We received the following question from Dan:
“On the RG website there is an account of a woman who claims Bill asked his Board for permission to marry her. Not sure if I have this exactly correct but I think this was the essence of it. Have you ever confirmed this with either the Board or Bill? Just curious.”
To this we responded:
“Bill discussed that account with us last year. What actually happened was that Board had heard a rumor that he was interested in marrying this young woman . . . so it was brought up in a Board meeting. Bill was asked, he indicated that this was not the case . . . and that was the end of that.”
There were a few more posts, so we decided to give the topic its own thread.
The account, by “Meg” is a multipart 3rd person story serialized like chapters in a romance novel on RG. In the introduction “Meg” states:
“And then I began to hear the rumors . . . “Did you know Bill Gothard wanted to marry you?” . . . a former IBLP Board Member confirmed to me that it was indeed true that Bill Gothard had thought about marrying me. He was 59 and I was 20, barely 21 when I left.”
We did speak to Bill about this today again to clarify:
- His mother had always wanted him to marry and was praying earnestly to that end (his father, on the other hand, was praying earnestly that he would not marry 🙂 ) In any case, his mother was the motivation behind the situation that ended up being misreported to “Meg” decades later.
- A Board member, Mr. B, in response to this “motivation” asked Bill in a meeting whether he was considering marriage, and whether “Meg”, who, with her family was certainly a close friend, would be a candidate.
- Bill was clear that he was not considering marriage, not at that point and not since, God calling him to singleness. That was his response to the group, and there it ended.
- The notion of an almost 60 year old founder and president of an international ministry asking his Board for permission to marry . . . is just silly. Especially given that the consensus among Bill Gothard opponents is that he never cared much for the legally required layer of the Board to influence and control aspects of the ministry God had given him. Think it through. Yet that story has circulated and been reacted to continuously for two years now.
Bottom line, it is wrong to suggest that Bill initiated this discussion. He was not then, nor ever after, a “Board Suitor”.
We had the privilege of speaking to one of the Board members who was at the meeting where this was discussed. Points of note:
- Bill was the one who brought up the general topic of marriage, asking, “What would you think if I got married?” The Board was emphatically in favor of marriage for Bill, but given Bill’s adamant refusal to consider this, this was unusual. He said that Bill definitely looked uncomfortable, uneasy.
- The discussion then progressed, and various possibilities were discussed. “Meg’s” name came up quickly, since she was obviously a good friend. This Board member could not recall who brought her name up, but it appears to not have been Bill – Bill named a different Board member as the one who did so. There ensued a discussion about their relative age differences with the consensus that this would not play well with supporters of the ministry.
- The discussion ended without any conclusion, and apparently never came up again.
- We specifically asked, and this Board member clearly affirmed that Bill at no time expressed any romantic interest in “Meg”, which he would have done if he had presented her as a candidate for marriage.
- I mentioned the notion that he had asked permission to marry. The former Board member laughed and said, “If Bill wanted to marry, he would find a way to do it, regardless of what the Board desired.” This was nothing more than Bill asking for advice.
The account as told us is consistent with Bill’s version, one in which his mother and others were putting some intense pressure on him to finally relent and consider marriage. It is also consistent with his clear affirmation that he never thought of “Meg” in a romantic way. The much discussed Board meeting did not indicate anything different.