In a prior article called “Bill and the Beautiful Ones” we explored reasons why Bill Gothard has at times focused on attractive young people, especially young women, in the counseling ministry. As we discussed these things with him at length he gave us his perspectives on this, and just this week wrote out an article in his own words, which we appreciate very much. This is what he sent us:
Learning the Meaning of My Name
When I was about seven years old, an incident took place that impacted my whole life. My mother was sitting at the kitchen table and asked me to come over to her. She had a serious look on her face as she said, “Billy, do you know what your name means?” I answered, “No.” she replied, “Your name means ‘protector’”. That is all she said. That is all she needed to say. From that moment on I purposed to live up to the meaning of my name.
About a year later, I was facing a neighborhood boy who had offended me. The scene is even now very vivid. It took place behind the local shoe store. His name was Wayne. I planned to fight with him when suddenly, I remembered the meaning of my name. I realized that fighting him was not being a protector, so I told him to forget it, and I walked away.
A few years later, my very attractive sister asked me to walk with her to school. As we walked, she said to me, “You are a strong protector! I am glad you are my brother.” Her comment reinforced my determination to be a protector.
When I entered high school, I went on an outing with a group of other high-schoolers. I climbed in the back seat and found myself sitting next to a girl I had never met before. During the ride she made a statement to me that stunned me. She said, “You can do anything you want to with me.” My first thought was, “No I can’t! I am a protector!” We rode in silence for the rest of the trip and I never saw her again.
Seeing the Need for Godly Wives
I was both surprised and delighted when a nationally known youth leader invited me to drive with him to a special youth leader’s conference in Kansas City. There were about 35 national youth leaders attending. I was only about 13 years old and getting ready to begin high school. During one of the sessions, several wives began to weep. When they were asked what the problem was they answered, “We are bitter over our role as wives of youth leaders. We do not want this way of life.”
When I saw the pain and despair in their faces, and also in the faces of their husbands, I made a resolve that has motivated my life since then. I would train up dynamic young men and godly young women who would come together in outstanding marriages. By God’s grace, I have seen hundreds of such couples come together
Making Vows for Moral Purity
One day, I overheard my two older sisters telling how ashamed they were of a fellow in their church youth group. He had kissed one of their girl friends after a date, and then dropped her. When I sensed their outrage, I quietly made a vow to God. I would not kiss any girl until I was married. God has given the grace to keep this vow.
During my Freshman year in high school, I stopped in at the corner drug store. As I passed the magazine rack, I noticed that they were featuring the first Playboy magazine. I still remember the sadness I felt as I realized the moral ruination that would come to millions of people. Suddenly, the thought came to me, “What if you were interviewed some day on a national TV program and they asked you if you ever looked inside of a Playboy magazine?” Right there I vowed that I would never look inside of one. God has also given the grace to keep this vow. This led to related vows such as not owning a TV or turning one on in a hotel room and never touching a girl immorally.
Meeting Attractive Girls Who Had Been Abused
During twenty years of giving large seminars, my greatest delight was talking to individuals during the breaks. Scores of youth and adult would surround the platform and ask for counsel on many different subjects. Often, I would notice a very attractive young lady. When it was her turn to speak, she would usually say, “I am in trouble and I don’t know what to do.” She would explain that she and her boyfriend had gone too far and now she was going to have a child. Her parents did not know about it.
My heart would grieve, and I would ask her, “How old are you?” Very often, the answer was, “I am 15 years old.” I remembered the meaning of my name. I also realized that attractive girls are prime targets for evil men and for Satan. He knows how effective they can be for His kingdom. Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Esther and other world-changers were all attractive women. I purposed to do whatever I could to protect them from corrupting influences.
Opening Nations With Attractive Young People
When I brought about 45 young people with me to Russia. We went to the headquarters of a Moscow educational official. As I talked with him, his eyes were riveted on the young people filing in the room behind me. Suddenly, he said, “Excuse me, I need to make a phone call.” He went in an adjoining office and called the district superintendent. He said, “You must come down here immediately and meet these young people.” She explained that she was busy and could not come. He answered, “You must cancel your plans and see these young people!” In a few minutes she and her staff arrived.
Years later, she spoke before 15,000 people at a Knoxville ATI Conference. She stated, “When I saw those young people I could not decide if they were human beings or angels. I decided that they were somewhere in-between.”
The superintendent invited us to return in the fall with as many students as we could bring. We filled a 747 with 300 young people. When we arrived, we were taken to the Moscow Department of Education. The superintendent went up to the fifth floor and invited the Director of Education to meet the young people. Dr. Kezina replied, “My morning is filled with appointments. I cannot meet them”. The superintendent said, “These young people are from America.” Dr. Kezina replied, “I have been to America and I am not impressed with their students!” The superintendent then said, “But these are Christian young people.” Dr Kezina then said, “I have visited Christian schools in America and I am even less impressed with them!”
After further urging Dr. Kezina agreed to peek in at the group on her war to her next appointment. I watched her as she cracked open the door and saw the 300 radiant young people. She said to her assistant, “Cancel all my appointments.” She then walked up to the stage, picked up the microphone and said, “What I see here is what I want all my students to look like, and I will do whatever it takes to see that it happens!”
I experienced the same results in New Zealand, Taiwan, Romania and many other nations. I was on a continual search for outstanding young people who could open up nations to the gospel. The leaders would say to me, “We are impressed with your young people but especially the young ladies. Their dedication to the Lord confirms to us that you have an effective message.”
Responding to the Appeals of Concerned Fathers
All the young people who came to the headquarters were sent by their parents for training and learning practical skills. The majority of young ladies came in response to an appeal by their fathers. The fathers would often explain that they had an attractive daughter, and she was being drawn to the wrong kind of fellows. Could they send her to headquarters in order to get her away from the young men? I remembered the meaning of my name, my commitments to help young ladies and the potential they had to impact nations.
These assignments were eye-opening. The majority of attractive girls were convinced that they were “ugly” The felt inferior and vulnerable. They were resentful but flattered that fellows would pay attention to them because of their appearance. They needed periodic affirmation that they were valuable. Any extra attention I gave to them was for this purpose.