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Christians and the Law


When I was a member of the Children of God, we were often accused of being more loyal to 'Mo' (David Berg) than we were to God, and we always denied it. However, when Mo started teaching that members should offer sex as a way to win others into the organisation, I was appalled to discover that not one other member of the Children of God besides myself (to my knowledge) was willing to stand with me in opposition to such obvious error. "Mo said it, so we must go along with it," was the universal response.

So I left the organisation. It was not without regrets, for I had come to love very dearly many of the people that were in the Children of God, and to appreciate many good qualities and excellent doctrines that they had taught me. But the bottom line was that there was not room for me to stay in the organisation and still submit to such a teaching or, indeed, to even tolerate others teaching it, even if they were willing to tolerate me not teaching it.

Now let me compare that situation to the more recent one with Bobby Kelly in Britain.

Everywhere we turn, people tell us that they are only interested in Bobby's welfare. And yet, for the vast majority of them, what they actually do and say seems to reflect more of a loyalty to the system than a loyalty to Bobby or to any other higher ideal. Like the Children of God, they are saying, "The courts said it, so we must go along with it."

In discussions with those who have been appointed by the courts to supposedly represent Bobby's best interests, I encountered a total blind spot with regard to the possibility that Bobby's best interests could be served by disobeying the court order that he be effectively handed over to people acting on behalf of a self-professed de-programmer. Whatever questions I would try to get answers to, their answers were always worded in such a way as to say that the absolute first essential was that Bobby be handed over, and if he were handed over, then everything would be peachy. All of our problems would be solved. And all of Britain could go to bed at peace with the world, because the law could do no wrong.

So you have two groups (the Children of God and the bulk of British society) both arguing in favour of blind obedience; whereas people with true character, and people who have been respected throughout history have been people who could see beyond the "law" to the mind of the "spirit".

In the Bobby Kelly case, the spirit could best be summed up in what everyone was saying: "We are concerned for Bobby's welfare." The problem is that people who professed to be concerned for Bobby's welfare, were acting more like they were concerned about other considerations. They all tended to arrive at the same conclusion: Obey the law and then worry about Bobby's welfare. Their rush to obey the law blinded them to whether or not Bobby's welfare would be compromised by obeying the law. Their approach was summed up in the advice that one of our own "well-meaning" friends gave us: "Dump the kid and run."

The error in so-called cults is the error in the rest of society. In cults it happens in a small group. In the rest of society it happens on a grand scale. And the error is blind obedience to the "system" rather than loyalty to principles, like love, honesty, and fair play.

The Pharisees said of Jesus, "It is expedient that one man should die, that the nation may be saved." (John 11:49-51) In other words, when they had no other defence for subjecting an innocent man to a torturous death, they resorted to blind loyalty to the system.

We don't operate that way. We must not just do the right thing when it suits our own purposes, or when we can get something out of it personally. We must be willing to lay our lives down for what is right. We should listen to the arguments of those who oppose us; consider all of the options; and compromise where we are able. But in the end, we must still put our conscience above the laws of the land.

The laws of the land, the laws of the Children of God, the laws of the Jesus Christians, may all need to be set aside at times in order to arrive at real truth. This is the spirit of true Christianity as opposed to the spirit of legalism.

(See also Civil Disobedience.)

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