry to break it to you, but a vague and unknown authority carries no authority. If there is no way to find the source material and examine it ourselves, it doesn’t matter how much Gothard tells us these people agree with him.

Be on the look out for this stuff when dealing with IBLP material. Anytime you read or hear a claim about hard facts or studies without a way provided for you to look up the source material yourself, be very cautious.

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Please share Throwing Out The Bath Water with any friends or family who have embraced IBLP teachings. It is important to talk openly and honestly about these teachings, even if they agree with Gothard. Don’t forget to like (and share!) us on facebook and follow us on Twitter!

My Story

How does a family end up in a cult? How do some people get pulled in, while others smell trouble and run? My name is Samuel Bavido, and this is my story.

On August 18th, 1980, James Bavido kissed his bride Janet and everyone cheered. They looked the perfect couple: James was a young engineer with a bright career ahead of him, Janet a southern beauty with a charming smile. Their wedding pictures were perfect; James with the boyish grin, and Janet laughing with delight. You wouldn’t have known that their marriage was probably doomed to a nasty divorce.

Janet was a Christian, but it didn’t affect her daily life much. Raised in a Southern Baptist Church, she had gotten her “fire insurance” at a young age, and pretty much moved on with her life. James had been raised Catholic and at a young age had been very interested in spiritual things. But working as an altar boy he was privy to the less public face of the church; priests who were greedy, petty and drunkards. By high school he had turned away from religion and sought out drugs instead. In college he took “the scenic route,” changing majors several times, getting kicked out of school, staying high until he finally landed at the University of Texas at Arlington.

When my parents met, my dad had finally straightened his life out and was on course for graduation. Although Mom wasn’t strong in her faith, she wanted to marry a Christian, so my atheist dad lied about his faith. By the time the first baby was born, things were not going so well, but God worked through an elderly lay pastor to slowly draw both of my parents to him. In 1983 Mom recommitted her life to the Lord and Dad was saved.

Only a few short months later Mom lost the twins she was carrying. One girl was miscarried and the other lived only two days.

My father was grief stricken and confused. He knew he couldn’t continue living as he had before his conversion. On top of that, he was extremely vulnerable emotionally. Watching his new-born daughter struggle for two days, and then pass away, shook him to the core.

It was right about that time that the lay pastor who had introduced him to Christ introduced him to Bill Gothard. Mom and Dad attended their first Basic Seminar, and my father sucked it up like a dry sponge. Finally someone who taught that the Bible should impact every area of our lives! Much of Gothard’s message resonated with my dad; when Gothard spoke about rock music stirring up lustful desire, Dad agreed. The music of his drug days was irremovably tied to the drugs he had taken. It all fit.

On top of all that, my father’s primary motivation throughout most of his adult life was fear. Fear that his children would follow the same path he had. Fear that we would reject the faith of our parents, as he had done. Fear that we would experiment with sin, and live a life seeking after pleasure. When Dad left for work in the morning he would lock the door behind him. Of course we could unlock it, but Mom said that it symbolized what he wanted to do; Dad wanted to lock us away from the world, away from the danger, so that nothing could ever hurt us. Gothard’s message about the father functioning as a protective umbrella appealed to him on a very deep level.

I don’t remember my family joining ATI: it seemed to me like a permanent aspect of life. In our house, Gothard was second only to Scripture. I remember eating popcorn and playing CharacterClues on Sunday nights. Once we finished, Dad would read from Character Sketches. Our music library consisted almost exclusively of IBLP produced material; my Dad had thrown away all his old records years before. We did Wisdom Searches in the Wisdom Booklets most school days.

Mom wasn’t quite as taken in as Dad was, but still felt there was lots of good we could take from Gothard. She wasn’t entirely convinced that rock music was all that evil, and had been very upset when Dad threw away a recording of Tolkien reading poetry. If Dad was out of town on a business trip (which seldom happened) things would relax a little. I’ll never forget the wonder of sitting in the living room and hearing about An Unexpected Party, a tall wizard who set off beautiful fireworks, and dwarves who cleaned up the kitchen while singing. But when Dad returned he told Mom to return the book to the library.

Our life in Amarillo, TX was extremely isolated. We attended about four churches by the time I was 12. Most of those we left because rock music was introduced into the service. Sunday school was out of the question: Dad felt very strongly that we should stay together as a family.

By the time I was 12, my older sister and I realized that we would never be able to live our own lives under his roof. We secretly made a pact; when she was 18, my sister would move into her own apartment. When I turned 18, I would join her. In the evenings we would watch Star Wars.

My teen years saw Dad slowly slacking his fist of control. We ended up moving from Texas to Washington state, where we lived in a wheat farming community of only 800 people. Wal-Mart was 85 miles away. Dad began to open up; perhaps he felt safer there than in a big city. He allowed my sister to get a summer job. At 13 years old I made my first friends outside the family.

Still, I chafed against the rules. The hypocrisy of family standards bothered me; why must I respect my father when anybody outside the family who had a temper like his would be shunned? Why was family time so important that I couldn’t take one night a week to teach juggling at the community center? I brought books home from the library and hid them under the floor of my room when Dad came home (my favorites were The Lord of the Rings and 30 Seconds Over Tokyo). My sister introduced me to “worldly music,” and I couldn’t get enough of it. To this day Larger Than Life touches me deeply, simply because of what it represents.

At the same time I was dealing with crippling guilt over my pornography use. How I managed to hide it as long as I did in a house with 10 people I’ll never know, but eventually Internet Explorer gave me away. (someday my grandkids will read this and say, “Granpa, what’s that?”)

In retrospect, I don’t think my Dad knew what to do with me at that point. We talked about it a few times, and soon it was decided that I would go to LifeFocus, a 7 week spiritual training camp for teenage boys run out of the Indianapolis Training Center. We were given very little information before I went, or even after I arrived. Any questions were answered with “you’ll see,” the refrain that we came to hate. We were told to pack “one week’s worth of clothes.” We asked where we were going, but they wouldn’t tell us. We were gone for a month. Information was withheld whenever possible. We were allowed only one, ten-minute phone call home per week. In one of my few spare moments I actually called home at an unscheduled time: I was punished by getting to watch the other boys call their families while I worked on an assignment.

In retrospect, LifeFocus was nothing more than labor camp. We worked 14 hour days and often did security duty at night. Any training that was provided was the cheapest you could imagine: they shut us in a small room with an old TV to watch the Basic Seminar, or let us sit in the back of the room while Excel students had class.

I left LifeFocus with disgust for some of the things I saw (topic for another post!) and yet even more firmly convinced that I now knew how to conquer lust. My team leader and I worked out a plan: any time I lusted, I would make myself do 5 pushups. Today it staggers my mind to think that any adult would suggest this as a way to deal with lust. The power of Christ or his incredible grace were nowhere to be found.

I stayed somewhat involved with IBLP throughout my teens and into my early twenties. I worked as a Character Coach in Memphis, and spent 18 months teaching English in Taiwan. The more time I spent with IBLP, the more I saw leadership refusing to follow the principals they so boldly proclaimed. And the utter stupidity of some of the rules constantly frustrated me. We were allowed to wear shorts, but only to exercise. This created the hilarious situation where you could go running in shorts, and you could run past 7-11, but if you wanted to go into 7-11 and buy a bottle of water, you had to first go home and change into long pants.

Still, I defended IBLP. Yea, they had problems, and there were a lot of legalistic people in the organization. But they still had a lot of good teachings to offer. Bill Gothard’s heart was in the right place, I would tell folks. He’s just a little old, maybe stuck in the 50’s too much.

The camel’s back finally broke a few weeks after I returned from Taiwan. Gothard sent out a letter excitedly telling us about his latest discovery in the Bible. The letter included a list of steps that were necessary for a believer to live a spiritually successful life. One of the bulleted items was “The written or spoken blessing of your father.”

I did a double-take. That wasn’t right. Some fathers were horrible people. Some fathers killed or abused their children. Some were pedophiles. This wasn’t just confused teaching, or poor wording. This was wrong, plain and simple. It denied the priesthood of the believer, and placed a dangerous burden on Christians who did not have God-fearing parents. It was heresy.

That day I decided I could no longer support IBLP. Anyone who placed Christians in bonds like that could not be trusted.

The years since then have been very freeing for my family. In 2006, Mom and I convinced Dad that it would be better to not renew our ATI membership. Different members of the family moved away from Gothard’s teachings at different speeds. When the sexual harassment scandal broke on Recovering Grace, my Dad called a family meeting and humbly listened as we told how our involvement with IBLP had hurt us. He told us that it would take him time to sort through his thoughts, but that he was sorry for all that had happened. I respect the courage it took for him to recognize he was wrong, and to search for the truth.1016067_582326168455760_705009982_n

My parents never divorced; there is no explanation other than God’s grace. Dad has slowly but surely changed over the years; today he is more gentle and reasonable than the Dad I grew up with. Dad works for the Army Corps of Engineers, and ministers in nursing homes on the weekends. Mom has two boys still in high school: Isaac is 17 and Caleb is 16. She looks forward to doing more oil painting when she finishes home schooling. They’ve come through a lot, and are both amazing people.

I now live in Taiwan, teaching on the tiny island of Kinmen. 3 of my siblings also teach here; we’re taking over the island! I’m married to the most talented, smartest and most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. We lost a little boy late last year, but God has blessed us with a baby girl that we will be holding sometime in December. I teach karate in the evenings. I enjoy juggling, learning Chinese and reading.

God is good, and he loves me. My upbringing wasn’t perfect, and I’m still trying to figure out what I think about different parts of it. But my Savior has always been loving and patient with me. I have a good life.  10658908_639294232995_1723002199834272553_o

Gothard beats out YouTube trolls in the Horrible Person Olympics!

Howdy folks! Trying something new today: I’m gonna just read from “A Comprehensive Course in Effective Counseling, part 1” and start writing when I find something worth commenting on. I’m diving in now: wish me luck!

Ok, first off we get a letter from Mr. G himself, telling us that this booklet is an answer to prayer. He wanted a new approach to counseling, and God answered by…allowing them to reorganize all their material into two charts? Like…seriously? That doesn’t sound much like a “fresh, new approach.” I guess this isn’t exactly a huge, horrible issue of Biblical scholarship, but it still bugs me. It’s promising one thing, and delivering something else. “Fresh” and “new” are not adjectives you can honestly use to describe putting pre-existing course materials into two charts. This is dishonest advertising, plain and simple.

At any rate, moving along.

(Trigger warning: this post deals with the sexual abuse of a young child and addresses some pretty sick and twisted advice on how to “counsel” this girl.)

Oh.

Wow.

Well folks, it looks like our topic for today is sexual abuse of minors, and the sins that 3 year olds commit while being molested. That’s not a joke.

So, the booklet starts out with a hook: what would you do if faced with these questions? We’re given three stories of people dealing with problems in their lives. Then comes a few pages of teaching about what counseling is and how to trace problems to root causes (I counted about 8 topics for future posts in there), then they give their answer to the question about how to help these people. We’re going to focus on the first story.

A girl they name Gail (they tell us it’s not her real name) was kidnapped by her father after her parents divorced. She was three (keep that in mind). The father placed her in day care while he was at work, where Gail was raped by a 15 year old boy, who threatened to kill her if she told anyone about it. Seven years later (at age 10), Gail told her parents about the abuse. At this point her mother informed her that she was the 4th generation in her family to be abused in this way. The mother said she dealt with “the same destructive emotions of bitterness, fear, immoral thoughts, and nightmares.”

They then pose the question, “How can they (Gail and her mother) conquer these problems?”

Ok, these are extremely tricky waters here. Sexual abuse, especially of a very young child like this, has extremely destructive and far-reaching consequences. You need a lot of love, training, experience, knowledge and wisdom to counsel someone who’s been through that. If you take nothing else from this post, please catch this: No matter what Bill Gothard has told you about the wonders you can work if you just learn how to counsel with a quick “counseling seminar,” don’t even begin to think you are qualified to counsel somebody working through sexual abuse.

If you are talking to somebody who has been sexually abused, feel free to tell her that she is worthy of love. Tell her she is not to blame. Tell her that you will do whatever you can to help her get good counseling. Follow through on that promise. TELL THE POLICE. But for crying out loud, don’t try to counsel!

Quick review before we see the how IBLP says we are to counsel this girl. Gail was kidnapped by her father at age three, then repeatedly raped and told she would be killed if she told anyone. At age 10 she told her parents about the abuse. Now Gail is 17 and battles “bitterness, fear, immoral thoughts and nightmares.”

On page ten of the booklet we get a chart showing “How to Give Effective Counsel to Pull Down Strongholds.” There are six steps, which you can view below.

counseling rape victims 1

counseling rape victims 2

Ok, first we are told that this girl is bitter as a way of getting back at the boy who raped her. I’m actually going to leave this one mostly alone: perhaps someone who has more understanding of sexual abuse would care to comment about how rape victims commonly view their abuser? I’m sure there is a lot to be said here, I just don’t know what it is. My one comment is about how the word “rape” never appears anywhere in this story. The boy “abused her body.” Notice how the author is attempting to separate the person from her body. This is significant because something done to your property is not nearly as big a deal as something done to your person. For example, I could probably get over somebody slashing my tires. Yea, I’d be very angry, and I’d have to pay for new tires, but that’s really nothing compared to somebody chopping off my leg. If I’m still bitter about that guy who slashed my tires 7 years after the fact, maybe I need somebody to give me a talk about how it’s not actually that big a deal, and I really should get over it. But if I were bitter about the guy who chopped off my leg 7 years ago, well, that’s an entirely different story!

Point two is…oh my. “Gail failed to tell her parents how she had been wronged.” She was threatened with her life, and this THREE YEAR OLD GIRL is to blame for not telling her parents? And this is step two of “helping” her: tell her what she did wrong!

Just so we’re clear: three year olds are not to blame if they don’t tell someone about abuse. They are especially (is it even possible to add an “especially” after the previous sentence?) not to blame when their abuser has threatened to kill them. NO PART OF TALKING TO A RAPE VICTIM SHOULD INVOLVE TALKING ABOUT WHAT THEY DID WRONG.

This is sick, and it is wrong. I can’t even begin to imagine what might be going through this little girl’s mind. It makes me nauseous to think about it, and I hope that’s true of you as well. Her entire world is ripped apart by her parents’ divorce: everything that was stable and sure is called into question. Then her father kidnaps her. She was told she’d live with her mother, but now she’s with her father, and he says she won’t be seeing her mother again for a while. Then at day care a pervert rapes her, and threatens to kill if she tells. She’s three. She’s never heard of sex, much less of rape. And these horrible, cold-hearted people look at this situation, tsk tsk softly and say, “Oh, I see the problem here. Hmmm, yes, it’s very clear. She didn’t tell her parents. Obvious violation of a Biblical principal here: what a shame this girl didn’t do the right thing.”

How heartless do you have to be to victim blame a three year old? I’m literally shaking while writing this. I’m gonna go get a snack and calm down for a sec.

Point three: wrong emotions. Note that these are wrong. Like, sinful. Why am I not surprised that Gail’s fear, anger, self-rejection and (this is a good one) her nightmares are wrong for her to experience? Yep, nightmares.  Those are wrong. Bad Gail!  Bad job! How dare you have nightmares about being raped?

Gag.

Look carefully at that picture folks: I’m not making this up. When talking about the rape of a 3 year old girl, it actually says that if she didn’t cry out “she is also guilty.”

You know, the internet is a horrible, awful place. Go read some of the comments on the news stories about War Machine and Kristy Mac (MMA fighter beat his adult-actress ex-girlfriend almost to death, in case you aren’t familiar with the story.) Rape culture (which is essentially victim blaming) permeates our society. You can find people arguing that rape victims asked for it, or deserved it. But you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever see someone in a comment section blame a 3 year old for her rape. Perhaps a comment like that exists somewhere, but you’d have to search for a long time to find it.

Bill Gothard is literally more into victim blaming than the internet. He beats out YouTube comments for worst people on Earth. Let that sink in for a minute.

(I’m not even going to talk about the use of the word “sin” when talking about her not crying out: I’ve kinda run out of emotional energy for expressing outrage here.)

I’m not going to cover point 5 and 6 because they’ve already been covered very well by Recovery Grace here.

Page 13 contains a testimony written by Gail, presumably around the age of 17. It’s just as horrible as the chart we just covered. But honestly, I’m drained and I can’t write about this much longer. I’m sickened by the callousness towards a hurt child. I cannot fathom the pain of being lectured about the sins that make you just as guilty as your abuser. I pray that Gail somehow got real counseling and found healing. I hope that boy is in jail (but sadly, I doubt he is.)

But more than anything right now, I hope if you have been sexually abused you will realize that you are not to blame. You did not sin, and God is not angry at you. You are not broken or useless; you can be loved. If you have no friends to help you find help, check out this page as a place to start.

You are not to blame.

Sexual harassment is just SOOO funny, isn’t it?

Today’s bath water is truly horrifying. I had planned on including it in the previous post, but I ran out of time, and I try to keep to one topic per post anyway. For background on David Gibbs Jr., see the previous post.

Let’s talk about the fact that Gibbs was chosen by IBLP to conduct their farce of an “outside” investigation of Bill Gothard and the accusations of sexual harassment against him. Much has already been made of the fact that Gibbs is far from independent or outside; he’s long been a featured speaker at IBLP conferences. Bloggers have also made quite a bit of noise over Gibbs’ involvement in the case of Jack Schaap, where Gibbs advised church members with knowledge of criminal conduct to come and speak to him (the church’s lawyer), rather than advising them to inform the police. But as far as I am aware, I don’t think anyone has brought up this very telling clip that we will look at today. Without further ado, let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth:

I’ll never forget, I was in the hospital, and I was in a lot, a lot of pain. I didn’t understand I was having a gall bladder attack. And I walked into that hospital and I said, “Man, I need a doctor. Boy, I need a doctor.” And this lady came walking in, and she said, “I’m Doctor So-And-So” and I said, “No, no, no, I need a real doctor. (laughter) I need a man.”

She said, “Well, let me explain to you. I’ve got something here in this needle that will take all your pain away, or you can wait for a ‘real doctor.’”

I said, “Doc, you’re looking more beautiful all the time! (louder laughter) Come on, come on!”

This is a man chosen to investigation charges of sexual harassment, and here we see him joking about a time he sexually harassed someone!  I’m having difficulty finding the words to express how truly horrible this is. It shows such an utter and complete disregard for women and their abilities, and a complete inability to see a lady as anything beyond just a body that can do something for him.

“No, no, no. I need a real doctor. I need a man.” This is his idea of a joke. It’s funny to make fun of a female doctor, because obviously no woman has the knowledge, experience or talents needed to be a doctor. Ha ha ha! Let’s everybody laugh at this ridiculous lady and her silly ideas that she might know something about medicine. Real doctors are male.

And once she offers the painkiller, he doesn’t say that she’s looking more professional, or more knowledgeable or more capable. No, of course not. She’s looking more beautiful! Because really, that’s all women are good for, isn’t it? They’re just a body that ought to look beautiful for men. They don’t have brains, or talents or dreams, or any chance of making impact in a manly profession like medicine.

And what could be creepier than his final “come on, come on”? Why is it so easy to imagine a sexual predator saying those words to his victim? Maybe because that’s the kind of thing a predator thinks. A predator views his victim as non-human, without value beyond what they can provide for him. I’m not accusing Gibbs of being a sexual predator, but hearing him tell this story makes it abundantly clear that he lacks the basic respect for women needed to understand sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

This is the man chosen by the IBLP board to investigate accusations of sexual harassment. Can you imagine him interviewing a woman, asking her to reveal details about a very deep emotional hurt? (Never mind the fact that he didn’t interview any of the victims in the course of his “investigation.”) Is this man in any way qualified to even understand what sexual harassment is, let alone investigate it?

The Biblical response to depression

Hello folks, and welcome back to Throwing Out the Bath Water! As mentioned last week, we’ve now got a twitter, so be sure to follow @badbathwater! And don’t forget to like and share TOBW on Facebook!

(Today’s post makes use of a youtube video: I’ve transcribed what is said in the video below each clip in case you can’t view it for some reason.)

Today we’re looking at something that, technically, isn’t IBLP teaching, but still sheds a lot of light on the IBLP way of thinking. This summer, while visiting my wife’s family, I heard a sermon by David Gibbs, Jr. Some of you might be familiar with his name: Gibbs is a frequent speaker at IBLP events, and well known in those circles. He is the head of the Christian Law Association, and has represented several evangelical churches in high-profile cases. He recently raised a significant number of eyebrows when he was called into do the internal investigation stemming from accusations of sexual harassment against Bill Gothard.

The sermon we’re looking at today wasn’t actually given at an IBLP event: Gibbs was a featured speaker at a Prayer Advance hosted by Christ Life Ministries (I’m not personally familiar with CLM, so no comment on that ministry).

From the first few minutes alone it becomes obvious why Gibbs is such a popular speaker. He’s good. He’s a great story teller (never mind that it’s a horrible story about child endangerment involving 20 gallons of gasoline and a match).  Then he gets down to the business of preaching. Gibbs’ passage was John 16:33:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

A little bit of background: Jesus is talking to his disciples just before he is arrested and crucified. This is only a short time after the triumphal entry, and now Jesus is suddenly speaking about very dark and horrible things happening. He spoke of a traitor in their midst and death. Surely his disciples were feeling confused and frightened by what he said. At the end of his discourse, Christ offers this encouragement and promise: be of good cheer, I have overcome! I picture Christ, knowing of the coming crucifixion, trying to give his disciples something they could hold onto during those three dark days: no matter how horrible it may seem, remember, Christ has overcome the world!

Gibbs takes this passage of hope and turns it into a legalistic command. Observe:

(Jesus answered them “Do ye now believe? Behold the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own and shall leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the father is with me. These things”—these dismaying, troublesome things—“I have spoken unto you that in me you might have peace.” Now he makes a pronouncement: “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” But here’s the command: “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.)

A command? That’s a really strange way to view this passage. Gibbs doesn’t see a loving Lord encouraging his people: no, Christ is commanding good cheer and happy smiles from his follows, even in the face of tribulation. And yes, happy faces in particular is what Gibbs is talking about here:

(You know, there’s people I know—Christians!—they’re not nice to be around! Boy, the look on their face! Remember, your face is God’s billboard: it’s always talking.)

Ironically, we watched this sermon the Sunday after Robin Williams committed suicide. I had to wonder how it would feel to battle depression, to wonder if life is worth living, to be in a place so dark it seems that light could never reach you, and then hear someone tell you, “God said to be of good cheer. Smile. Your face is God’s billboard.” How heart-wrenching to hear that! There is no understanding here, no offer of love and support for those who are dealing with very real and life consuming problems.

I have to wonder how Gibbs views the application of this command to the disciples. What about John, as he accepted responsibility for Mary at the command of his dying friend who had been beaten beyond recognition? Did he feel good cheer at that moment? And if not, was he sinning?

What about today, when life throws blows you never thought you could take, and you struggle to even raise your head off the pillow in the morning? About a mile from where I sit right now my son lays in a small grave. We lost him last November. He was only with us for 16 weeks: I never had the chance to hold him, or kiss his face, or tell him that his daddy loves him. I miss him a lot, and I cry often.  I was in my classroom by myself yesterday, crying, when a student knocked on the door. I wonder how Gibbs would judge my “billboard” at that moment.

“But wait! But wait!” I’m sure some people would say. “I’m sure he’s not saying you can’t even be sad, or cry. He’s just trying to make his point about being of good cheer. Some people need to hear that.” (FYI: not a straw man there: that’s almost an exact transcript of a conversation about this sermon with some fellow church-goers.)

But here’s the thing: When you’re teaching from God’s Word, your intention doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you actually said. The burden is on Gibbs here: if what he’s saying seems to be that those dealing with depression or real difficult situations are supposed to put up a happy, smiling front (and you’re sinning  if you don’t), then it’s his job to make it clear that he doesn’t  mean that.

It’s also very important to note that Gibbs’ entire sermon is dependent on reading the KJV. The ESV says “take heart.” So does the NIV. That particular Greek word is translated three times in the KJV as “be of good comfort.” It’s worth noting that the every time this Greek word is used in the Bible the speaker is comforting somebody who is afraid. And every single time it is followed by good news. It’s followed by hope. The speaker (Christ in all instances but one) is offering comfort, emotional support and the hope of better things to come.  This is not a command. It is the promise of hope for the future.

What is the Biblical response to grief and depression? “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” is what Paul tells us (Rom. 12:15). Solomon spoke about “a time for everything…a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,  a time to mourn and a time to dance,     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” The Bible understands depression and heart break because so many of the people who wrote it experienced those things. Jesus wept. David mourned his son in public. Elijah and Jonah wanted to die.  Job cursed the day of his birth.

In times of sorrow, depression and despair, Christ does not command a smile. He instead wraps his arms around you and whispers “This life is difficult. In this world you will have tribulations. But take comfort: take courage! Because I have overcome the world!

What would Gibbs say?

(If you don’t have good cheer, it’s because you chose.)