Saturday, November 30, 2013

Loaded Language: Gothard Style

Conservative and evangelical homeschoolers often have their own jargon, casually using words that represent entire concepts that would be foreign to mainstream Americans: "courtship", "betrothal", "modesty", "purity". They talk about "lapbooks", "the co-op", "the book fair", "our support group", a "parental rights amendment", or "anonymous tips".

But if homeschooling creates its own terminology, members deeply involved in the Institute in Basic Life Principles and its derivative organizations use another language entirely. Below is a list of some oft-repeated IBLP terms that have been imbued with layers of inside (and extra-biblical) meaning. Though seemingly innocuous to outsiders, they can be used by the initiated to quickly control or emotionally manipulate others who have been or are being brainwashed by the cult, short-circuiting attempts at logic or critical thought and bringing independent-thinking members back into line

  • yielding rights
  • clear conscience
  • moral freedom
  • defrauding (immodesty, flirting)
  • umbrella [of authority]
  • scripture meditation
  • wisdom vs. knowledge
  • character qualities
  • bright eyes
  • sharp arrows
  • my pineapples
  • speaking in the gates
  • rejecting God's design
  • five types of fools
  • three kinds of smiles
  • ten unchangeables
  • seven motivational gifts (as in, "I'm a prophet", "she's a mercy") 
  • irritations
  • apprenticeship opportunities
  • free time wisely
  • birth order (as in, "Oh, he's a secondborn")
  • cautions of the wife
  • high places 
  • "others may, I cannot"
  • standing alone
  • death of a vision
  • courtship
  • a dating spirit
  • an independent spirit
  • servant's spirit
  • cause-and-effect
  • [strict] navy-and-white
  • Knoxville
  • law of the harvest
  • sin of Bathsheba
  • baby wood duck
  • strongholds
  • give ground to Satan
  • eye traps
  • cutting off children/cutting off blessings
  • God-ordained authority
  • mind, will & emotions
  • carnal Christian
  • benefits of fasting
  • financial freedom
  • early rising
  • slothfulness
  • blind spots
  • waiting for God's best
  • Satan's best
  • opening the womb
  • bitterness
  • taking up an offense
  • self-acceptance
  • and many more... 


  1. Thought-terminating cliches, through and through. Unfortunately, Christian fundamentalism as a whole is full of them.

    I have to ask. What does "my pineapples" mean?

    1. It was from The Pineapple Story, the tale of a missionary who got pissed off when the natives stole the pineapples he planted.

      It represented all the things we felt we had a right to, but should give up on to better please God. As in, "tonight I gave to God my right to have friends". :)

  2. I heard the original tape of the missionary telling the "Pineapple Story"--it is absolutely hilariously funny. I wouldn't associate it with the extremes of fundamentalism, or the extremes of the home school movement. But it doesn't surprise me one bit that someone in those realms could draw extremist positions from the story. People I know who live in that arena tend to be extreme in everything they believe--and are more than happy to preach it to everyone they know.