How “Counseling Sexual Abuse” Blames and Shames Survivors

18 April 2013, 06:00

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Versions of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) document “Counseling Sexual Abuse” were distributed at Advanced Training Institute (ATI) Counseling Seminars for over a decade. The document speaks for itself, but Recovering Grace would like to point out how victim-blaming and/or callous dismissal of abuse survivors’ pain is built into almost every one of the document’s ten points. Commentary follows below the document image.

Counseling_Sexual_Abuse

 

Points 1 and 2 downplay the sexual abuse victim’s physical suffering as damage to the “least important” part of a person, with no mention of other possible effects of abuse.

Point 3 condemns the victim for self-damage (presumably to mind, will, and emotions left untouched by the abuser) and rebukes the victim for feeling not only bitterness, but also guilt.

Point 4 explicitly suggests that the victim invited the abuse by enticing the abuser or by earning divine wrath. This is a particularly stark example of Gothard’s theology: Gothard presents a God who passively or actively allows sexual abuse as just punishment for “immodest dress,” “indecent exposure,” “being out from under protection of our parents,” or “being with evil friends.” When this document was published, the IBLP operational definition of the term “defraud” was “to stir up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled,” and a version of this definition is still used by IBLP. In the IBLP document, “Lessons From Moral Failures in a Family,” this concept of modesty and temptation is also applied to the sexual abuse of very young children.

Point 5 explicitly speculates that the sexual abuse victim is likely guilty for some part of the abuse or its aftermath, and appears to directly contradict Point 3, which reprimanded the victim for damaging his or her soul with guilt. “Moral vaccination” seems to reference a concept Gothard shared in seminars and conferences in the 1980s, when he told the story of a woman who struggled with unwanted sexual thoughts and eventually was raped. In the anecdote, Gothard described the rape and the woman’s subsequent aversion to sexuality as inoculation against lust.

Point 6 leads with the default assumption that the abused is usually at least partly at fault, presenting the guiltless abuse victim as an exception. This guiltless victim is told what great spiritual power he or she can expect to be compensated with after being sexually violated. While it appears that we have at last reached a bullet point that doesn’t chide or censure sexual abuse survivors, Point 6 has a dark reverse side that makes it as toxic as Point 4; if the abuse victim is not experiencing all seven evidences of being “mighty in Spirit,” does that mean he or she was not truly faultless in the abuse? If a survivor of sexual abuse does not adequately exhibit “spiritual discernment” and “creativity,” or feel “energy, enthusiasm, joy,” and “inner peace,” is that evidence of guilt or complicity in one’s own abuse? The standard for being “not at fault” is not only to have demonstrated perfect modesty and obedience before the abuse (by IBLP definitions) and to have harbored no guilt or “bitterness” after the abuse, but also to demonstrate seven arbitrary qualities of an extraordinary super-Christian soon after the abuse. It is a subjective test of guiltlessness few could pass.

Point 7 is an interesting choice of Biblical example of sexual abuse, but has some merit. Here Gothard conflates correlation with causation, indicating that Daniel’s wisdom, understanding, and position were direct compensations for physical trauma. Also telling is the absence of rape victims Dinah and Tamar as examples of guiltless survivors. Other IBLP materials denounce these women for inviting or failing to thwart their own abuse.

Point 8 presents a vicious false dichotomy that pressures the abuse victim to symbolically “choose” sexual abuse as a necessary accompaniment or gateway to being “mighty in Spirit.” This is not mere acceptance that the past cannot be changed, nor just a choice to make something positive of the situation going forward; this is a theoretical active choice in favor of being abused. Here Gothard defies his own admonitions to his followers to avoid answering questions about hypothetical situations.

Points 9 and 10 echo Points 1-3 in condemning any “bitterness” the victim may feel — and by word count this is apparently a far greater concern than the sexual abuse itself. The document presumes to know the exact reason for any “bitterness” on the part of the survivor: “He damaged your body.” No other reasons for anger or pain are considered here, and no other possible negative effects of sexual abuse are mentioned. In a trichotomistic document that asserts the importance of the soul over the body and the primacy of the spirit over both of these, negative effects on the victim are relegated exclusively to the lowest level, the physical, then effectively dismissed as petty. This slyly suggests that any continued pain or difficulty the survivor experiences is the result of carnality or insufficient dedication of the spirit to God. The document assumes that the victim is not already dedicated to God, and was likely not adequately dedicated to God at the time of sexual assault. Point 9 is a master stroke of passive aggression against survivors who would dare express any ongoing spiritual or emotional distress resulting from their sexual abuse. It silences survivors whose stories have not yet culminated in complete spiritual triumph.

Instead of the usual IBLP language of tearing down strongholds, reclaiming surrendered ground, and replacing strongholds with “towers of truth,” Point 10 advises victims to reclaim surrendered ground and “cleanse with rhemas.” This contextually unusual choice of language is darkly jarring in light of the feelings of being dirty that so many sexual abuse survivors report experiencing. Point 10 subtly supports the idea that sexual abuse survivors are in special need of purification.

The damaging potential of “Counseling Sexual Abuse” is not theoretical. The damage has already happened. The teachings outlined in this document have had devastating effects in the lives of real people. Click here to read one story directly affected by these teachings.

 If this sexual abuse series brings up any emotions that you would like to process with a professional counselor, please e-mail us at: support@recoveringgrace.org. We would be happy to recommend some professional counselors who are associated with the Recovering Grace ministry and who are familiar with the fundamentalist background of ATI and IBLP.

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

111 Comments

  1. "Bubbles" April 18, 2013 Reply

    This was very hard to read. I was sexually abused when I was a little girl (this was before we joined ATI) and never told anyone. I was a scared 6 year old. When I was 21, I went to the Indianapolis Training Center (ITC) for a program and while I was there a girl asked me if I had ever been raped. I was shocked that she could tell just by observing me. She told me her younger sister had been raped. Mrs. Gergeni was told and I went to her office to call my Dad and tell him. I cried on the phone, all the pain and hurt coming to the surface. I'm assuming Mrs. Gergeni told Bill, because the next day I was called to his office for a meeting. I was asked many questions, embarrassing questions that I did not want to answer. I didn't show the signs of repentance, and was told that I was to start counseling with one of the pastors on staff at the ITC. I was given projects (along withe the school work I was doing) that were about giving ground to satan and how the abuse was my fault (at 6 years old!) This paper has hurt so many people. I'm just one. I still feel the effects of this teaching. I have to remind myself that it wasn't my fault.

    • Rachel April 18, 2013 Reply

      I am so very sorry. I can’t even wrap my mind around an adult that would think it is EVER the victims fault, let alone a child! It is not your fault! IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!

    • Anonymous April 19, 2013 Reply

      I'm am so sorry. And so angry reading this. You were six when it happened. You needed support, an advocate and someone to help you heal. And they just went on to treat you like you were a teenager experimenting with drugs or something.

      • Anonymous April 19, 2013 Reply

        And just a follow up comment - Sexual (and other) abuse happen in ATI families because of attitudes like that. Reveling what happened to you was very likely to make the situation worse so it was better to live with the shame/pain that you knew then deal with more/unknown/different. The groundwork was laid for little, normal things being blown out of proportion. My father could get angry over the littlest things and I would get blamed for my siblings doing something wrong (oldest daughter who was supposed to be responsible for the younger ones and all that). So why in the world would I want to let someone know about something major when a) I didn't have a relationship groundwork to talk to my parents and b) I figured I likely going to be shamed and blamed for it??

    • Lauren S. April 19, 2013 Reply

      I'm so sorry. You deserved to be stood up for, not beaten down even worse. May God bring the healing that only he can for both of these terrible abuses.

  2. Tangent April 18, 2013 Reply

    I never saw Gothardism in such a clear light before your analysis of this publication. I feel so angry and grieved for all who were subjected to such spiritual and emotional abuse after the horror of sexual abuse. Not many things move me to tears of anger, but this does.

  3. Clinton April 18, 2013 Reply

    This is disgusting. I spent most of my childhood under Gothard's teaching, and it sickens me to remember the legalism and victim-blaming that goes on there. It's great to see a website like this that helps survivors.

  4. Lauren S. April 18, 2013 Reply

    This enrages me as someone who has never experienced sexual abuse but who has been confided in by some of my dearest and closest who have. The first point alone exhibits such a baffling level of foolishness and lack of understanding. (To use some of Gothard's pet words against him.)
    Sexual abuse only damages the body?!
    As though our bodies have no connection to the rest of our selves? There is a reason we have a variety of levels of appropriate physical contact with any individual, a reason we only give a handshake to a stranger but have sex with our spouse.
    Why does a hug give comfort if our spirits are not affected by what happens to our bodies? Why do we pat a baby's back to soothe it? For goodness sake why do we have the capability of touch at all? Why was sex created, BY GOD, a physical act to give our whole selves to our spouse and experience spiritual, emotional and physical connection?
    This teaching is telling about what Gothard thinks about healthy sex too. It is so bizarre.
    I took the Advanced Seminar in '06 when I was 18. At that point I didn't care about it one way or another, I just went because I had to. Part of me has a hard time understanding how I thought at the time to not walk out of each session shaking with anger at how God was being misrepresented. I am thankful for the changes in my thought life that have occurred in the last 7 years. So much freedom.

    • Josh S. October 27, 2013 Reply

      Lauren, I believe your comment perfectly lights up a part of Gothard that shows why he participates in his continual unwanted contact with young ladies. Gothard believes the body is separate from the rest of our being, we can just 'turn on and off' feelings and emotions, and if we can't we're in sin. Perfect, perfect setup for a spiritual groomer. 'If I touch you, it's just your body. If you struggle with it, you're in sin.' Just wow. Of course he'd downplay the abuser!

  5. E. Stephen Burnett April 18, 2013 Reply

    Another example of the absurd and even horrible notions the "person is divided into three parts" teaching can be used to justify. You'd think such a minor issue wouldn't be used like this, but just look at the way 1 Cor. 4-5 is used to promote the subtle, Gnostic assumption: "Even if you were abused, your body doesn't really matter, only your soul and spirit." Most people think this is just a very interesting mystical trivia about the Bible; others, as this document clearly shows, build on that false doctrine and use it to justify all kinds of spiritual-sounding but evil nonsense.

    • Laura iversen April 18, 2013 Reply

      Yes this same gnostic heresy has been damaging believers for thousands of years and is at the heart of all abuse. Downplaying the value of our bodies and declaring them unimportant or dirty and sinful causes a multitude of problems.

  6. Heather April 18, 2013 Reply

    Islam anyone?

    But seriously, the same folks who declare that sexual abuse doesn't harm your soul, most likely believe that any pre/extra marital sex sin, does harm the souls of those involved. Inconsistency much?
    What a ridiculous and evil teaching. Evil because it causes further damage by LYING to those who have been harmed, making it their fault. Tell someone who was molested or raped as a toddler that it's there fault, they 'gave ground' or seduced, or some such nonsense.

    Number 5: Failing to report allows others to be abused.
    Here's looking at you Gothard. This point right here, is the primary reason this website even exists; to warn other people about YOU and your practices! (it's probably one of the few fact based points on this document.)

    • Rachel April 18, 2013 Reply

      Heather, I noticed point 5 as well. Bill failed to notify the authorities in several cases of abuse. He even sent the victims back into the home of their abuser. This man has no conscience.

  7. Darcy April 18, 2013 Reply

    This is horrible. :(

  8. Nauseating. I'm eating lunch right now, so can't really get into the document. I scanned it though. GREAT WORK on exposing the lies. So much of that thinking is still so deeply ingrained in me, the work of healing continues!

  9. David Pigg April 18, 2013 Reply

    In point 6 the author,editor of the comment hits the nail on the head."It is a subjective test of guiltlessness few could pass."Never mind comment9,the "master stroke".I was around Gothardism in the so called submitted body movement of the 70s and 80s.Ron Rhoads wrote a book about this called "Damaged Desciples".Gene Edwards seeing the danger in false authority also wrote a book called "A Tale of Three Kings".Although some spoke out against Gothardism then,too many christian leaders were endorsing it right and left.These two books never were indorsed,...at least not to their potential..Will Hunsucker may be right when he stated that on the national level Gothardism still is basically unfortunately unchallenged.How can one be in this movement,endorsing it and not be an autmaton,passive,inwardly devastated?The so called superiority of those established in authority created a caste system hard to challenge harder to get out of. May God strengthen anyone weakest so called of the weak to give a testimony and be given the compassion of Jesus,instead of false hypocasy from the status quo of a fallen movement.

  10. Eric April 18, 2013 Reply

    "6. If abused was not at fault...."

    IF?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    • Heather April 18, 2013 Reply

      Once again I refer to Islam. If a woman is raped, she is punished severely (think public whippings, 100 lashes etc), if not actually executed, for allowing herself to be raped, esp gang raped. Typically the men who commit these atrocities maybe get a slap on the wrist if anything at all. While this document obviously doesn't endorse anything so physically horrible, the same underlying attitude is there. The attitude of blaming the victim, and abusers can get away with it. At the very least, that seems to be how it was applied in practice. There are stories on this website that confirm this.

      • cnner May 7, 2014 Reply

        Reading old comments here, but I thought I would just put it out there how you know the abused was NOT at fault: if she died, or killed herself afterwards,unable to live with existing within a defiled body any longer (or whatever else people think drives victims to suicide) I have yet to see a victim blamer who when pressed for how to know when FOR SURE IT WASNT THE VICTIMS FAULT, their argument boils down to this. The only sexual assualt victims that get a break in our culture (like say, only 3/10 comments below the article insinuate she did something to deserve it/ask for it, instead of every single comment)are the dead ones.

  11. "Hope" April 18, 2013 Reply

    Makes me angry and sad reading this. So twisted! And the exact opposite of what a victim needs to hear.

  12. grateful April 18, 2013 Reply

    This "counseling" is so messed up, its beyond words.

    Ladies and gentlemen, as you may have guessed from reading my comments from time to time, often my sympathies were toward Gothardism, however,after much thought and gentle wisdom from many at this website, I hereby renounce any affiliation with Gothard. Alfred, will you join me?

    • Heather April 18, 2013 Reply

      Thank you, grateful. I'm glad we were able to help you see the truth. God bless you and yours!

    • Kiser April 18, 2013 Reply

      'Grateful'

      Thank you for your humility in expressing your change of heart. Thank you for the time and prayer and thought I know must have come with considering all sides and facets of the issues raised and addressed here. Thank you for sharing with us all your renouncement of your former sympathies. I know you are welcomed by myself and many, many others, not as a conquered foe, but as a dearly cared for member of the growing family of those rescued from the bounds and bonds of Gothardism. God bless you!

      • grateful April 22, 2013 Reply

        I appreciate your comments. At some point you have to just recognize the truth - kind of like salvation. Once the truth confronts you, one must make a decision. I can no longer support a ministry that perpetuates the kind of false teaching as represented in the article above. (really just one of many examples, I'm sure) I had misgivings from the first seminar years ago, but the "fruit" was so attractive.... anyway, thanks.

    • MatthewS April 18, 2013 Reply

      I know from experience that can be such a long and difficult road. I have always sensed that you are a seeker of truth and I applaud that.

    • Gary Sellars May 22, 2014 Reply

      That's how brainwashing works.

      • Don Rubottom May 22, 2014 Reply

        Gary, a tit for tat brainwashing allegation misses the point. One side is correct. Either Gothard is Biblical or he is not. Either he teaches the truth or he does not. I understand your frustration, but this site began and persists in communicating Biblical Grace in confrontation with authoritarian legalism. Defend the truth, if you think it is suffering on this site. What falsehood has 'grateful' accepted?

  13. WendyA April 18, 2013 Reply

    I think the part of this document that angered me the most was points 2 and 9 (they work together). It's not "just" my body, and therefore unimportant. GOD states clearly that our bodies MATTER to Him.

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is probably the clearest statement of this idea: "Don't you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you have received from God? You do not belong to yourself! You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

    If my body is God's temple and he lives there, then I think it matters very much when someone violates my body. I think this is made clear, too, in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: "Don't you know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." That being the case, I think points 9 and 10 are superfluous. My body, especially if I am a professing believer, is ALREADY God's. I don't need to "dedicate" it to Him because it already belongs to Him.

    Granted, we are told in Matthew not to be afraid of those who can kill your body but not your soul, but I don't think God intended that to mean that it was OKAY if someone damaged your body. Just that those people are not to be a focus of fear for us. (He goes on to say that you should fear Satan, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.)

    AND Jesus made it pretty clear that those who "offend" the children are in deep trouble. If it would be better for a person to be tossed into the ocean with an enormous rock around his neck than for him to "offend" a child, then I'm pretty sure that a person who sexually violates a child is facing very serious consequences.

    For the record, though, points 5 and 6 just make me furious. For all the obvious reasons.

  14. Flynn April 18, 2013 Reply

    I point blank asked Bill Gothard in an email about 2 months ago why I had heard numerous reports of abuse being reported to him, and he in turn either a) sent the victim home (when the victim reported being abuse by someone there) or b) why he or IBLP staff failed to call the proper authorities (CPS, the police, etc). His answer? "Rather than further correspondence, I believe it would be wise to pray for each other. Let's pray that God will give both of us the wisdom and power to follow His perfect will." Interesting answer to a pointed question, if you ask me. It would seem Mr. Gothard fails (or failed) to follow his own rule(s).

    This document is hugely disturbing.

    • esbee April 18, 2013 Reply

      His answer? "Rather than further correspondence, I believe it would be wise to pray for each other. Let's pray that God will give both of us the wisdom and power to follow His perfect will."

      Slick Billy does it again with his answers...I think he missed his true calling-he should have been a lawyer!!! He even asks that God will bless you with IBLT/PBJ/BLT version of grace ---Let's pray that God will give both of us the "wisdom and power to follow His perfect will.

      • RyanR April 18, 2013 Reply

        Hey now! I'm a lawyer and I wouldn't stoop that low - lol!

        • Miss Thang April 19, 2013

          I love you Ryan! :)

    • Heather April 18, 2013 Reply

      Did you save those e-mails? Maybe that could be another article.

      • Flynn April 19, 2013 Reply

        Yes, Heather, I certainly did save those letters! I will see if perhaps I can work them into an article at some point (hopefully soon!). I think the fact that he refused to answer is damning for him; I would not be surprised if his legal advisers have told him not to answer any such questions.

    • "Hannah" April 19, 2013 Reply

      Has BG said this to more than one former student in correspondence, recently? B/c I know I've heard that, before, and pretty sure it wasn't from you. Which makes me think the whole "apology" letter he sent out last year, in which he encouraged any former students to contact him if they were offended? Was all bs. He doesn't want to hear, he doesn't want to change, he doesn't CARE unless it affects his image. Reminds me of the circular arguments I used to have with my parents: "If you will just share with us, we will listen." Then as soon as you open your mouth, "You are out from under authority and giving yourself to Satan! Stop talking!" These sort of people DO NOT intend to truly consider your concerns. Ever.

    • David D. April 23, 2013 Reply

      Bill Gothard did not sink into the darkness without resisting the conviction of God all along the way. He is past the point of appeal -- that has been attempted thousands of times over the last 40 years. You are dealing with a man that is hardened. His religious-sounding answers, such as, "thanking his enemies," mean absolutely nothing. Bill Gothard teaches many false things about Christianity. But the real problem is that he teaches a false Christianity -- another gospel and another Jesus. And those that support him are partakers in his sin. Sorry to be so blunt, but this is the terrible Truth. Get to that root and everything else he does all of a sudden makes horrible sense. So if Gothard wants prayer, I am praying for his salvation and deliverance.

    • Heather April 23, 2013 Reply

      I neither want, or need his prayers. I'd be scared of what he's praying for if he's praying for me..

  15. Sad April 18, 2013 Reply

    This ties in perfectly with the article about Lessons of Moral Failures. I had never seen this Gothard...."publication" before. (certainly more uncomplimentary descriptors come to mind, gonna try to stay polite here) But now that I have seen it, it perfectly explains the issues I ran headlong into when I tried getting help for an abuse victim when I became aware of what had happened to them. To blame the victim...for being a victim, is just simply horrifying. And to hear that ole B.G. himself would not report actual criminal abuse incidents certainly helps explain why the family I knew wanted nothing to do with a proper investigation and criminal charging. Horrifying!

    I truly hate to think of how many other victims were made even bigger victims by this wretched thought process. And just how many are trapped inside this insidious, wrong, cage they have been placed into?

    This makes me wonder if there should be picketers with signs out in front of the Seminars that are held about the country. I surely would have had no idea the wrong things that go on within this alleged ministry without having gone through them myself and finding other people through sites like this.

    Mr Gothard, if you ever read this stuff, please repent of such erroneous practices before more lives are damaged. Otherwise I am forced to pray against your works.

    • KariU April 19, 2013 Reply

      Picketing has been known to happen since the birth of Recovering Grace. ;-)

  16. Mercy April 19, 2013 Reply

    I haven't been sexually abused, but that document made me feel sick. I appreciate the step by step detailing of all the wrong thinking permeating this document.

    I found it frustrating that #5 shames the victim for not reporting it, yet the rest of the document heaps shame on victims, questioning their complicity in it or, if guiltless, demanding they become spiritual giants. #4 says abuse might have happened because you weren't under proper subjection to your parents, so how is a CHILD supposed to report abuse if the abuser IS a parent?

    What a travesty: cruelty masquerading as "counseling."

  17. anonymous April 19, 2013 Reply

    If I am created in God's image, then is what is being done to me done to God, too?

  18. "Hannah" April 20, 2013 Reply

    #5: "sexual molestation builds stronger marriages." Hooray!

    Ack!

    I suppose BG meant much of this as comfort for the victims. Rather a twisted, strange sort of comfort? I'm really not sure.

  19. StaceyM April 20, 2013 Reply

    That in NO way would help with healing from abuse... Going through healing, and making the necessary steps to find myself able to forgive and legitimately ask why it happened is not something that should be done until healing has already taken place... Hearing these things as a child made me feel like I had done something so wrong, and was a horrible sinner...Being told that in so many words as a child sucks, and what child makes up abuse like that?

  20. Chris Symonds April 20, 2013 Reply

    Well if this all gets into the public domain and Bill is held to account by the law we know pretty much how his defense is going to go. It was everyone else's fault for not making him accountable!

  21. shadowspring April 20, 2013 Reply

    Thanks you for exposing this evil organization by publishing their literature! This is horrific, and anyone using these materials to "counsel" someone should be sued for malpractice. Just awful.

  22. Pingback : How “Lessons From Moral Failures in a Family” Blames Victims | Recovering Grace

  23. MatthewS April 20, 2013 Reply

    If you were reading this document as one who had been abused and you were seeking help, you would not be able to avoid the sense that the only thing that has been damaged is your body, and that this is not really so bad after all. Meanwhile, any bad feelings you may have (no mention being made of trauma or even righteous anger) are going to be identified as bitterness and as something you are at fault for in harming your own soul/spirit, which here is presented as the worse evil.

    This could turn into a blog post of its own, but others in the past have pointed out that Gothard has Gnostic tendencies. This document is an excellent example of that tendency shining through. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that sets the soul or spirit against the body in this way, as if the body were less important or less good. That style of thought is Greek, not Hebrew and not Christian. In such thinking, the body was necessarily defective in contrast to that which was perfect, which was "spiritual" or immaterial. However, in Scripture, in Paradise, God created physical things, including our bodies, and they were "very good." We are holistic beings, not separate pieces plugged in together like separate computer components. When we remember the Lord's Table, it is with physical bread and juice/wine as we remember his literal physical body which was literally broken and physically raised to life for us.

    It's hard to tie this up in a bite-sized comment, but to summarize, I believe that this document is partly the fruit of Gnostic-style thinking, with presuppositions that are anti-Biblical. I think Gothard is more Greek than Godly here. The document tells a lie: it whispers that an attack at the deepest level was really just an attack on the least important part of you. But this is not true. The attack, and often there is an accompanying betrayal as well, was against your entire person, material and immaterial, and God saw it and he was not OK with it.

  24. MatthewS April 20, 2013 Reply

    Yet another way to express it: If a person wanted to put it in terms of the Old Testament prophets, these words are not "thus saith the Lord" but "thus saith Bill", and in this case he speaks as a false prophet. He is forth-telling an anti-Scriptural philosophy, not Scriptural truth. The Old Testament prophets who were true prophets literally had a word from God to give to the people. They brought revelation. False prophets claimed to speak for God as they spoke from false visions and false revelation. God let them get away with it for a time, but not forever.

    Isaiah saw people who were performing the outward rituals but God was not impressed. He said,
    “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
    Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
    Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
    “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
    then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday....

    Bill Gothard has a pointing finger and a malicious tongue. He name-calls and demonizes those who would dare question his "prophesying." But he has not brought light and healing. He has not freed the oppressed, clothed the naked, or fed the hungry. He sits on a $90 million empire and sweeps victims under the rug, which happens to be an expensive, custom-ordered red carpet, purchased to fulfill his personal vanity. He may have meant well at points along the way, but from my vantage point, the actual fruit of his ministry seems to show him to be a false prophet and a false shepherd.

  25. Lynn April 20, 2013 Reply

    Matthew, I appreciate your insight. I want my children to learn how to rightly divide the Word of God. Thanks.

  26. Alfred Corduan April 22, 2013 Reply

    There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that sets the soul or spirit against the body in this way,

    Matthew: I am kind of surprised at this statement. By you, of all people.

    Since I am no stranger to bringing the wrath of an entire assembled audience down on my head, why quit now? Explain this verse:

    "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (1 Cor. 6:18)

    That certainly does seem to segregate sexual matters ("fornication" = "pornea") . . . to the body.

    • grateful April 22, 2013 Reply

      Alfred, join me please in rejecting this ministry. It is a façade.

    • MatthewS April 22, 2013 Reply

      Alfred, you already have a discussion in the works with David elsewhere on RG. I'm willing to let the two of you continue that without me getting involved in yet another explosion of rabbit trails with you. I am aware that you have been asked to focus on the Scripture posts rather than these types of posts about sensitive subjects. Your style of involvement tends to result in hijacking and derailing.

      You seem to be citing 1 Cor 6:18 in defense of this document in question. I will copy-paste the passage in context. If you believe that this Scripture in some way defends the document in question, so be it. It's a free country and that is your right to believe so. I respect your right to fly that flag with pride, that a victim of sexual abuse should be told that what has been damaged is only their body, and therefore it is not really so bad after all.

      12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

      18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

      • Heather April 22, 2013 Reply

        Matthew, I always thought the text, 'whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.' contextually meant that willfully sinning sexually was a sin against YOUR body, as opposed to sinning against someone else's body. That in the context of a consensual sin.
        Being raped, molested, or otherwise physically being taken advantage of, is not a sin on the victim's part, ESPECIALLY if you are a child/childlike, and don't know any better. And Alfred, that is the point of this discussion.

      • grateful April 22, 2013 Reply

        Matthew:
        You have been as patient as can be (see 2nd Tim 2:23,24)- avoid foolish questions ...

        Alfred: Whip out your Zodiates and do a word study on "variance" - it is one of the manifestations of the flesh found in Galatians. Quit splitting the hairs you happen to find on the carpet and focus on the monster that is in the room. Look him in the eye.

    • Heather April 22, 2013 Reply

      You're still alive.. Good to know.

    • Alfred Corduan April 22, 2013 Reply

      Matthew: Yes, that is the Scripture. It does seem to imply that sex sins damage the body only, even of the perpetrator. Since that seemed to be a major problem with the recommendations given, it seemed worth pointing out. If you disagree, I wanted to hear that, and why.

      This would explain how Daniel could escape so unscathed spiritually when, as a teenager, he was held down by burly soldiers and sexually mutilated. Which was another point in the perspectives offered.

      As I see it we really only have 4 options when dealing with a horrific abuse like this, given that God is all powerful:

      1) He allowed it for a specific loving purpose.
      2) He didn't know about it (some people are more important than others).
      3) He did know, but didn't care (other priorities are more important).
      4) He was powerless to stop it (sin just has to "happen" in God's world).

      Since 1) appears to be summarily eliminated, please help me understand how we are to understand the sexual abuse that is perpetrated against innocent children, including some near and dear to me. Which option is in play?

      No, I am under no restriction, Matthew, other than to stay on topic. And this, God willing, we will do. As for the discussion elsewhere with David, I gave up after several attempts . . .

      • Mercy April 22, 2013 Reply

        I believe in God's sovereignty and that He can use horrific things and redeem them, bring something good out of them, and create beauty from ashes.

        However, just because He does so does NOT mitigate the horror of the evil perpetrated on victims. In Mt. 18:7 Jesus said, "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" and also Mt. 26:24, "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born."

        Joseph's brothers meant what they did to him for evil but God meant it for good. That still doesn't change that what the brothers did WAS evil and that they needed to confess and repent their sin.

        • "Grace" March 2, 2014

          Having attended *numerous* basic and advanced seminars led by Mr. Gothard, having ***written*** him a note in the early 80s imploring him to publicly clarify in his seminars why the victim of sexual abuse needed to "get back under authority", and especially so, in cases when the "spiritual" authority was the abuser OR one who **enabled** the abuser's actions, having listened to sincere (albeit HORRIBLY deceived) so-called "nouthetically"-based Bible teachers/"counselors"/pastors *excuse* the abuser (John Vaughn in SC, for one), while sternly ordering the victim of sexual abuse to "go back and get under your proper spiritual authority", and having endured the untold harm of "Biblical" ministries (led by males who ***refuse*** to speak/write/communicate the truth of Fundamentalisim's **abuse of spiritual power**), I urge all who have experienced such violations of body, soul, spirit (yes, all are included when one has been the victim of sexual abuse) to immediately *leave* such ministries (whether they are churches or "para-church" organizations), and to not.turn.back. May our God pour out His overwhelming compassion, and renew and refresh each victim of sexual abuse and cruel disbelief by "spiritual leaders" HIS merciful healing. Banish the LIES that "GOD put you under [that person's spiritual] authority"; speak GOD's truth of "who" you truly are in Christ: You are beautiful (and not "trash", "unclean", "dirty", "guilty", or "responsible") and made in GOD's glorious image!

          ***Allow*** GOD to bring you **His** healing *without* the so-called "counseling" ministries of the legalistic, grace-despising ones who paint this website (and similar ones that unashamedly shine the Light into deep darkness) as evil, slanderous, and of malicious intent. Our God would *never* condone the evil that you have experienced! With prayers for the continued healing of each survivor of "Christian" sexual abuse who visits this site...

      • Jay Rowland April 22, 2013 Reply

        Alfred, I'm afraid IBLP is paying you by the hour! :) Please consider the overall story of the Bible before arguing verses here and there. Can't an evil tongue speak words that hurt more than your eardrums, and more than your brain that processes the words? To the subject of sex, are you saying that your wife wants only sex, but no intimacy? That's not the picture of intimacy that God paints...He teaches of intimacy going beyond our bodies. Intimate sins hurt beyond our bodies.

        As for your list of 4 options above, what happened to the option where: God allows us to make choices, and he can take even our most evil choices and work them toward good, in order to show his power and glory.

        Following the story of Joseph that "Mercy" mentions above, your advice to Joseph would have been to obey his arguable authority, Potiphar's wife, accept her rape of him because either he has no free will or because it doesn't matter because his body is separate from himself, and grow mighty in spirit. But the story didn't go like that.

        But now we're both being silly.

      • Karen Richmond April 22, 2013 Reply

        You're reading the contrast wrong. This verse is contrasting sins that harm others primarily with sins that harm yourself. It is not even addressing the issue of the soul vs. body.

      • Jay Rowland April 22, 2013 Reply

        Jesting aside, Alfred, a though occurs to me that puts this in serious perspective. I believe that at some level you hurt for the people sharing these stories of abuse. And I know...if Bill Gothard truly sexually harrassed girls or aided their abuse, then his sin will grieve your mind, your soul, your spirit. It grieves/hurts Christ's Spirit. And your body wasn't even involved.

        In light of that, how easy to understand that the person whose body was sinned against would be hurt beyond their body?

        • Heather April 22, 2013

          Alfred, I would like to take Jay Rowland's comment one step further. Suppose that gang that lives near you got ahold of one of your precious daughters, and she lived through it.. (God FORBID that ever happen).

          I imagine that your entire family, and you especially, would be torn up inside, grieved, angered, horrified, etc.. down to the very depths of your soul. (which, by the way, would have a physical effect on you: aging, etc.) And this crime wasn't even done unto you or your body. Can you imagine what she would be feeling? How it would have damaged her in so many different ways?

          I apologize for making such a bold and graphic statement, and the administrators may remove it if they see fit. I only want to make you see what you just said, from a different perspective.

      • "Hannah" April 22, 2013 Reply

        What about #5: God gives us a free will, and allows us to hurt each other?

      • Jesse Plymale April 24, 2013 Reply

        Alfred, I don't see the implication here at all that "sex sins damage the body only". I Corinthians 6:18 does *not* state that sexual sins only damage the body but do not damage the soul. As the context shows, he is emphasizing the unique and terrible kind of damage sexual sins do.

        Plus, that passage was directed towards people who were seeking out prostitutes and thus were on the "committing" end of the sexual immorality. Thus it is a stretch to apply it to people on the receiving end of sexual abuse.

        Your use of that verse is a prime example of prooftexting. In Bible School they taught us that was a Bad Thing.

        You also state that the reason that "Daniel could escape so unscathed spiritually" from being made a eunuch was that "sex sins damage the body only". The book of Daniel definitely does not make that correlation, or give any simple explanation for Daniel's perseverance.

        I believe that the reason that Daniel had a deep spiritual life after such abuse was because of the greatness of God's grace working in his life, not because the sin committed against him was unable to affect his mind, will, and emotions (soul). The glory goes to God for the healing he is able to bring to those who have suffered from the deep hurts of sexual abuse.

  27. Beth April 22, 2013 Reply

    There are many possible taxonomies of the "parts" of an individual, including the Gnostic radical dualism of the physical and non-physical. More to the point of this article, Alfred, you have spoken in the past of people close to you being sexual abuse survivors. Would you wish one of those people to be counseled according to the guidance of points 4 and 5 from this list? Cast under suspicion of guilt for not adequately exhibiting all qualities listed under point 6? Dismissed or derided for being pettily focused on the physical by points 3 and 9?

  28. Pingback : When Asking “Why” Does Not Bring Answers | Recovering Grace

  29. Kimberlyreed April 22, 2013 Reply

    Alfred- let's pretend you are 100% right about the body/soul thing. Can you not see the bigger picture of what is happening? Gothard is ignoring abuse, blaming the victim, painting it a rosey color and calling this okay! It. Is. Not. Alright.

  30. Mercy April 22, 2013 Reply

    I've mentioned before that, though I didn't grow up in ATI, I enjoy reading here because so much of the teachings resonate with me.

    This article was a perfect example. The beginning of the document above was exactly what Dr. Bob Wood was preaching in the sermon linked below, calling the body "the throw-away part." He was the VP of Bob Jones University, my alma mater.

    http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2013/02/evil/

    • "Hannah" April 22, 2013 Reply

      I hear, you, Mercy. I would not be surprised to learn that people in these circles borrow concepts and materials from each other. Well, okay, I know they do, at least to a certain extent.

  31. MatthewS April 22, 2013 Reply

    btw, another example of blaming and shaming the victim occurs in Character Sketches, the material about Abigail: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2011/10/a-tale-of-two-abigails-part-two/

    Full disclosure: I am the author of that piece, with some editing help from some friends. It concludes,

    This passage clashes with Gothard’s extreme and dangerous emphasis on submission to all authority at any cost. He did not find the clear reading of this passage to his taste, so he twisted it to create his own “bad report” against Abigail and a not-so-subtle threat to survivors of abuse everywhere that their own actions would be “hated” by the Lord, should they take initiative. The lack of submission that this interpretation reveals is not Abigail’s, it is Bill Gothard’s. Gothard is unwilling to submit himself to this passage. Instead, he is attempting to force Scripture to submit to him.


  32. esbee April 22, 2013 Reply

    the reasons listed above for sexual abuse (or any bad thing happening to Christians) might be more palatable if these reason were added to it--all are based on scripture


    1. it is a fallen world so many bad things happen

    2. The devil came to steal kill and destroy

    3. It rains on the good as well as the bad.

    4. We do not know the answer to everything that happens because we see through a glass darkly

    5. God can take bad and turn it around for good.

    6. God offers healing for those who hurt.

    7. God allowed the thing He loved most, His Son Jesus to endure the most horrific death to pay for the sins of the world. If He did not spare Him....


    But probably the best answer to any question as to why it happened is a hug for those who are hurting as we really do not know the real reasons.

  33. Alfred Corduan April 23, 2013 Reply

    Mercy: ”Joseph's brothers meant what they did to him for evil but God meant it for good. That still doesn't change that what the brothers did WAS evil and that they needed to confess and repent their sin.”

    Agreed. But . . . Both Joseph’s and his brothers’ ability to heal from that sin was strongly affected by the notion that God had everything firmly under control. It helped both Joseph (“I am a senselessly damaged victim”) as well as the perpetrators (“I am a hopeless animal”)

    Jay/Hannah: ”As for your list of 4 options above, what happened to the option where: God allows us to make choices, and he can take even our most evil choices and work them toward good, in order to show his power and glory.”

    That is option 1, where He accepts the evil that He can use toward His best purposes for us, and vetoes the rest. Not a hair falls except by His will.

    The victim has no choice in getting abused, but God does. God either allows or prohibits that evil. Either way, He is in charge. His choices trump the choices of evil people. Do you agree? “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” (Psalms 76:10)

    [Unless you mean the victim has a choice? Your reference to Joseph vs. Potiphar’s wife . . . victims often have far more power than they realize. Having the courage to fight back. Joseph exercised that power. God owns our bodies, and nobody has the right to violate God’s property. Teaching children how to head off events that have not yet occurred. ]

    ”In light of that, how easy to understand that the person whose body was sinned against would be hurt beyond their body?”

    Of course. The question, though, is whether the perpetrator or the victim have the final say in how much hurt and for how long.

    I saw a gripping documentary a couple of weeks ago of the hunt for a pervert who entrapped young college women, and then killed them. His last victim was brutally abused, skull crushed, left to die in her burning apartment. She survived with severe brain injury. The man was convicted and put away for life. The young woman was interviewed, speaking very haltingly . . . when asked how she had moved on, she said – slowly, with a smile: “I forgave him . . . I won”. She was in no way unhappy that he was getting punished . . . but she had won by releasing him to himself and the law (and presumably God). . . and moving on. It brought tears to my eyes . . . seeing her smile, her hopes and plans for the future. There will not be a day that she is not reminded of what this man did to her . . . but she let him go to his fate, and she moved on with what God had left her with.

    Ultimately we have to release people to God’s sovereignty and justice to be free. This woman was free. I think the counseling notes are trying to go there.

    Daniel should have been bitter toward the government that took away his ability to marry, have children. By what they did he was banned from the temple for life, BTW . . . so this involved every aspect of his life. But he accepted that God knew what He was doing. And He did.

    Heather: I have no problem with you speaking directly. Yes, I would have all of those emotions. I get angrier than most anyone I know. But . . . if I didn’t have a place to rest such an evil, I would go insane. I do not want to go insane, so I become a little child and eventually accept it from Him without even necessarily knowing exactly why He did it.

    Kimberlyreed: ”Gothard is ignoring abuse, blaming the victim, painting it a rosey color and calling this okay! It. Is. Not. Alright.”

    I think we all need encouragement, right? Pretty hard to believe that God loves me when He allows senseless crimes against me. Rather than ignore the abuse, Mr. G is giving the victim the power to “overcome” . . . to get the strength to leave the scene of the crime. To win.

    • Anonymous April 23, 2013 Reply

      No. He's not giving them the victory to win. He's telling them everything THEY did wrong that caused it. He's placing the blame on an innocent person and allowing a wrongdoer to justify their actions.

      You have no. clue. what it is like to be a child and be told that YOU caused bad things to happen to you. That it's partly/all your fault.

      God is not a puppet master and in a sinful world bad things happen. Satan is alive, well and powerful. You try explaining to a victim of abuse that "oh, it's okay because God let it happen" then tell them they can trust a God who lets things like that happen?

      God will triumph over evil. He is stronger then it, bigger than it. His grace is greater than all our sin.

      He makes it very clear his stance on any sin in the bible. Particularly sin towards children "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Mt 18:6

      A God who caused something bad to happen to a child yet still makes a statement like that would be a hypocrite.

      You say "But he accepted that God knew what He was doing." NO! he accepted that God was could still use him despite what evil men had done to him. Of course if Bill Gothard had been around then he could have lived in fear and trepidation for the next several years figuring out just what he had done wrong and working hard to prevent himself from causing something else to happen to him. But instead he had confidence that he hadn't caused it and that God could triumph over the evil of man.

      • Heather April 23, 2013 Reply

        Thank you anonymous.

    • David D. April 23, 2013 Reply

      You said that Joseph's brothers ability to heal from their sin was strongly helped because they saw they NOT hopeless animals? Is that what helps us heal from sin -- to see that we really aren't so bad because, after all, God was firmly in charge while we were sinning? Your ignorance is appalling. Freedom and healing from sin is only possible if you see you are indeed, and these are your words, "a hopeless animal." We have to see that we are hopeless -- that IS the Truth. And we have to embrace and confess that Truth. There is nothing we can do about ourselves. Only if we see this will we understand that God's free grace is the answer.

    • "Hannah" April 24, 2013 Reply

      So, you're saying that we have only limited free will? I've heard this philosphy before, it's been called, "restraining power of the Holy Spirit" on both believers and unbelievers, but I'm not sure there is any Scriptural support for it.

      Beyond that, I'm not sure you realize how your assessment comes across as a slap in the face of the sexually abused. Sure, God could have stopped it, and he didn't... But I'm unsure if that's the most compassionate point to focus on, in the face of something like this. That puts the blame on God for the evil actions of my perpetrators, and I think the perpetrators alone, stand to blame.

      You know, I have friends who have turned away from God, by your very logic? God could have stopped this, but he didn't... And my question to them, is usually, Why was God obligated to intervene in the affairs of men? It wasn't because God loved or didnt love you, it was for the rules of free will and of (mostly) nonintervention.

      So, I see it as something of a slippery slope. Because the logic is all pretty much the same until you get to the final conclusion, only difference is that, right at the conclusion, my atheist friends turned one way, and you turned the other.

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  35. Alfred Corduan May 1, 2013 Reply

    Anonymous: “You have no. clue. what it is like to be a child and be told that YOU caused bad things to happen to you. That it's partly/all your fault. “

    Some of the things that adults have told children in that context is beyond belief. Obviously well meaning people are looking for a way to make sense of things . . . sometimes it is far better to say nothing. And in any legal context imaginable, the pervert bears 100% of the blame.

    But . . . as the case with the law of men so the law of God is also “without respect of persons” . . . and ignorance does not shield us from its consequences.

    If a lamb wanders from the shepherd, the innocence of the lamb will not protect it from the wolves. The Bible is full of instructions to children . . . which their parents and church leaders have the solemn responsibility to diligently teach them. If the mother said “don’t leave the yard”, and the child does, and the wolf attacks, does the child bear any responsibility? If a child is told to never touch the gun and curiosity gets the better of them and they accidentally shoot a friend, does God hold the child accountable? How would you answer?

    He makes it very clear his stance on any sin in the bible. Particularly sin towards children "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Mt 18:6

    A God who caused something bad to happen to a child yet still makes a statement like that would be a hypocrite.


    How much comfort is it to the child who has stumbled and lost everything that the perpetrator should have been at the bottom of the sea . . . but isn’t? If I were the pervert, I would be scared . . . but what if I am the child?

    The world if full of wolves and perverts . . . they generally never get what is coming to them in this life, and we don’t have the ability to hurt them the way they deserve. That is why the “blame game” is very ineffective in helping people cope. 50 years later, and they are still broken. If there were a way to “walk away”, should we take it? Many people have reported profound freedom when applying the steps outlined above in the fear of God.

    God can – and does – turn an intended bad thing around to be a good thing as only He can . . . and if He can’t, He vetoes it. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." (Psalms 76:10) “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) This is kind of where the rubber meets the road. DOES God control everything to make sure it only helps and not hurts us in the long run, especially where we “love God” and are pursuing His purpose?

    David: ”You said that Joseph's brothers ability to heal from their sin was strongly helped because they saw they NOT hopeless animals”

    Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. “ (Genesis 45:5) More or less first words out of his mouth. He forgave them, and told them to forgive themselves, because God had their insanity firmly under control (and they were clearly repentant).

    Hannah: ”Sure, God could have stopped it, and he didn't... But I'm unsure if that's the most compassionate point to focus on, in the face of something like this.”

    Is this true . . . or not? We are being a bit schizophrenic, it seems . . . we say, “random consequences of sin happen” and then quickly add, “Of course, God had it under control”. Seems like statement two cancels out statement one.

    If true that God could have stopped it – why didn’t He?

    1) Because not doing so was really better for us in the long run

    2) Because He didn’t know

    3) Because He had priorities more important than our well-being.

    If we cannot speak to that, no wonder folk abandon the God we profess. If practical tragedies frankly cancel out this massive “Love of God” that we keep talking about, we are fools. Option 2 is not worthy of a God to worship . . . Option 3 flies in the face of every definition of personal “love”.

    Ultimately, through my tears and pain, I choose 1) . . . there is no other answer. If so, it is truthful and compassionate to remove a crime from the category of “random tragedy” to something that God planned ahead for and is still working out. Something I would have chosen had I known everything that God knows, as one day I will. Bringing God's sense to a tragedy brings freedom.

    • Anne-girl May 2, 2013 Reply

      Alfred, I think you should read the article "What Forgiveness Isn't" that was posted on Monday....

      • Alfred Corduan May 2, 2013 Reply

        I did, Anne-girl. I really liked it. She clearly has grappled with this real time. Obviously there was a point you wanted me to get . . .

  36. Inet Händel June 3, 2013 Reply

    My own daughter was a victim of sexual abuse by a male relative of her day care provider. On the positive side, such that there is, she was at a beginning stage of being "groomed" for greater abuse and our family communication and dynamic was open enough that she told us the very same day, so we were able to quickly act to protect her. Sadly, we heard later of other little girls subjected to various incrementally and significantly worse abuse.

    Some decades ago, my parents insisted I go to The Seminar. (Which is what they called it, and you could hear the capital T)

    They had already gone to The Seminar several times before. My parents bought (literally and figuratively, I recall the the books and tapes, and stadium tickets as rather pricey) into this hook line and sinker, and were at the time also attending a church with very restrictive rules (no card playing, no dancing, etc.) The denomination seemed to work a bit like a franchise, as the particular congregations seemed to have a great deal of independence, and this particular congregation also wholly embraced Gothard. On the other hand, oddly enough, we were still also attending our original church, and from my standpoint, gladly did not adopt or at least enforce most of the rules of the Gothard influenced church. I bring this up only because this also led, in my opinion, to a rather bizarre combination of the stereotypical and frequently parodied aspects of both churches without any counterbalance, and served as a multiplier for The Seminar concepts.

    It has been difficult to teach my child to comprehend the wrongness of her perpetrator's actions, and that process evolves as comprehension increases. But after reading this article (and some of the replies) and other articles, I am shocked to think that anyone would consider any child even partially "at fault." Or that the counsel of The Seminar could in any way in any universe be considered healthy. I also fear, had we as a family ever adopted The Seminar, the very real possibility that she would have acquiesced to "authority" and allowed greater abuse to occur, and the further damage we would have caused in our response if and when we learned of it.

    Having been taught (but in my case quickly rejected) The Seminar, I can't even begin to imagine the greater long term harm that has done to other individuals.

    Being a young kid (but the minimum age required to attend The Seminar) in the cheap seats of a stadium, I'm glad I didn't really pay that much attention to one guy droning on with the worst A/V imaginable. I'd already been brought up in a faith and even at that age, didn't see a particular need to gravitate away from it, and began The Seminar irritated at missing school, team practice, etc.

    But, in the short and long term, I do believe Gothardism, in great measure has caused permanent damage to any meaningful relationship I may have had with my parents. I would never inform them of this incident, and now I realize why: I could never counsel my daughter in this hideous way, and why I have also not and will never seek counsel for any of the other challenges of parenthood.

    (Yes I'm using an alias here.)

  37. Inet Händel June 12, 2013 Reply

    Actually, I wasn't really in a position to "reject" anything, insofar as the IBYC as it was then known as, influenced a great deal of my upbringing. I know many others here have had much more destructive experiences, though.

  38. Pingback : Good Counsel? | Recovering Grace

  39. Tiffeny January 18, 2014 Reply

    Alfred: Why are you posting on this website? You sound like my parents. Dude, you sound like you are trying to re-victimize already hurt people with your words. If you believe BG is so great, why aren't you using your energy to gather more helpless victims instead of hackling people who are trying to give each other support? I firmly believe in the power of confrontation and assertiveness. The brainwashing and trauma produced by ATI adult members and leaders taught us to be quiet and submissive. No more! but I guess that lifestyle must be working out for you, so maybe you are on the abusive side? for as many victims as there are there are also perpetrators.
    TO all adults still embracing ATI before their children: Time to call you out! We are surviving and thriving! you can keep defending your and others abusive actions and the teaching and tactics that avoid accountability, we are getting well and living well, we are growing spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically and we will not live in fear ever again!

  40. Amanda January 22, 2014 Reply

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw that paper again. It's been almost 10 years but the pain that paper caused me is still fresh. I was abused and my parents done nothing when my abuser tried to rape one of my very young sister I knew her pain and insisted that our parents get her counseling. They took us to big sandy tx and a lady with that paper talked with us. We left more damaged then we arrived and I wished I had never asked my parents to get counseling for us. This brings back sad memories but its also very helpful. Thank you

  41. Pingback : The Nasty Word: Abuse | dandelion.obsession

  42. Chris Huff February 28, 2014 Reply

    The chart upon which the whole argument is built is based on a false platonistic/jungian anthropology. Dispensationalism has made far too much out of the alleged distinctions between "body, soul and spirit". I not only prefer dichotomism to trichotomism, I affirm that the real teaching of Scripture is more to the point that man, while having both a physical and a spiritual component, is a UNITARY being - a "living soul", being a body in which there is the breath of life, and even in the next life will require a physical body in order to be complete. The faith once delivered to the saints is found in the Reformation-era (early and late) Confessions and Catechisms, and anything that gets too far from what they say is going to be in grave error. False doctrine, even about the nature of man, provides many false applications.

  43. Abigail Eustace March 5, 2014 Reply

    Wow, just wow. As girl who grew up in a home-schooled family and was molested as a teenager by my Baptist grandpa, I have nothing but utter shock and disgust for this "counsel." It actually seems demonic to me. And I do NOT use that term lightly!
    In the 6 years since my abuse, I have informally counseled various young women. The way the Holy Spirit has counseled me, and the way I felt led to counsel those young women, goes directly contrary to these lies. My heart goes out to those whose pain may have been deepened and their healing delayed through this false counsel. God CAN still bring beauty out of the ashes.
    How can we tell people that sexual purity is important, because what they do with their body they are doing with their entire being.... and then turn around and tell them that abuse only affects their bodies? It's a lie! If our bodies are actually made in the image of GOD, and meant for the Holy Spirit to actually DWELL INSIDE as His TEMPLE, how in the world is desecrating our own or others' bodies, "just" physical? I could go on and on about each point but let's just say God has brought about my healing in ways that directly contradict this sheet on every single point.

    • Abigail Eustace March 6, 2014 Reply

      I just want to correct myself, and say, not every point is off... but any merit in #s 7 & 10 is mitigated because of the context of all the other points

      • Wendy Roden May 22, 2015 Reply

        I am so sorry. I have been there. Things that I cannot say on a public forum but I have been there.

  44. Getaclue May 18, 2014 Reply

    In Gothtard's world a sleek, sexy sports car is responsible for being stolen, not the thief. That car looked so beautiful and was away from its owner so that's what it had coming. Somehow the judge wouldn't buy that excuse and neither should we.

    There is no excuse whatsoever you can ever provide for Gothard not having reported known abuse, and to send those CHILDREN back into the situation is being an accomplice. Trying to rationalize the teachings in this article is a very desperate attempt at hanging onto anything while the faulty foundation under your feet is crumbling.

    Cognitive dissonance is hard to deal with as a person begins slowly realizing that what they've believed for so long is based on false premises. When people are in an absurd situation their minds rationalize it by inventing a comfortable illusion, that's what we see here when Gothard's longtime followers attempt to rationalize his teachings and behaviors. They are operating on a "sunk cost" fallacy and can't leave the cult because they feel they've invested so much. Hopefully all of this new information will work its way into thier reasoning and help them shake loose and see the light. We've all been deceived before, and it's hard to admit at first, but it's really so much better to be free.

    • esbee May 18, 2014 Reply

      In Gothtard's world even wanting a sleek, sexy sports car is considered sin (because it is taught that to please God and be in His will that your mind and heart and soul must be 1000000% totally focused all the time on God and His Word)

      AND

      if you had given in to the "temptation" to buy one and it was stolen, it was because God was punishing you for not being more humble.

      Thus the reason BG so proudly displayed that old car that was the showcase of humility and frugality (frumility?) to show others how to live a proper Christian life.

  45. Robyn June 4, 2014 Reply

    I don't understand why Christians believe in a God is that is both "omnipotent" and "benevolent", and yet still lets terrible things happen in the world.

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  48. michael October 23, 2014 Reply

    2samuel13:11-12,14 and 20,Romans12:1-2,1cor6:19-20 And 1cor3:16-17.This portion of bible will solve this problem or issue.please try and read this portion of bible.

    • Don Rubottom October 23, 2014 Reply

      Michael, please explain. Those scriptures contain strong admonitions and warnings about sexual immorality. But the article is about victims of assault and abuse and the comment preceding yours questions God's power and goodness. What problem is solved by your scriptures?
      Because of your failure to say what you mean, your comment could be read to hold the victim accountable for not protecting the temple of their bodies. I hope that is not your intent.
      Please be direct and not indirect. Say precisely what you mean to communicate.

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  56. Elizabeth May 25, 2015 Reply

    The author states that Gothard published and distributed this "for over a decade." Which decade? Is it still used? If not, when did they stop?

    • Cody May 26, 2015 Reply

      I am wondering the same thing. My wife was in ATI for a time and is not terribly surprised to see this handout. However, the details provided here do not indicate whether this was a recent handout, or if ATI retracted it, or provide any way to learn more. Clearly awful advice for counseling sexual abuse victims, but given that every article on the recent Duggar scandal cites this page against ATI, I was hoping to find some more detailed information.

      • Don Rubottom May 28, 2015 Reply

        None of the stuff critiqued on this site has EVER been retracted. Stuff like this was designed to cover for their own sins. To retract it would be to open their entire fraud up to the light. Even what they have changed (i.e. the pro-circumcision writing) only de-emphasizes the error. Nothing that Bill taught has ever been retracted even if hidden or removed from the sales list.

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  58. Ramon May 28, 2015 Reply

    Whoever wrote that piece should be put in jail for life for crime against humanity and the key thrown away. Irrational faith is an affliction that must be eradicated.

    • Don Rubottom May 28, 2015 Reply

      Ramon, "eradicated" is a very totalitarian word. Who do you wish to do this eradication? Are all of your beliefs completely rational? How do you know. We agree it is trash, but I would prefer to refute it than to promote a converse totalitarianism.

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