DISCLAIMER: Publications by The Family are archived here for educational purposes. The content is occasionally sexually explicit, offensive or promotive of criminal acts and we collect them to document their existence and wording but do not condone the points of view or activities. Original spelling, grammar, and style have been preserved where possible.
The Family's History, Policies, and Beliefs Regarding Sex — Part 1
GN 1234 FD/MM/FM
By Peter 3671 10/07
Required private reading for ages 18 and up. Senior teens should read this series with a parent or shepherd. Parents and shepherds can share portions of this counsel or information with their JETTs and junior teens as the Lord leads.
Please note that for the purpose of this GN, the term "minors" specifically refers to those under 16. Although our current rules in the Family don't allow those over 21 to interact sexually with 16- and 17–year-olds, these GNs address periods of the Family's history when age allowances differed. For simplicity's sake, "minors" will refer to those under 16 in this series of GNs.
1. Mama and I love each of you dearly, and we pray for you daily. We know that there has been a lot on your plates this past year‚ as we all continue to advance and build, march into the future, and claim our destiny. We're proud of each one of you, for the choices you make each day to love the Lord and follow Him closely, and to love others and reach the lost. We certainly have a wonderful future to look forward to! "The keys of the future are not bound by the present or the past. As you wield them, you will be catapulted forward to claim the land and receive the fulfillment of My promises of fruitfulness. This is your destiny."
2. In recent years‚ I've had opportunities to travel and interact with a number of Family members‚ particularly young people, in different regions. It's been very helpful for me to be able to hear their questions, goals, and perspectives. One topic that has come up on a number of occasions, which I feel would be helpful to address with you, dear Family, is the history of our sexual beliefs and practices, and in particular the controversies that arise relating to an earlier period of our history (from 1978 to 1989). Although throughout the years we've addressed different aspects of these controversies, mistakes that were made, and the policies that were subsequently adopted, Mama and I feel that it will be helpful to revisit these issues with the benefit of the enhanced understanding that time and experience provide in further clarifying issues and answering questions.
3. The period of the Family's history between 1974, when the original Law of Love Letter was published‚ through the late 1980s, when a number of guidelines regarding sexual interaction were instituted, has raised a lot of questions. Many major changes were instituted within the Family during that time period: FFing began and ended; sexual sharing in the Family began; the RNR (the ReOrganization Nationalization Revolution) occurred, and all leadership above the Home shepherd level were fired from their jobs; the Children of God era came to an end and the Family began—and more. It was a formative period within the Family‚ one which brought about a multitude of changes.
4. In this series of Letters, Mama and I want to focus on the history of our sexual beliefs, the Law of Love and sexual sharing, as well as occurrences of sexual contact between adults and minors in the early to mid-1980s.
5. While doing so, we will need to talk about the different aspects of the Law of Love and walk through its origins, its intent, and the guidelines put in place over the years for its practice. We'll also look at and outline the steps taken in the mid- to late 1980s to eradicate sexual contact between adults and minors and the development of our policies regarding sexual conduct, which have been in place since the late 1980s, to protect our children from hurt or harm.
6. We feel it's very important for you‚ our younger SGAs and YAs, many of whom weren't even born during this period, and thus have little understanding of all that transpired‚ to have a clear picture and understanding of that period, so you will know how to discern between what is true and what is false when you are faced with stories or accusations of the past.
7. It has taken three GNs to address all of these issues. That translates into a lot of reading, but it's important that you read and understand what is being said. In this first GN, we will go over the history of the Family's sexual theology, the origins of the Law of Love, FFing, and the different applications of the Law of Love. Although most of the applications included in this GN were experienced primarily by first generation adults, Mama and I feel it's important that you understand our history, how our beliefs and policies developed, and the many changes that were made over time.
8. In the second GN of this series, we will address issues that specifically relate to second generation members who were minors during this early period of the Family's history. We will focus on these issues in detail in the second GN, so I won't address them in this first GN. In the third GN, we will answer a number of questions that come up regarding that era. I believe this last GN will be very helpful in answering questions that you may have about this time period.
9. In writing these GNs, Mama and I have run into some difficulties in expressing some matters because they will be read through the filter of each person's personal experience. For example, when a prophecy talks about the Law of Love and what a wonderful gift it is, different people will look at that statement differently. Some will fully agree. Someone else who is experiencing difficult jealousy battles might think differently. Someone who, as a minor, experienced sexual contact with an adult might have questions or negative feelings about the Law of Love. Each person‚ depending on their experiences and frame of mind, will read the same prophecy and yet react a different way. So please bear in mind, as you read these GNs, that there is not a one-size-fits-all way in which people process the past. Mama and I are attempting to provide a context and explanation for it that will be helpful to all, while bearing in mind the diversity of experiences that different people may have had.
10. Throughout these GNs there are prophecies and new commentary, as well as quotes from past GNs and MO Letters. These multitudes of words are talking about a period 20–30 years ago. Some of the tone or wording is older or expressed in a way that we wouldn't express it if it were being written today. In our earlier years, sometimes the presentation or reactions to situations in the Letters were not so well-rounded or complete. Dad's talks were often informal recordings, and would be followed up by other Letters further clarifying his meaning or intent. Often, it takes piecing together commentary from a number of Letters to get a complete or accurate picture of the full message being conveyed. So please bear that in mind in reading older quotes, that these were often not well rounded or necessarily representative of the full discussion and intent in the matter.
11. Lastly, if you don't understand something at any point in this GN or the ones that follow in this series, or if something you read bothers you in some way, please keep reading. We believe that by the time you finish reading the three GNs in this series you will understand the issues more fully‚ and hopefully you'll have all your questions answered. Okay? Thanks. So let's start now, shall we?
Why Address the Past Again?
12. You may wonder why we are taking the time to address these issues again, when there are so many other more pressing matters to focus on as our Homes work toward becoming winning teams and strengthening our discipleship in every area, and as we turn our focus outwards toward winning the world with the upcoming offensive. The Lord gave a number of reasons for doing so.
13. (Jesus: ) It's important to understand your history and where you're coming from in order to take stock of where you're at, and where you're going in the future. I have entrusted the Family with a number of freedoms and treasures, which are unique to the Family. There are so few Christians who fathom even the basic principles behind the Law of Love, loving Me intimately as your Husband and Lover, and embracing the many gifts of freedom in the Spirit that I have given you.
14. As with every new nation that has come into being, your new nation has pioneered and slowly grown into the full application and understanding of the precepts and truths that were its foundation. You have been through times of growth, and even growing pains, as you have learned to wisely and judiciously apply the freedoms and truths I have given you to your everyday lives. Learning and growth is a process, and it will continue as long as you are on Earth, and even beyond in Heaven. Although you started out with a relatively elementary understanding of these spiritual truths and freedom‚ and you've had some growing pains along the way, you have grown into them. You have learned how to wisely apply them to your everyday lives.
15. I am proud of the Family for your radical faith and willingness to taste and prove the New Wine of the Word. It is this radical yieldedness and willingness to grow through drinking in the New Wine that has made the Family of today what it is. You have a history to be proud of, a history of preaching the Gospel, of winning tens of millions for Me, a history that you should cherish and honor. The battles won‚ the souls brought to Me‚ and your lives of service for Me are all documented in the Hall of Warriors, and the many victories won glorify Me and are beautiful to dwell on. In living the life of dropped-out disciples, you have proved yourselves worthy to walk into the future that I have prepared for you. You have remained dropped–out, radical‚ and free from the constraints of the status quo, malleable tools in My hands that are willing to give their lives that others may be saved.
16. Of course, there are also blemishes, lacks, and even failures in your history, and you have made your share of mistakes in building your new nation and learning the judicious application of the truths entrusted to you. Over time, you have learned to correct the mistakes, build safeguards into your freedoms, and protect the integrity of your structure. These are all fruits of maturity and growth. You, My children, have proved worthy of the freedoms entrusted to you by your willingness to change and learn, to admit your mistakes and correct them, and to adapt to the times you live in. I commend you for your yieldedness and the sincere love that constrains you.
17. Remember, in reviewing your past, that every new movement, kingdom, or nation makes its share of mistakes, even grave mistakes. Maturity often comes through the road of experience, which can sometimes be painful. As your Father David taught you, revolutions can be messy; they aren't "surgical," or without their flaws, extremisms or mistakes. Revolutions are powerful‚ charismatic, and full of drive, enthusiasm and purpose, for that is what it takes to break away from the accepted norms and the status quo, in order to receive radical new truths. Once the movement has become more established, then the process of building, stabilizing and balance comes into play. Of course, it would be ideal that mistakes not occur, but it's important to understand that process in order to truly understand the steps of growth‚ change and evolution I have brought you through.
18. It will be beneficial to revisit your history, to help those unfamiliar with it to understand how the freedoms I gave you evolved, and how I have led you to structure policies and guidelines for these freedoms. It will be helpful to see clearly where mistakes were made in the past and how these were addressed, and policies that were instituted to keep them from happening again. Although you have heard much of this over the years‚ scattered throughout various Letters, it will be helpful to have a comprehensive understanding of your history and how this mighty revolution was born and brought to where it is today. It will also be helpful in understanding and putting into context the issues that are often raised in the media, or by your apostates, former member relatives and others. Because some people have had questions and their understanding of the past has been somewhat incomplete, they are at times unsure of how to respond to the issues that are raised, and having this information all in one place will help them to "connect the dots" of the different periods of your history and give them the foundation that they need.
19. In the past, when the issues of mistakes or wrongdoings regarding your sexual freedoms were addressed, they were often directed toward an older audience. Your older SGAs, particularly those who lived through the early eras of Family history as children, have a different perception of events, and it's important to address some of the issues that are unique to their upbringing. Although these issues are a part of your distant history at this point‚ they will remain in the public eye, and your apostates will focus on them for some time to come. For this reason, it's important to provide the tools to the Family to effectively and conclusively "give an answer to him that asketh" (1Pet.3:15). It will also be important to provide the tools to the Family to help them to be able to explain these issues to their new members, as they will also need to understand your history and be able to place it in its proper context.
20. As you can see, there are many good reasons for revisiting the past, so that you can fully focus on the present and the future, and be armed and prepared to give answers to any who ask you of the faith that is in you, speaking from the fullness of your heart. (End of message.)
21. In summary, here are some of the reasons why we are addressing these issues:
22. —To address questions young people have had regarding this era (1978-1989). Our second generation members have their own unique perspective on that era‚ which is different from the FGAs' perspective. Some lived through that era as children, some as teens, and some not at all. Some hear about it through the first‚ second or third-hand accounts of former members, some through the accounts of the personal experiences and memories of friends in the Family. The original Letters and explanations about this era were written for the most part with a first generation adult audience in mind. As our SGAs have come of age and taken their place in the leadership of our Homes and movement, the Family's perspectives have also matured, growing to encompass their perspectives and how they experienced these early eras of Family history.
23. —Some of our second- and third-generation members have reached their teen or YA years without a comprehensive understanding of the explanations and apologies of the past. When they hear accounts from the past, whether true, false or in between, or quotes from past literature which has long been renounced and removed from circulation, or experiences recounted by others, it's somewhat laborious to read through a number of older publications and attempt to patch together the history of events. Our goal in this series of GNs is to cover the topic from A to Z, similar to how we have done with other important topics‚ so that this information is easily available and covers the issues in one place.
24. —As is the case with many aspects of our beliefs‚ policies, rules and modus operandi, aspects of how we currently view and address issues have matured and become more defined over time. Some of our beliefs‚ policies, rules and way of operating have not only undergone further definition or clarification, but they have changed. This is to be expected in a growing, changing, maturing movement such as ours. Dad taught us a lot about prophecy‚ for example, but our understanding of prophecy in the '80s was quite limited as compared to our knowledge of prophecy today. We are a movement, which means that we are in motion—changing, evolving and growing. So it's important to be open to the new perspectives or clearer understanding and definition on issues that the Lord provides as we grow and mature.
25. —The Lord has promised to expand the Family and bring in many new members. Those members will want—and deserve to have—an understanding of the history and doctrine of the Family that they are becoming a part of. Therefore we will need to have a good foundation regarding the history of past controversies, how these were addressed, and current policies‚ so that we can respond to questions when they arise. Having a solid foundation and understanding of our history will enable us to respond knowledgeably, accurately, and with faith.
26. In these GNs, we will be covering some new information and addressing questions and issues that are important for you to read, understand, and assimilate. So please do read these GNs carefully and take the time to study and absorb them. It's important to understand the issues, as well as the explanations, so you can be well grounded in the Word and our faith. In order to help you do that‚ we're going to review aspects of our history, focusing in particular on the development of our sexual doctrines and the subsequent development of policies and guidelines. As the Lord said, addressing this era in more detail will strengthen our faith and enable us to fully focus on the present and the future.
Back to the Beginning
27. The Family's early history is colorful, radical‚ and exciting. If you haven't already done so, I recommend that you watch the video series, "Acts of the Revolution," as well as read through the Books of Remembrance and the many Letters that outline our history. We have been blessed with a rich heritage—the launching of the Revolution for Jesus that has been heard around the world—a soul- and disciple-winning and world-changing revolution! Many secular textbooks today describe the Family and its origins, and the Family is considered one of the most noteworthy NRMs (new religious movements) to have arisen in the past 40 years.
Academic perspectives on the Family [box]:
Scientifically‚ the Family is a mystery. Strewn across dozens of nations, in tiny autonomous communes, it nonetheless sustains a unified subculture. Twenty years ago, social scientists were already asserting that it had begun to reduce its tension with the surrounding socio–cultural environment, yet it seems to be just as high in tension today as it ever was. In the years after second generation members reached adulthood, and the charismatic founder passed away, we would expect The Family to have settled into a static culture, yet it continues to innovate at a rapid pace.
In bureaucratic terms, the Family is a policy challenge. It demands the right to educate its children within the movement, yet it is active in many nations that forbid home schooling. Although it maintains a very effective public relations campaign, it does not fit into the categories and interfaith organizations that governments are used to dealing with. When disgruntled former members or relatives of members bring cases to the courts‚ officials seem perplexed by the group's freedom from bureaucratic formalities.
If we approach the Family without a strict scientific or policy agenda, we see that it is an extremely fascinating part of the contemporary religious world. In an era when business and government leaders urge themselves to "think outside the box," here is a group that lives its entire life outside the formal structures that constrain most people. Yet it has found a coherent and apparently satisfying way of life for its members. More than a mere counter culture, the Family is an alternative society. Even if we are unprepared to embrace the faith of the Family, we can be inspired by it. (From the book "The Endtime Family—Children of God" by Dr. William Bainbridge, 2002.)
The Family has, by most reasonable definitions, emerged as a very successful new religious movement through adroit adaptation to a number of challenges over the course of its 34-year career. Like other successful religious movements, The Family's capacity for flexible, innovative change has been due in part to its ability to attract and cultivate the abilities of talented, capable individuals who subsequently have exercised and developed significant leadership skills.
But, of course, innovative leadership never develops in a social vacuum, removed from the conflicts of daily life. It emerges as an adaptive response to a group's collective problems. In responding to the kinds of internal and external problems that commonly confront new religious movements, The Family's leadership increasingly has become more rational, corporate, and democratic in the way it operates. (From "The Family in Transition: The Moral Career of a Religious Movement‚" by Drs. Gary and Gordon Shepherd, 2002.)
Family history reading list [box]:
Some Letters that provide information on important eras of Family history:
"Colonization," ML #C
"Reformation or Revolution," ML #I
"Not a Sermon, but a Sample," ML #J
"God's Little Miracles, Part 1," ML #1
"I Gotta Split, Part 2," ML #29
"The Call of David," ML #79
"A Wonderful Wave of Worldwide Witnessing," ML #154:1–8
"The Great Escape," ML #160
"Survival," ML #172
"Wonder Working Words," ML #207
"The Birthday Warning‚" ML #215
"Our Shepherd, Moses David," ML #351
"Millions of Miles of Miracles‚" ML #897
28. When the Family first began on the beaches of California‚ the focus was on witnessing to the counterculture youth of the 1960s‚ the dropouts of their day, many of whom were sexually liberal and rebelling from society's mores. The message the Lord gave the Family through Dad was unconventional, and radical from the very beginning.—And the counterculture youth loved it! As Dad said, the early members experienced a powerful infilling of the Spirit, which was needed to jumpstart the revolution.
(Dad: ) It was a real outpouring of the Spirit of God! Scores and scores of kids were getting saved and filled with the Holy Ghost and were almost instantly manifesting gifts of the Spirit, talking in tongues and prophesying—one of the greatest outpourings of the Spirit I've ever personally witnessed, really amazing! It was just like the early days of Pentecost! (Acts 2:17,18). And those kids knew more about the Lord than the people who'd been sitting in church all their lives—they were experiencing the Lord!
Just imagine!—All of those hippies fresh off the streets‚ raw hippies, most of them hardly ever having seen the inside of a church and had been anti-religious and everything, and here they were being filled with the Spirit of God and manifesting all these marvelous gifts of the Spirit—visions, messages‚ prophecies and revelations!
And the things that the Lord showed us were just almost unbelievable! God said that our little pebble would roll and gather momentum until it snowballed into a mountain!—That our little flame would be fanned into a forest fire that would sweep the nations!—That our wave would wash the shores of the world!—Visions and messages about the things that we were going to do that were, at that time‚ really hard to believe! But that's what encouraged us to obey the Lord and step out! … And as we obeyed, God did His part and blessed and multiplied and used us to reach the whole country with His message! (ML #1962:20-22‚24, DB 8; 1984.)
29. From its earliest days the Family was considered radical and unconventional because of our communal lifestyle, our dedication to witnessing‚ living by faith, and our stance against the evils of the System, amongst other things. Being a member of the Family has always meant being dropped-out, unconventional, and revolutionary, and flying in the face of System traditions and the status quo. Thank the Lord that He continues to give us His radical, unconventional New Wine that keeps us separate and dropped out!
(Mama:) The Family was originally a dropped-out, radical, iconoclastic, full-time discipleship revolution! We hated the System, because it enslaves men's souls. We were separate from the System, living according to the Bible. Those teachings of Jesus that are against the System are still just as much our code of ethics and behavior as ever (ML #3363:17, GN 959; 2001).
Our Sexual Attitudes and Practices in the Early Days
30. Although the early Family was unconventional and radical in many ways, it still retained the attitudes toward sexuality held by most of the churches. In other words, it was quite conservative and restrictive as far as sexual interaction between members who weren't married. "The Revolutionary Rules" (ML #S), which outlined the basic requirements for discipleship, made it very clear that no dating, kissing, or sexual involvement of any kind was allowed without leadership's permission. Marriage was subject to a trial period and approval of leadership‚ and most of our members were single at that point. Life was tightly scheduled and most people lived in cramped quarters, conditions which were not very conducive to any kind of intimacy.
(Dad: ) The rules of the Revolution are strict: Attend all classes and meetings, study and go witnessing, do your duties faithfully, arise when wakened and retire at lights out. "Study to be quiet" and "to show thyself approved unto God‚ a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." "Preach the Word, be instant in season and out," and "always ready to give an answer to him that asketh thee." "Let everything be done decently and in order, for God is not the author of confusion!" Keep your quarters neat and tidy, and yourself clean—"Defile not the temple of the Holy Ghost"—no smoking or smooching other than "greeting one another with a holy kiss"—and absolutely no dating without permission. Betrothals only for staff members after months of service and ready to go on their own with Team approval. Do not leave anywhere without permission, and absence from Bible study, duties, or witnessing must be only for emergencies by direct permission of the officer in charge. Absence without leave will be considered desertion of your post. You will only be given one warning, after which your place will be given to someone more deserving. "He sent them out two by two"—you will never go alone, but a veteran with a trainee (ML #S:9-10‚ Vol. 1; 1972).
31. Despite the fact that many of our early Family members came straight out of the "free love" hippie counterculture and had liberal perspectives on sexuality, they were willing to forgo sex to serve Jesus and to fulfill their calling as revolutionary disciples. Many of our early disciples went for years without sex, doing their best to "deny [them]selves and take up their cross daily." In fact, for years most of our Homes worldwide had their fair share of folks who were virtually "eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake" (Mat.19:12).—People who had joined the Family in their late teens and had passed into their mid-twenties—or even late twenties—without having any sexual relationships whatsoever. It's very strange today to think that many folks went five or six years in the Family without any sex whatsoever.—And on top of that, until the Letter "Revolutionary Sex" was published in 1973, five years after the Family started, most of us thought that masturbation was wrong. (See ML #2718:46-53, Vol.20; 1991.)
32. In the early 1970s, Dad began to question the attitudes toward sex that were so prevalent in the churches. He was concerned about the natural sexual needs of his newfound flock, and spent some time studying the Bible and seeking a godly perspective on sex, based on God's Word and not on the traditions of the churches. In 1973 Dad published a number of Letters in which he challenged the restrictive attitudes toward sex fostered by the churches. He contended that it was hypocritical, unnatural and unscriptural to condemn all sexual feelings or attractions as sinful or evil, or to assume that sex should be limited to married couples. Some of the first Letters he published along these lines were "The Art of Oh," "Mountin' Maid," "One Wife," "Revolutionary Women‚" "Revolutionary Sex," and "Revolutionary Lovemaking." (MLs 236‚ 240, 249, 250, 258‚ 259.) These were all published within a few months of each other‚ as Dad was striving to teach the Family that sexuality was natural and God-created, and not something inherently evil or sinful.
33. These Letters were not only given for the benefit of the Family, but many were also distributed to the public. Needless to say, they were received gladly by some, while others found it shocking that a Christian group would be proclaiming a liberal message about sex. Thus the Family quickly became even more controversial than it already was. If you consider that the public had already found it controversial that Family members dropped out of conventional society‚ lived communally, devoted their lives to the Lord, and preached against the war–mongering politics of America, a doctrine of sexual liberality from a fundamentalist* Christian group was bound to make even more of a splash! And‚ as Dad later said, it drew the line forever between us and Christians caught up in churchianity.
*Fundamentalism is defined as a movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record‚ holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming. (Encarta Encyclopedia.)
(Dad:) We just don't fit churchianity and we never will! God called us for a different purpose, ministry, message and method to reach a different people‚ and we've done it outside of the churches and without their help and even against their opposition, as Jesus did against the church of His day. So thank God for our doctrines and beliefs and practices which make us totally distinct and separate from the churches and unacceptable to the churches, which keeps us separate and pure and holy unto the Lord and in truth and our way and His way for us‚ which will never suit the churches and never please church Christians. It's too utterly radical, fanatical and revolutionary for Churchianity! Thank God! (ML #1592:44, GN Book 13; 1983.)
34. Ironically, however, despite the fact that some of the literature our early Family members were passing out on the streets preached a liberal approach to sex, the in-house attitude and behavior in our colonies concerning sex was still restrictive and prohibitive. This was due to the repressive attitudes of the leadership of the time, who didn't allow these freedoms to be practiced in the Homes. Dad was unaware that Family members were not being permitted to put these freedoms into practice. He was driving the "revolutionary racer" of the Family up a pretty steep hill of traditions and norms and religious taboos, and assumed that the leadership structure of the time was helping the Homes to follow the Lord's direction and revelation.
35. As Dad reached the conclusion that sex was God–created, and that as such, it was a natural and beautiful part of life, the Lord also began to reveal some more radical truths to him regarding what Jesus' Church is and what our relationship to Him and each other should be. He published these milestone concepts in the Letter "One Wife" (ML #249) in 1972. This Letter explained that as "members one of another" (Eph.4:25), we unitedly form the collective Body of Christ. In presenting this, Dad broadened the traditional understanding of marriage, which is characterized by an overemphasis on private marital ties, to encompass a larger vision of marriage to the Family as a whole, where members would be bonded to one another in a deeper way than just as fellow members of a church.
(Dad:) We do not minimise the marriage ties‚ as such. We just consider our ties to the Lord and the larger Family greater and more important.—And when the private marriage ties interfere with our Family and God ties, they can be readily abandoned for the glory of God and the good of The Family! We are not forsaking the marital unit.—We are adopting a greater and more important and far larger concept of marriage: The totality of the Bride and her marriage to the Bridegroom is The Family! We are adopting the larger Family as The Family unit: The Family of God and His Bride and Children!
The history of communes shows that the most successful communes either abolished all private relationships entirely and required total celibacy, or abandoned the private marriage unit for group marriage!—Because they found that the private family group was always a threat to the Larger Family unit as a whole! Most churches forsook the Church Family communes altogether for private marriages in private homes and only a once-a-week marriage with God at His House!—Ha!—This is marriage to His Bride?
They say the Bible doesn't teach plural marriage, but one of the greatest examples of all is the marriage of God Himself to His plural Bride composed of many members‚ all of whom are nevertheless One Bride! (ML #249:3,12,16, Vol. 2; 1972.)
36. The "One Wife" Letter was all about expanding and broadening our vision as Family members to encompass our greater marriage to the overall Family. It was about encouraging couples and singles alike to enlarge their scope of love to include other families, single parents and singles, and consider their needs as their own. It wasn't about doing away with traditional family units and ties, but rather building beyond them to include others in the Family in a closer and more intimate way.
37. This Letter was monumental in setting the spiritual foundation for the soon to be revealed principles of the Law of Love and the freedom to share sexually, regardless of marital status. Although this Letter particularly focused on the importance of being married to Jesus and His Family first, more so than to our private family units within the Family, it also served as the building block for the bedrock principle of our communal society—that we are all one family‚ married to one another in spirit.
What It Means to Put the Greater Family First! [box]:
(Dad:) Putting the greater marriage first doesn't mean you need to minimize your ties to your personal family, but it means giving the greater marriage the proper importance. It does not mean you must forsake the marital unit, but you are to embrace the far greater concept of marriage. It means that instead of drawing a circle around your own little family that will shut others out, you are to draw a circle that brings others in. For example, it doesn't mean loving your own children less, but it means taking the children of others into your arms, your heart, your lives, and trying to love them as much as you love your own. It means bringing others up to the level of your personal marriage relationship and your personal individual family—bringing them up to the level of love‚ understanding, sympathy, concern‚ and all the things you naturally feel for your personal family.
This is a complicated concept, because the Lord wants us to love others as we love ourselves. He wants us to be considerate of their needs, to give of our time‚ strength‚ love, and prayer, to do what we can to make sure all our mates are well cared for, happy and complete, as much as possible. On the other hand, He purposely, distinctly, and within His will gives you greater natural feelings for your personal family‚ for your one wife or mate, and also for your own children. He does that because He knows we all need some personal touch in our lives. Children need personal attention and personal love, to feel like they belong to somebody, that they have a place. They need to feel the security, comfort and warmth of the family unit.
So there's a place for both—the personal‚ individual family and the greater family. Each has its purpose, and you can love one without neglecting the other (ML #3211:49-51, Vol. 25; 1998).
The Law of Love
38. In 1974‚ Dad published the original "Law of Love" Letter (ML #302C). Prior to this, he had published the "All Things Tree" (ML #302A), which was a compilation of a number of Bible verses that serve as the scriptural foundation on which the Law of Love was built. In a nutshell, the original revelation of the Law of Love granted Family members the freedom to share sexually with others outside of marriage, without sin‚ provided the conditions outlined in the Letter were met. At this point in our history‚ our movement consisted almost exclusively of young adults, and this is the audience Dad was addressing.
39. Although it was a rather out-of-the-box revelation at the time, the Lord confirmed its truth and validity with many Scriptures‚ such as, "To the pure all things are pure," "The fruit of the Spirit is love … against such, there is no law," "All that believed were together and had all things common," etc. (For the full listing of "All Things" verses, see "The 'All Things' Tree," ML #302A. And for a full explanation on the foundation of the Law of Love, see "Living the Lord's Law of Love!—Part 1‚" ML #3201.)
40. In fact, you'll find that if you present the verses that the Lord gave Dad in building this cornerstone of our theology to the uninitiated, it's pretty hard for even Christian theologians to deny that there is a scriptural foundation for the Law of Love, even if most of them do not agree with the way we practice it. They of course are not likely to have the faith to live the sort of "extreme faith" the Lord has challenged us to live in the Family. If you're not so familiar with the scriptural basis of the Law of Love, you may want to brush up on it, and even mark it in your Bible, so that you're prepared to teach others and to "show them the reason for your faith" (1Pet.3:15). (See "Biblical Foundation on the Law of Love,"
Family presentations at university classes‚ by Marc and Claire [box]:
Some students know the Bible quite well, and as we discuss the Law of Love, Word "swords" are raised and battle is waged. At the end of the discussion, we have to agree to disagree‚ as the students concede that we do have a Biblical foundation for our belief. And some are wondering how they can partake of all that freedom, ha!
Professor K.'s class is no little league. We're talking about a theological seminary now, and students that are studying to be preachers or missionaries—definitely chaste ones at that. Seems like we're worlds apart with our radical beliefs and their ultra-conservative ones. But Professor K. wants his class to learn, as future pastors and missionaries, that there are people with deeply held religious beliefs, who love the Lord and serve Him and witness.
Our presentation begins with our introducing ourselves, presenting our basic beliefs as per the Statement of Faith, and talking briefly about the different ministries and work the Family is involved in around the world. After this we open the floor for questions and answers. The first questions are about our communal lifestyle, how it works, schedules, and so forth. Then we move into more theological questions about the Endtime‚ our beliefs on salvation, etc.
But it doesn't take long for one of the Web-savvy students to raise his hand and ask the question‚ "What are your beliefs regarding sexual conduct and marriage?" This opens that door for a full Scriptural explanation of the Law of Love. As we are explaining the spiritual as well as practical side to the Law of Love, you can see that it's causing no small stir in the minds of the students who are trying to understand this particular aspect of our theology. This leads to other questions such as, "Let me see if I'm understanding what you're saying. Are you saying… ?"
We answer yes. What ensues is an even more in-depth and Scriptural discussion regarding the Law of Love. After a lively, animated discussion of this controversial topic and the Scriptures about it, Professor K. chimes in and says, "Maybe we should change the subject and move on to other aspects of the Family's lifestyle." We then move on to other topics.
After the presentation‚ we are able to discuss some of the issues further with several of the students and one of them says‚ "I understand your theology now, and although I don't agree with your interpretation of the Scriptures‚ I can see that you do have a Scriptural foundation for your beliefs." (From FSM #398, 2003)
An academic explanation of the Law of Love [box]:
When a Pharisee lawyer tempted Jesus by asking Him to state the most fundamental commandments, according to Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus replied: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hangeth the whole law, and the prophets." This is the Law of Love.
The Love Charter urges all members to "live by the principles of the Law of Love: To love and care for, and interact lovingly and harmoniously with all members of the Home in which they reside and with Family members at large." This Golden Rule should govern all aspects of members' lives‚ and it is not merely the principle of sharing sexual love. By living the Law of Love, members believe they become free of all other biblical laws. Thus, there is no longer a specific prohibition against adultery. However, if sexual relations between a married person and someone other than the spouse would hurt the spouse, then it violates the Law of Love and is wrong.
A book-length treatise on the Law of Love, published as eleven issues of the Family's internal publication Good News, gives the fundamental justification for sexual sharing: "Helping those in need is part of love, and when one is in need of sexual love, supplying that need is fulfilling the Lord's commandment to love. We believe in sacrificial love for the sake of our brothers and sisters, and part of that love is sharing sexually, opening our arms of love to each other. If for no other reason, we should share out of obedience to the Lord, and His Word, and a desire to please the Lord. 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me' (Mat.25:40)." (Dr. William Bainbridge, 2002.)
41. In presenting the Law of Love, Dad emphasized from the very beginning that this freedom was being granted to meet a definite need‚ to be used in maturity and unselfish love. The Lord's plan and vision in teaching and giving us His Law of Love was to enable us to meet the needs of others, often at great personal cost and sacrifice. (See ML #2718:16-18‚ 40.)
42. Dad's introduction of sexual sharing in the Family was a move of the Spirit that was based on love for others, sacrifice, and compassion. He recognized that the need for loving companionship and sex is a genuine, natural, God-given need. Dad's teaching us about the Law of Love was not just related to FFing and our witness to the world; he was also concerned that everyone in the Family had their needs met. Dad had a heart for the many faithful missionaries in the Family who had given their all to serve the Lord, and he wanted to be sure they had everything they needed to be happy and fulfilled, as much as possible. (ML #3202:32‚ Vol. 25; 1998.)
43. The Law of Love introduced the concept of sexual sharing between adults, regardless of marital status, providing these relations had the willing consent of all parties concerned, and caused harm to no one. (At that time‚ the Colony's leadership also had to give its approval.) In presenting this, Dad also gave a number of conditions that were to be fulfilled in order to fully partake of these freedoms within the Lord's Spirit.
(Dad:) Can you be trusted with total life‚ love, liberty and the freedom of the Spirit, or do you have to be kept in the cage of the law for the transgressors who are ruled only by their own carnal lusts and lack of love? The answer depends on you and whether you can keep the rules of love to enjoy such liberty that brings such life!
As in marriage and all other social relationships with each other, God's laws of love are still the same:
1) Is it good for God's work? 2) Is it good for His Body? 3) Is it good for you? Does it glorify God, His Body and edify your own soul? Does it help someone and harm no one? Does it help you or someone else to do a better job for the Lord? Do you even need it for your own good?
These are questions you will have to answer yourself and before God and others, and you may need counsel in answering them.
Any variation from the norm of personal relationships, any substantial change in marital relationships‚ any projected sexual associations should have the willing consent of all parties concerned or affected, including the approval of leadership and permission of the Body. If this is lacking in any quarter and anyone is going to be harmed or unduly offended, then your action is not in love nor according to God's Law of Love!
"Love doeth thy neighbour no harm‚" for "thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself": this is God's law of love! "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "Against such love there is no law." This is the Lord's law of love. Obey it and you can have total love, life and liberty in the Lord. These are God's conditions.
"Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends." "Therefore we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Are you willing to lay down your life—or even your wife—for a starving brother or a sister? (ML #302C:12-15‚18, Vol. 3; 1974.)
44. Dad's intention was clearly that we could put these freedoms into practice, and learn how to use them to benefit ourselves and others within the boundaries given in this Letter. However, despite Dad's intentions in revealing the liberating freedoms the Lord was granting the Family, the publishing of this Letter didn't bring about an immediate change in the Family's conservative attitudes toward sex. Sexual sharing did not become widespread among members, and in actual practice‚ caught on very slowly. This was due in great part to the fact that the leadership structure of that time period (1975-1978)‚ known as the "Chain of Cooperation," or simply "the Chain," did not wholly endorse or promote this freedom. In fact, most of the top leaders of that time did not allow any sexual sharing outside the small circle of their fellow leaders. So, even though Dad's intent was clear in publishing this series of Letters, for the most part it produced very little change in the lives of the average Family member, as evidenced by the following quote from Dad, written in 1978, after he became aware that Family members were still not able to freely fellowship sexually with one another.
(Dad: ) Family members were forbidden to supply each other's sexual needs‚ FFing was in many instances prohibited or at least discouraged, permission to even help out Family members sexually had to come from leaders far up the Chain, and decision-making and obedience to the FF Letters was frowned upon (ML #650:6‚ Vol. 5; 1978).
45. By late 1977, Dad and Mama learned of widespread abuse of authority being perpetrated by some of the existing "Chain" leadership, especially at the highest levels, not only in their restrictive and hypocritical sexual policies, but also in their imposition of unsanctioned and excessive literature distribution quotas and exorbitant tithes or taxes, and generally far too much control over the communities and members. After receiving numerous confirmations of the unjust state of affairs in most Homes, the Lord led Dad to entirely dismantle the "Chain" leadership structure and fire all of its leaders. This revolution is known as the "RNR," because it was initiated by a Letter called "The ReOrganisation Nationalisation Revolution!—The RNR" (ML #650). This took effect in February 1978. The declaration of the RNR marked the end of the Children of God era, and we became known as "The Family of Love," and eventually just "The Family" (and since 2004, "The Family International").
46. The immediate impact of the RNR and the dismantling of the entire former leadership structure was the liberation of the Family from all the previous Chain-imposed controls. The Family worldwide rejoiced to be relieved from the "Chain's" unnecessary control and authoritarianism. Everyone was free to serve and follow the Lord according to their own faith, in obedience to the Letters.
47. On the sexual front, the RNR freed all adult members to share sexually and practice FFing if they so chose, and approval from leadership was no longer necessary. Although FFing had been introduced to the Family from 1976 to 1978‚ few Family members were permitted by leadership to put this new witnessing method into practice. After the RNR, consenting adult members who desired to have a sexual relationship with one another no longer needed permission from leadership.
(Dad:) No permission needed for sex!—If legal and with mutual consent. No Servants [Home Shepherds] need to be consulted. Fire away! Praise God! (ML #663:XI 1, Vol. 5; 1978.)
48. Needless to say, a period of sexual liberation ensued. Singles, most of whom had abstained from sex since joining months or years earlier, were relieved to finally be able to enjoy sexual fellowship with one another and have their sexual needs met. Many married couples were also happy to be able to share with others. FFing took root and many Family members engaged in it regularly as a witnessing ministry
49. As Dad explored the theological boundaries of the Law of Love, he published a number of Letters that further challenged the sexual mores and taboos of modern-day society on a number of sexually related issues. It was during this period of our history, from around 1978 throughout the mid-1980s, that most of the Letters and pubs that were later renounced and purged were published. I'll address these issues in the next GN in this series‚ as well as the impact that exploration had on the Family.
50. In early 1974, Dad received the "Little Flirty Fishy" revelation (ML #293) while living in England, and he and Mama began experimenting with what came to be known as "Flirty Fishing" (or FFing). In a nutshell, FFing opened the door to availing ourselves of the natural sexual attraction between men and women to draw people to the Lord, even to the point of having sex with people when necessary, to show them a tangible sample and proof of God's love. Dad wrote a number of Letters presenting the theological foundation for this witnessing method, and we continue to stand by those principles today, even though we no longer practice FFing.
(Dad: ) From pretty young shop girls and waitresses and secretaries to elderly widows and rich old dowagers; from handsome young clerks‚ bookkeepers, technicians, white collar workers and engineers to wealthy businessmen, retired widowers‚ single shopkeepers and even bachelor farmers, we found them all the same:
Hungry, lonely, empty, unhappy, dissatisfied and spiritually destitute—all longing for love of all kinds, but especially for a love they had never known before, true love, sincere love, genuine love, the truly great love of their life, the Love of all loves, of the Lover of all lovers, Who alone can satisfy that deepest yearning of every human soul for total love and complete understanding.
Some were finding momentary relief in a night of affectionate dancing closely together in each other's arms with an occasional tender caress and gentle kiss. Others carried it further—from the floor to the bed afterward each night in a casual sexual relationship which temporarily satisfied their bodies but left leanness in their souls, wondering why no one and no love ever truly satisfied or brought that lasting happiness of which they dreamed and is so deceptively and romantically portrayed by the media and tellers of tales.
Why could they never find this happiness for themselves? Why did even a prolonged physically satisfying sexual relationship still leave them feeling empty, incomplete and unfulfilled? Even those with seemingly naturally well–rounded physically full lives of plenty‚ security‚ families, mates and children were still feeling so dissatisfied and unhappy and discontented that under the cover of darkness and the dimly lit ballrooms of the big city they clandestinely sought new relationships outside the usual circle of their family and friends, always seeking something new.
As God's Word says, "The people seek a new thing" (Acts 17:21), having found the last grown old and boring. So they go from haunt to haunt and club to club and dance to dance and love to love and bed to bed and body to body until they are sick of it all, finding nothing that ever satisfies, no love that ever lasts, no happiness that is forever theirs.
They are miserable, brokenhearted, wounded, bound, captives of their own passions and prisoners of their own shattered hopes, desires and limited human frailties. For although the body is of this Earth and is satisfied with the things of this Earth, the human spirit, that intangible personality of the real you that dwells in that body, can never be completely satisfied with anything but utter union with the great and loving Spirit that created it.
He's pictured in His Son Christ Jesus, a Man Who loved everybody, even the poorest and the worst of all, even His self-righteous, hypocritical religious enemies. He was a Man Who went about all His life trying to do good and help others, even the drunks and the harlots, the publicans and the sinners‚ and sometimes even the Scribes and the Pharisees who finally crucified Him for His dangerous doctrine of love. But His death brings life, forgiveness, and eternal joy to those who love Him in return.
He is the Lover of all lovers, who came for love and lived in love, and died for love that we might live and love forever! He even loves the unlovely and the least likely to be lovable, brute beasts who blossom into beauty at His loving touch!
But He has no hands but your hands and He has no lips but yours and He has no eyes but your eyes and no body but your own, for you are His body, His Bride for whom He died that you might live and love others as He did with your hands, your lips, your mouth‚ your tongue, your eyes and your body broken for them as He was for you, your blood shed for them as His was for you, your life given for them as His was for you‚ to even die for them as He did for you!
Are you willing to be sent like Jesus into the deepest and darkest places of this Earth amongst the lowest of the low, not to condemn them as the churches have but to love them into His Kingdom of Love—God's Kingdom, God's love? Then, "Because He laid down His life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren!" (1John 3:16).
We found out we could not enter these places for purely personal selfish recreation‚ exercise and entertainment. We could not come face to face and body to body with those who clung so desperately to us with such a yearning for us to meet their needs. We could not withhold bread from the hungry—the Bread of Life, Christ Jesus, nor drink from the thirsty—the water of His Word‚ which satisfies the most ultimate longings of the human soul.
Flesh can satisfy flesh‚ but only spirit can satisfy spirit, and we soon found that we had to give of both to satisfy "all their needs according to His riches in glory" (Phil.4:19). We could not withhold any need from the love-starved as long as we had it by us and within our power to meet it and to give our all for their healing and His glory.
We sometimes passed through the agonies of Gethsemane‚ but once having begun the life of love, we found there was no stopping place, no limit and no end. We had to give and to give and to give again until it hurt.
It hurt our pride, crucified our flesh, killed our selfishness and ruined our reputation or made us "of no reputation" like Jesus Himself (Phil.2:7). They called Him a devil, a winebibber, a glutton, a friend of publicans and sinners‚ drunks and harlots, but He kept on giving and giving and giving again until the day He died for love, to give us His eternal love and life and happiness for ever after.
Are you willing to give that much to satisfy the needs of others and bring them eternal joy and happiness through the salvation of their immortal spirit by the power of the love of the God of love Himself? We did!
We soon found there was no stopping place, no limit to which God would not go to save a poor lost soul with His infinite love and unlimited mercy! We soon found our hearts irresistibly drawn into the vacuum of their hearts to satisfy their spirits, even as our bodies were irresistibly drawn together to satisfy their flesh!
There was nowhere to draw the line between the two, flesh and spirit. There was no halfway, there was no "almost." It had to be "all or nothing at all" or they could not believe it was real love. They could not understand how you could offer to fill their heart but not their body, to satisfy their soul but not their hungry flesh.
The two were inseparable. The one could not go without the other‚ and we had to feed them both together. As the Apostle James so clearly states: "If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food (a necessary physical need like sex) and one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace! Be ye warmed and filled!'—Notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body—what doth it profit?
"Even so faith, if it hath not works‚ is dead!" (Jam.2:15-17). In other words, if in the faith of God you really love them‚ they cannot understand it or believe it unless you really show them by some visible tangible work or action that puts your words into action and puts your faith into effect and makes it fact and not fiction, a sample, not just a sermon! (ML #502:2-22, DB 13; 1976.)
51. In 1974 Dad and Mama moved to Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, where they continued to pioneer the FFing ministry. For two years they carried on their experiment with a handful of Family members from their Home‚ testing and trying various methods and approaches before presenting Flirty Fishing as an outreach method for the Family. Throughout this time, they recorded their experiences, lessons, successes and failures, which were published from mid-1976 onwards.
52. Although a number of Letters had previously been published which hinted about using sex appeal as a new and intimate form of witnessing, the "King Arthur series" presented the first detailed account of how Dad and Mama had pioneered this radical new witnessing method. (If you haven't already read these‚ don't miss 'em! They're published in Daily Bread 13, MLs 501-522.)
53. Eventually, a whole volume of Letters was published that focused mostly on FFing. The FF Letters were essentially a training manual on how to use sex appeal and sexual relations as a means of winning others to the Lord. These Letters also served to further distance the Family from church traditions and hang-ups regarding sex. The cover illustrations for a number of the Letters were quite graphic sexually, and the titles were also often chosen for their shock value.
54. Due to increasing concerns about guarding our children, it was decided that this volume should be expunged from our body of literature in 1991, because of the sexually graphic nature of parts of this volume. Furthermore, FFing was discontinued in 1987, and these Letters were no longer applicable. (A number of Letters from the FFing volume, which explain the basic principles behind FFing, have been republished in DB 13 and are available on Infostore.)
55. By 1977, Dad and Mama's FFing exploits in Tenerife hit the headlines. Since Tenerife was a popular resort island, frequented by Europeans on vacation, many of the people Dad and Mama and their staff witnessed to and led to the Lord were from a number of European countries. It wasn't long before the attention of the media in Western Europe was drawn to Tenerife‚ and they began publishing accounts of what quickly became considered a controversial practice. This eventually led to widespread international publicity. Needless to say, linking the spiritual love of God with the physical manifestation of that love in the form of sex‚ in such an intimate form of personal witnessing, was, to put it mildly‚ not very well received by mainstream Christianity‚ where sex and God are seldom, if ever, associated. The Lord certainly used FFing to catapult the Family into the public eye, and the news of missionaries who were willing to step outside the bounds of tradition to win souls circled the globe.
56. As a ministry‚ FFing was tremendously fruitful, resulting in nearly 100,000 people won to Jesus‚ many of whom would not have been won by traditional methods. These salvations were made possible because of the Family's sacrificial love for the lost and willingness to lay down our lives for those we were trying to reach with the Lord's love and message. The Lord also raised up many friends, supporters, and disciples for the Family through the witness given in FFing, a number of whom have remained close to the Family up until today.
57. Dr. James Chancellor, an academic and theologian, interviewed a number of Family women about their FFing experiences and published his findings in 2000. His conclusions regarding this controversial ministry are quite interesting, as they reflect the fruitfulness of this method, and how most Family members who obeyed the call to participate in this ministry look back on their experiences. He wrote:
Virtually all [adult female disciples] involved in FFing share a positive appreciation of this unique witnessing technique‚ and feel strongly that their ministry was the work of the Holy Spirit. They are equally convinced that Flirty Fishing afforded them the opportunity to bear witness to persons who would have no other possible chance of hearing about the love of Jesus.
58. In 1987, the Lord showed Dad and Mama that the time had come to discontinue FFing for a number of reasons. The main reason was that the Lord wanted us to put more of an emphasis on follow-up and grounding our converts in the Word. FFing could be quite time-consuming, and had generated some problems and pitfalls as well—and of course we experienced a learning curve as we grew into this ministry through trial and error. In order to fully focus on the new challenges the Lord had for the Family in witnessing and follow-up, the Lord said it was time to change methods altogether. (See MLs 2313, 2345 and 2346.) The plague of AIDS had begun its rampage throughout the world at that time as well, so it was the Lord's perfect timing to close the book on the FFing era. But there was nothing wrong with FFing, and it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of. To the contrary, we should be proud of it!—God's proud of us for doing it! Although we have discontinued FFing, the Letters and the spiritual principles behind FFing remain sound. (See ML #2858:24,25.)
(Dad:) Let me ask you a question: What does the Family [name] stand for? It's short for the Family of Love, a Family that was born in the white-hot fires of the FF Revolution! That's another revolution that changed tens of thousands of lives around the world and spread our message—God's message—further than we could have ever imagined! We don't FF anymore, but that's the revolution that gave us our present name, won multitudes of souls, and made God's love news in hundreds of news articles around the world! (ML #3364:89, Vol. 29; 2001.)
59. (Question: ) Some of our former members allege that they were "forced" to FF. Is that true?
60. Clearly, Dad's hope and intent when he presented the FFing revelation was that the Family would be supportive of this new witnessing method and would pioneer it in their Homes and ministries. He and Mama had found it to be a tremendously fruitful witnessing method‚ and the Lord had shown Dad that much fruit would be borne throughout the Family as they followed in the direction the Lord was leading. However, there were never policies or guidelines in place that forced anyone to FF, though Dad did present very compelling arguments as to why we should have the faith to FF, and it certainly weighted the scale in the direction of having the faith to follow where God was leading the Family. Ultimately, though, people had to make personal choices in the matter‚ and not all Family members FFed regularly‚ or at all for that matter. Dad wrote in the Letters on several occasions about the importance of operating according to our personal faith on a number of issues‚ including FFing and sharing, and even at one point on using contraceptives. (See ML #792:14,23‚ Vol. 6.) Although he would give a pretty strong and convicting presentation as to why the Lord wanted us to do certain things, he would also point out that we had to operate according to our own faith. Dad didn't expect that most Family members would FF:
(Dad: ) I've said time and again, FFing is not for everybody. It's only for special people who really have got the guts and the time and the talent and so on. It is not for everybody! Everybody can do it sometime or other, but it's not a full-time job for everybody.
There are only a few people that can devote their full time to it. There are only a few that can devote their part time to it! We are getting more and more now to where we've got families with two or three children—it's getting almost to be the average! Now when you get that far along, you most likely can't FF much at all anymore. I don't see how you can! Well‚ some of you do.
I don't recall ever saying that everybody's got to get out and FF.—Never! I said that everybody that can, ought to get out and FF, everybody that's got the burden, everybody that's got what it takes to do it. But I also said‚ it's not for everybody! I've said that plainly in several Letters, in the FF series‚ it's just not for everybody!
There are some girls who just have a real talent for it. And they don't have any husband or any children or anything.—They are free. There are a few wives who have a good talent for it even‚ and who happen to have an understanding husband, which is rare. (Maria: That can stay home and take care of the kids at night.) But that is rare! That is very rare! (ML #793:18,19‚21,22, Vol. 6; 1978.)
61. Dad knew that it could be difficult to get Family members to move out of ruts or certain ways of doing things, and he would often present the Lord's new leadings in colorful, charismatic and emphatic terms. While doing so, he also understood that not all Family members would have the faith to follow in the new directions the Lord was leading. He tended to present things initially in a more impassioned way, in the hopes that he could bring the Family to a medium point, so to speak. It's important to understand that principle, as Dad could present arguments about the same topic that seemed contradictory, but actually provided balance to each other.
(Dad:) We're like a pendulum, and in a sense, every revolution is this way. As I used to say, I'm an extremist, a radical fanatic, and in order to pull some people halfway‚ you've got to go all the way in the opposite direction! Then you pull some of the people too far and you've got to go to the opposite extreme‚ the other way, to try to get some of the extremists back on center again! Till finally, like a pendulum, you sort of get to where you're more in the middle and more on center rather than the opposite extremes (ML #1083:13, Vol. 9; 1982).
62. (Question:) Did minors participate in FFing? Did Dad encourage or allow minors to FF?
63. FFing was not for minors, and they were never allowed or encouraged by Dad to practice FFing. On this issue, in 1978 shortly after the Homes began FFing in earnest, Dad said, "[M]ust be of legal age for sexual involvement, usually at least 21 to 23, depending on the state or country. Watch out!" (ML #663:X 2, Vol. 5, 1978.)
64. "Heaven's Girl‚" a storybook written for teens in the early 1980s about a young woman in the time of the End, did present scenarios of Heaven's Girl‚ the protagonist, using FFing to witness in dire circumstances. The story itself never indicated that minors in the Family were permitted to FF—it was clearly a fictional storybook about the Endtime. In fact‚ when Dad gave instructions to the artists working on the book, he said, "I'd say she looks like she's about 20, somewhere around there. The teenagers could even identify with her—she could be a teenager or in her 20s" (ML #1632:22, GN Book 17; 1983).
65. The intention of this book was to present the miracles God's children will be able to perform in the Tribulation, to inspire faith and courage, that despite the trials of the Tribulation, we will be victorious and the Lord will perform miracles for us (see MLs #1623, 1679). However‚ in keeping with the sexually liberal tone in the Family of the time period when the book was written (1983-1985), there were sexual references and FFing accounts in the book‚ which were later deemed inappropriate for minors. For this reason, this book was removed from circulation in 1990, and has been renounced.
66. As Dad continued to seek to liberate us from societal taboos and ungodly perspectives about sexuality, he also introduced the concept that there was nothing wrong with the human body, or inherently shameful with nudity (in the privacy of our Homes or Family fellowships).
(Dad:) Contrary to the false doctrines of most of the churches‚ there's not one single place in the entire Bible that states or proves that nudity is evil or sex is wrong! In fact in the original Creation, God intended for people to run around stark naked in the open air, in the Garden, with no houses, no bedrooms and no privacy, and to make love on the grass under the trees, right out in the open! Nudity and sex in the Garden were the first order of the day‚ and therefore, having been created by God in the nude and never having known clothing or any kind of bodily covering, they didn't even know they were naked!
Adam and Eve … only became ashamed of their God-created bodies after they fell and had sin in their hearts—the wrong sinful view of things! Before that, with pure sinless hearts and a Heavenly outlook, they weren't even conscious of being naked because they'd never been anything else!
All was beautiful until Satan lied to them, undermining their faith in God's Word regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so that they disobeyed and sinned against the Lord. And when they took of the fruit of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, suddenly they thought nudity was bad!
Then the Lord came along and called them, saying, "Where art thou?" to which Adam replied, "I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself" (Gen.3:9,10). Now remember, they'd been naked ever since they were created, and when all they knew was the knowledge of good‚ they weren't even aware of it! They saw each other and each other's bodies and never thought anything of it!—Except that they were very beautiful and they liked to make love to each other! But they never thought or saw anything wrong with it, because there was nothing wrong with it!
The Lord then asked them‚ "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" (Gen.3:11.) Where did they get the idea that they were naked and that it was wrong to be naked?—The Devil told them they were naked! Instantly, as soon as they disobeyed, the Devil polluted their minds with the lie that nudity was evil and that the sexual parts were evil and should be hidden.—A lie of the Devil!—Part of the knowledge of evil that came into man's heart through sin and disobedience!
There is nothing wrong with our bodies and nothing evil about sex and nothing catastrophic about masturbation! All are perfectly normal, necessary‚ natural and God-given physical functions. The only evil or wrongdoing would be if our bodies were abused or misused or overused.—Or exposed or used in such a way as to offend or hurt others. (ML #1969:8-12,32; DB 8; 1984.)
67. As Dad presented these concepts, a more natural attitude towards nudity or semi-nudity became somewhat common in a number of Homes, depending on what sort of ministries the Homes conducted, the climate, the comfort zone of individuals, etc. Homes that were very involved in witnessing, with visitors regularly frequenting their Homes, or located in repressive or ultraconservative countries‚ wouldn't have had much allowance for nudity around the public places of the Home, if at all. Other Homes that operated as office or Selah Homes with little or no contact with outsiders may have been very liberal. Dad's Home for the most part was located in warm climates during that period of our history, and though nudity was only occasional, semi-nudity (meaning men in boxer shorts and women in panties or sarongs with no tops) was common and natural within the privacy of his household. Or when there was a swimming pool in the Home‚ there was nude swimming at times.
68. This concept of Family members having the freedom to carry out their daily lives with little clothing or partial nudity probably seems quite foreign at this stage of our history. Society overall gradually became much more conservative starting in the late '70s, and throughout the '80s. In the '60s and the '70s, nudism was much more common, and nudist colonies* were quite popular. Overall attitudes toward sex were more liberal during this era, and sexual experimentation and the challenging of traditional taboos was not uncommon. Even today in Europe, a number of beaches and resorts exist that are "clothing optional" or where semi–nudity is not an issue—including beaches, parks and entire coastlines which are frequented by families with children, where nudity or semi-nudity is considered just a natural part of life.
*Nudist colony: A group of nudists who choose to live together on a permanent basis for the purpose of eschewing clothing. Similar terms include nudist/naturalist resort, camp‚ park, or club. The term nudist colony was once a common term for nudist communities, especially among non–nudists, but is eschewed by most nudists/naturalists due to negative connotations that became associated with the term.
Nudism is a movement that advocates the practice of living without clothes. Advocates of nudism practice for the physical benefit derived from exposure of the body to what they consider to be healthful qualities of sunlight and fresh air; in a wider sense, however, nudism is a philosophy and a way of life. The shame customarily associated with nakedness in modern civilized society results, according to nudists, from centuries of cultural conditioning against complete exposure of the body in public. Nudism, by correcting in its practitioners this false sense of shame, enhances their self-assurance and furnishes them with a new appreciation of the essential beauty and dignity of the human body. Critics attack the nudist philosophy as being indecent and the publications put out by the movement as obscene.
Some people believe that the naked human body is to be accepted, respected‚ cherished, and enjoyed. They believe it is not inherently shameful‚ corrupting, degrading, or dangerous. Many of them enjoy clothes-free activities. They reject views that being naked with other people is morally wrong or indecent, or sexual per se. They argue that nakedness is a healthy‚ natural state‚ that being nude is to be in your purest form, since everyone was born nude. They generally find that they quickly become so accustomed to being nude among nudes that it no longer seems very remarkable. It is, rather, simply one part of their lifestyle. Some clothing-optional communities do exist for those who wish to live in a supportive environment. In fact, there are communities under development that even cater specifically to Christians that desire to practice Christian naturism.
Archaeological evidence indicates that nudism‚ in the form of sunbathing, was practiced in antiquity [ancient times, preceding the Middle Ages] by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans. Ancient cultures (the Greeks and the Romans‚ for example) sometimes had quite different attitudes toward the unclothed human body than are common today. In fact, the word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek word "gymnos," meaning "nude," because athletics in Greece were routinely practiced naked by its participants. Nudity taboos may have developed simply because people got accustomed to wearing clothes for practical reasons‚ as in temperate or desert climates. Perhaps it became a habit, was culturally ingrained, and was elevated to a requirement.
Objections to being nude are often religiously motivated, even when that idea started as a cultural taboo. Many peoples around the world started wearing clothes only after missionaries argued that it is more civilized. However, there are many religiously devout nudists who attend worship services regularly. They argue that they do not need to shed their morals with their clothes.
As a social and philosophical movement, nudism began in Germany in the early 20th century and spread throughout Europe between the two World Wars. It originated as a protest against strict Victorian codes of behavior and sought to alleviate the ignorance and shame caused by hiding the human body. The basic position that the human body, in and of itself, was neither sinful nor obscene was combined with a new philosophy to create the modern Western nudist movement. Nudism also represented a challenge to the traditional dichotomy [split] that celebrates nudity in artistic representation but condemns it as a practice in everyday life. Stressing nudism's supposed benefits to physical health and mental well-being, contemporary adherents of the movement maintain that its practice aids both exercise and relaxation while promoting stress relief, positive body image, and increased self-esteem.
Nudist organizations and societies are maintained in most European countries, including Norway, Sweden, and Finland. In the United States, the first organized nudist movement was the American League of Physical Culture, established in 1929. Since World War II ended in 1945, interest in nudism has made some advances in the United States and Canada. (Excerpted from articles published in Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia and Columbia Online Encyclopedia)
69. Although it would not be appropriate to adopt nudity into our everyday lives in public spheres of our Homes, both for the sake of our children and our ministry to the public‚ Dad's teachings on this subject still hold true today, and we don't believe that there is anything inherently wrong or shameful about the human body. God created it and saw that it was good; in fact, one of His most marvelous and wonderful creations! But due to the fact that in much of society today, it could be construed as inappropriate or negligent to expose children to nudism in our communal households, and many countries have laws against it, the Lord has led us to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1Thes.5:22). (For more on this subject, please see "Shooting Straight, Part 3," ML #3501:90–105, GN 1088; 2004.)
The "Story of Davidito"
70. During this period of our history‚ when Dad was exploring the boundaries of the Law of Love‚ he speculated as to whether nudity and sexuality should be hidden from children, considering that these are a natural, God-created part of life. He reasoned that in many cultures in past eras, a much more natural attitude had prevailed about the "facts of life," and many psychologists have argued over time that this is a healthier approach. Around this time, in 1975, Davidito was born. Dad's hope was that Davidito could be brought up in a natural environment, free from society's taboos that Dad had come to see as promoted by the traditions of man, and not necessarily of God. Davidito's early upbringing reflected this approach.
In a Washington Post interview, Rev. Richard D. Dobbins, an Ohio psychologist and pastoral counselor points out that the unhealthy suppression of sexual drive easily leads to deviant sexual behavior, and adds:
While the Bible takes a healthy view toward the body and sexuality, institutional religion tends to see those things as wicked and evil. Children are not taught how to think of their body. It is a dark‚ secret side of themselves (cited by Session Steps, 1988: 3, Section A). (See "Christianity and Sex‚ Part 1," Christian Digest 21.)
71. Davidito's early life and upbringing was recorded and published in installments for the Family between 1977 and 1981 (during this time period he was two to six years old). These were written by Sara‚ his primary caregiver, based on her daily logs, and they also provided a firsthand glimpse into Dad's household. The primary purpose of these accounts was to relay practical lessons on child-rearing, child development, early schooling, etc., to the many new parents in the Family at that time.
72. In 1982 the "Dito" chapters were compiled and republished in a 780-page book, "The Story of Davidito." The vast bulk of the book addressed an array of topics related to childcare, including pre-school education‚ discipline‚ safety, diet, health, childhood diseases, etc. Approximately 20 pages of the original book focused on Davidito's early exploration of his sexuality. The book also had a number of references throughout that reflected the sexually liberal environment existing at Dad's house at that time. There were also a number of photos published where Davidito and members of Dad's household were scantily dressed or nude.
73. In his book "The Children of God—The Family," Dr. J. Gordon Melton offered an academic perspective of "The Story of Davidito":
The Story of Davidito was written by Sara, the woman primarily responsible for the rearing of the son born to Maria and adopted by David Berg. Seven hundred and fifty pages long and filled with photographs, it was part family album, biography, and baby book chronicling Davidito's formative years in a communal environment. Part of a much larger body of literature produced during this period on such practical matters as establishing a home and raising children, most of the content was innocuous. But some of it made for profoundly unsettling reading for people who held traditional views about acceptable behavior in adult-child relationships. About twenty pages of the text focused on the young boy's development in an environment of near-total sexual freedom in which Davidito witnesses intercourse and appears to have sexual access to the women of the group.
Although sex was not the overriding preoccupation of the members' existence, the new sexual openness created a different atmosphere than had existed previously in the homes‚ now filled with a number of children. While members, as indeed much of the rest of society at the time, enjoyed a sense of freedom, they did not view children as objects of sexual attraction. Berg's letters were mostly interpreted as simple advice against becoming unduly alarmed if children showed a natural curiosity about their bodies and against taking too seriously the intrusion of a child into an intimate adult situation. (From "The Children of God—The Family" by Dr. J. Gordon Melton, 1997.)
74. Due to the inappropriate sexual references contained in these pages, the book was removed from circulation and all Homes destroyed their copies of the book in early 1990. An edited version, from which any sexually inappropriate material was removed, was republished in 1997, entitled, "Dito: His Early Years."
75. At this point in time of our history, 25 years later‚ it can be difficult to relate to the publishing of sexual references in a child-rearing manual. Clearly, references of this nature should never have been included in this publication, and Dad officially renounced the purged portions of the book. We will address this in further detail in Part 2 of this GN series, but suffice it to say that we have since developed strong policies in the mid to late 1980s to protect children from being exposed to a sexually inappropriate environment, or anything potentially harmful to them or that could be construed as negligent or abusive.
76. As a further extension of the exploration of the Law of Love, in 1981 Dad published the Letter "Nudes Can Be Beautiful," where he presented the idea of Family women doing artistic nude dances. At that point in time, most of the FGAs were the age of our SGAs of today, in their twenties and early thirties.
(Dad:) Maybe some of you folks who have video [recorders] can give it a try. I think it would make a beautiful musical background for a video dance tape [in] which our beautiful girls could dance in a very artistic and soft and loving way, what the world might call "soft porn." Not the hard stuff with all the gory gruesome mechanical details, but beautiful, artistic nudity and beautiful artistic dancing with this beautiful artistic music in the background. (ML #1006:1,2, Vol. 9; 1981.)
77. Dad also suggested that some portions of romantic and loving interaction between adults could be filmed, as "Love videos." However‚ in a few instances, these developed into explicit sex scenes, and not too long afterwards, in April 1984, Dad concluded that these should be discontinued, and the tapes destroyed, both because he felt they were not edifying and because they placed the Family at risk in conservative countries.
We do not circulate this type of video [with explicit sex scenes] in the Family and frankly feel that it's dangerous even in your own private tape collection... Therefore, we wanted to ask anyone who has such tapes to please erase them as soon as possible. We must ask for your cooperation in this so that other Family tapes can continue to circulate without being stopped by the authorities or causing a danger to the Work! There are so many other good Family videos which you can enjoy in their place! PTL! Happy viewing! WLY! (LNF 47‚ April 1984)
78. Within the context of all that Dad taught us about sexuality and nudity being God-created‚ pure and natural, for women to dance nude or semi-nude was not considered inappropriate or anything to be ashamed of. In some cases—in particular, at Music with Meaning (MWM)—some underage girls were filmed, imitating the older women and their dances. Although this was not generally viewed as an expression of sexuality, the filming of such dances was inappropriate and should not have been permitted or encouraged. In January 1985, a notice was circulated to the Family (LNF 57), clarifying that such filming of minors should not be allowed (though at that time, there was not a clear definition of what would be considered a minor and in some cases teens may have filmed dances after 1985, before these were discontinued altogether in 1988).
79. In 1990, it was determined that the filming of adult dance videos should be discontinued altogether, and Family members were required to erase all existing videos. At the time, the reason the Lord led us to destroy the dance videos was not because they were harmful or even in poor taste, but rather because of the changing cultural climate and to protect the security of our Family members.
80. Some of these videos, however, had been overlooked and left in a storage facility in the Philippines, among archival material. In 1992, two former members (one of whom had been excommunicated many years earlier), infiltrated a Home in the Philippines. By subterfuge‚ they got access to this storage facility and stole 13 trunks of audio masters of Family music recordings, amongst which there were a number of old videos that should have been destroyed a few years earlier when the Family erased all such videos. A warrant was subsequently issued for the arrest of these former members in the Philippines for grand theft. They fled the Philippines and shipped the stolen materials to a former member in the U.S.A., who has subsequently sold them to media sources over the years. (For the full story, see FSM 227, "Victory in Manila.")
81. These videos are aired from time to time by the media for shock value, to attempt to cast the Family in a negative light and reinforce the stereotypical "sex cult" label. Meanwhile, as is typical of the hypocrisy of the System, the world is flooded with hard-core porn videos and magazines, which denigrate sex, and as Dad said, are often "perverted and animalistic and mechanical and ugly and unclean and masochistic and cruel … It's the Devil's own doing to take God's beautiful creation and contaminate it and pervert it and debase it and drag it down through the gutter and the sewer! That's what I'd call nasty sex, dirty sex‚ unclean sex…" (ML #935:9,15, Vol. 8; 1980).
82. Although some of our apostates and the media have attempted, and continue to attempt, to use these videos to further their campaigns to discredit or harm the Family, there was nothing wrong with the beautiful dances and artistic expression of our love for the Lord and others expressed by adult members in these videos. These were withdrawn from circulation because the Lord indicated that with tightening world conditions‚ and with society becoming more and more sexually conservative‚ it was time to erase these videos and curtail this liberty. And as I said before, minors should not have been permitted to participate in dance videos, and in 1985 a notice went out to the Family disallowing their participation.
83. The initial implementation of the Law of Love and its actual practice in the Homes was‚ needless to say, not without problems and mistakes.
84. In his original explanation of the Law of Love, Dad gave two fundamental guidelines for sexual sharing: It must be done in unselfish love, and it must not hurt anyone. With the oppressive "Chain" removed and all restrictions lifted‚ many members went overboard and the pendulum of sexual behavior swung to the opposite extreme, and sad to say, these basic tenets were widely ignored.
Unfortunately‚ the teachings of the Letters and the principles of the Law of Love were not always carried out perfectly by every Family Member. Many of us were young and immature when we were first learning to apply the Law of Love‚ so there were cases where the Word was misinterpreted or misunderstood, and these freedoms were used "as an occasion to the flesh" (Gal.5:13) and not applied lovingly and unselfishly as the Lord and Dad had intended. When Dad wrote those Letters‚ he expected us to be loving, unselfish, considerate and mature enough in spirit that we wouldn't do anything that would hurt anyone else. He expected us to be yielded to the Lord and closely following His Spirit in our practice of these freedoms. As Dad brought out in the original Letter entitled "The Law of Love":
"It depends on your spiritual strength and maturity, trustworthiness, and especially the ultimate in total unselfish and sacrificial love—the true Love of God! Can you be trusted with it, or will you abuse it and use your liberty as license to do wrongfully and lustfully instead of rightfully and lovingly? Will you use it to heal and help, or harm and hinder? The answer is up to you.
"If you are strong enough in Spirit and filled with His Love‚ you can be trusted with His liberty as a useful tool to help others. But if you are weak in the flesh, full of selfish lust and play with it foolishly like a dangerous toy, it will only harm you and others and hinder the Work of God!" (ML #302C:5–8.) (From "Our Beliefs Concerning the Lord's Law of Love," by Peter and Apollos. ML #2858:17, Vol. 21; 1993.)
85. Many FGAs experienced the emotional turmoil resulting from unrestrained personal relationships. When the liberties of the Law of Love were used with the wrong motives or without the counsel and consent of all concerned, a lot of us found ourselves caught up in a maelstrom of romantic and sexual feelings, emotions and relationships that were overpowering because we let them occupy so much of our minds and hearts and time. This, of course, resulted in quite a few serious problems, causing our work and fruitfulness for the Lord to suffer greatly. (See ML #2718:6-8, Vol. 20; 1991.)
The Lord gave us those freedoms so we could sacrificially and unselfishly help others. But many of us simply weren't mature enough to handle them wisely and responsibly, thus we wound up using—or misusing—them selfishly and getting way off the track. So for our own well-being and for His work's sake, the Lord had to restrict or severely limit many of those freedoms (ML #2718:7, Vol. 20; 1991).
86. Over the years, Mama and I have published a number of apologies to current and former members who may have been hurt in any way due to the actions of others‚ or the lack of restrictions and guidelines for the Law of Love in the earliest period of its implementation. We sincerely meant and stand by those apologies. (See the 1992 Statement on Child Abuse; "Our Beliefs Concerning the Lord's Law of Love‚" ML #2858:50-51‚ published in 6/93; "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us," ML #3016:18-20, 52-56, published in 9/95; Mama's Letter to Former Members in "Bridging the Gap," ML #3068:101-108, published in 8/96; "An Open Letter to All Current and Former Family Members," ML #3091:3,10h,15–22, published in 12/96.)
(Peter:) We are truly sorry if any of our Members were hurt or offended in any way by someone who misapplied or in some way strayed from the strict guidelines of the Law of Love. We are sorry if anyone was stumbled or confused or embittered by any such actions in the past. The people who misused their freedoms—either intentionally or unintentionally—were literally breaking the Law, the Law of Love. (ML #2858:51, Vol. 21. Published in June 1993.)
(Mama: ) We regret that more restrictions, guidelines and safeguards were not in place during the Family's sexually freewheeling era of 1978 through the early eighties. So to anyone, young person or adult‚ who due to Dad or the Family's exploration of the Law of Love, feels that they were subjected to inappropriate sexual behavior of any kind, we sincerely apologize. (ML #3016:53, Vol. 22. Published in September 1995.) (See also ML #3091, Vol. 23. Published in December 1996.)
87. As we explained in the Letter "Our Beliefs Concerning the Lord's Law of Love" (ML #2858)‚ although we are very sorry that any Family members were hurt in any way during that initial era of the implementation of the Law of love, when few guidelines were in place to help us to truly live it in love and to protect people from hurt, this does not negate the scriptural truth and godly principles behind the Law of Love.
(Peter:) Unloving actions by some did not invalidate the Lord's Law of Love or mean that we no longer believe its scriptural truth. It simply means that there were cases where some people were not loving enough or spiritually strong enough to properly adhere to it. This is why Dad and Mama felt it necessary to enact what are now the current restrictions on such freedoms and liberties—to ensure that no one was being hurt or offended by others who may have misapplied or misused the Law of Love principles, and to make sure that such freedoms were not distracting the Family from our main goal of preaching the Gospel and reaching others for the Lord.
However, the fact that such restrictions are in place today does not mean that everyone misused the liberties granted under the Law of Love. To the contrary, many people were very loving‚ mature, wise, considerate and sacrificial in their application of the Law of Love. But just as blanket (all-inclusive) laws have to be imposed in the System (even though many people would not even think about committing the acts which the laws are forbidding), so blanket restrictions had to be imposed on all Family members to make sure that the people who were misusing such freedoms would not continue to do so. (ML #2858:52-53‚ Vol. 21; 1993.)
88. As Mama and the Lord explained so clearly in the Law of Love series, the Law of Love is a precious gift that the Lord has entrusted to the Family. Despite the mistakes and growing pains of the past, the Lord is continuing to entrust us with this gift, and He is counting on us to wisely and maturely continue to grow into the fullness of His love for others‚ through living His Law of Love.
Limitations and Guidelines for the Law of Love
89. Over the years since Dad wrote "The Law of Love" (1974), the Lord led him and Mama and me to institute guidelines and boundaries to the Law of Love, to help us to practice it in ways that would be fruitful for all parties concerned. For example, in 1984 Mama's Letter "Sex for Babes?" (ML #1909) was published, which established the rule that new disciples would be required to abstain from sex with others for six months after joining the Family, in order to give them time to adjust to their new life for the Lord, learn to witness, and get grounded in the Word without the distraction that physical, sexual and emotional relationships can be. In 1987‚ FFing was discontinued and sex with "outsiders" (non-Family members) was prohibited.
90. In 1986, we established parameters for sexual interaction, in order to protect our children and teens from premature sexual experiences. These parameters developed and changed over the years. At one point, those under 21 were not allowed to have sex, unless they were planning to marry. In 1991, the Lord led us to modify those restrictions in line with the average age at which teens are able to sexually interact with each other in society at large. Our guidelines governing the age that sexual interaction is permissible are outlined in the Charter. Infraction of our policies‚ particularly in the case of adults interacting with underage minors, was made excommunicable in the late 1980s.
91. In 1995, "Go for the Gold" (ML #2961) was published, in which the Lord addressed the issue of contraception and discussed questions relating to different types of sexual interaction, offering options for sexual sharing that wouldn't result in pregnancy‚ so as to ensure that people's sexual needs could be satisfied (for more on this topic, please see "Mama's Memos—No. 4," ML #3138). In 1998 and 1999, the 12-part series of "Living the Lord's Law of Love" (ML #3201-3212) was published, teaching us all how to live the sexual aspect of the Law of Love in the Lord's Spirit and love. This series introduced the concept of a man's 20-month minimum responsibility in the case of pregnancy resulting from sex with a single woman. A number of guidelines were put in place to protect the stability of marriages, and to ensure that those engaging in full sex assume responsibility in the case of pregnancy.
(Peter:) The circumstances that exist today in our Homes regarding practicing the sexual aspect of the Law of Love are very different than they were years ago before the Charter. With the publishing of the Law of Love series and the many new Charter rules that govern our sexual sharing, there are many safeguards. There is much less chance of people going off the deep end in any way.
If you see any inappropriate activity or interaction between people of any age, you are responsible to report it. There are rules and consequences for breaking those rules (ML #3307:189-190‚ Vol. 28; 2000).
92. The Charter also published a guideline disallowing sexual contact in the public places of the Home, to avoid hurting or offending others.
(Mama:) You have one kind of affection openly amongst all your members—anytime, anywhere—and another kind you reserve for behind closed doors. Your everyday standard of natural, loving affection amongst your Home members during your normal daily interaction with each other is not supposed to signal or lead to sex‚ which is what you have behind closed doors (ML #2857:44, Vol. 21; 1993).
93. The Lord has led us to put restrictions in place to protect people from getting hurt‚ because we are imperfect beings who don't always live up to the principles and ideals put forth in the Law of Love.
(Peter:) In fact‚ the different rules and restrictions which we have incorporated over the years do not signify a departure from the principle of the Law of Love, but are actually an affirmation of the Law of Love. They serve as a safeguard to help ensure that everyone is indeed acting in accordance with the Law of Love. By removing some potential for problems, these rules ensure that no one is hurt or harmed (ML #2858:19, Vol. 21; 1993).
(Mama:) Dad clearly made the point that we are free from the law through love, and as such, we are free to love one another sexually, without sin, as it is no sin if it is done in love. We are free to share love one with another without sin because we're living under the fullness of the Law of Love, both the widely accepted interpretation of the Law of Love by Christianity in general and the full freedom as the Lord revealed it to Dad.
You might wonder‚ if "all things are lawful" and we are free from the law, then why do we need to have the sexual restrictions included in our Love Charter? Why is it that Dad says we're free from the law, yet we still have some laws (the strict rules of the Charter) regarding sexual interaction that we must follow?
It's because we are imperfect beings, who‚ as much as we might try to fully live in love, fall short of the mark. Dad recognized this when he first wrote about the sexual aspect of the Law of Love. He proposed guidelines that he felt were sufficient at the time, but which proved not to be, as they were not specific enough (ML #3201:79-81, Vol. 25; 1998).
94. (Question:) Could we have skipped the stages of learning through experience and the resultant mistakes and hurt that ensued at times, if more guidelines for the Law of Love had been in place from the very beginning?
95. There's no question that it would have been helpful and beneficial if more guidelines had been in place when the Law of Love was first instituted.—And, of course, with stricter guidelines, some of the hurt and misuse of the Law of Love that happened could have been avoided. That's easy to see in hindsight, having matured and learned more about the full application of the Law of Love to every area of our lives, and not just to our sexual interactions with one another. But even if there had been more guidelines, that's not to say that learning to live the freedoms of the Law of Love would have been problem-free.
96. We were pioneering an entirely new concept, and there were many unknown factors, circumstances that changed with time, and different levels of maturity and prayerfulness in the thousands of adult Family members of that time period. So while some of the mistakes could have been avoided‚ it's unrealistic to think that all problems could have been foreseen and avoided. Even today, when there are very detailed rules, guidelines‚ and requirements‚ it's not possible to ensure that our practice of the Law of Love will be entirely free of mistakes or problems, because living the Law of Love is a learning and growing process, and people will make mistakes along the way and learn from experience.
97. The Law of Love is practiced by human beings, who are prone to make mistakes and to not fully live up to the standard all the time. No matter how many guidelines are in place, we can expect that people will make mistakes from time to time, and we have to bear that in mind, just as we do in all human relationships. We are imperfect beings‚ and only by His grace can we meet the standard of ensuring that all our actions are motivated by and carried out in His love.
98. At the time, when the concept of the Law of Love was just being applied, the guidelines Dad gave of operating in love‚ in mutual consent and harming no one, were good guidelines. Time and experience proved‚ however‚ that they were not sufficient, and the boundaries needed to be more clearly defined, which is why we have clear and well-defined guidelines in the Word and the Charter today.
99. (Jesus:) For you, My brides, learning to live the Law of Love in its ultimate fulfillment‚ is a process. Being able to not only understand but to fully live unselfish sacrificial love is a tall order, and something that you learn through experience and maturity.—And of course that doesn't happen all in a day. The Law of Love is a vibrant and complex principle of the Spirit, and no two people's experiences in practicing it are the same. You, My brides, have had to learn many, many lessons concerning this beautiful tool, and I have helped you to mature and to grow in your understanding and living of the Law of Love. Each person's understanding of the Law of Love grows and changes with time, through studying and living the Word, through their personal experience in applying the Word and living those concepts. And that is the way that it is supposed to be.
100. People's understanding of the Law of Love today is different than it was five, ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. At different times and to different people the learning process will be manifested in different ways. And undoubtedly‚ as time goes on, there will be different experiences that will further enhance your understanding and application of the Law of Love, as you learn to be even more loving and sacrificial in practicing it. Very often your understanding of concepts is tempered by your experiences, and as you learn more you are able to apply things in a more complete and well-rounded fashion. It takes time to not only learn things but also to learn to integrate them properly into your lives.
101. The ultimate goal is that My great and all-encompassing love will motivate you in all that you do, as you lay down your life daily for Me and others, with real love that loves others with true impartiality‚ whether it be by helping them with their kids or extra chores, or by showing them the physical affection that they might need, or by showing them love by being a shoulder to cry on‚ or someone to listen to them, as the case warrants. True fulfillment of the Law of Love is being what I need you to be for others. Learning these lessons is an ongoing process and one that you will all be learning until you come Home to be with Me. Even then‚ you will grow and learn new aspects of this powerful weapon. (End of message.)
102. I pray that this journey through this aspect of the Family's history has helped you to better understand how our liberal sexual theology developed into what it is today, why restrictions and guidelines were needed, and how the mistakes and growing pains the Family underwent caused us to mature and learn to more wisely and responsibly live the Lord's Law of Love in every area of our lives.
103. I believe it's important that you are familiar with this background and the different stages and learning curves we went through to reach the point we're at today‚ in order to fully understand the points that will be presented in the next GN. I also hope that the explanation for each of these points will help you to understand the background on these issues, so that if you hear about them from ex-member relatives and friends‚ or through negative media, you'll understand the true purpose and intent.
104. When you don't have a reference point‚ it can be quite disconcerting and even shocking when you hear about our past freedoms, mistakes, or excesses. Even things that weren't mistakes or wrong, such as allowing nudity in the Homes, adult dance videos, FFing, etc., are often twisted by our apostates and the media to paint them in the blackest possible light.
105. For this reason, it's important to have a good understanding of how the Lord led Dad and the Family, as well as why and where mistakes were made, and how these were corrected. This will help you to see things through the Lord's eyes, and not through the negative twisted perspective our enemies and the sensationalistic media wish to portray. You will also be able to differentiate between the legitimate freedoms that the Lord gave us, which were sanctioned in His eyes, and the parts of our past that were mistakes and shortcomings, which have been apologized for and rectified.
106. The application and resultant fruits of the Law of Love overall have been good‚ especially in creating a very strong bond of unity and love, forged through our willingness to give, to love, to broaden the borders of our tents to draw others in, and to intimately share our lives with one another. In gaining a better understanding of our history, you'll also be able to better appreciate the beautiful and unique freedoms that the Lord has entrusted to us‚ as a Family, through the Law of Love, coupled with the responsibility and obligation we also bear to live the Law of Love as the Lord intends for it to be lived—as a beautiful sample of Christians caring for one another, in genuine love.
The Family's History, Policies, and Beliefs Regarding Sex — Part 2
GN 1235 FD/MM/FM
By Peter 3672 10/07
Required private reading for ages 18 and up. Senior teens should read this series with a parent or shepherd. Parents and shepherds can share portions of this counsel or information with their JETTs and junior teens as the Lord leads.
Please note that for the purpose of this GN, the term "minors" specifically refers to those under 16. Although our current rules in the Family don't allow those over 21 to interact sexually with 16- and 17-year-olds, these GNs address periods of the Family's history when age allowances differed. For simplicity's sake, "minors" will refer to those under 16 in this series of GNs.
1. In the first GN of this series‚ we reviewed the Family's history, as far as how our sexual theology and practices developed from our early days. We saw how the Lord gave us a number of freedoms in the sexual realm through the Law of Love. Dad wrote a number of Letters in which he laid the scriptural foundation for these freedoms, as well as the conditions attached to practicing them. We explained how the Lord led Dad and Mama and me to eventually rein in some of these freedoms to ensure that their misapplications, or extremes and excesses, would not be detrimental to others or hinder the Lord's work. We also acknowledged that mistakes were made, freedoms were handled somewhat immaturely or even wrongly in the early years by some, and thereafter Mama and I issued apologies to any who suffered hurt or mistreatment during that time.
2. In this GN, I'm going to focus on how this period of experimentation affected the lives of our second generation, specifically those who grew up in the Family during the more freewheeling period from the late 1970s to about 1989. Most of the mistakes that were made as we learned to apply the liberties granted to us under the Law of Love date to this period of time, when safeguards were not in place to ensure that children were protected from inappropriate or premature exposure to sexuality. In hindsight‚ it's clear that an overly sexualized atmosphere had developed in a number of Family Homes, of which children were a part.
3. Once Dad and Mama became aware of the impact this degree of liberality had on some of the young people and how they viewed their experiences, this period of liberality ended quickly, and our stringent policies for the protection of minors were instituted. A conservative period ensued from the late 1980s all the way through the mid-1990s‚ at which point the Lord led the Family, through His Word, to find the balance between maintaining the immovable foundation of our guidelines and policies for the protection of minors, while nurturing and protecting the beautiful treasure of the Law of Love that the Lord has entrusted us with.
4. As you read through these explanations of the mistakes of the past‚ particularly in relation to our second generation of that time period, and the guidelines and policies that were enacted to rectify these mistakes, please bear in mind that we are focusing specifically on a mistake that Dad made—a serious one that negatively affected a number of Family young people. During the time period between approximately 1979 and 1986, Dad articulated the position that sexual interaction between adults and minors could fall under the Law of Love, but he was mistaken. It was a fundamental mistake. Dad should never have opened the door to such contact, or applied the freedoms the Lord granted us under the Law of Love to interaction of this nature. Once he recognized his mistake, he banned any such interaction, and renounced any literature that indicated it was acceptable, and had it destroyed. At the time, some 20 years ago in the mid-1980s, while Dad was still alive and leading the Family, policies were put in place to protect minors. After Dad's graduation, Mama and I issued a number of apologies over time to both current and former members.
5. Some of you had negative experiences during that time, and you were exposed to things that you shouldn't have been exposed to, for which Mama and I are very sorry. You, our second generation, are a priceless gift to the Family, and Mama and I love and appreciate each of you. We are deeply committed to ensuring that the Family is the best it can be for our second generation and your children‚ and for every Family member. The Family is certainly not perfect, and there are many areas that need continued growth and progress, but we're confident that the Lord has made the Family of today a safe haven for our children and young people.
6. The majority of you second and third generation young people reading this GN did not live through this particular time period that I'm referring to (1978-1989)‚ or else you were very young at the tail end of it. You never experienced it, so the details of what we are covering and the things we apologize for may be difficult for you to relate to, or may even be shocking in some cases. Others of you, although you did live through this time period, were not exposed to the issues we are covering in these GNs. Even though these events of the past have little or no direct relation to your lives, your attention may be drawn in this direction, due to hearing of accounts of the experiences of others, whether from those in the Family or former members.
7. Some former members have genuine complaints from the past, which we have acknowledged and apologized for long ago, and we have taken measures to ensure that hurtful behavior of any kind does not recur. Others tell outrageous tales that have little or no basis in truth, which they use in order to attempt to convince the public and authorities that children in the Family are at risk today.
8. A small number of our former members have made it their business to focus on these issues and attempt to keep them in the public eye, and through this to focus your attention on them. They try to target you younger Family members who didn't experience this time period, in the hope that you will lose faith in the Family and leave. Some of you may have been confused, stumbled, or at the least have had questions about all of this. For this reason, it's important that you fully understand these issues of the past.
9. And to you, our FGAs: I am sure that a number of you carry some burdens of remorse over things that occurred in the past. Some of you may have found out at some point that unbeknownst to you, your child was exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior when someone had taken advantage of the overly sexualized climate of the time. Some of you may have participated in actions that were encouraged or sanctioned by Dad's Letters‚ and discovered further down the line that you had unintentionally hurt others. Or perhaps something happened to someone you knew that you didn't agree with, but you didn't feel you had a means to take action, since the door had been opened to such interaction. You probably feel that these things would not have occurred had the climate of the time not been permissive of such actions, and had Dad not given allowance for them. And you're right. Mama and I are very sorry for any burdens you may be carrying. Our prayer is that through these GNs all of the Family, both SGAs and FGAs, can come to a greater understanding of how the Lord views this time period, and find full healing and closure. We'll address the steps to healing in the third GN in this series.
10. In the first section of this GN, I want to explain the background on how our current rules and guidelines for the protection of minors evolved. You'll see that this was a process that took place over a number of years. Remember‚ we were a brand-new nation building our own "constitution" from scratch, and we were determined to find God's way and code of ethics. This was a process that took prayer, discussion, researching the Word, and meetings with field leadership, all of which represented a great deal of time and eventually resulted in the Charter. The Lord certainly blessed this investment of time, and it resulted in the solid policies and guidelines that have stood the test of time and official scrutiny for over 15 years as of this writing.
History of our policies to protect minors
11. In early 1986‚ Faithy and Gary (Paul Papers) were commissioned by Dad to travel through North America to meet with current and former Family members. Their trip was dubbed a "Searchers'" mission (see ML #2097)‚ as many living in North America were discouraged and drifting away from full-time service to the Lord. Faithy and Gary's commission was to love and encourage all whom they met, and to lead as many former members as wished to return to the Family, back to full-time service for the Lord.
12. During their visit‚ Gary and Faithy reported that many of the teenage and preteen children of Family members had expressed a deep desire for more Family fellowship and training. Consequently, Mama suggested that a special series of meetings be held in Mexico for the teens during their summer vacation. This became the Family's first-ever youth camp, the Mexico Teen Training Camp (TTC), which lasted for two months, and brought together approximately 110 teens from all over North and South America. It was the first of a series of TTCs that were later held in other areas around the world.
13. In order to get to know the attendees and to better understand the needs of our teens, which was a new age group in the Family that we had very little experience with, a questionnaire was drawn up to help them to express their questions, problems, goals and wishes. Some of the questions inquired about their boy/girl relationships, and asked if they had any questions or wanted to make any comments regarding sexual matters. In response to this point, some teens shared their hearts about sexual experiences they had had with adults, which they regretted or considered unpleasant.
14. After reading these questionnaires, Dad and Mama were saddened and dismayed to hear that some young people had been hurt, and Mama had an urgent internal notice sent out to the Family, making it clear that sexual contact between adults and minors was not permitted. This notice went out to the Family in November 1986 and brought to the Family's attention their concerns regarding the well-being of Family young people, and the importance of protecting our minors. It explained that some teens had experienced sexual interaction with adults that had affected them negatively. The announcement concluded that, in order to protect Family minors from inappropriate sexual behavior, adults should refrain from sexual involvement with minors.
15. In December 1988, in response to a widely broadcast news program in the U.S., accusing the Family of child abuse, WS issued an official statement entitled "Child Abuse?!" in which our policy prohibiting all sexual contact between minors and adults was stated and spelled out for the general public. In this statement, Dad also officially renounced any Family publications which could be construed as promoting or condoning any such contact:
We do not approve of sex with minors, and hereby renounce any writings of anyone in our Family which may seem to do so! We absolutely forbid it!
16. In June 1989*, Mama officially announced to the Family that anyone found guilty of sexual interaction of any kind with a minor would be excommunicated from the Family, in a Letter entitled, "Child Abuse—A Final Warning!":
We've already put out an urgent notice to the Family and to the whole world that we don't do such things, and we mean it‚ we don't do it!—And anybody who does is in serious trouble, not only with the world but with us!
So if we hear of anybody who violates these rules, we're going to immediately excommunicate them! Any such involvement with minors is definitely against our rules!
So let me warn you again, if we or our leadership hear of any cases of this, and the cases are authenticated, it's going to result in automatic immediate excommunication of any such offenders! (ML #2536:10,12,15, Vol. 19; 1989.)
(*Please note that in a couple of Letters [ML #3016, ML #3307] it states that infractions of our policy to protect minors became excommunicable in 1988. Although excommunication for infraction of these policies began to be used by leadership as early as 1986, there was not an official policy published for the Family until June 1989. Therefore, we have decided to tag June 1989 as the date in which this offense officially became excommunicable, in line with statements made in our publications.)
17. In 1989, it became clear to Dad that the Family needed a detailed outline of Family rules and requirements, and the Lord led him to publish a concise list of rules for Family disciples (then known as D.O.—Disciples Only). Dad made it clear that only those who were obedient to Family rules could receive Family pubs or be disciples, and referred to this as a tightening up of the Family. This Letter‚ "D.O. is for Doers of the Word," codified for the first time the fundamental requirements for discipleship, as well as rules and offenses for which one could receive a disciplinary measure‚ ranging from Babes Status (similar to today's probationary status) to excommunication from the Family. Sexual interaction with minors was one of the excommunicable offenses listed:
"Whoso shall offend one of these little ones!"
We want to reiterate that the "Child Abuse" tract [published in 1988] was not only our official statement to the System but also our official statement to any Family members, part-time or otherwise‚ that any such practice is strictly forbidden within our group, and anyone found guilty of such will be automatically and immediately excommunicated—totally severed from receiving any literature or from having any contact with the Family whatsoever! (Right!—D.) (LNF 121:10, July 1989) (ML #2531:14, Vol. 19.)
18. In October 1989‚ in referring to interaction between adults and teens‚ Mama pointed out that sex with minors was not only disallowed, but it was wrong:
There's nothing wrong with fighting against giving in to sexual desires if in some particular situation they're wrong. Let's face it‚ sex is not something that's always good, clear across the board. Just because we promote sex and we believe God made it and that it's His wonderful creation doesn't mean that it's always good under every circumstance! "All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient or edifying!"—1 Corinthians 10:23.
There are times when sex is not good! And you men just have to realize and be "fully persuaded in your own minds" (Romans 14:5) that one time when it's definitely not good is when it involves a minor! We've already made that pretty clear by telling you you'll be excommunicated if you indulge in it (ML #2590:6,7, Vol. 19; 1989).
19. Lastly, this policy was stated officially in the Family's "Position and Policy Statement Concerning Attitudes, Conduct, Current Beliefs and Teachings Regarding Sex‚" first published in April of 1992:
Although the laws in many countries do allow adults to have relationships with teens of legal age, communities in our fellowships strictly disallow it. Our membership has unanimously agreed to respect a total ban within our communities on any and all sexual contact between adults (defined as anyone 21 years of age and over) and anyone under 21 years of age, under penalty of excommunication if not respected. Teens are also expected to refrain from engaging in any form of sexually enticing activities or behaviour specifically aimed at provoking a sexual response in an adult. Normal warmth and affection may be shown between an adult and a teen, but it may not cross from a social exchange into an overtly sexual expression.
We are diametrically opposed to any form of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of children whatsoever, and all our membership are resolute in their agreement to abide by and support this position under penalty of excommunication from our fellowship.
20. As you know, in the early 1990s the Family faced a number of police raids and court cases in Australia, France, Spain, and Argentina. These raids were instigated by a small number of hostile former members, working in conjunction with anti-cult groups, to pressure officials to take action against Family members. These apostates presented unpurged literature and old dance videos to officials and the media, alleging that children in the Family were at risk and being mistreated.
21. During the course of the investigations of the courts, over 600 Family children underwent extensive psychological and physical examinations and evaluations, in many cases under traumatic conditions. The courts looked for any signs of abuse‚ whether mental, physical, sexual‚ emotional or psychological, as a result of their upbringing in the Family. In each of these cases‚ the courts concluded that there was no trace of abuse in any of the children examined and that there was no need for further intervention of the court, or for removing the children from the Family or our communal structure. The children were returned to their parents, and their parents' right to raise their children in a religious group according to their beliefs was upheld.
22. These rulings clearly showed that the policies and guidelines that were enforced in the mid-1980s were adhered to, and the fruit of these policies was evident in the clean bill of health given to the Family children examined by the courts. Our children were found to be healthy, both physically and emotionally‚ up to par educationally, and free from any sort of abuse or mistreatment. These court findings serve as irrefutable evidence of how seriously the Family took its responsibility to implement the policies to protect our children, and how successful these policies have been.
The raids had one positive effect from the members' perspective in that a large representative sample of the Family's children and teenagers had been examined by government-appointed physicians and psychologists. Where one might have expected the authorities to discover a minimal level of physical or sexual abuse similar to that in the larger society, they actually found no evidence of any kind in any of the several countries where action had been taken. (Dr. J. Gordon Melton, 1997.)
23. If such intrusive raids were performed at random on average System households in different countries around the world‚ and 600 children were examined‚ the findings, according to government statistics, would have been quite different:
* In the United States, child abuse has been rated a national epidemic, with estimates ranging as high as one in six children having suffered sexual abuse. In the United States there are nearly 3 million reports of child abuse made annually. In 2003, there were 906,000 child abuse convictions. The rate of child abuse is estimated to be 3 times greater than is reported. ("Statistics from the Administration for Children & Families of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services—Child Maltreatment Report 2003.")* In Japan, out of 350 women students surveyed, 68 percent had been sexually abused during childhood.* In April 1997, a survey in the Ukraine revealed that every fifth or sixth child of both sexes under 18 suffers from sexual harassment. (U.S. Department of State: "Ukraine Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997.")
24. These statistics show how rampant child abuse is in the world, and how blessed we are to bring our children up in a safe environment.
25. In the early to mid-1980s some Family minors were exposed to sexual experiences with adults. During the Mexico TTC in 1986, some of the teens present shared their hearts about their experiences‚ and expressed mixed or negative feelings towards them. Dad and Mama were deeply concerned for the young people and their well-being, and after hearing these reports, Mama had an urgent notice sent out to the Family in November 1986‚ which Dad heartily endorsed, making it clear that such interaction should not be permitted, and had not borne good fruit in the lives of those who had been exposed to it. Subsequent notices in December 1988 and June 1989 reaffirmed our stance disallowing sexual interaction between adults and minors or teenagers of any age, even those of legal age to do so. In June 1989, it was officially announced that infractions of this policy would result in excommunication. These policies were later restated in our official Family Policy Statements in April 1992‚ and again in the Charter, which was first published in 1995.
26. The strict adherence to these policies is evidenced in the 600+ Family children that were subjected to government-enforced examinations in the early 1990s in several countries. Our children were found to be healthy, both physically and emotionally, up to par educationally, and free from any sort of abuse or mistreatment. These court findings serve as irrefutable evidence of how seriously the Family took its responsibility to implement the policies to protect our children, and how successful these policies have been.
27. As I explained in the previous section, in December 1988 Dad officially renounced any writings published by the Family which would seem to approve of sexual interaction between adults and minors. This was followed up with what became known as the "Pubs Purge‚" in which questionable quotes, pubs, books or drawings were officially removed from circulation. WS systematically reviewed Family publications one by one, and marked out portions that were not in line with our stance or that were questionable in any way. Advisories listing the questionable material to be removed from circulation were sent to the Homes—one in June 1991 and another in March 1994.
28. In order to maintain their membership status‚ Homes were required to expurgate* the questionable pubs, following the instructions in the WS Pubs Purge Advisories. This ranged from whiting out sentences, to removing pages, to adding bikinis to topless pictures, and in a few cases, to destroying entire books, such as the FFing volume and Heaven's Girl.
*Expurgate: edit something by removing offensive parts: to remove words or passages considered offensive or unsuitable from a book. (Courtesy of Microsoft Encarta Reference Library)
In the early 1990s‚ the Family leadership‚ with Maria's approval, "purged the literature" of a large number of Mo Letters that contained material and teachings that were no longer acceptable, along with drawings that were considered inappropriate because of their sexual content. This purge included material on, for example, flirty fishing and some questionable statements about sexual behavior. Even earlier‚ in 1989, the Davidito book was dropped from the canon of Family literature. The effect of this was to remove the materials from all Family Homes, make them inaccessible to Family members for review, and eliminate them as resources in developing the Family's contemporary perspective.
The process of systematically reviewing the large amount of literature began as early as 1989 and continued through 1994. Additional purging has occurred periodically to the present. While these materials are relevant to understanding the Family in the 1980s‚ they no longer reflect its teachings and beliefs. (Dr. J. Gordon Melton.)
29. Dad and Mama didn't just eradicate any publications that could be construed as condoning sex with minors, but they also officially renounced them. We reaffirmed this stance in the first edition of our statement, "Attitudes, Conduct, Current Beliefs and Teachings Regarding Sex" in April 1992:
Any and all previous writings‚ philosophic and theological speculations‚ or individual opinions of members taken contrary to this position or that in any way could be construed as lending credence, support or justification for any form of sexual touching of children‚ have been officially categorically renounced and forbidden, and all printed materials deemed objectionable have been ordered by our founder, Father David‚ to be removed from use and destroyed.
30. Mama explained this in more detail in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us":
Dad's 1988 Renouncement of any Lit that Condoned Sex with Minors
In 1988 in our statement entitled "Child Abuse?!" Dad wrote, "We do not approve of sex with minors, and hereby renounce any writings of anyone in our Family which may seem to do so! We absolutely forbid it!" Let's take a closer look at this statement:
First let's start with, "We do not approve of sex with minors." The definition of "approve" is "to consider right or good; think or speak favorably of." A second definition is "to consent to, officially or formally; to confirm or sanction." So this first part of Dad's sentence is in effect saying, "We do not consider it right or good, we do not think or speak favorably of‚ we do not officially or formally consent to, nor confirm, nor sanction sex with minors."
Okay, let's examine the next part of the sentence, which reads, "and hereby renounce any writings of anyone in our Family which may seem to do so." The definition of "hereby" is "from this fact or circumstance; as a result of this." The definition of "renounce" is "to reject; disown; to abandon or give up (a belief or opinion) by open profession." The next word, "any," means "without limitation as to which, and thus every one of them." The definition of "seem" is "to appear to be." So this second part of the sentence is saying, "As a result of the fact that we do not approve of sex with minors, I reject, disown, abandon and give up by open profession every single writing of any person in the Family which may appear to approve of it."
The last sentence says, "We absolutely forbid it!" The word "absolutely" is defined as "without condition or limitation; unconditionally, unreservedly." The definition of "forbid" is‚ "to command a person or persons not to do, have, use, or indulge in something." So this sentence says, "Without condition or limitation‚ we command Family members not to indulge in sex with minors."
When you put it all together it states: "We do not consider it right or good, we do not think or speak favorably of, nor do we officially [or unofficially] consent to‚ confirm or sanction sex with minors. As a result of this fact, I reject, disown, abandon and give up by open profession every single writing of any person in the Family which may appear to approve of it. Without condition or limitation, we command the Family not to indulge in sex with minors."
I don't think that Dad could have made it any more clear than that! And then to back it up, he made it an excommunicable offense, and it very explicitly remains so in the Charter. Based on his renunciation of such Family literature, he approved of our lit purges, which expunged all such literature‚ no matter who it was written by, including his own. So, folks, you can see that Dad was quite determined to not only stop any and all sexual activity between adults and minors, he also wanted all lit destroyed which in any way alluded to it (ML #3016:22-27‚ Vol. 22; 1995).
31. In "None of These Things Move Me," Mama further addressed this issue: "Dad renounced all literature, including his own‚ that indicated in any way that sexual activity with minors was permissible. Based on his renunciation of such Family literature, he approved our lit purges, which expunged all such literature‚ no matter who it was written by, including his own. Dad didn't just renounce his old writings; he had them destroyed" (ML #3307:83, Vol. 28; 2000).
32. I want to further clarify that not only was such literature renounced, but any literature that indicated in any way that sexual activity with minors was permissible should never have been published. For this reason these publications were not only removed from circulation‚ but renounced, and we continue to stand by that. These Family publications were expurgated from 1990 to 1994, and the purged portions are not part of our theology and beliefs.
33. Some of our former members have attempted to use excerpts of these dated and renounced publications to not only paint our past in a negative light, but also to lead the media, the public, and officials to believe that these quotes or publications reflect our current theology and lifestyle. As you know, that is not the case. The majority of people in the Family today have never read the pubs that were purged, and these have no bearing on their lives or service for the Lord.
34. It can be quite disconcerting, though, or even unsettling, to be presented with a quotation from renounced literature that you're unfamiliar with. One of the reasons for this is that you don't have a context or a point of reference for what you're reading or hearing. The Family has changed a lot in twenty years‚ and the fact that most of our young people don't have a context to be able to relate to the purged pubs is proof that the Family has left the past far behind. The ideology or degree of liberality reflected in these quotes and drawings, renounced by Dad in 1988, has no part or acceptance in the Family of the past 19 years.
35. I hope that the outline of our sexual history in the first GN of this series helped to provide somewhat of a context‚ so that you can better understand how these issues played out from 1978-1986. But having said that, I want to clarify once again that we don't stand by or justify these pubs—we have renounced them. We've destroyed them and they don't exist in any of our Family Homes, and haven't for many years. You shouldn't feel that you have to justify them‚ explain them, or answer for them. You don't. So if you're presented with alleged purged pubs, first of all, bear in mind that you can't be sure that what you're being shown is actually what was written, as you don't have access to the originals. Secondly, even if they are authentic, chances are you've never read or seen them before, and they certainly have no bearing on life in the Family for the past 19 years. As I mentioned earlier‚ the purged portions are not part of our theology and beliefs. And lastly, the Family has renounced this literature, Dad renounced it‚ and we hereby acknowledge that it was wrong to have ever published literature that in any way indicated that sexual interaction with minors was permissible.
To further provide a context, perhaps it would help to know what the "real" percentages are for the subject matter of Dad's writings. Although a number of them do focus on sex or refer to it, in the final analysis, it's not a high percentage.
Dad's Letters can be arranged into twelve basic categories, according to the main theme of each. Following is a list indicating what percentage of his Letters fall into these different categories:
15% Inspirational and Bible studies
14% Endtime‚ Heaven and eschatology
13% Dreams, prayers, prophecies and the spirit world
11% Spiritual life, counseling, correction and advice
9% Current affairs and economics
9% Administration, leadership and organization
6% Family missions‚ outreach and witnessing
6% Childcare, children and education
5% Discipleship, family life and persecution
5% Practical instruction‚ health, and finances
5% Sex, nudity and FFing
2% General interest: Jews, Arabs, other religions
36. After Dad renounced all literature that could be construed as sanctioning sex with minors in 1988, WS undertook the task of reviewing all Family pubs and marking portions to be expurgated. The Family was required to go through their libraries and expurgate the pubs as per the advisories sent to the Homes, a process known as the "Pubs Purge." These took place from 1991 to 1994. Not only was such literature removed from circulation and destroyed, but it was officially and categorically renounced and has no part in Family doctrines or beliefs. Furthermore‚ literature of this nature should never have been published. As such‚ we do not stand by or justify any literature that was removed from circulation. Most current Family members were probably never exposed to this literature, and it has no bearing on the Family of the past 19 years, or the Family of today.
37. (Question: ) I've heard that some of the purged pubs also talked about other sexual issues, such as incest and male homosexuality, and that Dad promoted these.
38. As I explained in the last GN, during the period from 1978-1986, Dad wrote literature that challenged traditional boundaries and barriers on a number of sexually related issues. During that time, he did speculate as to whether what is today termed as "incest" and used to broadly refer to any sort of sexual interaction with a relative, no matter how distant‚ was inherently and scripturally wrong. Of course, moral taboos and social restrictions placed on sexual relations with relatives have changed over the centuries. In past eras, it was common for first cousins to marry‚ and it is still common in some parts of the world. In early Bible history, there were also examples of marriages between close blood relatives, such as Abraham and Sarah, who were half-brother and sister. However, the theological debate on this issue was laid to rest, and Dad's earlier comments on the issue affirming that such interaction fell within the boundaries of the Law of Love were renounced.
39. In April 1992, when the Statement regarding our beliefs on sex was published, a clear and strong position was articulated, which has been our official stance since that time:
We in no way condone or promote any form of incestuous sexual relationships whatsoever among our membership. Any and all theological speculations or writings that would in any way seem to imply or appear to be contrary to this position, we do not recognize as being in any way, shape or form our policy or a license to engage in any such relationships.
40. Despite the fact that Dad himself was very opposed to male homosexuality and had been brought up with the understanding that it was absolutely unacceptable, he put aside his personal opinions on the matter to explore whether any degree of male with male sexual interaction would be permissible under the Law of Love. Mama explained Dad's exploration of this issue in the past:
It was during this period that Dad wrote Letters which removed other barriers as well. He explored the possibility that a mild degree of male with male sexual activity, i.e. masturbation, between adult men could be allowed under the Law of Love, as he explained in the Letter "Homos" (ML #719, published in early 1978). In a few cases some Family men entered into such activity. When Dad saw that the fruit of such freedom was not good he rescinded that freedom (ML #792:48-52, published in December 1978). The Letter "Homos" has since been withdrawn.
It was also during this time that lit was published that challenged the barriers between adult/minor sexual contact, opening the door to some members crossing over that barrier. As mentioned earlier, all such lit was eventually renounced by Dad and withdrawn from our Homes. If we had known then what we know now, we would not have published this material (ML #3016:50,51‚ Vol. 22; 1995).
Mama's Role in the Implementation of Child Protection Policies
41. By the late 1980s‚ Mama's role became more defined in creating and promoting the organization of programs to help train our teens, and publishing childcare Letters and publications to help the Family better care for our children, such as "Raise 'em Right" and a number of milestone Letters about communicating with and understanding children‚ such as "Love is the Answer" (ML #1396), "Let'm Ask" (ML #2650), "Let'm Explain" (ML #2652), etc. If you have the time to reread some of the many Letters Mama wrote at that time, you'll see how the Lord anointed her to teach the Family how to love, how to communicate, how to understand each other and our children, how to work with others harmoniously, and how to love others with the Lord's love.
42. When the Family first began, Dad was at the pinnacle of leadership and was quite involved in just about everything that made the Family tick. Most of us who joined in the early years were raw recruits, fresh off the streets, with little or no experience in witnessing, missionary work, organization, the running of a large communal center, or administration. It fell to Dad to teach us everything from how to witness and teach the Word, to how to keep our Homes financially solvent, how to take care of our health, cars, and houses, and any number of details that were necessary for our missionary work and our communal lifestyle. Dad also had to tune in to the production of literature, posters, tapes and videos for distribution to the public. He had to teach us about the Endtime and prepare us for our role in it. He also had to give us the vision‚ as parents, for the important role that you, our children, would play within the Family, and help us to see the importance of investing in you, training you, and preparing you for your future role.
43. As you can see‚ Dad carried an enormous load, and much of it fell squarely on his shoulders. Mama worked first as his secretary‚ and over time, as his counselor. As Dad got older, he began to gradually give Mama and me the reins of leadership, to where we had an active role in the formulating of policy and decisions regarding the organization of the leadership structure on the field, and the focus of the Homes. Prior to that, Dad was the one who had the say on all such matters, and his word was final. In the late 1980s, Mama began to write more Letters for the Family and for Family leadership. By that time‚ Dad had given her the authority to work toward bringing about change in the Family, and she was particularly concerned about helping the Family to focus on practical ways to improve the care and training of children and young people, which Dad very much approved of.
44. To this end, in 1991, she published "The Discipleship Training Revolution" (DTR)‚ which was addressed to the JETTs and teens of the time:
You see, we really started praying about this and asking the Lord for some direction, because we love each one of you very much and are very concerned about you. We want to see you all have the changes in your life that you need. We want to do all we can to help you learn and grow and progress and be challenged and become strong soldiers for the Lord. We want you to be happy and fulfilled, so you can do your best for Jesus!
Improving the care of all our JETTs and Teens is a big project to tackle, and we began to see that in order to do that, we'd have to make a lot of changes in our Homes' schedules and priorities and ways of operating (ML #2677:23,24‚ Vol. 19; 1991).
45. The DTR was a monumental revolution in the Family, as our Homes refocused their time, schedules and priorities around the needs of the young people. The program was the Lord's plan for that day and it brought about many important changes to the Family, as well as a lot more organization, training and method to our Homes. A number of lessons were learned about the needs and training of Family teens that led us along the road of progress and improvement.
46. Mama also played a crucial role in the implementation of child protection policies, with Dad's wholehearted approval and support, and was deeply concerned about the well-being, safety and happiness of Family young people. Justice Ward‚ the judge ruling in Pearl's custody case in England (more detail on this court case below), rightly credited Mama with an integral role in the building of safeguards for Family children and instituting needed policies to protect them from abusive treatment of any kind. Both Mama and I remain committed to the well–being of Family children and young people, and to doing everything we can to ensure that the Family is not only a safe place for its children, but a happy and a blessed place. Our goal is that the Family can continue to grow and improve the quality of life and upbringing of the children the Lord blesses us with. We pray that this is an important goal and priority of your Home as well.
Conclusions of Justice Ward in British custody case [box]:
In 1995, after three years of studying former and current member testimony in a British custody case, Justice Ward issued a lengthy ruling in which he leveled harsh criticisms of past eras of the Family's history, while also concluding that the Family had undergone numerous positive changes. In his closing remarks he stated that he was satisfied that the Family provided a safe environment for children raised within the group, and the court consequently awarded the mother, a member of the Family, care and control of her infant child. He stated,
"The Family are and will remain a minority religious movement whose way of life will not appeal to the majority of the communities in which they live. Their children will live a different life. It is however in my judgement not a life beyond the pale. Within the limits of tolerance which make ours a free society Family life no longer presents such risks of harm.... By harm I mean sexual abuse or any form of ill treatment or any impairment of health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioral development‚ in the colour coding of harm.
"I am now totally satisfied that The Family, I would think at Maria's prompting, has since 1986 made determined and sustained efforts to stamp out child sexual abuse and to prevent any inappropriate contact between adults and children, whether young children or teenage children. I have no evidence that child abuse is presently prevalent any more within The Family than outside of it." (W 42 1992 In the High Court of Justice Family Division Principal Registry in the Matter of ST (a minor) ND in the matter of the Supreme Court Act 1991.)
Sexual Contact Between Minors
47. Now that we've reviewed the background on how our child protection policies came into being, I'm going to review the background on our rules governing sex between minors, which also became defined during the same period of time.
48. In Letters published in the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, Dad questioned whether modern practices of preventing and discouraging young teenagers and children from exploring their sexuality were in line with the Bible. His conclusion on the matter at the time was that sexual exploration and interaction between minors‚ including children, need not be discouraged or condemned‚ but should be treated as something natural.
49. In the late 1970s, Dad wrote a Letter entitled "Child Brides," in which he questioned why young teens should be prevented from marrying, as is the custom and law in many countries today. This did not become a widespread practice in the Family, and few underage teen marriages occurred. This Letter was later removed from circulation during the pubs purge, but the discussion regarding teen marriages continued.
(Dad:) You notice how the marriage age used to be pretty low in the old days and the rules weren't so tight.—Because parents were better and teenagers were better and were taught responsibility. Families were bigger and the teenage girls by that time had a lot of family experience at taking care of children and learning how to cook and keep house with their mothers and taking care of their little brothers and sisters, so they could be trusted to get married and have homes and children of their own. (ML #2061:38, Vol. 16; 1985).
Historically and Statistically [box]:
In Ancient Rome, people didn't marry because they were in love. Folks married to carry on the family bloodline and for economical or political reasons. Women were under the jurisdiction of their fathers, so young girls were often married off when they were between the ages of twelve and fourteen. Some young men married at the age of fourteen also.
[In Europe] during the Middle Ages, the practice of youthful marriages continued, and women married as early as fourteen. Men generally waited until they were more established in life, which was usually when they were in their twenties or early thirties. In 1371, due to the plague, the average age at marriage for men was 24, and for women it was 16. By 1427, the average male of all classes did not wed till he was in his mid-30's, usually choosing a bride about half his age.
It is obvious from a historical perspective that marriages of teenagers (at least teenage girls) were quite common. However, that trend has changed in most countries of the world. Today, young love is neither encouraged or readily accepted by society. Why are so many people against young married love? Because it is believed that more than half who marry in their teens will be divorced within 15 years. That is a pretty sobering statistic.
Additionally‚ according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, "Compared to girls who marry later, teenage brides have less schooling, less independence, and less experience of life and work." Teen brides are also at more risk for being abused and living at poverty levels.
There is another side to the story of teen marriage, though. That is the number of success stories that married teens share.
(Written by Sheri and Bob Stritof, a longtime, happily married couple who teach workshops and give lectures dealing with marriage issues. Sheri and Bob are the authors of The Everything Great Marriage Book, which was published in October of 2003 by Adams Media.)
50. As I mentioned earlier, the period from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s was when Dad wrote most of the literature that challenged traditional concepts regarding sex. Different discussions and concepts were published during that time regarding the sexual interaction of minors with one another, based on the premise that if sex is pure and natural‚ children should be allowed to be natural about it and explore it without reproach.
On childhood sexuality, Berg reiterated what he had said earlier. Children should be taught that their bodies are beautiful creations of God and that sexual functions and feelings are as normal as eating. He added in no uncertain terms that "our bodies in no respect must ever be abused or misused or overused‚ or exposed or used in such a way as to offend or hurt others." Behavior that was allowed or even encouraged included mixed nude bathing, mixed nude play, sexual self-examination, and experimentation when playing or sleeping together. If a child happened to see adults engaging in sexual intercourse, this should be no cause for particular concern, he wrote‚ but that each situation should be handled on its own merits according to the parents' comfort level and the individual child's reaction.
Very much in line with the instructions on childhood sexuality were passing references to it in the otherwise lengthy treatment of child-raising issues contained in The Story of Davidito (1982), a book about a Jesus baby—an infant born to Maria as a result of her flirty fishing. (Dr. J. Gordon Melton, 1997.)
51. As more of our children became teenagers and we began to gain experience in raising them, it became apparent that many of our teens were not prepared to cope with the battery of complex emotions and responsibilities which invariably accompany sexual and marital relationships. With the introduction of the "School Vision" in November of 1987, and the creation of organized Family schools with large groups of teens, it became increasingly evident that a stricter, more clearly defined code of sexual conduct for teenagers was needed. In June 1988 Dad published new guidelines in a Letter entitled "Make It Work," limiting sexual activity between teenagers to those intending to marry. He wrote:
We need a program for teenage marriages! We need a program of training for husbands—I like that term, believe it or not—and wives—we haven't abandoned that term either!...
As far as I'm concerned, God's plan still holds, and is the only solution, and it's mapped out right in the Bible as clear as can be! One simple set of rules is right there in 1 Corinthians 7. "Better to marry than to burn, to avoid fornication let them marry!"—1 Corinthians 7:2,9... .
And I want to tell you right now, I want to set myself on record in black-and-white right now, that I am not in favour of teenage promiscuity, sexual freedom, but I am in favour of encouraging marriages!—Did you hear that? Marriages!—Fatherhood‚ motherhood, babyhood, loyalty, faithfulness of mates, responsibility, duty, obligation!—Just as much as the System is, if not more!
Help us to develop a program that doesn't just encourage teenage sex, but encourages teenage marriage and legitimate sex within the confines of faithful, loyal matehood and marriage‚ in Jesus' name! (ML #2433:25–26,28,33, Vol. 18; June 1988.)
52. A policy was put forth in this Letter to allow teens who would like to get married to begin a three- to six-month engagement period‚ known as a "Make it Work" plan.
(Dad:) When a teen couple decides that they would like to get married, they could even start "going steady."—In other words, start seriously working together, having their Get-Out together, Word time together‚ etc. Back in the early Letters I strongly advocated this, that prospective couples learn to be real friends and co–workers before even considering marriage! I used to recommend that they work very closely together for at least 3-6 months before marrying!—That way they can make sure it's real love, the Lord's will and good for His work! (See MLs #58:14,15; 154:65-69; 1566:130.) (ML #2433:109, Vol. 18; 1998.)
53. In September 1989, the guidelines for sexual fellowship and marriage of young people were further clarified in the Letter "Teen Marriage Rules!—More on How to Make It Work!" These rules required that teens wishing to "go steady" had to first apply to their Home shepherds and begin a six-month trial period. At the end of this period, they could then apply to get "betrothed," providing they were both at least 16 years of age. The area shepherds and parents had to approve of the prospective marriage (at least a 2/3 majority). (See ML #2589, Vol. 19.)
54. More detailed guidelines concerning sexual relationships for young people were established and presented to the Family in 1991. These disallowed any dating between JETTs (preteens, 11- to 13-year–olds at the time). Junior teens (ages 14-15) could begin a marriage prep course, and begin a "Make It Work" program three months before turning 16. Senior teens (ages 16-17) were allowed to date the person they were engaged to, three months after starting their engagement. YAs (ages 18-20, then called EAs, or Experimental Adults) could date within their age group only‚ with approval from the Home teamwork. Those 21 and over were full-fledged adults. (See LNF 145‚ GN 475‚ 8/91.)
55. As you can see‚ from the time our first children moved into adolescence in the early 1980s, policies developed regarding sexual interaction with each other, and were modified and defined over time until the publishing of the Charter. At that time, clear policies were restated. There have been a few changes since then, leading up to the formation of our current policies as articulated in the Charter:
E. For teens 16 and 17, sexual interaction is permitted only with consenting 16- to 20-year-olds.
1. 16- and 17–year-olds may not engage in sexual intercourse unless they have first counseled with and received permission from their resident parents to do so. This permission is required regardless of whether the young people involved choose to use some form of protection.
2. Even if permission to have sexual intercourse has been granted by the parents of a 16– or 17-year-old, the teens having sex must still agree together before beginning any sexual activity as to whether they will have sexual intercourse or not. If the teens haven't talked about it ahead of time, then it should be clearly understood by both partners that they will not have sexual intercourse or any sexual activity that could result in pregnancy.
F. For junior teens (14 and 15), dating with other teens ages 14 through 17 will be governed by the junior teens' parent(s) or legal guardian(s). However, sexual intercourse or skin to skin touching of genitals is not permitted either by or with those under the age of 16. Teens 14 and 15 are not permitted to date or have any sexual activity with anyone over the age of 17.
G. For those under the age of 14 dating is at the parents' discretion, but only nonsexual affection is allowed. (Sex and Affection Rules, The Charter)
56. In the late '70s and early '80s, a period when Dad wrote and speculated on traditional taboos toward sex‚ he concluded that children and teenagers should be allowed to explore their own sexuality without condemnation. He also contended that children and teenagers should be permitted to interact sexually with one another naturally. By the late '80s, policies were developed altogether disallowing sexual interaction between those under 16. Dad also wrote about teen marriages, and eventually concluded that teens shouldn't be permitted to marry until they were 16. Sexual interaction between teens was limited to those engaged to be married. Policies were developed over time, marking clear age boundaries on sexual interaction, and limiting it to senior teens (16– to 17-year-olds), who are able to interact sexually with those ages 16 to 20.
Sex Involving Minors and the Law of Love
57. We've explained that in the early 1980s Dad had presented the possibility of adult sexual interaction with minors as an extension of the Law of Love, and that such interaction should never have been permitted, and was subsequently banned and deemed an excommunicable offense. Let's review the conditions given in the original Law of Love Letter, to gain a better understanding as to why such interaction could not have fallen under the Law of Love.
58. As mentioned previously, for the purpose of these GNs, we have chosen to use the broad term "minors" to refer to anyone under 16. In some ways, this can be problematic, as in a number of countries and cultures, both in the developed and developing world, a 14- or a 15-year-old is legally able to engage in sexual relations. As such, it's debatable whether it would be considered universally wrong or morally reprehensible for a 14- or 15-year-old to have a sexual relationship with someone older, since different countries hold to different moral and legal standards, and there is not a clear consensus on this. Thus, grouping both teens and children together as minors is not ideal. We have chosen to refer to those under 16 as minors because in the majority of countries in the world, 16 is a more widely accepted age for teens to interact freely with those older than themselves. Please bear in mind as you read these GNs that although we've chosen to group all minors in the same category, there is a difference between teens and those younger—preteens and children. Although we don't generally make the distinction throughout this series, it is nevertheless an important distinction to make.
59. When Dad first introduced the Lord's revelation of the Law of Love, there were a number of clearly articulated boundaries and provisos that were attached to the practice of the sexual side of the Law of Love:
Any variation from the norm of personal relationships, any substantial change in marital relationships, any projected sexual associations should have the willing consent of all parties concerned or affected, including the approval of leadership and permission of the Body. If this is lacking in any quarter and anyone is going to be harmed or unduly offended‚ then your action is not in love nor according to God's law of love!
"Love doeth thy neighbour no harm‚" for "thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself": this is God's law of love! "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "Against such love there is no law." This is the Lord's Law of Love. Obey it and you can have total love‚ life and liberty in the Lord. These are God's conditions (ML #302C:14,15, Vol. 3; 1974).
60. So let's summarize those conditions:
1) Must have the willing consent of all parties concerned or affected.2) Must not harm or unduly offend anyone.
61. Dad then asked a number of questions in this Letter, to help us to evaluate whether our sexual sharing met these conditions.
* Are you doing it because you want to unselfishly and sacrificially help someone else who really needs it‚ and by which you can show them God's love?
* Does it bring forth good fruit—either spiritually or physically or both? "For by their fruits ye shall know them." Does it bring forth the "fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace‚ longsuffering, gentleness‚ goodness, faith, meekness, temperance"? (Gal.5:22,23.)
* Is it good for you‚ others, and His Kingdom, and does it bring forth good fruit for all?
* Can you be trusted with it, or will you abuse it and use your liberty as license to do wrongfully and lustfully instead of rightfully and lovingly? Will you use it to heal and help, or harm and hinder? (ML #302C:16,22,23,7‚ Vol. 3; 1974.)
62. As we examine the conditions laid out for practicing the sexual aspect of the Law of Love, you'll see that these conditions could not be applied to sexual interaction between adults and minors.
1) Must have the willing consent of all parties concerned or affected.
63. One of the bedrock principles Dad presented in the original Law of Love Letter was that any sexual interaction must have the willing consent of all parties concerned or affected. The dictionary definition of the word consent is: "compliance in‚ or approval of, what is done or proposed by another; legal: the voluntary agreement or acquiescence by a person of age or with requisite mental capacity who is not under duress or coercion and usually who has knowledge or understanding." (Merriam Webster's Dictionary).
64. In other words, for a person to give their consent to a proposal or action of another, they have to be of an age to be knowledgeable and understanding‚ and not under pressure. As I mentioned earlier, a case could be made that teens of a certain age are able to make a knowledgeable decision regarding sexual interaction (and some countries do have a lower age of consent based on that premise)—but the same case cannot be made for the majority of minors.
65. This important condition of giving knowledgeable consent could not be met in sexual interaction between adults and minors. When Dad encouraged sexual freedoms that would affect or include minors to some degree‚ he neglected to take into account the fact that a minor in most cases would not be in a position to give consent to enter into sexual interaction, due to a lack of maturity, understanding and experience. There is also usually an unequal relationship between an adult, who is generally in a position of authority over the minor, and the minor who is expected to respect the elder, which makes it difficult for the minor to freely give or refuse their consent. Of course‚ once Dad and Mama received reports from teens about negative experiences they had been exposed to, Dad became aware that guidelines for their protection were needed, bearing in mind their vulnerability, and he approved the age guidelines Mama built in to our rules governing sexual activity—in other words, an "age of consent."
66. The reason governments around the world have instituted "age of consent" laws (developed in the 20th century for the most part) is because they have come to the conclusion that minors (particularly under 16 years of age) are generally not mature enough to make decisions about or give knowledgeable consent to important issues such as leaving home, dropping out of school, certain medical decisions‚ and, yes, having sex. Minors can make decisions that may seem right to them at the time, due to their limited experience and the volatility of their emotions‚ which later in life may seem dead wrong to them.
67. For this reason, society in general has set an age of consent, to protect minors from being placed in the position of having to make decisions that they are not knowledgeable enough to make, or don't have the life experience to be able to weigh the outcomes or consequences of that decision. Nor are they necessarily able to predict or foresee possible negative repercussions of decisions or actions, particularly in the sexual realm. These laws are also in place to protect them from being exploited and taken advantage of. This is why parents are responsible for their minor children, as it's generally understood that they are not yet prepared to be fully responsible for their actions, and it's the parents' responsibility to protect them from decisions that would harm themselves or others.
68. In the case of teenagers, governments have tended to limit the sexual interaction of teens to their peers within their own age range. The reason for this is that it's generally understood that there can exist what is known as an "imbalance of power" between an adult in authority over a minor and that minor. Because of this, a teacher, a pastor, a guidance counselor, or a doctor, for example‚ are considered to be in a position that makes it more difficult for a minor to refuse when requested to do something, as their relationship is one of obedience and respect to the person. Dad also referred to the sort of imbalance this relationship creates in the Letter "Make it Work" in 1988, condemning the misuse of that position. (ML #2433:43,47, Vol. 18; 1988.)
69. There is an ongoing debate in many cultures regarding what is an appropriate age for minors to become sexually active. The age of consent varies from country to country, and in some countries like the U.S., from state to state. Different cultures consider minors to be able to make responsible decisions regarding sex at different ages. For example‚ some countries, such as the Netherlands and Canada, have an age of consent as low as 13 and 14. However, in such cases, they generally have laws limiting that sexual interaction to those 3 or 4 years older than themselves. In other words, they box the interaction around teens to a limited age range, which we have also attempted to do in our rules.
Age of Consent: In law‚ this is the age when persons are considered to be fully bound by their words and deeds. The age of consent varies for different actions. For example‚ one has the right to consent to marriage at an earlier age than one may legally sign a contract. In most of the U.S. one acquires the legal capacity to conclude a contract at the age of 18. A boy at age 14 and a girl at age 12, however, are capable of matrimonial consent under common law, but again U.S. state statutes differ on the age of consent. The age at which a female is held capable of consenting to sexual intercourse has generally been raised in the U.S. to as high as 18. Persons under the age of consent are said to be minors.
Social (and the resulting legal) attitudes toward the appropriate age of consent have drifted upwards in modern times; while ages from 10 to 13 were typically acceptable in the mid-Nineteenth Century, 15 to 18 had become the norm in many countries by the end of the Twentieth Century.
The general moral philosophy behind age of consent laws is the assumed need for the protection of minors. It is a common belief in many societies that minors below a certain age lack the maturity and/or life experience to fully understand the ramifications of engaging in sexual acts. These fears may include but are not limited to resulting pregnancies and psychological or physical damage. There is an ongoing debate in many cultures regarding child sexuality as it relates to age and an appropriate age of consent. It is these debates that have informed the various laws in different jurisdictions and account for their disparity. Different cultures regard minors engaging in sexual activity as anything from normal to deviant behavior in need of correction. (Excerpts from Encarta Encyclopedia and "The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship" by Matthew Waites, 2005.)
70. The average age of consent around the world is between 16 and 18. Our rules governing sexual conduct were crafted in line with what would generally be acceptable in most countries around the world, since we are a multinational society, operating in a diverse array of countries‚ cultures and legal systems. We therefore set the Family's "age of consent" at 18, with the exception that those who are 16 and 17 can have sex with those up to four years older than themselves (up to 20 years old)‚ similar to the age ranges established in some countries.
71. The second condition Dad and the Lord laid out for practicing the Law of Love is:
2) Must not harm or unduly offend anyone.
72. In some cases where teenagers had sexual interaction with adults, they felt that the experience was a positive one for them, and they look back on that experience as something that benefited them in some way; in their situation, their experience seemed to fulfill the original conditions of the Law of Love.
73. But on the other hand‚ a number of SGAs who had such experiences in their younger years, particularly women, over time have expressed negative feelings toward these. Some agreed to the experience at the time, only to later regret it. Some felt pressured and regretted the experience. Due to the relationship of deference and respect for adults, some felt compelled to partake of an experience that they had mixed or negative feelings about afterwards. Such mixed or negative feelings are not uncommon, as researchers have generally concluded that most teens that have gotten involved in sexual interaction or relationships with adults have not considered them positive experiences in the final analysis.
(Mama:) Furthermore, it's been researched and proven by the experts that in almost every case where an adult got involved with a teen, the relationship failed simply because there are too many differences of interests. Young people have better experiences with other young people. Of course, a lot of young people don't have very good experiences with other young people, but it's been proven that the vast majority of those who tried it definitely didn't have very good experiences with adults! Teens who have had such involvement with adults have almost unanimously manifested a very negative, regretful or remorseful reaction to such experiences (ML #2536:13, Vol.19; June 1989).
74. Considering that a number of those who experienced such interaction‚ both current and former members‚ felt it affected them in a negative way, and some were subjected to harmful or abusive treatment, it's clear that such interaction should never have been contemplated, as it placed children at risk.—And that is a risk that should never be taken with minors, who are not in a position to foresee harm and choose to avoid the risk.
75. Due to this risk of harm, and the fact that minors are generally unable to knowledgeably give consent, adult sexual interaction with minors did not meet the conditions Dad outlined in the Law of Love, and should never have been contemplated or encouraged as an extension of the Law of Love.
76. On this point‚ Mama said in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us,"
(Mama: ) We've made it quite clear in the Charter that the basis of our beliefs regarding the Law of Love are the above Words of Jesus. [See Matthew 22:37-40.] These Scriptures are the foundation for our Law of Love doctrine, just as they are the basis for all other Christians' faith. We try to apply the Law of Love to all of our actions, and try to show love and kindness in all we do. Of course, unlike most other Christians, we feel that God's Word grants us freedoms in our sexual lives as well.
Within those freedoms we believe that it is acceptable for consenting adults to have sexual fellowship without sin, providing it is done in love and in accordance with what we have laid out in the Charter—principles which were originally given in the Letters. We do not believe‚ however, that these freedoms extend to adults having sexual contact with minors, as is evidenced by our rules against it.
The Lord is telling us not to deny the Law of Love, which of course we can't, as to do so would be denying Jesus' words to love our neighbors as ourselves. And I believe He also wants us to make it very clear that the liberties we are granted under the Law of Love do not include sex with minors, that to have sex with minors is wrong (ML #3016:44-46, Vol. 22; 1995).
77. As Mama explained in an earlier Letter, Dad also acknowledged that he was wrong to have introduced the Law of Love without clear boundaries prohibiting sexual contact between adults and minors, and he apologized for this from the spirit world. (See ML #3307:77‚ Vol. 28; 2000.)
78. When Dad presented the Lord's revelation of the Law of Love, which allowed us to interact sexually with one another freely, he also laid out specific requirements that had to be in place in order for us to be able to partake of this freedom. These conditions specified that any such sexual interaction had to have the consent of all parties concerned‚ and offend or cause harm to no one. Adult sexual interaction with minors did not generally fulfill those conditions. Therefore Dad should not have contemplated or encouraged sexual interaction between adults and minors as an extension of the Law of Love. When Dad became aware that some young people were being hurt by such interaction, he and Mama immediately banned all such interaction‚ and Dad later renounced any literature‚ including his own, that was not in line with this stance.
Our Theological Stance on Sexual Interaction Involving Minors
79. We've already reviewed how our rules and policies to protect minors developed, and these had been in place long before the persecutions we faced in the early 1990s, or before the Letter "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us" (ML #3016, Vol. 22) was published in 1995.
(Mama:) Let's remember that 14 years ago, in 1986, Dad and I banned all sexual activity between adults and minors. This was years before the Family was involved in large court cases, and therefore it cannot be said that we made this ban under pressure from the courts or the System. In 198‚ again years before any court cases‚ sex with a minor became an excommunicable offense, and it very explicitly remains so in the Charter (ML #3307:80, Vol. 28).
80. I want to explain how that Letter and subsequent GNs drew together the spiritual principles behind those rules and policies and helped to crystallize our moral and theological stance regarding sex with minors. Let's start by reviewing some of the important bedrock principles that were established in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us."
81. It's been 12 years since "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us" was published (1995). At the time this Letter was written, we were addressing concerns raised by Justice Ward in England, in reference to his decision regarding Pearl's custody case. As a refresher, Pearl's mother had filed for the custody of her unborn grandchild, on the grounds that she contended that the child would not be protected from harm in the Family. Justice Ward, as the judge deciding the outcome of this dispute, was requesting assurances that the necessary safeguards were in place to protect this child from any form of mistreatment and abuse. In the final analysis, he was satisfied that the guidelines and policies in place were adequate, and that children in the Family were no more at risk than children in mainstream society.
82. If you haven't read this Letter before‚ I would suggest that you do so. This Letter not only addressed the concerns of the court in England, but it also represents an important definition of the Family's perspectives and attitudes regarding this specific era of our history (from approximately 1978-1989).
(Mama:) It seems that many Family members do not understand the explanations in this GN [which contained "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us" and "World Services' Letter to Justice Ward"]. Maybe you didn't realize that it has an important message that is for the Family as well as for the judge to whom it was written. If you don't have a clear understanding of these matters, we suggest you study this GN carefully.
A review: The judge in the British case stated that in order for him to award the care of the child to the mother, he needed assurances from WS that would ensure the safety of the child. In short, those included:
* changes in the Family child discipline rules for children in the United Kingdom,
* points regarding the education of our children‚
* continued openness and contact with relatives,
* to acknowledge that because of Dad's writings, he was responsible for some children in the Family in the past being subjected to sexually inappropriate behavior, and that he was therefore wrong to write such things (ML #3307:73-74, Vol. 28; 2000).
83. In this Letter, Mama and I acknowledged that some of the former members who testified in the British court case had legitimate complaints, and we apologized for any mistreatment that any had suffered while in the Family, making it clear that if any part of what they shared was true, it was wrong that these things had happened to them‚ and it was a reproach to the Family:
(Mama:) Among these ex–members [who testified in this case] were some who left the Family as teens, who, while testifying against the Family, manifested a great deal of bitterness towards us. Some of them had legitimate grievances, especially when they spoke of past sexual advances by certain adults, as well as unfair‚ harsh disciplinary action. Although some of their testimony is true, we believe significant parts were highly exaggerated, if not outright lies.
It hurts me deeply, though, to hear about what some of these kids claim to have gone through. If any of it is true‚ it is a reproach to the Family, and a reproach to the cause of Christ! We are supposed to be a Family of Love, but unfortunately, some of our people have not treated others in a way that they would want others to treat them. Thus they've violated the "Golden Rule" and the foundation principle of the Lord's Law of Love: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets" (Mat.7:12). (ML #3016:2-3, Vol. 22; 1995).
84. Mama and I furthermore made it very clear in 1995 to the court in England and to the Family that sexual interaction between adults and minors was not only wrong but a sin. At this point in time, it may seem like an obvious conclusion to you that if such interaction was wrong, it was also a sin. But at the time Mama published the "Answer to Him That Asketh Us" GN, this represented an important definition of our beliefs‚ and the culmination of discussions and prayer and policy–setting on the issue over a period of nine years, from 1986 to 1995.
85. Prior to this, Dad had written on a number of occasions that actions done in love were free from sin, and this was the overall measuring stick we used to gauge whether our actions fell within the parameters of the Law of Love.
86. Of course, when Dad wrote these Letters he was not speaking of or focusing on children—he was discussing the ethics of FFing and the implications of becoming sexually involved with other adults. Dad's discussions and construction of the Law of Love and our theology on sex were not built with children in mind. At the time of the writing of the original Law of Love Letter, there were few children in the Family. Dad was focused on the pioneering of the FFing revolution, receiving the Lord's words and confirmation for this radical ministry, and preparing the ground for the Family to get started in it.
87. As Dad explored the scriptural foundation and boundaries of the Law of Love (within the conditions and guidelines the Lord laid out in the original Law of Love Letter, directed to an adult audience), he concluded that actions undertaken in love were free from sin and answered to a higher law than man's law (see ML #648, published in 1978). He speculated as to what limits could be placed on God's love, considering that He was the One Who had created love and sex, and Who had given them His stamp of approval. Where children were concerned, he questioned whether they should be restricted from exploring their sexuality, as they naturally felt led. Although only a very small portion of his writings and discussions on sex addressed sexual interaction with minors, these were generally encouraging of the principle that if one's actions were done in unselfish love and harmed no one, they would be acceptable and without sin. And as I have explained earlier, he later realized that those conditions were not being met in sexual interaction between adults and minors‚ and he renounced those writings.
88. After Dad and Mama moved to ban all sex with minors, the discussion among leadership as to whether these issues were inherently wrong in all cases continued to a lesser degree. These discussions did not represent a shift in policy or a change in our strict rules disallowing all such interaction‚ nor was such a shift ever considered or contemplated. Such discussions explored whether interaction of this nature was inherently wrong, or whether it was one of those cases of "All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient" or edifying (1Cor.10:23). Mama's conclusion of the matter in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us" (in 1995) slammed the door shut on that discussion, and the Lord officially deemed it a sin.
(Jesus speaking: ) "The bounds that I have set, because I have set them, are the boundaries, and you are to go no further. For to go further is sin, for these are the boundaries that I have set. I have set these boundaries that these things would not be a testimony against you. I have set these boundaries in wisdom and in love.
"As I lead you step by step, so did I lead your Father David step by step. So did he too learn the need for boundaries. And so did he set boundaries for your safekeeping, for your protection. So stay within the boundaries of God and sin not, for he that oversteps the boundaries sins in My sight. For these are the boundaries of God, the boundaries that your David has set forth by the wisdom of God. Remain within the boundaries and you are free. Step without the boundaries and you sin.…"
(Mama: ) Although the Lord has given us in the Family much freedom, there are‚ nevertheless, some restrictions. The Lord says clearly here that He, through Dad‚ has set some boundaries for us. He goes on to say that if we cross over those boundaries, it is sin.
What the Lord is saying is that if you break these rules, cross these boundaries, you are sinning. He said these boundaries were set up by Him. "The bounds that I have set, because I have set them, are the boundaries‚ and you are to go no further. For to go further is sin, for these are the boundaries that I have set."
What is it that gives us faith? The Word‚ right? "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom.10:17). So if the Word gives you faith for something‚ like it does for us to have sexual fellowship with other consenting adults, then you can engage in those activities without sin. However, when the Word says that you cannot do something, then you cannot have the faith to do it‚ because you would be acting in disobedience to God's Word. So to cross the boundaries the Lord, through His Word, has set up, is sin (ML #3016:81, 82,85-87, Vol. 22; 1995).
89. Mama revisited these points in the Letter "None of These Things Move Me." At that time, she made it clear that any and all theological discussion along those lines had been laid to rest and a definitive theological position had been taken, which has stood since the early '90s.
(Mama:) The preceding excerpts of Letters and statements make it obvious that we had definite rules against sexual contact between adults and minors since 1986. As I said in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us," we should have had rules in effect much earlier that would have prevented any of our young people from being hurt. We didn't‚ and we're sorry we didn't because it made it possible for some young people to be hurt. Adult/minor sex has been an excommunicable offense for 11 years [since 1989]. Any sexual crossovers in the Family are considered sin and they remain an excommunicable offense, which will be disciplined according to the guidelines in the Charter. If you are aware of any type of sexual impropriety, you know what to do—report it! In fact, those who do not report such things are guilty as well and subject to the same discipline….
It is clear that 14 years ago, in 1986, Dad and I put a ban on any adult/minor sexual activity. In 198, 12 years ago, we made it excommunicable and it has remained so since then. We made it quite clear that any such activity was wrong and not allowed within our communities. While the theological discussion may have continued, the fact is that any adult/minor sex was excommunicable.
As far as we're concerned, that's the final word on it. Any questions about whether adult/minor sexual contact is at all possibly permissible in theory or theologically were laid to rest. This overrides anything that was ever written suggesting otherwise. Once the Lord said it was sin‚ we announced it to the Family and that has been our stance since that time.
I want to emphasize this point, because I don't want any of you thinking that our stance on this issue is ambiguous. The Lord made it clear at the time of "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us" that all adult/minor sexual contact is sin. We consider it as such. It is wrong and results in excommunication (ML #3307:91–94‚ Vol. 28; 2000).
90. The point that Mama made clear here, and that I want to reiterate‚ is that our stance prohibiting sex with minors was built on our concern for the well-being of all our children and minors, and our determination to protect them not only from harm, but from even the risk of harm. Mama and I are unwavering in our commitment to ensure that every child brought up in the Family has the best possible quality of life, and that they are as safe as is humanly possible from any risk of being hurt, harmed, or exposed to potentially harmful situations. We consider our children precious‚ priceless, and irreplaceable, and that each Family child has the inalienable right to be loved, nurtured and protected. There are thousands of pages of material in our Family publications written about how to love, care for, and provide for our children, and our policies to protect them are a reflection of the counsel in these publications devoted to how to give our children the best possible upbringing. Our policies provide a safety zone for our children—the purpose, spirit and intent behind these policies is our resolute conviction that we must protect our children from any form of abuse or the potential for harm.
91. Our policies and stance were built on the fact that such behaviors are harmful, wrong, and a sin—not to mention illegal (and for good reason), and generally considered unacceptable. And as I've just explained, it does not meet the requirements for practicing the Law of Love. When the original notice went out to the Family in 1986 banning such interaction, it explained that such behavior had caused hurt and harm in some cases, and since our minors are the most precious treasure the Lord has entrusted to us, it was our responsibility to do everything within our power to protect and nurture them. That was the reasoning and foundation of this ban, and it continues to be the case. Although the Lord gave us a lot of freedom under the Law of Love, that freedom was restricted to the conditions and guidelines the Lord laid down. Sexual interaction involving minors did not meet those requirements, and therefore should not have been explored, encouraged or permitted, whether through the Letters or other publications, or in actual practice. As Mama said in 1989, "You need to know that there are some definite rules and restrictions. In spite of the fact that we have a lot of freedom, we don't have freedom to destroy other people's freedom!" (ML #2590:37, Vol. 19; 1989.)
92. This stance is not just about our rules and policies. This is our firmly held moral and theological stance on the issue—and it's Mama and my deepest personal conviction as well. We personally and unequivocally* believe that sexual interaction between adults and underage minors is wrong‚ and a sin, and any such actions are a reproach to the cause of Christ.
*Unequivocal: unambiguous; clear; having only one possible meaning or interpretation; absolute; unqualified; not subject to conditions of exceptions. (Courtesy of Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
93. Dad and Mama banned sex with minors in 1986‚ and it was declared an excommunicable offense in June 1989. This policy has remained unchanged. The theological discussions as to whether such interaction was inherently wrong in all cases continued up until the early '90s, and in 1995 Mama officially announced to the Family that not only do we consider sex with minors to be wrong and an excommunicable offense‚ but it is also a sin. This stance overrides any previous writings or discussions that suggested or debated otherwise, and is the Family's position, both internal and official, on the matter. Our firmly held moral and theological stance on the issue is that sex with minors is wrong, and a sin‚ and we don't tolerate or condone such actions.
Dad's Role and Responsibility
94. As Mama explained in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us," at the time of writing his ruling, Justice Ward wanted us to acknowledge that because of Dad's writings, Dad was personally responsible for any children in the Family in the past being subjected to sexually inappropriate behavior, that children were harmed as a result‚ and that Dad was therefore wrong to write such things.
(Mama: ) The last point is that he [Justice Ward] wants us to acknowledge that because of Dad's writings, Dad is personally responsible for any children in the Family in the past being subjected to sexually inappropriate behavior‚ that children were harmed as a result, and that Dad was therefore wrong to write such things.
The judge in the British case wants to make sure the Family is a safe environment for Pearl's son to be raised in. I do too, and I am absolutely convinced that the Family is a very safe environment, not only for Pearl's son, but for all of our children (ML #3016:14,28, Vol. 22; 1995).
95. After hearing from the Lord and Dad (who had graduated to Heaven by this time), we did acknowledge this, as Mama explained at the time,
With 20/20 hindsight we can look back and see that it would have been better to explain things more clearly. We should have anticipated potential problems and put in more stringent rules to keep them from happening, including prohibitions on all adult/minor sexual contact. By not having such restrictions in place, some people were able to act in ways that were harmful to others.
Because of the insight Dad gave into the Scriptures which granted us a great deal of sexual freedom, without clearly stated explicit restrictions that prohibited all sexual activity between adults and minors, it resulted in actions that caused harm to some children. He must therefore bear responsibility for the harm. Today it's easy to see that it was wrong not to put explicit restrictions in place earlier, but Dad didn't see the need for such explicit rules when he first introduced sexual freedoms (ML #3016:16-17, Vol. 22; 1995).
While I don't believe the general principles of the Law of Love as the Lord revealed them to Dad are wrong, I have stated clearly in the above-mentioned GN ["An Answer to Him That Asketh Us"] that Dad was wrong to not clearly state explicit restrictions that prohibited all sexual activity between adults and minors from the beginning. Now we know. We are much wiser today than yesterday (ML #3307:78, Vol. 28; 2000).
96. At the time, I wrote a letter to Justice Ward (see "World Services' Letter to Justice Ward," which was published in the same GN as the Letter "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us"). This letter served as our official response to the court‚ and I want you to make note of the concessions we made to the court in this letter, as they were not just meant to address the issues raised by Justice Ward, but also to serve as our internal stance on the issues.
Maria, Gary and myself and World Services acknowledge that any abuse of children is abhorrent, whether it be sexual abuse or other forms of abuse‚ and we are determined that the Family will be a safe environment for all our children and teens to be brought up in.
We acknowledge that in certain places at certain times the Family has not been as safe an environment for them as it should have been. Over the last nine years, we have taken progressive steps to make it as safe as possible, and have apologised to those who have suffered harm, and we recognise this litigation and these communications as an opportunity to apologise again. We sincerely believe that the Family today is a safe place, and we have established safeguards to make sure it will remain so.
Your Lordship has asked us to acknowledge that Father David, through his writings, was personally responsible for children in the Family being sexually abused. Father David wrote a series of Letters concerning sexual behaviour. The judgement refers in particular to "The Law of Love" and "The Devil Hates Sex", and we accept that as the author of ideas upon which some members acted to the harm of minors in the Family, he must bear responsibility for that harm. Maria, and all of us in World Services leadership, also feel the burden of responsibility. Maria in particular has done an enormous amount to put a stop to any sexual maltreatment of children and instituted strict safeguards to make sure it will never happen again.
We acknowledge that it was wrong to proclaim a teaching of sexual liberty (i.e., in 1976 and 1978) without establishing clear rules to ensure that sexual contact did not take place between adults and children. Further, in 1980 Father David's statements in his discourse entitled "The Devil Hates Sex" opened the door for sexual behaviour between adults and minors, such sanctioning being a direct cause of later abusive behaviour by some Family members at that time. In addition, we also acknowledge with regret that more specific and concrete restraints were not introduced earlier, and that Father David should have done so immediately upon receiving indications that problems were beginning to develop.
The extension of the Law of Love to sexual matters was a unique contribution of Father David's to the Family, and we accept and acknowledge that he bears responsibility for what arose as a result of it. Among other things‚ we acknowledge that his beliefs and teachings led to the setting aside of ordinary sexual taboos and restraints, particularly between adults‚ and this significantly contributed to the development of an overly sexualised atmosphere in a number of Family communities, of which children were a part. Unfortunately, this further led to a number of children being subjected to sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Reading, and in some cases re–reading, the accounts of some of the former Family teens who testified on behalf of the plaintiff is a painful experience. The accounts of sexual maltreatment of minors described in the judgement are deeply distressing. (World Services' Letter to Mr. Justice Ward, from Peter Amsterdam‚ September 1995)
97. As you can see by my letter, the Lord made it clear that it was wrong of Dad to publish Letters that sanctioned sex with minors, and this opened the door to children being exposed to inappropriate sexual behavior. It also enabled some to take advantage of and harm minors. That was never Dad's or the Lord's intention, and it's clear that such behavior should never have occurred.
98. At the time, Dad saw nothing inherently wrong or harmful with children being able to explore their sexuality in a natural way. However, as we have already explained, Dad failed to institute the necessary boundaries between adults and minors, and this lack of boundaries and guidelines took away the necessary protections. As such, what was initially an allowance for children's natural curiosity about sexuality opened the door to other behaviors that were clearly wrong, and in some cases, harmful.
99. Such interaction would not have occurred in most cases had literature not been published that built a theological argument that sanctioned adult sexual interaction with minors. Once guidelines were instituted, clearly delineating the boundaries, Family members rallied behind the new rules and enforced these guidelines in their Homes. Clear child protection policies have been in place for nearly 20 years, and we believe that the Family of today is a safe environment for our children. Our overall guidelines and focus on the care of our children serve to nurture our children, while our excommunication policies provide protection from hurt or harm.
100. Thankfully, since rules were instituted in the late 1980s, there have been few occurrences in the Family of children being taken advantage of or exposed to situations of harm, and guilty parties are promptly and permanently excommunicated to ensure that our children are protected from any sort of abuse. It's clear‚ though, that Dad should not have made allowance for crossing the barrier between adults and minors in sexual interaction, and should have instituted guidelines much earlier to avoid any incidence of harm.
101. (Jesus:) David's postulating of the Law of Love and the resultant sexual freedom that was allowed in the Family plainly demonstrates what a serious responsibility a leader has to his followers. The Law of Love was right and the sexual freedom between those of age was right, but the practice of it went beyond the bounds of what was right. David didn't see it that way at the time because the Family was made up of mostly young adults with few teens or children. He wasn't seeing the issue from all sides, and he chose to favor freedom by leaving the restrictions and safeguards open–ended.
102. As a result, some actions crossed over the boundaries of the true, right and godly principles of the Law of Love that I had given, and David has had to bear the ultimate responsibility for that. And that is something that he has acknowledged. If the Law of Love had been followed strictly and practiced correctly, the problems and mistakes could have been avoided. But to give David credit, he pulled in the reins when it became obvious what had happened. Although others helped to instigate the change, the responsibility fell to David to approve it. And he did, wholeheartedly. (End of message.)
103. In 1995, Mama and I officially acknowledged to the court in England and to the Family that Dad was personally responsible for any minors in the Family in the past being subjected to sexually inappropriate behavior‚ and that some children were harmed as a result. It was wrong of Dad to publish Letters that sanctioned sex with minors, and this opened the door to children being exposed to inappropriate sexual behavior. Such interaction would not have occurred in most cases had literature not been published that built a theological argument supportive of adult sexual interaction with minors. Once guidelines were instituted from 1986 to 1989, Family members rallied behind the new rules and enforced these guidelines in their Homes. Subsequent court examinations of Family children in several different countries confirmed that these rules had been closely adhered to, and there was found to be a total absence of abuse of any kind among the hundreds of Family children examined.
See also: An Open Letter of Apology from Maria and Peter
The Family's History, Policies, and Beliefs Regarding Sex —Part 3
GN 1236 FD/MM/FM
By Peter 3673 10/07
Required private reading for ages 18 and up. Senior teens should read this series with a parent or shepherd. Parents and shepherds can share portions of this counsel or information with their JETTs and junior teens as the Lord leads.
Please note that for the purpose of this GN, the term "minors" specifically refers to those under 16. Although our current rules in the Family don't allow those over 21 to interact sexually with 16- and 17-year-olds, these GNs address periods of the Family's history when age allowances differed. For simplicity's sake, "minors" will refer to those under 16 in this series of GNs.
1. In the second part of this series, we established a number of points, which I'll summarize here, before continuing on with this last part. First, we concluded that sexual interaction between adults and minors did not meet the conditions the Lord laid down in the original "Law of Love" Letter (ML #302C)‚ and that such interaction should not have been contemplated or allowed as an extension of the Law of Love. Dad bears the responsibility for this, because some of his writings sanctioned this interaction. It was wrong of Dad to publish literature that encouraged such interaction, which ultimately led to hurt or harm for a number of present-day SGAs. When complaints began to surface in the mid-1980s from some of our young women, Mama took action‚ with Dad's wholehearted approval‚ to ban sexual interaction with minors‚ resulting in our strong child protection policies. These policies have been in place for over 20 years.
2. In this GN, I want to address a number of questions that this period of our history gives rise to. I'll do this in a question-and-answer format.
3. (Question: ) How could Dad "get it wrong?"
4. Knowing that Dad is responsible for misapplying the Law of Love‚ and sanctioning behavior that resulted in hurtful or harmful experiences for some Family children and young teenagers, may lead you to wonder how Dad could have "gotten it wrong" in failing to understand that minors wouldn't be able to knowledgeably give their consent to sexual interaction, and thus couldn't be participants.—Or by not seeing the need to build safeguards to protect children from those who would act wrongly or inappropriately. In hindsight, seeing the problems and excesses that emerged‚ you may wonder why Dad didn't foresee how things would play out. And as the leader of the Family at the time, Dad does bear the weight of the responsibility of the outcome.
5. I'm going to give you a little background on Dad's perspective and vision, so that you can better understand where he was coming from and why he didn't envision problems or error on this score. Before doing so, I want to clarify that Dad had absolutely no intention that anyone of any age in the Family would come to harm or be hurt in any way, whether through the Law of Love or any other doctrine or practice. Mama explained this before, and this was also my personal experience in the years that I lived with Dad.
(Mama:) I lived with Dad for 25 years and knew him better than anyone else did. He had his shortcomings and sometimes made mistakes, but I know that Dad never intended to harm nor wanted harm of any kind to come to any member of our dear Family. He loved the Lord and the Family with all of his heart, soul‚ mind and strength, and would do anything for both. He also believed that for the most part all Family members felt the same about the Lord and the Family as he did (ML #3016:65, Vol. 22; 1995).
6. From Scripture Dad understood that in receiving Jesus, Christians were freed from keeping the Mosaic Law, and were governed by Jesus' Law of Love.—And that we are therefore free from observing the Ten Commandments and any other Old Testament laws. But while it freed us from the law, it placed on us the burden of acting in love in all of our actions according to Jesus' new Law of Love, which is much more difficult than obeying the black-and-white law.
(Dad:) Therefore whatsoever you do in the unselfish sacrificial love of Jesus is right and lawful! Whatever you do in love is the law—and that's all, that's it! God's only Law is Love! We are totally, utterly free of the old Mosaic Law! We are delivered from the old Mosaic Law and no longer bound by it—we are free! Now all things are lawful to us in love, praise God! As long as it's done in love, it keeps God's only Law of Love!
Knowing this, realizing this, and practicing this of course gives us a lot of freedom. But in another way, His Law of Love is the most binding law of all!—Because God's Law of Love not only says you can't steal, can't kill, can't do this, can't do that, etc., but that you've also got to love everybody!—Which is one of the hardest things of all to do!
So in many ways the Law of Love is even 'more' strict than the Mosaic Law. The Ten Commandments said that we were just to do that which was just and righteous, but under Jesus' Law of Love we are to do more than justice and righteousness, we are to have love and mercy.
Love is more than righteousness, and mercy is greater than justice! So the Law of Love is greater, and we are to be more kind and more forgiving (ML #1968:30-33, DB 8; 1984).
7. Jesus' Law of Love became our "law," so to speak. That rule was built on the foundation that we must love God and love our neighbor as ourselves—love was to be the measuring stick of our actions, to determine whether they were acceptable and right. Within these parameters, Dad taught that we could operate freely without sin. This foundation gave us the faith to practice FFing and to share sexually with others outside of marriage. Because these actions were motivated by the love of God and love for others‚ they were encompassed by Jesus' Law of Love.
8. In 1974 when Dad first presented the concept of the Law of Love and its freedoms, there were few children in the Family, and the vast majority of his writings about sex were not inclusive of children or even taking them into account. His writings on sex and his emphasis on freeing us from the letter of the law and the churches' taboos and prohibitions on sex were directed to an adult audience.
9. His outlook regarding sexuality was that there was nothing inherently wrong or sinful about nudity or sex, and therefore it was not necessary to hide these from children. He felt that sex and nudity should be natural and pure, and that children should be free from societal taboos and able to explore their sexuality at their own pace, in order to grow up naturally, and to avoid the sort of complexes and feelings of inadequacy that many grow up with in the System.
10. Although these were very radical notions, they were not entirely unheard of in their day‚ and a number of psychologists from the more liberal period of the '60s and '70s postulated that children could have a much healthier attitude toward sexuality and their bodies if these were treated in a more open and natural fashion. Of course, there's a major difference between a child exploring his or her sexuality and a child doing so with an adult. While the first premise would be sound and acceptable, the second is not.
11. Dad grew up in an era when sexuality was quite repressed among Christians, as you can read in the early Letters. The normal, natural curiosity that children develop about their bodies as they mature and, eventually at puberty about sexuality, was repressed in his day, and sex was presented with an evil slant. When the Lord led Dad to reach the hippies and eventually pioneer the Family, one of the messages He gave Dad for his new flock was that of freedom from the chains of this repressive attitude toward sexuality.
12. He became convinced by Scripture that sex was pure and God-created, and that "to the pure all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). In exploring the boundaries of the Law of Love, he further proposed that this perspective could be extended to minors, so that they could be freed from repressive attitudes and grow up in a natural, loving environment.
13. What Dad failed to take into account when he opened the door to applying the Law of Love to sexual interaction between adults and minors was the potential for harm to the minor, regardless of the intent of the adult. He failed to foresee that there could be a vast difference between an adult's intent, which could be well-meaning, and how acting on this could play out in the life of a minor—in other words‚ the fruits of that action. Though the adult could act with the best of intentions, and in a kind and loving manner, due to the level of emotional and physical maturity of the minor, such actions had the potential to be a negative experience for the minor.
14. As Dad explained in the Letter "The Law of Love," the measuring stick by which to gauge whether such actions fell under Jesus' Law of Love is by gauging the fruit they bore: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness‚ temperance: against such there is no law" (Gal.5:22‚23). Even if such actions involving minors were carried out with good intentions, if they didn't manifest the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of young people who were not old enough or knowledgeable enough to give their consent, they didn't fulfill the Law of Love. And, as I've already pointed out‚ this was generally the case with sexual interaction between adults and minors. Such interaction was wrong, and could not fall under the Law of Love.
15. As soon as Dad and Mama became aware that‚ for the most part, experiences with adults had not borne good fruit in the lives of the minors involved, they shut the door on this and renounced any literature that indicated otherwise. This served to clearly define that, although it is natural that children are curious about their bodies (and generally after they reach puberty, about sex)‚ sexual interaction with adults is generally harmful and detrimental to the minor. Thus, although Dad did not intend for anyone to be negatively affected in opening this door and he believed it could be helpful for minors, such interaction resulted in their being exposed to hurtful or harmful experiences in a number of cases.
16. When Dad originally presented the Law of Love, and our deliverance from the laws of Moses‚ he presented the overall concept in a very broad, all-encompassing way, and set general safeguards for practicing the sexual side of the Law of Love. In his zeal to liberate the Family from the taboos and misconceptions of the churches‚ Dad tended to believe that it was preferable to lean to the side of freedom‚ as opposed to being overly cautious and running the risk of the Family stagnating in churchy mindsets. He said:
I'd rather have too much freedom than not enough! I'd rather have too much liberty than not enough! I'm sorry, I'm not in the Apostle Paul's category. He decided it was better not to have any than to have too much. If this is our last chance to show we can handle it and it will work, I think we need to be an example to the world, to the universe, to all history, that you can have freedom and love to the limit without being too excessive and going too far overboard.
Now sometimes we almost have to go to the opposite extreme to break people loose, break their old bottles and get them started over again. We don't want to be extreme and get an over-balance in the opposite direction, but sometimes in a revolution you have to go to extremes and almost exaggerate to pull the rest of the people halfway to the norm. Nearly every revolution has done that.
Every revolution has had its excesses, but we live and we learn. And for God's sake, if any generation is ever going to be trusted, if any generation of Christians is ever going to be trusted with total liberty and freedom and know how to handle it and control it and enjoy it, it looks to me like this is the last chance! (ML #919:7‚13,14, Vol. 8; 1980.)
17. Over time, however, as the Family experimented and put the concept of the Law of Love into practice, it became clear that the issues were not so simple and couldn't be painted with such a broad brush—we needed clearer and more defined guidelines to fully grasp how to put this love into action‚ and how to explore these freedoms while not infringing on the rights of others. As we grew and matured, the concept of how to lovingly apply the freedoms granted to us in the Law of Love became more and more honed, and more and more safeguards were built in to the broad concept‚ so that we could apply it lovingly and wisely. And, as you know‚ in 1998 and 1999 Mama wrote a 12–part series about the Law of Love, which is basically a very detailed course for adults on "how to live the Law of Love."
18. Mama and I have gained a great deal of insight from Dad's mistake in misapplying the Law of Love, which has served as an important point of reference in our leadership of the Family since Dad went Home to Heaven. The Lord has emphasized to Mama and me the importance of prayerfully foreseeing and weighing in possible pitfalls or downsides when a major change that the Lord is requiring of the Family is presented, so that the presentation can be balanced and safeguards can be built in ahead of time.
19. For example, at the time leading up to the restructuring (2004), the Lord indicated in no uncertain terms that change had to come about in the Family, or our Titanic would sink and we would lose our treasured place and calling. In order to bring about these changes, He indicated that we needed to institute regulations and structural changes, such as the steering council and coach program‚ and the Home review, to ensure that the needed growth and change would occur. Yet, these changes were not implemented without lengthy discussions with our counselors‚ numerous confirming prophecies‚ and prayerful consideration to ensure that we didn't weaken the Family in any way while intending to strengthen it.
20. As the ones responsible for the Family today, Mama and I have certainly learned from the past, and that serves us well in the present.
Dad: Our Prophet and King
21. I'm going to take a short pause here to share a little more about Dad‚ to help balance out the aspects I'm covering regarding past mistakes, with the bigger picture of all that Dad achieved. Some of you, our younger folks‚ may not know Dad through his Letters as well as those of us who served the Lord under Dad's leadership for a number of years. You may not have had the opportunity or time to go back and read many of the older Letters that give you a clearer picture of who Dad was.
22. You may not realize the enormous weight of responsibility Dad carried throughout the first 20-some years of the Family. Originally he was surrounded only by young people‚ practically teenagers, with no experience in serving the Lord, much less in leadership. He had the enormous task of training brand-new disciples and teaching them how to serve the Lord and live by faith, while building a brand-new nation and culture, and receiving the Lord's message to give to the world. He also had to train those young people to become leaders that could take over and lead the Family after he was gone—a process that took many years.
23. Dad served as our prophet, administrator, leader, adviser, and father in the Lord, among other things‚ and had to be several steps out in front to lead us into the future the Lord had for the Family, even when this was purely by faith. He was a visionary, and the visions that the Lord gave him worked. We are all living proof of that‚ as are the millions of souls led to the Lord in our 39-year history. He had a special anointing from the Lord, and was a unique and powerful tool in the Lord's hand.
24. Many times it took a step of faith to follow where Dad was leading, as it was totally by faith, and we had no way of knowing how this new move of the Spirit or that revolution would pan out. But because Dad was desperate with the Lord and willing to change things at the drop of a hat, if need be, for the good of the Family and the work, the visions the Lord gave him did work out, and even exceeded our expectations. Dad was an extraordinary man of God‚ and the Lord certainly blessed the Family by giving us such a wonderful founder and prophet, who was willing to think and act entirely outside the box of his day, and put into practice the revelations the Lord gave him.
The Fruit of Dad's Innovations and Revelations [box]
* When Dad told the Lord he was willing to be the king of the beggars, who would have imagined that this would expand into a worldwide missionary movement, that has had an estimated 38,000 members over the course of its 39-year history?
* In 1973 Dad wrote in "Wonder Working Words" that "we need to get these words that work to the whole world! They've heard about us—they need to hear from us! We need to print millions for the billions!" (ML #207:17, Vol. 2; 1973.) And we did. By the end of October 2007 the Family had distributed 1,099,261,629 pieces of lit with His wonder working words!
* Who could ever have imagined that when Dad started focusing on the vision to distribute color posters, which was a totally new and out-of-the-box idea in its day, we would distribute millions of posters in scores of languages? (Total distribution to date: over 128 million!)
* Dad was convinced that the methods and communal lifestyle of the Early Church could be applied today, even though the church leaders of his day said it couldn't be done. He dared to believe it could be done, and we are living proof that it works, and has worked for the last 39 years.
* Dad was not content to settle down in North America‚ but he had a vision to go into all the world to preach the Gospel, and so we did. Teams started traveling overseas only a few years after the Family was born. To date, the Family has witnessed in over 170 countries around the globe.
* From the beginning, Dad promoted our music to reach the lost. Dad saw the potential for distributing our music in tapes (and later CDs), and with his encouragement‚ it became a worldwide ministry. For someone whose personal preference was for the older hymns and choruses, to promote contemporary music was revolutionary. As of the end of October 2007‚ the Family has distributed 12,572,389 tapes and CDs.
* When Dad and Mama first pioneered the FFing revolution and went out by faith to dance, socialize, and witness to lonely people, who would have ever dreamed that nearly 100,000 people would receive the Lord through this type of ministry?
* Dad extolled the virtues of home education many years before the homeschooling movement became well known and accepted in many countries.
* Dad was willing to learn from other religions, and if a doctrine or practice proved to be scriptural, he was happy to adopt it. As a result, the Family is more tolerant of other religions than most Christians. We are not exclusive in thinking we have a corner on the truth; rather we recognize the good in others and that salvation is freely available to all who receive Jesus, regardless of their religious affiliation.
* Dad taught the Family that there was no need for church buildings and that it wasn't necessary to own property. This resulted in our finances being invested in missions rather than buildings. This was the opposite of the policies and practices of most other religions, but it has been central to our success.
* In a radical departure from the policies of most evangelical churches, Dad taught the importance of personal evangelism rather than focusing on mass evangelism. Dad made sure that personal one-on-one evangelism was the focus of our witnessing, and it has paid off in over 32 million souls won to the Kingdom in our 39-year history.
* Dad taught us that we could live by faith. Without much in the way of visible support, the Family went into all the world. He taught that those that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel (1Cor.9:14), and that if we sought first the Kingdom of God, all that we needed would be added unto us (Mat.6:33). And the Lord fulfilled that promise by wonderfully supplying our needs at every turn. Living by faith works!
* Dad taught us both through his writings and sample that each of us should hear from God ourselves and follow what the Lord shows us. He wanted each Family member to have a strong connection with the Lord, and to not depend only on God's past revelations and directions.
* Dad had the vision to reach the world in the language of its peoples, and he taught us to become one with those whom we were evangelizing by learning the language of their fields and adapting to local customs. As a result, the Family is a very multilingual outfit, with many members speaking more than one language, and our literature has been available in a number of languages (currently in at least 20 languages).
* Dad chose to stay behind the scenes in order to spiritually guide the entire Family‚ eschewing a high-profile personal public ministry. He didn't want the cult of the personality to build up around him. "Don't praise me—praise God! I'm not wonderful!—</nowiki>Jesus is wonderful, and without Him I can do nothing, and am nothing, and the quicker you get your eyes on God‚ the better off you'll be, because no matter what happens to me, if your eyes are on the Lord, you'll keep on going for Him, because it's Jesus you're following" (ML #154:59; Vol. 2; 1972).
* Dad believed in the long–term destiny of the Family, and the training of others to take his place at the time of his passing. He knew that for this movement to outlast his lifetime he had to train others to fill the roles he played. And so he faithfully trained Mama and Peter, and slowly over the years put more of the responsibility of the Family into their hands. This practice of training others to fill leadership roles has been a hallmark of the Family since the early days. Dad's foresight to prepare the Family for his graduation has resulted in the Family continuing beyond his lifetime and moving into the future the Lord has for it.
25. Dad's accomplishments were certainly outstanding‚ and we wouldn't be here today, witnessing and changing the world, if it hadn't been for dear Dad's vision and his desperation to lead the Family in the right direction!
26. Mama and I both experienced the times Dad agonized over decisions he had to make, as he was desperate to get it right for the sake of the Family. He didn't want to cause the Family unnecessary hardship or difficulty, though he knew that serving the Lord 110%, dropping out of the System, living by faith, and defying the status quo were bound to require sacrifice and a willingness to endure persecution for righteousness' sake. He didn't make decisions lightly, as besides the Lord, Dad loved the Family above anything else in the world. He loved to meet Family members, to hear of the miracles the Lord was doing through them, and it was a tremendous sacrifice for him to live isolated from the Family.
27. Dad was very aware of his own fallibility, and that quality made him very special to Family members—we knew we could trust him. Although he made mistakes along the way, he wasn't afraid to admit he was wrong. At times he would also make an about-face on an issue and direct us to go the opposite direction if that was how the Lord was leading. You can read about the times he confessed his mistakes and faults to the Family throughout the Letters, as well as the times he changed his stance radically on issues when the Lord showed him that things needed to change, as he did in renouncing all literature that opened the door to sexual interaction between adults and minors. (For other examples, see "Breakdown," ML #66, and "The Uncursed Sons of Ham‚" ML #2928.)
28. As Dad himself often explained to us, even though he was called to be God's Endtime prophet‚ there was a difference between when he received a revelation straight from God and he was speaking and writing directly under the Lord's divine influence, and when he was expressing his interpretations, opinions, ideas, or thoughts on a matter. Sexual interaction between adults and minors would be a case where Dad's interpretation and speculations on the boundaries of the Law of Love went beyond the original revelation the Lord gave on the Law of Love.
29. He pointed out the difference between the Letters expressing what he received from the Lord directly in the spirit, through revelations, visions, or prophecies, and Letters that expressed opinions, theories, personal commentary, and practical instruction, which could ultimately be faulty or even wrong.
Unless I said, "God told me‚" then it ain't necessarily so, just like a lot of the writings of Saint Paul. He very specifically said, "Well, this I got from the Lord but this I didn't" (1Cor. 7:12,25). Therefore, he was warning them that, "Well, now maybe this is right and maybe it isn't because I didn't get it from the Lord, but this is my opinion."
I'm only a man and no man is perfect and everybody makes mistakes. "Let every man be found a liar but God be found true!" (Rom.3:4.) … I could be wrong! Whatever I said could be wrong. The only thing you can count on is what I said that God said, that I know! But my interpretation, my opinion, my theory could be wrong (ML #2090:17,19,22, Vol. 16; 1985).
30. This willingness to acknowledge his own fallibility and mistakes is one of the qualities that made Dad such an outstanding leader—he loved the Lord and the Family much more than his own reputation or opinions, and he was willing to change.
31. (Jesus: ) David was a man like no other. He had a special and unique calling from Me to be used in a very specific way, and not just anyone could have done the job. I needed someone with his exact qualifications, his background and training, his gifts and talents‚ and most of all his love for Me, his sensitivity to My Spirit, and his single-minded dedication to doing My will. That was the driving force in his life, to find out what I wanted him to do and then to do it with all of his heart, soul, and mind.
32. In David's lifetime of seeking and endeavoring to accomplish My will‚ he did many great and mighty things, the most important of which was to raise up 'you'''', this Endtime army, completely outside the ruins of the church system, and to call you out and inspire you to become the most radical, on-fire‚ and effective disciples who exist today. When David started this movement, he had nothing with which to inspire new converts except My radical truth. He couldn't promise them money or wealth or success through association with him. In fact, he wasn't trying to get them to associate with him at all. He just preached the truth that I showed him to preach, and soon people were dropping out and coming together, and David followed My call to be their leader‚ their king.
33. He wasn't content with doing things the way they had always been done in the past. He knew that time was short and that you couldn't afford to meander along‚ doing things the easy, established way. He was always searching for My newest truth, My freshest doctrine, My most cutting-edge ideas. He expanded the Family globally in a very short time and he pioneered new methods of witnessing and distribution of literature that were unlike anything ever seen before.
34. Your group, so tiny and small in numbers, became world famous and easily identifiable as something unique through his radical views and unconventional teachings. And for most of that time, David wasn't even there in person. He lived apart from the rest of the organization and only led the way through his words.
35. His Letters to you encompass so much truth and knowledge and raw inspiration. They are a treasure like no other, and those words are what provide the ballast and the energy at the core of the Family. He taught you everything that you needed to know to be successful for Me. He dealt with the practical, and he delved into the spiritual. He illuminated the Endtime, he taught you history in a godly context, and he explained the political systems of the day. He preached the truth of the Bible and he received shocking new revelations straight from Me. He shared his personal life with you, his thoughts and feelings. He was a faithful tool and a channel. He wasn't looking to give what would make him look good‚ or what would make him popular or successful. He just lived his life for Me‚ and when I spoke to him, he listened and passed it on to you.
36. He lived a life of sacrifice and service, continually giving his best efforts in service to those he had come to lead—you—and doing all that he could for the rest of his life to help you succeed and to be close to Me and to make it as disciples. He didn't take the position he was in and try to use it to make his own life more comfortable or easier—he lived to serve‚ always thinking about others and their needs before his own.
37. David was unique among My prophets and channels, and for this reason, I was able to so greatly use this one individual to accomplish so much that was new and different and unseen before. I didn't use him to deliver messages on only one single topic; I used his life in a multitude of ways, practical and spiritual, to raise up a new nation where there had been no nation before. I didn't just need a prophet. I needed a king, a general, a priest, a law-giver—I needed a latter-day Moses.
38. He led you out of the System and brought you close to Me, following My lead and heading toward My promised land. And in the course of that journey he established your new system, a godly system based on love for Me and love for others. Everything about your Family culture, how you live and what makes you different, is based on David's teachings and the ways in which I inspired him to lead you.
39. He left no stone unturned in an effort to find My will and to follow Me in whatever way I was leading. Along the way I brought him into contact with some very radical truths, some very shocking messages and ideas, and it is to his credit that he wasn't frightened by these, but continued to follow Me step by step and to let Me be the ultimate leader on this journey.
40. It wasn't an easy path to walk. The calling that I placed on him was heavy‚ and the burdens were great. As your king, he bore the responsibility of the sum total of your actions, both in the eyes of the world and before Me. If there were problems or mistakes made, he was the one responsible to try to fix them. If he felt that the Family wasn't being faithful enough in doing the job of reaching the world with My truth, he was the one who felt accountable before Me for your actions.
41. This made him very desperate and broken, always seeking Me humbly to see if there was a way he could help you to do better, or a way he could do better in training you or getting something new from Me that would be the key to your situation. He had the vision of you as My new nation, and he knew how far you had to go to truly make the break from the old—from the System, from the churches—to establish a culture and lifestyle based not on the will and expectations of man, but on the will of God. He knew what a task that was, but he had the faith to believe that it was possible, and he was determined to help you to get there‚ and that is why he was so desperate before Me.
42. If something wasn't working right or was creating more problems than it was solving, he didn't hesitate to sweep it away, whether it was a leadership system or a doctrine of his own. He knew he was just a man, but he had faith in Me, knowing that if he kept close enough to Me, I would lead and guide him.
43. He wasn't without his mistakes and errors, but his heart sought fervently after Me‚ and above all, his wish was to please Me and obey Me, and to help all of you do the same. He was My Moses for this generation, leading you out of the Egypt of the System and training you through the words and laws that I gave him.
44. He established your new nation and gave you the culture of discipleship that continues to this day. He pioneered the methods that you use to preach the Gospel‚ and he laid the foundation for your faith in Me through his writings. He brought Heaven and the spirit world close to you, and showed you that it was something you could be part of, that it wasn't so difficult to hear from Me, and taught you to let Me be a very present and active part of your life.
45. He warned you about the days to come, and impressed upon you the shortness of time. Through his teachings on the Endtime he reminded you to never get your eyes off the horizon, to always be watching for the soon-coming storms and for the signs of the times. He implored you to do all that you can while the harvest is still ripe, but to prepare in mind and heart for darker days‚ and to be ready when they come.
46. He freed you with My radical truth from the curse of the old law and from the restrictions and traditions that have imprisoned so many people needlessly. He gave you real truth and real freedom in love. He taught you My commandment to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and he showed you how this was possible. He gave you, as a Family, the head start that you needed to be My vanguard. He was the push that was necessary to propel you to the forefront of Christian service, to help you claim that place which was open for you as My radical Endtime brides, the ones who I will use in great measure in the days to come.
47. Because of the obedience of one man, many have been made righteous. Because of David's lifetime of obedience to Me and love for Me and for souls, the Family is here today‚ serving Me and winning souls, and being a living sample to the world of My truth and love. He bears responsibility for failings and errors, yes, but he also receives credit and honor for the Family's many successes and manifold triumphs. He truly is a king in My eyes, and he is a faithful servant who ran his course well and has since entered into his great reward. (End of message.)
48. I pray that this brief summary of Dad's accomplishments in fulfilling the Lord's calling and his faithfulness to the Lord, His Word, and the Family, will help you to keep a balanced perspective of Dad's life.
49. (Question:) Since sexual interaction between adults and minors was deemed to be wrong in 1986‚ what about prior to that?
50. Due to the fact that sexual interaction between adults and minors did not conclusively meet the requirements for the Law of Love, as per the original Letter, such interaction should not have occurred. Regardless of the nature of the experience, the intent of those concerned, whether a teenager gave his/her consent, or how the experience played out in the lives of those concerned, sexual interaction with minors should never have been contemplated‚ encouraged, or acted upon. Interaction of this nature should not have happened to any minor in the Family.
51. I've discussed this topic with quite a number of SGAs over the last few years, and I've found that of those who experienced such interaction, each SGA has a somewhat different perspective on their personal experiences. Many are not happy with the interaction they experienced in the past, or have had to struggle to overcome hurt or confusion as a result. At the same time, there are others—admittedly a smaller percentage, usually SGA men—who don't look at such experiences as having been a negative in their life. If you find yourself within this second category, you may even feel that in the overall balance of things, your experience was helpful to you in some way.
52. If this applies to you, while you shouldn't have been put in that position‚ you are certainly able to judge for yourself whether your experiences were beneficial to you, and our intent in addressing this issue is not to lead you to feel that you need to recast your experiences in a negative light. That is not Mama's and my intention, so please don't feel that you need to revisit and dissect your past experiences if you have already determined that these were not negative. And, of course, many of you never experienced interaction of this nature at all, so this won't apply to you directly.
53. If you fall into the first category and you 'do' have negative feelings about a past experience, I want to once again apologize to you, on Mama's and my behalf, and I want you to know that it was wrong that it happened to you. No minors in the Family should have had any contact of a sexual nature with adults. If it did happen to you, it was wrong, and Mama and I are very sorry.
54. You may be wondering why some FGAs acted on Dad's application of the Law of Love to sexual interaction with minors. It's hard to relate to that at this point in time, since any such interaction has been absolutely forbidden for the past 20 years, and it's clearly unacceptable behavior in the Family. Not only is it unacceptable, but it will result in immediate expulsion from the Family. Furthermore, FGAs not only adhere to this policy, but consider it the Family's moral and theological position on the issue.
55. It's helpful to place this issue in the context of the culture of the Family of that time. In our earlier years, the Family had just dropped entirely out of the System—we were in the process of building our own society and culture and we were quite divorced from the culture of the world. For those of you who weren't around in the 1970s and 1980s, the world was very different at that time, due to the absence of technology that is now an everyday part of our lives. There was no Internet or e-mail, and cable TV was scarcely available in many places. News and information was not quickly or easily circulated around the globe as it is today‚ and in many of the foreign countries we were pioneering, it was difficult to locate information or news in English.
56. This all contributed to a lack of knowledge of trends, customs, changes in the legal and moral climate, and happenings worldwide. Compared to the ease of access to information in the world today via the Internet‚ life in the Family at the time was quite sheltered, and most of our information came via Family publications. We were not closely attuned to the laws and norms of the countries we lived in (and many, if not most, Family members lived in foreign lands), as we were focused on and followed what the Lord and Dad instructed us to do in the Word.—That, in a sense, became our code of conduct and behavioral standard.
57. Society itself was also much more sexually liberal up until the late '70s, and most Family members had been drawn out of that radical, liberal culture, and thus were more open to sexually liberal concepts. Most of the FGAs were the same age as our current SGAs‚ ranging from their 20s to early 30s. The first generation of young people born into the Family were considered adults at the age of 12, in the Old Testament tradition, and assumed a number of responsibilities on the Home front from an early age. Although in many aspects they were far from being full-fledged adults due to lack of experience and maturity, they were expected to carry more responsibility than we would expect the JETTs and junior teens of today to carry.
58. It's also important to bear in mind that the majority of those who engaged in such interaction with minors would in all likelihood never have contemplated such actions if Dad had not articulated it as an extension of the Law of Love. Such actions were directly related, for the most part, to their understanding of what was being published in the Letters and other Family publications at the time. Once this was banned, any such interaction immediately stopped. FGAs supported and upheld this policy for the protection of minors, and infractions were the exception.
59. Once Dad and Mama had given a clear sound of the trumpet instituting guidelines to protect our children, that became "the law of the land." From that point on, the proactive protection of minors became the rule of the day, and has been for over 20 years.
60. (Question:) How were cases of sexual interaction with minors handled that occurred before the excommunication policy was announced in 1989? Was this policy applied retroactively?
61. As I explained in the second GN of this series, infractions of the 1986 notice disallowing sexual interaction between adults and minors became excommunicable in 1989. Although in some cases, people were excommunicated for infractions of this policy prior to 1989, there were not clear-cut policies regarding the procedure of excommunication in place. By 1989, Dad had seen the need to publish a concise list of Family requirements and rules, as well as outline a policy for disciplinary actions. As I mentioned earlier‚ the development of our policies was a process that occurred over time. As it became apparent that such policies were needed, they were enacted, and this was the case with our child protection policies.
62. When the list of excommunicable offenses was published in July 1989 (see ML #2531, Vol. 19), there were 22 offenses which could result in excommunication, depending on the gravity of the offense. These were not published so as to apply them retroactively‚ as although for the most part they were based on quotes from already published MLs, these had been scattered throughout the pubs, and there hadn't always been a clear sound of the trumpet as to what discipline would be meted out in the case of infractions. So although many of these rules had been put in place before, 1989 is the year when the disciplinary measures became more defined, and at that time, it was also announced that disobedience of our rules prohibiting sexual interaction with minors would be excommunicable.
63. An awareness had grown in the world at large since the 1980s of the need to establish safeguards to protect children in situations where adults have easy access to children, especially when they hold a supervisory capacity or a position of authority over children. Family leadership also became aware of this need 20 years ago, and that is when our policies came into being. Most churches have only addressed this problem and implemented policies for the protection of minors in the past decade or so, and the media has accused churches of being slow to address the issue and to take measures to eradicate a problem that was centuries old in some cases (for example, in the Catholic Church). Even though we dealt with this issue swiftly once we became aware of the problem, and much earlier than most churches, as Mama said in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us," the Family should have had rules in effect much earlier that would have prevented any minors from being hurt. We didn't, and we regret that.
64. Once it was announced to the Family that any sort of sexual interaction with minors would result in excommunication, this became the Family's "law‚" and infractions were dealt with accordingly. You may wonder why we didn't focus our efforts on investigating past incidences of sexual interaction with minors and seek to excommunicate any individual that had acted on the understood allowance for this in some of the pubs.
65. The goal of our new law was to protect minors. Once it became clear to the Family that such interaction was not condoned and would result in excommunication, the risk of harm to children all but disappeared. Family members that had been acting on the theological arguments presented by Dad that sanctioned and encouraged such interaction, stopped immediately. Once Dad denounced it, ordered that any contact of this nature be banned, and renounced any and all literature indicating that it was permissible, the vast majority of Family members veered completely away from such interaction and strongly upheld the new law the Lord had laid down. Those who did not uphold these rules were excommunicated or otherwise disciplined, as the case warranted.
66. Anyone found to pose a risk to children is excommunicated from the Family and not allowed to rejoin. Such cases are rare in the Family, thankfully‚ and when discovered are dealt with speedily. Although this policy wasn't generally applied retroactively, any complaints regarding actions that may have occurred prior to the implementation of our excommunication policies in 1989 are investigated. We believe that it's quite clear to all, both to our membership and to those outside the Family, that we don't tolerate this sort of deviant behavior. These policies have proven to be highly successful in eliminating any risk of harm to our children.
67. As a second point, there are many precedents in history of societies that made moral turnarounds on issues, and created laws that were opposite to the preexisting cultural understanding and norms. It often took people quite some time to adjust their perspectives when such change represented a radical departure from the previously accepted status quo. In implementing these changes and creating new laws, the government did not penalize people for the preexisting behaviors and norms.
68. For example, in the U.S., long after African Americans were emancipated* in the late 1800s, they were treated as inferior and subjected to segregation, discrimination, inequality, and hardship due to the color of their skin. For centuries‚ whites had believed themselves superior and with a right to treat blacks as lesser beings, without rights or the capacity to operate on an equal level. This segregation and discrimination was pretty much the morally accepted code of behavior of society of that day‚ and the country's laws reflected that. (*freed from slavery.)
69. In the 1950s‚ the civil rights movement arose, and African Americans began to protest the discrimination, inequality and segregation. Many died protesting and fighting for their rights, until laws were enacted and enforced to protect their rights and eliminate segregation. Although the racial divide never completely disappeared in American culture, the previously legal segregation of African Americans is illegal and no longer exists.
70. Could the government of that day, in all fairness, go back in time and seek to penalize those who had been operating within the accepted moral code of their day? Once laws were enacted, those who had previously discriminated against African Americans, and enforced segregation laws, now had to abide by the new laws that mandated the exact opposite. If they repeated their former actions, they could be penalized according to the law, though it even took some time for the attitude of the courts to change in many parts of the country. But the courts generally could not go backwards in time and penalize those who had been technically operating according to the laws and morally accepted code of behavior of their day, even though those laws and behaviors were clearly wrong.
71. Courts very rarely apply laws retroactively, as it's generally deemed unfair to judge individuals by incidents and actions that occurred during a different moral and legal clime by the yardstick of the present laws and norms. It's not possible to qualify every instance of the past based on the context of the present or new legislation. Similarly, it was not possible for the Family to revisit every case that had occurred before our policies were in place‚ and attempt to judge those situations based on the legislation enacted in 1989.
72. In making this comparison between the moral turnaround the Family experienced on the issue of sexuality and minors, and similar ones that have occurred throughout history, it's important to bear in mind that we were a culture dropped out of the System‚ and for the most part, we followed the laws that the Lord and Dad had laid down, and considered those to be the guiding force of the Family.
73. In some cases, however, the Family's in-house moral and behavioral standard would not have fallen within local society's expectations, and we lacked in being aware and mindful of local laws and norms at that time. For this reason, when we published the Charter, which contains the full gamut of our rules and regulations, we stated that Family members should be mindful of the laws of the land in which they live. If the Word condones something that is not permitted in their country of residence, they should be mindful of that and consider tailoring their actions according to the laws of the land. For example, if it's not legal in a country for two 16-year-olds to marry, it would not be wise to attempt to do so, in defiance of the law, even though such a marriage would be allowed under the Charter, if the conditions to do so were met.
74. Here's a message from the Lord regarding how our new nation's constitution was formed.
75. (Jesus:) The Family of the '70s and '80s can be compared to an emerging country in a newly pioneered land, building a governmental structure‚ a constitution, and a bill of rights for its people. First, a new country and culture began when the Family was born in the late '60s amongst the counter-culture youth of America, and then spread to embrace counter-culture youth in Europe, Latin America, and beyond. Your David was given the message of Jeremiah, an anti-establishment message that struck a responsive chord in the hearts and souls of these dropped-out youths. It was a message of leaving the rules and norms of man in order to find the freedom and liberty My Spirit offers. It was a cry to revolute, rebel against, and discard much of the System's ideology and structure‚ in order to go back to My true plan.
76. As you can see‚ this was a move away from the status quo and norms of man, and as the new converts forsook their past lives and discarded the System, they rarely thought about its mores and rules, other than how it affected their witnessing and reaching the lost. A new culture was born, and David toiled tirelessly to address constitutional issues as they arose, to build parameters and to help structure this new nation, while at the same time not pouring it right back into the mold it had broken out of.
77. Although it may seem to you that it took a long time to produce a Charter, which codified the laws and rules of your new nation and articulated a system of rights and protections for individuals, in reality it took very little time. By the mid-1990s, just 25 years after your humble beginnings, you had a complex constitution, complete with guarantees and rights for each individual. You have built a comprehensive way of life outside of the System that is unique and successful. You have pioneered works in over a hundred countries and preached the Gospel to millions. Your ripple effect goes much further than that, as others have spoken to and taught others, and so continues the wonderful cycle of reaching the world and sharing the Good News.
78. Your Father David had the hope that each person who joined the Family would be so full of the Spirit that very little would be needed in the way of rules and enforcement. Of course, over time he came to understand that rules and enforcement were needed, and excommunication became the means of enforcement for serious offenses.
79. The Family built in laws to protect its youth, and these laws have stood the test of time. So although you are very sorry for any hurts that anyone experienced in the past, you can also be proud of the fact that action was taken, and you are determined to prevent hurt or harm happening again. That's what responsible government is all about. (End of message.)
80. In summary, when Dad and Mama announced that sexual interaction with minors was an excommunicable offense in 1989, this policy went into effect immediately and has remained in force as an irrevocable policy. The goal of this policy was to protect children and remove any risk of harm to them by excommunicating any member who did not obey these policies and thus placed children at risk. Any complaints regarding actions that may have occurred prior to the implementation of our excommunication policies in 1989 are investigated. The Family's excommunication policies became further defined from 1989 to 1994, and present-day enforcement (from 1994 onwards) is tough, and quite rigid, to protect our minors from abuse of any kind, and to ensure that in the rare cases when it does occur‚ it won't be repeated. These policies have been highly successful in eliminating the risk of harm to Family children.
81. (Question: ) Why in some cases were people who committed excommunicable offenses post-1989 not fully excommunicated, or excommunicated for a short period of time and allowed to rejoin? Why are some offenses currently dealt with more inflexibly than in past years?
82. As I explained in the first GN of this series, our perspective and understanding of issues, including our policies and how they are enforced, have matured and become more defined over time. This has been the case with our excommunication policies, and from the time Mama announced to the Family in 1989 that sexual contact with minors would be punished with excommunication‚ our policies and how they are enforced have been honed and defined to what they are today.
83. When Mama announced this policy to the Family, there was not a lot of "landing gear" in place to define the issues. It quickly became clear that leadership would need to be able to exercise some discretion in judging how these policies were carried out. For example, we didn't have a clear definition of what we considered a minor, and in fact in 1991, to give you an idea, those over 21 were not allowed to have sex with anyone under 21. Of course, this would mean that someone 22 years old would be excommunicated from the Family for having sex with someone 20 years old. I'm sure you will agree that this would be quite a harsh punishment for an action that is actually legal in the overwhelming majority of countries.
84. Therefore some discretion was given to field leadership to apply the necessary discipline according to the nature of the offense. The leadership of the time had to serve as judges, to rightly apply the law in a fair and equitable manner, in a way that would ensure that the element of risk to children posed by offenders was removed from the Family‚ while not meting out unjustly harsh punishment for indiscretions that did not pose a risk to others. Consensual encounters between those who would be permitted to have interaction by today's rules, or at most would be placed under probationary status, is an example of an indiscretion that doesn't pose a risk to the safety of children.
85. As you may know, for a number of years (from 1995-2003) excommunication could either be judged as "full" excommunication (as in no contact with the Family, no literature, and no membership), or what was known as "partial" excommunication, a lesser form of discipline in which the member lost their right of mobility, was not a voting member of the Home for a predetermined period (from three to six months)‚ had to forgo movies‚ alcoholic beverages, the Internet and computer games, and in some cases, depending on the offense, sex. There were a number of offenses for which a person could be partially or fully excommunicated, depending on the gravity of the offense, such as engaging in substance abuse, male with male homosexuality, sex with outsiders, sexual contact with minors, causing schism, violence, etc.
1) Charter members can be fully excommunicated from receiving Family literature and from Family fellowship.
2) Alternatively, if the continental office determines it to be appropriate and proportionate discipline for the offense, Charter members can be partially excommunicated. Partial excommunication must be for a period of not less than three or more than six months. (Procedures for Excommunication of Family Members, 1995 version of the Charter)
86. The reason continental offices were given some leeway to mete out a lesser punishment than full excommunication was because some offenses weren't as grave as others. For example, although having sex with an outsider is against our Charter rules, the gravity of the offense is not to be compared to a sexual offense involving a child. For the latter offense, the offender would be immediately and permanently excommunicated. However, for lesser sexual offenses, the continental office could mete out a lesser form of punishment, known at the time as "partial excommunication," which enabled the offender to make amends and be reinstated if they proved worthy of this dispensation of grace.
87. In May 2003, we did away with the concept of partial excommunication altogether‚ and now excommunicable offenses are judged accordingly, and lesser offenses which used to fall under partial excommunicable offenses are considered probationary offenses.
To clarify the Family's disciplinary boundaries and procedures‚ we will no longer have what was previously referred to as "Partial Excommunication." There will only be full excommunication. Therefore, we are now placing some of the rules that previously used to result in Partial Excommunication into the "Offenses Warranting Probationary Status," while others will remain in the "Offenses Warranting Excommunication."
Since there is no longer partial excommunication in the Family‚ we have amended the "Offenses Warranting Excommunication" to reflect this. Breaking these excommunicable offenses will result in full excommunication unless stated otherwise (Charter Amendments 2003, GN 1033).
88. In line with these procedural changes, excommunication was also slightly redefined. The current definition for excommunication is:
Excommunication: a disciplinary action excluding a member from being a CM [FD or MM] or FM Family member and disallowing the excommunicated member from receiving all but GP/DFO Family literature. The Continental Council can also disallow contact with Family Homes.
89. From time to time, the question arises as to why someone was not fully excommunicated, or was excommunicated for a time and then reinstated. In most cases‚ a decision of this nature would have been a judgment call of field leadership. In the earlier years, from 1989 until 1993, there was less definition and a greater allowance for the nuances in gravity and the difference between indiscretions and infractions that caused harm, and thus some miscalls may have been made. There weren't clear sentencing guidelines or a defined procedure for the application of excommunication, and I think in the earlier years that these policies were applied, in a number of cases leadership may have leaned more toward giving people the benefit of the doubt and leniency.
90. If any of you were on the receiving end of such a miscall, and you feel that leadership misjudged a situation that involved you or one of your children, we are very sorry that that occurred. To avoid such situations, we took steps in 1994 while drafting the Charter to build in definitive guidelines to assist leadership in making proper judgments, and to ensure that leniency was not applied in situations of risk or harm.
91. It may seem unfair to you, particularly if someone you know—your friend, sibling, husband or wife, son or daughter—has been permanently excommunicated for an offense for which others in the past may have received a "partial excom" sentence, or been allowed to rejoin after a period of excommunication. But as I explained in the GN "Charter Amendments 2003" (GN 1033), the rules themselves did not change—it is the enforcement of these policies which became more defined and clarified both for the Family and for leadership. This let everyone know where they stood and what would happen if they crossed the line. Remember also that in 1995, the Lord told us that to cross the boundaries on the rules that He had laid down regarding sexual interaction was sin, and not to be taken lightly. We have endeavored to make the rules and resultant consequences as clear as we possibly can to Family members, so that everyone is duly warned. Mama and I and your leadership believe that the current procedures for handling excommunicable offenses reflect the Family's determination to protect our children, and our zero tolerance policy toward child abuse.
92. (Question:) What if other mistakes are being made by leadership today that will have to be corrected and apologized for further down the line?
93. Mama and I, and the Family Policy Council, invest a lot of time and energy and desperation in seeking the Lord, to counsel and to come to the best decisions possible for the Family. We also rely on prophecy, not just from one or two channels, but from a number of channels for any decisions that will have an impact on the Family. Important decisions that affect the Family are discussed at length and voted on by the Family Policy Council, which is a body of all the RSs and the IBCs‚ and a few other WS appointees. They are also confirmed and reconfirmed in prophecy. The Word tells us that the multitude of counselors brings safety (Pro.11:14), and we rely on our counselors‚ both our heavenly counselors and our earthly ones, to help us to make prayerful, wise decisions that will benefit the Family.
94. Not only do Mama and I receive input and counsel from our leadership counselors, but we receive a vast amount of input and information from Family members around the world through a variety of means. A free flow of communication exists between the Family and Mama and me via Mama's e–mail box, where she receives approximately 1,000 e–mails a year (1,057 in 2007). These communications help us to understand the needs and heartcries of Family members of all ages, and your struggles and battles, and ultimately they help us to make well-rounded and balanced decisions and policy. And, of course‚ Mama and I pray for you and pray and counsel about what direction is needed in the GNs to provide the help and spiritual strengthening for the challenges you face.
95. The counsel that goes out in the GNs also undergoes a process of counsel and confirmations in prophecy. We work with a team of reviewers who read advance drafts of the GNs, and it's their job to study them and raise questions on points that aren't clear or to point out where they could be better explained or some important factor that may have been overlooked. All these comments are compiled and each point is taken back to the Lord. This process, although very time–consuming, helps the final GNs to be more well-rounded and complete. Some of the older Letters were not always so well-rounded, as they didn't go through a review process. Dad would often follow up one Letter with other Letters on the same topic, as problems or issues arose, to cover sides of the issue that he hadn't addressed in the original Letter. The process that the Lord has led us to set up today for Family publications helps to prevent mistakes or oversights, or misapplication of the Word, or ideas or concepts being put forth in the GNs without necessary safeguards.
96. In Dad's years of leadership, he operated differently than Mama and I do today. He had different gifts, a different anointing, and a different style of leadership. He led in a different day when a different style was needed. Mama and I work with a large body of seasoned leaders, many of whom have been in leadership for well over a decade and sometimes two. Dad didn't have that benefit. As our prophet and king‚ Dad received revelations or leadings from the Lord that were published as direction for the Family. These were often implemented without the benefit of the larger body of counselors that Mama and I have. During Dad's ministry, the Family hadn't yet fully grown into using the gift of prophecy for decision-making, as we do today. The overall Family, and Family leadership, is much stronger and more seasoned today than it was when Dad was with us. In that sense we have it much easier than he did. He had to make do with what he had, and he didn't have as much counsel available as we do. Therefore the chance of error was greater.
97. Of course, we are all human‚ and we can anticipate that some mistakes may occur, as that is a part of life and a reality of human nature. But Mama and I invest as much time, counsel and prayer as possible to bring that margin of human error as close to zero as possible.
98. Mama and I are extremely desperate to get things right, and we go through a long drawn-out process when it comes to decisions that will have an impact on the Family. Neither of us has the wisdom or knowledge on our own, nor even together, to lead the Family—we are well aware of this. We know we need the Lord, our spirit helpers, prophecy, and a multitude of counselors to confer with. Recently in prophecy the Lord said to us, "I have anointed you with great wisdom—wisdom enough to know that you don't know everything and the humility to admit it. Thus you seek the counsel of others, and thus you seek My counsel, and thus you make wise decisions."
99. So 'that's' Mama's and my wisdom—that we know that we don't have the answers in ourselves, and therefore we are very desperate to find God's will for the Family through the means the Lord has given us—counsel, prayer, prophecy, confirmation, etc.
100. So‚ while there is no absolute guarantee that mistakes of one kind or another will not happen in the future, the chance of them happening is much less today than in the past‚ mainly because we have set up many more checks and balances, we have a very seasoned, prayerful, and wise body of counselors to work with, decisions are brought to the Lord for confirmation in prophecy, and Mama and I have a process for making major decisions, which includes a broad base of counsel that we listen to. Although it takes longer for decisions to be reached through this process, we go the extra mile to ensure that the decisions reached are the best possible decisions for the Family. We feel that the safeguards that we have put in place when it comes to making major decisions that affect the Family will serve as protection against making serious mistakes that could jeopardize the Family or result in hurt, such as has happened in the past. Additionally, the Lord has led us to closely monitor how changes that are implemented play out over time, and to adjust these accordingly and to build in any needed safeguards to address problems that arise as quickly as possible.
101. In addition to the process that is gone through in reaching decisions and creating new legislation, there are also safeguards built in to the Charter to ensure that Family leaders of all levels operate according to established legislation and policies. There is much less left in their court as far as "judgment calls" and therefore much less chance of "miscalls." There are clear policies and legislation in place that define issues clearly both for Family members‚ as to what is expected of each of us, and for Family leadership, as to how to respond to situations that arise. The rights and responsibilities of individual members are clearly outlined in the Charter, and these include a number of protections for the rights of individuals. Leadership on every level is in a much better position today to serve the Family, and to fulfill their role as shepherds and leaders.
102. Please do continue to keep Mama and me in your prayers, so that we can pass on to you the Lord's direction for the Family. And please also pray for all of the Family's leadership, particularly your regional leadership, that the Lord will anoint them and give them great grace and wisdom for the big job they have and the responsibilities they carry.
103. (Question:) Considering the mistakes made in the past in regards to protecting minors from inappropriate sexual contact, how should we weigh the stories told by ex-members and apostates, to know what is true or false?
104. There's a lot already written in the Word about this topic (see MLs #3458, 3459), so for more complete counsel, please refer to the full explanation in the Word.
105. I want to remind you that even though we have stated that such mistakes happened in the past and we have sincerely apologized (and continue to apologize) for any hurt or harm that any may have suffered during their time in the Family, that doesn't mean that you should just take on board all the stories and accounts of our former members and apostates, or consider them the gospel truth. As Mama explained in "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us," in many cases these accounts have proven to be highly embellished, and even false. Testimony given in a number of Family court cases by our apostates has also been proven to be false, and has even been thrown out of court on occasion.
106. It can be an arduous and sometimes impossible task to sort through the fact and fiction in the stories of our former members and apostates. As I stated earlier in this series, a number of our former members do have genuine grievances, for which we have apologized and continue to apologize. And we hope that Family members do the same‚ and attempt to build bridges of reconciliation whenever possible with our former members, the vast majority of whom have successfully moved forward with their lives.
107. However, this does not negate the fact, also established by sociologists‚ that some former members, in particular apostates—those who actively campaign against their former religion—do tend to exaggerate, embellish, and even invent tales to justify their current position. Some tell horror tales, portraying their past lives as nothing but neglect and deprivation‚ which we know in the case of the Family are absurd and have little basis in fact.
108. The fact is, most religions, especially high commitment ones such as the Family, have members who eventually leave and no longer believe in that religion's doctrine or participate in the faith. A very small but vocal minority of those former members, termed by sociologists as apostates, devote their time and energy to fighting their former religion. Thankfully, in our case these comprise a very minute percentage of the 38,000+ former members of the Family, and they are not representative of the majority.
Every religion which makes claim to a definitive body of doctrine and practice which it regards as exclusively its own, is likely to be faced with the fact that from time to time some erstwhile members will relinquish their allegiance and cease to subscribe to the formalities of the faith, in at least some, perhaps all, of its teachings, practices, organization, and discipline.
The apostate is generally in need of self–justification. He seeks to reconstruct his own past, to excuse his former affiliations, and to blame those who were formerly his closest associates. Not uncommonly the apostate learns to rehearse an "atrocity story" to explain how‚ by manipulation‚ trickery, coercion‚ or deceit, he was induced to join or to remain within an organization that he now forswears and condemns. Apostates, sensationalized by the press, have sometimes sought to make a profit from accounts of their experiences in stories sold to newspapers or produced as books (sometimes written by "ghost" writers).—Dr. Bryan Wilson, 1926-2004. (Formerly a senior academic [Reader] at Oxford University in England)
109. Now, as I mentioned above, this doesn't mean that all complaints from former members or stories that recount negative experiences are false or exaggerated, nor does it make every former member who has complaints an apostate. Sadly, things happened to some people during their time in the Family that shouldn't have happened, and such things have happened to a number of folks who are no longer in the Family. Therefore, when some former members tell their personal stories‚ they are simply recounting what happened to them. Others may be recounting things that happened to them but have embellished the story, to the point that it hardly resembles the original occurrence. Others recount third-party stories—that is, stories about someone they knew or heard or read about‚ but that didn't happen to them personally. Others‚ especially apostates, may make claims that are either highly exaggerated or total fabrications that are purposefully spun to paint the Family in as negative a light as possible.
110. If you hear a former member's story, how can you know if it's true, embellished, or plain false? You probably won't know until you get to Heaven. So what do you do about it? Do you believe it? Do you reject it as all lies? Since you don't know whether it's all true, partially true, barely true, or not true at all, you shouldn't try to judge it. You should give it to the Lord by praying for the person. Clearly the person feels negative to some degree about their past, and that in itself warrants praying for them. Don't get all in a huff and claim it's all lies, or swear that such a thing never happened to them or to anyone in the Family. On the other hand‚ don't take in everything said as the absolute truth or accept it without question just because that's what they said happened. Most importantly, don't let their story stumble you; take it to the Lord and pray for the person.
111. Be Christian about it. Realize that they may be unhappy and hurt and trying to deal with their past. Pray for them. Be kind to them. Love them. Don't take it upon yourself to judge the situation. At the same time, you can be confident that, although mistakes may have happened in the past, the Family of today is very different from the Family of the past, and changes were made over 20 years ago to rectify mistakes of the past.
112. Of course, we have a small number of apostates who are committed to destroying the Family, who try to stir up the media against the Family in the hope that it will result in authorities taking action against the Family. In their case, it's best to pray for them that the Lord will work in their hearts and lives in whatever way He knows is best. The fact is‚ He knows what's true and what are lies. He knows the intent of their hearts and they are in His hands. So let's leave them there, shall we?
113. Let's also bear in mind that the vast majority of former Family members are not apostates. Most of those whom Family members are in communication with, or close to, and who continue to be part of our lives in love and friendship have processed the past and moved forward with their lives. Please understand, though, that some of them carry hurts from the past. Don't judge them, don't condemn them; please love them and pray for them. Amen?
114. (Question:) Should second-generation members feel that they need to be prepared to explain and answer for the pre–1986 era of the Family?
115. I hope that after studying through these GNs, you, our second generation members, as well as those who are new to the Family, have a better grasp of our history, and will feel more confident about explaining issues that arise relating to that era, if needed, or to give an answer to any who ask.
116. In saying this, I want to clarify that you of the second generation, and you who were not in the Family during that era, are 'not' responsible for the mistakes of the past‚ and you do not need to feel that you will be called on to carry the weight of answering for the past‚ taking responsibility for it, or apologizing for what happened in the past. You should, of course, be able to explain our history, the policies that were enacted for the protection of minors, and our current policies, as articulated in the Charter, as well as the apologies that were issued. But that does not equal taking responsibility for the mistakes of the past. That is not your responsibility to bear, so please know that the Lord and Mama and I do not expect this of you, nor should others.
117. In explaining controversies from the past, you can be proud of the fact that the Family of today has moved far beyond the mistakes of over 20 years ago, and these have little bearing on the present and the future of the Family. We have been open in acknowledging the mistakes that were made, we have officially apologized—and continue to do so—to any who suffered any sort of hurt or harm in the past, and we have taken strict measures to ensure that the Family is as safe an environment as possible for our children. Our prayer is that we can fully lay the past to rest, and that our former members are able to do so as well‚ so that they can move forward with their lives.
118. (Question:) How should we look at mistakes from experimental eras of our early history?
119. To start with, it's important that we all realize that there have been mistakes in our past, things we should have done differently, and things that shouldn't have happened at all. It's also important to understand that the start of the Family was a revolution. There was no written rulebook to follow, there was no Charter‚ there were no rules or guidelines except those which developed over time. At the beginning there were no books written on how to raise children in a communal Family Home; there were no instructions for how to teach and train teens in a revolutionary missionary group. There was no older generation of Family members with years of experience to draw from. The only older person in the Family (other than a handful of older folks who had joined) was Dad, and he was constantly busy trying to figure out how things were supposed to work, how to explain complex Christian doctrine to young adults, trying to find ways to reach the world, and trying to keep us on track spiritually.
120. Everything within the Family started from scratch‚ and we had to learn as we went along. There was no ready-made manual for our movement. We experimented until we found what worked best. We learned what didn't work through trial and error. We didn't know how to raise children until we started having them. We didn't know how to raise teens until we had some, and then we had to learn. It wasn't easy. Mistakes were made.
121. Some of you younger SGAs may not understand this concept because of how different things are today. The Family is much more structured. We have the Charter, we have rules and regulations. Many things that were brand-new to us at the beginning are now part of the fabric of the Family and have been for many years. It's easy to look at the past from today's point of view and say, "What were they thinking?!"
122. The fact is, we were learning. We were pioneering a completely different way of life from that of the System, with very little in the way of past experience or books to help us. And yes, mistakes were made. Are we happy about those mistakes? Of course not! Do we feel bad that people were hurt because of those mistakes? Absolutely! We are genuinely sorry for any and all hurt that anyone experienced within the Family at any time within our history. Can we change the fact that some people had negative experiences? Unfortunately, we can't. All we can do is apologize, ask forgiveness, and do everything in our power to make sure that such mistakes never happen again, and pray for those who were hurt, that they can find healing and closure.
123. We readily admit that people were hurt, and we have apologized for that. We have codified our rules and laws and have made every Family member aware of them. We are very sorry for any hurt that occurred in the past, especially in regards to occurrences of sexual contact between adults and minors. It should never have happened, but unfortunately it did.
124. So how should we look at it? How do we deal with the mistakes of the past, especially in the case of the misapplication of the Law of Love to sexual contact with minors? How do we, as a Family, bring healing to those who were affected negatively?
125. To begin with, as I said, we must acknowledge that due to this misapplication of the Law of Love, some minors were exposed to harmful or hurtful experiences. While most of our FGAs recognize this, some may not fully understand how deeply some of the SGAs have been hurt. Mama and I have heard of some FGAs being rather dismissive and self-righteous toward young people who have spoken of such past experiences in a negative light. If you fall into that category, as an FGA, that attitude is wrong, and you should ask the Lord to help you to take on His understanding of the matter.
126. We must also acknowledge that a number of FGAs were negatively affected as well, due to Dad opening the door to sexual interaction between adults and minors. People responded to this in many different ways, and most did not participate in such interaction. Some parents lived in small or even one–family Homes‚ and their children were not exposed to this. Others did not allow their minors to participate in such activities and did not feel it was appropriate. Some felt uncomfortable with the concept, and simply avoided it altogether. Others understood Dad's theological premise, but didn't feel comfortable with it being extended to practice or didn't interpret it as extending to practice.
127. Some didn't agree with it in practice or principle, but didn't feel they had an avenue to speak out or to express their concerns. At that point in our history, questioning Dad or the Letters was not accepted or encouraged. In the Family of today, if Family members read of a new move of the Spirit or a change in policy in the GNs, they have an avenue to write and express themselves if they have questions about it.—And, of course‚ the RSs have an open channel to express any concerns they have or feedback they receive from the field. People are encouraged throughout the Letters to feel free to write and share their hearts, and they won't get rebuked for doing so, even if what is burdening them would be considered a "doubt." In the past, to doubt was considered a major sin and something that people were not encouraged to share, but rather to get the victory over through study of the Word. Studying the Word to overcome doubts is a sound principle, but when doing so does not result in the peace of victory, it's important to seek help and share your heart with those who are spiritually strong, or your leadership, or Mama and me when necessary.
128. Over time, as the Family has matured, we have come to better define and understand the importance of upholding the right of the individual, and our Charter clearly defines the right that each Family member has to operate according to their own faith and conviction‚ as long as this is within the parameters of the rules and guidelines of the Charter. This concept has developed over time, as we have learned the balance between the right of the individual to exercise his or her personal faith‚ while fulfilling the responsibilities of discipleship, which include respecting and protecting the rights of others.
129. However, these were not the conditions that existed in the Family during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Therefore the misapplication of the Law of Love to sexual interaction with minors had a number of repercussions in the lives of people, both SGAs and FGAs. Some of our FGA parents have had to deal with sexual experiences that their children had‚ that they were not aware of and would not have approved of. Some have only heard in recent years from their now-grown children of incidents that happened. Some former members who have had such experiences blame their parents for not having better protected them, and this is a very heavy burden for those parents to carry. Those who suffered severe persecution in the form of prison during the early 1990s had to face allegations due to renounced writings or publications, which gave the authorities greater cause to investigate.
130. Mama and I want to express to you, FGAs, who suffered due to any of these circumstances, how sorry we are. As the Family's current leadership, we apologize to you that your lives were affected in many ways due to Dad opening this door, either because things happened to your kids, or some of your ex-member children have become bitter and it has strained your relations with them. We apologize to those of you who had concerns in the past and had no means of expressing them or having your concerns addressed. We are also sorry that some of you FGAs acted on Dad's writings, thinking to do good, while later discovering that these actions caused hurt. Mama and I are very sorry for any suffering that was caused, and we're sorry it happened. We thank you for how you have stayed faithful to the Lord despite the difficulties that these mistakes may have brought to your lives. We commend you for continuing to serve the Lord and to work toward making the Family of today what it is.
131. As SGAs, you need to understand that any FGAs in the Family today who had sexual contact with a minor back in the late 1970s or early to mid-1980s were most likely acting in good faith. They had no intention of causing you harm. For the most part, in the absence of Dad's writings they would have never taken part in such interaction. And once it was banned, they completely discontinued interaction of this nature and supported and upheld our strong policies against it.
132. There may have been a few FGAs who were not operating in good faith, and whose actions clearly contravened the guidelines of the Law of Love in place at that time. The sexually liberal climate of the Family during that era may have unwittingly given access to minors to such individuals who acted abusively, and their actions were harmful and coercive. Such actions were never condoned or given allowance for under any circumstances in the Law of Love at any period of the Family‚ and were a direct contravention of everything that Dad taught us about loving and caring for others. Mama and I sincerely apologize to any who suffered due to the lack of safeguards to protect you from such harm. We are confident that the excommunication policies enacted in 1989 were successful in expelling any such individuals from the Family many years ago.
133. With the safeguards in place over the past 20 years, the Family of today is a safe place for children. Although we can't undo mistakes from the distant past, we can look back and see the fruits of the efforts made by the Family to make our Homes safe havens for children. And we can look forward to an ever brighter future, as we continue to hear from the Lord, both as a movement and as individuals‚ for ways to provide the best possible care‚ protection and training for the children and young people the Lord has entrusted to our care. It's a huge challenge, and I'm sure none of us feel equal to the task, but we can know without a doubt that if we're following the Lord and are obedient to the Word, availing ourselves of the awesome key power at our command, He will work through us to meet the challenge and to give our children top-quality care, love, training, and spiritual input.
Healing and Closure
134. I pray that these GNs have been helpful to you and have provided context, perspective and understanding about this aspect of our past. Our prayer is that the Lord can bring closure in each of our lives to any aspects of this part of our Family's history that has affected us, so that we can be freed from those burdens and fully focus on all that He has ahead for us. We have so much to look forward to, as we continue to move forward and take our place as witnesses of the End, world changers, and prophets.
135. In this section, I want to discuss the steps we need to take to receive healing and closure.
136. First, forgiveness. This step isn't an easy one to take, but it's a fundamental spiritual step in receiving the Lord's healing and closure to such deep and complex matters. Forgiveness is not easy to understand with the mind—it is a supernatural gift of the spirit. It's one of the natural laws of the spirit that when we forgive others, our own lives and spirits are healed and made whole. As hard as it is to fully comprehend it‚ past differences, hurts and grievances can all be healed through forgiveness, love, and the oil of the Spirit. The Lord is able and willing to help you to forgive others. And if you truly forgive someone, that means you let go of whatever it is you're harboring in your heart against them. Without forgiveness, the healing process cannot be complete.
"The only way to heal the pain that will not heal itself is to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiving heals your memory as you change your memory's vision."—Lewis Smedes, from his book Forgive and Forget
The Gift of Forgiveness! [box]
(Jesus: ) A gift that is high on My "wish list" is the gift of forgiveness. In fact, it is in essence … why My Father sent Me on My mission to Earth. I came because of Our love and mercy, to show forgiveness and bring you back to Our fold‚ to wipe the slate clean, and to make everything right again—not by self-effort, but by love, and a choice to love despite all that had gone wrong. These are the things that I love to see you do, when you rise above your human nature and turn error into love and goodwill.
Give Me the gift of forgiveness. Forgive someone who has wronged you, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Forgiveness is a beautiful gift, and one that I treasure very much. You can picture yourself coming before Me with a gift in your hand. Maybe it costs you a lot to take the step to forgive, and when it does, the gift is even more precious to Me. Tell Me you want to give Me something that's on your heart‚ and then tell Me what the situation is, and tell Me that you forgive this person or persons. I will take this gift, carefully unwrap it, and hold it with tender care. I will then take My hands, place them on your heart, and heal the hurt that you feel, making the forgiveness complete (ML #3606:56, 58–60, Link 16; 2006).
(Jesus:) This will be a year of healing. It is a year of healing for the Family as they learn to set behind them the mistakes of the past.... [I]t is now time to set all that behind and to strive to heal the wounds of others and be healed of your own wounds.
Just as the rains of cleansing and healing in the Gap vision purged away the filth and soot, so the rains of forgiveness and oneness in Me must purge away the filth and ashes of past mistakes, failures, and wrongs. This is the healing that can now give each person the power to finish the battle.
How I long to bring the full deliverance promised in this year of jubilee into each heart. It would transform you, My Family‚ into a piece of Heaven on Earth. But to accept that unconditional love and forgiveness, and to then step forth to carry on the best you can, requires the humility of spirit that is willing to accept such a gift that goes beyond what your mind tells you is possible. It's the key to the door of freedom from the bondage of the mind.
My loves, if you can see it this way, it will give you a whole lot more faith for healing and progress and change, and that attitude of humility and faith will do so much to bond you together and heal the past (ML #3610:105‚107,126–127,71, GN 1184; 2006).
The Healing Power of Forgiveness [box]
By Dr. Deborah Newman
Before I ever forgave others or helped individuals learn to forgive, I always thought forgiveness granted all the benefits to the offender. In the process of struggling with forgiveness, I've found that it's my own soul that receives the greatest benefit from it. I've witnessed amazing changes in people through the healing power of forgiveness.
I'll always remember the most significant experiences of forgiveness in my life. These memories are of spiritual victories whereby God overcame the fear, rage and resistance created in my soul by another person's actions toward me....
When we've experienced the healing power of forgiveness, we never forget the release we feel in our souls. Through forgiving, we're able to forget "what lies behind" and reach forward to "what lies ahead" (Philippians 3:13), which involves letting go of the pain and being freed from hatred, fear and bitterness. We remember those painful circumstances in a way that gives us hope for the future. True forgiveness gives us back our lives.
137. A number of people were affected by this period of Family history. Dad's mistake in applying the Law of Love to sexual contact between adults and minors had serious ramifications in the lives of both SGAs and FGAs. In "An Answer to Him That Asketh Us," Dad apologized for any hurt he had caused anyone by his words or his actions (see ML #3016:63; Vol. 22). The question now is, if you were hurt because he opened that door, can you forgive him? I know that may not be easy for some of you, but if you can, it will be a major step toward your spiritual and emotional healing.
(Dad:) We won't have tears [in Heaven] or if we do, He says He'll wipe them all away! I guess we will have a few tears when we get there, when we think about all that we could have done that we failed to do and all of the unfinished work we leave behind. And you, our loved ones that (weeps) we'll wish we had loved more and we'll wish we'd been kinder to.
We'll be sorry for those cross words then that we spoke so quickly and so gruffly and roughly‚ impatiently! And we yell loudly and crossly and we're anxious to get things out of the way and get things moving. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I spoke to you that way, please forgive me, because I love you and I wouldn't hurt you for the world! I'm so glad He forgives and you forgive and still love me and that Jesus is going to wipe away these tears.
I think maybe we'll do some crying when we get there, to think about these things and our failures and our mistakes and our shortcomings and our sins and the unkind words and the unkind deeds or the neglect of kind deeds. But He's gonna wipe away all these tears then. Maybe we'll shed a few thinking about it and thinking about you that we've had to leave for a little while, but then He's gonna wipe away all the tears and there'll be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more crying, no more death, no more sadness. PTL! Hallelujah! TYJ! Isn't that wonderful? After today, God's tomorrow is going to be a day of gladness (ML #1532:18-20, GN Book 12; 1981).
138. FGAs, any of you who acted on Dad's allowance for sexual contact with minors, or who were responsible for your minor children or other minors in your care being permitted to do so‚ you need to ask the Lord's forgiveness for any hurt that was caused to our older SGAs. Mama and I believe that those of you who did so acted in accordance with your understanding of the Law of Love, and at the time didn't believe this to be detrimental. Nevertheless‚ hurt did occur. Therefore, if you haven't already, you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for any hurt or harm your actions may have caused.
139. Many of you may feel that you weren't personally responsible for any hurt that occurred, and therefore perhaps this doesn't apply to you. However, in our "one wife" communal Family, if one member hurts, the entire body hurts. As FGAs, we should each ask the Lord for forgiveness for the hurt that any of the SGAs—our children—suffered in the past, regardless of whether we personally had a part in this or not.
140. SGAs, those of you who suffered any negative or harmful experience in the past, can you take the step of asking the Lord to help you to forgive any FGAs that hurt you or that you feel were in some way responsible for this—whether Family leadership, parents or caregivers? I acknowledge that this may not be easy, but for the sake of your spiritual life and your future, it's extremely important that you do. Mama and I believe that most, if not all of you‚ have already done so. But if you haven't‚ or if you have any lingering doubts about whether you have forgiven those who have hurt you in some way, or those who were responsible in any way for allowing it to happen, please ask the Lord to help you to give this burden to Him and to forgive.
141. The only way to full and complete healing is forgiveness, which is why Mama and I implore you to forgive. Please forgive all Family FGAs for the mistakes of the past. We understand that you suffered due to these mistakes and you should have been protected from harm, and we are deeply sorry. Please accept that we have worked hard to make the Family a safe place for everyone, especially children. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that your children receive the best possible care and are safe from harm.
142. The simple fact is that these things should not have happened to you. They were wrong. It wasn't the Lord's will that they happened to you. But unfortunately they did. We're very sorry they did, but even our being sorry and asking for forgiveness doesn't wash away the fact that it happened. Even though we can't change the past‚ the Lord is able to help you to forgive and to rise above the past and any negative effects you have experienced as a result. Jesus can bring victory. Through His wonderful keys, He can free you from anything that may be holding you back because of your past experiences.
143. "Through the key of My healing balm, I will touch every hurt, every heartache, every past experience that would try to keep you bound, and will bring healing and restoration to you, that you may continue to move forward, ever forward, in service to Me and others."
144. Mama and I fervently pray that you're able to take these matters to the Lord so that He can empower you to shed the past, and to move on to the future unfettered by any past negative experiences.
145. Lastly, Mama and I feel it would be beneficial for us all‚ SGAs and FGAs, to personally take some time in prayer within the month after reading these GNs in regards to this matter. If you are an FGA who may have had or allowed sexual contact with minors, please ask forgiveness of the Lord for any hurt it caused. Or if you or your children were hurt, due to the actions of others, please ask the Lord to help you to forgive, and to forgive Dad for opening the door to sexual contact with minors. If you are an SGA, please come before the Lord and offer forgiveness toward anyone who hurt you in the past. Ask Him to help you to rise above the past and to make your steps into the future free from any negative past experiences. And if these issues haven't touched your life personally in any way‚ please ask the Lord to bring closure and reconciliation to all those who were affected by them, and to bring healing to our land.
146. Many of you were either not a member of the Family during this time period or you were a child or young person whose life was not affected by this mistake of the past, and you may be wondering how this applies to you. In your case, you can ask the Lord to bring full healing and closure to the Family and to any who are carrying burdens from the past, so that we can lay these issues to rest and move forward into the future, unencumbered by mistakes or burdens of the past.
147. If we can each come before the Lord to ask and give forgiveness, that will play a large part in healing any wounds of the past. And this holds true not only for sexual matters, but for any mistakes, misjudgments, excessive or harsh discipline that was meted out or received, or any other negative experience that you as an individual may have had or been responsible for. Let's ask God's forgiveness and let's forgive others, so that we can move forward into the future with these issues of the past settled in our hearts, with cleansed and healed spirits.
Laying the Past to Rest
148. In the process of finding forgiveness and healing, it's also important to allow others to lay the past to rest. Although you may wonder if you should apologize to someone for something that occurred in the distant past, it might be better not to approach them to do so, as they may prefer not to have to revisit the past through such direct communication. The goal is to find personal closure and healing, not to reexamine the past and compel others to do so. So the most important step is to bring this to the Lord and to settle these matters in your own heart. If you wonder whether you should take any other steps besides those listed here‚ please counsel first with your shepherds.
149. It's understandable that in the process of forgiving others, you may find it difficult to truly leave the past behind‚ to where these experiences aren't in the forefront of your mind, or you don't find yourself dwelling on them, or feeling the need to bring them up to others. The next step to finding full closure is to ask the Lord to help you to leave the past behind. Dwelling on it, or bringing it up in casual conversation‚ will not be conducive to taking this step and laying the past to rest—nor will it help others to lay the past to rest. If you find you have a hard time truly letting go of the past, please go to the Lord, ask your shepherds for prayer and counsel‚ and ask the Lord to help you to truly forget those things which are behind, while you press onwards toward the mark for the prize of His calling in your life.
150. After you've taken these steps, you may feel that you've successfully put the past behind you, only to find that it comes up again or at some point is unexpectedly raised in your heart or mind. This can be troubling and can cause you to feel that you'll never be able to truly put these sensitive personal matters behind you and move on. If you find this happens to you, don't worry or feel hopeless. It's important to realize that finding closure is a process, and that process can be somewhat different for each individual. Receiving the Lord's healing and finding closure often takes time, so don't conclude that "it's not working" for you if you don't feel better or "healed" right away. As long as you're doing your part, following these steps, and sincerely asking the Lord to heal your heart and free you from the past, He will, even if it takes some time. That's His promise, so trust Him. Mama and I are praying for you, and the whole Family will be praying for healing and closure‚ so we know He's bound to bring victories and deliverance for each of us.
A Word to our SGAs
151. Mama and I want to say an extra word to any of you SGAs in the Family who may have had negative experiences in the past. We believe that you've forgiven and moved on, because you're still here serving the Lord and loving others, and we're thankful for each of you who've made the commitment to serve the Lord in the Family.
152. Mama and I want to let you know how important and precious you are to us. We pray for you and your children, we counsel with Family leadership—many of whom are your fellow SGAs—about your needs, and our goal is to ensure that the Family is the best it can be for you, and for all our second and third generation. We're proud of you for taking up the torch and being pillars in your Homes and regions. You are fulfilling Dad's vision of so many years ago for the young people, received when you were just young teens‚ and your contributions and tireless efforts and investment are crucial to ushering the Family into its future.
153. We pray that the apologies we've expressed in this GN will help to heal any wounds you may have and help you to lay any burdens from the past to rest. If you ever need to speak personally about any incident from the past that may continue to trouble you, please don't hesitate to speak with your shepherds, or to write Mama and me. We want to do everything we can to help you and to support you in your walk with the Lord, and if you feel led to share your heart with us, please know that we will fervently intercede on your behalf for peace, closure and healing. Mama and I feel honored to have such wonderful mates and comrades in arms.
154. Please accept our apologies in the spirit in which they were given, from our hearts to yours. We may not know the innermost burdens or weights in each of your hearts, but Mama and I care, and we pray that our wonderful Lover will work every circumstance in your life, both past and present‚ to His wonderful good purpose.
155. Since 1993, Mama and I have issued seven official apologies to current and former members in regards to any grievances relating to experiences in the Family (please see the compilation of these apologies in ML #3529, GN 1119). In these apologies we addressed any questionable past actions regarding discipline‚ education‚ or sexual misconduct that may have taken place. These apologies were sincerely given, and Mama and I stand by them today.
156. Since these apologies were scattered throughout the pubs, in the midst of Letters covering other topics, the Lord has led us to take this opportunity to offer a personal apology addressed to you, our SGAs, as well as our former member SGAs. Please feel free to share this apology with any former members that you feel would benefit from it. For the purpose of making this apology easily available in a format to share with former members, we are including it as a separate publication (see "An Open Letter of Apology from Maria and Peter"). It will also be available on the MO site (at http://www.familymembers.com/pubs/pub.ml.3673a), so that you can download it at any time when needed. There's also a copy included at the end of this GN for your reference.
157. I pray that this series of GNs, although it covered some difficult subjects, has helped to answer questions and clarify issues from the past. We don't want to continue to dwell on the past with the many wonderful things we have to work toward in our future. However, we pray that understanding our history will serve as a tool to help you place it in context in relation to the Family of today and the future.
158. We are now building for the future, armed with greater wisdom‚ and a wonderful foundation and heritage of faith. We're committed to making the Family the best place in the world to serve Jesus—for our children, youth, and adult members alike—with our ever-present goal being to win others to Him and His service. We're moving forward toward our destiny, and the years of greater fruitfulness the Lord has promised lie ahead as we move into the offensive. Let's continue to push forward and claim the land the Lord has promised us!
With love, admiration and prayers from Mama and me,
An Open Letter of Apology from Maria and Peter
January 1, 2008
Dear Current and Former Second Generation Family members‚
Although we have written a number of apologies in Letters published since 1993, we felt we could express these more personally if we published an apology specifically addressed to each of you, the second generation of the Family, whether you are still a member or have chosen another path for your life.
Peter and I, as the Family's current leadership, want to personally apologize to you for anything negative or hurtful which may have happened to you during your youth or time in the Family. We acknowledge that from the latter part of the '70s to the mid-1980s the Family wasn't as safe an environment for children and young teens as it should have been. We sincerely apologize that you were not better protected when you were younger. We are very sorry if you had any untoward sexual experiences. We apologize if you were treated harshly in any manner or received excessive discipline at any time, or if any of you did not receive an adequate education.
We apologize to you, our former members, if you felt stigmatized upon leaving the Family, or if you didn't get all the help and support you felt you needed or wished you would have had. We regret any actions by anyone that were unloving, unkind, hurtful or harmful.
We acknowledge that some of Dad's writings misapplied the Law of Love to sexual contact between adults and minors, and as such were the direct cause of any misconduct that occurred at that time. This was rectified in 1986, when any sexual contact between adults and minors was banned.
We regret that this policy was not in place during the earlier years of the Family to protect minors from hurt or harm. Sadly, because such rules were not in place, some of you experienced inappropriate sexual contact with adults, and we acknowledge that abusive actions occurred. You should not have been exposed to such situations. It was wrong that it happened. We are deeply sorry for this. If any harmful occurrences of any kind happened to you at any point during your time in the Family, we are truly sorry.
Dad bears the responsibility of promoting sexually liberal doctrines, while not putting in place strict rules to protect minors from inappropriate behavior or harm. As the sole authority for deciding what was published at that time, he also bears responsibility for any harm which occurred because of these writings. In 1988, Dad renounced any and all literature which alluded to sexual contact with minors, and by 1994 this had been expurgated altogether from Family writings.
Clearly articulated and strict rules to protect minors from inappropriate sexual behavior are in place today and have been since 1986. In mid–1989 any such contact was made an excommunicable offense. We acknowledge that for the first year or two after this policy was enacted, in some instances leadership were lax regarding the length of the excommunications; however, these rules soon became very strict and remain so today.
Further measures were taken in the early '90s, to uphold the rights of children and to ensure that they would receive the best quality of care, education and upbringing possible. Since 1995, with the publishing of the Charter, clearly articulated rules and regulations have been in place to govern all aspects of Family life. The rights of children within the Family are clearly defined therein, as well as the rights and responsibilities of parents. Guidelines were put in place to ensure that any discipline of children was appropriate. Rules regarding education, leadership authority, medical decisions, etc., are codified, placing the ultimate authority and responsibility for all decisions pertaining to their minor children in the court of the parents. Our Charter also restated our zero tolerance policy regarding any form of abuse of minors. The Charter has been‚ and continues to be, the Family's governing document since 1995, and is adhered to. We are confident that these guidelines have served to ensure that Family Homes provide as safe an environment as possible for children and young people.
We wish we could change the past, but sadly that's not possible. As the Family's leadership of today, we ask your forgiveness. To any Family member or former Family member who suffered hurt or harm because of the effects of Dad's misapplication of the Law of Love, or mistreatment of any kind‚ by anyone, we are truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness.
We pray that you will accept our apologies as a sincere‚ heartfelt attempt to express our regret for any pain or unhappiness you experienced during your youth or time in the Family. We pray that this apology will help you find healing and closure.
Maria and Peter