Sunday 15 May 2016

Confronting the Rumors about Incest (Part 1)

When individuals research the history of the Worldwide Church of God, they generally turn to the Internet. The Internet allows individuals to efficiently gather (and discuss) an abundance of facts, truths and insights. At the same time, the Internet is also a rich source of rumors, lies, and innuendo. For most WCG issues, it is fairly straight forward to separate one from the other. There is typically enough documented data for individuals to make informed decisions without buying into lies or relying upon rumor and innuendo.

When it comes to the Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) and allegations of incest, however, the situation is more challenging. The act is repulsive, the implications are significant, the burden of proof is high, and yet the documentation is somewhat sparse and hotly disputed. His critics say claim that it happened and is proof HWA was not a man of integrity while some defenders say that it did not happen and attack the integrity and motives of the accusers.

What should one do when stumbling across such an accusation... Confirm, deny or ignore these rumors? Having been associated with WCG and UCG for over 40 years, it made sense for me to disprove the rumors so that this troubling topic could be put to rest.

Incest is a very serious topic. It is also an exceptionally sensitive subject and best discussed as objectively as possible. It may help to begin this sensitive discussion with a definition and some comments from the Christian Courier website:
Incest is defined as: “The crime of sexual intercourse or cohabitation between a man and woman who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law” (Black, p. 685). Incest has been held to be repulsive, dangerous, and illegal among many civilizations — even some of the most primitive. In ancient Rome, Augustus implemented a law against incest, and children born to incestuous relationships were deemed illegitimate. Modern laws against incest appear to be grounded mainly in the Levitical code (McClintock, p. 541).
The effects of parent-child incest are particularly significant and long-lasting. Many women subjected to this type of abuse, never fully recover. In these cases, few would argue with the above assertion that incest is repulsive. Likewise, it seems reasonable to infer that God finds such acts repulsive. This would be consistent with general public outrage regarding priests that have committed similar acts by molesting children and consistent with the majority opinion that such priests have disqualified themselves from being considered as representatives of God.

Incest is reprehensible and so are false allegations of incest. Nobody should have to face false allegations of such a serious nature and we should avoid carelessly buying into rumors about others in this area. This brings us to back to the accusations against HWA. How can one separate the lies from the facts on a polarizing topic like this that is supported with equal passion and implied certainty on both sides? It helped me to remain cautious, rational, and skeptical in order to avoid jumping to conclusions.

Although research takes time, it is warranted when evaluating important topics. Having benefited from the research performed by those in the past, I'd like to 'pay it forward' by sharing my findings with those who may have the same questions in the future. The following information came from various books, websites, and discussion with COG members and ministers (current and former).

(To be continued)

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