And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Recently I presented a paper in my DMin class on what the Bible teaches about order in the marriage partnership.  This paper sought to define terms, exposit pertinent scriptures, and provide practical application. It also sought to make the reader aware of how some well intended Christian teachers have complicated the issue.  Thus, in a hopes that what I have found and written will benefit you,I am presenting this paper over the next several posts.  Should you have questions or comments, you may send them to
Bill Gothard and Marriage
            Widely popular among churches for many decades has been the teaching of Bill Gothard.  Because of the popularity and absorption of his teaching into the culture of many churches, an introductory mention is needed.[i]  Gothard, a lifelong bachelor, who began teaching his principles in the early sixties, reached massive numbers of people in his seminars of the seventies, and still draws crowds in excess of three thousand today.  He teaches on a wide variety of subjects, often in minute details.  It is his principles of order in the home that we pause to consider here.
            Gothard believes there are biblical principles that, when applied by either Christian or non-Christian, lead to success in life.[ii]  His seven principles for success are based upon character and virtue as illustrated in forty nine qualities that he has identified in the gospels.[iii]  He adamantly denies the label of legalism; however he asserts that these are “non-optional biblical principles of life.”[iv]  Much of Gothard’s teachings are based upon the keeping of lists and rules. 
            Therefore, Gothard bases many of his teachings on a cause and effect relationship.  Much is said about authority of leaders: wives to husbands, and children to parents.[v] He strongly tells a youth that his happiness is dependent upon his parent’s approval of a marriage partner, even when the parents are not living under the authority of God.[vi]  Thus, his teaching is much like the Pharisees as it dictates the keeping of rules beyond the scriptures as a means of status, success, and spirituality.
            The dictates of his teachings detail the way a woman ought to dress, decorate the home, and live under authority.[vii]  Little is ever said about relying upon the Holy Spirit.[viii]  Being submissive is to unquestionably obey those who are superior to you.[ix]  In 1983 Gothard began teaching sexual regulations for a husband and wife in his Advanced Seminars.[x]  In many cases, he advocated abstinence for married couples, against 1 Corinthians 7:5.  This becomes quite problematic, especially for women.  According to the logical reasoning applied to his teaching, a woman is constrained to forever be under her parents’ rule, to marry the man of her father’s blessing, and to remain under her husband’s authority.[xi]  Little is said about grace, unity, love, and living to glorify God.  Much is said about outward behavior; little hope is given for the change that is accomplished through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For Gothard, to obey her husband, or father, is her duty to God’s glorification.  To disobey God is to invite wrathful consequences upon herself and her descendants.[xii]
            Obviously this is a hindrance to order in the marriage.  The woman is no longer a suitable helper, but an underling.  Gothard’s teachings prescribe a fearful end to anyone who does not live under the rule of her leaders.  Scripture is often manipulated to reflect his religious order views.  This brings forth a wrong view of grace, forgiveness, repentance, submission, authority, and even love. Ultimately, the gospel is made a man centric prescription of works.

[i] Fisher, G. Richard. A Study in Evolving Fadism The Dangerous Leanings of Bill Gothard’s Teachings. Personal Freedom Outreach. ( (Accessed October 20, 2012)  (2/12) Gothard often advocates having ‘an inner peace” as a means of discerning scripture.  This however is quite subjective.  Yet, because a leader is in authority, to question a decision is said to bring serious godly repercussions.
[ii] (2/5) “Personal guilt is one of the most damaging factors there is to our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.  Therefore, scripture instructs us to gain and maintain a good conscience toward God and others.”
[iii] (4/5)
[iv] (1/5) “The basic principal is that true happiness does not come from outward appearance of physical circumstances, but from the development of inward character, such as gratefulness, patience, compassion, and joyfulness.”
[v] (1/4) “Under each umbrella of protection, God sets in place the leadership of His choice, just as He placed Moses in leadership under the ‘umbrella’ over Israel.  So, under each umbrella of protection, God raises up and establishes the human leadership to represent Him before the people.” This becomes very problematic for a marriage relationship.  The husband, by this line of reasoning, is the unquestionable authority of the entire home.  The wife is falsely taught that she is out of God’s will and faces repercussions for violating her husbands wishes.
[vi] (3/4)  “There are serious consequences for any son or daughter who gets out from under this protection.”
[vii] Fisher, G. Richard. A Study in Evolving Fadism The Dangerous Leanings of Bill Gothard’s Teachings. Personal Freedom Outreach. ( (Accessed October 20, 2012)  (8/12)
[viii] Beard, J. Bill Gothard general teachings/Activities. (accessed October 20, 2012. (5/26)  Gothard teaches much Freudian psychology, birth order influences, receiving “a word from the Lord,” and self image as an entire principle in the acceptance of the self.
[ix] (1/5) “People, especially teenagers, don’t like to hear about rules.  However, when they understand the underlying principles of life, they will often make rules or guidelines for themselves to ensure that they do not experience the consequences of violating principals.”  Thus Gothard endorses behavior modification akin to a Pavlovian dog, rather than a loving relationship of grace and sanctification unto God.
[x] Fisher, G. Richard. A Study in Evolving Fadism The Dangerous Leanings of Bill Gothard’s Teachings. Personal Freedom Outreach. ( (Accessed October 20, 2012)  (6/12)
[xi] Gothard, Bill. What is Courtship. (accessed Nov 7, 2012)  (2/4)  “God has entrusted to the parents, and especially the father, the responsibility to give the daughter in marriage.”
[xii] Fisher, G. Richard. A Study in Evolving Fadism The Dangerous Leanings of Bill Gothard’s Teachings. Personal Freedom Outreach. ( (Accessed October 20, 2012)  (3/12)

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