Musings

Hello folks! This space has been really quiet for the past few months, and it may still be quiet for next new few months, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. I’ve got several projects I’m hoping to bring out into the open before the year is over, and I hope they can be helpful to those of us coming out of the ATI system. I also will be finishing my master’s degree in November, so that should free up a little time for me to write more.

Today I’m not going to be examining a particular IBLP publication; instead, I wanted to just talk about a few things that have been on my mind.

It’s really hard to shake habits and inhibitions that are drilled into you as a child. We don’t have a worship minister at my church; there’s a pool of about 10 people who take turns each Sunday. One of them has a particular fondness for singing upbeat songs and leading the congregation in very simple dances. And every time she does, I stand there stiff as an board made of awkwardness. I can’t dance in church. I know it’s ok; I know all the verses about dancing in worship.

But moving your body in response to music is bad. I remember my dad telling my sister to stop bobbing her head in time to the music our neighbor was playing. My sister was horrified; she had let the rock music get into her head and influence her without even realizing it! So when your 6 or 9 or 12 years old and even clapping with a praise song is looked down on as border-line sin, you just lock your body down and refuse to move. Moving your hips is bad, bobbing your head is bad, basically responding to the music in any way is bad, so you just place your hands on the pew in front of you and sing without moving a muscle.

The same is true with drinking. The only time I’ve ever had alcohol was when I was 7 years old, and mistook the champagne at an anniversary party for Sprite. For years I’ve said that it’s because there is a history of alcoholism in my family, and I don’t want to risk it. But that’s not actually true. Sure, there are a few alcoholics in my family history, but what family doesn’t have that? The reason I don’t drink is because it was drilled into me ever since I was little bitty that the world is watching and our witness is dependent on upholding these “high standards” and if you can’t even go into a movie theater for fear of what people might think, do we even need to mention what they might think if you buy alcohol?

And so my sister had a big party for her 33rd birthday (that’s when a hobbit comes of age, after all) and she served mead. She offered me some, and it smelled incredible. My wife had some, my mom had some, my dad had some. And I just. couldn’t. drink it. I tell myself over and over again that it’s perfectly fine, that we’re under grace, that we have freedom in Christ, that I’m just living in bondage to a lie…and yet I can’t drink.

I did have a bit of a break through this summer. We went to a friends’ wedding, and there was dancing at the reception. It was awesome; everyone at the table I was at got up and danced. My wife got up and danced. So I spent a while just sitting there, holding my daughter and feeling awkward. But I finally decided that just because I have weird hangups from being raised in a cult, that doesn’t mean my daughter has to have those hangups too. So I got up and danced with her. It was awkward, and I had no idea what I was doing, and I’m sure I looked like a total dork, but I danced with my daughter. That was cool.

What hangups do you have from your time in ATI? I’m curious to hear about your experience.

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If you are talking about Josh Duggar, you are missing the point

My Facebook feed has recently exploded with news about the scandal surrounding Josh Duggar. Everyone has an opinion, everyone has a link to the latest news article, and everyone has a pretty strong opinion about what everyone involved in the situation should do.

And it seems to me that all of them are missing the point.

The victims are more important than the abuser. Long before questions about the status of a reality TV show, or the reputation of a family, or the job of a B-list celebrity enter our minds, we should be asking about the victims. Have they been given access to quality counselling? Is there any way to protect them from media attention? How have they been able to cope with the trauma of this abuse?

Rather than posting a “I stand with the Duggars!” picture, or a status berating TLC for promoting this family, wouldn’t it be a much better idea to boldly proclaim, “I stand with the weak, with the innocent, with the abused”? Whatever happens to a TV show isn’t that big of a deal. Whether Josh Duggar should have resigned or not doesn’t actually matter all that much. How this affects the public perception of Jim Bob is very trivial. There are much, much weightier issues here. How can we, as a society, support and affirm the value of victims of sexual abuse, both these particular women and millions of less famous women?

Isn’t that really a more important topic for conversation?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I hold no ill will against the Duggar family. I do not rejoice to see them publicly shamed. I’m not glad they have been caught up in a scandal. I do not wish to see their family name drug through the dirt. I really, honestly wish the very best for them. I pray that this trial brings them closer. I pray God gives them wisdom, and love for each other.

But I think there is an important lesson to be learned here. And while I hesitate to write this, fearing that my words will cause unnecessary pain for their family, I feel compelled to point out a very real danger; a danger that is illustrated perfectly by this situation.

You cannot shelter you family from sin.

The Duggar lifestyle–a lifestyle encouraged by IBLP teaching and practice–is designed to protect. Protect the hearts of children. Protect from the evils of rock music. Protect teens from lust. Protect girls from creating unhealthy soul ties. Protect young people from temptation.

Don’t associate with the “worldly” youth group at church.

Don’t go to movie theaters.

Don’t listen to pop music on the radio.

Don’t allow co-ed swimming.

Don’t separate the family for Sunday school.

Don’t watch TV.

Don’t go to college.

Don’t study secular thinkers.

Don’t become romantically involved with someone without your parent’s approval.

But it doesn’t work. Sin is in our hearts. Sin is not something outside, it’s not something that seeps into your life through movies, or music, or friends, or white flour, or unhealthy soul ties. It’s in the very center of your being. And no matter how protected you are, no matter how far you remove yourself from evil influences, that sin will still be there. Rules, boundaries and lifestyle choices will never remove it. Only Christ can do that.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pray for the victims. Pray for the Duggars. Pray for Josh.

And seeing this terrible, painful situation, please understand this important truth;

No lifestyle, no rules, no pattern of family management will ever remove sin from someone’s heart.

On respecting your spouse

Two life changing dates are approaching for my wife and I. The first is November 23rd. That date will mark a year since we lost Sojourner, our son who was only 16 weeks along. The second date…well, we’re not sure when the second date is, because we’re expecting a little girl sometime around December 10th. It’s really hard to describe the heart-rending sorrow and the soaring excitement that we’re both feeling right now.

IBLP put out a series of booklets about health some years ago, called Basic CARE. CARE, of course, was an acronym, but I don’t know what for. (What is with IBLP and acronyms?) They printed one about miscarriage, and I had thought about reading through it and responding to it, but it quickly became clear that I’m not ready for that just yet. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll look at it. So instead I read the booklet on morning sickness.

The morning sickness booklet was interesting in that they managed to spend a lot of words to say so very little. The booklet boiled down to We don’t know why you have morning sickness. Maybe you can try fasting. Maybe you are experiencing guilt. Maybe you should eat crackers between meals. Here’s a few random testimonies and pictures of babies. NO MATTER HOW BAD YOUR MORNING SICKNESS, DON’T EVER CONSIDER GETTING YOUR TUBES TIED!!!!

I was intrigued to see how they managed to make the booklet be about the same things they always talk about. There were guilt trips, advice to fast and lots of words about the blessing of children. The guilt trips were not surprising considering the source (and honestly not nearly as heavy handed as in many other IBLP resources). The advice about fasting was fairly well balanced; there were cautions about over fasting and advice to speak to a doctor before committing to fasting. They even wrote at length about the importance of getting medical attention if you become dehydrated. And even though I’m somewhat suspicious about fasting to fix morning sickness, there is some evidence that fasting can be good for you. 

What I want to focus on today is this talk about children as a blessing. Before I go any further, I want to state very clearly that all children are a blessing from the Lord. Losing our son last year, and now looking forward to the birth of our baby girl has impressed on my how incredibly precious every life is, and how each child is worthy of love and respect. But what happens in this booklet is very legalistic. God’s word tells us that children are a blessing, and Gothard takes this as a command to have children.

I know Mark Driscoll has fallen into his own very serious scandal recently, but he said something a few years ago that I think is quite true. When speaking about Proverbs, he talked about how legalists take blessings and turn them into commands. This is exactly what Gothard does with verses about children.

Let’s look at the booklet now.

facts are bad

This really disturbs me, because the essence of what they are telling us is facts are bad if they don’t support our interpretation of Scripture. “…such statements only serve only to make couples more vulnerable to unwise counsel and destructive procedures…”

No, no, no. Such statements serve to inform couples of the facts. The facts are that we don’t know what causes morning sickness. The fact is that you cannot know before you get pregnant if you are going to experience mild or extreme morning sickness. The medical profession has no business giving “hope to mothers,” their business is to fully inform people of the facts.

This is not a small, minor deal. It would seem that whoever wrote this booklet would prefer that doctors not inform their patients of the facts. It would seem that having lots of children is a more important and higher goal than informed consent. This is a big problem.

husband morning sickness 1

husband morning sickness 2

This poor mother is so sick she fears that she is going to die. Having never been in a situation like that, I can’t say that I’m able to understand what that must be like. But I imagine it must be terrifying. I imagine looking at my children, my spouse and other loved ones and wondering how they will handle my passing. I would feel great sorrow when I thought about not seeing my children grow into adults and following their own dreams. I’m sure this mother felt scared and vulnerable.

What would you do if your wife told you she thought she might die? What if she said this was the last child she wanted to carry (assuming she lived)? It’s hard to imagine, but I think I know what I would do. I would hold my wife in my arms and I would cry. I would tell her how much I love her, and how important she was to me. I would pray desperately that God would let her stay with me. And I would tell her that whatever her decision, I would respect and support her in that decision.

This husband? He thought about the people who were watching. Hearing that his wife thought she might die, he thought about how that would make him look. It’s hard to find words to describe how truly horrible that is. Then, having given due consideration to his reputation, this husband used fear tactics to brow beat his wife to repent of fearing for her life.

I was just thinking about how I would tell my wife I would respect her decision if we were in the same circumstances, and it occurs to me that I’ve actually already done that. Before we even got married we talked about birth control methods and how we would use them. Over the past few years we’ve continued to dialogue about children and birth control and our family. And I don’t think we’re an unusual couple; anyone with any decent amount of respect for their spouse will talk to them about these things, and will show respect for their wishes. Both partners should agree that they want to have a child, rather than one partner brow beating the other when she’s already sick and exhausted and scared.

When looking at these two ways of responding, it’s very important to be aware that one is healthy and the other is abusive. And it’s pretty scary to see IBLP holding up this abusive husband as an example to other couples.

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.

In which Gothard comes THIS CLOSE to making a valid argument.

Welcome back! We’re back at it today, looking at Ten Biblical Reasons the Rock Beat Is Evil in Any Form. Here’s a really cool cover of a Micheal Jackson song that can will serve as our soundtrack for today’s post.

Reason number 6: “The ‘rock beat’ disobeys God’s command to avoid ‘all appearance of evil.'”

rock music looks evil

It’s not worth it to spend too much time on this point, because Gothard is painting with such broad strokes it makes it almost impossible to nail down exactly what he’s saying. As near as we can figure, there are two forms of “sound” and “dress styles” and “appearance.” There is a Godly form, and a worldly, evil form. If you sound, or dress like the world, then you are not avoiding the appearance of evil.

This sounds great if you’ve locked yourself in a place far from civilization for the past 40 years (that sounds eerily like what some of our parents tried to do…). But if you’ve ever been out in the world, you realize that life is not nearly so well defined, clear cut or obvious. The bad guys don’t always wear black. You cannot judge a person to be either worldly or Godly from their clothes.

As to Christian groups putting satanic symbols on their album covers…yea, whatever. I’m not even going to waste time on that. If somebody cares to produce an example, then I’ll address it.

Here’s a fun one:

Not only is it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish wordly rock groups from most “Christian rock” groups, but it is also very hard to determine which members are men and which ones are women, because of the long hair, skirts, and other attire worn by many of them.

Yea, I’m just going to leave that one as is.

Reason number 7:

The “rock beat” contradicts God’s command not to be brought under its power.

Wow, stop the presses! This is big news. God himself has spoken, and he has told not to be brought under the power of the “rock beat.” I wonder what verses I have missed. I didn’t even realize the words “rock beat” appeared in Scripture! Let’s see what verse it is:

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient…I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Oh. So, actually, God didn’t issue any commands about rock music. We’re told not to be controlled by things that are lawful. In other words, we shouldn’t become addicted or enslaved to things. I feel…slightly cheated. It’s almost like Gothard is willing to twist Scripture to suit his own purposes.

Let’s see…rock music is an addiction…blah blah blah…a stronger beat is needed…blah blah blah…testimony about addictive rock music (“It is so easy to slip into!”) blah blah…

Yep, nothing new here. Wild claim, twisting of Scripture and more personal testimonies. Let’s move along, shall we?

Reason number 8:

The “rock beat” opposes God’s command not to mix light with darkness.

Oh boy, more circular logic! “Rock music is evil, therefore verses that tell us not to mix light with darkness apply, therefore rock music is evil!”

Ok, here’s something interesting. Gothard tells us that “God ordained preaching, not music, to reach the lost.” This is an interesting claim, except…it’s beside the point. The idea Gothard is presenting is that a syncopated beat is inherently evil. Even if you can convince me that music (of any sort) shouldn’t be used to spread the Gospel (because it’s wrong to sing the Gospel message? What?), that doesn’t really have anything to do with the moral status of a syncopated beat.

I love the music video for She Hates Me by Puddle of Mudd. It’s hilarious.

Ok, now we finally get to point 9, which I’ve been looking forward to writing about, because this is the one part of the booklet that I can actually agree with. Let’s see what he says:

rock music ministers 1

rock music ministers 2

Wow, I almost agree with this. Gothard has hit on a very real problem, both in Christian music and in Christian outreach to youth. Many older leaders in the church who feel out of touch with today’s youth will ask a younger, “hipper” Christian to teach the youth. But sadly, churches often choose someone without asking important questions about his spiritual maturity, Biblical knowledge and ability to provide wise counsel to youth. This is a serious problem.

But, while the issue of poorly equipped ministers is not to be taken lightly, it has nothing to do with rock music. The final two paragraphs simply do not follow from the previous points. Gothard’s argument boils down to two points:

A. Teachers and ministers should be qualified and equipped to teach the word of God well, therefore

B. Rock music is vulgar and comparable to pornography.

That simply doesn’t make sense.

Finally! The last reason!

The “rock beat” violates God’s command to protect our bodies as God’s temple.

Gothard claims that rock music damages our bodies in three ways:

  1. It damages our hearing.
  2. It damages our brain cells.
  3. It damages our concentration.

Yes, playing music too loud damages your hearing. PLAYING CLASSICAL MUSIC TOO LOUD WILL ALSO DAMAGE YOUR EARS! DUH! I feel the need to beat my head against a wall for a minute…

rock music damages our brains

Ok! Finally! We had to wade through 9 reasons, but we’re getting something that actually, really addresses the rock beat! But…wait, who did this research? And when? Was it peer reviewed?

Well, Google is a thing, and I think I’ve found the research. Here’s an article that seems to reference it, but again, there are almost no details. But at least it gives me some names: let’s see what an Ebsco host search yields. Searching for Gervasia Schreckenberg yields…one result. It’s a letter to the editor of the New York Academy of Sciences and it talks about how life begins at conception.

Ok, no dice there. Let’s see if we can get anything on Harvey Bird.

Nothing.

Ok, Ebsco host is the place for finding academic, reliable research. It’s odd that I’m getting nothing. Maybe we can google again…

Nope, no luck. I sent emails to both universities, requesting information on the research. From the few tidbits I could find online, it seems that perhaps they played non-stop drum beats for a group of mice for three weeks, which apparently drove them nuts. Well, duh. That’d drive anybody nuts. But last time I checked, most rock music contains more than just a single drum beat, and it doesn’t last three weeks…

rock music you can't think

I take it back! Everything I ever thought about how poorly the sources in the previous paragraph were cited, I take it all back! That’s the height of responsibly citing all sources of research when compared to this. “Further research”? When? Where? Who? How? Peer reviewed? Published? Repeated by any other reputable scientist?

You see, while it may seem that Gothard is finally leaving his logical fallacies behind and offering solid evidence, he’s still just offering smoke and mirrors. Because Gothard refuses to give us details about the research, and doesn’t give us the option of personally examining the evidence, we’re forced to just take him at his word. This is contrary to the entire concept of research. Scientists who conduct and report on research are very careful to record exact details about their experiments, the conditions and how they reached their conclusions, so others can carefully critique their methods. Any scientist who refused to explain details, or to submit his work to peer review would find any claims he made ignored. And anyone who tells us “research has shown” without giving us the opportunity to examine the details should be ignored as well.

Well folks, we did it!  It took two weeks and 9400 words, but we’ve made it through this booklet!

Some closing thoughts on music:

  1. To listen to Bill, rock music is one of Satan’s primary tools to attack and destroy both Christians and non-Christians alike. As we saw in the story last week, Gothard teaches that we don’t even have to listen to rock music for it to have an ill effect; simply have a recording existing in the home can give Satan an in-road for attack. If rock music truly is such a horrible tool of the devil, why is Scripture entirely silent on the topic?
  2. Why has Satan taken so long to bring out one of his most effective tools? Why did he wait thousands of years before introducing the rock beat?
  3. The Bible is entirely silent on the subject of musical styles. The only direction we are given is to sing a new song to the Lord. God is creative. And he is pleased when his children are creative as well.

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.”