One of the greatest tragedies in the universe is when Satan does something and gets us to blame God for it. All of heaven shakes their head when that happens.
I had a very vivid and crazy dream about a cult the other night.
I was with the Children of God cult, (now known as The Family International), doing research to write an exposé blog on the inner workings and sexual dysfunction of the cult. I met with the leaders and they were all very friendly. There was even a Grandma who gave me a most wonderful hug. “I love getting hugs from one of my grandmas”, I said.
They all hoped I would join their group. When they became aware that I was writing a blog exposing the cult and possibly making a documentary, I saw the look of betrayal on one mans face. I didn’t want to hurt them but I had to do the right thing.
They urged me to stay a bit longer and it was then that some of the women from the cult tried to seduce me. I started to fall for it and apologized to the woman. She said, “That’s ok. I don’t feel anything anymore.”
Then I saw something like a neon sign that said “wife swapping”, and woke up.
This has been on my mind for a couple of days now.
The Hijacking of a Move of God, The Jesus People
What comes to mind for you when you hear the phrase Jesus People? In my mind I imagine hippies loving Jesus and loving each other. I think of acoustic guitars and tamborines belting out heartfelt praise and worship. Group roadtrips in VW buses sharing the love of Jesus wherever they went. Community. Family. Belonging. I mean there were many aspects of the Jesus People that I imagine were very exciting and amazing, something I would join in a heartbeat!
Of course I have this romantic idea of how good a community of faith could be. Utopian society. But reality is often much bleaker and darker and more twisted. Especially with no boundaries and no consequence. Especially when evil is condoned and encouraged. How did something so potentially beautiful and amazing as The Jesus People Movement get hijacked by a few and schism off into various cults that were so damaging that it would even cause murder and several suicides?
This is the story of the cult The Children of God, now known as The Family International.
Many years ago when I was going to Bible college and memorizing lots of Scripture, tryin to impress Jesus and live holy or whatever, I met a young lady who had come out of the cult now known as The Family. I decided to befriend her. I was impressed by how much Scripture she had memorized, but also noticed how sad and empty and withdrawn it made her feel after I asked her to quote something from the Bible, as though the Bible brought up painful memories. Meeting her dad gave me the creeps. I liked her brother and I still pray for them to this day.
Well we hung out and she talked about how she was abused and punished in the cult. She was used to only having men being interested in her for sex and was very surprised that I just wanted to be her friend. She said that no one had ever loved her like a brother like that before.
I took her to church with me for a college group event where she met a young man who did take advantage of her that same night. He was verbally abusive toward her after this when he suspected that she might have given him an STD. I was just so sad.
You see, she had been brought up and taught that to show the love of Jesus to others meant offering your body. “The children of God” cult was led by a sexually dysfunctional man named David Berg (aka Mo or Moses) during the sexual revolution in the late sixties. In the early years of the cult after he had gained sufficient power and influence through their immature misunderstanding of a verse in Ezekiel 34.
Berg eventually instituted the practices of flirty fishing and wife swapping. Free sex all around. There was also reports of rampant child sexual abuse and incest. David Berg “wed” and sexually abused his own young granddaughter who he insisted live with him in Indonesia. She suffered several mental breakdowns as a child. She speaks out about her experience in this video.
How does any of this possibly fit with the following Scripture?
Flirty fishing is an idea that David Berg put forward for women in his group to flirt with and seduce men to lure men into the kingdom of God. They would “share Jesus” with them through sex. This was their perverse understanding of “showing the love of God”. David Berg boasted of having better results than Billy Graham. His cult had about a half a million members at one point.
I learned from an article entitled “Joaquin Phoenix Opens Up About Growing Up in the Children of God Cult“, that Joaquin was born to missionaries in the Children of God movement. His hippie parents travelled South America for several years and made their break with the group in 1977 (Joaquin was three) and changed their last name to reflect their new life.
“When people bring up Children of God, there’s always something vaguely accusatory about it,” the Her star, now 40 (in 2014), tells the magazine. “It’s guilt by association. I think it was really innocent on my parents’ part. They really believed, but I don’t think most people see it that way. I’ve always thought that was strange and unfair.”
“I think my parents thought they’d found a community that shared their ideals,” he further explains. “Cults rarely advertise themselves as such. It’s usually someone saying, ‘We’re like-minded people. This is a community,’ but I think the moment my parents realized there was something more to it, they got out.” (SOURCE)
A community of shared ideals. If only it was.
There are so many interesting documentaries on Youtube. One was made by a young man named Noah who came out of this cult. It was incredible. Here is a playlist of his documentary on Youtube:
Some of the people he interviewed never saw any of the sexual abuse or deviancy and refused to believe it. Many had a very positive and wonderful experience.
I also just watched the following documentary:
What surprised me in the film is that it seemed to start out as a very pure movement, and as the film wrapped up it showed those still involved in the group meeting to worship and fellowship. There are those I am sure who experienced and are still experiencing God in a pure way, though I am still pretty sure they STILL do wife swapping and loose living and with those kinds of attitudes I would suspect there is still some child sex abuse still going on.
I’m sure that many of those involved in The Jesus People Movement of the sixties and seventies experienced a pure and holy move of God, but then how did so many fall prey to the times (the sexual revolution) and to gross deception and sexual impurity?
The documentary starts with a story of how David Berg was told by another boy how to masturbate. Later his mother caught him doing that and made him finish the deed in front of his father. I guess this was during an era when sex was considered an ugly dirty and shameful thing. This story kind of reveals some of the shame and dysfunctional ways he related to sex.
What were the unhealthy ways that society understood or approached the subject of sex prior to the 60’s that would have caused this sexual revolution in the first place? And how can we do better now?
Watching this documentary has caused me to question a lot of things:
- How different from this cult is any believer who participates with pornography or sexual immorality?
- What level of purity does Jesus desire for his followers?
- In what ways am I still deceived and believing lies? (After all, those who are deceived don’t know they are deceived. Such is the nature of deception.)
- How can followers of Christ take responsibility (like the prophet Daniel did on behalf of his people) and repent for the sins of the church asking forgiveness and healing to come to those who have been wounded by all the sexual dysfunction of those who claim to be believers in Jesus?
David Berg became an abusive pedophile and he has deeply hurt and affected a great many people. I wouldn’t trust the purity of any message he ever put out in his “Mo letters” and would never consider listening to him as a reliable prophetic source. This doesn’t however mean that some of what he has to say wasn’t sound and biblical and true and even with some true prophetic words. That’s how the enemy works to confuse and decieve.
Didn’t Jesus say,
I don’t know if David Berg ever knew the real Jesus or not. I strongly suspect not because of the fruit of his “ministry”. Jesus said, “We will know then by their fruit”. I won’t ever bother to investigate his writings to find out what was truth from error.
David Berg who, when putting forward his strange and terrifying doctrines about sex, said, “I cannot take responsibility for these words, you must take it up with God. Blame him… or thank him.”
The greatest tragedy is how Berg (or others) have used the Name of God to bully and intimidate and sexually abuse people. He has inoculated so many against a pure experience of who God truly is.
So how do we connect in a pure way to who Jesus truly is? How do those who have been so wounded by religion or a cult find the Good Shepherd when all the language is drowning in painful memories? How does one find a true faith when it is the Scriptures themselves that remind them of torture and abuse?
We must get to know the real Jesus so soundly and securely that we can confidently hear the voice of our Good Shepherd. Anything we hear will line up with Scripture, though, as I have joyfully discovered, not as we may currently read it! Thankfully we could be very wrong in our interpretation and need a radical new paradigm shift to read it as Holy Spirit intended and connect with the one who is Love.
So what is my point? How do I wrap this up in a meaningful way?
God is Love, in whom we live and move and have our being. He is a Good Shepherd who has laid down his life for his sheep. I love and prayed for those who were in the documentaries. I even prayed for David Bergs soul who is likely in hell right now. He was once a sweet innocent little boy who got twisted by the enemy. God would seek to redeem him and any other pedophile on the planet along with all the victims. We are all victims and perpetrators in this life. We all need healing from the One who is Healing. The purity of his love and forgiveness will bring the healing we all so desperately need.