Here And There

The world of Sovereign Grace Ministries has seen some interesting developments over the past few weeks.

  • According to several sources, Covenant Life Church held a meeting and announced that the pastors are going to allow members to vote on the question of whether or not to leave the SGM organization – that the pastors have reached the point of wishing to part ways from SGM but are going to permit members to either affirm or reject their decision.  At this meeting, members were asked to keep the whole process confidential.
  • The much-anticipated Polity Proposal was released in draft form.  This 81-page document, put together by a committee comprised of SGM pastors, is entitled Sovereign Grace Book Of Church Order Proposal.  You can download a copy here.
  • Reading through this Book Of Church Order, it’s interesting to note that there doesn’t appear to be a job description that would fit C.J. Mahaney’s current role – which dovetails with something else that several people have shared with me, which is that there have been whispers and even an informal announcement or two that Mr. Mahaney will be stepping down from his position as president at some point in the near future.

For the most part, SGM continues to minimize the lawsuit brought against the organization and several of its pastors last month.  However, it sounds like more parties are going to be signing on as plaintiffs because of inappropriate pastoral counsel in situations of abuse, including spousal and child abuse.

EDITED TO ADD:  Shortly after this post was published yesterday, Sovereign Grace Ministries released the following updated statement:

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed Oct. 17 against SGM and several pastors from its associational churches. This complaint makes broad allegations that SGM pastors were negligent, resulting in errors and omissions in pastoral counseling and spiritual care, which was voluntarily sought and provided years ago to some families of child abuse victims.

The suit does not allege child abuse by any current or former pastor of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege child abuse by any employee or staff of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege any child abuse occurred on any SGM property or any church associated with SGM.

SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance. This care was sought confidentially, as is a right under the First Amendment. We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided. SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment, that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse.

SGM is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations at this time, but upon review it appears the complaint contains a number of misleading allegations, as well as considerable mischaracterizations of intent.  Legal counsel is preparing responsive pleadings.

Child sexual abuse is reprehensible in any circumstance, and a violation of fundamental human dignity. We grieve deeply for any child who has been a victim of abuse. SGM encourages pastors from its associated churches to minister the love, grace, and healing of God to any who have suffered this horrific act.

SGM is committed to integrity and faithfulness in pastoral care, as are the pastors of local congregations. We take seriously the biblical commands to pursue the protection and well-being of all people – especially children, who are precious gifts given by the Lord and the most vulnerable among us. These biblical commands include fully respecting civil authority to help restrain evil and promote righteousness as Romans 13 instructs us. SGM also encourages the establishment of robust child protection policies and procedures based on best practices.

SGM churches are separately organized and constituted in their respective communities. They voluntarily partner together for certain aspects of their broader common mission: to plant churches, develop resources, train pastors and serve international ministries in order to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask that you please join us in praying that God guides and leads all of us in these challenging circumstances, ministering his grace, comfort and peace to all who are affected by this situation, and that His truth would prevail.

Um, yeah.  That’s what the plaintiffs are working toward, too – that the truth would prevail.


The topic of child abuse as it relates to SGM’s past parenting teachings is an interesting one.  SGM leaders’ standard defense is to maintain that anything they may have taught about the so-called secondary issues (like courtship, dating, and the use of the “rod” as the only truly biblical form of parental discipline) was simply misapplied or misunderstood, and that therefore, they bear no responsibility for the way things may have turned out in situations where their advice resulted in abuse.  At the recent Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors Conference, Bob Kauflin spoke about this topic.  You can access audio for Mr. Kauflin’s teaching here.

Toward the end of discussions following the previous post here, there were several interesting exchanges about Mr. Kauflin’s talk and about what SGM churches have taught, particularly with respect to parenting.  Commenter “QE2″ had this to say, about her recollections on SGM’s parenting teachings:

Fairfax in the late 80′s/90′s had Benny and Sheree Phillips always teaching on parenting and holding parenting seminars.  The major part of their “method” was to spank.  Only it was called loving correction.

The goal was to spank your child through to repentance.  Somehow, you were to discern when they were repentant and then the spanks stopped.  If the child did not accept the rod, they got more rod.

They had all sorts of advice-don’t spank near open windows, interior bathrooms were good.  If shopping, go back to the van to spank.  You really spanked for anything short of perfection, which was everything.

Patsy Jacobs even had Keith carve out a bunch of rods and gave them out to all of the moms in a weekly short term moms group, with some scripture about discipline written on the handle in nice sharpie calligraphy.  This was because so many moms were breaking wooden spoons and admired Patsy’s, which was really thick.

They said to start at a early age to flick your baby on the thigh when they squirmed in the changing table to teach them to lie still.  I still remember all of the ladies, rods hanging out of their back pockets, with 1 year olds in their reclining strollers being walked back and forth in the lobby during the messages.  If the baby lifted their heads, the moms would say “head down”and deliver a swat so the child would learn to nap in the stroller on Sundays.  I always felt so guilty because I was not a good devoted mother like they were, because I didn’t do that.

Commenter “Unassimilated” had this to say:

In later years they added that you should teach your child to accept and receive spankings willingly, as an expression of Gods correction. Maybe this was always the case. So basically as a parent your child was to willingly present their hind quarters for spanking on demand, and with a happy heart.  This junk came from the pulpit, yet given the laws, they were always savvy enough to not record those sessions for later listening. We were supposed to say something like, “I’m doing this because God loves you, and I love you.  Corrections are a form of both our love for you, and our love & obedience for God.”  You made sure it hurt, and were to do your best to not seem angry when you did it.

The word ‘correction’ could bring a hush over any roomful of CLC kids.  But the pastors had no idea?

There was one parenting teaching, shortly after the new building opened up, where a Pastor mentioned that one needs to be careful ‘not to leave marks as the laws of Maryland, as we have learned, dont always agree with scripture.”   There were some in the audience that greeted this comment with chuckles, apparently I had missed the inside joke/situation that this comment was based on.

Bob is a liar, there is no other word for it, and they are all cowards.  His recent teaching on this seems like an attempt to create a narrative that could be used in court as a defense tactic.  “But your honor, we have gone on record as saying…..”  We have never taught that…” SGM is very adept in erasing/rewriting their history as it serves them.  I hope any Judge that comes across SGM sees right through it, and sees them for who they really are.  I hope their attorney is paying attention too.  I have no doubt that many sermons to come will be crafted to create a shiny example of what is acceptable and lawful in today’s world.

I thought this comment from “Stunned” was a logical response to the kind of dissembling we continue to get from SGM leaders whenever someone tries to hold them accountable for what they have taught:

Let me get this straight- these guys never taught brutal parenting, yet somehow tens of thousands of people, across the country, ALL just happened to simultaneously misunderstand SGM. For thirty years straight?

Yeah, that is likely…..

Anyone else seeing a trend among the current leaders at the top of the pyramid? “It’s not my fault. It must be yours!”


  1. Jimmy says:

    If you would like to see the latest published teaching by the original PDI/SGM teacher Larry Tomczak you can do so from his website at:

    I am sure it has been tempered yet will address the scripture’s perspective.

  2. Steve240 says:

    QE2 said (last post):

    Steve 240, I really love your blog. It is a thoughtful analysis of the problems with I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I must say, though, that I do find the book’s premise to be perfect for high schoolers, imo. But applying it to single adults who were well past college age did result in much wierdness.

    Thanks for the compliment. I would tend to agree with you that this premise can work for high schoolers/teenagers. That is one of my opinions about the book and also found it having bad consequences when it was imposed on those older than high school/teenager age. With most things it is important to have a balance and not assume that “one size” fits all ages.

    I would say that even when someone is in high school they need to learn relate to the opposite sex vs. avoiding relating as I have seen typically happens with groups that promote “kissing dating goodbye.” If teenagers don’t start to learn some relational skills then it will be harder when they get in their 20’s. One blog entry I saw on man talked about how “kissing dating goodbye” caused him as someone in his 20’s to having limited relational skills in his 20’s.

    I wonder if the sad “defects” of “kissing dating goodbye” is why in at least in some SGM churches you see a lot of older singles (both men and women) that aren’t married.

  3. Diane says:

    “Let me get this straight- these guys never taught brutal parenting, yet somehow tens of thousands of people, across the country, ALL just happened to simultaneously misunderstand SGM. For thirty years straight?

    Yeah, that is likely…..”

    Bob Kauflin apparently “perceived” it and “emphasized” it. His talk reflects it when he mentioned how his children gave him cards that said thanks for your correction of me.

  4. KAZ says:

    “It’s not my fault. It must be yours!”

    I really had to laugh when I read that comment becuase that statement sums up every moment of “counceling” I have ever received (except one instance) while in SGM. And from listening to other ex-sgmers it seems the same for them.

  5. Sick with worry says:

    I heard a story from a former CFCer, now in a different SGM church, of how she disciplined her kids when her husband was out of town. She proudly told us how she would call another man from the church, and he would come over to the house and spank them for her. She basically admitted that she could not get them under control. Now, I have never heard any teaching in SGM land that would endorse that….. But I guess the question is this: when does a leader step in to correct that kind of goofiness, or take responsibility for how his teaching is being mid-applied?

    Let’s all agree that teaching does indeed get mis-applied at times, but the teacher is still responsible for the result of the teaching.

    BTW…. When I heard that story…… That was the first time I started to think that “if you tell that story to too many people, they will think you are part of a cult”. I am good friends with this family, and I have offered advice. They agree with me in theory, but always go back to their SGM thinking on a number of topics.

  6. Persona says:

    When the CLC building was finished pastors and their wives were the only parents allowed to spank their children on church grounds (the pastor’s office) because of the threat of law suits and/or complaints.

    With CLC allowing enrollment from nonmembers, it is hard to believe the principal continues to dole out corporal punishment.

    If I were CJ, I would have asked Julie K. to teach on child rearing, not her husband. She held a much closer pulse on the condition of her children’s hearts and, she appears to be more grace-filled than her husband.

    If SGM had allowed women to use their gifts to the fullest, it may have grown-up to become a healthier organization. Imo, two of the most serious flaws of has been to give husbands almost all the credit and responsibility for the family and to neglect to use the female half of the church, in any significant way.

  7. Persona says:

    Meant to say, “With CLS allowing enrollment…

  8. musicman says:

    Let’s not forget that the many SGM churches promoted and held Ezzo classes, in which crying babies were supposed to be left unattended to teach them that their sinful nature would not control their parents.

    Marty Machowski and Alan Redrup used to tag team the Ezzo classes at CFC in the 90’s. Marty was the pastor that told a parenting class that he could recommend a Dr./pediatrician that would not examine a child’s backside so that parents were not reported for administering Biblical discipline.

    There is no way that SGM can claim their teachings were just “misapplied”. Even if that were true (which it isn’t)-what would that say about their effectiveness as teachers? The fact that thousands of their followers “misheard” their teachings and veered into abusive behavior.

    Good luck explaining that defense in court.

  9. QE2 says:

    Oh, Persona #6, don’t get me started…

    Yes, the church is the biggest loser when HALF of their members are relegated to the sidelines.

    We go back to the garden and find it is not good for man to be alone, so God makes a counterpart-a woman to complement him (not to help him, a bad translation). So why do these men think that they can run the church alone? If they have read Genesis, they should KNOW they can’t so the job alone.

    I was recently part of an interesting discussion on slavery, and one man had the view that the worst thing about slavery (in a corporate sense) was that you had all of these slaves who were people with unique gifts and talents that could have been used to better their communities and the nation, but it was believed that all they were good for was fieldwork/domestic help. Sounds a bit like SGM…

  10. Former CLC'er says:

    Persona & QE2 – I agree with both of you that SGM did not use the female gifts and talents and that resulted in an extreme imbalance. They were not being biblical in using the many parts of the body.

  11. Sidney says:

    Sadly, there are 2 pretty common responses to the lawsuit by people who don’t have an issue with CLC/SGM:

    “Why didn’t people use their brain and not listen to teaching that was bad?”


    “I was never affected by their bad teaching.”

  12. Lee says:

    I could be really really wrong as I am not an expert on the law. But the impression I get from other cases I have read before is that the court is not going to get into religious teachings of a church and whether they are correct or not. They can’t. (Unless those teaching directly violate the law such as polygamy)

  13. QE2 says:

    Lee-the lawsuit is not about the teachings. It is basically about SGM trying to prevent victims of sexual abuse from reporting crimes to the civil authorities.

  14. musicman says:


    Pretty sure it’s illegal to beat children into submission. Pretty sure it’s illegal to not report spousal abuse (as in hitting and beating a wife) to the police and then “encourage” that spouse to go back and “submit harder” to their physical abuser.

    Pretty sure it’s illegal to not report a rape of a child to the police and then put the victim back in contact with their abuser. Pretty sure it’s illegal to not report sexual molestation by a step-father.

    Many of these actual abuses were a result of SGM’s teaching on pastoral authority, parental authority, and male authority in marriage.

  15. Persona says:

    Jenn 15

    I think it’s inappropriate for Tommy to defend them like this but, I like the ending – pray for ‘truth to prevail’. May that be so and may SGM pastors begin to refer members to get counsel from others, those who are actually trained to give it.

  16. Ivy says:

    I’m one of the members of CovLife. I came to it as a teenager, so at the risk of sounding really naive, the revelations were a bit shocking. I would think that physical discipline would be rarely used, and to the point.

    In regards to the voting process, Josh told us that it would be an online voting, and that peeps without computers can fill out a paper ballot. I think that even if most people voted no, the church would separate anyway.

  17. Whirlwind says:

    Thought the text of the first amendment might be helpful:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  18. Persona says:

    Whirlwind..I guess the ladies in this case are petitioning for ‘a redress of grievances’. And, since this is a civil lawsuit, I believe they can petition about anything they want, with less evidence.

  19. Whirlwind says:

    Unless I’ve misunderstood, SGM is saying that if a pastor provides counsel to have a daughter lock her bedroom door each night and instructs a wife to provide more sexual fulfillment to her husband to keep his desires for his daughter in check, that’s just the free exercise of religious belief and pastors should not expect legal trouble as a result. Anyone, please correct me if I recall those facts incorrectly – AND THERE ARE PLENTY MORE BESIDES THOSE TWO HEINOUS EXAMPLES!

  20. Paul says:

    Interesting to note that the new version of the press release drops the claim from the original version that some of the allegations are “untrue”.

    My guess from the press release is that the way will play this in court is to say that although many of the allegations are substantially true, the 1st Amendment means that what did might be wrong but isn’t illegal.

  21. Jenn Grover says:

    Whirlwind – I think although those things are crazy, it would be tough to win in court based on those things. The strength of the case will all lie on the amount of control exerted over the victims’ families and how well that comes across in court.

  22. Persona says:

    Jenn 21

    In a civil case, I believe the girls need only convince others they were injured by the pastors’ actions or inaction. A monetary award is usually sought, as in the OJ Simpson case, when his former wife’s family won the wrongful death civil suit.

  23. Jenn Grover says:

    Persona, you might be right but I think proving control and influence would go a long way in terms of winning the case. It will also depend on what evidence is allowable, I would imagine.

  24. Moniker says:

    I think their appeal to the First Amendment is pretty funny. Grasping at straws, aren’t we?

  25. Lawstudent says:


    The worst part about slavery is that the slaves weren’t being used correctly? That’s interesting.

  26. Free to Seek Truth says:

    The updated statement by SGM regarding the lawsuit is a smokescreen. A smokescreen to keep many interested participants within SGM somewhat confused about the essence and nature of the lawsuit. Further, their statement is misleading…the First Ammendment is not at the core of the allegations.

    In my opinion, SGM is trying to provide reasonable doubt for their followers, just enough to keep people deceived.

    This is a civil case where the burden of proof is that the allegations most likely happened and hence determine damage reparations for the victims.

  27. Whirlwind says:

    @Jenn #22 – I wouldn’t expect to win on those points – I really don’t know what is needed to win this suit. I just think it is absolutely absurd to hide the idiocy they offered as biblical counsel (and still seem to claim was, in fact, biblical counsel) behind the first amendment.

    It’s also quite a spin to make it sound like SGM pastors tried to offer biblical counsel and now lawyers completely unrelated to the events are jumping in with a lawsuit. Notice this statement:

    “We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries…”

    They’re playing this out as though it’s on par with someone being denied the right to assemble for prayer around the school flag pole…as though this suit wasn’t being brought by ACTUAL VICTIMS and not a band of atheist lawyers.

    Whose rights are being violated here? Whose free speech is being abridged? Whose right to freely exercise their religious beliefs is being denied? Hey, SGM, address the actual lawsuit here instead of spinning something out of thin air.

    If you’re going to defend yourself against what was stated, try making a claim that the counsel provided by SGM pastors was not inherently harmful to anyone involved. This just makes you look ridiculous to anyone who’s actually read the blogs. Of course, this is probably intended more for those who will not bother to look further than the SGM statements.

  28. Lee says:

    QE2 and Musicman,

    Regarding my statement at #12–I said that before I saw the update from SGM today. I am trying to look at this impartially–as a court would. I think SGM is right when they say “in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.”

    That is what I was trying to say…you would think from many of the comments here that people think the court is going to determine if teachings of the church were wrong or not. I really don’t think they are going to do that. The court will not involve itself with interpretation of religious beliefs.

  29. Whirlwind says:

    Sorry, this is even worse if I quote the entire sentence:

    “We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.”

    If anyone is still unsure about where SGM leadership is in the CYA game, please read this – “what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.” They are saying, “No one has the right to judge the content of SGM pastoral counseling that stems from SGM religious belief. This was nothing more than the free exercise of religion.”

    Now I understand their legal team is probably hard pressed to come up with a defense, but this leaves me incredulous.

  30. Kraftig says:

    As I’ve [mostly] lurked here for a year or so, I continue to be astounded by how SGM seems to think that by using veiled double-speak they can somehow justify what basically boil down to ignorance, incompetence, arrogance and apathy.

    “we could have done better” = we really had no clue what we were doing but continue(d) to make the same bonehead mistakes.
    “we’re working on [that]” = we’re not working on [that], and will continue doing anything whim dictates.
    “we’ve always believed in [that]” = we used to look down our noses at people who believe in [that], but now that we plug their book, get with the new (old) program. Wait. What?
    “thanks for sharing that, we’ll discuss it” = not a chance, and don’t dare ask another question like that.
    “we’ve been working on this for a couple of years” = we’re basically winging it here.
    “trust us” = or leave

    I could go on, but the Updated Response makes it look like their defense will be based on this same approach. I’m not sure how soft-voiced, breathy, half-smile, eyebrows-cynically-raised, “gee, golly” “could have done better” will go over in a real people court. One of the first things they teach in law school is that not knowing the law provides no relief from the consequences of not abiding by it.

  31. Whirlwind says:

    @Lee #28 – I agree the courts won’t necessarily make judgments on particular religious beliefs, but won’t they be making some assessment as to whether the counsel that was provided was harmful to the plaintiffs? Especially, if the plaintiffs include the young children who were abused at the time along with their siblings?

    What has been the result when Christian Scientists have withheld medical care from children? Are they held liable for suffering that results? Let’s say the pastors involved are completely convinced their counsel was wise and biblical. Are they at all responsible for the effects of their counsel on those who were unable to remove themselves from it?

  32. Square Peg says:

    STEVE240 ~ #2 QUOTE: “I wonder if the sad “defects” of “kissing dating goodbye” is why in at least in some SGM churches you see a lot of older singles (both men and women) that aren’t married.”

    What is wrong with a church, any church, having a lot of older single people? Many churches–if they have a balanced population of demographics–are GOING to have older single people. It is just a fact of life. It is normal. Not everybody gets married. Nor should everybody. And yes, you will see this in SGM churches as well as other churches. I don’t think we need to blame a book for this singleness, or treat singleness as though it is a defect. I am single, and I am not defective, and I am not a casualty of some stupid book. I never took that book too seriously anyway. Neither did my other older SGM single friends.

  33. Breathe in Fresh Air says:

    I think we now know why CJ took on the role of an elder. See polity page 28,E,2. CJ will remain as Executive Director, DH as Director of Church care, etc. However, in order to do so, these men must be elders. That also explains why DH has remained on the CFC website as a pastor while being a full time SGM employee. These guys are pretty slick….

  34. Square Peg says:

    Persona ~ QUOTE: “With CLC allowing enrollment from nonmembers, it is hard to believe the principal continues to dole out corporal punishment.”

    Wow! I teach in a Christian school. It is run by a Presbyterian church. It is open to people who are not members of that church. We absolutely do not have corporal punishment in our school. That is for the parents to deal with in their homes if they are going to do that.

  35. Square Peg says:

    Whirlwind #30 ~ QUOTE within quote: “If anyone is still unsure about where SGM leadership is in the CYA game, please read this — “what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.” They are saying, “No one has the right to judge the content of SGM pastoral counseling that stems from SGM religious belief. This was nothing more than the free exercise of religion.””

    Yeah. And so was the case with the FLDS Church and Warren Jeffs the “free exercise of religion.”

    Sorry. When the free exercise of religion (which I am FOR, by the way) crosses the boundaries of rape, murder, incest, molestation, and the like…THAT IS NOT THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION.

  36. 5yearsinPDI says:

    Don Baker- sorry to take so long to reply. I was busy and then sick. I enjoyed your very long and thoughtful post on the last thread.

    I would say two things. The first is that every single thing I saw personally in PDI during the renewal appeared to be genuine. People got saved, convicted of terrible sins, marriages got restored, deep wounds were healed.

    Secondly, I knew several people who went up to Toronto, sometimes more than once, and every single story they told us about the mob scene ministry appeared to be false and/or unbiblical. Anybody who wanted could just go in there and start being a self appointed minister during the prayer and manifestation times. I cannot speak for people like you and others who apparently had a very genuine experience. There was mixture. The bad part of the mixture could be reeeeaaaally bad. I don’t doubt that true wheat was mixed with tares, but there were tares. With that sort of freedom of body ministry and endless immature folks who want to be used of God, well, you get a mess. There was plenty of mess which is why Wimber kicked them out. I did not read your links (no time) but I am sure there was much good fruit too. Like I said, all I saw in PDI was good.

    When CJ decided to “take charge”, he had no doubt heard many of the horror stories. Sadly, he also seemed to dismiss the good fruit happening in PDI. He could have been a national voice for being genuinely Calvinist and Charismatic (which they claimed to be) but instead kicked the holy spirit out. In retrospect I don’t think he had either the sensitivity to the HS to discern between holy and unclean spirits, or the doctrinal wisdom to walk the path Jonathan Edwards had to walk. It may have been a good decision for the sheep in the long run……add power manifestations to control freak pastors and the results could have been horrific. Few things are worse than a sociopath with a power and gift anointing (saw that up close a long time ago elsewhere).

    The verse comes to mind that where the stall is empty it is clean from manure, but there is much increase with the strength of an ox. Outpourings that strengthen always seem to bring some manure along with them. It is never clean. CJ picked a clean stall with no ox. His choice. In my PDI church at least, it seemed to get more rigid after that, and with the advent of the pastors college the final nail was in the freedom coffin and it was shepherding infallibility all the way.

    Glad you are doing well. I hope we all of us will faithfully pray for another great awakening revival in our nation- one that is biblical like the book of Acts, without all the added craziness that can creep in.

  37. QE2 says:

    Lawstudent- I am not communicating that correctly.

    They were not saying it was the worst thing overall, just the worst thing if you look at it from a standpoint of how slavery affected society. It was not meant that that was worse than how slavery affected the individual slaves and how awful it was to be a slave. And it was just one person’s opinion, but an opinion I had never heard before and it reminded me of how SGM treats women.

    One could argue that the worst thing societally was how the slave owners dehumanized themselves by viewing people as property and freely beating and abusing fellow humans. But I truly am not wanting to debate “the worst thing about slavery” here. I am off to clip coupons and clean the toilet while I memorize scripture and listen to old SGM messages about the high calling of submission.

  38. Marie says:

    Square Peg #35 – Thank you for bringing up that case against Warren Jeffs. I have to admit I was not familiar with all of that. Interesting link below, in terms of how quickly the jury made its decisions. This case, and the Penn State case give me the impression that SGM will have a tough time escaping justice over this lawsuit, especially since the three plaintiffs are just the tip of a potentially large iceberg. And there is always the chance that someone, somewhere, will perjure himself over all the CYA gymnastics.

  39. Marie says:

    Square Peg #33 – You go, girl!!!! Yes, being older and single is not something to be decried as super bad. You have every right to hold your head high, in that your salvation in Christ has not been negatively affected by your singleness, and you sound like a decent, hard-working human being in all of your posts. Any church should be happy to have your participation and membership.

    And as far as the older singles being the result of not dating, for some people, dating, and getting married young, are not the wisest of choices. I am very, very glad that I put dating/marriage off as long as I did. I learned later in life what the source of all my pain was – memories came up later – and as much as I appreciate my wonderful husband now, I am sure I would have turned my nose down on him had I met him years earlier.

    The whole book thing really strikes a nerve for me on many levels. I was part of different communities where it was well-executed (I had forgotten that in high school, the little Christian fellowship had plenty of people in it who were not dating). This was done without a book, and no one was making money off an idea that does has some merit for certain people, at certain times in their lives, but in a healthy non-fear-based community. Since most of the teaching of SGM was built on fear, I could create a flowchart with fear at the root of all of their teachings, it would be impossible to implement any kind of dating/courtship advice – the results that I hear about all sound so fear based. I was in different communities where people were not afraid to talk with the opposite sex, and yet we did not date, either. I have not read much about Harris’s book, primarily because the Fear Factor sounds extremely high, and that is just too exhausting for me right now.

  40. Marie says:

    …and the beef I have with the book is not meant as a swipe against Steve240 #2 and his blog – I just looked it over, and it looks quite balanced with the different views posted. I think it is an important resource for people who are currently in communities where the idea is being practiced, in order to raise good, healthy discussion, and especially if people are still following that book. I just am sad that the book appears to have made a good deal of money, and possibly caused a good number of problems for well-meaning parents and children alike, when I have had an entirely different experience. Carry on, Steve, I think you are doing good work with your blog.

  41. QE2 says:

    Square Peg-I doubt Steve was saying there was something wrong with being single. It’s just that in the SGM cult girls were raised to believe that their highest calling was wifedom and motherhood, and they did not go to college but sat around the house learning the domestic arts while waiting for a man to come a’courtin’. These single ladies were quite sad to find themselves still single in their 30’s when they thought doing it the Joshua Harris way would result in marriage.

    As a matter of fact, Carolyn McCulley opened her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?, with a story about she and some teen and single girls who bought into IKDG hook, line, and sinker starting a small accountability group. They were going to be Godly and wouldn’t date but would wait for a Godly man to start courting them, only to find 10 years later that they were still tragically single.

    SGM is really anti-single, in my opinion. They never come out and say that, but girls should aspire to be wives and mothers, boys should learn to work hard so they can support a family some day, and Biblical manhood/womanhood is defined in terms of your role as a husband or wife.

  42. Pampy says:

    When I was in Gathering of Believers in the 80s, all the moms had the spatulas or wooden spoons hanging out of their back pockets. Even back then, I thought it was nauseating and shameful the way they “disciplined” their children. I remember one tiny wee one getting “the rod” for not eating all of his peas at dinner. Those insane people hit their kids for every reason imaginable….control has always been at the root of everything they did/do. I think if they could’ve gotten away with it, husbands would’ve “disciplined” their wives with the rod. Sick, sick, sick…..

    I haven’t read each and every comment to this post yet, so someone else may have already alluded to this, but Larry Tomczak wrote a book during his tenture with GOB/People of Destiny/Covenant Life called “God, The Rod, and your Child’s Bod”. Need I say more?

    Yes, Bob is, in a word, lying……

  43. justawife says:

    @Persona#6: I know someone who’s child is currently in CLS and I have heard no mention of the Principal enforcing Corporal punishment. I’m not sure when this practice stopped however.

  44. Marie says:

    Great points, QE2….I agree that a 10 year accountability group for waiting/courting is extreme. They would have been better off attempting it for a short time, and also being open-minded about non-SGM men.

    Very sad that another book got written, and of course will make/has made some money, probably containing dubious advice.

    How I wish it would be possible to gather up all of these blog postings into a book to raise money for awareness of child sexual/physical abuse, and also for the current victims involved in this lawsuit. Not sure if it is practical or not, in terms of creating a book that would actually sell, but I am impressed with the amount of info that is getting logged, and I am finding a great deal of healing from learning, over and over again, that I am not the only one who has been hurt by the PDI/SGM insanity.

  45. Square Peg says:

    QUOTE by QE2 ~ “SGM is really anti-single, in my opinion. They never come out and say that, but girls should aspire to be wives and mothers, boys should learn to work hard so they can support a family some day, and Biblical manhood/womanhood is defined in terms of your role as a husband or wife.”

    I agree with you. Hence, my moniker. I don’t fit into their little round holes of roles. Singleness is “treated” as a condition to be fixed, and if not fixed…endured.

    Once must suffereth long…don’tcha know! Oh, we are poor dears, are we not? (No.)

    I think the syndrome of being in your late 30’s (and beyond) and still single stems more from the umbrella teachings and expectations of roles of men and women moreso than Josh Harris’s book. Although, I’m sure that book fits snugly into the paradigm. Waiting for a man to walk through the church doors and sweep you off your feet…it just isn’t meant to be for everybody. And, girls should not be taught to assume that’s what is going to happen. But, they are…both implicitly and explicitly. Singleness should be taught as a real and viable normal life choice and call of God…not be treated as though it is a “waiting season” only, a problem to be fixed, or a thorn to be endured, a cross to bear.

    I have 4th graders in my class who say things like, “When I get married…” (This is not a SGM related Christian school.) I always correct them and say, “If you get married… It may or may not be what God has for you. God has some to be single. So, never simply assume that you will marry. Never speak presumptuously.”

    For those who really will eventually marry, or who strongly desire it, at least…stop “waiting” for Mr. Right to come through the church doors. Mingle. Mingle at work. Mingle at other church functions at other churches. Mingle on Eharmony or Match…allow yourself to be introduced to somebody, etc. But, by all means, don’t just wait for the man to show up on the church doorstep. For those who do that, there will always be a percentage who get left out of the marriage picture…but maybe it is because they are SUPPOSED TO BE SINGLE ANYWAY!—which takes me back to where I started.

  46. Square Peg says:

    10 year accountability group? To be held accountable to what? Not dating?

  47. Lawstudent says:


    Fair enough. I didn’t think you actually believed that, of course. It was just an interesting statement, and it could come across as tacit approval. Thanks for the clarification.

  48. Steve240 says:

    To clarify what I meant about having a number of older singles in SGM Churches, I should have tempered that by saying a larger number than one would normally expect and where a signficant number of both the single men and women want to get married but there is really no movement. It just appears that the affect of what SGM has taught singles how they are to relate to those of the opposite over the years has done a lot of damage including preventing some who wanted to get married from getting married.

    Josh wasn’t the first person in SGM to teach about “kissing dating goodbye.” It was actually Larry Tomczak who came out with a book in 1978 called straightforward and in the book he encouraged singles to to things in groups vs. date one on one. Sadly, rather than a suggestion it became more of a legalistic guideline. Mahaney also continued teaching along the same lines. Josh Harris was the one that “championed” the idea and
    wrote a book that promoted the whole concept. Also, as more children in SGM beacme the dating age SGM moved more toward the courtship model of getting the father’s permission to court etc.

    Marie thanks for the compliment. My blog is a group of thoughts to hopefully make people think for themselves about it rather than blindly accepting the “kissing dating goodbye” philosphy as the only option and as a “one size fits all” system. One of the articles I republish on my blog is one person’s account about the “kissing dating goodbye fad” where so many blindly accepted it vs. critiquing and adjusting how and if the applied it to their own life. Blindly accepting it as the “godly” alternative is something people shouldn’t do. It was sad that so many “ran with the herd” as the old cliche goes.

    I see posted blog entries etc. on the internet from time to time where people are decrying the sad affect the fad Harris’s “alternative” had on them.

    Hopefully this clarifies what I meant.

  49. Marie says:

    New book title: I Kissed Insanity Goodbye: an account of thousands that have left an abusive denomination, proceeds will help support victims of childhood sexual abuse