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Bill Gothard and religious abuse (spin off)

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 

The recent thread on TAO on the Duggars has brought up some very strong feelings for me about the teachings of Bill Gothard, a preacher who the Duggars follow who my parents also followed when I was teen.  These are Christian teachings, but twist the bible, and are extremely legalistic and judgmental.

 

I was neglected and abused as a child, and in the hands of my already mentally unhealthy parents, the teachings authority and other issues ultimately made my home life completely untenable, and I left home as a teen.

 

I've been sadden on the TAO that the extremely twisted religious views (including that female offspring are never adults until they are married) have been seen in a "live and let live" way by many posters. I'm starting this thread to sort out my feelings on these teaches -- still trying to sort out what in my own screwed up life came from Gothard's teaching VS from my crazy parents, and to further root out any of this lunacy still floating around in my head.

 

This is a link to a web site where survivors of this upbringing talk about their experiences.

 

http://www.recoveringgrace.org/

post #2 of 56

I'm short on time, but what to read and see what they believe. So I will be back

post #3 of 56

Read it, I think you posted this link before and WOW!  I should share it with my sister.  We were raised in a baptist church then a vineyard church.  Whatever they said about controlling your children and children not having voices is what my parents followed.  As I grew older I began to realize that this lifestyle is perfect for those with a low self esteem and a need to control something in their life as well as play King of the Hill.  Very sad and very heartbreaking.  My parents were controlling and always critical of everything I did.  I was always bad and wrong.  If I did nothing I must have done something because without their guidance I was sinful.  When I got a job at 15 they were angry because I was needed at home to care for my little sister, when I got two jobs in the summer because I wanted to be away and there were no sports to play they became hysterical.  WHAT WERE THEY TO DO?  I was making decisions on my own and trying to do things for myself.  It was horrible.  They picked who I could and couldn't date and compared me to all their friends kids.  The perfect kids and families.  If my mother knew all their friends kids were high just to get through the day she would have loved it and felt wonderful about her godly parenting.  Of course I never told on them.  Gotta do what you gotta do to get by. 

 

Here are the things I'm still working on.

 

I have value and I don't have to follow a Godly Path to be of value.

I can do for myself without being considered selfish.

Idle hands are not sinful hands, I can sit on the couch and veg out for almost a whole hour without feeling nagging guilt.

I can talk back to adults.  Sounds ridiculous but for so long a male figure scared me.  Being in the military was terrible for me at times.

Someone older is not wiser and I do not have to follow what they say.

I can speak out for myself and for my lifestyle.

Sex is not dirty, sex with my husband does not have to be led by him.  Having had multiple partners was not the end of me.

Not teaching my children the bible is my business.

Teaching my daughters to be strong, independent and to feel worthy is my goal!

I need to let go of all the guilt, it's just so hard.

 

I was never allowed to watch TV without guidance, otherwise I might stray.  Music had to be approved as well as friends.  If they didn't like my clothes... the ones I bought myself they were thrown away.  I couldn't hang out with my friends I was allowed to go to school, play sports and work.  When I did try to go to youth group they felt I was only going to see boys and I wasn't even allowed to do that.  I couldn't go to the mall with friends only with them.  I couldn't do anything.  When a friend of mine got pregnant and needed me to go with her to a Christian Clinic that I had once volunteered at my mother found out while we were there and of course assumed it was me.  She threw  a screaming tantrum in front of my friend when we got back.  And yes she was pregnant and no I was no longer allowed to see her.  I still did.  She didn't get pregnant by choice.  She needed support.  Her parents didn't care how she got pregnant all they cared about was that she was and out of the house she went.  That would have been the same for me. 

 

My parents kicked my sister out of the house so many times for being 5 minutes late or for not doing exactly what they said.  I know they still hit her when they got the chance.  I was routinely smacked or hit with things when my mom was mad at me and that was considered a good way to parent.  I spent all of High School grounded for various infractions.  I wasn't spanked anymore because I told my mother I would embarrass her in front of people by saying that she did.  She didn't want that.  Though she believed she was in the right she couldn't help wanting to save face at all cost.  So I played on that a lot.  It helped.  I taught my sister how to do it as well.  We had to be manipulative in order to be somewhat normal.  My sister is still dealing with it all.  I'm so far away she can't corrupt me or my kids.  And when I do visit her every 5 yrs.  I set boundries right away.  I told her if she every touched my kids I'd break her arm rip it off and shove it up her ass!  I told both my parents that if they tried to humiliate my kids to get them to behave or say anything about "jesus" to them I'd take their bible and it too would find a resting place in one of their cavities.  I think now my mom is afraid of me.  And I hate that, but need it. 

 

Look I'm still working on it all.  I may be a little off, but I got to do what gets me through this life and sometimes treating my mother with disrespect is all I can do to get through some of those shitty moments.

post #4 of 56

Thanks for posting this Linda, I think it is important that these things be discussed.

post #5 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

As I grew older I began to realize that this lifestyle is perfect for those with a low self esteem and a need to control something in their life as well as play King of the Hill. 

 

.... WHAT WERE THEY TO DO?  I was making decisions on my own and trying to do things for myself.  It was horrible.  They picked who I could and couldn't date and compared me to all their friends kids.

 

 

...I was never allowed to watch TV without guidance, otherwise I might stray.  Music had to be approved as well as friends.  If they didn't like my clothes... the ones I bought myself they were thrown away.

 

..... I may be a little off, but I got to do what gets me through this life and sometimes treating my mother with disrespect is all I can do to get through some of those shitty moments.


I can relate to so much of your post. My father has low self esteem and a need to control. He was already an a$$hole, these teachings gave him a "spiritual" reason to be so. It's hard for me to see how these teachings could appeal to anyone with even a modicum of psychology health, which is part of why the TAO thread got under my skin. How can any normal person look at this and think "live and let live"?

 

Me making decisions for myself was an absolute disaster in my home as a teen -- even the most minor decision. My parents saw me as evil and out of control, and I often believed them. But with hindsight, not so much. I went to a Christian highschool. I always did my homework, took the most challenging classes offered, and did my best. My friends were people that I knew from church and from school, our idea of a good time was going out for pizza. Most of my friends dreamed into going into the ministry when they were grown. None the less, all social activities were highly suspect.

 

This was back in the last 70s, early 80s, and at that time, Gothard taught that a boy should ask a girl's father for permission to date her. (The courtship stuff came in later). The odd sideeffect of this was lots of arguing about what is a date. Often, going out meant an entire group of kids was doing something together (such as a basketball at school and then pizza) but my father was convinced that if it was a co-ed group, I was "dating" one of the boys, so I couldn't go unless I was being honest about "dating" and the boy asked him. My parents spied on my life, trying to ascertain who I was "dating."  They would go through my room, read my journals, ask my teachers and youth leaders. I was open about the fact that I thought the "asking for permission to date" thing was weird, so they were sure I was sneaking around.

 

And then things got blurring. If I felt attracted to a boy and he was part of the group going out, then was it a date? What if I had no idea if he liked me? The notion of friendship with the opposite sex was highly suspect, and my father drilled into my head that boys, all boys, just think about sex all the time. They just wanted to use me for sex. There was no option that a boy wanted to spend time with me because he enjoyed my company.

 

I completely believed my father -- after all, he had sexually assaulted me several times I week from the ages of 10 until about 13, so the idea that all I was good for was quite clear. That he had now popped himself into the role of my "protector" keeping me safe from letting friendship unfold naturally with boys who wanted to do things like be music ministers when they grew up just made it all the more bizarre.

 

I think that one of the weird backlashes of these beliefs is making ALL of a teen's interactions about sex. I suspect the more extreme teachings, courtship and the notion that boys and girls can never be friends came out of the quagmire that early families like mine found themselves in. I suspect that the "homeschooling is the only option" belief is also related -- it's difficult to force a teen into this control even in a Christian school situation. Total isolation is the only way.

 

more later

post #6 of 56

Thank you for having the courage to share. I was not affected personally by this kind of religious abuse, but there are people in my life who have been impacted by it. In my own family, there are some stories of very damaging and dysfunctional interactions based on religion. (For example, when my grandmother was dying, her sister called her up and told her she was going to hell because she had followed a false religion. My grandmother was a Unity minister and her sister is a Southern Baptist.)

 

As far as the "live and let live" attitude...I think that it can be hard to know when someone's religious beliefs are just "different" and when they are dangerous and unhealthy. I believe strongly in tolerance and religious freedom, but I am also concerned about the kind of abusive situations that are being discussed here. That's why stories such as yours are so important...to break through the isolation and opacity of these religious movements and help expose what's really going on.

post #7 of 56

You know, the whole Duggar thread and some of the responses reminded me of the documentary I once saw on Jim Jones and Jonestown.  The reason Jim Jones came to mind was that in that particular documentary, it was pointed out that Jim Jones and his organization was highly regarded in the San Francisco area and even Harvey Milk thought that Jones and his flock were doing great things for the community at large.  Little did the community know what was really going on and the bondage that the Jim Jones members were experiencing.  I was in high school when the mass suicide took place, but I don't think anyone at the time really understood the workings and control behind the whole tragedy.  The whole group put on a great front, and even impressed people ranging from congressmen right down to the casual observer.  The tragedy is two fold:  the people in the Jim Jones group really valued and believed what they were doing and that it was right, and everyone in the group put on a great show to the outside world.  Disenfranchised people (whether mentally, economically or spiritually), suddenly found purpose in Jones' group.  They found a sense of control in their otherwise "purposeless" lives.

 

I don't think anyone in the Godhard movement (or any similar movements) is going to go out and commit mass suicide, but the self-inflicted isolation, legalism and fear of "culture" is all pretty disturbing in my opinion.

 

I have a family member who married a Gothard follower.  I could lay it all out here, but it's the same old story, and one that's not finished yet.  I read the link posted above by Linda concerning people recovering from this movement, and many of the personal stories are so analogous to my relative's present situation that it left me sort of dumbfounded. 

post #8 of 56
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

As far as the "live and let live" attitude...I think that it can be hard to know when someone's religious beliefs are just "different" and when they are dangerous and unhealthy. I believe strongly in tolerance and religious freedom, but I am also concerned about the kind of abusive situations that are being discussed here.


 

I agree. I do believe in tolerance and freedom, and I'm confused right now as to where the line is. At what point do others have the not only the right, but a responsibility, to say that the way someone else is practicing their religion is socially unacceptable?  That what they are forcing on their children is a form a abuse?

 

I feel like there is a massive double standard in the US. Many traditional Muslim practices to control women are seen as unacceptable, but similar control measures over protestants are seen as acceptable.   I think that the show 19 and Counting as made a level of control that most would find shocking seem socially acceptable by making the mom seem nice.

 

I'm hoping that by writing about my experiences and talking about them with others, I can get more clarity in my own head about where that line is for me. I'm not trying to tell anyone else where that line is for them.

 

Up til now, I've had a really hard time explaining why the transition to adulthood was so difficult for me, how my parents intentionally undermined me. I'm just now starting to see that part of the problem was that their belief system didn't include independent, adult offspring. Gothard teaches that children are children until they marry. So much of what my parents did was subtle, so when I talk about how it messed with my head I think I just sound weak. Unless one understands the level of brain washing that had been going on for years in advance, there's no way to make sense of the way events unfolded.

 

 

post #9 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

I agree. I do believe in tolerance and freedom, and I'm confused right now as to where the line is. At what point do others have the not only the right, but a responsibility, to say that the way someone else is practicing their religion is socially unacceptable?  That what they are forcing on their children is a form a abuse?

 

I feel like there is a massive double standard in the US. Many traditional Muslim practices to control women are seen as unacceptable, but similar control measures over protestants are seen as acceptable.   I think that the show 19 and Counting as made a level of control that most would find shocking seem socially acceptable by making the mom seem nice.

 

I'm hoping that by writing about my experiences and talking about them with others, I can get more clarity in my own head about where that line is for me. I'm not trying to tell anyone else where that line is for them.

 

Up til now, I've had a really hard time explaining why the transition to adulthood was so difficult for me, how my parents intentionally undermined me. I'm just now starting to see that part of the problem was that their belief system didn't include independent, adult offspring. Gothard teaches that children are children until they marry. So much of what my parents did was subtle, so when I talk about how it messed with my head I think I just sound weak. Unless one understands the level of brain washing that had been going on for years in advance, there's no way to make sense of the way events unfolded.

 

 

See bolded parts.  The bolded parts, in my opinion, are key issues, and I think that the main reason people give families like the Duggars a free pass is that they give the appearance of a happy, well-adjusted family.  Over and over again, on the web and other places, I read and hear people saying over and over again:  but they look so happy, and their kids are so well behaved! 

 

What's the price, though? 

 

 

post #10 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

I agree. I do believe in tolerance and freedom, and I'm confused right now as to where the line is. At what point do others have the not only the right, but a responsibility, to say that the way someone else is practicing their religion is socially unacceptable?  That what they are forcing on their children is a form a abuse?

 


The line is really hard to define, and I think that allows predators and sociopaths to exploit the "gray area" and do things that appear socially acceptable but have really scary dark side. (PP's mention of Jim Jones is a perfect example).

 

Since I'm personally a spiritual seeker who has dipped my toes into several religions and have yet to feel fully at home in one, I've developed my own personal criteria for determining whether or not a religion or spiritual path seems legit to me. Basically, I look for two things. Does this path encourage the development of greater compassion towards myself and fellow human beings? And does it offer a way to lessen fear of life and death? If the answer to either of those questions is "no", then I don't consider it a religion or path worth following.

 

In terms of addressing the extreme/abusive religious practices of others...I think we struggle with this as a culture. Often only those on the "inside" are those who know what's really going on, but it takes action by people on the "outside" (often people like you who have left the religion) to bring the problems to light and to address them.

 

post #11 of 56

Linda you hit it with "boys only want one thing".  For so long I felt that boys/guys had not other thoughts or feelings other than to get into my pants.  I messed up numerous relationships because I thought there was no depth there.  Just wanted me for what they could get.  And it wasn't true.  Also sexualizing just boys is wrong.  I was taught that I shouldn't like sex and that it's only for procreation.  Then they mixed it in with I shouldn't have too many children because I would become a slave to them and not have time for god.  WTF?! 

 

Also the every social situation being suspect.  My parents thought I only wanted to go anywhere because there were boys there and of course I was weak and would probably not be able to make a decision for myself.  You should have heard the uproar when I bought a car... which they took from me because I was late 5 minutes from work which was done on purpose because I got off at 10 and had to pick up groceries for my mom.  They gave me 15 extra minutes...  I literally rushed my butt of to get it all done but was told that I wasn't responsible to plan well enough and so I lost my car.  They took it and sold it and kept the money... since they considered it family money.  I then bought another car and put the title in my friends moms name... That was a miserable summer. 

 

Do you find yourself falling into any of their parenting styles?  Being overly suspicious?  Expecting your children to lie?  Maybe even find yourself a doormat not and then? 

 

I felt like I had to lose control to gain control.  Now I'm a very controlling person.  Though I give my girls a lot of space.  For some reason the more space I try to give them the less they want.  They seem to want me more and even though they don't really need me they act like they do.  I don't know, I still have to watch the things I say, I can say some terrible things and I'm glad DH is here by my side to set me straight. 

post #12 of 56

I'm of two minds about this.

 

My family went through a cult experience.  Commune and everything.  I was talking about it with someone yesterday and realized how ca-razy the whole thing sounds, 15 years out.  My parents *never* abused us though, spriritually or otherwise.  They were decieved and mistaken, though well intentioned, and they did not let their embarassment turn them into obedient zombies.  Which is why we only lasted 5 years there. They just couldn't keep their mouths shut. lol.gif

 

Given that, and the fact that they are on TV, running all over the globe, and followed around by a TV crew that is *nothing* like them, I have a hard time seeing the Duggars as "isolationist" or particularly controlling in that way.  I *have* run across families who could be defined that way, and they skeeved me out, but the Duggars aren't even close to that kind of isolated or controlling, as far as I can tell (and not just from the show, but from what I have heard from people who have met them.)  Those other families would never have gone to a large, racially mixed urban charismatic church, for instance.  Nor would they have allowed their children to sit and hear questions from people who obviously disagree with them and who imply quite clearly, in their questions, "another way".  Nor would their daughters have been involved in any way whatsoever with local emergency volunteer services. 

 

I'm not a Gothard proponent by any means.  The teachings I have seen, and the rules and regs, I believe are personal preference relabeled as "Godly behavior".  But I have a very hard time squishing the Duggar family into the 'cult' box that I have from my own experience with cults and culty people.  Also, having observed extremely unhealthy family dynamics and cult-like thinking in people who are pretty much polar opposites to the Duggars in every way, I'm more cautious about taking the route of "Anybody who looks like [fill in the blank] or has any association with [fill in the blank] is culty and abusive because my experience with those was terrible."  Even more so because people may look at *me* and make assumptions because of how I live or the particulars of my beliefs.  IMO, abusive people are abusive people, regardless of the belief system they pick.  Some belief systems may make it easier for them to grasp control, or to hide abuse, but even without it, they would abuse.  Thinking of my one grandmother here.  Meanest, nastiest person I have ever known.  She had none of these religious trappings.  She just flatout verbally and emotionally abused everyone around her for decades. The kind of abuse that doesn't need violence, because it makes you just want to wilt into the ground and die.  Nothing was every good enough for her.  Nobody could make her happy.  She is a big part of the reason my mother has needed intense therapy for years on end.  Would grandma have been an utter terror as  Gothardite mom?  No doubt.  I shudder at the very thought.  But it wouldn't have been ATI that turned her into a monster.

post #13 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post


Do you find yourself falling into any of their parenting styles?  Being overly suspicious?  Expecting your children to lie?  


 

No, but I didn't have children until I was in my 30s, and spent most of my 20's in therapy! I've parented pretty much the opposite of my parents, which sometimes has been great, but sometimes meant that I made *different* mistakes. I see AP and GD as about as different than their style as possible so I found it pretty straight forward when they were small, but as they kids have gotten older (both my kids are teens) I really struggle to find balance. For example, it is so deeply a part of my make up to NOT invade their personal space that their rooms are often completely horrid, like really, really horrid. Like they are now beyond their ability to tidy and they need me to do for them, but going into their rooms and going through their stuff is really hard for me because at my core, it feels like an invasion. I've talked to them both about it and we are all working on it together -- how to be respectful of a teen's privacy while providing them they help they need to not live in filth.

 

 

post #14 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

Given that, and the fact that they are on TV, running all over the globe, and followed around by a TV crew that is *nothing* like them, I have a hard time seeing the Duggars as "isolationist" or particularly controlling in that way.


 

The kids are on display, but they aren't allowed privacy or the ability to form relationships with "outsiders."  To me, they seem isolated. They've no one to confide in, no one to ask for help, no path out if they want to make different choices. They are being watched and observed, may be in a way that makes them even more isolated. They really don't have the option of just running away and living a different kind of life without changing their names.

 

It's creepy to me.

 

The happy/happy/smiley part is creepy to me too, because of the way that unhappiness is disobedience is a sin, under the teachings of Gothard. Having been punished lots of times for being unhappy, and having been the smiley-church-teen while secretly wishing for my own death, I just don't buy it. I'm sure that watching the show is a completely different experience for some one who has never been slapped across the face until they smiled, but I don't buy the smiles. I doubt any of those kids have a clue how they feel about much of anything. For some of them, that make work out fine. For others, not so much.

 

I don't think it is an acceptable way to raise kids, and I'm baffled that any one who is a fan of AP or GD could think that demanding a child ACT happy when they are not is appropriate parenting. And it is a fundamental part of these teachings, one that it appears they Duggars have taken to heart.

 

I'm not saying that the Duggars are abusive in the same legal meaning of the word that my parents were abusive. I do think they are very, very controlling, and that the happy face is part of the control.

 

 

post #15 of 56

It's important to look the part.  Looking the part means your parents are doing right by god.  Smiling and behaving in a pleasant manner is very important.  Your true emotions are dismissed as being selfish and there is no reason for you not to be happy or at least look happy.  You are to delight in the this day and everyday that God gives you.  Ugh... I just threw up a little. 

post #16 of 56

I guess I interpret it differently because when I was watching the show, I certainly did see other emotions besides smiles.  Heck, people are constantly picking the Duggars apart based on whatever facial expressions their kids are making.  I'm not sure how they can be "simultaneously fake fake happy" while "all those kids are so obviously unhappy, can't you see it in their faces??" In the interviews the kids express likes and dislikes, tease each other, and occasionally make jabs at their parents.  Even occasional rudeness (as per the eyerolling and pickiness at the Ethiopian restaurant).

 

And also because my experience IRL with people who value taking a positive approach has never involved denial of feelings or physical abuse.

 

I can see *why* you interpret it the way you do.  It's the same reason that *anything* having to do with communal living gives me the heebie jeebies.  But just like people can live communally without being crazy culty nutcases (which I know rationally,but have trouble accepting), people can also do the positive outlook/let's find a way to be happy thing without slapping their kids silly or denying the existance of emotions (which I have observed, so I don't have a problem accepting). 

 

 

 

 

Quote:

I don't think it is an acceptable way to raise kids, and I'm baffled that any one who is a fan of AP or GD could think that demanding a child ACT happy when they are not is appropriate parenting. And it is a fundamental part of these teachings, one that it appears they Duggars have taken to heart.

 

 

 

post #17 of 56

Either way, what is on the outside is not always what is true.  Being positive because that's who you are is different than being told how to feel and what feelings are acceptable.  If you haven't live that kind of life of course it looks ok from the outside.  Being raised in that life, fake smiles can turn into what you think are real smiles.  Not being happy with your life can turn into guilt.  You will chide yourself relentlessly for that one.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

I guess I interpret it differently because when I was watching the show, I certainly did see other emotions besides smiles.  Heck, people are constantly picking the Duggars apart based on whatever facial expressions their kids are making.  I'm not sure how they can be "simultaneously fake fake happy" while "all those kids are so obviously unhappy, can't you see it in their faces??" In the interviews the kids express likes and dislikes, tease each other, and occasionally make jabs at their parents.  Even occasional rudeness (as per the eyerolling and pickiness at the Ethiopian restaurant).

 

And also because my experience IRL with people who value taking a positive approach has never involved denial of feelings or physical abuse.

 

I can see *why* you interpret it the way you do.  It's the same reason that *anything* having to do with communal living gives me the heebie jeebies.  But just like people can live communally without being crazy culty nutcases (which I know rationally,but have trouble accepting), people can also do the positive outlook/let's find a way to be happy thing without slapping their kids silly or denying the existance of emotions (which I have observed, so I don't have a problem accepting). 

 

 

 

 

 



 

post #18 of 56

Yeah, I wanted to pop in a few times and respond but didnt know what to say. Capps'mom said what I wanted to say, tho. I wanted to ask if anyone would be surprised if the smiles and happiness, and joy was genuine? Do you find it impossible to believe that people can genuinely be full of joy just bc in your experience it was forced?

 

Im not trying to be nasty. I do know people irl who really know Christ and know how to be 'positive' in all circumstances, I know people who, despite some serious difficulties/circumstances, still know some real joy and they are often smiling and happy. And its not bc its a sin to complain, or be unhappy, its bc they genuinely know God and He provides a joy and peace that most people find very difficult to understand, even church people.

 

Again, my point in posting isnt to invalidate your experiences but to sort of reassure you that its not always bc of abuse that some of these christians are happy and smiling. I dont know that much about the Duggars but what Ive seen of the show, albeit it was one episode... the wedding one, I found it very moving. I didnt see anything that suggested abuse or forced happiness. I saw people (even young people) who really know their Lord.

post #19 of 56


Of course people can be happy and show it.  I honestly don't alway know what it means to be happy.  If I took a step back and looked a my life... I'm pretty sure I can say now that I must be happy.  For so long I was told I was happy.  I was told what my emotions are.  Imagine that. 

 

It's good to be positive, if you're doing it for yourself.  Being postive and being happy because you're supposed to be takes a toll on you and you start wondering who the hell you are.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post

Yeah, I wanted to pop in a few times and respond but didnt know what to say. Capps'mom said what I wanted to say, tho. I wanted to ask if anyone would be surprised if the smiles and happiness, and joy was genuine? Do you find it impossible to believe that people can genuinely be full of joy just bc in your experience it was forced?

 

Im not trying to be nasty. I do know people irl who really know Christ and know how to be 'positive' in all circumstances, I know people who, despite some serious difficulties/circumstances, still know some real joy and they are often smiling and happy. And its not bc its a sin to complain, or be unhappy, its bc they genuinely know God and He provides a joy and peace that most people find very difficult to understand, even church people.

 

Again, my point in posting isnt to invalidate your experiences but to sort of reassure you that its not always bc of abuse that some of these christians are happy and smiling. I dont know that much about the Duggars but what Ive seen of the show, albeit it was one episode... the wedding one, I found it very moving. I didnt see anything that suggested abuse or forced happiness. I saw people (even young people) who really know their Lord.



 

post #20 of 56

I can see where this discussion is headed.  Instead of a discussion on Bill Gothard and the plight of young people who need or want to make their own spiritual decisions, it is turning into a discussion on "knowing God" and as a result achieving true happiness.  I don't mean to be so negative, but I think one of the problems in getting out of Gothard-like situations is the incredible sense of failure that an unhappy child/teen would bear in not achieving the total peace and joy that they are supposed to achieve in knowing God.  What if they don't find that happiness and joy?  Well, the simple answer under that scenario is that they don't truly know God.  Right?  That's a lot of guilt and baggage for a young person to carry, especially when this theory has been reinforced over and over again from birth. 

 

One of the most disturbing things that I saw on the website that Linda posted above was Godhard's theories on mental illness.  Mental illness is seen as something that is self-inflicted as a result of some spiritual deficit.  Add depression and other forms of mental illness together with the guilt of not truly knowing God and I think you are left with a ticking bomb.  I remember being a bi-polar teen w/eating disorders.  I was fortunate that there were medical and mental health professionals who could assist me in recovery and viewed it as a serious issue.  It was helpful, too, that no one treated my problem in the context of my personal failures (whether spiritual or otherwise).

 

If someone knows all the options, chooses to remain within certain theological boundaries and can achieve real happiness at the same time, then good for them.  What if a child or teen thinks differently, then what?  They may be faced with rejection, sense of failure and life long guilt.  Sometimes it may be easier to stick with the program.

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