Family's History, Policies, and Beliefs Regarding Sex, The—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.
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.
* 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!—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.
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
(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).
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.
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.
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,
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
Copyright © 2008 by The Family International
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