When Asking “Why” Does Not Bring Answers

22 April 2013, 06:00

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53

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Editor’s note: The following testimony references Bill Gothard’s “Why Did God Let It Happen?” teaching. This teaching has been delivered in several different formats, many of which do not directly reference sexual abuse. However, the Counseling Sexual Abuse document that was distributed at ATI (Advanced Training Institute) counseling seminars applies this teaching directly to sexual abuse. It raised the same issue of “modesty” and “obedience” that this former ATI student struggled with in her own personal story.

Even though my parents divorced when I was nine years old, my mother did everything in her power to raise me to be a young woman who wanted to follow God with all her heart. She made sure I was around healthy, “whole” families with strong spiritual standards. She fully vetted my friends to ensure that I wasn’t spending the night with just anyone, and constantly invited my friends over to keep me from falling victim to all the tragedies that befall many young women in our culture. I remember at eight years old fearing rape because, in my young mind, purity was such an important thing, perhaps the thing that my worth as a person hinged upon. This belief was not particularly due to my mother’s influence; I chalk it up to the culture within the churches that we attended, and I attended church as far back as I can remember.

After my parents divorced, we moved from overseas back to the States. As we settled into our new home near my mother’s family, we found a new church to attend — one that espoused the teachings of Bill Gothard. I remember attending several Basic Seminars before we actually joined ATI. Since I wanted to be the best Christian possible, with every bit of my naïve little heart I lapped up the teachings and took copious notes. I particularly remember Gothard’s teaching on “Why Did God Let it Happen?” I wrote out fifteen reasons I thought God had allowed my parents to divorce, and tried to use those reasons to rid myself of the bitterness I held towards my father for leaving me, not protecting me, and not letting me be like all the girls in “whole” families that I was around. Since this seemed to work, I internalized this teaching and was quite pleased, in a weird sort of way, that I could now have an explanation for everything bad that happened to me and see God use it for “good” in my life.

When I was fifteen and the holidays rolled around, my grandfather came to visit, as he always did. Since my father had left and now lived halfway around the world, my grandfather had easily slipped into the role of my surrogate father shortly thereafter. I adored him, and it helped that I was his favorite grandchild. Whenever my mother thought I was too young to know or hear about certain things, he would always fill me in. He made me feel like I wasn’t a silly child. I remember many breakfasts at his favorite places with just him, and how he could make friends so easily with his quick wit and sense of humor. So much of my childhood happened with my grandfather.

During his visit this particular year, I was very ill and had already been in bed for a few days. When my grandfather came to visit he was always given my bedroom to stay in. My mother made it clear that I was to sleep on the couch on these occasions, and I had always obeyed. However, this night my grandfather came to bed in my room before I could make it to the couch. When I started to get up out of bed, he gently held me down and told me to stay because I didn’t feel well and was already comfortable. I started to fall asleep to his quiet murmurs of how pretty I was and what a heart-breaker I was — stuff he used to say to me all the time. As he spoke, he began touching me under my clothing, and I remember slowly waking in horror as this burning sense of dread paralyzed me. I prayed, begging God to let me wake up as I was convinced I was having a nightmare. I told myself over and over that I was hallucinating, willed myself to be hallucinating, dreaming, anything. I have no idea how long exactly I was there, but I finally was able to will myself to get up and go into our living room.

I sat there shaking, hugging my knees to my chest. I remember wondering if I should wake my mother. Then I realized that if I woke her up, I would have to tell her what happened, and that would make my grandfather look bad because I had disobeyed her. I thought about why God let this happen for a very long time while sitting there, and concluded that it had to be because of my disobedience. If I hadn’t been disobedient, this never would have happened. Also, if I said anything, I would deprive my sister of the only father she had ever really known. An hour or two must have passed, and I finally fell asleep.

For many years after this incident I stuffed this memory; I couldn’t bear the guilt I shouldered since I was convinced I had caused what happened. Even though I buried the memory, I took the guilt out on my body, hating it. I blamed anything remotely attractive about myself as something that had tempted my grandfather and cause a good Christian man — the closest thing I had to a father — to sin.

A year later, I attended an ATI girls’ counseling seminar. After one of the sessions, a girl who had experienced something similar to what I had experienced asked Mr. Gothard during the Question and Answer time why God might have let that happen to her. His answer was that the abuse was to teach her to value her spiritual soul above her physical body and make her “mighty in spirit.” This only added more fuel to the hatred I felt for my own body. I spent so many years wishing I was built like a boy, hiding under turtlenecks and jumpers, wishing I wasn’t someone who was remotely attractive because the abuse was my fault. When I ended up moving to the Indianapolis Training Center a few years later, all my body-hating reached new levels as I was regularly told by the leadership that I was probably immoral due to my father’s affair, and that they were there to “help” me.

My grandfather ended up molesting and raping several other girls, something I didn’t find out about until I was an adult. One of his other victims, who was just a child at the time, was asked by my ATI-affiliated pastor (per Mr. Gothard’s teachings) what she was wearing when the abuse happened and if she had “cried out.” I cannot tell you the rage I felt towards all these men when I heard that question was directed towards a child.

When I realized that what my grandfather did to me wasn’t an isolated incident caused by my “disobedience” and realized that he would never stop, that was the impetus needed to push me to report him to the police and finally begin to forgive myself for something I had never even done in the first place.

Looking back, I see that my grandfather was a classic groomer: He made me keep secrets from my mother, and he pushed physical boundaries way before he actually outright crossed them. And the reasons I was so convinced that God had “let it happen”? I now realize that this just fed into my need as a victim (and the needs of those in authority) to find a reason — any reason — why it had been my fault so I could keep it from happening again.

Lisa D has left all of ATI behind and is currently living in freedom in the Midwest, where she is happily married and works for a software company. While there are many residual affects of an ATI brand of fundamentalism left over, Lisa continues to work through these things aided by her husband and the catharsis of sharing her story.

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.

53 Comments

  1. Pingback : How “Counseling Sexual Abuse” Blames and Shames Survivors | Recovering Grace

  2. Victoria April 22, 2013 Reply

    So proud of you for having the guts to speak out. Im sickened after hearing story after story of victims being blamed. It is so sad and I wish you complete healing.

  3. Grace April 22, 2013 Reply

    Your courage astounds me! I am so glad that you are continuing to heal. It makes me sad to realize that while at the ITC there were so many of us who were just shadows. We never really got to know each other or help each other through some of these hard things. We just kept moving and trying to stay out of trouble. Blessings on your future.

  4. Ripley April 22, 2013 Reply

    proud to call you one of my closest friends ... my heart aches for you

  5. LJ April 22, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for sharing this part of your life--the pain, the hurt, and the continued abuse as you sought for answers but found condemnation instead of hope and healing. I'm glad that you have found your way to freedom. May the Lord continue to bless you on your journey of healing.

  6. MatthewS April 22, 2013 Reply

    It hurts to read your story and to see how you received more hurt instead of help from a trusted source, a place that pretended to have the real answers. Thank you for your courage in sharing this well-written but hard to read story from your life.

  7. Danielle April 22, 2013 Reply

    ((HUG)) You are beautiful, brave lady....those teachings exploit victims and hide Abusers. Thanks for writing this girl...great article.

  8. Lisa D April 22, 2013 Reply

    Thank you so much for your support, everyone! After writing this, I was left pondering a few things regarding Mr. Gothard's insistence that the physical body is the least important. I think BG has it backwards. While mental and spiritual abuse affects the mind and psyche, physical abuse affects all of that plus the body. There is no way to separate physical abuse from the rest of it. Believe me, I've tried.

    Also, there is so much emphasis is placed on "purity" which is all about the body and meant to be a burden for the woman to carry. But then, when an abuser "takes" that from her, he is let off the hook since the physical body is no big deal while the girl is left picking up the pieces of her shattered identity due to her worth being equated with her "purity". Makes me so incredibly angry on behalf of all of us abuse victims subject to this kind of teaching.

  9. "Hannah" April 22, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story ;_;

  10. Lauralea April 22, 2013 Reply

    Ouch. Shed a few tears when reading this. Even though I did not grow up in ATI/IBLP or had sexual abuse done to me, this type of answer to "why" was often taught in other conferences I attended that had IBLP leadership regarding the subject of overcoming past hurt. And I have definitely seen the effects of it in others around me.

  11. greg April 22, 2013 Reply

    Lisa,, Thank u for your story. I am very sure it was hard to go back over this and bring it up again. I am a father of 4 , and g'father to 10, 10 yr down to 1 yr. and this story almost made me sick to my stomach,,---I can't imagine a g'father doing that to one he is suppose to be nurturing and protecting---I am so sorry for you.... but what REALLY infuriates me is the fact that in bg's system somehow this was your fault. How evil and vile. Someone needs to break this cultic system open and hold bill accountable for all the damage he is allowing/causing. Am so glad you are doing well and enjoying your family... God bless

  12. Chris Symonds April 23, 2013 Reply

    Has anyone from RG admin thought of getting this into the public arena media wise? Not just this article but exposing Bill Gothard through current affairs 60 minutes or such?

  13. Kathy Jefferies April 24, 2013 Reply

    My son, aged 14 at the time, came home from the "Counseling Seminar"(1993 or 94) and told me he had talked with Bill Gothard after one of his "talks" and told him he disagreed with him on this subject. The idea that sexual abuse only hurts the body....I remember thinking he was awful bold to disagree with Bill Gothard to his face. I had never heard this idea before...I don't remember him sharing it with the adults(at least the women). After that my son was no longer interested in anything ATI though he did work a few "Children's Institutes" to please us. I now thank God so much for protecting my children from this CRAP!!!!

    • Heather April 24, 2013 Reply

      Praise God!

    • Karen Richmond April 25, 2013 Reply

      I also heard this very thing at a counseling seminar--could have been the same one as described in the article here, because it was identical situation and advice. Unfortunately I didn't have your son's boldness, but it didn't sit right with me . . . just didn't seem like it could be that pat or easy.

  14. Stéphanie April 29, 2013 Reply

    Sex IS spiritual. God created it. And as a means of showing the most intimate relationship possible between Him and the Church. Buying into the idea that sex is anything BUT spiritual requires divorcing our sexuality from any real spiritual meaning… thus playing right into the hands of the culture that demeans sex to a purely "physical" act. And this is the culture the Institute was trying to "protect" us from? Sex is spiritual. I once heard a Christian psychologist say that when addressing teens, you don't have to convince them of that. Instinctively, they know.

    Once you start to realize that sex is indeed spiritual, many, many things in Scripture and in the culture start making much more sense. And my heart breaks all the more for those like Lisa who are victims of an abuse that attacks their whole person. Thank you, Lisa, for having the courage to speak out. You are a brave woman, in every respect!

    • Glad to be free of this. March 22, 2014 Reply

      I agree. if sex wasn't spiritual there would be shame guilt and the dirty feeling after sexual abuse. Fear wouldn't have the hold it gains. We are not body first. The book Of JAmes clarifies this for us. Our Father God is the Father of all spirits. We are spirit. Our bodies go back to the dust.Our spirits go back to God. If sexual abuse wasn't spiritual then why do women suffer 20, 30 years and more after the fact? If it was just the body then the world's teaching it's just sex would hold no ramifications emotionally.

  15. Alfred Corduan May 2, 2013 Reply

    Sex is holy, belonging to God, dedicated to Him . . . J. Vernon McGee calls it a "sacrament". But it is not "spiritual". If it were, the birds and bees could not do it. How could Daniel recover so quickly - and so unscathed - from the forced sexual mutilation that resulted in him being a "eunuch" it it is spiritual? The fact is people have sex all of the time when completely uninvolved spiritually and even emotionally. Just ask Tina Turner.

    A church building is holy . . . if it burns down, there is no spiritual consequence. Our bodies are holy - if an act is a violation of our conscience, then it involves a spiritual act as well, but not if we are being "done to" - doctors, Daniel, crimes.

    • Heather May 2, 2013 Reply

      Do you realize that thoughts like this make Christian men objectify and devalue women just as much as a lusty non-Christian, just in a different, subtle way?

      Of course since you are not a woman, who sometimes fears to walk out of the grocery store alone, there's no way I can make you understand that. (Even if a guy doesn't say a word to me, I KNOW when he's ogling me, and it makes me feel dirty and unclean, even if I'm wearing baggy clothes and look like crap that day; it DOES affect us spiritually, how much more does holy sex affect us, but in a good way?)

      If my husband thought like this, I would not want to have sex with him, since he obviously would value me only for my body, or the physical gratification I could give him, rather than us cherishing each other the way we ought to. I don't think you realize how damaging this mindset is to a woman, especially an already suffering woman, which I've heard you say your wife is. .

      This is truly an awful thought.

      Also.. church buildings are holy? HUH? It's a building! The church is a body of believers, and that's what's holy and sacred to God, not the structure that believers meet in! (Be it a home, the beach, school building, office, or actual designated church structure.) And we aren't told whether or not Daniel healed emotionally or spiritually from his forced castration, the book of Daniel wasn't a story about that kind of circumstance.

    • BeverlyB May 2, 2013 Reply

      Alfred, I was looking in the book of Daniel and couldn't find the story you were referring to---where Daniel was sexually mutilated and then recovered quickly. Where is that? It's an odd example if you're referring to sex. Wouldn't the story of Dinah be a better example (if we're referring to forced acts of sex)? I'm a little lost by your example.

  16. Alfred Corduan May 3, 2013 Reply

    Beverly: The consensus among Bible scholars is that Daniel and his companions, being in the care of the "Prince of the Eunuchs", were in fact eunuchs, i.e. castrated, a fulfillment of this prophecy to Hezekiah: "Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." (Isaiah 39:6-7) It was standard practice in those days.

    Heather: There is no way I am making a case for Christians couples to divest sex from the spiritual reasons God created it. It remains that sex is "body unique" -

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

    The place this matters is coming to grips with a physical assault . . . of a man against a woman . . . . a child . . . a young man in my Christian University shared in Chapel about being abused by a hitchhiker. The testimonies on this website would mirror those of others, of the incredible difficulty in personally resolving such crimes against oneself. Many people have found profound healing when they accepted that there is a real barrier in such a physical act, that the perpetrator has no power to touch the spirit. And the physical is designed to be destroyed . . . and recreated new, clean.

    "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body." . . . same chapter, vs. 13, a chapter all about sex. The body (belly) will be destroyed, along with all consequences of sin . . . and then gloriously raised. Abuse victims accepting this have reported freedom from decades long psychological damage.

    We could do a bunch more rounds here . . . we are not discussing the heinousness of the crime, but about a perspective that has really helped a lot of victims.

    • Heather May 3, 2013 Reply

      You missed my point entirely. Did you even read my comment, or try to respond to what I actually said, or did you just want to continue your own previous thoughts?

      • Alfred Corduan May 3, 2013 Reply

        I guess I am confused, Heather. Your response was that men tend to devalue sex . . . making women uncomfortable and afraid. I acknowledged that that is wrong.

        I am trying to find the connection to the primary point, that sex is for the body, not the spirit. Unless it is just that I am being insensitive. Which I probably am.

        I did not respond to the church building comment since it started looking like a rabbit trail . . . but . . . our bodies are "temples of the Holy Spirit". Physical objects become "holy" when dedicated to, owned by God. Agreed? Like money, buildings. That does not make them "spiritual". Spiritual things are invisible, we read in 2 Cor 4:18 Sex is visible, temporal. Its effects remain in this world.

        Other aspects of sex have spiritual effects. If I get a tattoo, is that a physical or spiritual act? Completely physical. If I am a Jew under the Law, and I get a tattoo, is that a physical or spiritual act? Well . . . both. Because now I have disobeyed a commandment of God in Leviticus 19:28. The disobedience will have spiritual consequences . . . not the tattoo.

        If a person commits a sex crime, they have deliberately violated any number of commands of God to do so, both overt and "written in the heart" of our conscience. That spiritual act has spiritual consequences. The victim of the crime has not disobeyed the Lord . . . hence there is no spiritual effect of that crime. There is a definite physical and emotional effect, no less than that done to Daniel. But . . . spiritual it is not.

        • Heather May 3, 2013

          Dude! The Scripture says 'our bodies' are temples of the Lord. Not money. Not buildings. Not animals. Not raw materials. These are the ideas of a polytheist, which I know you are not. Stop putting human ideas into Scripture!

          Tattoos vs rape. No comparison. NONE. They aren't on the same page.

          So Daniel presumably recovered just fine from the wrongdoing he suffered (even though there isn't a WORD in Scripture suggesting that he did or didn't heal emotionally, it isn't mentioned at all, so we'll never know for sure.) But, even assuming that he might've been able to get over it...

          How bout Tamar? Her story actually includes an account of her misery, shame, and suffering.(Whereas Daniel doesn't even make mention of it). She remained desolate and forlorn in her brother's house for the rest of her days. No, she didn't sin, in fact she tried multiple times to do the right thing, but she suffered for it, and according to the Scripture, never got over it. Her spiritual being WAS harmed by that vile action.

        • Alfred Corduan May 4, 2013

          “How bout Tamar? Her story actually includes an account of her misery, shame, and suffering.(Whereas Daniel doesn't even make mention of it). She remained desolate and forlorn in her brother's house for the rest of her days. No, she didn't sin, in fact she tried multiple times to do the right thing, but she suffered for it, and according to the Scripture, never got over it. Her spiritual being WAS harmed by that vile action.”

          The punishment of that crime (sex with a half sister) is in the law punished the same as killing the woman: death (Deut. 27:22). David had a hard job to do, and he failed. So the crime is equivalent to her getting killed. Yes, the consequences to her would be severe, not the least of which being losing her virginity and presumably chance at marriage in the culture (“desolate”). Like to Daniel in losing his ability to marry and have children through the whims of his captors.

          Is killing a physical or a spiritual act? It is . . . physical. Some killing is God ordained . . . some is a heinous crime. The difference is who is doing it and why. There are profound “lifelong” effects . . . but those effects are NOT spiritual, unless dying from a car accident is also spiritual.

          But I say – with fear and trembling: NO physical aggressor has the power to harm me spiritually unless I permit him. Nobody. Not even the devil. Which is why Jesus actually commanded us to not be afraid of that kind of aggression (Matthew 10:28)

        • Heather May 4, 2013

          I will never cease to be amazed at your ability to turn actual written words into something that means totally different. Tamar remained desolate* and forlorn*. Those are spiritual problems, not physical.

          Desolate and forlorn could easily have meant depressed, lonely, cheerless, hopeless, etc, which are all spiritual 'illness' if you will, and even IF she only felt those things ONLY because she was no longer eligible to marry,(and that's a HUGE if) you would have to be an absolute idiot to think that the initial crime did not affect her spiritually. (Only a sick, masochistic man could think such a thing.)

          You could argue that desolate is merely a physical problem, and in most cases, it probably is, however Absolam was a prince, and Tamar remained in his house for the rest of his life. It would be absurd to assume that she was not cared for in every possible (physical) way, therefore the insinuation is that the word desolate here means a spiritual hurt, not a want for creature comforts.

          Also you say that sex with the half sister was crime. (which I certainly agree with) but Tamar said, "Now therefore, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee." (edited for space). Clearly Tamar thought that her dad would have given her to Amnon in honorable marriage, her concern was in not being taken against her will against the law of marriage. Another point is that according to Levitical law, if a woman was raped and there was no-one to hear her cry, she would have been held guiltless. Amnon sent all the men (and presumably women) out of the house before the event, by the law, Tamar would not have been executed, because no-one would have been able to come to her aid. It's most likely that as Absolam stepped up to take care of Tamar, David just hoped to gloss over everything, and not have to deal with such a messy business.

          You say Amnon's crime would've gotten Tamar killed. Whether or not Tamar would have been killed, or David's action or inaction, has NOTHING to do with whether or not Amnon's crime harmed more than just Tamar's body, and that was the point of me even bringing it up.

          Beyond that, I see your appallingly absurd examples of comparing physical killing and dying from car accidents, as not relating to this scenario in any way, shape, or form, therefore once again, not on the same page. What relation does murder have to sex being spiritual or not? Really? Grasping at straws here.

          Last point, which I think you still missed, is that nowhere in Daniel is there one word mentioned about whether or not he recovered spiritually and emotionally. To assume that he did, and pass that off as a fact, is wrong. To assume that he did not, and pass that off as a fact, is equally wrong. That is what you call reading into God's word, something that isn't there. I could easily believe that Daniel did, or did not recover quickly, emotionally and spiritually. We simply are not told, and to assume anything, is a dangerous thing to do.

          I'm sure you are with me in that we do not want to treat God's word with contempt.

        • Alfred Corduan May 4, 2013

          “Tamar remained desolate* and forlorn*. Those are spiritual problems, not physical.”

          Scripture calls her “desolate” . . . devastated, deserted. As to the type of problem . . . do you see a difference between a physical problem, an emotional problem, and a spiritual one? If so, what difference would you see? That is really the crux of the matter. If there is no difference between physical damage, emotional damage, and spiritual damage, then there is no point to further discussion.

          “Another point is that according to Levitical law, if a woman was raped and there was no-one to hear her cry, she would have been held guiltless. Amnon sent all the men (and presumably women) out of the house before the event, by the law, Tamar would not have been executed, because no-one would have been able to come to her aid.”

          If you thought I meant that Tamar was worthy of death under the law of Moses, you misunderstood me. She was in no way guilty of anything, unless it was naivety. The rules about screaming applied only to an engaged woman, not someone like Tamar. (Deut. 22:23-29) Her half-bother Amnon should have been put to death. Not that that would resolve much for her. In the end her full brother Absalom took care of it. I think David knew that the act was just . . . he should have apologized to Absalom for not doing the hard thing and dealing with it himself.

          I certainly never want to treat the Word of God with contempt.

  17. Kin May 4, 2013 Reply

    Alfred, I'm curious why the question "Is sex spiritual" is important for you? I have read through the discussion above, and I get the feeling there is a deeper question being touched on that needs to be surfaced.

    Are you using the same definition of a person?

    It seems you subscribe to the view that a person is Body, Soul, Spirit - and it seems you compartmentalize each of these into a separate category. Heather seems to view a person as an integrated whole.

    I may be wrong so please elaborate if I am. Like I said I'm curious why this is such an important point for you.

    Thanks!

    • Alfred Corduan May 4, 2013 Reply

      Kin: This is a bit of a drape-over from the other topic, the one with the counseling notes. It preceded this article.

      The difference becomes key to the force of the notes, concepts that many have reported profound freedom from having followed. If we were "whole" we would die when our body dies. In the Scripture cited above Jesus told us to not be afraid of those that damage the body, but rather focus on that which damages the soul. The soul lives forever . . . the body does not.

      If my body is damaged, it doesn't matter in the eternal sense. The entire thing will be reconstructed at the resurrection, regardless of what happened to it. That is not true for the soul and spirit. A sexual attack, just like any physical assault, lasts only as long as this life . . . and then all effects are undone.

      "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." (Luke 12:4-5) If I were the attacker, I would be very afraid. If I am the victim, no.

      "To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
      To lose one's health is more,
      To lose one's soul is such a loss
      As no man can restore."

      • Kin May 4, 2013 Reply

        So is this important to you because it underpins your belief in the Gothard counseling approach which contains "concepts many have reported profound freedom from having followed"? Perhaps someone you know has used this counseling approach and benefited from it, correct?

        Isn't that arguing that the end justifies the means? Just because some people have reported "profound freedom from having followed" this approach does not mean it's something that applies to everyone. How many people have failed to find "profound freedom from having followed" this approach and are still dealing with the hurt of sexual abuse?

        The way you outlined your thoughts seems to suggest that you believe people can find freedom through things such as "concepts" "principles" "standards" "guidelines" "approaches" - for instance, "if you do these 10 things you will have healing."

        This thinking is dangerous, because it implies that these things themselves have the power to bring change to your life... when only Christ Himself has the power to heal you. Anything that supplants the person of Jesus Christ in the life of a Child of God, is Anti-Christ.

        • MatthewS May 4, 2013

          I think it is the case that in order to be a follower of Gothard, it is necessary (or least a very likely outcome) for one to believe that the end justifies the means. It seems to me that the end justifying the means is a vital pillar in the whole system. I could be wrong, but that is my current perception.

      • LaurenB May 4, 2013 Reply

        Redeemed, not undone, thank God. The difference being that my sufferings and scars are made beautiful, not erased. Else why does Christ still bear the marks of His crucifixion? How lovely will those blessed wounds appear to us when we see our Savior and praised God they were not "undone."

      • Joanna May 6, 2013 Reply

        Alfred,
        If the body doesn't not live forever, why did Jesus' resurrected body have wounds on his hands and feet? Wouldn't they have disappeared, if you believe that things done to the body are undone after death?

        • Alfred Corduan May 6, 2013

          "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption . . . It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body . . . Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

          Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed . . . and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor. 15:41, 44, 50-53)

          As to the appearance of the body . . .

          "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." (1 Corin. 15:35-38)

          Bottom line: the spiritual body will resemble the physical inasmuch as a plant resembles the seed that died to give it life, i.e. not even remotely.

        • Kin May 6, 2013

          Bottom line: the spiritual body will resemble the physical inasmuch as a plant resembles the seed that died to give it life, i.e. not even remotely.

          After Jesus resurrection, he passed bodily through doors and walls... the scars in His hands and side were there for the apostles to see and touch.

          In Revelations John describes Jesus Christ for us, and uses specific bodily terms. Also, we are told that we will see His scars at the Lamb's Table.

          The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him at first, neither did Mary Magdalene... so SOMETHING was different between his pre and post resurrection bodies.

          The verses you listed are stating that we will be transformed and will inherit incorruption, but they don't support what you claim, namely that our spiritual bodies will "not even remotely" resemble our physical bodies. I think Jesus demonstrates that the spiritual bodies will indeed bear some resemblance to our physical bodies.

          But we won't know definitely till we take that last breath ourselves.

  18. Alfred Corduan May 4, 2013 Reply

    Kin: So is this important to you because it underpins your belief in the Gothard counseling approach which contains "concepts many have reported profound freedom from having followed"?

    It is important because it is correct. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess 5:23) Those ands are in the Greek, a very definite separation between body, soul and spirit (Heb. 4:11 tells us God's word divides between soul and spirit)

    There are a great many things that are really hard to understand in Scripture because we equivocate soul and spirit, let alone them and the body. We will be wise when we learn to be "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), i.e. separating Scriptures from one another that refer to different things. If Scripture separates soul from spirit and body so purposely, we would do well to understand what the differences are.

    "This thinking is dangerous, because it implies that these things themselves have the power to bring change to your life... when only Christ Himself has the power to heal you."

    "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) I suppose you can turn "truth" into "Jesus" here . . . but that does not seem to be what He is saying. The truth sets us free . . . God's Word sets us free. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) vs. 18 "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." "Wisdom is better than strength" (Ecclesiast. 9:16) "Wisdom is better than weapons of war" (Ecclesiast. 9:18)

    I think the Bible is the well of wisdom and blessing in so many practical matters of life, including emotional health . . . do you disagree? I am not going to debate this with you, just curious what your perspective is.

    How about this? "He sent his word, and healed them" (Psalms 107:20) I have been healed many times of emotional trouble, depression, turmoil, mental confusion when I connected with something God said in His Word. Have you experienced that?

    Or more directly: If Jesus has come to give "deliverance to the captives" (Luke 4:18), how do you connect broken people - like those telling their stories here - with that?

    • Kin May 5, 2013 Reply

      Thank you for sharing further Alfred, I appreciate it.

      I separated this into sections.

      === === ===
      The body/soul/spirit
      === === ===

      (1 Thess 5:23) Those ands are in the Greek, a very definite separation between body, soul and spirit

      It's important to note that Paul is addressing a body of brethren in Thess. 5, he is not speaking to an individual person. The chapter is delivered to the whole group of Thessalonian believers. So this specific verse is also addressed to the church, not an individual person. Does it apply to an individual person as you claim? I don't know.

      (Heb. 4:11 tells us God's word divides between soul and spirit)

      I think you meant Heb. 4:12: "For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

      I count 4 body parts in this verse: soul, spirit, body (joints and marrow) and heart. So should I consider myself to be composed of 4 parts? I don't know.

      We will be wise when we learn to be "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), i.e. separating Scriptures from one another that refer to different things.

      My dear sir, that is not what Paul said. The word "dividing" in the Greek is orthotomeō and it means:

      1) to cut straight, to cut straight ways - a) to proceed on straight paths, hold a straight course, equiv. to doing right

      2) to make straight and smooth, to handle aright, to teach the truth directly and correctly

      Paul is NOT saying we are to "separate Scriptures from one another" - the Word of God is a cohesive whole and Paul is exhorting us to teach the truth directly and correctly.

      If Scripture separates soul from spirit and body so purposely, we would do well to understand what the differences are.

      You are correct, and that is why I'm still studying this and currently do not have a solid view on the subject. However, I do doubt Gothard's triple-circle model as it hinges too closely to some Gnostic/esoteric teachings that I'm familiar with.

      === === ===
      The Word of God vs. Man's principles that he abstracts from the Word
      === === ===

      "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) I suppose you can turn "truth" into "Jesus" here . . . but that does not seem to be what He is saying.

      You're right, the word truth is alētheia and it means "that which is true in any matter under any consideration" - also, the previous verse is: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed..." Jesus uses the word logos, meaning His Word, the doctrine of truth, the Gospel of the Kingdom... the Word of God in it's entirety.

      Earlier you said: "The difference becomes key to the force of the notes, concepts that many have reported profound freedom from having followed."

      Again, "concepts" and "principles" are NOT the Word of God. They are abstractions created by men who attempt to summarize the Scriptures. The counseling notes in question, while they may be based on truth, and while they may be helpful in some degree to some people, are NOT the Word of God and are NOT truth. That is the distinction I was making earlier.

      === === ===
      The Pre-imminence of Christ
      === === ===

      "I think the Bible is the well of wisdom and blessing in so many practical matters of life, including emotional health . . . do you disagree? I am not going to debate this with you, just curious what your perspective is."

      I agree with you. But WHY is it the wellspring of life? Because it contains the way of salvation through the Person of Christ, the mediator between myself and my God, who opened a way for me to become a Child of the King - the Bible is nothing apart from Christ who IS THE WORD made flesh!!

      How about this? "He sent his word, and healed them" (Psalms 107:20) I have been healed many times of emotional trouble, depression, turmoil, mental confusion when I connected with something God said in His Word. Have you experienced that?

      I have indeed experienced that and am grateful that I have. Again, my point is that it's the WORD itself that is truth, not Gothard's diagrams which he summarizes from his interpretation of the Word.

      We must get ahold of this fact, that the Word of God EXISTS to bring us TO CHRIST! To abstract principles and guidelines and to summarize them apart from Scripture is to build up a 21st century Mishna... a set of guidelines, systems and checklists consisting of Man's interpretation and explanation of God's Word!

      === === ===
      How to help those who are hurting?
      === === ===

      Or more directly: If Jesus has come to give "deliverance to the captives" (Luke 4:18), how do you connect broken people - like those telling their stories here - with that?

      By "preaching Jesus and the resurrection." (Act 17:18) - by living as a Child of the Kingdom, by performing true religion, caring for the widows, and orphans... by taking care for the edification of the saints. It is our Father who "healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." (Ps 147)

      There is nothing in me that can help those that are hurting... I can only let the Father work through me to those He brings my way. I am including the whole passage in Luke 4 here, Jesus is preparing to teach in the synagogue -

      "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

      The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

      To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.


      And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

      And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

      It is JESUS CHRIST who offers to take upon himself the yoke of all those who are hurting, He personally wants to take our cares on Himself, He reaches out to us and gives true peace. Not through diagrams, checklists, 10 step programs, or "biblical principles"

      His way is more simple. He reaches out, and covers us in the shadow of his wings.

      • Heather May 5, 2013 Reply

        AMEN!

  19. Shelly May 6, 2013 Reply

    Kin, THANK YOU for your solid Biblical and comments.

  20. Alfred Corduan May 6, 2013 Reply

    Kin: "Does it apply to an individual person as you claim? I don't know."

    I have never heard of "soul and spirit" applied to a church, have you? In fact, I have never heard the foregoing exhortations -"Pray without ceasing", etc. - also addressed to the plural applied to the group. I am going with general instructions applied individually.

    "I count 4 body parts in this verse: soul, spirit, body (joints and marrow) and heart. So should I consider myself to be composed of 4 parts? I don't know. "

    You should see the Word of God separating two pairs of things, right?

    "My dear sir, that is not what Paul said. The word "dividing" in the Greek is orthotomeō and it means: "

    It literally means "to cut straight". We are "cutting the Word of God straight". Like a dissection. References to a “straight path” refer to cutting straight through the terrain . . . but, again, the Word is the thing being cut, NOT the terrain.

    And a great many scholars hold that view . . . C. I. Scofield wrote his book "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth" around that exact concept. Look at Wesley, Gill . . .

    "However, I do doubt Gothard's triple-circle model as it hinges too closely to some Gnostic/esoteric teachings that I'm familiar with. "

    Doctrine in reverse – rejecting anything that is close to something I have a problem with - is a really bad idea, Kin. The devil's stuff is sadly often very close to the truth.

    "We must get ahold of this fact, that the Word of God EXISTS to bring us TO CHRIST!"

    Let me pick a section Bill Gothard teaches an 8 step "spiritual growth" program out of:

    "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity(love)." (2 Peter 1:5-7)

    Please explain how this section is designed to bring us to Christ. "Give all diligence" = "work really hard". A Gospel of works?


    "It is JESUS CHRIST who offers to take upon himself the yoke of all those who are hurting, He personally wants to take our cares on Himself, He reaches out to us and gives true peace. Not through diagrams, checklists, 10 step programs, or "biblical principles"

    His way is more simple. He reaches out, and covers us in the shadow of his wings."


    If it is that simple and effective, why are Christians continuing to live in brokenness and defeat? People have listened to statements like this all of their lives . . . “Doesn't seem to work” . . . To the point that a non-trivial number flat out abandon God. Where is the power for change, Kin? We wouldn’t have a need for any Christian counselors – spiritual doctors - let alone Bill Gothard, would we? Why a plethora of spiritual gifts? All we need is the teacher – doctrine – done.

    • Kin May 6, 2013 Reply

      I am going with general instructions applied individually.

      Ok fair enough. Like I said, I'm still studying this myself.

      It literally means "to cut straight".

      That's what I understand the word to mean, as I stated in my last comment. But it doesn't mean we are to compartmentalize Scripture from Scripture which is what you seemed to be implying. Forgive me if I've misunderstood here.

      Doctrine in reverse – rejecting anything that is close to something I have a problem with

      Whoops, that's a little insulting... there's a difference between doubt and rejection - also I don't "have a problem" with God's Word, I am searching for truth just as you are. Paul warned against the Gnostic school of thought, and Jesus said he hated the Nicolaitanes, so I want to stay clear of that for sure.

      (2 Peter 1:5-7) Please explain how this section is designed to bring us to Christ. "Give all diligence" = "work really hard". A Gospel of works?

      The reason Peter outlines this process is so that we might be transformed into the image of Christ. And yes it's VERY hard work indeed. Faith comes first as James describes and as the Spirit works in our lives, we are enabled to obey Christ's commands that we might glorify the Father. Do you feel Peter was saying something different?

      If it is that simple and effective, why are Christians continuing to live in brokenness and defeat?

      I cannot speak to your statement, it's a very broad generalization and these things are handled by God individually. I know many Christians who are not living in defeat who walk empowered by the Spirit to daily abide in Christ, who abides continually in the Father.

      People have listened to statements like this all of their lives . . . “Doesn't seem to work” . . . To the point that a non-trivial number flat out abandon God.

      Again, I cannot speak to your statement because it's such a generalization. I will say this: Whenever I hear the statement "Doesn't seem to work" or "I tried that, it didn't work." I often wonder what exactly was "tried" and if that person ever truly understood the Gospel of the Kingdom.

      Where is the power for change, Kin?

      Wow, it's in Christ and Him Crucified, through the Spirit working in our lives, washing our minds with the Word. Why are you asking me this?

      We wouldn’t have a need for any Christian counselors – spiritual doctors - let alone Bill Gothard, would we? Why a plethora of spiritual gifts? All we need is the teacher – doctrine – done.

      The model in the Scripture is people discipling other people, sharing together from the Word of God, feasting at the Father's table. The Spirit is our teacher, the doctrine is the Word itself. Wise counselors are needed as long as they counsel wisely from the Word.

      The spiritual gifts are given for the building up and edification of each other, Paul shares at length for the purpose of spiritual gifts.

      Alfred, I'm sensing that you seem to be desperate about something, or searching for something... can I assist or help in any way?

  21. Alfred Corduan May 7, 2013 Reply

    Kin: I will combine threads here . . .

    “The verses you listed are stating that we will be transformed and will inherit incorruption, but they don't support what you claim, namely that our spiritual bodies will "not even remotely" resemble our physical bodies. I think Jesus demonstrates that the spiritual bodies will indeed bear some resemblance to our physical bodies.”

    Paul seemed to labor to make the point I am trying to make.

    "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?”

    Exactly the question we are asking . . .

    “that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be

    There it is . . . what you sow it NOT what you get, but the body God designed into the “seed” . . .

    “ God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body."

    There is not a seed on earth that remotely resembles the “body as it has pleased Him” that God “resurrects” after the seed dies. So . . . you can see why I think this is actually a primary point.

    Jesus appeared in many forms after His death . . . including the form of a lamb with wounds, wounds that obviously were not literally made by the cross. Nothing negates the primary point that the “old” is completely consumed in the new. Or, more specifically, there is nothing that a person can do to our body in this life that will in any way impact that body that will be, unless it is by the wish of the individual.

    “Paul warned against the Gnostic school of thought”

    Just for the record, where did he do so? I know folk have put history and writings of church fathers together with Scripture to come to that conclusion, but I have preferred to not worry about Gnosticism – not mentioned by name to be sure – and focus on what the Bible actually says.


    ”The reason Peter outlines this process is so that we might be transformed into the image of Christ. And yes it's VERY hard work indeed.”

    I am trying to understand your statements that the entire Bible is only there to bring us to Christ. As you point out, once we are in Christ, the Scriptures contain huge amounts of direction to make us like Christ, live like Christians . . . in thinking, character.

    And . . . here is an 8 step program to help us get there. So . . . would you agree that not every “n” step outline put forward by Bill Gothard or any other Bible teacher is “anti-Christ”, but may in fact be completely Scriptural?

    “Again, I cannot speak to your statement because it's such a generalization. I will say this: Whenever I hear the statement "Doesn't seem to work" or "I tried that, it didn't work." I often wonder what exactly was "tried" and if that person ever truly understood the Gospel of the Kingdom.”

    As do I. But I have lived this . . . I have sung:

    “Be not dismayed whate’er betide:
    God will take care of you.”

    . . . then have gone through deep trouble that refused to go away, with things and people near and dear to be being damaged and destroyed . . . and God not seeming to “take care of me”. “Why did God let it happen” becomes extremely important.

    Reiterating points made elsewhere . . . for any “senseless” tragedy, the God I cannot see or touch either:

    1) Controlled the situation completely to ensure that it worked out “for good” for me
    2) Didn’t know about it
    3) Did know, but had other people and priorities that were more important than my wellbeing
    4) Did know, did love me, but could not do anything about it.

    Option 2) is a pretty small God . . . option 3) denies the very essence of the personal love of God that we promote. 4), again, denies everything we know about the sovereignty of God, including Psalms 76:10: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”

    That leaves me with 1). If so, then there IS a reason . . . a reason that I may not understand at the moment but that is big enough to make me pick the exact circumstance as it played out if I knew what God knows.

    “Alfred, I'm sensing that you seem to be desperate about something, or searching for something... can I assist or help in any way?”

    Thank you! My woes are in many ways small compared to some of the accounts on the web site . . . but I do suffer, at times deeply. Yes, this is very personal for me. A God who lies, a God who alleges to work all things out for my good, but really doesn’t, is not a God worthy of worship. So . . . you can see why I get real protective of the understanding that even awful things like sexual abuse are firmly under God's control and in His plan for good. So . . . asking "why" becomes a very important thing.

  22. Tiffeny January 18, 2014 Reply

    It is always interesting to me how theological debates are used as manipulation tools to avoid accountability. Alfred, what you appear to be saying is that if a victim believes the RIGHT religious dogma realllllly hard and understands fully the deep, mystical meanings of the ancient holy scriptures, then he or she will be able to "get over" being abused. Sexual abuse is unique in its ability to wound and devastate the mind, body, and spirit of a victim. As both a survivor and a counselor, I can tell you that it abuse affects EVERY part of a human being, all of which are created by and governed by god and can be healed by god with lots of support, love and hard work. As a BG spouting, condescending, male, you really just sound like your minimizing the effects of sexual abuse in an attempt to avoid accountability for yourself or someone else.

  23. Glad to be free of this. March 22, 2014 Reply

    Why did God let it happen? YUP. Blame the Creator. It can't possibly be because someone has evil! Right back to the garden. Accusing God as Satan did. The accusing the victim and revictimizing them. In scripture the man is the spiritual leader. He is to lead, cover and protect the family. Give himself up like Christ did. However, In BG's teaching men seem to be immune to having to take responsibility for sexual sin. That is contrary to scripture. I grew up under that cloud. If a man failed morally there was a woman responsible for it. He couldn't control himself. It must be her fault. Now, at least when I came forward with what I went through I wasn't blamed, I just wasn't believed it could have been that bad. It was forgive and get over it, it wasn't that bad anyway. This person still has not confessed. However, as usual many others came forward after I did. There is a pattern. There isn't usually just one.

    BG teaching's make sexual sin flourish under cover and opens the door for the Devil's condemnation on the person who was abused. I also remember purity being the number 1 god in the family. It became identity. Works was a BG identity. It isn't our identity in Christ to dress or act a certain way. Rape doesn't take away a woman's purity in God's eyes. GOd takes us as we are and He restores. He binds up the broken hearted!

  24. Pingback : How Could This Happen Here? | Recovering Grace

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  26. Karen May 25, 2015 Reply

    This teaching is continuing to reap some rotten fruit now more fully in the public eye than ever. How much more evidence do we need that this is Scripture twisting--not sound exposition of the real meaning of the Scriptures in their own context?

    Now there is this:
    http://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2015/5/24/washington-post-gets-it-the-duggar-tv-empire-made-all-kinds-of-people-nervous

    I can no longer let my 15-year-old special needs daughter surf Youtube to watch excerpts of "19 Kids and Counting" (which she loves) because this scandal will come up as well, and she sure doesn't need to know these tragic and sordid details! I feel such sorrow for all the Duggar kids, including Josh. His parents have screwed up big time, but they had lots of help from Mr. Gothard (and apparently leaders and members of their Independent Baptist Church as well). May God lead them into *all* truth and set them free from the web of lies about God and His ways in which they have been living.

    • LynnCD May 25, 2015 Reply

      That was an excellent article. The author of the article quotes, I believe an Owen White, who said:

      "I am glad that the Duggars will no longer have a show about their family. That is a good thing that has come from these public revelations. But I am not comfortable with the media publicizing the mistakes that a child made. This strikes me as a very dangerous thing, and cruel.

      Josh Duggar grew up in a home that was close to Bill Gothard. Gothard had to resign from his ministry because he fondled at least 32 girls. The Duggars were also connected with Doug Phillips, who was forced from his ministry after being outed as a sexual predator. The pastor of the Duggars' church, the man who gave Mrs. Duggar her Mother of the Year award, resigned after a sex scandal. The highway patrolman, a family friend and an elder in a church connected to the Duggars' religious circles, who was the first law enforcement person Jim Bob Duggar reported Josh's issues to, is now serving a 56 year prison sentence for child porn. Josh Duggar grew up in a home that revered men in leadership who have turned out to be sexual abusers. One way or another, Josh Duggar did to his sisters what he knew (intuitively or directly) to do.

      Anyone who assumes that sexual abuse in the Duggar household begins and ends with Josh is living in a TLCesque unreality world."

      • GuyS May 25, 2015 Reply

        LynnCD, well said. I might add that the father of lies is always at work in addition to the facts you brought out .(forgive me for saying something you already know ! ) Knowing this, somehow it makes it easier to have some compassion.

        • LynnCD May 26, 2015

          Guy, what disturbed me for years was their show. Not because they promoted BG and IBLP but because they exposed their children. Wendy Anderson, on her Facebook page has written an excellent piece on this. I believe Josh has put this behind him. I strongly disapprove of how his parents dealt with it, but they did do something. Many months too late and way too many victims, but they did something. What they did clearly skirted the law, but they did something.

          Josh and his sisters and brothers need to get out of the limelight they are so used to by now. They were children. I wish for their sakes they would go into hiding to protect their children. Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Mr. Hutchens, the elders at the Duggars' church all need to be put under very close scrutiny, though.

          The more I write, the more angry I get, but it's only at the adults who were adults at the time these things happened.

      • GuyS May 25, 2015 Reply

        Oops, I just read Karen's line, "and set them free from the web of lies " and looks like I tried to steal her idea.

        • Karen May 25, 2015

          That's the thing about truth, Guy--it's never novel or original. No problem stealing that idea since it wasn't really mine to begin with! :-)

        • GuyS May 26, 2015

          :-)

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