New York Post: My life and times as sex sect's sacred slut

From XFamily - Children of God

New York Post/1998-06-21

Like many children of the '60s, Miriam Williams was a rebel and an outsider who just wanted to belong. So in 1971, when a cult member invited her to live with "God's Family," the 17-year-old got on a bus, left her home and never looked back. What began as a benign communal life quickly degenerated into a downward spiral of group marriage and sharing of sexual partners. Programmed by the cult to believe too much thinking was dangerous, Miriam accepted an arranged marriage that produced a son. Soon she was offering herself as a sacred prostitute to strange men around the world because of a bizarre practice called "flirty fishing." If Jesus was a fisher of men, the cult leader preached, then the women of the cult could "fish" by providing sex to lost souls.

King Arthur Series

The group of letters known as the King Arthur series were finally being distributed to the Family of God's Love, and like me, the other members of the cult located in Paris were struggling to find out what this would mean for us.

The King Arthur letters explained a new method of proselytizing, called "flirty fishing," or "FFing" for short.

In this series of letters, the leader and founder of the Children of God, Moses David, Mo for short, laid out in detail the new doctrines that changed the Family permanently from a radical Jesus People commune into a sacred sex cult.

Mo's secretary, traveling companion and lover, Maria, became our first woman to try out this new method of recruiting men to the Lord.

I never met her, but from the eyewitness accounts of those who knew her, she was not a pretty woman. Mo himself had written that Maria used to be a quiet, homely girl with buck teeth and a very bad complexion.

He beautified her by putting her on a strict diet, telling her what to wear and how to do her hair and giving her such love that her face literally beamed. With Maria in tow, Mo went to dance classes and ballroom dancing establishments in order to recruit new members into the Family.

They finally met Arthur, a rather hapless man. Maria took him to bed on Mo's advice, and she hooked him on God's love.

How this actually transpired was detailed in the King Arthur letters. Mo sent Maria in to seduce Arthur through sex.

The metaphor of fishing was loosely taken from Jesus' instructions in the Bible to become "fishers of men."

Arthur was hooked. Since Mo was not about to give up his beloved Maria for the man, he instead took Micah's wife, the beautiful Beth, and introduced her to Arthur.

Beth, after giving Arthur all the sex he wanted, convinced him to join the Family. Arthur became known as a "king," since he was "fished in" personally by Mo.

Of course, mixing sex with religion was sure to cause a scandal, but it wasn't until Mo took a flock of sexy young women to Tenerife, an island off the coast of Africa, to practice and preach this method openly, that the press began taking a serious interest.

Eventually, popular magazines such as the German Stern sent reporters and photographers to the small island, and Mo's first public photo appeared depicting him as an old religious guru with a bevy of women.

Dressed with low necklines, Mo quickly became the scandal of the town. Besieged by reporters and police, he had to flee the island, but not before he laid a curse on the place.

Uncannily, the island had a major airplane crash the day he left it for good.

"Flirty Fishing"

Although I was wondering how "flirty fishing" would affect me, I soon became distracted because my real sister, Ruby, 8 years younger than I and now almost 16 years old, was coming to spend the summer with me.

I had stayed in contact with my mother over the years through letters and convinced her that my husband, Cal, and I were not the crazy, perverted people that she had read about in the anti-Children of God articles put out by the churches.

My mother believed, or wanted to believe, that we behaved like good Christians. So when Ruby asked if she could visit me in Paris for the summer, my mother agreed.

Ruby had always been a bit rebellious and - somewhat like me - did not seem to fit into any groups at school. But she enjoyed communal life, and after a month she told me she wanted to join the Family.

I discussed it with my home leaders, and for some reason, they thought she should go to the colony we had set up in Holland for new disciples. I think they wanted to get her away from her big sister's sheltering arms.

While in Amsterdam, Ruby was taught about our new recruiting practices, although she was too new in the Family to do it herself.

Meanwhile, all the letters about "flirty fishing" had been leaked to the American press, and the churches were notifying everybody about our evil ways.

My mother immediately called my house and wanted Ruby home. Since my sister was not there, it was all I could do to calm my mother down, ensuring her that Ruby would be sent back soon.

My mother was terribly angry, and we had Ruby returned to Paris and then sent her back home.

I think my little sister had not really understood all that was going on in the Family, but she knew enough, and it was to haunt her the rest of her life.

Like myself, it would take her years to figure out concepts like right and wrong, and she returned to America promising to join the Family when she was of legal age.

She never did. Needless to say, this episode made my relations with my relatives rather strained for years to come.

Over the edge

My robotic obedience to the Family was soon tested to its limit.

At our house in Paris we heard that wealthy Italians were coming to see our Show Group which proselytized through music and dancing.

Since these were men from the upper classes who held positions of influence in their country, we were told to please them in any way they wanted, with whomever they wanted.

One of them, Flavio, was called a "king," indicating that he must have given us some financial support already.

After Flavio saw one of our shows in the Paris area, a manager named Ben came to see me in the dressing room.

"Flavio wants you to come to the club with us," he informed me.

"Have you asked Cal?"

"We said we would have you home tonight, and Magdalene would spend the night with Flavio."

By now I had become accustomed to just obeying orders, having learned that I was going to have to obey or leave the Family in the end.

Also, we all knew that fishing was under way in Paris, and although I was never asked to participate, I was sure it was just a matter of time.

I had decided to belong to a social experiment called the Family, and this was just another variable; no one was twisting my arm.

And, how would we ever start a new society if everyone balked at each new experience?

Sure, it seemed strange and deviant, but that is what living over the edge is about.

Accepting Family ideology by faith, I gave my body much as a soldier is taught to give his or her life.

And truthfully, Flavio was not so bad. He was a sweet, charming Italian, and I had enjoyed talking to him at the party where we first met.

I was not in love with my husband, Cal, and he knew this was coming as much as I did, although we had never talked about it.

I went to the club, and Flavio danced only with me.

It was clear Flavio wanted to spend the night with me. Ben was sent to get Cal's permission, and I was told by another brother that my husband had agreed.

I was taken off in a car, and Flavio and I went to the blue room, which had already been prepared.

It was my first experience of being offered as live bait to a man.

Doing God's Duty

During my experiences with Jacob, I had already crossed the threshold of moral ambiguity, and the detailed instructions in the Mo letters provided me with both a rationalization and a script to follow in sexual encounters.

Through letters like "Revolutionary Sex" and "Revolutionary Lovemaking," we had learned anything we did not already know about making love.

In the Arthur letters, and later in the letters written from Tenerife, Mo went into detail about how to massage the man, how to give oral sex and other sexual practices that were pleasurable for a man.

I knew that being a witness to God was my main job, and although the letters told mostly of men who had already been witnessed to, Mo assured us that God's Spirit would shine through us as we made love.

I wasn't so sure of that, but I was not afraid or shy that first night.

In fact, I found it easy to perform my role without any emotional attachment or moral dilemma.

As always, I did not use any type of birth control, but I was not even worried about becoming pregnant.

Flavio evidently had been witnessed to by our women and seemed to know the salvation message; I think he was already saved.

That was a relief, because I was too tired to preach to him.

Although he was extremely handsome, and had a better physique than any man I had ever seen, I don't remember feeling any pleasure. I did not experience pleasure in sex for many, many years.

First it was a duty, then a tool, and finally a burden. But I was very good at faking pleasure. I often had myself convinced.

The next morning I woke up and wondered what I was to do now.

Flavio was still sleeping, so I got out of bed before he would wake and ask for me. I knew I had to get back to Cal.

He had probably been pacing the floor all night, waiting for me to come back and make love to assure him that I was still his.

I dressed quietly and went downstairs, looking for someone to give me some metro tickets. Ben was in the kitchen drinking coffee. He had been up all night.

"Did you hear the commotion last night?" he asked.

"No, what was it?"

"Cal came over and was trying to get upstairs to pull you out of bed. We had to stop him forcibly."

"But he said it was OK."

"Who told you that?"

"Micah did."

"Well, we never got his OK, but we never really needed his OK anyway. Mo has given us ultimate authority," Ben explained to me.

"Cal threatened to break down the door. I calmed him down and took him home. Come on, I'll drive you back."

All the way home, Ben advised me to be kind and tender and give Cal anything he wanted, as if it was my fault that this had happened.

I had been up half the night already, and now I envisioned another few hours making up to Cal.

Losing Desire

The physical drain of the last twenty-four hours left me little energy to think about emotional issues.

I did what I was told to do. I was being a good soldier of God. But in the back of my mind, I thought, "Hey, it's me that gave my body - I did the work! What's all this fuss about, Cal?"

Well the truth was, my body belonged first to God, then to the Family, then to my husband.

Actually, the God and husband part is in the Bible; we added the Family.

Ben came in with me and promised that from now on Cal could be in charge of my extramarital affairs, especially those with men outside the Family.

True to their word, Cal took over as my only fisherman, and he gave me away sparingly at first.

Cal became known as the most possessive and jealous husband in the Show Group.

Other husbands did not have the problems that Cal did with sharing their wives, as far as I could tell.

I say this because most wives began to go out regularly on club excursions with male leaders, but I only went if Cal was along.

Of course, Cal had calmed down considerably by the time I got there in the morning.

First, he wanted to make love passionately. Then he wanted me to tell him the whole story, minute by minute, of what had happened.

Where did Flavio touch me? Where did I touch him? How many times? And more and more. I made up some parts just because I couldn't remember every detail, even though it was only the night before.

It just wasn't that important to me.

Now ask me about the details of how my son laughs when I tickle him, or how he climbs up the slide ladder by himself, his strong, solid legs pegging each step like a carpenter's hammer, and that I can tell you.

But sex? It was all the same to me.

The word desire was never mentioned. If it had been, I could have honestly told Cal that I did not desire Flavio any more than I desired him.

If someone had asked me about desire, I would have realized much earlier that desire was not part of my sexual relationships, and I could have begun to try to understand why it wasn't.

As a teenager I had wanted sexual experience primarily because sex was part of the hippie scene; as a wife, it was part of the marriage institution; in the Family, it was part of witnessing and loving others.

I don't think I ever desired sex or felt aroused. I wanted to be touched and hugged - to be cared for - but I had learned that intimate touch invariably meant sex also.

If Cal would have asked me these questions, perhaps we could have understood the problem, but Cal wanted to know if I still loved him.

I couldn't believe he was asking me.

Didn't he remember that I tried to leave him? I knew that he wanted to be loved romantically and deeply as a lifetime soul mate, but he knew the rules of the Family as well as I: We loved everybody unconditionally. I answered him in Family jargon.

"Yes, I love you!" I said, hoping he would let me rest for a while before I had to go out witnessing. He took me in his arms, and I felt so very uncomfortable.

Who was I anyway? And who was this man holding me in his arms? In many ways, being with a stranger for one night of witnessing was better than feeling like a stranger with your husband every night.

I often consoled myself with the thought that the majority of women do not know their husbands, and those ideal stories of romance and love I had heard before I married were just system lies, like almost everything else, as we had been told.

After my initiation with Flavio, I had a battle within myself over using sexual favors to lure converts to the Family.

Whether I was rationalizing or not, I finally concluded that I was helping the men I loved through a sexual channel.

I personally believed in Jesus' salvation message, and even if these men had not asked Jesus into their heart, at least they had heard the message.

One day they would remember.

From the book "Heaven's Harlots," by Miriam Williams. Copyright 1998 by Miriam Williams. Reprinted by permission of Eagle Brook/William Morrow & Co., Inc.