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Author Topic: The Marriage Lottery  (Read 33815 times)
G_Prince
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« on: March 17, 2007, 11:18:19 am »

“I’m thinking about getting married,” my good GCM leader friend remarked to me one afternoon.
“Really! That’s great who’s the lucky girl?” I asked.
“Ohh, I’ve got a few candidates in mind, he responded with a grin.
My jaw hit the floor. Did we own a harem of good Christian girls from whom the men could choose from?

His candidates were the obvious ones. They were the most involved, the most sacrificial the most GCM girls in the church. They all had refused to date anyone without seeking counsel (getting consent) and thus were at the liberty of the GCM leaders to offer as prizes to those men deemed worthy.

“What about feelings?” I wondered. “What about wanting to marry a specific person because you love them and not because they would be a good fit?” Instead it seamed as if out church relied on a complex system of arranged marriage.

Several years later, it was strange seeing my friend and his new wife taking to one of the former candidates. “It could easily have been different,” I thought. “With only a few different words it could have been her hanging on his arm.”

If you want to get married you have to consult a GCM leader. If you are deemed ready, you are presented with a list of candidates. However even if you are ready, your are still encouraged to find someone to their likening. Often if GCM doesn’t approve of your match you will be dissuaded, or encouraged to “pray about it.” If you are interested in someone outside the church, you mind as well leave. It’s forbidden. GCM simply doesn’t trust its members to find a spouse

Marriage is a rite of passage. If you want to advance through the ranks, you have to show submission in this area. You have to prove that you trust your leaders with one of the biggest decisions of your life.

There are many different levels of “married” in the church. There are the model couples, smart, attractive and “on fire for God.” Their stories of courtship are passed on as legends of the ultimate path to true marital bliss. If you are a serious GCM member you have to emulate the example, however, it often doesn’t get you much. There is a large segment of lower tier marriages who do everything the right way but are still ignored or passed up for leadership roles. It is for them who I feel truly sorry. They have done everything asked of them, and yet it still isn’t sexy enough to garner more attention from their elders.

What I really want to know is, what are these marriages like? On the outside they are presented as the ideal. The couple bounces through church with a string of happy children behind. Yet what happens at home when door are closed and no one is looking? Are these people truly happy with GCM’s job of matchmaker?
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
MamaD
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2007, 11:18:35 am »

We were there 10 years.

I had heard the stories, but thought they were the exceptions. I had no idea that is how the system works.

Wow!

I’m kind of weird, but the “soundtrack” that plays through my mind when I think of how the GCLI thing works and how the marriage thing works is Parker Posey’s audition in Waiting for Guffman when she sings “Teacher’s Pet”.

How can anyone differentiate between “true character” and what’s done for “show” to achieve the “goal” of a spouse or an elder position. Hence, the idea of teacher’s pet comes to mind.

Only God can judge a heart.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2007, 11:18:50 am »

We helped with the teens and we never taught this, but we didn’t have to. None of the kids dated. At least not the ones from GCM families. And we had kids who had to fight off the girls and guys in high school (we had a lot of very good looking guys and girls in our youth group). I mean these were some seriously focused kids! Which I still think is pretty cool. But it makes me sad to see this discipline end up in a sort of utilitarian way. What is marriage if love and passion aren’t a part of it?
In fact, we deliberately taught that dating and courtship were both valid options, only that premarital sex wasn’t. But I know that a lot of the leadership, especially at HSLT taught that not dating was great and none of the core kids ever seemed to even contemplate it– you know there might have been someon who had a girl they hung out with a lot, but really no dating. And I know that my husband and I got in trouble for “pairing off” at a retreat before they knew we were married. We look young okay? And all we were doing was holding hands. Sheesh. But they yelled at us… NO PAIRING OFF.
But what is different in this kind of non-dating and the Josh Harris kind of courtship is that Josh Harris suggests conversing with your parents. GCM wants you to get permission from your leaders too. This is again what I mean by the “intimate” relationship encouraged between members and the church. I just always felt that they were trying to usurp my parents, God’s and my husband’s role in my life. Get outta my bidness! This was how I felt even when I didn’t acknowledge it.
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2007, 11:20:09 am »

If you want to get married you have to consult a GCM leader. If you are deemed ready, you are presented with a list of candidates.

I don’t think this is true. The second part that is, but you have to have your candidate in mind. But yes, you have to consult a GCM leader and get his permission if you are to do it the “proper” way.

How can anyone differentiate between “true character” and what’s done for “show” to achieve the “goal” of a spouse or an elder position. Hence, the idea of teacher’s pet comes to mind.


I know of a handful of dedicated GCMers who, in a moment of group confession, admitted that at times their primary motivation for going to The Rock so often was in hopes of talking to someone they had a crush on. Oddly enough, these were the kind of people who always seemed to “say the right things” at small group meetings. The kind you think are too good to be true.. I’m sure not everyone is like this, but I agree with your comment about questioning the motivation.

I know that a lot of the leadership, especially at HSLT taught that not dating was great and none of the core kids ever seemed to even contemplate it

I think this is one of those beliefs that is ingrained in the movement, but not usually taught very openly. Especially not to new members. It is just known after enough time, after hearing and watching enough examples, after listening to enough sermons on marriage, after asking your discipler… Places this teaching comes out into the open are in life (single gender) groups. I’ve listened to an entire life group on why Christians who are truly dedicated to God do not date. I then watched the two leaders leading that group badger and argue with the two people there who disagreed with this opinion, making it clear to the others in the room that this was not an acceptable viewpoint.

The verse used by these leaders to back the no dating belief? Not a verse on marriage, but rather:

“I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” - 1 Timothy 5:21

To further explain this verse and the corresponding belief, here’s an excerpt directly from the booklet given out at that life group, entitled “Biblical Verses and Principles Concerning Relationships between Men and Women For Those Who are Disciples of Christ”:

There are many ways partiality or impartiality can be expressed or implied. One relates simply to being or not being in situations alone together. . . Dating relationships, by definition, are relationships where there is partiality. By mutual consent these relationships operate in a realm where others are excluded.

This is a direct teaching from Jim McCotter, repackaged.

Jim McCotter in 1984:
“What we call ‘dating,’ the Bible may call ‘partiality’”
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2007, 11:20:24 am »

All of a sudden it seems clear to me why so many of us have felt hurt, but we can’t exactly put our fingers on WHY.
Well, it seems to me that at every step of the way, many of us have been expected to co-opt our own God given desires for marriage, love, children, relationship with God, using our giftedness, where we would like to live, our money, even our sacred relationships with our spouses, children and parents… and they have turned these into their own purposes.
I would like to share a verse:
“God gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
And honestly, I am only going to answer to God in what and how I enjoy “all things.”
I would love to see these people who feel so accountable and so beholden to find a less controlling group.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2007, 11:20:52 am »

Here’s a point I think is central to the harm GCM causes. We think it’s normal and then the “bait and switch.” We thought they were a mainstream evangelical church with a zealous group of followers, and we joined excited about the vision.
Then comes the switch.
For awhile, I think a lot of us believed that if only we could be more radical, more “on fire” for God, then everything would make sense. But it doesn’t. It’s not our sinfulness that’s the problem. It’s their craziness.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2007, 11:21:07 am »

Please forgive the hyperbole. I fully recognize that we’re all sinners. See the recesses of this blog for discussions of sinfulness/ victimness/ woundedness.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2007, 11:21:21 am »

Guys, I found a link that was most applicable to this post. You must listen to it. You simply must. Be forewarned: It is long. And you may want to have pencil nearby, as it directly addresses the issue of dating, being a cult, and marriage relationships, as well as showing exactly what I mean by utilitarian lingo. It’s by a pastor from Salt Lake.

http://www.rockisu.com/sermon/encounter-2006-sunday-am-the-power-of-distraction
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nateswinton
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2007, 11:21:34 am »

Oh snap. I had a feeling I’d hear about that message again…

I was there a few weeks ago when it was given. There was drama at the time too. It’s 2:00am right now though. Maybe I’ll write more later.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2007, 11:22:22 am »

I’m telling you, you’ve simply got to listen to the link I posted earlier. It is GCM in a nutshell. Sorry to the speaker to pick on your message, but it was there and it was ripe for the picking.

Anybody listened to it yet? Other than Nate, who was familiar with it, that is.
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nateswinton
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2007, 11:23:01 am »

I don’t know the speaker personally. I know he was more engaging than many and that I never slept during a talk the whole conference, and only had coffee twice. That means something for me Smiley
As far as the message… I’m not going to defend many of those ideas. Compare them to scripture and your concience and have at ‘em.

Along those lines, half my friends have “courted” and half have “dated”, and all have very happy marriages. One of my close buddies in GCM gave me a great quote a few years back on the whole thing that helped me validate the fact that I never wanted to “court”. He said “call it dating, courting, heck, call it a monster truck rally. ‘are you obeying God?’ ought to be the question.”

He’s actually the one that showed me gcmwarning and this website. I’m sure he’s reading this and will appreciate the refrence. *waves to the east*
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Genevieve
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2007, 11:23:30 am »

I totally agree with you, Nate, on the dating, courting thing. However, I don’t think GCM necessarily does. When I was there, there was renewed emphasis on courting: seminars, emails, etc.

I replied to an email that laid out the reasons for courting by saying that very thing: that your actions in the relationship are more important than whether you’re actually dating or courting. Why not just encourage us to have pure, godly relationships instead of pressuring us to conduct our relationships via a prescribed form?

The response I received from this pastor was mostly dismissive. I later discovered that the pastor forwarded my original email to my discipler with a message “Just thought you should know what Genevieve said.”

GCIA back in action.
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nateswinton
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2007, 11:23:41 am »

genevieve,

that sucks.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2007, 11:24:02 am »

I guess what disturbs me the most on the courtship issue is not that some people endorse courtship. I think courtship can be great.

What bothers me is that there is this incredible pressure to conform to a certain lifestyle, which is clearly extra biblical, and say that the “dedicated/ the history makers/ the ones who will reach the world” will follow this lifestyle.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why on earth people think it is okay to set up a system where people must ask permission to live a certain way. I can understand disagreeing with it as a member, but to be a part of leading people in this system is different. Leaders are not only accountable for their own teaching but also the system, especially if they are actively pursuing new people to add to the movement.

I mean, I feel like when people hear about this odd discipling system, people should be falling out of their chairs in shock by the incredibly skewed example of discipleship. What it really reminds me of is AA or another recovery group only with non-addicts in it. In a sense, GCM treats everyone as though they are in recovery. They must ask permission (counsel is just a less distasteful word) for the smallest thing like taking someone to McDonalds. Guys and girls are told to not be alone at night/evening at all.

And people may try to separate themselves from this message, but the fact remains this has been taught from the 70’s and is still being taught. Most of the NW and Midwest region is aware of it and many follow it.

If it’s taught from the pulpit repeatedly for 30 years, how can people say there really isn’t pressure to court?

And again, I would have no problem with someone endorsing courtship. What I do have a problem with is the GCM twist.

I feel so disheartened by you, Sam and Nate right now, tears of frustration are in my eyes and I m about ready to give up.

You guys agree that this stuff is bad, but it feels so much that you don’t think it is a big deal. Is it just that you have been so close to it so long that it doesn’t seem so bad? Please don’t be angry with me, I don’t mean to be argumentative. I am dead serious. Why do you guys reject this as a deadly serious issue?
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nateswinton
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2007, 11:24:16 am »

agatha,

i have this image in my head right now of both of us beating on wall trying to get through it so that we can tell the other one the truth. and in that image, we’re both in the same room. there isn’t really a wall between us.

i am looking over my shoulder. please believe me when i say that i have some apprehension about bringing up all these issues. i just emailed dave bovenmeyer with 11 key questions about gcm and my last question to him was “are (my wife) and i going to face any negative consequences from GCM for digging and asking these questions?” i believe that i’ll get a completely honest answer from dave soon.

agatha, please believe that i’m looking into the eyes of a beast and calling it a beast, and recognizing that the beast has harmed others and might harm me and my wife. but what if the beast could be tamed?

i’m looking past the problem to *the solution*. i’m not simply looking past the problem, period. please believe me and don’t be frustrated with me. i do not think these things are minor. i believe deeply that they need to be addressed.

i’m not going to feed you some bull about “but GCM is doing alot of things right”, because that is interpreted as a cop-out by most everyone here. i’m just going to say that i’m willing to look to the solution and not just run.

you running was fine. i have no problem with you running. i’m not macho or anything either. i’m 5′6″ and 120lbs. i cry alot when i pray and i like to talk to my wife about “feelings”. i’m staying because i know i should. can you accept that me obeying God and staying is not contradictory to you obeying God and leaving?
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2007, 11:24:27 am »

Nate, I can accept that most definitely. I’ll wait and see what happens when you talk to Dave. Good luck.
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G_Prince
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2007, 11:24:42 am »

I’m listening to Agatha’s link right now. Sheer torture!
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
G_Prince
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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2007, 11:24:52 am »

Check that, I’m going to vomit!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2008, 03:11:01 pm by puff of purple smoke » Logged

Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
G_Prince
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2007, 11:25:04 am »

This guy is uber controlling and manipulative, Self-righteous and presumptuous! I can’t believe how he manipulats scripture, and pretends as though he is the voice of God. Infuriating!!!!!!!

Angry Anonymous, I’m in your camp!
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Here's an easy way to find out if you're in a cult. If you find yourself asking the question, "am I in a cult?" the answer is yes. -Stephen Colbert
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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2007, 11:25:36 am »

In a sense, GCM treats everyone as though they are in recovery. They must ask permission (counsel is just a less distasteful word) for the smallest thing like taking someone to McDonalds. Guys and girls are told to not be alone at night/evening at all.

Bingo. I think this goes back to a deeper issue of GCM not trusting that God can and does speak to “non-leaders,” also known as a lack of respect for the priesthood of the believer. Leadership becomes this elevated status where suddenly your thoughts and prayers become more important than the thoughts and prayers of those you are leading. The Holy Spirit’s role as intercessor between us and God gets replaced by men. The result, everyone but the leaders are treated like babies. As a GCM pastor wrote in his 2004 resignation letter:

“This thinking begins to set up a clergy-laity system where men are the mediator between God and man. . . Decisions are handed down from the pastors rather than developed through consensus. Yes, there is a place for pastors to lead. But I think it has been taken too far.”

This leads to a culture of legalism and sheep who have little ability or desire to hear from God on their own. A culture where leaders tell you when the “right” time to get married is, if God wants you to go on a missions trip, if God wants you to quit your job and find a new one, if you should date, etc. etc.

nate said,

i am looking over my shoulder. please believe me when i say that i have some apprehension about bringing up all these issues. i just emailed dave bovenmeyer with 11 key questions about gcm and my last question to him was “are (my wife) and i going to face any negative consequences from GCM for digging and asking these questions?” i believe that i’ll get a completely honest answer from dave soon. . . i’m looking past the problem to *the solution*.


Nate, you really have given me hope lately. For the first time in a long time when it comes to GCM. No leader, small group or pastor, has ever even expressed interest in finding out about GCM’s history. With me they have had the opposite reaction. There was a teaching that several GCM elders used to teach in the early days of the movement (70’s and 80’s), that listening to a “bad report” on someone was gossip, and thus you shouldn’t read criticism of GCM. Perhaps this teaching is still alive, because a pastor flat out refused to even look at the documents I had. Anyway, God bless you Nate, and I hope you are able to enact positive change in GCM.

I have yet to listen to that sermon as well, but I hope to do so.
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