Friday, December 03, 2004
Boyfriend Forced to Attend Seminar
Peter, a 27 year old accountant, had never heard of Bill Gothard. Not until he asked an attractive co-worker out for a date, that is.
The young woman, Audrey Tapp, suggested that he come over to her family's house for dinner. During dessert, Mr. Tapp informed Peter that if he wished to continue developing a relationship with Audrey, he would need to attend IBLP's Basic Seminar, taught by Bill Gothard.
Peter causally agreed, not realizing he had just committed to a week-long, 32-hour event. "When I found out I had to take Friday off from work and attend all day Saturday...well, that was strange, but OK. At least Audrey was going."
Each night as they drove home after the session, Mr. Tapp looked at Peter and asked, "So, Peter, what did you think?"
On the first night, Peter openly discussed his opinion. "I enjoyed it. There may have been a couple of points I disagreed with, but overall it was good." These "couple of points" led to a three-hour discussion in which Mr. Tapp explained to Peter why he was wrong and how Scripture proved Mr. Gothard's teachings. After that, when asked what he thought, Peter relied on a safe "it was very interesting."
The next day at work, Audrey confided to Peter that she disagreed with most of what Gothard taught. "But if we want to see each other, we have to go along with my parents on this," she said.
Mr. and Mrs. Tapp often commented on the depth of Gothard's teaching. "Wasn't that session on strongholds amazing?" exclaimed Mr. Tapp. "And not exactly scriptural," Peter recalls thinking silently.
"Just wait until Friday when Mr. Gothard leads us in singing," said Mrs. Tapp. "It always ministers to my spirit."
Perhaps most strange, says Peter, was the session-ending ritual of making commitments. "Gothard would have us bow our heads, give a sort of challenge, and ask for a show of hands. That was weird. I mean, the whole seminar is a video, so people are raising their hands to a VCR and TV screen." Peter was certain Mr. Tapp covertly watched him during the commitment-making.
By the end of the week, Peter was relieved. "It was like when a Doberman Pinscher runs up toward you, barking. It sniffs around at your feet and if you stand very still, and remain calm, hopefully it'll go away."
As they walked out of the final session, Mr. Tapp put his arm around Peter. "Peter," he said, "you should come with us to Knoxville this summer."
Peter is evaluating his relational options.