Mom's Friend's Theology




Mom's Friend's Theology: Puberty, Adolescence, Religion and Sex



I have, I think become well known (or notorious) in relation for a series of frank (i.e., graphic) essays I have written over the past several years about growing up in a communal homes (and for about a year, on a houseboat) where the environment reflected the sexual liberalism of a certain religious cult and of 1960s communes. My essays were written mainly as an argument that exposure to a naturist, sexually-liberal environment in childhood can (if certain safeguards are in place) be a valid and wholesome and natural way of life. "Mom's Friend", the trust-fund-supported absconder from the Children of God who was our landlady and host for most of my adolescence, had a particular, and peculiar, philosophy and theology that borrowed in part from the thinking of David Berg ("Moses David") in the period before he is said to have descended into pedophilia and delusion. Berg said, after all, "We have a sexy God and a sexy religion with a very sexy leader with an extremely sexy young following, so if you don't like sex, you better get out while you can."


Most readers will probably be aghast. This particular essay is not an argument for or against the practices it describes. On the other hand, recent revelations regarding the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and other pedophilic abuse of young girls by older men suggest that it is time to give wider publicity to religious-based sexual movements that try, in their own way, to protect the rights of young people to say no. Or to say yes, openly.


The principle Mom's Friend -- and my Mom, following her -- promoted was that sex is a natural impulse that represents a divine command and a religious obligation, and that from the time of puberty adolescents should be encouraged to engage in casual heterosexual relations within a closed (and hence medically safe) community under a regime of specific rules:


• same age partners, under a "10% rule" for disparity in age of the partners (Most U.S. states have decriminalized consensual sex between same-age adolescents; the only legal issues Mom's Friend would face today seems to be in allowing the presence of children while adults and older adolescents have sex, and (perhaps) in the encouraging of under-16s to be "promiscuous".)


• parental guidance, and, preferably, presence of friends and family, especially at the time of defloration ("coming out")


• circumcision of boys, as a matter of Biblical ordinance and public-health common sense -- as well (according to many women) as penile beauty


• oral sex as mandatory foreplay, and absolute assurance to the female of the "right to pursue orgasm"


• ejaculation as a form of holy communion: the presence of God and Jesus at the time of arousal and orgasm (It is not clear that, in fact, any religion would regard the latter as blasphemy; indeed few mainstream religion and a vanishing number of legal systems object to the former.)


• Abolition of ("false") modesty; jealousy, arrogance, vanity, inhibition, pride, lust and some of those other "deadly sins", officially listed or not, through free and open pre-marital sex; but each person could have only one partner on any particular day.


Post-puberty, virginity was seen as an obstacle and, by some, an abomination. Coming out was worthy of celebration and was justification for a party with mothers and friends. Nude dance parties, and general nudity in specific locations and at specific times, were part and parcel of applying the principles of sexual liberalism for adolescents from puberty until university. "Love" was a criterion in the selection of a life partner, but not an element of the flirting and romance and arousal and orgasm that comprised adolescent sex.


"Mom's Friend" was not alone in promoting such ideas: there was a whole group of women, a subset of the many who left the Children of God (and some of whom, today, congregate on self-help sites such as, and some other Web sites.) There have also been many books and articles published; and indeed and the judgment read in the High Court in England by Lord Justice Ward delve deeply into the theology in which Mom's Friend's thinking had its roots.


Of course the act of releasing an adolescent's libido from restraints is virtually irreversible. Peer support, or pressure, has much to do with sexual conduct, and this is self-evidently true well beyond the bounds of any sect or cult of this sort. On the other hand, there is an inevitable secretiveness, and a development of links with other, similarly-minded, groups throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. I spent quite some time trying to follow these links, and meeting with devotees. And also trying to discover the impact to later life of such sexual liberalism combined with the religious certainty that orgasm bears a relationship to prayer and, ultimately, to salvation. As it happens, the groups tend to be highly educated members of the professional class and this certainly distorts the result. Furthermore, there is a significant drop-out rate, which excludes most children who have sexual preferences or tendencies inconsistent with the group. To the extent that anyone, mother or child, becomes involved with these groups in the absence of a genuine religious-type commitment, this is due to their welcoming of single parents (mothers, usually) and abused women who may tolerate practices they otherwise disagree with in order to benefit from the charitable and welfare elements.


To understand the commitment to open and promiscuous sex by girls and women, it may be necessary to review the concept of "flirty fishing" ("ff-ing") instituted by Moses David (and, in the 1980s, abolished by his successor in the face of HIV/AIDS and other STD risks). Ff-ing used seduction as a means of evangelizing. It has been immortalized by Miriam Williams in "Heaven's Harlots", her biographical account of years spent in Europe Ff-ing for the CoG.


The best comparison for evaluating Mom's Friend's culture, I decided, is not mainstream American but certain indigenous cultures. American culture is two-faced: compared to Islam it is ultra-liberal and open; but its sexuality is commercialized and artificial. The denial of opportunity for sex to some tends to reinforce their own character as misfit and social reject; while the celebrity status afforded to others for trivial and fleeting (usually athletic) success diverts attention, and sexual opportunity, away from meritorious members of the group. There is considerable academic work on the periphery of this, most too arcane to cite here. What I have done is to collect a few newspaper and journal articles which I have linked here.


This brief essay is a work in progress and will be expanded as time permits. The unexpurgated description of what happened at Mom's Friend's House over the years -- a series of essays inspired by and built upon my childhood diaries. These can be found through a search in Google Groups (Usenet) under my name.



Carol Cobillard




For index of pertinent articles, mostly cited in my essays, click here







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