1993, 04/01. Putting An End to All Relationships (Forbidding Marriage).

Thursday, April 1

I’m unable to sleep tonight. (It is still the night of March 31 / April 1.) I got up around 1:45 in the morning and read some chapters of the book, In Search of Christian Freedom, onto tape until about 3.

[The full text of this book is available online here. This book was helpful for me in understanding how things worked in COBU.]

There many striking similarities between our church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Laying here, besides having listened to a tape of Boston and The Who, which reminded me of my college years, I am also thinking about my life here; basically that I really am in a cult. I’m thinking about Stewart and my “almost disfellowshipping” about a year ago. Playing over in my mind possible future confrontations with Stewart or trying to tell others about my thoughts concerning him and what that would be like. In other words, what are my inmost thoughts about Stewart? Answer: he is the archetypical cult leader – arrogant, domineering. I went over this as if I were answering a questionnaire. But I’m supposed to ignore such thoughts; perhaps it is the “work of the devil.”

I was thinking today that I’m on a collision course with Brother Stewart, and about how actually that came true several times before. But now maybe it’s several layers deeper. Now, it isn’t just a collision course, but I must be, in effect, killed by Stewart and that this is the only possible outcome of me being myself. (The other course is to continue living as a doormat). It is like what Reinhold Niebuhr said about the Divine Law, that the only way for it to be expressed was for it (or him) to die. It is something like this for me. Obviously I’m not Christ or Christlike, but it is equally obvious to me that I must “die.” To come up against Stewart, by whatever force or reason, to be crushed to death by him. No person, no line of argumentation can, will, or is going to help me. And that, if I want to have any kind of life worth living, I must do this. (The alternative is being a doormat, as at present.) Not that this tragedy is the doorway or the process that triggers it, but it will just be an event along the way. It is an inevitable event, if I ever decide to begin speaking my mind or to be anything close to what I really am. (I think of how I never do artwork or exercise. Today I was thinking, if I leave the church, I would probably drop all of this reading. Probably, that is. No more reading about cults, group behavior and mind control, and just pick up where I left off before coming to the church and take up running, drawing and other activities.)

[I felt as if I had to face whatever might be waiting for me and that I had to stand up for myself or cross a line somewhere. The only alternative was to continue living as a doormat. I was being used for the aims and purposes of the church, while being required to kill off every part of me that did not fit that agenda. I had to accept everything, believe everything and do everything I was told, without hesitation, questioning or disagreement. I had to subject my entire life to it and give my entire life, for the rest of my life, over to it. My time, my energy, everything. And I had to accept the explanations given for this as the truth spoken by God, through Brother Stewart. And I had to sell it to others and find more people to be trained to live this way.]

During the day:

Now at Kronfeld with Peter. I’m in a “gone” mode. I’m thinking of how and whether to leave the church and about what to do if I get kicked out. What preliminary and necessary plans, to be written in the back of this book. I’m even considered writing my mother and telling her what it is like here, and either directly or indirectly soliciting a thousand dollars from her.

[I considered asking my mother for money to help me move out of COBU, but I never made this request.]


Now writing about why I never got married in the early 80s in the church, when there was a brief period when Stewart seemed to be tolerating relationships, though he quickly moved to put an end to these relationships:

The reason I never got married ten years ago was that I didn’t want to go against the church or to get married wrongly.

[It was easy to say in retrospect that I would not have obeyed the church’s taboos and caveats on marriage, if I known what my life was going to become because of not getting married. That I would have gone against the tide and started a relationship with one of the sisters (that means both of us would have to have this mindset), leaving the church if necessary in order to marry. Leaving would have been necessary because of the abuse I would have received if I had been able to find a sister willing to be with me and then to endure the attack that would be leveled against for us staying together.

Of all those who did not leave the church in order to marry and who had started a relationship that went forward to some degree before breaking up, only one of these couples stayed together while still living in the church (still declaring themselves to be in a relationship, though not being married or living together). The couple was Lou and Tijuana. Tijuana was pressured by the other sisters who sometimes ganged up on her, urging her to end her relationship with Lou because he was “only half a man.” Tijuana replied, “Yes, and he’s MY man. Why don’t you have a man?“ Later, they left COBU and got married.

There was a brief time in 1982 when the middle brothers and sisters in the “Rescue Mission” began to start and have relationships, until Stewart announced that there was nothing wrong with these relationships, but that there was not a “right society” to present them to. Stewart told us that marriage is a social issue and that marriages had to be presented to the church’s society, and that if there is not a right society, then there is not a right framework for these marriages to exist in.

Stewart said that we did not have a right society because the brothers had not accomplished their Christian Training course correctly and therefore there was not a right Christian society among us at the large institutional building we lived in. Most of these relationships quickly died on the vine as everyone correctly interpreted Stewart’s real message, which was to end their relationships. Stewart put this in terms that were according to the teachings we had learned and accepted here about God and human life. This explanation came from our “trusted” leader whose only motive was concern for us and our salvation.

Stewart was clever in not directly legislating against relationships, but going to some deeper level as a way to pull the rug out from under us in a way we could not have control over. One by one, the relationships desolved. Bob and Barb broke up. Until that time, they had a good relationship. This brother and sister lived in COBU for years afterward, yet, from that point on they acted as if they never had been in a relationship.

Stewart did not forbid marriage by telling anyone directly they could not marry.  However, he worked hard to create and maintain circumstances and an ambience in which relationships could not start or flourish. While at the same time, Stewart sometimes asked us rhetorically, “And why aren’t the brothers married anyway?” Most of us hung our heads in shame and frustration when he said this, but if anyone did answer the question, they always said it was because the older brothers were unfaithful to Christ. (Stewart taught us that “marriage is a byproduct of faithfulness to Christ,” or they answer that “the brothers are afraid of the sisters,” which Stewart also taught us.) In all cases, Stewart always spoke as if he was just observing the conditions among the brothers that were preventing us from being married and he telling us about it.]

Read the next section of the journals here: A Letter Home.

These journal pages are part of the source material for my book, Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding, which is available as a Kindle book or in paperback


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