Sadly, real life takes time

Instant freedom

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get instant freedom from fear, anger and depression? That’d be great. Would you commit to attending a week-long seminar if you could get instant freedom from it?

Today I was looking through a booklet titled Ten Reasons for Alumni to Be Encouraged. It was sent out in 1992 to families that had previously attended a Basic Seminar. While working very hard to look like an informational booklet, this mailing was really nothing more than an advertisement meant to bring money in from seminar alumni.

Throughout the booklet there runs a theme of instant solutions to all your problems. The image above is perhaps the most blatant promise of instant solutions, but it is far from the only one. Before we take a look at them in more detail, you can enjoy some non-approved music.

Stop the meeting

Gothard recounts the story of a young man who rushed the stage during a Basic Seminar in Seattle. The man was subdued by security, and taken to a side room while Gothard continued the meeting. During the break, Gothard visited this man and tried to help him. The man said that he had heard a voice claiming to be “the Prince of Seattle” who had told him to stop the seminar. Gothard story

Here we have a man who obviously has some rather serious mental health issues. He is hearing voices with enough clarity and force that he will rush the stage in front of 5,000 people, and has to be forcibly removed. He admits to frequent thoughts of suicide. These are not minor, small issues. This guy needs help.

Now let’s look at the help that Gothard offered. First, we should note that the concept of giving ground to Satan, and reclaiming ground from Satan, is not Biblical. The Bible teaches us that our old man is sinful by nature, and that we are in the process of being transformed into the image of Christ. It does not teach a chessboard version of the soul, with Satan as an easily defeat-able opponent if we simply follow Gothard’s three step plan.

Second, note how this promise to free someone of fear, anger and depression comes with major strings of guilt attached; if “depression, fear, anger and other destructive emotions” are the direct result of Satan building a castle on surrendered ground in your soul, then anytime you experience any of those emotions, you can be sure that you have failed. You’ve given ground to Satan, again.

Third, it’s interesting to see how anger and fear are listed as “destructive emotions.” Anger is actually a very healthy emotion under some circumstances (to give a random example; if you heard a story about an elderly religious leader using his position of authority to make unwanted sexual advances on teenage girls…well, that should make you angry.) In many cases, fear is a healthy emotion (again, a totally random example; if you were a teenage girl who was sent to work with an elderly religious leader who gave you money to purchase a push-up bra…well, you should feel fear!)  Negative emotions are not always destructive emotions. This is an important distinction.

So, to continue the story; Gothard had this guy go through the three steps (confess the sin, claim the blood of Christ and ask God to retake the ground from Satan), and “a peace came over him.” But then the story gets even more interesting; the man asks, “What about the beast I see with seven heads?” Gothard asked the man if he had participated in any sexual sin, and the man said yes.

Danger of Multiple Strongholds

Notice how quickly this “freedom” the young man gained is lost!  It seems Gothard himself doesn’t even realize the inherent contradiction in his story; he promises freedom, but only if you take back every single stronghold. How are you to know if you’ve confessed them all? How are you to know if you’ve taken back each piece of ground? Since very natural emotions such as anger or fear are the signposts of ground that has been given to Satan, how are you to ever feel confident that your soul is truly safe?

The most disturbing part of this story comes when this young man tries to ask God to take back the ground, and the words stick in his mouth. We can learn something very scary about Gothard’s entire view of the Christian experience from this; when someone was bound by sin, and needed to turn from it, he had to rely on his on strength to do it. There is no mention of calling on God for strength, or turning to your Christian brothers for support. Nope, you just sit there, bound by Satan and this stronghold that he’s built in your soul, until you find the umph within yourself to speak the magic words.

This is terrifying. Thank God that he does not wait for us to gather the power to defeat Satan!  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1) “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Rom. 8:26)

Vows

Let’s talk about commitments.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the scenario; you’re wearing blue and white, surrounded by a few, or maybe dozens, or maybe hundreds, or maybe thousands of other people just like you, and Gothard looms over you on a large screen. He’s been talking for hours; yet you’re ears are glued to him. I say ears because your eyes are not glued to the screen; they’re darting between your workbook and the ever changing words on the screen. Gothard never seems hurried, he never seems flustered, but, boy-oh-boy, those words on the overhead just fly!

I’d heard Gothard many times as a child before I attended the basic. I’d even recited the first few verses of Matthew 5 to him when my family visited headquarters, and he gave me a dollar bill in reward. But I’d never been quite as enraptured, never quite so drawn in as I was at the end of a long session in the Basic. I was 13 years old.

If you’ve never listened to Gothard for an extended period of time, it really can be hard to describe the experience. He’s short, and quiet, and he never yells. He tells few jokes, and he pauses from time to time, almost as though he’s struggling with the burden on his heart for the people listening to him. And the whole time he is talking, you are rushing to keep up. Every point, every illustration, every principal comes printed in your red book, with only a few words missing. As each line goes up on the screen, you hurriedly scribble those missing words down. Only when Gothard is telling a story do things slow down.

But when he tells a story, you are drawn in even further. Every story follows the same basic outline; there is a dire problem, and an apparent solution. You know, you just know what the solution should be; it’s so clear. And yet, Bill tells you, that is the wrong choice. He explains the root cause of the problem (who would have thought that was the problem?!), and shows how application of the principle he was just talking about will solve the problem (wow! He’s right!) At the end of the story the main character is either completely free from the problem, or has fallen into horrible sin.

And it all makes so much sense! You can’t argue; Gothard has Scripture verses beside each point (well, he has references to Scripture verses, at any rate), and he explains everything so thoroughly. So when Gothard recaps his points, you find yourself nodding. Aren’t you glad he’s made it clear? Now there’s only one part left in the evening; it’s time to make a commitment.

I hate alter calls. I really do. I hate the music that they play, I hate the way the preacher pulls at your heart strings. I hate the way they try to list every possible scenario that might lead you to the front of the church (“If you’re concerned about your brother’s cousin’s roommate’s dog, come to the alter and give that to Jesus! Don’t wait!”) Maybe the reason I hate it to much is because I’m used to seeing a master at work. If you’re used to Micheal Bay films, then 1960s Star Trek just doesn’t seem so cool (they both still suck, but one is a lot better at sucking). Gothard didn’t use music, and he didn’t pace up and down the stage. He just spoke with that same intensity, he told you how important this was, he emphasized that it was the only way to success, and then he didn’t ask you to make a commitment. Gothard didn’t ask anyone to come to the front and “make a decision.”

Gothard asked for a vow.

A vow, made before God, that you were to hold to for your entire life.

The vow I most clearly remember is a vow to read the Bible for 5 minutes every day. I was 13, and had no clue what I was doing. Predictably, I failed to keep that vow within just a few weeks of finishing the Seminar. And I felt horrible, and I tried to make it up by doing 10 minutes of Bible reading the next day. Over the years, I worried about what God might do to me because of my broken vow.

About three years ago I took another vow. But before I took that vow, we spent 7 months preparing for it. We went to counseling. We talked to pastors. We asked our friends to travel to observe the vow (some of them traveled literally halfway around the world to be there.) We had long and serious discussions with our parents.

There was time to think. There was time to consider what we were doing. There was counsel about how to live that vow out in a daily way. There was no pressure, no expectation of a quick decision. When I vowed to love my wife until death do us part, I understood what I was doing. I was sure of it.

Fortunately, God is loving, and I don’t think he holds an emotionally manipulated 13-year-old Samuel against me. I don’t read my Bible 5 minutes every day; sometimes I don’t read it 5 minutes a week. I’m glad that my relationship with God is based on his love for me, and not on my commitment to following rules.

How to drive women away from your ministry

Greetings, and welcome back! I’m excited about getting back into blogging after this two-month hiatus. I’ve had a lot of time to think, and some important discussions with friends and family.

Today I’ll be wrapping up our foray into Training Faithful Women, and be giving some closing thoughts on the topic. Faithful women 11

Ok, I feel like I need to tread lightly here. This particular passage, on the surface, is not all that troublesome. To a certain extent, I agree with Gothard. Many Christian parents have somehow bought into the idea that children are, if not a curse, at least a horrible nuisance. It is honestly quite upsetting to go into fellowship halls, or Sunday school rooms and hear what some parents say about their children. It’s much more than someone sharing their struggles; it’s often just a kid-bashing party. Even parents who don’t have anything to complain about get in on the action, bemoaning the fate that awaits them when their ticking time bombs decide to make life a living hell.

Yes, children are bothersome. I’ve spent over an hour writing this post so far, because I’ve been interrupted so many times trying to get the two month old to calm down and stop crying. I get that kids can be difficult. But many parents are in need of a serious gut check about their own attitude towards their children.

But the issue here is that Gothard has taken a much more radical stance than “keep a positive attitude towards your children.” Gothard raises importance of the birth of children (and not just children, but large numbers of children) to an unhealthy level. In ATI world, those with large families are lauded, and held up as perfect examples to follow. Regardless of health, regardless of financial situations, regardless of housing conditions, Gothard preaches that true Christians must have lots and lots of children. We’ve already seen an example from an IBLP booklet in which a husband was lauded for ignoring the fact that his wife feared for her life and instead brow beat her into agreeing to having more children.

This is the opposite of grace. This is hard, cruel law, devoid of love, compassion or understanding. Grace understands that different people have different abilities. Some parents can raise 8, 9 or 14 children and provide the needed attention, training and love. Some women are able to give birth to many children without losing their health. Other women struggle after one or two children. Some families have children with special needs that require many times more attention than most kids. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many children you should have. Preaching that there is places the future of many people at risk.

Faithful women 12faithful women 13

Oh my, how insulting can you be in three paragraphs?

First is the assumption that a wife can only add to the husband’s income. That’s kinda funny for my family, because my wife actually makes more money than I do (it turns out that formal education actually does make a difference, and having a master’s degree is enough to bump you up a pay grade).

Second, it’s interesting that there is no IBLP material that suggests men supplement the family income via “home crafts.” This hearkens back to issues I brought up with David Gibbs Junior, and the way he made fun of a female doctor, as though her gender prevented her from practicing medicine. Because, in IBLP world, being female means that you really are only good for certain things. You’re only good for having babies, and encouraging other women to have babies. And if all those babies put strain on your budget, you’re only real option is to knit potholders, because the 1950s really were the greatest time in the history of ever.

Well, we’ve finished the ten reason why your church should start this ministry. The rest of the booklet lays out a plan for finding the correct woman to run this ministry and training her to run it. I’m not going to take the time to go through everything as thoroughly as I have up this point, or we’ll be in this booklet forever. I’ll just take time to grab a few pieces of crazy and hold it up for us all to laugh at.

Here’s a good one; the older woman who will minister to younger women in your church “must have inward radiant beauty.” Wow. How, exactly do you determine who has this radiant beauty? I wonder if this search for inwardly beautiful woman might not tempt pastors (who, as we have been told in the past, are oh so weak in this area.)

Wow…one of items on the checklists for pastors is to “be deeply convinced by the Holy Spirit that the training of faithful women is not an option.” Is it just me, or is the impetus for the moving of the Holy Spirit placed on the wrong party?

At the end of the booklet we are given a schedule for how to train this first “faithful woman.” It’s pretty funny. At the first meeting (which you cannot arrange; your wife must call this lady and schedule the meeting. Also, your wife has to be there for every meeting, but she has no actual role in any of the meetings) you are to give this woman an assignment, such as reading a book or memorizing some Scripture. Tell her to call your wife (not you) when she’s done her homework. I can’t help but laugh at the mental image of a young pastor calling an older woman into his office and giving her homework like a 6th grade kid.

At the second meeting, you are supposed to ask her how she became a Christian, and then “ask her if she desires to be totally dedicated to God’s will.” If she answers “yes” (yea, they really put the word yes in quotation marks), then you give her…ANOTHER HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT! It’s a 4 question form that they’ve provided for you, and it’s literally the most boring type of reading comprehension questions that you encounter in 4th grade Sunday School. (Actual quote: “Whom has God chosen to teach young women? Answer: Titus 2:3-4.”)

At the third meeting, you give her more homework! This time it’s a “personal spiritual evaluation” (how convenient that such a form precludes the need to observe and test a person’s fruits!) and a form on which this poor woman can write down a bunch of goals for you to judge. There’s also a special NOTE (in all caps, just like that), telling you to be certain that you have not made any commitments to spending time with this women up to this point. I guess she’s still on trial.

Oh boy! The fourth meeting! This is the meeting in which you actually explain your purpose in meeting with her all these times!  I guess you have to be sure that she’ll put up with loads of BS before you let her in on the deep, dark secret that you want her help in the women’s ministry at your church?

Oh, this is rich. They don’t actually tell you when to use this form, but there’s actually an evaluation form that you are supposed to fill out. This will help you decide if this woman is perfect enough to invest time in.

Pre-training evaluation

Honestly, what self-respecting woman would allow her pastor to treat her like this?

I’m not dead!

Greetings, my dear readers! You must be one extremely loyal fanbase to be reading this after 2 months of hearing nary a peep from me. I promise I am not dead, and I have no intention of letting this blog die either.

The past two months have been extremely busy. I won’t bore you with all the details, but my daughter was born in mid-December, so a great deal of my time has been taken up with caring for the cutest little person in the history of ever. On top of that, I left Taiwan on Jan 21st with 15 junior high students in tow, and we spent 27 days in Central Wisconsin doing a cultural exchange program. Between caring for 16 more kids than I am used to caring for, trying to visit with family while in the States, and desperately throwing together BS to submit for my online classes, there wasn’t much time for throwing out bath water.

But don’t fear! We’ll be back at it quite soon. As soon as I publish this post, I will be working on the final post discussing Gothard’s Training Faithful Women. After finishing that, I’m very excited about doing a series looking at Gothard’s views on depression. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from my good friend, minister/author Jamey Gilliland. Jamey is not familiar with Gothard or IBLP, but he had this to say after doing some research:

…I have some concerns. Even though Gothard has a phd, he is not a biblical scholar based on his writing processes. His method is isegetical, rather than exegetical, and illustrates no knowledge of covenant theology and the relationship of law and grace in the New Testament era. His seminars are formulaic with multi step quick fixes devoid of orthodox substantive explanation. His writings also seem opportunistic to the nonissues of the day. Gothard is dogmatic to his own personal subjective standards and many of his followers I have read about are confused doctrinally and divisive ecumenically. A byproduct of his teachings seem to lead to feelings of exclusiveness, elitism, and isolationism. Gothard gives himself permission to be the mouth piece of scripture’s silence. Typically when the Orthodox Church sees silence, we imply freedom. Gothard sees silence and imposes law and thus becomes a law unto himself. On his teaching of grace in the book, “the advanced seminar textbook,” he defines grace completely wrong. His definition is heretical at best and blasphemous at worst.

Stay at home, you infernal ladies!

Today I am deeply saddened by the denial of justice to Eric Garner and his family. The fact that this decision was handed down while the public has access to video footage of the murder shows a truly frightening disregard for even appearing to care about justice or equality. My prayers are with the Garner family today. This blog isn’t really a platform for discussing recent events in New York and Furguson,but I must say that I have been horrified at the willingness of many of my friends on the right to ignore statistics in favor of focusing on a single criminal, their willingness to make light of the plight of their brothers and sisters in the Lord, and their hardness towards families and communities with gaping holes left by police bullets and batons. My prayer is These Frail Hands by Brave Saint Saturn.

And I am overwhelmed with grief,
to see such suffering,
For those who lack the voice to speak
For those of us left stuttering

May this not prevail,
Dear Lord, your love will never fail

We now return to your regularly scheduled disposal of bath water.

Reason number 7 why you should start a “Faithful Women” ministry.

Faithful women 7

Ok, this is cool, right? Strengthening marriages sounds like an excellent goal!  And the verse talks about teaching women to love their husbands; another noble goal. We should be able to skip over this point, right?

Love

Ok, never mind. We’ll be here a while.

First off, agape love is not love that is “founded in admiration, veneration and esteem.” This is more than a slight twisting of the meaning of words; this is categorically, factually wrong. Agape love is unconditional, self-sacrificing love. It is the love that God has for us. Did “God so love the world” because he admired, venerated or esteemed us? This statement seems strange and far out of left field even for Gothard.

Secondly, phileo love is “brotherly love.” This is the type of love that exists between family members, or close friends. And it is so much more than an “inclination prompted by emotion.” As DC Talk so eloquently pointed out, love is a verb. It’s real actions. It’s washing the dishes and fixing the car and writing a note to put in the lunch box and setting down the cellphone to talk to someone. It’s calling to check that someone made it home on icy roads, or sharing your Dr. Pepper with someone (that one is tough for me.) It’s not simple an “inclination.” That word choice is downright insulting.

Thirdly, how the heck is an older women supposed to “wisely teach” this “inclination”? What on earth does that look like, in real life? I can’t even imagine it.

Blind obedience

“This is not to be blind obedience…” Well, that sounds great, except for the fact that it totally is blind obedience. I just happen to have a booklet published by IBLP about making an appeal; let’s take a look at what is actually meant when they say a wife can make an appeal. According to The Key to Freedom Under Authority, to make an appeal, a wife must

  1. Have the right standing with her husband
  2. Have the right basis for her appeal
  3. Present the appeal at the right time
  4. Give accurate information
  5. Have the right attitude
  6. Use the right words
  7. Display the right response if the appeal is rejected

This last one is extremely significant. Aside from the fact that Gothard wants women to follow a 7 step program to talk to their husbands, we have the extremely disconcerting fact that the final say rests completely in the hands of the husband, and therefore the wife must, in fact, practice blind obedience if her appeal is rejected. Please remember that Gothard has gone as far as to suggest that Abigail was wrong to prevent the murder of her entire family by David, and even suggested that it would have been better for Abigail to appeal to her husband, be rejected and then the entire clan to be murdered than for Abigail to get out from under her umbrella. (see A Tale of Two Abigails, part 1 and part 2.)

faithful women 8

Never mind that Paul was writing to a pastor in a particular place, with a particular history and particular culture. Never mind any considerations of context or intended audience. No, let’s just slap a Bible verse on it, and then preach our own ideas. “Stay home, you infernal ladies!  Do what you’re told! Feel those inclinations! Have lots of people over to your house, but don’t ask them questions about the Bible! And you better not let it interfere with your home business!”

Bleh. I have a headache. I’m going to drink my tea and go to bed now.

Redefining reality, part 2

There’s been an interesting development regarding the previous post ; Olivia Brodock left a comment explaining the reasons for writing her blog post and what she intended to communicate. It’s worth looking at.

Before getting into today’s topic, I wanted to briefly follow up on something from a previous post about rock music. Gothard had referenced some research that showed rock beats caused problems in lab rats. I’ve managed to track down the original study. It was published in the fall of 1987 in the Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Sciences, under the title Neural Plasticity of MUS musculus in Response to Disharmonic Sound. The research was conducted by Gervasia Schreckenburg and Harvey Bird. Several staff and faculty members at Georgian Court University were extremely helpful in tracking down the information for me.

So, what does reading the actual research tell us? Sadly, not much. It seems fairly clear from the study that the mice exposed to “disharmonic” sounds did experience real and physical changes in the brain that had a negative impact on them. However, “disharmonic” is only defined as “musical stimuli with non-synchronized component rhythms.” Beyond that, the article is much more concerned with examining the changes in the rats’ brains than with discussing the exact details of their environment. This is unfortunate. The lack of a more precise definition of the key difference between their control and experimental groups makes the experiment all but impossible to duplicate. Dr. Schreckenburg passed away some years ago, and I have been unable to contact Harvey Bird. The article did mention two graduate students who helped with the research; if I have time I will try to track one of them down and see what they can remember. (Or, if any of you happen to have free time, you could help out! Leave a comment if you’re interested!)

Now, back to redefining reality: twisted definitions from Bill Gothard. Read part 1 here. 

False guilt

Well, the wording is a little bit confusing here, but let’s try to unpack it. If you are feeling guilty, and you are told that you are experiencing “false guilt,” that means…that you’ve done something wrong.

Example: I recently purchased a new cellphone. My old phone was about two inches away from completely dead, and I really did need a new one. My wife did not need a new phone; she repeatedly told me that her phone is fine, and that there was no point in spending the money on a new one when the old one worked just fine.

And yet I felt extreme guilt about it. I felt very strongly that I shouldn’t buy myself a phone until I’d bought her one. Several friends and family members (including my wife) assured me that there was no reason to feel guilty. Thanks to Gothard’s teachings, I tend to always feel like I’ve never done enough for other people, and to feel guilty about getting myself something. This is false guilt. I do not have to feel guilty about buying myself a phone.

But according to Gothard, my false guilt over buying the phone is a sign that I am actually feeling guilty about something else, something far more serious. Apparently I’ve committed some other, greater sin, and my sub conscience knows that my friends won’t excuse that sin, so it transfers the guilt to a less grievous crime.

You see what this does? Gothard sets up a nice little circle of condemnation. If you feel guilty, then you have done something wrong, period. There is no room to realize that you have been taught a lie, or that a preacher has placed the legalistic restrictions on you that are contrary to the freedom Christ gives. Even if you come to understand that you should not feel guilty over a particular action, you are left in a worse position than before. Now you feel guilty, and you don’t even know what you feel guilty about! There is some vague greater sin that is lurking behind your conscience.

Combine this teaching with the impossible list of rules preached by Gothard and you have a dangerous thing indeed. If you don’t quote Scripture while falling asleep, you feel guilty, because that is what a good Christian is supposed to do. And even if somebody manages to show you that God doesn’t judge our relationship with him according to a daily checklist, then you still feel guilty, because you had “false guilt!”

Gothard references Romans 2:15 to back up his definition.

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

As usual, Gothard completely ignores context. Paul is speaking specifically about Gentiles who did not have the law (which, at the time of Paul’s writing, meant they did not have God’s word at all), and is pointing out that even these Gentiles have an understanding of right and wrong.

flatterty

Flattery can only be flattery if you’re talking about an unchangeable? You can’t flatter someone because of their piano skills, or cooking, or that big deer they shoot? This definition isn’t so much dangerous as it is just odd. Who would think this is a complete definition?

freedom

Aside from the fact that this is not what freedom means, I find myself disturbed by how this definition changes the focus of some key Scriptures. Look at John 8:36:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Using Gothard’s terminology, this verse becomes “So if the Son gives you the power to do what you should, you will have the power to do what you should indeed.” Notice how the focus moves away from what Christ has done for us (He has set us free) onto works (doing what we should do.) This is the very essence of legalism.

What about John 8:32?

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will give you the power to do what you should.”

And let’s not forget the verse that Gothard tacked on to the end:

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Gal. 5:13)

What’s odd is that this verse make no sense with Gothard’s definition. “For, brethren, ye have been called not unto what you want, but the power to do what you should. But don’t use the power to do what you should as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Again, this is why it is so important that you look up and read for yourself any Scriptures that Gothard references.

frustration

Now we get back to guilt trips. Frustration, by Gothard’s definition, is a failure. If you feel frustrated, you have failed.

So are you frustrated that you have to wear a skirt in windy weather? You failed. Are you frustrated that adults are not allowed to leave training center grounds without permission from leaders? You failed. Are you frustrated that your parents paid for you to participate in a program that consists mostly of hard labor that benefits IBLP? (More than ten years later, and that one still ticks me off.) You failed. There is no room to consider that those in leadership may have made poor decisions, or that they might be building their own kingdom from your sweat. You cannot think of those things, because you, by being frustrated, have shown your failure.

Do you begin to see how this teaching is extremely dangerous in the hands of someone willing to take advantage of others?

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (Gal. 6:4)

So…yeah, basically nothing that relates to his definition. Typical.

Grace

 

I won’t wax eloquent on this one; it’d be better to just refer you to this excellent piece published on Recovering Grace that addresses the problems with this definition (click on “Grace and Faith”). In a nutshell,this definition again moves the focus away from what Christ did for us and to what we must do. Notice that the source of grace is left entirely out of the picture; rather than being about the incredible goodness of God in giving us undeserved favor, it’s simply a “force” that helps us “do things.” Yikes.

leadership

 

I…what? Nothing about pointing a group towards a common goal? Helping each team member to bring their best to the team? Working well with a variety of personality types?

 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thess. 5:12-14)

Read those verses carefully, and then read Gothard’s definition carefully. Try to find how the two relate. (Hint: they don’t.) I’m not pointing this out because I think my readers have a wrong definition of the word leadership, but because I’m hoping to show how incredibly off-the-wall crazy Gothard sometimes is.

 

 

 

liberation

 

Liberation is actually “the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression; release.” Submission means “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.” These are vastly different things.

It’s important to note how extremely passive liberation is with this definition. It’s something that your “divinely appointed authority” allows you. It’s not something you ever fight for, or leave an abusive relationship for. Practically speaking, it’s a list of restrictions that are handed to you. Then you have to find a way to work under those restrictions, regardless of if they are reasonable or not.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Tim. 2:1,2)

20 bonus points to the person who can find a connection between Gothard’s definition and that Scripture.

slander

 

Wow! Not only is this definition categorically wrong, it is dangerous. Slander, in case you don’t know, is a false statement that hurts someone’s reputation. “Bill Gothard was fond of playing footsie with young female staff members” is not slander, no matter what my intentions are in making that statement, because its true. “Bill Gothard ate babies as part of his annual retreat in the Northwoods” is slander, because it’s false. (And to all the know-it-alls telling me it’s libel; just read it out loud, and I’m right!)

And if you are in Gothard’s world, guess who gets to decide if you were intending to hurt? Someone in authority, of course. You know, the very people who would be in hot water if you told the truth about abuse or neglect. superiority complex

Yep, down means up and up means down. Somebody with a superiority complex doesn’t think they’re superior. Nope, because that would make sense. You see, somebody with a superiority complex actually has an inferiority complex. That’s why we call it a superiority complex.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against a brick wall.

success

 

Ok, imagine you take a class and you pay attention most of the time. At the end, you have an average of 92%, worth an A for the class. Yea!  That’s pretty good, right?

But did you have success in that class? To determine the answer, we need to look at what you “could have done.” If you had paid attention in the class, you could have gotten 100%. By this form of measurement, you have fallen short by 8%.

What’s the bottom line here? You are never good enough. Your frustration is a sign of your failure. That failure occurred because you didn’t make use of this force that lies within you and gives you the power to do things God’s way. You cannot speak the truth about those in authority over you, those who add to your burdens, because that would be slander. If this makes you angry, then you are sinning. Why can’t you just show deference and do things the right way to please those in authority over you?

You are never good enough. There are a million rules, and 8 steps to overcome this, and 5 principles for that, and 12 truths for becoming that other thing, and you will never do it right and you are not good enough.

I’m Angry

I’m angry. I try not to become too emotional in my writing here, but I’m getting really ticked off. In the past few days several things have come together to make me so angry:

  • I participate pretty regularly on Recovering Grace’s Facebook support page. Just today, two different women have posted about abusive patterns from their parents. One woman is trying to deal with a mother who is controlling, and withholds love and support until the daughter does what she wants. Another woman spoke today about being cut off from her family because she doesn’t fit their ideal of a “Christian.” In the months I’ve been in that group, I’ve heard so many stories like that. People kicked out of their homes, cut off from siblings, told never to return. Families refusing to attend weddings, parents refusing to speak to their child’s spouse, parents who hold out love and respect as prizes to be earned by bending to their will.
  • That stupid, victim blaming counseling booklet from IBLP is still for sale. 
  • Frontline Family Ministries is hosting an event to talk about sexual abuse in the homeschooling community! Great idea!  Except…no, it’s a horrible idea! We don’t need people who victim blame their own daughter for her sexual abuse directing the discussion on this issue!
  • And a counselor (a counselor!) is responding to Cynthia Jeub with threats of legal action for speaking out. 
  • HSLD is still refusing to do anything (including removing their sponsorship of the magazine) about the TOS scandal. Talk is very cheap.

I’m angry that parents could be so heartless towards their very own flesh and blood. I’m angry that people who have spoken to us for years about the importance of “standing alone” refuse to stand up against abuse. I’m angry that those entrusted with the safety of the most vulnerable would use that position for a self-centered, power-fueled ego trip. I’m angry that, for all the talk about an “umbrella of protection,” so many of the darts are coming from moms and dads. I’m angry that a generation that made the bold decision to homeschool can’t stand the idea of their children thinking differently than they do. I’m angry that people are being forced to choose between a girl/boyfriend who loves them and parents who want to control. I’m angry that people who told us to be “mighty in spirit” are angry that we dare expose sin. I’m angry that defenders of the system want to talk in dry language about defending the reputation of Christ (as if they had even a tiny chance of doing such a thing), rather than having the compassion to show love to a victim of abuse. I’m angry at the parents who don’t have the guts to admit they believed a lie, but rather tell their children, “Oh, well, we didn’t actually believe those things!” I’m angry that people who went on ad nauseum about the “Commands of Christ,” are so willing to cast the first stone.

In short, I’m angry that this is a battle that needs to be fought. I’m angry at the hypocrites who built a system that protects their authority at all costs. I’m angry at the two-faced people whose “love” is conditioned on control. I’m angry at the petty tyrants who are threatened by children who can think for themselves.

I’m angry.