Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bill Gothard

"What did Bill Gothard do to you?"
I hear that question al the time from my family and people who associate with my family. When I left that world behind, I discovered that people weren't angry about my disloyalty to the Lord so much as they were angry at my disloyalty to their infatuation with Mr. Gothard. I have been reading about the cult mentality and Quiverful, ATI, literalism as per Gothard is infused with similarities.

Bill Gothard has never done anything to me on a personal level. I have met him. My father worked for him. ATI folks are known to have this conversation...

Kid: What's the big deal. I'm not harming anyone by doing x!
ATI: If I do something dangerous and die, am I hurting my mother?
Kid: Well, yeah.
ATI: Then you are hurting someone.

They don't turn this around. Bill Gothard doesn't have to physically beat someone to knock them out. He teaches others how to do it for him. Patriarchy, QF, militant Christianity, purity aren't bad things if they're not abused. In my experience, no one of those things hurt me more than other ideals. But wrapped together and tied with the bow of perfection made them a devestating bomb of abuses.

Don't dress that way, you'll cause men to sin.
Don't sit that way, you'll give the boys ideas they can't control.
Don't say that, it displeases the Lord.
Don't think that, it displeases the Lord.
Don't wear your hair that way, it displeases the Lord.
Don't, don't, don't...

DO have a servant's heart.
DO prize modesty and virtue, even if it means accepting responsibility for a man's lack of self-control.
DO consider yourself subject to a man's rule, God wants you to submit.
DO speak meekly and think purely.
DO give up individuality for the herd.

Amazing how many of those examples fit if you substitute God for Gothard. Gothard is dangerous because people are more than willing to make that substitution.


  1. just found your blog and am finding it amazing.
    especially because bill gothard is actually my distant cousin. when my mother used to go to their home for the holidays all the girls would hide under the bed. i grew up (in a xian family with a pastor for a dad) thinking of him as something of a maniac, who's family was dishonest with my grandfather over inheritance issues. i met him for the first time at my grandfather's funeral. i put on my best "i've been to seminary" face and impressed him, but we believe VERY different things. i am fascinated to read the rest of your blog.

  2. Ruth, I relate so much to what you have written. It is very validating to realize that I am not alone. I was the oldest of 10 children and also helped raise my siblings, and heard many of these same "mantras" that you mention, all growing up. It was so freeing, as an adult, to realize that NO, I am not responsible for other people's (men's) thought lives! That is between them and God! Part of being a servant means taking care of myself... so I will be healthy and able to help others as God gives me opportunity! And I heard SO many things all growing up about don't do X, it's displeasing to the Lord... make sure you do X,Y,and Z faithfully every day, because that is pleasing to the Lord... and so forth. When I read the book "A Matter of Basic Principles, Bill Gothard and the Christian Life" and came to the section on Gothard's skewed version of what Grace is (of course, the definition of Grace I grew up with!) it was SUCH an "aha" moment to find out what God's Grace REALLY is, as defined in Scripture! It made me weep like a baby, to find out that grace is actually "God's unmerited favor" (versus Gothard's "Grace is the desire and power to do God's will)... wow. All that about "pleasing or displeasing the Lord"... and then realizing that God IS pleased with me! Period! End of story! That's what Grace is! He loves me, no matter what, because I am His child and my sins are covered by the blood of His Son! And His unmerited Grace is also what sanctifies us... that is what the whole book of Galatians is about! We are not saved by grace, and then sanctified by works (as Gothard basically teaches)... we are also sanctified by grace! That makes me love Him more and want to be more like Him... not by following Gothard's endless lists of "do's" and "don'ts", but by growing closer to the Lord and more like Him in a real relationship!


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