The Dreaded “B” Word

12 August 2013, 06:00



125200_despairDuring the healing process of leaving ATI (or any other legalistic group) and discovering Jesus Christ and His gospel, there is often a very painful transition for individuals as they must face all the lies they believed, lies which are often coupled with a long history of injustices and abuse.

I like to compare this healing process to treating a burn patient. There is the initial pain. The wound burns and, if not treated quickly, could develop infection. Once the initial stage of basic treatment is past, all the dead skin must eventually come off to make way for new skin. This is just as painful, if not more, as the original burn.  Finally, depending on how bad the injury was, the patient endures weeks and months of treatments, therapy, and very delicate treatment of the damaged areas. Perhaps one day the burned areas may regain full strength, but they may not. They may leave the body crippled. At the very least, there will be scarring. A painful reminder of all the suffering.

So whenever I hear any Christian say something like, “I was really hurt by— a cheating spouse, false accusation, unfair job loss, wrong treatment at the hands of another person, etc.” — I almost always hear another well-meaning Christian reply with one or more of the following: “You’re just bitter; you need to forgive your enemy and move on; stop blaming someone else for your problems; you should be on your knees asking God to help you; you need to get over it; read your Bible; etc…” Or something to that effect. And that’s if they’re being nice to you. Sometimes they scream this message to you as if you are the dirt on the bottom of their shoe, implying, “How dare you, a mere mortal, have a serious struggle of some kind?”

I recently engaged in a rather intense discussion of one of the many hot topics Christians love to argue about. Many straw men were thrown. Many heated tempers showed themselves. Everyone involved in the discussion got hit over the head with many different Bible verses, thrown without mercy and with much pride.  I did a bit of that myself, I am ashamed to admit. But when I and several others tried to explain how some of the extreme teachings on this particular topic can actually do more harm than good (and I gave several examples), you would have thought I had suggested devil worship. The dreaded “B” word was thrown, what I call the Christian expletive. Bitter. I’m constantly amazed how that word is everyone’s go-to when they don’t like what they hear.

Dear friends, while I believe that in most cases bitterness becomes sin, I have to ask: Since when is an offender allowed to get away with offending, just because the one he offended became “bitter”?

I also have to ask: Why is it that when a Christian is even just bothered by a wrongdoing, his response is automatically assumed to be bitterness? Many times it is not bitterness that such a Christian is dealing with.

I have given much thought to this topic, remembering many of my own situations of being unfairly accused and judged, and have arrived at two conclusions.

The first conclusion is this: Many Christians use the B word as a cop-out. If they are able to accuse their brother of bitterness, somehow they feel justified in not getting their hands dirty by helping their brother sort out his problem and walk through it. The B word gives them an out, as it were. “I get to walk away feeling spiritually superior because of my discernment of your sad spiritual state, and I do not have to care that someone may have just ripped out your heart and stomped all over it.”  Please note that I believe this to be a subconscious attitude, one that most Christians would adamantly reject if they thought this was their attitude. I am happy to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. )

My second conclusion is this: In light of passages such as Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 that talk about not causing a weaker brother to stumble (which was one of the verses that everyone in that discussion got slapped with), we need to figure out who exactly is our weaker brother. It’s not just a baby Christian, whom everyone seems willing to make allowances for. Weaker brothers include any Christian who is soul-weary and heart-heavy. Any Christian who is exhausted and aching with the things of this life. Christians who have been through the wringer, mistreated, misjudged, and/or actually greatly harmed. (In reality, I just described all of us at some point in our Christian walk.)

However my point is this: Calling your brother or sister “bitter” (even if it is true) is actually a great, terrible stumbling block for that brother or sister. What if someone is hanging onto his faith by his fingernails, and all we choose to do is look down on him and be self-righteous? My friends, this kind of behaviour is becoming an epidemic in the church today. There are many preachers and ministry leaders whom I consider to be various degrees of false prophets, and they have harmed so many of God’s people. We should not be judging one another. We should be bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Sometimes that burden is calling out bad leaders and making them be accountable in whatever way we can. Sometimes that burden is being a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to hear as someone stomps a trail through your carpet, venting to you in a rage because everything has been bottled up for so long, and they must get it out so that they can deal with it. Sometimes that burden is unbearable for all of us.

Of course, I acknowledge that actual bitterness isn’t something to be condoned; it will hurt everyone it comes in contact with. But perhaps we can show our brothers and sisters the same mercy we hope they would show to us if our situations were reversed. I know of one individual who truly is steeped in a dreadful bitterness, and anyone who looks closely can see it. But I also know this individual endured truly horrible things. I have prayed many times that I will never simply use the B word on her in anger or frustration, but if an opportunity comes up, to be as kind and loving as possible in the way I speak to her about it. After all, you draw more flies with honey, and a word spoken in due season is good (Proverbs 15:23).

Consider Naomi in the Old Testament. She asked to be called “Mara” because of the bitterness of her life (Ruth 1:20). The Bible does not indicate that she sinned in acknowledging this attitude. Naomi was worn out. Miserable. So sad. So little hope. “The Almighty hath dealt bitterly with me.” Let’s remember that many of us have been dealt with bitterly, whether the pain came from God or someone else, and show some compassion to our worn out brothers and sisters in Christ. For those of us who are actually bitter and are sinning in our bitterness, let us also remember that “the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4) and “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Let us especially not use that terrible B word to stab each other when we’re already down. Instead, let us “encourage one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24) and choose to defeat bitterness instead of simply attempting to identify it and write it off.

Heather was raised in the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) from birth. After years of seeking God through the restrictive confines of the program, hitting rock bottom, and being brought out  of the program by God's intervention, she found God, right where He'd been waiting for her. They started the journey together, going through some very painful times. God sent an incredible, amazing Christian man who had never heard of ATI into her life, and provided some major stability, and a safe place to grow, with tenderness and caring. Heather is grateful for all that God has done for her, and wants to see everyone else escape from the bondage that she didn't know had chained her.
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.


  1. LJ August 12, 2013 Reply

    Thank you, Heather, for this reminder. May we all seek wisdom and discernment as we encounter people who are dealing with deep hurts from abuse, false teachings, etc. I often pray as I start the day that I may speak words of grace to others--as so many have done to me. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. Ruth August 12, 2013 Reply

    I'm thoughtfully considering your words. I agree that being told you're "bitter" is icky no matter who tells you. However, I love your analogy about the burn. The goal in treating the burn is for the skin to regain it's normal function but the goal of a Christian is to go beyond our limitations and become like Jesus.
    Ultimately I agree with what you are saying but I can hear that you are still struggling and healing. Let it go, find something better to hold on to. Make new friends.

    • Heather August 13, 2013 Reply

      Hi Ruth, thank you for your kind words and suggestions. I have found that every time I 'overcome' something, a new struggle that I did not foresee will pop up, and 90% of these struggles stem from the same experience(s): my upbringing in general. And my experience was much more positive than many on this site. Writing about it helps more than I ever knew, to work through things. (Sometimes it feels like a never ending process though. :(

      That being said, my primary motivation for writing this article, was to respond to certain attitudes I have encountered on this website. There have been times when someone would come on here and blast all of us out of the sky, scream and rage, and often throw out some really unkind accusations of bitterness, slander, gossip, etc.. (And it was always so hurtful, particularly to the person who had just poured their heart out and shared their experience.)

      This article was an attempt to counter those accusations, and properly explain what is going on here, and so far, this piece has been well received, for which I am thankful!

    • Ruth April 8, 2015 Reply

      It's been almost two years since I said this and I need to admit - I was wrong. I've since discovered that the goal of the Christian is not what I said. I had it all backwards.
      There's no room in love to be pointing fingers and calling names. It's not our job to "correct".

      I love this article and think very highly of it's content. I'm going to share it from my site - - unless you don't want me to?

      Thank you for being open and gracious even with ignorant fans like myself.

  3. Leisl August 12, 2013 Reply

    I LOVE this!!!
    I was recently asked by a mother who is presently home educating her children if I was "bitter" about the deliberate limiting of my high school education due to gender. I replied that bitterness is defined by fundamentalists as honesty, emotional or otherwise, about an old wound. By that definition, I guess I will wear the "bitter" label with pride. Honesty is part of my character. "If they wanted me to remember differently, they should have acted differently." But I also took the opportunity to remind her that she would indeed be judged, by her own children at some point, for the education she is giving them.

    • Kez August 12, 2013 Reply

      Yes!! "Bitterness" is often just the crime of being real and honest with these people. Brilliant and spot on!!

  4. Kez August 12, 2013 Reply

    I love this post. Especially, "Since when is an offender allowed to get away with offending, just because the one he offended became “bitter”?"

    I have heard so many victims of real crimes be written off as bitter as a way to excuse the offender completely. In some cases, I've heard the alleged bitterness of the victim equated with the real crimes of their perpetrators. It seems that these "bitterness" slingers feel that if they can write a victim off as bitter, then that "bitter" person in some way deserves what they got/get. As such, I think it's a way for people to bow out of having to face real issues like abuse. If you can convince yourself that someone "deserved" abuse (even after the fact), then you can feel safe that nothing like that could ever happen to you.

    If that makes sense...

    • MatthewS August 12, 2013 Reply

      “Since when is an offender allowed to get away with offending, just because the one he offended became “bitter”?”

      That's the line that jumped out at me, too. Very well said.

  5. JPU August 12, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for putting this in better perspective. I may not have been in ATI, but there have been circumstances in my life that I struggle with the memories over. I may still have some bitterness in me; I'm not sure. Choosing to move on and focus on the blessings in my life since, it can be a discipline. I know I'll never "forget about it" as some have counseled me to do. But I pray that God will give me what I need to remember it in a way that glorifies Him. And I pray that for all of you as well. 2 Corinthians 12:10 is a constant encouragement. In my weakness, God is strong and He has proven that before

  6. Alfred Corduan August 12, 2013 Reply

    Well said . . . I think you are right. It is far to easy to write people's concerns off because they are not handling it well. As though I handle things well myself.

    • Heather August 12, 2013 Reply

      Thank you Alfred. :)

  7. Linn August 12, 2013 Reply

    Having just voluntarily left a relationship with a "good" friend (or, so I thought), who accused me of being bitter and angry for the past year and a half in which she never gave me a reason for not contacting me, I really appreciate the post. We had a difference of opinion on something, and she just vanished. After she finally came by to tell me what was going on with her, I realized that the problem truly isn't mine. Saying that someone is bitter and angry seems, unfortunately, to be the "Christian" way of not really dealing with issues.

  8. Chris Symonds August 13, 2013 Reply

    Yep I have had quite a few very spiritual well adjusted people in my life tell me to get over it and move on forgive and forget etc.

    Yes we have to forgive and we have to love those who treat us badly.

    Okay so the first bit of my comment is a little bit tongue in cheek and obviously sarcasm. Its easy to tell others to move on get over it etc when you're not the victim. The perpetrators are often the most guilty of giving this kind of advice because they dismiss you and deny they have anything to ask forgiveness for. It is hard to resolve the past and reconcile when the other party denies any wrong doing

  9. Heather August 13, 2013 Reply

    I have also been accused of bitterness as an attempt to control and/or manipulate me, and shut me up. That my friends, is intolerable. Paul didn't use the 'B' word as a weapon, neither should we! :)

  10. Kate August 14, 2013 Reply

    Hello Heather ~

    I am a homeschooling mother who was a new Christian with young children when we were "exposed" to the teaching of IBLP and ATI. I remember being led down the path of "higher standards" and really desiring to do everything I could to secure a righteous lifestyle for my family (thus the problem/error). God in His faithfulness and grace spared us from being totally involved in the program, and looking back I can see His mercy to us in so many ways, although I have struggles with many of the principles that were taught as I continue to grow in my understanding Biblical truth.

    I have tremendous compassion for all of you - the generation that has been severely misled and abused for the sinful and selfish ambition of a few. I know several of you personally and am able to identify others as I meet you. Young lives are impressionable, and the IBLP/ATI teaching was successful in conforming you to it's image. That of course is part of the problem - it was a false God - which I recognize now, from my present maturity, but also understand how easily misled you/we were. False teaching lines itself up along side of the truth, and that is where it's power lies. This is ultimately nothing to be ashamed of, but tremendously difficult to sort through and process as you seek to grow in grace. I am thankful that God is able to bring justice, because I can't (even though I would really like to!). Our hope truly is in The Lord Jesus Christ alone - a simple truth that is often so difficult to live out in this world.

    • Heather August 14, 2013 Reply

      Thank you for your kind words and understanding, Kate.

  11. J.B. August 19, 2013 Reply

    This was a great article, Heather.

    I'll be the first to admit that I've struggled with being a "name-caller" for a lot of my life, though perhaps not quite as overtly. Much of it stems from being taught about the state and implications of one's countenance through IBLP. While I still believe that God certainly can brighten a person's face, the way IBLP presented this concept, in conjunction with its other doctrines, inferred that a person with a "sad" or "angry" countenance must be without Christ or struggle with some sin in their lives. (Anyone remember the Wisdom Booklet that showcased Clarence Darrow of Scopes trial fame with an "angry" photo, saying that his face was as such *because* of his belief in evolution and not in Christ?)

    Recently, a counselor I've been seeing said, "You sure smile a lot. In fact, you smile even when you're talking about something very serious. Why do you think that is?" It didn't take long to realize that for so long, I had been feeling pressured to smile ALL the time, or else others - and even myself - would think that I had a sin problem or had walked away from my relationship with Christ. Whenever I saw someone else struggling, I looked down on them because either I figured they were struggling with something or they were just "choosing to be unhappy." (Which was basically another way of saying that they were bitter about something.) It was far from a Christ-like compassionate attitude...if only I could go back and knock some sense into my younger self! :-)

    One of the most important lessons God has been teaching me lately, though it's been tough, has been to recognize and validate the emotional struggles of others. It wasn't just IBLP doctrine that steered me off-track; it was also the influence of some people I ran into during college who engaged in verbal competitions to see who was suffering the most. There was never really any true empathy to be found in those conversations. They would normally involve each person pointing to himself or herself and boasting about how many trials they've had to endure, never truly understanding how others were affected emotionally.

    I feel like we do this as Christians so much. I know I do.

  12. Lottie Shaw August 22, 2013 Reply

    Thank you so much, Heather, for your article. It really spoke to me! :) When I was younger there were many problems in my home due to various issues and I went to a friend who was part of ATI for help. And also just so I could get it out and try to deal with it. She listened, and then proceeded to lecture me on how to deal with it in a godly manner, and the fact that if I didn't deal with it in this certain way I was having a pity party with myself. I just told her that all I needed was someone to talk to because I was hurt. Not surprise that her response was to say I was bitter, and not giving it to God. She excused the person that had hurt me by saying I was bitter. That happened constantly, and I thought that it must be because I was really truly bitter. But, as I got older I started to realize it wasn't always the fact that I was bitter, it was a cop out for those in the wrong. Thanks for the article!! It has helped me a lot! :)

  13. Lori December 11, 2013 Reply

    Such a good article. I think that many times sorrow, grief, and pain are mis-labelled as bitterness. And what is more Christ-like than compassion for someone who is suffering? "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." (Rom. 12:15) "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all." (1 Thess. 5:14) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

    And if someone is struggling with bitterness, where does the idea come from that it's okay to respond with coldness, harshness or self-righteousness? Not from the Lord: "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (Gal. 6:1-3)

  14. January 20, 2014 Reply

    Awesome post.

  15. Vera January 29, 2014 Reply

    I have been called a whole lot worse than bitter by those I have tried to reach. It is definitely a tactic from this ministry to keep anyone who is questioning the teachings from getting a foothold with those who are entrenched in it. What offends me more than that is the shunning. We are told to shun Christians who are openly sinning not those who disagree. In fact, if you have a valid point based on Scripture, you are supposed to patiently teach me this. But they don't have a valid point because the only person who can defend the teaching is Bill and it is all smoke screens and mirrors. So sad. I grieve for the people who are still involved with this.

  16. "Hannah" January 29, 2014 Reply

    I have a bit different philosophy, based only on the observations of one person: I believe bitterness is often transitory. Hopefully for most, it is not the final destination. It is one of the necessary stages of grief, and not a step you can skip over. Most people I have known you were "bitter", did not stay that way. It was the ones who though they had it altogether, who proved most disconcerting.

    When you call someone "bitter", you are denying their grief to them. Let them have it. Let them work through it, at their own pace. Don't ask them to "get over it".

    • "Hannah" January 29, 2014 Reply

      *altogether = all together

  17. David January 30, 2014 Reply

    I assume that most on this board realize that a common tactic of cults is to call those who have left BITTER. I know of a number of them that use that exact word. My answer is that they have hurt people and people are human. People are outraged. Charging people with bitterness and discrediting the facts on that basis is nothing more than an extension of the very same legalism that is the primary problem. Truth is truth and even if the person pointing it out is bitter it remains the Truth.

  18. 'Megan' January 30, 2014 Reply

    Perhaps a look at Bill's teachings on bitterness are in order. It's possible they're completely off base, like most of his other teachings.

  19. Lauren February 8, 2014 Reply

    I have learned since my time in ATI that bitterness comes from being angry and not having a healthy outlet for that anger. And I have learned that anger is not from "not yielding our rights," but rather a response to pain. If that anger is allowed to remain, it turns into resentment and then into bitterness. God has given me the grace to understand all that now for my own life. "Bitter" IS an ugly word, and people who are truly bitter can say and do ugly things. But I don't recall anywhere that Christ told someone they were just bitter and to get over it. Instead, He challenged them to look at their own lives, and He did it with compassion and truth. He gave us that same compassion and truth, and when someone comes to us with bitterness, we can look at them past their own lies that they believe and see their pain.

  20. L. Shackelford February 13, 2014 Reply

    Reading this, I realize how much this word, 'bitter' was thrown around in BG circles… And I realize how infrequently I think of or use this word now. Focusing immediately on whether a person who has been hurt and or wronged (sinned against) is 'bitter' is not helpful. We live in a broken world; broken by sin. We sin and we are sinned against, and we suffer. Suffering is real. What did Jesus do when people suffered? He moved towards them in love, even those who were suffering because of their own sins, such as the woman being stoned for adultery. We DO suffer! It HURTS! But when we hurt, Jesus is with us in our suffering, knowing that it is because we live in this broken world he came to save. When we suffer, Jesus is not there saying, "Get your act together! Don't be bitter! Keep smiling! Be nice!" He is wrapping his arms around us whispering, "I love you. I know that hurts. I'm with you, I know what is true about this situation. I know what is true about you! I know this is hard. I won't let this be for nothing. You can trust me!"

    He suffered. He knows. How was it for him when people said he was born out of wed-lock and possessed of a demon? When his friends abandoned him in his time of need? We know that he, "… entrusted himself to him who judges justly," and asked his Father to forgive them, because they didn't know what they were doing. He was not bitter, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. Jesus suffered greatly in this broken world, more than we will ever suffer, and he did it to save us from ultimate suffering. In the meantime, we live in a broken world, where we sin and are sinned against. And he is with us, showing us how to love our enemies.

  21. Brenda February 17, 2014 Reply

    I really appreciate your words. I was 17 when I went to an IBLP seminar and soaked up the words I think now looking back it was in part to being a new christian and from a single parent home. I am a mom who heard about ATI when my children were mid grown and yes with star gazing eyes we joined and were SO excited with all the amazing opportunities our family would be afforded.

    My oldest daughter experienced the "correction" given out for her injustices and placed in solitary confinement with little food and then sent home. My hub and I were devastated that OUR daughter could sort of ruin this amazing experience for her and for her siblings. As it turned out it was the best eye opener we could have received. We got out and are recovering. The biggest thing that it did for me personally is made me feel like I was not a good enough christian, after all I got saved when I was 14 and didn't know the ropes of the Christianeese and ATI made it glaringly clear we were factory seconds. This from a new saved girl who never drank, smoked, swore and spent all her time serving in the church and was made fun of at high school for being a Christian nerd.

    These experiences have helped me see how easily we are drawn as christians to someone to lead us and guide us. Let it be Christ who leads and guides!! While we have learned these amazing lessons it does take time and yes the dreaded B word is right there. Its part of the learning process. If we don't remember being burned we would tend to repeat it, the deeper the burn the longer it takes to heal.

    One cannot see the light unless God opens their eyes so I don't try to convince anyone of anything. It will come to them in time and I pray with little damage.

    Bless you Heather for your article. Like the fear of the dreaded G word for gossip people use the B for Bitterness word to hide behind instead of facing the damage being done by so many.

  22. Jamie Malcolm February 28, 2014 Reply

    Wow Wow Wow...... You nailed it.

  23. Valerie March 3, 2014 Reply

    We have been a member of ATI for 15 years and I find all of this hard to believe!! It is your choice to legalistically follow someone. We have taken the parts of Bill Gothards teaching that we have prayed about and ask GOD about and applied those to our life. We have not agreed with many things that Mr. Gothard has taught but we have never felt compeled to be something we are not. I have never seen Mr. Gothard hold any girls hand. I do know that many of these young people have been brought up in very authoritative homes and want to blame Mr. Gothard...the parents are the ones that will answer for the way they have CHOSEN to raise their children.

    • KH March 3, 2014 Reply

      You really need to spend some time reading through this website. There is good, there is bad and there is down-right ugly! The most ugly is how Mr. Gothard refused to live by the rules he required others to live by!

    • Shane March 3, 2014 Reply

      Valerie, please share some of the many things you found in Gothard's teachings that you did not agree with.

    • 'Megan' March 3, 2014 Reply

      Hi Valerie, please read around on this site a bit more. You will find articles where Gothard was fully informed of horrible abuses in various homes, and not only did nothing to stop it (i.e. telling the parents to stop, or calling the law), but told the child in question, 'well you just need to humble yourself and obey your parents' or, 'You need to pray for your offender', or something similar depending on the situation. It is also noteworthy that even after so many years in ministry out of the by now hundreds of abusive homes he must know about, he has NEVER made any sort of statement to correct what many think were misunderstood teachings, or blatant misuse of teachings etc. If anything, he says that we and/or our parents who have suffered, are to blame insinuating that we are porn and rock music addicts. (Which is NOT the case for a good majority of those who frequent this website OR our parents.)* Article here.

      That being said, you seem to be sensible, especially where you did not take Gothard seriously on his 'non-optional principles, new approach to life' etc.. Many took him at his word, ESPECIALLY those of us who, like myself, were raised in his teachings from the beginning, and never had any other perspective to make informed and wise choices about what to believe from him.

      So I completely get it that you would find many things on this website shocking, and I am very sorry for that, it cannot be pleasant. I remember how.. scared.. I was when I first started realizing the emperor had no clothes.

      So please, friend, take your time, and visit some of the accounts here with an open mind if possible, and remember that this is not the first time a religious leader has been exposed as something less than a saint, and it will not be the last time something like this happens, until Jesus returns.

    • "Hannah" March 3, 2014 Reply

      It wasn't my choice. I entered the ATI program as a child. It was my parents' choice, and yes, they will answer to God for it.

  24. Dee March 13, 2014 Reply

    You are so right. As an Ex ATI parent it weighs heavily on my heart. We love the Lord and wanted to raise our children to be "mighty in Spirit" we drank the koolaid, we prayed and followed the formulas, we went children to seminars, CI's, Knoxville etc. But there was something going wrong. The harder we would strive, the more weary we got. Then we began to see the rotting fruit falling from the ATI tree of our friends with OLDER students. We woke up and ran fast. Till this week we believed that we were ATI failures, sent away and rejected for not doing it right.
    I am reeling from this new reality and having just heard any of this, in addition to the Vision Forum mess, I am on my knees in repentance.
    I only hope that my children will be willing to forgive me. I do pray that my husband will also become open to this reality. We ran fast and away from all homeschooling, but have many painful issues to resolve, such as many churches, friends and to deal with. It is gonna be a process for me and for all my family. But I trust that God, who kindly pulled us out, will now lead us to restoration in HIM alone.

    • "Hannah" March 13, 2014 Reply

      Just judging from my own personal experience, I think an adult child just wants their parent to try to understand and care about what the parents put them through. A genuine apology and a change in the previously offensive behavior goes a long way with many of us. And yes, we know that God forgives. It doesn't change the past, but it can help to heal the future.

      Note that I also recognize there is no way my parents could have known they were dealing with a child molester, and therefore putting their children directly in harm's way. I don't blame them for what they could not have known. Thankfully, I was never one of Gothard's targets, in that regard.

  25. Bubba March 20, 2014 Reply

    Wow, this is one of the best blog posts I've ever read. I left conservative Christianity over a decade ago because of similar issues. I'd often need to complain about problems briefly to get them off my chest SO I WOULD NOT BECOME BITTER. And yet, so many conservative Christians would call me bitter, unspiritual, or many other things. This, ironically, made me stuff everthing deep inside so that I became more bitter. I developed closer relationships with non-Christian friends that I felt I could be real with, and rarely went to church for about 5 years. I realized a lot of Christians that try to give advice have no idea what they are talking about, misdiagnosing and giving bad advice. They seem to want ever-smiling stepford people. Luckily, I've found a Lutheran church where people seem more real.

  26. Thaddeus March 26, 2014 Reply

    THE IBLP and other Gothard seminars are the only places where it is taught that the victim is to apologize to the perpetrator for whatever act is committed---as if being "bitter" was worse than the act that traumatized the victim.

    • Bubba March 27, 2014 Reply

      Unfortunately, many fundamentalist churches are like this. They really train you to be the ultimate doormat, that's why I left.

  27. Mamaraye April 1, 2014 Reply

    @Thaddeus...Sadly, that is not true, not even remotely. I wish it were, but it isn't. But Gothard bears a huge responsibility for overtly teaching it as legitimate, or even preferred, in dealing with those recovering from being wronged.

  28. […] had been exposed to his seminars in their youth and didn’t see anything dangerous in them. We just sounded “bitter,” the strongest pejorative in […]

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