So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. 

Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

The past couple of weeks have been revelatory to me, particularly after watching Shiny Happy People Documentary on Amazon Prime. It is the story of the Institute In Basic Youth Conflicts or as the name was later changed to Institute in Basic Life Principles led by Bill Gothard.

There has been a lot of controversy around the teaching of those seminars. I attended it in the summer of 1972 while pregnant with my first child. It was held at the Oakland Arena to a full audience. Churches all over the area were there in full force. I have grown up in the church, a very legalistic one, so the teaching didn’t seem that unusual to me. But it was more of the same, full of a bunch rules with the promise that if the rules were followed life would be good.

The story is surrounded by the TV show 19 Kids and Counting because the family was actively involved with the Institute. Many interviewed told their story of how it negatively affected them and how they eventually got out. But you know something? Life doesn’t always follow what you hoped and dreamed it would be no matter how well you follow the rules. There are hard times, too, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t in them with you.

There is more to Gothard’s story and in 2014, after more than five decades in power, Bill stepped down amid a series of allegations made against him that charged with inappropriate behavior.

What I have realized in thinking back over all these years is that grace was missing in the teachings, I was “tied up in the slavery to the law.” The idea that Jesus came to fulfill the law and bring a new covenant of hope and grace was never mentioned. He is the one that brings us freedom and breaks the bondage of the law.

So many of the rules from that seminar still pop up occasionally. Recently, one of my children said at a family dinner that I wouldn’t let them play rock music. That was true. I immediately turned and said that I was so sorry. I just didn’t know.

It has taken many years to get out from under the bondage I was put under — by my parents, my church, and this seminar. I have learned that there is joy in the Lord and with Him I am free to enjoy His people, His creation, His Word, and His purpose in my life. I am His Beloved.