LC: 43. OFFENSES WARRANTING EXCOMMUNICATION
Charter Members will be excommunicated for:
A. Engaging in sexual activity with non-Family, or non-Charter members.
1. WS leadership may, in exceptional cases, permit Charter Members to engage in sexual activity with live-out members and long-standing Family friends. In such rare instances, permission will be explicitly given to the member concerned and to their continental office.
Charter Members are not permitted to engage in physical sexual activity with outsiders, or even Fellow Members, for various reasons. One reason in particular is because we do not want Family members to get AIDS. "Sexual activity" is not limited to only sexual intercourse, it includes any and all physical sexual activity, including deep kissing.
There are some live-out members and Family friends who became members or befriended the Family before 1987 during the FF era. In a few rare instances these relationships became de facto marriages, and thus sexual contact was allowed to continue. WS leadership has approved these cases, and the continental offices involved are aware of each case.
All sex with outsiders is now banned! (Unless they're long-term close and well-known friends!) (ML #2531:13.)
B. Engaging in any male-with-male sexual activities.
It is our Bible-based belief that male homosexuality is ungodly. Family members will be excommunicated for engaging in such activities. This clause is purposely worded in this manner to make it very clear that it is strictly forbidden for men to have any kind of sexual activity whatsoever with other men.
Sodomy is male homosexuality, or "men with men doing that which is unseemly," and which God strictly forbids and severely judged as the most evil and abominable sexual sin of all (ML #258:16).
Sodomy is [a] very serious excommunicable offense (ML #2717:25.)
C. Engaging in sexual activity with new or rejoining members who have been in the Family for less than six months.
This is the "no sex with babes rule," which has been a Family rule for a long time. The reason for this rule is two-fold: First, because beginning sexual relationships with either a new or rejoining member diverts their attention from the most needed aspects of babes training, which include getting into the Word, building a relationship with the Lord, and learning to live within the Family. Sexual or romantic relationships during those first six months are viewed as an unneeded distraction.
The second reason is because new members need to get an AIDS test when they first join and then be re-tested after six months. We want to ensure that they are not HIV-positive and/or do not have AIDS. Medical evidence indicates that it is best to check someone twice, at the beginning and end of a six-month period, providing sufficient reassurance that they are not carrying the HIV virus.
Sex with babes (new disciples in the Family less than six months) is an excommunicable offense. "No-sex-with-babes" means just that--No sex! Not even mutual masturbation, oral sex or whatever, and not with condoms either! (ML #2531:12.)
We're an army, and when babes join they need to go through their initial training and boot camp without the complications of personal relationships. They need time to fall in love with Jesus and the Word first, then later when they are stronger they can be trusted with the added blessing of sexual fellowship (ML #1909:20.)
D. Those over the age of 21 engaging in sexual contact with those under the age of 21. The only exceptions being:
This means that no one age 21 or older is permitted to engage in sexual contact with anyone under 21, except for the particular age groups mentioned and under the circumstances listed below. Anyone over 16 who engages in sexual contact with anyone outside of their age range will be excommunicated under this rule for these offenses. (See Definition of Terms for the meaning of "sexual contact.")
1. Those who are 18, 19 and 20 years old are allowed to engage in sexual activity with Charter Members up to seven years older than themselves, as well as those within this age bracket. Thus, an 18-year-old may, if they wish, have sex with those from the ages of 18 through 25 inclusive, a 19-year-old may have sex with those who are 18 through 26 inclusive, and a 20-year-old may have sex with those who are 18 through 27 inclusive.
2. Those who are 21 through 25 may have sex with anyone who is 18 or older, as long as it is with mutual consent.
3. Those who are 26 may have sex with anyone 19 or older, as long as it is with mutual consent.
4. Those who are 27 may have sex with anyone 20 or older, as long as it is with mutual consent.
5. Those above the age range of points 1-4, who are engaged to marry someone between the age of 18 and 20, after three months of engagement, in accordance with the Marriage Rules, D.
6. If two members were within the appropriate age range and regularly sharing together sexually, and one moves out of the age range of the other, they may request permission from the continental office to continue sharing together. The continental office may grant permission if they feel it is warranted. (See Sex and Affection Rules, H.)
This only applies to two members who were in the same age group and sharing together, but then one has a birthday that takes them out of the age range of their partner. For example, if a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old have been having dates, and then the 20-year-old turns 21 but the 17-year-old has not yet turned 18. They could request permission from their CROs to continue sharing together until the younger partner turns 18. The CROs, in counsel with resident parent(s) or guardian(s) of a 17-year-old, have the authority to grant or deny such permission.
7. No sexual activity, which includes deep kissing, is permitted by those ages 28 or older with those under the age of 21.
If we hear of anybody who violates these rules, we're going to immediately excommunicate them! Any such [sexual] involvement with minors is definitely against our rules! (ML #2536:12.)
E. Refusing to accept and fully discharge their minimum responsibility as outlined in "Living the Lord's Law of Love Series"--parts 6 and 7, ML #3206, GN 809; and ML #3207, GN 809, when a single or married man has impregnated a single woman. Unless the single woman has released the man, or the man is automatically released, as per the conditions set in sections L. and M. of Sex and Affection Rules.
Single men or couples will be excommunicated fully or partially for refusing to accept or fully discharge their minimum responsibility at any stage during the period of their parenting teamwork responsibilities with a pregnant woman or single mother that has had a child with the man.
F. Engaging in substance abuse and/or the use of illegal or illicit drugs.
We chose the terminology "substance abuse" to cover the full range of possibilities, both legal and illegal. Some intoxicants are not illegal, but the use of them is considered abuse. For example, sniffing glue or taking certain over-the-counter drugs for non-medical reasons can result in getting "high." Even though not illegal, those activities would be considered substance abuse.
We added "the use of illegal or illicit drugs." The definition of "illicit" is "not sanctioned by custom or law." Family members should not be taking illegal drugs or drugs that, though perhaps legal, are not sanctioned by custom. For example, there may be some drug that is legal only because it's new and hasn't yet been made illegal, but its use is not acceptable within our custom or society, so we consider it illicit and therefore not allowed.
Drug and dope abuse is against the law! Smoking and drugs in the Family are against our laws and our rules and always have been. ... Therefore, anyone who breaks these rules in any Home can't be allowed to stay in the Family or in the Home because he becomes an actual threat and danger to the Home (ML #856:92,93).
G. Giving Family literature classified as CM to those who you know are non-Charter members, or Charter Members whose Home is on Probationary Notice; and the receiving of CM literature when your Home is on Probationary Notice.
1. In exceptional cases, World Services and continental offices may give members permission to give literature to those who would not normally be eligible to receive it.
The Classifications of Family membership and Literature clearly state who is permitted to read certain classifications of Family literature. It is not permitted for Charter Members to knowingly give our CM literature to those who are not authorized to have it. This includes Charter Members whose Home has been put on Probationary Notice, and are therefore not eligible to receive new WS mailings of Charter material.
In exceptional cases, World Services, including the CROs, may give permission to give literature to some people who would not normally be allowed to receive it, such as some academics and lawyers, etc. At times we have given them literature for their research, and while technically this is giving CM lit to non-Charter members, it has been deemed expedient, necessary and beneficial. However, only the CROs and WS are authorized to make such a decision.
For your information, we've also begun a new "CM/FM" rating for certain publications which go to both the Charter and Fellow Member Family (but not to outside friends), as well as a "Fellow Member" rating, since we have begun sending our Fellow Members more GNs and other pubs
And we warn you bootleggers ... that if we catch you or we hear that you are duplicating or photocopying the Word and passing them on to Homes which are not giving nor reporting as Family members should ... we are going to excommunicate you! (ML #889:2.)
H. Committing violent, intentionally endangering, or life-threatening acts, except in defense of self, others, or Family property.
Family members should not be violent or commit any life-endangering acts for any reason, except in the rare case of trying to defend themselves or others, or Family property. For example, you are allowed to commit a violent act if someone is about to bash you--or any innocent helpless person, for that matter--over the head with a bat, or is trying to grab your children or set fire to your property, etc.
This "committing violent acts" clause also covers violence with one's mate or children. If a Family member were to become violent with their mate or children, they would face excommunication. If, however, a mate was defending himself or herself from spousal violence, then it could be judged a matter of self-defense and not necessarily grounds for excommunication. (See also "Our Stance Against Physical Violence" Statement.)
Anybody who beats his children or beats up his wife, I said throw'm out at once! Get rid of'm! (ML #1880:56.)
When an unwelcome visitor, such as a wolf in sheep's clothing, invades your property and starts breaking down doors, windows, socking disciples, and ripping off your sheep, don't hesitate to defend yourselves until the police come! You may have to use a little force to prevent even greater violence. Try not to hurt anyone, but definitely, forcibly, restrain them from further trespassing and violence with whatever force it takes to do so (ML #143A:61,79).
I. The continual voicing of doubts, criticisms or skepticism, in a destructive manner designed to foster strife and schism, of Dad, Maria, Peter, the Word or the Family. Criticism or inquiries of a legitimate nature for the purpose of seeking clarification or counsel, or voicing an objection, may be made, either in person or in writing, to the appropriate over-shepherds, Home officer or higher officers. Such criticisms are acceptable only if made for the purpose of seeking clarification or counsel, or voicing an objection.
It is understandable that from time to time we have questions or even doubts that we may need to have resolved by discussing them with someone. When such an occasion arises, you should feel free to openly and honestly share your heart with your shepherds so you can get the needed answers and prayer. Such matters are legitimate and need to be expressed, so it's perfectly acceptable to talk about your doubts or your criticisms with an appropriate shepherd when trying to get clarification or counsel, or express an objection to something that you're having a difficult time understanding or following. If you're doing it with the right attitude, and with the right people, whose job it is to try to answer and help you resolve your questions, as well as shepherd you through these things and help you overcome any misconceptions, then there's nothing wrong with it.
However, if you are speaking to members who are not the appropriate shepherds, and if after having been warned against it, you continue airing matters which result in the spreading of doubts or bringing about contention or division, then this is unacceptable behavior and will warrant excommunication.
As you may recall, there is counsel on questions and doubts in the beginning paragraphs of the Letter "Prophecies on Doubts!" (See ML #3041:1-23, GN 670.) That Letter explains that questions are legitimate if you are undecided or uncertain about an issue, and you truly want to know the answer. If handled in the right manner, and the motive of your heart is to sincerely find the answer through the right channels, there is nothing wrong with expressing your questions. Handling such questions "in the right manner" means talking to the right people--those who are strong in faith and who would likely have the answers or be able to find them. It's not right to talk about your questions or doubts with people who are weak in faith or the Word, who might be stumbled.
As explained in the above-mentioned Letter, there is a difference between legitimate questions that are asked out of sincere, pure motives, and skeptical, distrustful questions that are generated by the Enemy for the purpose of trying to weaken the questioner and stir up division. The Lord gave us good counsel about how to know the difference in the prophecy entitled, "The Difference Between Questions and Doubts--Try the Spirits!" (See ML #3041:18-23.) That prophecy explains that a person who has legitimate questions will be open and will seek to understand. They'll want to receive and believe the answers; they want the doubts dispelled. But the person whose questions are not legitimate is the one who already has his mind made up, who doesn't seek answers, but who seeks to use his questioning as an avenue to preach a message of defiance or doubt, and pour forth the voice of Satan. (3088:25,26)
J. Knowingly failing to report excommunicable offenses.
As Dad has said, "Failure to report a crime is a crime" (ML #662:22). If, for example, a Family member sees, or knows about, an adult who is engaging in sex with a minor, or they know of someone who is sending CM literature to outsiders, then it is their duty to report it. If it is discovered that a member knew of such a situation and didn't report it to their shepherds, they will be excommunicated along with the person who has committed the offense.
What's our common rule?--Failure to report a crime is a crime! Failure to report somebody breaking the rules is breaking the rules, and you're just as guilty as they are! (ML #1591:16.)
K. Continual breaking of, or the persistent disregard for the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" or any of the "Fundamental Family Rules."
As stated before, the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules" must be adhered to, obeyed, and followed by everyone if they wish to be Charter Members, unless there is a special circumstance that prevents them from doing so.
Although it is understood that there will be special circumstances when certain rules can't be obeyed, if the special circumstances become the rule rather than the exception, and thus someone is continually breaking the rules, then they can be either fully or partially excommunicated. Of course, some effort by the teamwork should first be made to help the erring member correct their behavior, including personal counseling, assigning them a reading list on the subject, or Probationary Status, and so forth. But if these efforts fail, then the member should be recommended for excommunication.
So if a member persistently disregards the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules," they are in jeopardy of being excommunicated. The word "persistent" is defined as "persevering obstinately," and "disregard" is defined as "to pay no attention or heed to; to ignore." So if someone is stubbornly and obstinately paying no attention to or is willfully ignoring a clause in the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" or flagrantly disobeying a Fundamental Family Rule, after being corrected for it, then they will face excommunication, either full or partial, depending on the situation. For instance, if a member's permission is withdrawn to remain in a specific country in accordance with the Procedures for Withdrawing Permission to Remain in a Country, and he flagrantly disobeys that order, he will be excommunicated.
Excommunication means that a person loses his Family membership, as well as access to all but GP/DFO Family literature and possibly fellowship. Partial Excommunication is a lesser form of disciplinary action that is determined by the continental office, which will result in the member losing his voting and mobility rights as well as certain privileges as outlined in the Procedures for Excommunicating Family Members.
It's true also in the New Testament that if they continued to violate the rules and didn't heed the warnings, then they were excommunicated and put out of the church or out of the Family, [out of] the Homes (ML #856:100).
We do not accept people who don't abide by the rules. They're going to be reported by the officers and their name is going to be struck off the DO mailing list. It doesn't matter how much tithe they send in if they don't obey (ML #2531).
This ends the Offenses Warranting Excommunication section. Now we move on to the other categories of behavior-related rules.
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family