Religion: Obey Thy Husband

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On the side, Gothard dispenses assorted fundamentalist opinions. He favors fasting, tithing and Bible memorization, while opposing liberal Bible criticism, much of higher education, highly rhythmic music, working wives, explicit sex education and any sexual arousal before marriage. As for homosexuality, Gothard says that when it is made "a normal way of life, then it's all over for a society, and we are right at that point."

Since Gothard's impact is just starting to be felt in liberal churches, most criticisms till now have been raised by Evangelicals. Wheaton Bible Professor Alan Johnson protests that Gothard's docile acceptance of life "takes the sting out of evil and even transforms it into a good." Johnson's colleague Gordon Fee thinks that Gothard's approach to Bible interpretation is simpleminded. "You cannot just stamp the 1st century culture onto the 20th century and say it is the divine order," says Fee.

Scrap Subjects. Gothard, cheerfully convinced that he teaches only what the Bible does, is less concerned with his critics than with administering a budget that should reach $8 million this year. The money goes into a 200-acre headquarters complex in Oak Brook, Ill., where a staff of 70 answers 200 spiritual "Dear Abby" letters per month, prepares advanced seminars and is developing a national training center for pastors and schoolteachers, as well as a "character curriculum" that he hopes many colleges will adopt. According to Gothard, they should scrap conventional subjects and rebuild courses around 49 virtues, including diligence, loyalty and tact.

Gothard, a bachelor, gets a salary of only $600 a month, drives a 1970 Chevy and still lives with his parents in La Grange, Ill. No one, he believes, should leave home until he marries. As for the fact that he is an unmarried man dispensing dogma on husband-wife problems and child rearing, Gothard is unworried. Says he: "We have some pretty good precedents for that: Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul."

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