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In Wisdom Booklets and in other manuscripts, Bill teaches that every choice–no matter how trite–is “good” or “evil.” He teaches that “gray areas” indicate a presence of evil because gray is a mixture of light and dark. He teaches that people who believe in “gray areas” operate on a failure to distinguish right from wrong. In the Wisdom Booklet, an example of this is the choice between wearing a clip tie and a long tie. Gothard explains that the gentleman choosing the clip tie made the correct choice that day because he ended up in a battle with a crook who could have strangled him with his tie. In all actuality, the moral decision wasn’t “hmm… what do I wear today?” It was “hmmm… should I obey dress code today and wear the standard-issue tie as mandated by my employer?” (he was a police officer) Obedience was the issue. Not what to wear! We often heard that even the color of the carpet was a moral issue to him. The fact that I don’t believe the choosing of a carpet color is a moral issue doesn’t mean that I don’t know the difference between good and evil. It means that even though I know it’s morally wrong to STEAL the carpet, I believe that the choice of color is a non-moral issue.
In continuation with Bill Gothard’s step-by-step systematic way to live, there’s the subject of courtship. The term “courtship” comes from the days of old when a man “courted” a woman instead of “dating” her or “going out” with her. Mere terminology. In recent years, “courtship” refers to more of a potentially supervised relationship in preparation for marriage. Bill Gothard’s brand of courtship is intricately linked to his teaching of authoritarian parenting and systematic, mechanistic prescriptions for life. According to Mr. Gothard, each area of life is governed by a military-like chain of command. Therefore, why should dating/courtship be any different? Marriages would surely fall under attack if not gone into without the chain of command in place.
Mr. Gothard is so caught up in his “umbrella of protection” concept that he can’t see reality. He has no idea how REAL families operate. Not Beaver Cleaver families. Not Stepford families. But REAL families. He claims that “Satan cannot get through to some sons and daughters unless there is a leak in the father’s umbrella.” He teaches a philosophy that as long as sons and daughters abide by the demands of the father, their lives will be successful. In his seminars, Bill teaches that if a father/husband’s authority is not properly recognized, then all else will fall apart. If the wife fails to submit to her husband, her children will be rebellious. The success and failure of the family hinges on how everyone in the line of command responds to the father. It really bothers me that Bill refuses to see the countless families under his influence that were falling apart due to power hungry, authoritarian parents and not because of rebellious children. Will he ever wake up and see that the huge generation of parents who were drawn to ATIA were attracted to it because it fed their hunger for self-centered control in the name of religiosity? And so now with his “courtship” development, he’s giving parents continued propaganda about the biblical standard for leading their children to marriage. Every control-obsessed parent’s dream!!!
Back to the pendulum swing again: Scared parents. Perverse society. Huge divorce rate. Then a hero emerges on the scene and provides promising answers.
I began my relationship with God while under Bill Gothard’s teaching. And like I stated earlier, for a time, I ignored the small little seemingly “non-issues” that I found disagreement with. My thinking was “let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.” But Bill Gothard is someone who condones authoritarian parenting, replacing God with self, child abuse, creating choices as non-optional principles by twisting Scripture, and redefining grace erroneously. Therefore, I have been compelled to take a step back and rethink: “This bathwater is so dirtied by extra-Biblical teaching that the baby needs to be found elsewhere.” I hope you’ll take a step back and do the same.
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