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Bill Gothard and Patriarchy: Re-routed Feminism?

by E. Stephen Burnett

Many mysteries are revealed in human marriage.
I sort of knew that in theory even before my own, and of course have seen it even more in person. There’s that whole mystery of showing-Christ-and-His-Church, on which marriage is based (Ephesians 5). And of course, there’s the oft-discussed re-discovery of your own flaws.
But then came an even more stunning discernment: that many who’ve claimed to be meek and submissive wives, and who inform others of this in books and blogs, might be just the opposite.
It was while reading these kinds of blogs that my wife noticed this, and summoned me to see.
“Isn’t it strange,” she remarked, “that in all these websites about Keepers At This-and-Such and Titus 2 That-and-All, it’s the women who do most of the talking?”
And together we began to wonder: is this movement truly about “submission” anyway?



More recently, none other than Bill Gothard, who is in many respects the godfather of today’s “patriarchy,” seems to have given voice to a previously unvoiced rule. Asked via phone whether Gothard teaches a wife’s submission to their husband’s authority, the elderly organization leader laughed and insisted he doesn’t. But what he said next is stunning to those who wish to seek the truly Biblical concept of submission, which should point not to ourselves but to Christ Jesus:
[Jesus said] he who is the greatest among you be the servant of all. That makes the woman the greatest of all because she has served every single person in the world by being in her womb.”
— from “Taliban Dan’s” Teacher: Inside Bill Gothard’s Authoritarian Subculture, Sarah Posner, ReligionDispatches.org, Feb. 16, 2011
Gothard’s corruption of Biblical texts is legendary among those who’ve rejected his jargon-intensive, computer-programming-esque approach to following God’s rules for a better, more spiritual Christian life. Yet this is one of the worst exploitations of Scripture he’s had thus far.
And it seems to prove my wife’s and my discovery: that for those oblivious to Biblical grace, who see Jesus mainly as a means to moral advancement, sin can infest even their “submission.”
Passive-aggressive ‘patriarchy’
Both my wife and I grew up in homeschooling households, in which our parents did not follow the patriarchy paradigm. Yet naturally we heard about it in these circles. Some of us (cringes while raising my hand) might have even once suspected this would be the most Spiritual way to live. But further research, and especially reading Scripture in the ways God meant it to be read, has shown us that these notions are wrong about God Himself, and hurtful to Christ’s people.
For years we’ve enjoyed keeping up with divergent views marketed as “Christian.” This includes beliefs that add to the Gospel of God’s-Son-sacrificed-for-sinners, as if bonus values are equally as vital as the truth that only God can raise rebels from the death we’d have under the Law.
Thus we’ve read from the patriarchy bloggers who write reams about how a wife must support her husband, do everything for him, and lovingly put up with all his comical incompetence and idiosyncrasies — as if the man can’t do much if anything without her help.
And slowly we came to realize: for whatever reason, the amount of women activists promoting what they see as “Biblical patriarchy” seems to far surpass the male bloggers who’d encourage the same.
This led to a new suspicion that at first may sound absurd: is this “patriarchy” primarily a female-led movement? Surely that is self-contradictory! Why would a woman want to put herself under a system of notions that violate Scripture’s plain meanings and emphasis on what Christ has done (not first on what men and women should do) and also result in women being suppressed in a family? Why would she intentionally subject herself to such control?
That’s why, since our initial thought, we’ve modified our premise. Whether men or women are the loudest voices among patriarchy-pushers isn’t the point. Rather I contend this: “patriarchy,” as defined by many professing followers, does not even include truly Biblical submission. Instead, this system at its core, from the start, is based in re-routed feminism.
Feminism, of course, is a patriarchalist’s prime bogey. Our world is feminized, they say, and we must strive to oppose such ideas. Here I need not even touch on that issue; it is beside the point. Instead I point to a patriarchy activist’s prime directive. What is his/her basis for belief and action? Instead of be like the Christ Who died to save you, it’s do all you can to be unlike The World. Not delight in God’s ways. Not come to Me and I will give you rest. Not work out your salvation, knowing it’s God Who works in you for His good pleasure (Philippians 2: 12-13). Instead they build on an innately flawed, anti-Biblical foundation: avoid, react, strike back.
Naturally this leads to overcorrection. If the world is 95 percent feminist, and the church almost as bad, we need not bother about opposite errors. This also means sin is surely easier to avoid, based on external factors: wearing pants, not wearing head coverings, sending your children to public school, having only two children or less, enjoying pre-marriage dating.
But insidious sins, the same I’ve seen accepted in patriarchy blogs and books, are not noticed.
-          Claiming your husband can’t fulfill his family “vision” without your help: arrogance.
-          Laughing at his dopey antics in your be-a-Titus-2-wife book, while claiming to honor and “submit” to him anyway because of the greatest humility you can muster: arrogance.
-          Writing an entire essay praising your husband’s achievements in ministry work, in order to win him secular recognition for being the manliest manly-man, and not only failing to mention Christ at all (?!) but ultimately drawing equal attention to one’s self: arrogance.
In these, patriarchalist activists reveal their re-routed feminism — something whose arrogance and male-bashing they outwardly disavow, but inwardly believe and even promote to others. This is self-contradictory and self-deceiving, but it’s the natural result of basing one’s beliefs on an anti-this-or-that instead of on Christ’s grace.
Thus sin sneaks in, deviously, coming not from exterior Things but interior heart-sourced sludge (as Jesus warned the Pharisees in Mark 7). While some may beware the Devil in a bra-burning, corporate-climbing short-haired Something Out There, he instead takes the form of an angel, perhaps not of light, but wearing denim skirts and hair coverings, keeping long hair and keeping children at home, passive-aggressively “submissive,” and even subversively feminist.
And even worse: Christ is dishonored. By venerating a human man, a passive-aggressive “submitter” is not giving glory to the God-Man. She’s taking it for herself, and missing the whole point of Christ’s teaching that the truly great will be the servant of all: only Christ was the servant of all, making Himself nothing, so that now only He is the greatest (Philippians 2: 1-11).
Gothard’s worldly ‘greatness’
In his quote, Gothard completely ignored that. Perhaps he said more, which isn’t shown, about Christ being the greatest Servant, Whom both men and women honor in the ways they serve one another. But if not, he rejected a prime opportunity to point to the Savior his organization claims to follow. Instead he pointed to humans, and to women in particular as in effect the world’s secret rulers — something Christ never meant whenever He taught on true servanthood.
Three passages in Scripture contain Jesus’ reminder that if one wishes to be truly great, he must become the servant of all: Matthew 18: 1-4, Mark 9:33-37 and Luke 9: 46-48.
In each account, of apparently the same dialogue about seeking servanthood as true greatness, Christ was speaking to His disciples. They were men. Women aren’t mentioned. He used a trusting child’s conduct as an example of true humility. Mark 9:37: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” And in Luke 9:48 He adds, “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
What are the contexts here? Not gender roles. Not family. Not which gender should serve the most in a human way and thus be greatest. Jesus is pointing to Himself. These passages are about Him. And later, from the minor gift of washing His followers’ dirty feet to His earth-shaking, epic death on a cross for the salvation of His people, to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sin — He proved Himself the One Who saves us, changes us, the Servant of all.
Some Christians downplay Jesus’ appeal to the reward in verses like these. That’s not what I’m saying here. He was not so “spiritual” that He expected people not to seek a reward, but He never said your search is wrong. Instead He said, You’re looking in the wrong place for your reward. You must give all you have to seek the greatest reward, everlasting joy in Myself alone.
This is epic, religious-game-changing truth.
Therefore, for professing Christians like Gothard to shunt it off, and instead appropriate the servant-of-all phrase to be about women supposedly being the greatest in the world because of their greatest service, is outrageous.
Again, I do assume here that he is being quoted accurately, and didn’t amend that statement or proclaim Christ elsewhere. But sadly this fits with Gothard’s Christian-ized humanism, making Christ and His salvation a means to moral improvement, rather than believing we’re changed to be like Christ for His sake and glory. It’s false teaching, and close to blasphemy.
And it is re-routed feminism. Gothard takes the whole intent of Christ’s greatest-of-all truth, however you believe that affects men’s and women’s roles, and twists it into a parody. Men are not respected, women are actually exalted, and Christ Himself isn’t given His rightful due.
Basic life control
It’s not surprising to see “submission” being twisted like that, based on a Biblical worldview of sin and humans’ natural instincts to glorify themselves, and even God’s good gifts, above God Himself. Even for Biblical Christians mindful of grace, any good thing can be so warped: church involvement, Godly parenting, ambition in work, even studying and teaching the Bible. That’s why we need Christ Himself, changing our minds and motives (Romans 12: 1-2).
But some sins at least make sense. That leaves the question: why would a woman knowingly, willingly buy into even passive-aggressive “submission,” with all of its self-risking dangers?
My conjecture: because despite the dangers, the perks of succeeding are even higher:
-       Comfort — you get to follow Rules and Traditions. And striving to follow rules has always been easier if you define rules as applying to the Externals rather than what’s happening in one’s heart. As for the spiritual heavy lifting, that falls to the husband, leaving you time for other tasks to accomplish.
-       Changing others — man-made religion is a pyramid scheme. Those at the top get there because they’re best at spreading the scheme to others. Those who accept the scheme do so because they’re also hoping to reach the top someday, so they in turn spread it to others, who of course catch that same motivation, and so on. So what other purpose is there in accepting the scheme? Only to pass it on. But if you, by chance, wind up near the top, you’ll always have the assurance of people following you, buying your books, seeing your success and affirming you: You are such a godly wife, so accepting of your place, so submissive; I want to be like you.
-       Control — even for a non-passive-aggressive woman, a chauvinistic man has such “strength. Supposed “nice guys” don’t have that. Ruler-husbands may be bad, even abusive, but at least they are powerful. So the kickbacks come from being exposed to that power, despite those trifling side effects of having little or no love. And a strange kind of comfort is in that — a “comfort” that, sadly, leads to so many faux “relationships” and enabling of evil abuses by men against women. When this happens, again and again, there’s always a sure way of managing it in your own mind: It’s something I did. At least he’s strong. I can do this, or that, and be better next time, and surely he’ll change. I don’t need anyone else’s help. Changing him, civilizing him next time, is all up to me. There’s a control in being controlled.
That last proves soberingly true for those trapped in anti-Biblical patriarchy practices. My own mother knew a patriarchy-leaning mother who did not know her child’s whereabouts, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Naturally my mom asked her what she was doing to search for him. The woman’s reflexive response? I’ve asked my dear husband what to do.
“I think no force in heaven or hell could keep me from picking up the phone to try to find my kid under those conditions and I wouldn’t need [him] to tell me what to do,” my mom said.
Would that be rebellion against God, a display of arrogance, a refusal to respect a husband? By no means. Arrogance, rather, would sit back and wait for a husband to “control” everything — the control in being controlled. But true humility, through a personal relationship with both Christ and one’s husband, would remind this mother she knows what both Christ and her “dear husband” would decide: get on the phone, the internet, anything, to find your child!
Thus it’s through action, not passive-aggression, that Christ is best glorified, a husband truly respected, and a family loved. And it’s through true humility, looking not to one’s self but to Christ as the exalted Servant of all, that helps us take our eyes off ourselves and reject re-routed chauvinism, feminism, or any infesting sins in between.

About the author
E. Stephen Burnett is an aspiring visionary novelist, community newspaper journalist and online columnist, who hopes God’s grace and glory will help him honor Christ in all his callings. That includes SpeculativeFaith.com, which explores God-exalting visionary fiction such as fantasy and sci-fi, and YeHaveHeard.com, with its debunking of common Christian myths about the Bible. He also enjoys reading and spending time with his wife, Lacy, in their central Kentucky home.
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Images provided by the author.

54 comments:

  1. That's a very interesting take on the issue. I have wondered myself where the woman blogger fits into the patriarchy movement. In hyper-patriarchy, women aren't even allowed to vote. Why, then, are they allowed to blog on a wide range of issues, including political ones? One could argue that they are just blogging for other women, but if that's the case, why include any "male" issues at all, like politics, church leadership, etc?

    Perhaps another take on the issue would be that because they are restricted in some areas, they are overcompensating in the areas in which they are still allowed to do things. This makes them look like feminists in those areas.

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  2. Thank you! A great post all-around - humble and yet, critical of the man-made junk. I always hesitate to link to things on my own personal blog because I have non-Christian readers and want to be extra gentle with them. But Hillary and you have it down! Thank you!

    Perhaps another perspective of this I have noticed lately: have you observed the "call for simplicity" that seems to be cropping up in these circles? I have read many a-blog that are now stopping (or slowing) because they have a need for simplicity. What this seems to REALLY be is a man-made formula for the "perfect family" - one in which the mother and wife loses all personal identity in the making and keeping of a home. I am tired of folks using the "simplicity" cop-out, so they don't have to serve at the convalescent home or at Sunday School or in any other God-given avenue. Even the Amish themselves do not live this way! It's funny that the patriarch movement (which often seems to model the Amish - with better spiritual sense, of course) seems to have this wrong! And the result, as I see it, is idolatry of family and self, neither which I want any part. As a homeschooling mother of three, simplicity is not the goal of my days; abiding in Christ is! While there, I simply live the life He has given me today, simple or complex or somewhere in between! :)

    Thank you again for a great post.

    Resting in Him,
    Karen

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  3. Over the years, my husband--while never expanding as fully on this as you have done--has pointed out similar things. And I have noticed similar things. Our church teaches that while the husband is the head--that the Bible says we are to submit ONE TO ANOTHER and that includes in marriage. I see things working out in a healthier way in home AND church life, than where I was previously that taught "submission for the woman, leadership for the man!"

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  4. Thank you for the interesting insight. My husband (raised in Gothardism) has often said that in ATI families, the women without fail "wear the pants". He says the same about "Michael Pearl" families he's met also. At first, I was surprised by his observations, but after noticing such families for a few years now, I certainly see the trend of the feminist-in-hiding.

    I liked what you wrote: "It’s something I did. At least he’s strong. I can do this, or that, and be better next time, and surely he’ll change. I don’t need anyone else’s help. Changing him, civilizing him next time, is all up to me."

    Sadly, I've literally heard this many times from patriarchal families. From the wife, and also from the dad-- such as when his children aren't finding spouses, "Oh, they aren't married because I need to change and become more godly before God will let them marry." Wow, how self-centered is that!

    Being raised to be a "submissive wife" I often tend to use the "I'll wait for my husband's lead or decision" excuse. It actually annoys my husband. He would rather I take a personal interest, responsibility, or relationship in the things I need to do.

    M.

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  5. I admit that I've often let my husband (and before him my parents) make decisions for me simply because I'd rather not deal with the responsibility. But so long as this arrangement is agreeable for both parties, I don't think it's necessarily a problem-- although it may mean we have some more growing up to do. :) I try to be laid back about the various forms consenting relationships between adults may take. This includes being patient with myself and my husband in areas in which we may be immature.

    On the other hand, the minutia of our (or anyone else's) interpersonal dynamics are definitely NOT the material out of which to go making a religion, or establishing a self reflecting system of works righteousness.

    CHRIST is our all in all. Thanks for the reminder and a thought provoking post.

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  6. This post is awesome, and makes so much sense. I've been thinking along these lines myself.

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  7. I find it interesting that anyone with a passing knowledge of the Bible can accept anything Bill Gothard says. I also find it interesting that a never-married, childless old guy who lives/lived with his Mother is seen as so "wise" about marriage and children.

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  8. In cults such as Gothard's, the Bible is used render women subservient by asserting that the head of the household is the man. This puts the husband as the rule maker and lawgiver. God did not create women with that ordained authority. When I would ask, "Well, then, what about divorced women?" God does not bless divorce.
    "Well, then, what about widows?" the answer was, "God will give HER the Grace." and the woman who has a husband who refused to get off the couch and work? well, she should just wait until they are on the street and in a gutter. God will eventually come through.

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  9. So, this potential explains why I am on the verge of loosing my mind! Urgh!

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  10. My family has been involved with the patriarchal system directly and indirectly for many years. We could never understand why most of the families called themselves patriarchal when the mothers actual ran things behind closed doors either by guilt and/or manipulation. Great article!

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  11. We were in the ATI program for about 10 years and one thing I do rem4ember is how revered I felt as a wife and mother. I remember sitting through the Advanced Seminar and cringing for my husband's sake because Gothard was so much harder on the men than the women.

    The longer we were in the program, however, it became apparent that you were revered if you were the right kind of woman,had the right look, spouted the right phrases etc. So cult like.

    Early on Inge Cannon was one of the people who always spoke on teaching methods and I really appreciated her. She is a smart cookie. But when she thought that literature ought to be taught and Gothard did not, they parted ways. I felt that the whole thing went downhill after that because here was this strong woman's voice and then it was gone. We go back a long ways, we were in the 3rd year of families who used the ATI material and saw how things evolved over the years. We knew we had to get out and get our children out, though, as the mom I was the one who drug her feet. There is something wonderful and appealing and alluring about seeing several thousand teenagers in navy and white singing "Itg Will Be Worth It All," Bill Gothard's favorite song. I am so thankful we escaped when we did!

    The point about women's blogs is interesting, too. Not long ago I observed that the Vision Forum "affiliates" as they are called are all women. Dozens, probably hundreds of them. But where are all the men bloggers linking to VF and peddling their wares? It I
    S a woman's movement, it truly is!!!

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  12. Call for simplicity? Maybe and maybe not. They are peddling their "simplicity" via very expensive products!

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  13. I think that women have to find some way to rationalize and support the movement, because it is what God wants. The teachings have brutal effects on both of the sexes, but I think that defending the teaching gives women a sense of hope that it will all be worth it in the end. I know that I had to come to a place of submmission and support just to survive.

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  14. Bwaaa-haaah-haaah! I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or cheer. Great article! Brings to mind some of the old things I used to hear: The husband is the head of the home and the wife is the neck, turning the head wherever it should go - Husbands are in charge of all the important things, like world events, the economy, the political scene; while wives are in charge of lesser things, like raising the children, making decisions for the home, and family finances.

    Now, I will say that this was not true in all ATI families. In fact, in many of them the wife was the victimized and depressed person we have come to picture from patriarchy. And some, a small minority, actually functioned quite well as couples. But many, particularly those most vocal about submission, had Mama in charge.

    What I learned, as I counseled these families, was that Gothard had planted a lose-lose scenario in their hearts. The wives were told that they were to support and influence from behind, to be submissive, and then their husbands would be the spiritual leaders. The men were told that they were to lead and be responsible, then their wives would be cooperative and submissive. The success of either was dependent on the obedience of the other. The reason for failure was built into the system. Wives could be submissive, if their husbands would just lead. Husbands would lead, if their wives would just submit. Both were unhappy and unsuccessful under Gothardism.

    Ultimately, the whole submission thing is a strategy to cultivate failure among the people so that Gothard and others can look good. Real leadership in the family came from him. If he said for husbands to build more shelves, they went home and built shelves. If he said for wives to bake whole-wheat bread, they baked whole-wheat bread. Never mind that what their marriage and family really needed was for mom and dad to come to Jesus to be led by Him.

    I would take the premise of this article one step further: it isn’t just feminism that is redecorated and advocated, it is the me-ism of the old motivational speakers. “I can do it, if I just have the right knowledge and tools. Success is within my grasp, by my own effort, if the things in my life can just be controlled.” Me-ism always fails, but it always has something or someone to blame. The submission teaching simply provides scapegoats when the performance formulas fail.

    Dave

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  15. 1. Quoting from the article “Taliban Dan:. . .” by Sarah Posner, hardly gives this author credibility. Sarah Posner writes for RD (Religion Dispatches). Here’s a bit from their “About Us” page:
    “Religion Dispatches is an online magazine devoted to exploring the intersections of religion, values, and public life, nationally and globally. It aims to provide a platform for expert, critical exploration of religion in the contemporary world for a general readership. The goal of RD is to inform public debate by analyzing and critically engaging the role of religion and values on the most vital issues of our time. This will involve bringing a wider spectrum of perspectives into the conversation, especially voices that have been marginalized in most media, and increasing attention to progressive expressions of religion and values.”
    This is not a publication aimed at glorifying God—simply analyzing (from a worldly perspective) religion and it’s affect on society.
    2. Sarah Posner also writes for The American Prospect, among other publications. The American Prospect is, according to the Google description: a “Monthly magazine covering politics, culture, and policy from a liberal perspective.
    3. Of course there’s going to be sin in the camp—Bill Gothard is human, as are those women and men writing and blogging. I know some of these women. By and large, they are writing under their husband’s oversight, and have no overt desire for power over others (as in the pyramid scheme model mentioned.) If they are out from under authority, perhaps those select individuals are in sin. By casting the stone does this author assume his own sinlessness? The presence of sin does not invalidate a ministry. It simply makes that ministry a product of humanity, like every other. If this premise were valid, we would have to disestablish or debunk every Christian institution in existence.
    4. The author admits he doesn’t know the rest of the quote. Being a published author, I know that it is dangerous to pull out random quotes from arbitrary sources. That’s just plain poor journalism.
    5. I have spoken with Bill Gothard, and he is not the man this author represents him to be. Of course if you call him on the phone and put him on the spot about a particular issue, and then isolate his comments, you can misrepresent any person in any desired light. I have friends who know this man well, and know him to be humble, winsome, caring, and personable. He is human and fallible, but no power monger or mind controller. What he knows of husband-wife relationships and parenting, he knows from extensive study of scripture—a pretty reliable source. The very sentiment they quote—they mention that he laughed—being light hearted about it—that was his way of trying to lift up a segment of humanity that is often trodden on. Not because he puts any emphasis on that idea, but because he was called and cornered with a specific question about this topic.

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  16. 6. Simply because the author of the article “Taliban Dan…” omits any reference to Bill Gothard teaching about walking in the good works God has created us for or honoring God with our lives does not mean that Bill Gothard (just a sinful, fallible instrument) omits them in his teaching. We used the ATI curriculum for 12 years, and chose to get out—not with some personal vendetta against Bill Gothard and the program—but simply because God was leading us to other things—further training for His Kingdom. The curriculum was full of scripture, and full of teaching about honoring God, His established authorities, and our fellow man. The program was, as accused, full of steps, also, toward success in various aspects of Christian living. Some view this approach to problem solving as legalistic, but others (and it’s just as valid a perspective) view the step method (merely breaking a problem into bite-sized pieces) as helpful. Grace-oriented individuals should be careful not to condemn those who prefer a more structured approach. Neither is more righteous as long as both look to Christ as THE problem-solver and THE SOLUTION.
    7. It is simply Ungodly to undermine parents in trying to “rescue” daughters from what we perceive to be an oppressive lifestyle. You see, the God of the universe gave each daughter her parents and each wife her husband. If we are willing to cease trying to give God and Ishmael, and trust Him (Jer. 29:11), He will complete his unstoppable plan of mercy and grace in the ultimate manner. When we interfere in order to help him, we just mess things up.
    8. When we are on the outside looking in to a situation, we make a lot of assumptions. My old English teacher used to say “To ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME.” Wouldn’t the Christian way be to spend our hours and days spreading the good news of the gospel and discipling young believers in a God-honoring way to aid in their sanctification instead of devoting entire ministries to breaking down or attacking the ministries of those we don’t understand (and thereby are suspicious of)? Where is the glory for God in a ministry like this?

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  17. Thanks for stopping by, yet-another-Anonymous. Like most online-only conversations in which I engage, I wish we had the time and ability to add some semblance of relationship as the basis of our interactions, rather than the drive-by-debating common to the internet. Shall we imagine a brief visit between you, and my wife and I, in our living room with coffee or your beverage of choice, as I try to address your concerns?

    6. Simply because the author of the article “Taliban Dan…” omits any reference to Bill Gothard teaching about walking in the good works God has created us for or honoring God with our lives does not mean that Bill Gothard (just a sinful, fallible instrument) omits them in his teaching.

    From my experience with Gothard's programs, I recall very little Gospel. This error is not unique to Gothard, but to many Christian leaders: they simply assume their followers/disciples will get that Gospel-of-Grace stuff out there somewhere, and can now move on to the "walking in good works" stuff without emphasis in the work Christ accomplished for us.

    I don't share that (often well-intentioned) perspective. A lover of Christ will be doing all he can (knowing God is at work in him -- Philippians 2: 12-13) to preach the Gospel to Himself, living in light of what Christ has done and will do, not keeping that in the past and moving on to the supposedly more-important truth of walking in good works. Grace, as Gothard defines it, does include the power to obey God, but that is not the most important definition. Gothard in practice acts as thought it is.

    We used the ATI curriculum for 12 years, and chose to get out—not with some personal vendetta against Bill Gothard and the program—but simply because God was leading us to other things—further training for His Kingdom.

    Neither do I have a personal vendetta. But those who purport to teach the Bible should be held to high standards. While quoting verses, setting up systems purported to be based on truth, etc., are they applying right hermeneutics? Respecting God the Author of Scripture by reading and understanding it rightly?

    The curriculum was full of scripture, and full of teaching about honoring God, His established authorities, and our fellow man.

    I've shown above how Gothard severely twisted a single Scripture to make it man- (or woman-) centered, instead of echoing the deeper truth Christ was clearly teaching. Unless the reporter was making up that quote, Gothard is guilty of abusing the Word of God, not like a naive "baby Christian" but as a Christian leader.

    In saying this, I take what he said at face value: he believes women are the greatest because they "serve" the most. That's just not Biblical. Jesus was talking not to women, but to His own (male) disciples, saying they should strive to be the servant of all -- and He Himself showed them how, and became the Servant of All, exalted over all: men and women.

    Gothard is guilty of salvaging other Scriptures to further other goals, and that is wrong, no matter how Biblical those goals might be (such as Opposing Rebellion or Reminded us of Authority). Gothard's woefully wrong reading of the account of Jesus healing the centurion's son, for example, is a flagrant violation of how Scripture should be read: emphasizing Christ, as the narrative does, and not simply the Human Authority Structure.

    The program was, as accused, full of steps, also, toward success in various aspects of Christian living. Some view this approach to problem solving as legalistic

    Some might, but that's not what I argued above. Similarly, Jesus faulted the Pharisees not merely for solving moral problems in step-by-step ways, but for making up laws and calling them God's Law, and rejecting the point of the Law anyway: Christ Himself.

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  18. but others (and it’s just as valid a perspective) view the step method (merely breaking a problem into bite-sized pieces) as helpful.

    Ordinarily I would agree. This would simply be seen as optional methods for doing our part, as Christians, to work out our salvation. But again, two issues:

    a) Gothard doesn't see these steps as optional. He calls them "life principles" and has continued to do this day to say they're not optional.

    b) The steps are often not only extra-Biblical (optional) but anti-Biblical. And adding to what Scripture says and calling it Scripture is just as bad as ignoring what Scripture does say.

    Grace-oriented individuals should be careful not to condemn those who prefer a more structured approach.

    Whether structured or not, all Christians are called to be grace-oriented individuals. That part is indeed not optional! :-)

    And whether or not a parent/person has a specific "structured approach," if it's not based in grace, it's not Gospel-minded -- and would warrant a Galatians-style letter from the Apostle Paul asking with love but passion: "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3). Or he would write a letter repeating what he told the Colossians (in 3: 20-23) about wrong, anti-Biblical "structures":

    “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

    Neither is more righteous as long as both look to Christ as THE problem-solver and THE SOLUTION.

    Which, as I've argued above, Gothard in-practice and even in-writing does not do.

    However, perhaps you, most excellent Anonymous, were able to take what you found good about Gothard's materials and see them through the lenses of God's grace. If so, I rejoice! Yet I would ask that you recognize that others have not been so blessed, and are trapped on a graceless treadmill, trying to earn their sanctification through Gothard's anti-Biblical materials. IBLP does not seem their whole System of beliefs as optional as you and I might see them, free to choose which ones to follow -- or even to depart the whole thing and find better curriculum elsewhere.

    7. It is simply Ungodly to undermine parents in trying to “rescue” daughters from what we perceive to be an oppressive lifestyle.

    I don't oppose that. Are you referring to something I wrote?

    In fact, it's a main mission of Quivering Daughters here to help carry out such rescues, of daughters who are trapped in not only what's "perceived" to be an oppressive lifestyle, but what is -- according to the Gospel, aided by sanctified common sense! -- oppressive and grace-rejecting lifestyles. To see this further, I encourage you to look more on the site, and perhaps read Hillary's book Quivering Daughters and Don Veinot's book A Matter of Basic Principle: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life.

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  19. You see, the God of the universe gave each daughter her parents and each wife her husband. If we are willing to cease trying to give God and Ishmael, and trust Him (Jer. 29:11), He will complete his unstoppable plan of mercy and grace in the ultimate manner.

    But the sovereign God works through means, Anonymous. He has given and encouraged (nay required) Christians to practice discernment, rather than being more passive (a la Gamaliel in Acts) and simply let things happen. Should we also apply the more-passive mindset to the pressing issues of our day, such as sex trafficking, racism or abortion? Surely not. Scripture doesn't leave Christians with that option -- though some of us may have different callings in this.

    As an aside, I hear Jeremiah 29:11 quoted a lot, but out of context: that promise God made to the Israelites then is weakened when we apply it straight to ourselves without the background that He fulfilled it for them. Furthermore His perfect plans for them also involved plenty of hardship and learning from the ways they had rejected Him -- only through better discernment and growth did they have "hope and a future."

    When we interfere in order to help him, we just mess things up.

    Again, the point here is not simply reaching out to women (or anyone) who's in a merely "perceived" oppressive lifestyle, but showing how this lifestyle is not only dangerous, but flagrantly anti-Biblical and not actually honoring to Christ and the Gospel.

    8. When we are on the outside looking in to a situation, we make a lot of assumptions. My old English teacher used to say “To ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME.” Wouldn’t the Christian way be to spend our hours and days spreading the good news of the gospel and discipling young believers in a God-honoring way to aid in their sanctification instead of devoting entire ministries to breaking down or attacking the ministries of those we don’t understand (and thereby are suspicious of)?

    Again, if you are referring to Quivering Daughters, I would ask:

    a) Then why are you trying to oppose this ministry? Perhaps you don't yourself understand what they see, what they know, and to whom they're reaching. The problem with a Gamaliel-like "if it's of God you can't stop it anyway" notion is that it can't be suggested consistently without self-refuting, and it's not what Scripture says to follow anyway.

    b) Yet again, these are about whether a professed Christian and supposedly Biblical organization is actually following Christ and the Bible. I've shown above how Gothard has violated both (as is a proven pattern in how he salvages other Scriptures to fit into moralism machines). If you'd like to engage my ideas in that area, Anonymous, I'd love to listen and reply.

    Where is the glory for God in a ministry like this?

    The glory to God is the same as Paul gave when he publicly opposed Peter for sucking up to legalistic Judaizers (Galatians 2) or called out a professing Christian for anti-Biblical behavior (1 Corinthians 5) or, in love, warned believers to avoid false doctrine and grow to be like Christ with all truth and discernment (Philippians 1, many other epistles). The God of love is also a God of truth, and a Christian's discernment can be practiced with love and hope that the deceptive teacher will repent and correct his false teaching.

    I know God has used others to correct my own wrong notions about "perfect" families, and even what the future eternal existence of a Christian will be (hint: it's not just a spiritual nonphysical realm!). Thus I hope also that those professing to believe the Gospel of grace will speak and listen to one another accordingly, not making or hearing arguments based on man-made logic or inference from Scripture, but based on Scripture rightly applied, pointing to the Gospel.

    Grace and peace!

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  20. devoting entire ministries to breaking down or attacking the ministries of those we don’t understand

    Anon., you did not really just say that here. :P You obviously haven't been paying attention. This blog, and others like it, are created by people who have been there, done that. People who have a very good and complete understanding of such movements and "ministries". People who have seen much pain and gospel-tainting from these "ministries". People who take the Biblical command to fight for those who have no voice and decry those who pervert the gospel of Jesus literally. We cannot stand by when fathers are put in the place of God in their daughters' lives. We will not stand by and watch while the Name of God is used to bind, control, and manipulate. When precious ones reject the very God who loves them because of the behavior and lies of men.

    Where is the glory of God in this ministry? Look around you! it is shining on all the faces of all the people here who have been freed from bondage because one woman decided to stay silent no longer. Talk about "attacking the minitry of those we don't understand". I'm calling the pot black.

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  21. Thank you for pointing out the re-routed feminism concept. I came out of fundamentalism with a sort of patriarchy in the midst and I can testify that this is true. I knew women whose husbands were pastors, thus these women became leaders..just as popular as their husbands..simply because they were married to them. know what they say behind their husbands backs? How they must submit so they don't make their husband's look bad. They know their husband's are weenies and chauvinists. So they submit so their husbands won't look as bad as they really are. Because.. 'how dare you' speak up for yourself and make your husband have to tell you to be silent. Debbie Pearl's book "Created to be His Helpmeet" teaches that philosophy. She describes in detail what kind of personality your husband's are and then tells you how to behave accordingly in order to protect his image. Therefore the woman has total control over her husband in a very manipulative way. She knows her hand rocks his cradle. She remains silent..to protect her secret pants collection. (Metaphorically speaking of course)

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  22. I find it interesting that while anonymous above, (answered by E. Stephen), while accusing E. S. of casting stones, certainly didn't mind picking up one of their own to pitch into the ring...

    Nor did anon. bother to refute the points brought up with scripture.

    hmmm...maybe anon. didn't learn as much scripture as s/he thought they did in that ATI curriculum.

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  23. Alas, should have known one of the above comments had a delay in appearing. Anonymous, if you're still about, it seems I answered your latter points first. But perhaps it was better that way -- those seemed to be more important.

    I do note, joining some of the others here, that you haven't attempted to show why I'm wrong according to Scripture, which is something I would be more eager to hear if indeed I've missed something. Rather, questioning-the-source and he's-a-nice-man just aren't fitting defenses -- especially when you're inconsistently forgetting to do the same with me. Again, I'll go through, hoping to offer firm yet friendly suggestions for things you might have missed, not just because I'm a Nice Guy, but because the truth of Scripture is at stake here.

    1. Quoting from the article “Taliban Dan:. . .” by Sarah Posner, hardly gives this author credibility. Sarah Posner writes for RD (Religion Dispatches). Here’s a bit from their “About Us” page:
    “Religion Dispatches is an online magazine devoted to exploring the intersections of religion, values, and public life, nationally and globally. It aims to provide a platform for expert, critical exploration of religion in the contemporary world for a general readership. The goal of RD is to inform public debate by analyzing and critically engaging the role of religion and values on the most vital issues of our time. This will involve bringing a wider spectrum of perspectives into the conversation, especially voices that have been marginalized in most media, and increasing attention to progressive expressions of religion and values.”
    This is not a publication aimed at glorifying God—simply analyzing (from a worldly perspective) religion and it’s affect on society.


    I knew that already. But that does not mean Gothard isn't responsible for saying what he said, which denied what Scripture was really saying. In my column, I did allow for the possibility that Gothard said more than what was quoted. However, regardless of her intent, that reporter pricked him, and he failed to bleed Gospel. He also directly contradicted what Jesus was saying about "the servant of all." This had nothing to do with women secretly ruling the world through "submission." What He said had everything to do with His male disciples leading through servanthood of others, emulating His own humility, becoming lower than all so that He might later be exalted above all (Philippians 2).

    2. Sarah Posner also writes for The American Prospect, among other publications. The American Prospect is, according to the Google description: a “Monthly magazine covering politics, culture, and policy from a liberal perspective.

    Is guilt-by-association a Biblical way to discern?

    I checked through the article to see if its author treated all Christians that way. Surprisingly, she didn't. Witness the quotes from other Christians, Don Veinot and Ronald B. Allen, whose rebuttals to Gothard are repeated fairly. They're not being attacked along with Gothard simply because all claim to be Christian. The author, though admittedly a liberal, is fair. To follow an ad hominem approach without (or even before) dealing with the actual material is neither Biblical nor fitting here.

    3. Of course there’s going to be sin in the camp—Bill Gothard is human, as are those women and men writing and blogging.

    My objection is not to the presence of any "sin in the camp" (Old Testament metaphor) or whining about how Bill Gothard Should be Perfect and Isn't. My objection to his, and many of his followers', steady pattern of twisting Scripture to fit spiritual, moralistic Systems, and trusting some unknown Other (if even that) to take care of all that trifling Gospel stuff. :-)

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  24. I know some of these women. By and large, they are writing under their husband’s oversight, and have no overt desire for power over others (as in the pyramid scheme model mentioned.)

    That's good to know. Yet in this case, then, it's Anecdote versus Anecdote: your Anecdote that some women are indeed "submitting" from the heart, while others say they have known women who do it the exact opposite. Rock versus rock -- no one wins. Thus my primary objection was not anything like "all women who claim to believe this are hypocrites" (although that's true in too many cases to be coincidence). My primary point was instead: Gothard himself is inconsistent with his own profession to believe the Gospel, and has twisted this Scripture.

    If they are out from under authority, perhaps those select individuals are in sin. By casting the stone does this author assume his own sinlessness?

    This is a misapplication of the John 8 passage about the woman caught in adultery (itself a matter of some debate!). Even if accepted as part of the original book of John, this in no way overthrows Christ's and the apostles' commandments to be discerning, even if they themselves are not perfect. The apostle Paul knew of his flaws, yet opposed the apostle Peter "to his face" because Peter was clearly in the wrong (Galatians 2).


    The presence of sin does not invalidate a ministry. It simply makes that ministry a product of humanity, like every other.

    This is a straw man, Anonymous, though my guess is that you didn't mean it. Your assumption that I've argued "Gothard / anyone else sins, thus we reject them" is flawed. Read the above for a reminder of the true reason I objected. And a true believer, even who is accomplishing good ministry elsewhere, should want to seek gracious correction and change accordingly. Sorry, "we all sin" is no excuse. God's Word calls all believers to seek holiness in the Spirit, even if we are not actually perfect until the resurrection and New Earth.

    If this premise were valid, we would have to disestablish or debunk every Christian institution in existence.

    Fortunately, no one here has argued that premise; it exists only in your perception. I do wonder, though, why is it that you have (by accident, I'm sure!) "projected" an expectation of perfect teaching on others here?

    4. The author admits he doesn’t know the rest of the quote.

    And has also clarified to say that Gothard here not only missed some other trivial, optional teaching about how Christ is actually the greatest Servant -- Gothard actively said something opposite. Even if he scrambled to cover up later, that would have been a self-contradiction as well as a Scripture contradiction. Let us not argue from silence either way. The fact remains: Gothard was pricked, and failed to bleed Gospel. This is understandable for a "baby Christian." For a popular Christian leader, an elder, it's inexcusable.

    Being a published author, I know that it is dangerous to pull out random quotes from arbitrary sources. That’s just plain poor journalism.

    Quite an accusation there. Refer to the above about Gothard's overt contradiction to Scripture, regardless of whether he corrected himself later. Prove he did do that in that interview, and I'll issue a correction. The only real objection that could be made is that I've misunderstood what he said about women being the real top dogs on Earth because of all their "submission." So far I haven't seen that defense attempted.

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  25. 5. I have spoken with Bill Gothard, and he is not the man this author represents him to be. Of course if you call him on the phone and put him on the spot about a particular issue, and then isolate his comments, you can misrepresent any person in any desired light.

    How he speaks in person and whether he is a Nice Guy is irrelevant. I'm sure Joel Osteen, Bart Ehrman and many others are very decent fellows -- that doesn't rule out them being false teachers who need correction.

    Another straw man, though: I did not say he's a rude chap, based on that interview. I said he twisted Scripture. Still that point has not been addressed. As for "it was taken out of context" type defenses, show me the real context, what exactly I've misread, to strengthen that charge.

    I have friends who know this man well, and know him to be humble, winsome, caring, and personable. He is human and fallible, but no power monger or mind controller.

    Again, My Anecdote versus Other People's Anecdotes. Rock doesn't beat Rock. I haven't argued with Anecdotes. But Paper -- Scripture -- beats everything in this little game. Gothard twisted Scripture. Sadly, game over -- unless he were to repent and change. Even more sadly, this has been a pattern.

    What he knows of husband-wife relationships and parenting, he knows from extensive study of scripture—a pretty reliable source.

    Twisting of Scripture, ignoring simple hermeneutics and the Gospel narrative, as demonstrated in this column, on this site and in other sources (available upon request).

    The very sentiment they quote—they mention that he laughed—being light hearted about it—that was his way of trying to lift up a segment of humanity that is often trodden on.

    That is only opinion, and again, another Anecdote that doesn't apply. Lifting up the Downtrodden is a great sentiment -- just like Following Authorities or Respecting Your Parents. But do NOT lift these things above the most Downtrodden One of all, the Greatest Servant. Gothard did that, and it was stepping out from under the "umbrella" of Christ's authority.

    Not because he puts any emphasis on that idea, but because he was called and cornered with a specific question about this topic.

    Another opinion, which I do hope you'll revise -- not offering Alternate Interpretations or Anecdotes, but showing, from Scripture itself, what I might have gotten wrong and how Gothard is actually right that "being a servant of all" is more about women's submission than about all Christ's disciples and especially Christ Himself.

    Though I know these latest comments of mine have carried a more-firm demeanor, I still mean them in love and caution, and wish we had the chance to discuss these matters more personally and with a background of relationship and trust in other ways. :-)

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  26. I am not sure where you got your information or the quote you quoting Bill Gotthardt as saying but I know you did NOT get it from him. I have sat through his seminars more than once and I know that this is not his teachings. He would NEVER say that the woman is the greatest and superior to man. He actually teaches that man is the head of the home even as Christ is the head of the church! If you are going to post things I think you may want to do your homework and find out the truth first! Maybe YOU are the one teaching heresies and false beliefs and maybe YOU are the one who needs to be corrected.

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  27. Anonymous No. 2 would you be so kind as to discuss the column's actual contents? What is your evidence that the reporter simply made up that Gothard said that? That's what someone must conclude, as you seem to have concluded: that because Gothard "would NEVER say that the woman is the greatest and superior to man" this is all a fabrication and a slander against him.

    Maybe YOU are the one teaching heresies and false beliefs and maybe YOU are the one who needs to be corrected.

    Perhaps, but so far no one has challenged my use of Scripture -- only made ad hominem attacks. Due to the responsibility of believers to challenge one another, build up one another in grace and truth, I'd hope to see more than personal attacks and generic accusations from other believers, if I've gone off-track.

    And believe me, I know that's certainly possible -- unlike Mr. Gothard, apparently.

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  28. I would appreciate it if Mr. E. Stephen Burnett would give Mr. Bill Gothard a phone call and ask him personally to explain his view of woman, submission and the aforementioned previous quote.

    If Mr. Burnett is truly concerned that all of us walk in grace, he will not shy away from going straight to the source to verify accuracy. He may want to exhort Gothard personally to walk in grace too.

    Mr. Burnett, please post the results of your phone call with Bill Gothard.

    Thank your for your concern for all of us to walk in truth.

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  29. IF Mr. E. S. decides to make this call, I challenge Roz and anon. #1 and #2 to ask themselves what happens if the call is successful, Mr. E.S. posts a transcript of the call--and it proves the article's point.

    You could, as anon. #2 did, simply say "oh, he didn't say that. Or if he said it, he didn't mean it. Probably E.S. twisted the questions so that (this highly intelligent man B.G.) didn't understand them."

    Or you could be confronted with the fact that your trust in this man has been betrayed: as it actually has. There is documented evidence that B.G. has broken command after command--and not in private where it won't effect his followers, but rather in public: just like this comment was public and is therefore subject to public iron-sharpening-iron.

    Meanwhile...what we really need to do is put off malice and quarreling and deal with the scripture on this issue. Does the Bible teach the type of submission that B.G. and these blogging women teach and exemplify.

    Here's another challenge Roz, anon. #1 and #2:

    Let's go straight for scripture--because then it's not a matter of who has pure motives and unstained ethics. It's a matter of what God asks.

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  30. Often in response to public criticism of a Christian leader — be it Bill Gothard or anyone else — people will ask the critic to make some effort at personal correspondence. Some go so far as to say "you shouldn't have said anything unless you talk to him personally first," a bit difficult to do anyway if the person is a) dead, b) busy or inaccessible, c) unwilling or unable to speak to every single individual critic.

    I'm glad Roz didn't say that. In fact, that's been the most gracious way I've heard that defense (or anything similar to it) made, and appreciate that. I can also certainly appreciate the ideals of Christ-honoring peacemaking, a la Matthew 18, when Christ gives specific instructions for how to handle personal conflicts among believers. That involves in-person discussion, with truth and love, and not simply gossiping to others about the other's sin, or sitting back and assuming he/she meant this, etc. And if the person does not respond well, that also involves taking along others to help, or finally bringing in church leadership in case church discipline is needed for members who will not repent of their sins.

    However, all this presumes one very important factor: the conflict is personal, between people. Gothard has not offended me in this manner, personally (though of course one should take some offense to see God's Word misused and the Gospel supplanted by moralism).

    A similar debate is ongoing against another professed Christian leader, Rob Bell. Like him or not, many of his defenders are too often accusing Bell's critics because they didn't "go to him privately" before offering criticism of something Bell said in public. (This is self-refuting anyway; have the critics of Bell's critics also gone to them privately before criticizing them in public for not doing that very task?) In response to them, Kevin DeYoung, an author and pastor, offers Biblical wisdom and discernment. This also applies to whether a critic of Gothard needs to talk to him on the phone about such an issue, whether or not it's before going public with criticism:

    Good Verse, Wrong Time

    One, it needs to be stated again that this is not a Matthew 18 issue. No one is obligated to respond in private to a promotional video that has been put out in public. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Matt. 18:15). Rob Bell has not sinned against Justin Taylor or John Piper. This is not a personal offense or an interpersonal squabble that should have been left in private. The general rule of thumb, supported by Matthew 18 and sanctified common sense, is we should not make a matter more public than it has to be. But by definition, YouTube videos and Vimeo clips and books and blogs are meant to be public. That’s the whole point. The Love Wins trailer was not a private email correspondence intercepted by the Reformed Gestapo. It was deliberately made public and can be commented on in public.

    Look at how the apostles handled false teaching in the New Testament. There’s nothing to suggest Paul sat down to talk with Demas (2 Tim. 4:20), Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim. 3:8), Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 3:17), or Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20). And even when Paul opposed Peter “to his face” he made a point to do it “before them all” (Gal. 2:11, 14). No one is required to talk to me before they criticize my books, and no one was required to call up Rob Bell before commenting on his Love Wins video.


    — from Two Thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha, Kevin DeYoung, Feb. 28, 2011

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  31. If I'm to try communicated with Gothard, it would be an offer for him to give a written response, in a public forum, to this column. I'd be glad if he wanted to retract what he told the writer, apologizing for salvaging Scripture to use supposedly to "lift up the downtrodden" women while ignoring the downtrodden Savior, about whom that passage was meant to point.

    But that response needs to be public, in reply to my public criticism. Biblical reconciliation in private is a different issue. (Also, as Esther pointed out, how would my own critics know whether I had represented our own conversation fairly anyway?)

    Any one who dislikes the criticism here is welcome to relay the column to Gothard or his people.

    Even if a phone call were appropriate — and workable (does anyone have a number?) — I think what's escaped some of my friendly critics' notice here is that Gothard has a pattern of salvaging Scripture and pieces of the Gospel for Moralistic machines. This is not some brief deviation from an otherwise mostly-sterling record; this is just the latest in a long game. So if we were to meet, and I raised these issues, they would not be new to him. Others have tried this, with no success; he's ignored calls to recant his long-taught notions that have no Biblical support, such as:

    1. Mystical and even divination-like approaches to Christian living, such as assigning medical value to the meaning of someone's name, or saying that "the rock beat is evil in any form" (an actual IBLP booklet title, never retracted to my knowledge) based on no Biblical support and dubious "science."

    2. Emphasizing God's grace mainly as the power to obey God — indeed a fruit of His grace — while minimizing the Gospel call that tells us we do not merit more grace by our own behavior, but are instead covered by Christ's life of righteousness; His Spirit changes us from the inside as we emphasize delight in Him, not Moral Character Improvement.

    3. Gothard's character curriculum, stripped of even minimal Gospel references and shipped to secular environs -- this is fine by a "common grace" perspective, but inexcusable for mature Christians.

    4. Anti-Biblical "scapegoating" of demons or Satan as responsible for sins, often influencing a person through a Thing: a belief system closer to panentheistic paganism, not the Bible, in which Christ assures us that it is not from things but our own sinful hearts that sin arises (Mark 7).

    5. Anti-Biblical insistence that men must be circumcised, rejecting the Apostle Paul's clear proof of the contrary (Galatians).

    6. Anti-Biblical teaching on Following Authority as the only sure source to avoid pain and being exposed to sin (again, sin from an Outside Source, not the inward heart): no better than a more-insidious "prosperity" "gospel," this one not about Mammon but about Moralism.

    With all that in mind, Gothard has a lot more false teachings to withdraw and repent for than a simple slip-up while talking to a reporter for the above-linked article. I wish he would, though. Even at this point in his life, such a warrior for the true Gospel he could be, with his network and communication gifts. ...

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  32. This is an excellent post, I have often wondered the same regarding why it seems that the majority of these blogs are by women and it surprises me that this isn't an issue with the men, thanks for your insights. In my opinion it seems contradictory to say women should be "modest, meek etc." but some of the things posted on these blogs by the women seem anything but to me, such as writing about very personal health issues, posting photos of one's ultrasound, photos of the parents kissing while holding a photo of the ultrasound in front of them. On some blogs the writer even goes so far as to post a photo of the miscarried fetus. While some of these things are not an issue for me per say (though I personally wouldn't want to post such things that all the world could see), I would think that they don't fall in the realm of "modest" etc. It seems to be extremely contradictory that sex on the one hand is taboo, but on the other hand, once one is married it is okay to flaunt it in front of everyone.

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  33. This article was very interesting! Thank you for this post. One to think on for sure!

    The point (although I'm sure it wasn't the main point of the writer) that hit me most powerfully was the conversation his mother had with a patriarchy-leaning mother who had no willingness to think for herself but, could only say I'll need to check with my husband.

    I have lived with this type of Mother who believed whole heartedly with patriarchy. Who won't do a single thing without the permission or blessing of her husband. My Mother has without even realizing it has sinned against God and her daughters with a sin of omission by not using her God given brain to respond and think in situations. It is painful and damaging to have a Mom who finds control in being controlled and then models and teaches her daughters and other women that she the mother has no responsibility for sin since she was only being submissive to her husband and to God. Her utmost responsibility and worship to God is submission. This angers me. This is a cop out. This type of Mother ignored sin in her own home in worship of God. I call B.S.

    ~ Ali

    PS Sorry I wrote with quickly and with passion - there will be mistakes and typos!

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  34. Gothard supporters would do well to make themselves aware of the many people who have tried to discuss their concerns about his teachings with him. This link is one example:

    http://www.midwestoutreach.org/journals/bill_gothard.htm

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  35. @ Violet...no, you have a mind [because you considered the article to be true]...it is the leaders of cult who are trying to take it from you...

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  36. Interesting article. I don't usually leave this information on blogs, because, well, I hardly ever read blogs. I read this one because a friend sent it to me because of how it tied in with a Bible study I recently wrote, "Seven Roles, One Woman: You Expect Me To Do All That?" One of the key themes God developed through the study is finding balance on issues women often take to extremes, including the idea of submission. I think many of you on here would enjoy it. www.growbarefoot.com

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  37. Formulas have no guarantee's except in Science projects.
    People are not formulas, neither do we live in a formula, nor are formulas what God desires for His created beings.
    God desires a one to one relationship, and Gothard's thinking destroys completely the one to one relationship between God and man.
    Walk in the Spirit and that is what helps us to not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
    Gothard, systems, extrabiblical rule makers do not depend on God, but a system.
    And since there are no guarantee's, people are defeated from day one.
    Where is prayer in these systems? It doesn't exist.
    Where is trust? Nonexistent, since it's a formula that is man centered, and when the formula doesn't work right, then people want to blame someone, and usually end up blaming themselves for having failed somewhere in the formula - so devastating to those who encounter failure, or to those striving to "find the perfect system/formula" for it's doomed, even though women may find the "hubby" or have 10 kids or homeschool or whatever, none of those things are answers because formulas are just that..formulas, and that brings in a totally sanitized, nazi-ish, utilitarian, heartless, robotic, and thus a very self-centered existence. There's no room for people, relationships, love, growth, authenticity. Instead it only brings, fear, loneliness, defeatedness, hardness of heart, suffocation, coverups/false pretense.
    Sounds like "Stepford wive-ish" to me.
    Where is hope? There is none, since life is all "planned" out by a human(mother or father depending on who is the "strongest" patriarch).
    PRISON!
    Where is love? You have none, since you cannot choose.
    I have seen incredible woundings, and been wounded myself by people I've encountered who live by the Gothard/Patriarchal mindset. I was fortunate to not grow up in that though, but as a friend, I have been wounded, and grieved at how attacking the women within this movement are(thus the feminism showing/anger) towards someone who speaks up against this oppressive mindset.

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  38. I am very encouraged to hear so many women recognizing and waking up to the reality that JESUS is life, not some formula or system, or book for that matter. Jesus is a PERSON, not a formula. Might as well believe in the "force" then and become a Jedi Knight. Sorry...I just see a lot of parallels between Science Fiction and the "system" thinking.
    Kind of like the Matrix, kind of like...mythology.
    I think that's why many of the participant's in these systems involve themself into fantasy books, and semi-witchcraft. I've found many within the systems read the books like Twilight/Eragon/Christian "Demon" novels/mysticism/some New Age ideas/LOTR fascinations and the like - rather than reality books - lots of escapism and trying to understand reality vs. fantasy, and I've also found some to be living in the past..hundreds of years ago in fact - Middle Ages, Pride and Prejudice thinking that Jane Austen was Exposing not supporting, Civil War not over syndrome, British Israel/Christian Identity - all have commonalities, and this darkness is very present.
    Thus I believe that there is also a spirit behind these systems...demonic influences.
    As for the hope I've seen on your blog...THANK GOD!
    I love how so many women are speaking the truth about their hurts, and that others can gain comfort from that...me included.
    In my own personal experiences over 30 years of "adult" thinking, I had no clue what I encountered, until recently getting super specific in asking the Lord to reveal what I was dealing with.
    Then the Lord said "it's a spirit". I believe behind these formula's and Gothard and others...there is a spirit of anger and deception.
    And thus...proponents of it, are quite the angry and negative people.
    Thanking God I can finally put into words, the things my own personal spirit/soul was hearing, encountering, but couldn't define.
    Thanks for your website. You have the graciousness and insight to speak from a heart that has been deeply touched with compassion. My heart also goes out to those who have been so wounded as to even be blinded for fear of losing control of their own minds/hearts, and God forbid...families.
    There is SO much fear in these homes, and yet they can't see it.
    Perfect love casts out fear.
    God is that perfect love.
    I have had my own journey through the losses of many friends who have bought into this thinking and the oppression was amazing.
    I pray for so many...and recognize..only God can really reach them, but your website confronts and provides answers.
    Thanks!!

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  39. Kathi Woodall,

    I tried to stop by your website to read the bible study your wrote on Women but, I couldn't get your site to work? Is the address you left correct?

    Thanks!

    ~ Ali

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  40. Ali,
    Thank you so much for trying. I'm not sure why it didn't work for you. http://www.growbarefoot.com/

    You might also try accessing it through my blog at growbarefoot.blogspot.com or by clicking my name on this comment and then clicking on Grow Barefoot. I hope this helps!

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  41. Rebecca, after reading your two comments (and thanks for your thoughts and encouragements) I have some questions for you -- open-ended, because you said something that surprised me:

    I just see a lot of parallels between Science Fiction and the "system" thinking.
    Kind of like the Matrix, kind of like...mythology.
    I think that's why many of the participant's in these systems involve themself into fantasy books, and semi-witchcraft.


    Semi-witchcraft: I have seen that, especially due to the related attempts to practice real-life "divination" to discern God's secret will -- something we can't know -- in advance of making Big Life Decisions. (Scripture never encourages this, but instead gives us God's revealed will and wisdom.)

    However, thus far I'm unaware of a large contingent of Gothard followers who are hard into science fiction and fantasy As a buff of each one of these genres, and everything in between, I've seen mainly rejection of them all from culturally fundamentalist homeschoolers and IBLP folks. To them it would be "wrong" to enjoy "worldly" stories, many of which have anti-Christian worldviews!

    But perhaps this is a new trend that I just haven't seen? Can you tell me more, here or elsewhere?

    I've found many within the systems read the books like Twilight/Eragon/Christian "Demon" novels/mysticism/some New Age ideas/LOTR fascinations and the like - rather than reality books

    Ah, but might I suggest that if this is the case, Gothard followers are actually craving the "realities" shown through fantasy in at least the Lord of the Rings series (I've heard mixed reviews at best of the others). Lord of the Rings is anything but escapist. Its own author remarked:

    “In using Escape [... fantasy literature] critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

    For more about this, consider stopping by Speculative Faith and searching that site for our materials on "escapism". (Or for a more personal approach, feel free to email me at Stephen-at-Speculative-Faith-dot-com.)

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  42. Rebecca: The rest of what you said I have certainly seen among these groups and people in my own experience, and seems even more escapist for this reason. Instead of enjoying an imaginary world that never did exist — but which may even in "fantasy" remind us of real elements such as the conflict between good and evil — such readers pretend that this was the real past, in which things were so much better, so much more spiritual than horrible contemporary life.

    I've also found some to be living in the past..hundreds of years ago in fact - Middle Ages, Pride and Prejudice thinking that Jane Austen was Exposing not supporting, Civil War not over syndrome, British Israel/Christian Identity - all have commonalities, and this darkness is very present.

    Agreed, of course, that Austen was exposing, not supporting, the fakery and hypocrisy of her era!

    Similarly, many visionary stories such as Lord of the Rings in its darkness and realism, promotes "escapism," not away from tough truths, but toward them -- taking us away from the mundane details of everyday like that often obscure the fact that we are constantly in a spiritual battles.

    And speaking of which ...

    Thus I believe that there is also a spirit behind these systems...demonic influences.

    Perhaps so! Yet I know that 1) sinful people/demons can corrupt and salvage even good things like the Bible and Lord of the Rings for their own rebellious intentions; 2) people are quite disgusting enough in their sinful nature to come up with this junk on their own!

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  43. Women I knew in ATI really didn't "wear the pants"...they just told their husband WHICH PAIR TO PUT ON!..it's a little sneakier...and nobody really sees it, unless they wake up like I did.

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  44. Rebecca, How is science fiction/fantasy to be overly associated with a system/legalistic Christian Worldview? From what I have seen and experienced is that most of the legalistic crowd shy away from any and all forms of escapism. Although I would disagree that those particular forms of writing are necessarily used by christians to escape.

    there are demonic influences at work in this world as related through Scripture but one thing we must remember is that sin comes from within: it is a manifestation of what lies inside of us....our lusts, pride, and fleshly desires. any system can be corrupted by human effort.

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  45. Thanks for your interesting post. Whilst I haven't personally experienced what you describe, or know any woman who acts in that way (my experiences have been very much of the husband/father-as-ruler type), I can easily believe that such situations exist.

    However, I'm commenting because I'm concerned that you are criticising feminism as being deceitful matriarchy.

    Patriarchy was the cultural norm of the Old Testament, and therefore the Jews. It wasn't placed into being from the beginning, however; God created male and female perfectly and in perfect accord. It was when sin entered that we see women becoming subject to their husband.

    As Christians, we have been freed from the curse of the law. Our marriages are to be a symbol of perfect fellowship, reflecting Christ and the church. The Bible tells us to be subject to each other. Of course there is the much maligned 'women to submit' and 'men to love', which, considered in context, is promoting the same outworking.

    Most patriarchalists would describe a feminist as a women who is selfish, wanting to abort, not have children at all, only interested in her career. Undoubtedly there are many women--and men--just like that, who call themselves feminists. But feminism arose, on the heels of Christian women, as a protest against the misogyny and conditions imposed upon them by a patriarchal system. Its intent was not to exalt woman. It was, and at its heart still is, to promote mutual respect and equality.

    Perhaps this is coming back to semantics. I'm not trying to suggest that one label is better than the other. But I would appreciate it if you criticised the actions, rather than the label. Labels mean different things to different people, and I think you are doing many a disservice by suggesting that women who are working to dismantle misogyny and in fact attemtpting to set themselves up as power hungry goddesses.

    Perhaps you could describe what you see as feminist?

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  46. Thank you Thinking Mama for bringing this up. That aspect of the post was really bugging me and you articulated it well. Feminism contains extremely diverse perspectives many of which hold great value for the believer. Surprised? I was! Evangelicalism and fundamentalism are rife with misinformation about it.

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  47. Thinking Mama..VERY WELL WRITTEN! However, I think that sometimes we tend to highlight the 'label' and blame the label 100% because of the fact that some labels contain enough negative elements to not only HIDE evil doing, but to FUEL it in a very sneaky way and/or a very forceful way. For example, some blatant labels would be, "Tax Collector"; "Samaritan"; "Nazi"; or for these days, "Muslim".
    It does not mean that every single soul within that label are "BAD"; but it does mean that the place where they are dwelling- will not only make room for the worst thing possible, but it will defend it.
    I have caught myself doing it. I am sure you have too. :)

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  48. Great ideas here, but a bit over thought and excuses the guys...simply put and what I would focus on is the end of your post about looking for the kid after 911-now that is powerful

    “I think no force in heaven or hell could keep me from picking up the phone to try to find my kid under those conditions and I wouldn’t need [him] to tell me what to do,” my mom said.

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  49. Submission to your God-given authorities is biblical. I Peter 3.

    Submission will always be a struggle for woman because of the fallen curse. see Genesis.

    However, a wife is called by God to submit under her husband's God-given authority regardless.

    Women who fight against feminism are not fighting against feminist - they are fighting against what feminism represents - which in many circles is abortion, rebellion, and other non-mentionables.

    Wives who are defeated and fearful are choosing rebellion instead of obedience. True submission is represented clearly and beautifully in a woman given over to God's authority.

    Blogs who are considered Titus 2 should follow the mandate to teach the younger women to be keepers of the home, lovers of children and husband, not gossips, etc..

    Many of the blogs you are talking about do just that by means of recipes, organizational and cleaning tips, training and raising children, pratical and applicable articles on topics mentioned in Titus 2 and I Peter 3.

    I have noticed a take on simplicity lately, but I don't believe it has to do with a particular group of people. I beiieve it has to do with the fact that many women over complicate their lives by cluttering, taking on duties that are not hers to take on, and confusion. So those who are more organized and living a more simple life can teach those that are not.

    Women are instructed to follow the Titus 2 mandate and if it happens via a blog, praise God.

    We can get all caught up in these doctrinal differences, but I wonder what God thinks of all this nonsense.

    In the book of Philipians Paul spoke of this very thing. Some were preaching Christ out of Love -others were preaching Christ out of Jealousy - Paul finally came to the conclusion - who cares as long as Christ is preached.

    No one man has the complete truth - but there is one truth - and that is Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen for the sins of the world. All those who receive and believe on Him, shall be with Him in eternity. The rest is heresay.

    Let God be the judge. And let those who seek Him diligently and sincerely keep the course.

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  50. We can get all caught up in these doctrinal differences, but I wonder what God thinks of all this nonsense.

    What God thinks is what He has revealed in Scripture: that God's people are to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Moreover, all the ideas you outlined are themselves doctrinal arguments: women should do this and that, teach other women, et cetera. The very statement that "doctrinal arguments don't matter" is itself a doctrinal argument, Far Above Rubies.

    It is wrong to dismiss doctrine disputes (that is, the ones one doesn't personally care about) as "nonsense." No one is "far above doctrine."

    Thus I challenge you to rethink whether you can make an argument that "the Bible says this" and then inconsistently dismiss other issues as mere "nonsense" and "doctrine disagreements." They are all doctrine disputes.

    Moreover, nothing I have said above calls into question whether women can share recipes on blogs. Instead, if you read it again, yo will find firm and Biblically based challenges against emphasizing "Biblical womanhood" as if this is the most important message of Scripture or cause to fight in the world, without which men (or God!) are doomed to fail in their missions.

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  51. In the book of Philipians Paul spoke of this very thing. Some were preaching Christ out of Love -others were preaching Christ out of Jealousy - Paul finally came to the conclusion - who cares as long as Christ is preached.

    And if you will read the column again, you will find the argument that this is the problem with Gothard's statement and many "patriarchy" practitioners. They are not preaching Christ or the Gospel, but hijacking Him as a means to supposedly higher end of being a "keeper at home," et cetera. Even good gifts and practices become hideous idols when separated from the Gospel.

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  52. While I agree with some of your article I can't help but wonder that if the very word of God can be twisted and misunderstood on so many levels and in so many ways, why the words of Mr. Gothard or anyone else must have been clearly understood by all of their critics.

    I read both the article here and the one from which you quoted and there are statements from people who were a part of the program and even one couple who was never able to afford the seminar (less than a hundred bucks) but were able to afford the ATI resources from which they taught their children (how they were able to procure it when you have to attend the seminars first is a mystery as well).

    These statements are simply accepted without any thought being given to the very real possibility that what they heard or extrapolated from the teachings may have been seriously off target. Isn't it entirely possible that they heard something, misinterpreted it and or implemented it in a fatally flawed way?

    As I read through the articles and quotes I was dumbstruck. All of the seminars I had gone to were recorded and surely they didn't use different recordings for those I didn't attend (although it's possible) but the things these people "learned" at the seminars was completely foreign to me.

    As far as the one scriptural 'error' you point out I'm guessing you would have taken Paul to task for his misappropriation of a scripture applying to oxen treading corn and how it was surely written to the ox. Given the context of the question he was asked is it still wrong to use that particular principle in scripture to answer the question or are you saying that Christ had no female disciples (ignoring the most faithful, save John, who followed him to the very foot of the cross)? Your insistence seems rather patriarchal to me.

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  53. While I agree with some of your article I can't help but wonder that if the very word of God can be twisted and misunderstood on so many levels and in so many ways, why the words of Mr. Gothard or anyone else must have been clearly understood by all of their critics.

    I read both the article here and the one from which you quoted and there are statements from people who were a part of the program and even one couple who was never able to afford the seminar (less than a hundred bucks) but were able to afford the ATI resources from which they taught their children (how they were able to procure it when you have to attend the seminars first is a mystery as well).

    These statements are simply accepted without any thought being given to the very real possibility that what they heard or extrapolated from the teachings may have been seriously off target. Isn't it entirely possible that they heard something, misinterpreted it and or implemented it in a fatally flawed way?

    As I read through the articles and quotes I was dumbstruck. All of the seminars I had gone to were recorded and surely they didn't use different recordings for those I didn't attend (although it's possible) but the things these people "learned" at the seminars was completely foreign to me.

    As far as the one scriptural 'error' you point out I'm guessing you would have taken Paul to task for his misappropriation of a scripture applying to oxen treading corn and how it was surely written to the ox. Given the context of the question he was asked is it still wrong to use that particular principle in scripture to answer the question or are you saying that Christ had no female disciples (ignoring the most faithful, save John, who followed him to the very foot of the cross)? Your insistence seems rather patriarchal to me.

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