1992, 08/27 – 09/08. You Have No Rights. You Forfeited Them When You Sinned

These journal pages form the background of my book, Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding, which is available as a Kindle book or in paperback.

August 26

About the meeting last night in the Red Hook warehouse:

Last night the sisters and brothers had a meeting about the Dinosaur Club. Stewart left a message for us to get together and discuss who is in the Dinosaur Club and who is not. It was really not as bad as I expected it to be. When I walked in and saw the sisters all seated on the other side of the room, I thought, “Oh boy.”

We (that is, the brothers) deliberated for over an hour about the meaning of the message and about how to vote, as per our custom. The sisters seemed calm throughout. I sat back during the whole thing and let the others haggle. I thought of saying some things, including my analysis of what was wrong, but I am glad I didn’t.(That is, about how we were getting hung up over loopholes in the message, such as whether we have to talk about the way we have been all along, or if we have to say what we intend to do about it. But, we can’t say what we intend to do without a long self-indulgent speech about how we have been, or else it is “games” because we are skipping over the “real truth” and painting pictures. If we only say how we have been, then we are being pitiful and “why can’t you repent?” If we say both, then we are playing both sides.) So, this hung things up a while. But eventually, everybody made their speeches, saying both sides – what they have done, what they are going to do and Brother Stewart was on the phone encouraging us to fear God and to be loyal to Jesus tomorrow.

I didn’t say any of these things at the meeting, because who is to say my view is right? Also, I consider if God wants me to say such things, or am I heaping more wrath on myself with such proud comments?

I am reading about the Shakers to find out parallels with us, but the real issue is that I am in rebellion. No amount of reading will help me change that, I don’t think. But sometimes it is, or seems, helpful to know about other religious sects. It helps me to handle or to stomach what goes on here sometimes. I also seem to have an abiding interest in all of this, and in the Reformation. At least, in my feelings, I am studying something constructive. I know how to be a voracious reader. How to gather information and follow leads. How look in the index of books to cull out information without lazily or blindly wandering through books. (Not that I don’t want to read at least some books cover to cover.) For instance, in an American history book, I just looked up the section on the Shakers and the Puritans.

Today is hot and sticky, the last days of summer, though I don’t seem to be able to enjoy it any more. When I thought of it today I realized, yes, but it will soon be over. Fall is coming.

“Massive” studying seems to make me more sober-minded. There is a lot to say for studying about these things, such as historical Christianity and how it has stood the test of time. About grace, how I can do nothing to merit the favor of Christ. At least this has worked for others and others have talked about it. So it isn’t just something I am making up or crossing my fingers about and hoping it will work for me, as if I were the only one, or the first one to try it.

Also, I admit it is a way to check on Stewart and to try to alleviate the Stewart terror messages. A way to try to keep on an even keel and not be thrown about from one end of the room to the other.

[Studying historical Christianity and the doctrines of the Reformation was a way to compare what Stewart Traill was teaching to what other Christians had believed historically. These beliefs worked for them, maybe they would work for me too. Stewart often changed his teachings upon a whim – though he said that any change was the result of careful study – and this had the effect of tossing me around like the waves of the sea. Whatever Stewart said was the unquestionable truth. And there were certain actions expected of us in obedience to these beliefs. If the following week, Stewart threw out his old teaching and had a new teaching, we were supposed to switch over to it immediately and say that Jesus was showing us the truth clearer and clearer. Any time Stewart spoke, it was “Jesus showing us.” We were never supposed to say Stewart showed us or that it was Stewart’s opinion. Yet, almost no one in the church used the expression “Jesus said,” when quoting a belief. We always said, “Stewart said.”]

I was reading an article by Richard Wurmbrand about having no “I,” and living as if “I” didn’t exist. I thought about how I want things and how I don’t have time for them. Or, I think these things are wrong to do and the tension this creates when I do them. So, why don’t I let go and stop bothering? Because this tension is such a hard load to bear. Something seems right about this, but something doesn’t also. It’s just expedience or some kind of substitute. When I was thinking about what is wrong about this, the word “boy scout” came to my mind. Obviously, this is just a way to be good and to go along with the program. Such as not trying to jog because I can’t fit it in my day, because there’s no time for it. To not do artwork, but only do what everybody else here does. So what? How is that any different than being a boy scout and only obeying the orders of your troop?

Do I think conformity will save me? Conformity to outward behavior and suppressing my desires due to expedience, and when it comes down to it, mere convenience? How is this any different than anybody else? (Even the Gentiles do the same.) When something is too hard to accomplish, they give up for an easier endeavor and try only what is within their grasp. And to call that religious suffering and renunciation! I know there is something wrong with this kind of renunciation and I could never ever trust such a thing to cleanse my soul. Maybe there really is something more to my resistance to this than just a blatant and subversive refusal to give things up.

August 27

There is a beautiful summer haze in the sky early this morning. The sun is an orange disk, lighting an orange haze everywhere.

August 28

We have a council now. One of the issues that has come before this council is Peter and his macabre stories and the unsettling effect they have had on Margaret. As background information, Peter has apologized to her two times, but the apology has not been deemed sufficiently adequate and sincere, so he is required to do it again or go before the council. Paul says that Peter has not forsaken his fantasies at all, but is keeping them up. The most Peter will say is that he will keep his trap shut, but ever and anon, he will leak out little bits of information, clearly showing that he is still full of this stuff. For example, when commenting on a customer, saying that she is psychic. Sooner or later this will get him in trouble, just as I think my own thoughts will get me in trouble somewhere down the line, since if we are going to have any testing of one’s orthodoxy, mine would come under suspicion. Because although I have been quiet for a long time, things are never quite forgotten – especially when it comes to anyone having doubts or secret thoughts about our Leader. (There is a certain uneasiness or even fear that accompanies that, making people unsettled, as if the whole structure here depends on Stewart’s holding down all the hatches rather than on the truth speaking for itself. Or, as in Yugoslavia, having peace through the absolute reign of a stronger power from above. There is peace, but at the cost of a dictatorship. Maybe this is not a perfect analogy, but I do find it to be coterminous. That is, overlapping or sharing the same borders and similar in its dimensions. In other words, there are similarities.)

I have a great fear of going before this council. This council is composed of three categories: 1) older brothers, 2) middle and new brothers, 3) sisters. I have reason to be afraid of each because of the following:

1) The older brothers would be anxious to save their own necks and to demonstrate their own loyalty, so they would be a little too eager to use “the sword.” “We can’t tolerate any of this brothers, or we are next.”

[Stewart told us that if we tolerated any wrong behavior or attitudes among us, even if we observed it passively without taking part in, that we would soon be doing the same thing. This caused people to be on each others’ case all the time, in the name of “going to war against all wrong things,” real and imaginary. In my case, the brothers would give me a hard time, fearing that if they did not “go to war” against my thoughts that were critical of COBU and its leader, that they would be next to fall into this way of thinking, for having merely allowed it and tolerated its existence.]

2)  Middle and new brothers, who wouldn’t have any depth or sensibility, but who would just be dogmatically carrying out orders.

3)  Sisters, who wouldn’t let anything get by them. They would be the most intensely loyal to the fellowship and would remember everything. I don’t know how I would bluff my way through any close testing of orthodoxy while retaining any of my own kind of thoughts within me anywhere. The idea of this council as something I would have to go before and they have the power to throw me out, coming from the idea of “Your eye will show no pity.”

[I was referring to Deuteronomy 7:16: “And you shall destroy all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you, your eye shall not pity them…” In earlier days in the church, Stewart sometimes quoted the part of this verse that said “your eye shall show no pity” when talking about dealing with whoever he was going after at the moment. This was the kind of righteous indignation I might expect from brothers and sisters who were eager to preserve the “purity” of the fellowship against questioners and dissenters, and to show that they were not taking part in any “rebellion” by delivering up anyone, like me, who was doubting our way. In our book, there could be no legitimate doubts. There was only unquestioning obedience or there was rebellion against God.]

There may be ones who are eager to use the sword, now that the fellowship seems to be getting back on its feet, or in order that it may do so: “This is the time for us to take action. We have known all along that you have been thinking this way and we don’t see you making a drastic turn away from it, only just keeping quiet about it. Now demonstrate that you have repented and be able to prove it, or you are out, or at least under severe question.”

These are my fears, and I may have been a little too long-winded about it, but this is what goes on inside me when I hear of such things.

I know I am not all I need to be, both before God and before man. I think everybody knows I am not one of those who believes in everything that goes on here. Maybe others don’t either, but they know better than me not to speak up. But it may be expedient to deliver up one victim so that all may not be punished.

Well, obviously this is a bit of intense calculation, but I think I have reason to worry. I think I will play it extremely cool and be careful to never, at any time or place, make any reference to anything that may be considered subversive or dangerous. I don’t really know how I will do it, since I have my past record against me. (It would have been better to have never said anything at all. At one time, I actually thought speaking up would work. I see that it will not work, so I will say nothing, which seems like a cop-out. A person should be able to say what is on his mind, but I guess that during times of extreme duress it is better to go underground. Or at least this is the idea I am toying with. Speaking my mind has never benefited before, so why do I think it will now? It’s like telling Hitler that conditions are bad here in the concentration camps and hoping this will make things better. Me, a Jew, actually thinking this will work!)

I really see that here, you obey – or you die. I can envision a growing and intensified method of supervision and watching over everyone’s actions and ideas, and being reported for every suspicious word, thought or deed. Not to say I am not a sinner, or that I have not committed crimes against God. And all this could be divine retribution. But, I fear a society like that and I can see the potential for it here. The sisters’ implicit faith in Stewart, the brothers in extreme fear, ready to terrorize anyone in order to save their own necks (and to gain a better position). I see the roots and the many sources of potential for it here. Our communist society, secluded from all outside influence. Experiences of the past…

August 28

Day two of working on a floor renovation job for the church business in an office building on the Staten Island waterfront.

I stayed at the Staten Island house last night. (Because we were working at Hapag-Lloyd on the waterfront here.) Chuck called, saying to wake up the older brothers who were there. Six of us happened to stay there last night. Chuck, the “voice of anxiety,” was worried about this being an example of the Dinosaur Club with all of us being there. I was wondering if anything will be brought up about this.

I had a beautiful walk from the house to the job site this morning, about a mile. Clear blue sky, that August kind of blue sky. I can see it here now as I am writing this. A small chain of clouds is beginning to flow over some hills in the distance. It’s that August kind of blue day, with yellow sunlight. Leaves on the trees are dark, not fresh like in the beginning of summer. In all, it is a beautiful late August day and I got to enjoy a piece of it.

I was thinking, “I wish I was somewhere where I could enjoy it,” (in Point Pleasant Beach or photographing in Bay Head) but decided instead to just enjoy it right here! Which, with the exception of some time of heavy thinking, I did. No need to go anywhere, just enjoy it here, because I am not likely to go anywhere. And why let wishing I could be somewhere else ruin what I do see?

The areas of thought, of course, were about fellowship life, including some dark and cloudy thoughts. And I guess the real issue is that I am in rebellion. But, I did get in a groove of sorts where it actually was comforting to think about these things and I wonder if it is because what I was thinking is true.

My thoughts were basically two-fold: about how we are all tied up and we are expected to serve Christ and the church this way. This takes place by tying our hands and feet (and by putting a bit in our mouth), symbolizing how we are not allowed to fulfill most of our basic human desires – the things just about anybody yearns for. No marriage, no family, no kids. No career or hobbies or time, or anything. We must put them all to death (we are not going to get them anyway) and maybe, “if the shepherd decides you can have them, you can.”[1] But first we must be doing all this stuff and this is just some distant carrot on a string we see out there, but are supposed to forget about at the same time.

[1] Stewart Traill said that we should not expect to have anything in this life, except what the Shepherd (meaning Jesus) decides to give us.]

Then we are roped in time-wise. We live together, all wake up at the same time, work together, sweep together and then get back for a meeting, then sleep packed together like sardines. (More likely than not, then we get punished for it as well.)

I won’t be surprised if soon we will have to fill out time charts (in the name of working together and not wasting God’s time and being efficient). Then, it will be a three-fold control system.

You’re not supposed to muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain. You might say, yes that’s right, but it has to work first. I am sure that is the argument that would be used against us, but, aren’t we doing some kind of work?

Stewart’s way is to take everything from us and to expect everything from us and to give us nothing in return. I wonder if he has a whole system of Bible teaching to back it up. For example, how do I fight against Stewart sayings, like:

“You have no rights. You forfeited them when you sinned.”

“The only thing you deserve is to go to hell.”

“The shepherd gives the sheep their food and pasture. Anything else is up to the shepherd.”

And I feel like Stewart has us tied up to do his own will and that he uses these things on us to accomplish it, playing on our guilt and other things he can use on us. We are never too far away from a punishment meeting. The master might stroke our head sometimes, but we know the rod is never too far away.

The word I have been “allowing to go through my head” lately about Stewart is, “The Usurper.” Sure, obviously everything about him is not wrong and I know I am a sinner, but one of the purposes of this diary is to write down all such deep dark secret thoughts. (I don’t want to get into some tirade. That only brings me down and embitters me. I also realize Stewart can’t be beaten, that everything he says is true – or most of it. But I also still have this whole area, a huge reservoir (I call it), of doubt. Even if I accept things about him, this doesn’t go away. Maybe it is my sinful nature, the rebellious nature looking for excuses. That is the right thing to say and it may be so (this is the right thing to say), but these doubts are there. The truth is, I don’t really trust the guy.

I think there is something off in Stewart’s methods and teaching, but I am constrained by force from saying so. He can make me dance like a puppet on a string through the proper use of my weaknesses, the other people in the room and the ultimatum.

This is why I read as much as I can of other Christian authors. When Stewart says things like: “What does it mean to deny yourself?,” I violently reject it. I think his teaching is weird, strange and full of holes. I also think a lot of it is used to keep us under control. There is is a self-serving aspect to it. Like, when he tells us these things, whether it is a new teaching or maybe plans about a move to the lofts, he says, or implies, you must believe and obey everything I say – or nothing. More chains, more laws. I never see any of this as a method of getting set free. Stewart has just taken control of my life. He already has it to some degree, although technically you can’t say that. He is taking in me this direction and tough luck. Who cares what you want!

Okay, all of what I’m saying might not be right. It is all certainly on the side of the negative and only about what I don’t like, but I would like to have a book where I write all this out without bothering to sort it out or censor it, and be able to read back over it some years later when I am not so emotionally connected with what I am saying. Then I might be better able to sort out what is true and false. And I want to be able to know what I was thinking at any given time.

I went to get coffee. I realized I should be getting tempted now. Usually something happens when I get into proud thoughts or thoughts about Stewart. I figured, I am going to get it now. I walked into the coffee shop. Well, there are magazines in there. I have to wait a few minutes for coffee. I could, if I want to, stand here and look at the covers, but I really don’t want to. Fear is supposed to make me stop. I guess I do fear some, but really, if I am giving in, I am giving in. Usually it is also propelled by some fear or hopelessness, like a meeting is coming up soon or by some “bad message,” or a time of heavy correction. Then, I can’t hang on so well and on to despair I go. (By the way, under the magazine rack, where I could have looked, there was the Daily News. The headline said “Rot in Hell”! Imagine looking at magazine covers, over the top of a headline like that!)

How does human physiology work? You can actually get excited by seeing pictures of women only. Even when I was real young, all I knew was that it was “bad,” and of course, seeing someone “bare” was funny.

Boy, I have really come a long way from the way I was when I was a kid! I remember, for instance, trips to Maine and Lake George and how I really loved it. How happy I was! These were events that only took place for a week or two, three times in my young life, but it seems like it was much more than that. It was a whole world! A two week vacation can stretch into a whole eternity at that age, since your perspective of time is different than the way an adult sees time, and you have no cares, worries or anxieties, and any idea you have of the future is “a few minutes from now,” or this afternoon or tomorrow. In other words, the future is right now.

Sitting here, writing this, feeling the wind, seeing the sky. I get a little taste of back then. Maine and Lake George.

Yes, I am so caught up in the immediate cares. Running from, or indulging in, sin. Or worry or anger about how I can’t go running. Oh man, who cares! If I can’t do something, don’t I see how I cheat myself by getting into all that wrangling anyway?

August 30 (Sunday)  

I was writing these notes while in a meeting.

Yesterday, on the job, I was pretty badly into my head. While I was working on the steps at Hapag-Lloyd, the only peace I could get was when I stopped work entirely and just sat and stared out the window, which is a horrible way to get any work done.

I happened to turn on Channel 13 in the middle of a Civil War documentary (which ran for about 6 hours). [I had a transistor radio that got audio from TV stations.] This did a fine job of keeping me out of my morbid thoughts for the rest of day. I had no problem proceeding with my work from then on. (This must show something.)

Before the job I was sitting outside, contemplating my life and my condition, thinking about hell and how I am probably going there. I thought about what I could do and I prayed for mercy. Then, I began to drift and I noticed the old railroad tracks in the pavement before me and noticed there was a crossing (of tracks) there and I was trying to remember what that was called (in the train set I had when I was a kid). Then, I remembered it was called a “criss-cross” and thought, that word comes from Christ’s cross. Then I thought, there, I had my answer. The answer is Christ’s cross! Then I went into work. I guess I think the cross is something I have to do, rather than something Christ has done for me. (In the light of today’s meeting.) 

Well, last night I stayed again at Staten Island for the night and in the morning I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to go to Red Hook or anywhere else. I took a long walk, read a little and generally enjoyed the “August wine,” the still flood tide of summer before it recedes quickly into fall. Being there was a welcome respite from the work and warehouse life. And I came out of it with a rested feeling, which I believe I need.

I called Mom last night. I was basically rambling, talking about my brother Todd and Dotti and Eileen (the baby-sitters we had when we were kids). Todd had a back injury. He is also thinking about becoming a police officer in Bay Head. I talked a little about the work I am doing.

August 31

Last night’s meeting ended without any big thing. After I writing in my journal, I finished the rest of the meeting by burying my head in the Greek New Testament, reading Matthew 13, which was actually good and cut my anxiety down.

There is an older brother meeting tonight. The word is that because we have not called Stewart all day, it shows that we are hiding what we are really up to. So we are going to check our fellowship. It seems like some type of self-indulgence, but I wouldn’t say so.  I really don’t know just what “speaking my mind” is supposed to accomplish anyway.

Actually, I feel pretty peaceful right now, I actually feel good for some reason.

I am going to deliver equipment to Riverdale now.

I photocopied pictures from a book, to send Mom the picture which I think has Dad in it. Some other pictures came out well on the copier, which I may use to do sketches from so I don’t have to carry that book around.

(I considered if maybe it was copying those pictures that made me feel good. I like working with them, photocopying them. It’s like doing arts and crafts. It actually gives me a satisfied or full (complete) feeling and I wonder if that is all bad, or bad at all! It’s nice to work at some avocation once in a while).

It is hard for me to believe that I have lost Christ, or, that if I don’t have Christ, then I have made it that much harder to be with him, just because I have looked at some train book. That Christ could be shooed away so easily or would give up on me so easily. That he would depart from my life just because I did that.

(I heard someone discussing a similar thing on a radio talk show. He said that in his boyhood days in church they were warned against worldliness. And at the time, sports was the big thing, so basically the moment you picked up a basketball, you were backsliding, or were no longer a Christian. He said this was living according to the rules and the law, rather than acoording to the spirit of the law.)

What I am supposed to conclude, in light of last night’s meeting, is that what I did was look to my idol and now I have gotten some motivation from it.

I didn’t think of God’s mercy too much today. I don’t feel very urgent to try to get it. I guess I figure I have my own way by reading these books I read and that I am not in quite so much trouble as Brother Stewart says. Though I am quite worried and scared and do figure I am going to hell anyway. Yes, I believe it. No I don’t.

[The books I was reading were about Christian history, cults, sociology, group behavior, etc. These helped insulate me from the “Jesus pressure,” which was really just “Stewart pressure,” by providing an alternate viewpoint on Christianity (the version of Christianity that had been believed for thousands of years and has stood the test of time, instead of Stewart’s distortion of Christianity). And the books about cults and manipulation techniques helped to slowly open my understanding to the kind of life that was taking place in COBU.

There is a gap of a week in my writing here. By the way, in a year’s time, August 31 of the following year, I would leave the church, having come to all the appropriate and correct conclusions about the things I was thinking about and after coming to understand how and why the Church of Bible Understanding was a cult. Once I was able to accept this, I was able to leave.]

September 7

This last week, there have been a few “events,” if they can be called that. We had an older brothers’ meeting till 3:30 a.m., in which we called Brother Stewart, and got our noses rubbed in the dirt. But we asked for it. It was noted that we had not called Brother Stewart for over a week, therefore, we – or at least some of us – deemed it necessary to have a meeting. But it was really a cover-up meeting to make it look as if we were going to do something about it.

Two verses or words that have been going through my mind recently are: “According to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,” and “The pleasures of sense.”

[I was reading Hume’s “An Essay on Human Understanding” at this time, which is probably where the latter phrase was coming from.]

I walked in to a job this week and to my surprise Stephanie and Laura were there!

[It was a surprise, because brothers and sisters did not work together on jobs. They were the teenage daughters of church members, and they were actually us refinish the wood floors and paint the walls. This arrangement didn’t last long.]

Just before I went in to the jobsite, I was sitting in the van and two people walked by and one said to the other, “That’s okay, we just sort of trust God. But we trust our elders more.” (It seemed sarcastic.)

There has been heavy wood floor work lately. I am surprised to find that I am still living in the Red Hook warehouse after such a long time. I figured I would have had to move long ago. I don’t wish to move really. The only other place I might want to go is Woodruff and that only because I can have better facilities (in terms of rooms, bathrooms, etc.) but I really still hate the neighborhood. And also because then I could possibly have a chance at my old activity (or vice) of running, which I would take up if I only could. [Prospect Park was just around the corner.] Like I have thought before, I have not renounced running out of any kind of repentance or ethical motive, but only because I can’t get to it regularly enough and the best thing to do in terms of inner turmoil is not to worry about it, because it takes so much effort to do it, even to run just a mile, that it is better just to walk when I get a chance, as I did in Staten Island last week. I took a nice walk along the riverfront area. What can I really do about it? It is best to forget about it for now and maybe forever, if this prison lifestyle is to continue. I don’t believe I have gained favor with God by not doing things. I still wish I could do them anyway. (Somehow, I think the idol anyway is the church, and not these things I want to do. Or I guess the way Brother Stewart would put it, my major difficultly, next to the problem with sin, is the Dinosaur Club. I wonder if that is my idol, the mesmerizing force that takes all my devotion, etc.)

[This was an important place to come to, to even wonder if the Church of Bible Understanding could be my real idol, and that my idols were not the “things in this life” that I wanted to do, and which Stewart Traill was demanding us to give up, so we would devote our entire lives and minds to his agenda.]

September 8

Today is the first day of this new regime where there is an interim committee. We have to report to the older sisters. (I had to call Joy and talk to her, which wasn’t that bad.)

I like the shape of a woman’s body. Isn’t this a normal desire? Didn’t God build me with this desire as an integral part of me? Why must I deny it because the marriage “laws” are too hard? Why can’t marriage be outside of the jurisdiction of our laws? We are allowed to work, receive allowance, etc. Nobody tries to take that away from us because we are not faithful. But marriage is not permissible. I even wonder if marriage would help me to be faithful. Could it hurt? At least I wouldn’t have this problem with my passions that I have now. It wouldn’t even figure in, wouldn’t be a problem. I wish I was married and lived out of the church. That way, many or all of Stewart’s legislative technicalities would have no effect on me.

[Actually, they might have had an effect on me anyway, because Stewart worked through the wives of the live-out couples to get at their husbands.]

That way, being ordered to move to 810 or other things just wouldn’t have any effect on me!

Yes, it is so easy for Tim to say we should be out of everyone’s way or else not be in the church anymore, because he doesn’t live in! He has a home to go to when the meeting is all over; he said so himself.

I really don’t want to be under Stewart’s legislative laws anymore.

I talked with Joy today on the phone. She tried to ask me a question: ”Do you think Stewart is too hard on the brothers?” Of course…

I stopped writing this entry at this point. I got interrupted, distracted or someone came into the room.

It would have been dangerous to say yes to Joy’s question. I would have been setting myself up for scathing abuse (though not from her). She would have relayed the information to the rest of the committee she was on, and in turn it would have gone to Stewart, who would have dealt with it in no uncertain terms.  

If I had said yes, there is a chance Joy would have tried to “help” me by trying to convince me, despite what I felt about it, that everything that Stewart did was for our own good. She might have even added, “Sometimes I have thoughts like that too, but I realize it’s all for my good.”

Or, maybe she was just asking for herself. Because she thought the same thing I did, but it would be better if I said it, and not her. So she said it as a question, like she was asking. She might not have reported this part of the conversation. Yet, later on, internal guilt might have begun to work on her and she would fear that she had been “taking part in a conspiracy” or in a “wrong agreement” with me, and might confess on herself (and on me) to others, or at a meeting.

I’m writing about this many years later. Whatever I think now about this now, what I absolutely knew then was that I could not take such a risk. “No” was the only acceptible answer. At the same time, when I said no, I was buying deeper into the system of abuse, because I was accepting it and I was also selling it to others, by making them feel like they were the only ones who had such thoughts. I was joining all the others around me in denying that this abuse was taking place, even while it was clearly going on.

She was on the phone gathering information, and I was one of the brothers on the list she had to talk to. There was always a set of questions from Stewart they were required to ask us. I don’t know if that was one of the required questions. If not, she might have been doing a little of her own investigative work. Asking the question was a tacit admission that Stewart was too hard on the brothers, or at the very least, she was aware that I thought he was.

It was also like when an abusive person says, “You don’t think I’m being mean to you, do you?” Wisely, you answer, “Oh no, not at all.” And the abuser says, “Good.” If you had answered “Yes,” you would have opened the door to more abuse, and even more so if you explained why you said yes. The question, “Do you think I’m abusive?” is really a threat that means, “You’re going to keep quiet about this, aren’t you? If not, it’s going to get a lot worse for you.” I’m not saying Joy was being abusive. But Stewart did say such things to us.]

-*-

Why I Never Got Married:

The view Stewart presented back then was:

In other churches (I guess that meant all other churches besides ours), they didn’t have true interpretation of the Bible, so automatically the women were running the men. But, because they didn’t have right interpretation, these men didn’t realize that the women were in control, so they had no guilt and frustration over it. They were totally under orders from the women, so they had peace. And they could go right ahead and get married, no problem.

But, in our case, Stewart said, we knew better. We had true interpretation. We knew the truth. And as a result of not being faithful to the true interpretation of the Bible, the women were running our lives. But we couldn’t be happy and dumb like those men in other churches, who in their ignorance had no idea of what was happening. We knew it was happening, and as a result, we could not move forward into marriage because our consciences were not clear. And we could not go back to not knowing the truth like these men in other churches, even though we wished we could, so we could get married, so we were stuck. (And Stewart was not going to stand for any marriages on a wrong basis in his church, which these would have been.)

[That was the “old view” in the church, which, I assumed had changed, now that Stewart Traill said he had been teaching wrong all these years, and that as a result of these teachings he had made it too hard for the brothers to get married all these years. But, nothing had changed. Maybe some of the wording had changed, but marriage was still forbidden under the terms and conditions that we were not faithful to Christ (according to Stewart’s rigorous standards), and now there was the added dimension of the crisis mentality that Stewart was pushing on us, which was about how we were headed straight for hell because of our rebellion and that the only way out of this condition was utter terror, desperate fear and completely giving up and renouncing our lives in this world. Not surprisingly, this meant that we had no time to think about marriage. People in a burning building can only think about being saved from the fire. However, there was still plenty of time to have business meetings and to work hard in the church businesses. In that case, we could lay aside the kind of trembling terror that might make us incapable of performing our jobs, during those long hours needed to bring in money to the church.]

The journal continues here: 1992, 10/26-30. Understanding That There is No Marriage in The Church of Bible Understanding

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