Did you know that Jesus doesn’t like rock music?

Greetings, and welcome back! Nothing too desperately pressing is due for my online class, and I’m (sort of) caught up on grading, so I get to blog! 🙂

If you’ve not been following homeschooling/fundie news lately, you should take time to check out HA’s expose on abuse and cover-up by the publishers of The Old Schoolhouse magazine. It’s very sad and frustrating. I’d also encourage you to read a recent series of blog posts by ex-homeschooler Cynthia Jeub, discussing patterns of abuse in her family. It’s rather chilling. Finally, Gothard apparently has dealt with 40 plus years of sin and twisting Scripture, and after about 4 months away from the IBLP helm, is completely ready to start a new ministry. Lest you fear that he might fall back into patterns of sin, you can be assured; all this mess happened because he neglected to meditate on God’s word at night (while still meditating in the morning). Now that he’s meditating morning and night, well…everything is good, right? And as long as I’m posting links, I might as well encourage you to like Throwing Out the Bath Water on Facebook and follow @badbathwater on Twitter.  Facebook is useful if you want blog posts to appear in your news feed. On Twitter I will often link to other people discussing issues related to ATI/IBLP teachings or culture.

Today we’re going back to Ten Scriptural Reasons the Rock Beat is Evil in Any Form, which we’ve been examining for a few weeks now. We’re almost finished with reason number 4. Before we dive in, why not enjoy Daylight, an amazing song about God loving us even when we turn away from him?

So, why would two Christians have opposing views on the same music? Let’s see what Gothard says.

Two Christians may listen to a contemporary rock song and give totally opposite evaluations of it. One will say, “I know that song is wrong because it causes me to be rebellious and sensual.”

Ok, before going further, let’s look at these two words. Those of you familiar with Gothard’s teachings and IBLP lifestyle know that, along with bitterness, being rebellious or sensual are about the worst things you can be. Why is this?

For rebellion, Gothard loves to quote 1 Sam 15:23: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” What’s left out is the important fact that Samuel was speaking about Saul’s rebellion against God’s direct commandment. It’s important to note that there are actually cases of Biblically condoned rebellion; what were the judges, if not rebel leaders? I don’t mean to condone all forms of rebellion, but to point out that rebellion is not necessarily an evil thing.

When we look at the word sensual, you start to get a sense for why some make the argument that Gothard is a gnostic. Gnostics teach that humans can only find enlightenment, peace or salvation as they remove themselves from and avoid the physical in favor of the spiritual. A more balanced view sees our spiritual development happening in the physical world: the two are not always at odds, and we can in fact learn spiritual truths, grow spiritually and even praise our Creator as we accept and enjoy the physical world. This view does not deny that our physical world is fallen, but sees God as powerful enough to work through this broken world to shape us into the image of his Son.

This way of thinking is critical to a healthy understanding of sex. A couple engaged in the sensual act of sex draws closer to each other, expressing love and deference to their spouse. This is pleasing to God, and is a method used to build marriages that reflect the love between Christ and the church.

So a song that makes you feel sensual is not by definition a bad thing.

Back to Gothard’s quote:

The other Christian may say, “I don’t see anything wrong with that music. It doesn’t stir up any rebellion or sensuality in me.”

Their viewpoints are illustrated in the chart “The Development of Concupiscense” given in the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar. Music that becomes sensual will follow the stages leading to reprobation.

Therefore, if two Christians are on different levels in the development of reprobation, they will see the same music from two different viewpoints.

The Christian who has not given way to various sensual sins will recognize this music as temptation to compromise in sensuality. Those who have engaged in sensual activities will probably not be stirred up by this music. Their previous sensuality has dulled their senses, and they are tempted only by a more radical expression of the “rock beat.”

Here, why not be tempted to compromise in sensuality by listening to The Breakup Song?

So, anyone who disagrees with Gothard does so because they’ve sinned so much that their senses are dulled. I’m tempted to just leave it at that, but I’ll go ahead and explain the problem with this thinking.

This is a variation of an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem (literally “to the man”) attack is one that chooses to ignore a person’s arguments in favor of attacking the person. Here we can see Gothard attacking anyone who would disagree with his position on rock music by accusing them of having committed sins of sensuality (Gothard-speak for “sexual sin”). Because Gothard is doing this as a preemptive strike against those who might disagree with him, this can also be called poisoning the well, which is to attack and discredit someone before they’ve even had a chance to make an argument.

This type of argument simply does not hold water. You can’t yell “you are a sinner!” then cover your ears and hum to drown out what they’re saying. It’s childish and it just makes you look silly.

Notice the circular reasoning that happens here as well. Christian A is spiritually discerning, because rock music bothers him. Christian B is not bothered by rock music. We can tell that he has sinned, because evil rock music doesn’t bother him. And how can we tell that rock music is evil? Why, because this Christian who has sinned isn’t bothered by it!

Moving along, let’s look at reason number 5.

Amoral musicOk, let’s just accept for the time being that Gothard is correct about all actions and words being moral. Even if we give him that, this still doesn’t make any sense, because Gothard is not talking about a word or an action; he is talking about a musical element. He’s talking about a particular part of the alphabet that is used to create a musical sentence. Claiming that the rock beat is evil is analogous to claiming that “th” is morally wrong.

But even if we accept that musical elements have moral value, Gothard still hasn’t shown the rock beat to be evil. He’s told us it is evil, and he’s shared stories from people who agree with him, but he hasn’t actually shown us why it is wrong yet. Confident statements do not a solid argument make.

rock music testimony 1

 

rock music testimony 2

rock music testimony 3

Oh, wow. I just…can’t even…wow.

Ok.

Let’s make a bullet list of the crazy, shall we?

  • Note that the rock music wasn’t played for the child; they skipped it every time. In fact, the little girl encouraged her parents to skip over the rock music, showing that she was not at all rebellious about her music choices.
  • Pictures of alcohol will cause your child to behave poorly? PICTURES OF ALCOHOL?!?!
  • “Having these things in our house did not please Jesus.” The same Jesus, who, you know, turned water into wine. That Jesus. You know he hates pictures of alcohol.
  • “She wasn’t agreeable” about you burning a gift give her after surgery? YOU DON’T THINK? I wonder why on Earth she wasn’t agreeable about that! Must be the evil devil music.
  • We don’t know how serious this child’s illness/injury was, or how difficult or long the recovery process was. But anything that requires surgery at 3 years old is a fairly big deal. That type of ordeal is hard on a child; in cases of prolonged or extreme illness/injury some children can develop PTSS symptoms. Regardless of if this child had a serious medical issue or not, providing a loving and strong support system is extremely important to her emotional health. The parents started off well: a gift right after the surgery was an excellent idea. It showed that her parents loved her, that she was being taken care of. Of course that tape became her favorite; it signified the love of her parents. How damaging to burn the symbol of your love for your child while telling her that “Jesus doesn’t like it”!
  • How much is it going to mess with this little girl’s perception of God when she is told that Jesus doesn’t like her favorite thing?
  • Gothard’s world is truly terrifying! Satan managed to creep into this home and attack the entire family through music that they weren’t even listening to! Remember Christ’s words of comfort to his disciples: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world! Except for cassette tapes and pictures of alcohol. Those things are, like, seriously bad. Make sure you burn them, ’cause I can’t help you there.”

 

 

Advertisements

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.)