New Covenant Publications - A Counter Cult Ministry

 

DATING
In
The International Churches of Christ
(Boston Movement)

 

 

The practice of “dating” is a fairly modern concept of which the Bible provides very little instruction. Apart from a few Scriptures dealing with sexual immorality, purity, and guarding oneself against evil, which can be applied to pretty much every area of our lives, including that of dating, the Bible is silent. Given the guidelines that the Bible does provide us concerning what God expects in our everyday Christian living, we are responsible before Him to govern ourselves, individually, in this area of dating. Those in Church leadership are thus limited to advising (when advice is sought), providing Biblical instruction (speaking where the Bible speaks), and correcting those who are in clear unrepentant sin. By setting and imposing specific man made “rules” on individuals in an attempt to govern or regulate the dating process, regardless of how well-meaning their actions, Church leadership violates not only Scripture, but also those individuals’ freedom in Christ.

Likewise, individuals should never feel pressured in any area of their lives, including dating, into constantly seeking advice. Nor should individuals feel pressured to adhere to advice or made to feel guilty, sinful, prideful, or less spiritual for not complying. This would denote abuse of Scripture and Biblical authority on the part of Church leadership. Thus the leadership would be guilty of attempting to control individuals and regulate their lives. In the area of dating, this abuse opens the individuals to manipulation by leadership concerning such issues as who to date, how often to date, how often to date the same person, how long a date should be, single dating verses double dating, how often phone conversations should be permitted and for how long, whether or not a dating couple sits together during worship service, how long a couple should date before holding hands, etc. This abuse can also cause emotional and psychological crises brought on by unwarranted guilt and fear of acting contrary to the wishes of leadership, especially when it is ingrained in the individuals that doing so is the same as acting contrary to the will of God.

I am not suggesting that people refrain from seeking advice. On the contrary, Scripture teaches us the invaluable rewards of doing so. However, individuals should never feel pressured to do so. Nor should they ever feel expected or obligated to follow the advice given. Advice is just that, advice, an opinion given by men. It is not a command from God. It should never be put on the same level as words spoken by God. The apostle Paul was careful to note the difference. To reject advice, or even human instruction, is not a sin. (For a more in-depth treatment on Biblical authority, read Led By Men Or Led By God? and chapter 3 of Mary Alice Chrnalogar’s book Twisted Scriptures, which can be ordered at most Bible book stores.)

The question is now raised: Is the leadership of the International Churches of Christ (a.k.a. Boston Movement) guilty of abusing Scripture and Biblical authority? Is the leadership also guilty of attempting to control individuals by manipulating and pressuring them to adhere to advice?

The following are excerpts from testimonials given by former members of the ICOC on the subject of dating. Within these testimonials the initials ICC are used instead of ICOC as it is only in the last year or so that the change of initials has become widely used by the membership. I, the author, make no claims as to the truthfulness of these testimonials, except to say that given the fact that these former members belonged to different congregations all over the United States and had no prior knowledge of one another or one another’s testimonials used in this article, the similarities in their experiences give strong support to their credibility. In addition, following these testimonials, I have listed quotes from sermons, speeches and seminars given by ICOC leadership that I believe clearly lends support to their truthfulness. NOTE: I, the author, have chosen to provide only the first letter of names appearing in these testimonies, both of former members and current members, out of respect for all persons involved.

“We met, dated and married in ‘the church’. It was awful, it first started when G----- and I started to feel something for each other and the 'Leaders' discouraged us from ‘dating’. They said basically G----- wasn't good enough for me and wasn't outgoing enough. Against that, G----- and I fell for each other (on our 2 dates a month of course with another couple). Then the leaders would not let us date exclusively. They would say G----- wasn't ready, then they would say I wasn't ready. READY FOR WHAT???? I still cannot believe that I conformed through all of that, I am usually someone who stands up for myself, but we were afraid that 'they' would make us break up (as we had seen them do to many couples) and that would be the end.”

“I refused (at first) to date. My primary reason for doing so was that I had broken off my relationship with a ‘non-Christian’....to be baptized within the Church. They let me get away with not dating for over six months until there was a Southeastern Evangelism Conference in which leaders from congregations more fruitful than ours in Charlotte had several classes for the college and singles groups which focused on how it was sinful not to be dating. This was odd to me because previously I had heard what a gift it was to be single since one could devote oneself entirely to the kingdom. I guess our leaders must have been rebuked for not encouraging everyone to date and date often because two days after we were back from the conference a brother I scarcely ever talked to asked me out on a date....I turned him down telling him that I really wasn't able to date right now because it was too soon after my breakup....my dicipler rebuked me and practically forced me into calling him back to apologize and beg him to take me out.”

“....I refused to date in the Kingdom and when I was supposed to get rebaptized my discipler said she wouldn't baptize anyone who wouldn't date in the Kingdom. I remember bringing up the issue about Kingdom dating to the women's leader and she said why wouldn't you want to date in the Kingdom? I remember getting discipled over and over again.”

“I wish I had a tape of a dating devo I was at back in 95. They had a lesson for the guys by Randy McKean. Randy pulled out a bunch of OT scriptures to support getting a wife because it isn't good for man to be alone. His conclusion and exact quote was, ‘Find a wife, or Jesus is not your Lord!’”

“His removing himself from leadership wasn't well received by the other leaders; D----- was then ‘advised’ that he should stop dating N-----, basically because she was still being groomed for leadership and he wasn't. The communications about their dating status took place between D-----, his discipler, and her discipler, and N----- was totally out of the loop, as her discipler apparently did not think it expedient or necessary to share with N----- what was going on. Therefore, N----- was mightily confused when D----- stopped asking her out and calling her….At any rate, they finally talked one-on-one, and by putting what they both knew together, they ended up smelling a mightily big freakin rat.”

“My best friend and a brother in the Church were told when they were dating that if they didn't go by ‘advice’, then their relationship would not be sanctioned by the Church. I could understand this if they were having a sexual relationship and that the Church couldn't condone sin, but they just wanted to talk on the phone for about 15 minutes every day while they were a ‘dating couple’ and they were advised not to.”

“When we were first baptized, we were told that we shouldn't be dating again immediately, because we weren't spiritual enough to in a Kingdom relationship. We ignored this advice and continued to date, speaking almost daily for at least a few minutes since that's all our schedules would allow for. We were always being rebuked for this ungodly behavior, until we were told that we were being ‘prepped’ for leadership. We needed to get ‘radical’ in removing sin from our relationship (I think hugging my girlfriend in fellowship after service was a sin, I was told it makes people envious)....Almost all our serious communication had to be done through our disciplers, meaning I had to ask my discipler if it was wise for me to tell my girlfriend she wasn't being encouraging to me, or if it was wise to call her twice a week to say hello.”

“One of my ex-member friends who is in her mid 50's went through a divorce while in the ICC and got put in with the singles....Anyhow, my friend decided to leave in *** of this year when some of the single leaders told her that even when someone as young as 20 years old asked her out on a date (group outing) she had to say yes....I recently heard a similar story from another ex-member. I'll give her alias Betty. When Betty was a member she convinced her aunt to go through the study series. Well, Betty got to sit in on one of the studies (I don't know which study it was). The person leading the study told Betty's aunt even though she was in her late 40's and just recently divorced, she had to accept the invitation of dates from brothers even if they were in their early 20's.”

“I was in a situation in San Francisco where I was being pressured to date a particular ‘brother’ that I really was not attracted to. He was a ‘sharp’ and ‘up and coming leader’ who, on the ICC paper, had a good resume....Anyway, he kept asking me on dates, and when I refused I was told by leaders that I was being selfish. When people dropped hints about us possibly dating, I was told I was being rebellious and prideful and to listen to ‘God.’ When I told leaders and my discipler that I was genuinely not interested in this man, I was told to ‘check my heart’ and ‘pray more about it.’....This situation caused a HUGE amount of problems for me and I put up with a lot of pressure. I was so stressed about it and so uncomfortable.…I was ready to just date him just to get leadership off my back....The situation lasted several months and I was even alluded to in a women's devo for being so prideful to actually reject a date.”

“When I was in the movement, there were countless dating devos, dances for singles, singles seminars; not to mention the Saturday night date. If you didn't want to go out on a date on Saturday night, of course you were being selfish, etc. Another thing I didn't like is they tried to push me into ‘having an interest’ in a brother who I did not have an attraction to. They must have told him to persevere because he constantly kept asking me out. They just couldn't grasp the concept that people should be able to choose for themselves who they want to marry or date.”

“After I got out of the military, I moved to Oklahoma City. I had a guy who was in my bible talk (who I will call Roger) He had become a part of the ICC in San Francisco with his parents. They moved back to Oklahoma City to start an internet business and to be closer to their family (they were originally from Oklahoma). Anyway, I guess he met a girl out there in the ICC who had a mutual interest in him. So a few months later, she moved to Oklahoma City to be with this guy. The whole time they were both a part of the church, everyone kept wanting to separate these two. It was obvious that they liked each other, but since they weren't on the good side of the leaders they weren't ‘allowed’ to date. Eventually they both left the group, and got married. When I moved to Oklahoma City, I had to find a job (and it paid less money). So, my giving was less, and wow what a coincidence, I was removed from leadership! I was also not on the good side of the leaders either. The weird thing is that during that time a lot of single women left the church. They got to a point where they wanted to start a family, and got sick of the dating rules of the ICC. Anyway, I moved to Stillwater to help start the church up here. During that time, I really was not on the good side of the leaders up here. They told me at one point that I couldn't leave Stillwater to go on dates. The hard part of that was that there were only two girls here in town that weren't dating. Eventually I left for about two months. When I came back to the ICC, they were a lot more lenient on me. I was driving to Oklahoma City and Tulsa once a month and going on dates. During this time, a guy who was discipling me C----- got permission to ask this girl C----- to be his girlfriend. I found it strange considering that they only had gone out 2 or 3 times. But C----- was on the good side of the leaders, so it was okay. At this point, I was being pushed to date a girl in Tulsa. She was my friend, but that’s all I wanted from her. I had to go to the women's leader in Tulsa to get that straightened out.”

“I think people feel attraction to one another for a reason. But the ICC has total control over who ends up together, even if your instincts tell you otherwise. My husband T----- and I were attracted to each other, and our disciplers knew it. So we went on several dates here and there, while also dating other people. Some of the guys I went out with, I had no interest in at all. I would have never normally gone out with them. But in the name of being open about it all, I went out with everyone who asked me. I don't think we were allowed to refuse. I also kind of liked another guy at one point, so they wouldn't allow T----- to talk to me. Somehow this was supposed to be a test to see whether or not we would still be attracted to one another. I'm not really sure the logic behind it all, as I WAS NEVER INFORMED. I would just eagerly attempt to ‘fellowship’ with T----- at every opportunity, and he would avoid me at all costs, as this was what he had been advised to do. This went on for about 2 months, and I was totally hurt and confused. Then when they told him he could talk to me again, he asked me to our annual banquet and a couple of weeks later, we were ‘dating’. We went from no contact, to supervised contact, but never learned how to be alone with one another. The total lack of trust in the ICC leads people to not be able to trust themselves with issues of purity, and so of course it was a ‘struggle’ whenever we were alone. Things would have been so much better with a little bit of normalcy and trust. If people aren't expected to be capable of purity, how can they ever be pure? If people are controlled, how can they have self-control? Several months later, when I was really having trouble (you know....I was not faithful enough, prayerful enough, evangelistic enough, fruitful enough, etc.), I met with M----- K----- and she told me to shape up or ship out. And then she said, ‘Don't be Satan's helper, don't drag T----- down with you’, and advised me to break up with him.”

“My (now) husband A--- and I met in the church and from day one wanted to be together. (This is after a lot of trouble I had had and disagreements on the dating which even resulted in them forcing me to go before the church and confess to sins that were not even my sins but I was told I'd done them!) (I did it too uuugggghhh) Anyway, we wanted to be together from day one and they fought us so we started meeting and talking on the phone in secret. We were completely pure and doing fine. He was told he would have to date 17 girls before he could take me out again and then they found out we had met at Denny's for dinner one night just the two of us and so they told him he wasn't even allowed to talk to me anymore! That was the last straw for him!”

“I remember how strict the dating was. Dating couples weren't really allowed to communicate much if they weren't continually baptizing....a lot weren't even allowed to date when there evangelism stunk, and if evangelism stunk over a period of months the couple would be forced to break up. Dating couples had to follow the church rules exactly or else they would suffer a break up. A lot of happy, spiritual couples that suffered break ups would eventually fall away and become unhappy with the church. I remember an instance when a married brother was forced to live away from his wife for a period of time because he wasn't ‘producing’ or something like that...it was just silly.”

“I was forbidden to date, because I repeatedly caused brothers to sin. No kidding. I have an ample chest. I can't help it. If I wore a v-neck, I was showing too much. If I wore a turtleneck, it was too tight. I was berated for this constantly, and was told point blank I would not be dating anyone.”

“My grades were slipping, I had a large consumer debt (I am still recovering from it) and my life outside of the ICC was falling apart. I stepped down from being an administrator, dropped most of my classes and attempted to put my life together. Six months later, I began dating my eventual wife. We had dated in the past while we were freshmen in college for a little over a year. We remained very good friends after we broke up and it seemed very natural for us to get back together. However, my decision to date her was met with strong opposition. She was described as weak and unspiritual. I went against the ‘advice’ of my ‘friends’ and we started dating. Six months later, I was seeking ‘permission’ to get married. My request was not granted. I became very frustrated by this. For six years I had labored and sacrificed for the ICC and for God and received nothing in return. We both loved each other (still do) but the ICC leadership did not want us to get married. They thought we were not serious and they continually tried to get us to break up. (Mind you, my wife, girlfriend at the time, and I had not been ‘impure’ or ‘immoral’.)”

The following excerpt is a bit lengthy. I felt, however, the need to include most of the testimony in order for the reader to get the full impact of how controlling this woman viewed the ICOC to be. Content has been edited due to sensitivity of material, to protect confidentiality, and to keep it as short as possible. Where editing has occurred I have provided comments in brackets [ ].

“Over the course of about 6 months, S---- and I had shared much of our life's history with one another. The Church leadership probably would have flipped out over just how much we actually knew about each other, but in my eyes it was a very pure, open, honest relationship. There were no secrets, I liked that. I would soon learn that the leaders didn't like that!….We continued to share rides to things and he continued to come to visit me at lunch time, but more often than not he would come alone. We would sit down on the river and just talk or when it became winter we would go grab some food from a local fast food place. We were always creating little events that would allow us to sneak that next ‘weasel date’. Lunches at my apartment after services on Sunday, playing cards over at another single brother’s household, etc. I was excellent at hospitality; it's one of my talents!!….Soon, I guess my roommates caught on to the fact that I was sneaking off to meet S-----. Since we weren't yet allowed to date exclusively, I was being pushed into going out with other brothers 3 weekends out of the month..…there came a time when we were told that we should not be spending so much time talking and we should not be sharing such intimate details of our lives. So, we started to sneak around again.

I would put sweats on to go for a walk and he would pick me up a few blocks away and we would go to a park and sit and talk. And then he would drop me back off a bit later. After the other sisters in my household were asleep, I would call him from my room and talk to him for hours, sometimes until the sun was coming up. It was that easy to talk to him. I would purposefully avoid going shopping or out to eat with my roommates just so I could call him. He continued to come see me on my lunch hours…. Soon afterward, we were forbidden to go on dates at all. This was sometime in late November or early December. I remember being very upset because I had been wanting to be dating by Christmas so that he could go home with me to meet my family. That never happened. I began contacting the single's leader T----- (I felt closer to him than I was to the single women's leader who later became his wife)….I began challenging the right to keep us apart, so did S-----. The leaders were not too happy with us. No kidding, right!! We kept pushing and pushing and finally on New Year's Eve, T----- relented to letting S----- ask me out to the singles event for that night. It was a nice evening. I remember being very happy….S----- began to push for us to be able to date exclusively. T----- kept giving him challenges, S----- kept meeting them; we still weren't dating. I was getting frustrated and upset. I let my discipling duties slip and slowly over the course of the next few months I was discipling fewer women. However, I was then appointed as a BT co-leader. And of course, S----- was put into a different BT. I was constantly discipled on being prideful and arrogant. If you knew me, you would laugh at that!! I was told I was not putting God first, I was not seeking the Kingdom….S----- and I were sneaking around to see each other yet again.

[At this point there is a description of these two people falling into sin. There was NO intercourse, just “hands and kissing” and other sexual contact. Shortly after this happened this young woman went on a weeklong family trip, away from the young man]

Apparently while I was out of town, S----- found the nerve to come clean and confessed "our" sins…. S----- and I were forbidden to speak. Our sins must have been revealed to many people because all of a sudden there were tons of little ICoC snoops putting their noses in where they didn't belong. If we even said 'hello' at an event, I would get rebuked about it later that same day. We finally started doing things their way yet AGAIN. No talking, no dating, no anything. It was so horrible. S----- had become my best friend, and it was pure torture to not be able to talk to my best friend if I wanted to….Time slowly passed. Once again, S----- started pushing for us to be able to date. It must have been the end of April. T----- told S----- that if we did as he told us for the next month, we could date. We did as we were told. T----- didn't give the go ahead. S----- asked about it again. No word back from T-----. S----- asked again, then I asked. It was all so ridiculous!!! Finally T----- gave S----- the go ahead. I am sure it was because he no longer had anything biblical to back up leadership's reasons for keeping us apart and we knew it. We had fought back with scripture after scripture and finally worn T----- down, they had taught us too well!!! Hail to the Bereans!! We started dating. And S----- told me that T----- had given him some guidelines. We were only to talk on the phone once a week, we could only go on a date once a week and there had to be a double, we could only kiss once during a date without tongue. We could only hold hands at certain times and for only so long. We did our best to follow the rules. We were not perfect, but pretty darn good for us…. We had been dating a few weeks when my birthday came around. S----- planned a party at my apartment. During the party I had a migraine (I started getting those once a month while I was in the ICoC, sometimes twice a month and they were bad. I would throw up, noises bothered me, smells bothered me, etc.) I went to lay down in my room. Fully clothed, I laid down on top of the covers. S----- brought me some Tylenol and some water. The light was off in my room, but on in the hallway and the door was wide open. S----- brought a cool wash cloth and put it on my forehead. He rubbed my head to help ease the pain...I was in tears. One of the sisters who had been at the party reported the above events to [ a women’s leader]. All hell broke loose!!!….S----- and I had only been officially dating for 3-4 weeks. I was called into a discipling session with my discipler and [a women’s leader]. I was told that if I loved God and wanted to serve Him to the best of my ability, that I needed to break up with S-----. He was holding me back spiritually. I was told that if I didn't do as I was told, I would be disfellowshiped for disobeying advice. I had no choice. I was so warped into the whole ‘if I leave this church I am going to hell’ thing. I was at such a loss. I was finally dating the man I loved and now I was going to have to break his heart….

[description of the break up omitted to conserve space]

I did all of this as I was told in order to save my walk with God only to find out I had been disfellowshiped anyway…. To this very day, things still remain unresolved between us we have never been allowed to talk.”

“I was a sophomore at U--- when I joined the church and my initial contacts were a few females I knew from around campus. After I ‘studied’ and was ‘baptized’ my ‘brothers’ really ‘encouraged’ me to start dating in the church. At first it was a great experience but soon I was told that I was causing ‘rivalries’ and ‘struggles’ amongst the females because I had dated two girls who both liked me. There were even bouts with God that I was asked if I was responsible for!!!! In response, I of course was told to date other women and so I did and things seemed to calm down and get talked out. Unfortunately after about 8 months of praying I decided that the original girl I had dated, A-----, was someone I really wanted to pursue. This is when I was told that although my ‘purity’ was never a question in my ‘disciplers’ eyes, her discipler said she wasn't strong enough to date. For months more I prayed and we dated until finally I asked why we couldn't date exclusively and that is when things started getting interesting. I had known all along that A----- had a previous dating relationship in the church and he was labeled ‘a zealot for God’. A leader of the H----- U ministry he was a guy I knew and liked and never did he show me anything but friendship. Unfortunately he was also the leader telling A----'s discipler she wasn't ready and the one who happened to lead the ‘sector’ that A----- was asked to join even though she went to U--- and wanted to date me!! I think what hurt me the most though was that A----- seemed so blind to it all and so I let it go. She knew everything I knew but also let others tell her how ‘sinful’ and ‘selfish’ she was (like wanting to be in love at that point was damnation).”

“First let me say it was the unspoken rules that made dating so frustrating in the ICC. I usually found out about them after I or someone in my BT had broken one. I was interested in this brother and he was interested in me. We could only date once a month and if the BT was doing poorly, i.e. no visitors, studies or recent converts, we would be discipled on how much time we were spending and how distracted we had become. A brother gave me a frontal hug at the end of a date. Big no-no. He gets guilty and confesses - I get a call from my discipler who is his discipler's wife. She rebukes me gently. She reports it to her discipler, the zone leader, who calls me and gives a phone breaking session where I am compared to Hosea's adulterous wife. I am bawling by the time she hangs up. It is months before this brother and I can go out on another date and then it's with our disciplers. I don’t know if they still do this or if this was only in C-------, but at one point a single guy and a girl could not ride alone in a car together. My personal example. My date lived on the same side of town that I did. The other couple lived on the opposite side. My date wanted to use my car, four door sedan, so he comes and picks up my car, then drives to the other side of town, picks up guy no. 2 then they pick up guy no. 2’s date, then drive back to my side of town to pick up me. The location for the event was on guy/girl no.2’s side of town. After dinner/walk around lake,.…my date, guy no.2 and girl no.2 all drop me off, (I actually asked girl no.2 why were we doing that when it was closer to drop them off - her response - just submit and trust the brothers) so after dropping me off they drive back to the other side drop off girl no.2, then drop off guy no.2 then my date drives back to my apartment complex to give me my keys, and pick up his car. Scripture reference: Do not give even a hint of sexual immorality. At this point I am dating a brother. We never get to spend time alone together and we feel it in the relationship, so fools that we were, we decide to meet before Mid-week service for dinner, Taco Bell. The evangelist is there with a sidekick. Later that week at a D-group, the women’s leader points out my stats and wonder why I have the time to spend with my boyfriend when I should be reaching out. She said the evangelist even mentioned did we not have phone calls to make before church. We never did that again – ‘dating’ was for Saturday nights only, once a month, with at least one other couple. One phone call once a week. Same brother, we are still dating and he feels like its time to meet each other’s parents. His parents had lots of concerns, he was white and I am a black female. I had not told my parents anything about him and wasn't ready to do so. He gets ‘advice’ from his discipler concerning visiting over Thanksgiving. The advice was we don't think you are ready for this. So Christmas holidays come around and he gets advice again. The advice is the same. Well he decides to not take the advice. So over Christmas, he drives down and meets my family. Then after service on Sunday, we leave and drive to G--------, SC and have dinner with his family. After returning to C--------, I get a phone call on Monday. The zone leaders want to meet with us. We meet later that week for one of the most hellacious breaking sessions. Advice was not advice. I broke up with him at that meeting. I could not handle the pressure any longer!! I was a 32 year old woman who could not meet her boyfriend's family without approval and permission from our disciplers and zone leaders - all of which were younger. It was humiliating and I never told anyone outside of the church what happened. I was too embarrassed.”

“For the entire time I was in the Orlando COC, regardless of how well I was doing spiritually, I wasn't allowed to steady date. The closest I ever got was a guy I was leading with and I started to like each other. We had a really good relationship as friends and our Bible Talk was very stable (we didn't really push people into being more than themselves and it was the right way to treat people). Anyway, this brother and I started to speak to the Campus leaders about each other. I was advised not to get any more interested in Kevin since we weren't ‘a good match’. They always visualized me with a ‘strong, black brother’ although I have always been attracted to white men. Kevin was told that since I was overweight and graduating soon we shouldn't get our hopes up. I needed to get a ‘real job’ and lose weight before I would be ready to date. Regardless of the fact that I was one of only two people (both women) with full time jobs on Campus and the fact that my weight didn't bother Kevin or myself. Needless to say, we were later moved to lead separate BTs and I eventually moved to the Singles ministry. We still made it a point to date each other every two months, but we both knew we had been robbed of a greater relationship. We really liked each other and who knows what could have been.”

“He tried for six weeks to get a date with me, you see there was this list. The leaders had a list of all the girls in the ministry and on Sundays they would fix them up with the guys they felt the girls should go out with. Then the male leaders would go to the different guys in the ministry and tell them who they should ask out that week. For six weeks R----- (my husband) asked if he could take me out, he was told no every week. Not only that, but every time we talked at a meeting we were ‘broken’ up by a leader, generally a male leader making sure we did not talk for too long…. When we got to COD, R----- was one of the few people I knew so I spent a lot of ‘weasel’ time with him…. We quickly became best friends. The problem was it was never just me and him in our relationship, everyone felt obliged, and especially the leaders to stick their noses in at any random moment. I was told he wasn't ‘powerful’ enough for me, that I was doing way better spiritually than him. I believed everyone and I decided not to pursue a relationship with him. As soon as I said it I wanted to take it back…. In January R----- started to drive me to school everyday (we both had 7:00 am classes), by this time I had also moved into an apartment with some other sisters. He also started moving up in leadership. Now all of a sudden he was worthy of my affections, all of a sudden people started pushing me to date him, I think we were dating every other week at this point. He was leading a bible talk…. R----- and I started to steady date. He was my best friend and I felt so safe with him. There were some unspoken rules, only date once a week, must be a double. No phone conversations during the week and one kiss a week…. The leadership found out about some sin R----- had been involved when he was 11 or 12, so they took him out of leadership, told him he was not a Christian and he had to study the bible again…. R----- was studying the bible and R----- was still leading the women and the men had no real leader. About the middle of September, R----- said I should break up with R----- especially since he was not a Christian. I could not be yoked with non-believers, I look back now and it seems so ridiculous. At the time I thought I would be doing God's will if I broke up with him. So I did…. See, in the ICC you don't just go out with someone or break up with someone, you get ‘advice’, better known as permission. The way you can tell the difference between advice and permission is how people react when you don't take the advice. If they berate you and treat you poorly, then you know in reality then you were just asking permission.”

“They imposed rules on the dating couples to ‘keep you pure’. Some of his rules included, no holding hands except on dates, only kiss once a week on dates and only a peck. No spending time outside of dates, no more than one phone call a week for 15 minutes to plan the date. No quiet times together, no praying together. It was quite interesting, the funny thing is the couples ‘falling’ (as if one could 'fall') into immorality were the non dating couples. Again, the leadership does not trust it's member to act with conviction in their dating relationships, it is easier to enforce rules than to teach purity. In reality the rules do nothing, they teach nothing. Except that harsh treatment and fear will keep people in line.”

Again, I make no claims as to the validity or truthfulness of these and other testimonies by former members. Those in the leadership of the ICOC assure media organizations that such stories are fantasy. Al Baird, elder and teacher in the LA church, and spokesperson for the ICOC, has publicly dismissed the numerous claims as false, uttered by what he calls “disgruntled former members”. Interesting to note that this same tactic is used by many large companies who seek to silence those who bring claims and charges of wrong doing against them. They label those who bring such claims against them as “disgruntled former employees”. Current members are reassured that such stories by former members are one sided, contrived, and ICOC leadership even labels them as “Spiritual Pornography”. Current members are strongly advised not to read anything negative about the church and to dismiss these former members testimonies as untrustworthy.

The following are quotes taken from speeches, sermons, and seminars given by those in the leadership of the ICOC, which I believe sheds an amazing light of credibility on the stories of former members contained in this article. They also bring into focus the liberty that those in ICOC leadership take with Scripture, exposing the lengths leadership will go in twisting Scripture to support and regulate whatever dating practices they dream up.

Back in 1990 Randy McKean, now leader of the Boston Church and brother of the leader of the entire movement, Kip Mckean, stated, “I say, ‘Where’s the commandment in the Bible to date?’ It’s an opinion thing, dating itself.” (Randy McKean, Dating That Moves the Heart, 1990) Yet all throughout the 90’s those in leadership have continued to preach and teach otherwise.

“And so you need to take care of your sisters. You need to make sure they’re having dates. Guys, I don’t hear enough of you talking up the sisters in your ministry. I’ve challenged brothers at Harvard on this over and over again. I want my sisters at Harvard to have dates every single… Guys, they’re AWESOME! They’re AWESOME women. See me. I’ll set you up, OK?” (John Bringardner, Maximum Dating, sd 1)

“And honestly, there’s no point in talking about dating unless we have the Nike attitude, and that’s ‘just do it’. And it really needs to be something we have an appetite for. I mean every weekend we have a date.” (Kevin McDaniel, ibid, sd 1)

“If you like a sister, you can take her out. And the next week you can take this [meaning another] sister out. Guys, you never had it so good! And you know it!” (John Bringardner, ibid, sd 1)

“I think it’s really been unfortunate that as the ministry has grown there’s not been a real desire, per say, on the brothers part, to take the women out aggressively. And I think, tonight, there just needs, brothers, to be some serious repenting in the area of dating.” (Dave Eastman, Christian Dating, 1991, sd 1)

“I get this phone call, I’d been a Christian about two years, and Debbie says, ‘Do you like the brothers?’ I said, ‘They’re OK.’ I said, ‘I’m just busy.’ She said, ‘Cathy, you make them feel like you’re too good for them.’ I said, ‘Well I don’t feel that way.’ She said, ‘Then you better start accepting some dates.’” (Cathy Eastman, ibid, 1991, sd 1)

“We’ve put a lot together. I know a lot of you guys are together cause Jody or I have had a talk with you at some point. You know, ‘you really need to consider him, he’s not as bad as you think’ type talk.” (Gary Vermass, Dating Workshop, 2001)

“You’re probably attracted to the person you’re dating. Maybe you’re not. A lot of the sisters aren’t. And Jody has to talk to them. Jody always says, ‘You just need to respect them. Do you respect them?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Ok, go out with them.’ You know, uh, a lot of men, you think you’re all that. You know, ‘she said yes!’ She said yes because the women’s ministry got there and said, ‘you gotta do this.’ Ya know.” (Gary Vermaas, ibid)

“And the Bible does say to whom much is given, much is required. Meaning you gotta do something, now. There are single sisters and brothers who need to be set up on dates. And I think as a dating person or engaged person you have a little bit more authority. Part of your, I mean don’t think, ‘Ahhh, it’s over. I’m done. I don’t have to do this ever again.’ That’s not true. You need to do it for everyone of your brothers and sisters. You need to go and you gotta make sure they’re dating.” (Gary Vermaas, ibid)

“Guys, I’m telling you something. We have an obligation before God to meet the needs of the sisters….Now the challenge is simply a challenge, brothers, to enjoy one of the great blessings that God had given us in the kingdom of God, that of wholesome Christian dating….To make the point even stronger, over in Mark, chapter 9; I believe this Scripture DOES apply, Mark, chapter 9. In verse 42 Jesus has this to say. He says that, ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.’ That’s strong stuff, isn’t it? [Amen] I believe we could make the argument, tonight, that if we fail to meet the needs of the women in the congregation, if we fail to pay attention to the sisters and their need for companionship, that, brothers, we could be held accountable to God for causing there to be a temptation, a strong temptation, to be pulled back into the world on the sister’s parts.” (Mark Mancini, Christian Dating, Toronto Church, sd 1)

[Here is a clear example of a leader taking liberty with Scripture to place pressure on the men in the ICOC to date. If a man chooses not to date, then according to Mr. Mancini, he could be held accountable before God for causing a ‘sister’ in the movement to sin; the punishment of which is pretty harsh. And this, simply because he refuses to date or date “aggressively”. Subtle, but it plants the seed of guilt for not complying as though one is violating the will of God.]

“First Corinthians, chapter 12 addresses brothers who say, ‘I don’t need to date’ or ‘I don’t need this’, First Corinthians 12, verse 21. It says, ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you. And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. And the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor’….So brothers that say, ‘I don’t need to date. I don’t want to date. I’m… You’re in Sin. You need to repent. You need to serve your sisters.” (Jim Brown, Dating in the Kingdom, 1997, tp 1, sd 1)

[Well, no subtlety there. Mr. Brown, holding a high-level leadership position in the NYC church as well as over seeing ministries in other parts of NY State, flat out calls it a “Sin” not to be dating. And he really takes liberty with Scripture to try and support his assertion. He also flat out contradicts what Randy McKean stated 7 years earlier. What makes this more alarming is that Mr. Brown made this statement during a dating seminar that he and his wife were giving, which was published and distributed by DPI (Discipleship Publishing International), the official publishing company of the ICOC. This 3 tape series entitled: Dating in the Kingdom is still being sold to members worldwide, lauded as “Biblically rich”. The following 8 quotes are from that same seminar and are contained on the 3 tapes series.]

“Why date? Because disciples seek first the kingdom. Let me start out giving you some very profound insight. Men, a full half of the kingdom of God, worldwide, is women. Profound. Women, a full half are men. And so, if we are going to be seeking first the kingdom, we need to seek first the WHOLE kingdom. Not just half the kingdom, the WHOLE kingdom....Why date? You've got to seek first the kingdom.” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 1, sd 1)

“We talked about some great, Godly, Biblical principles here, very important things. We've talked about seeking first the kingdom and what that means, that you've got to date. Without dating you can't truly seek first the kingdom.” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 1, sd 2)

“The bottom line is if you have the heart to seek first the kingdom and to have great relationships with your brothers, you’ll do whatever it takes to go out on dates. You shouldn’t have to be asked out. And the reason that that’s our excuse is because we’re seeking first our own security instead of the kingdom.” (Teresa Brown, ibid, tp 1, sd 1)

[I don't believe I've ever heard that Scripture twisted to such a degree. Have these people no teaching in exegesis? Do they not understand integrity of context? I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Brown would suggest that the apostle Paul, a man who never dated, as dating was not a practice at that time, was not seeking first the kingdom? (I have addressed this issue of “seeking first the kingdom” in the article, Still More "Quotes") Mr. Brown then appeals to the chivalrous side of the men.]

“We need to rescue these women from the world. We need to sweep them off their feet, give them some incredible things to talk about during the week, give them their self esteem and their security.” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 1, sd 1)

“Our sisters need to be rescued. They need heroes. They need brothers who are heroes who go pick them up off their feet and take them out on dates. Brothers, we need to give them something to talk about. When they’re at work, they want to talk about their date. And just talk about how much fun they’re having with all these men, and how sought after they are.” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 1, sd 1)

[Mr. Brown appears to believe that bragging about how “sought after” they are by “all these men” is a good Christian virtue for the women in his church to have. And that this is what their self-esteem and security is based upon. Or perhaps he is focusing on the evangelistic possibilities, all the non-Christian women being drawn to the church by the idea of being “sought after” by so many men. Knowing how often members are encouraged to make the gospel “attractive”, it leaves one to wonder. Turning down another avenue, Mr. Brown states that men need to date because, “You need to get your rib back.” He even reads from Genesis where God took the rib from Adam and states, “As men, we are not complete without the rib.” He then makes the following assertion concerning Jesus to support this idea.]

“...that is the goal when you're starting out dating. You just want to be best friends, great friends, with a lot of women. That's what Jesus was. He was great friends with great numbers of women. Women flocked to Him. He could relate to them. He knew He was missing a rib.” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 2, sd 1)

[A bit later Mr. Brown states,]

“So, only two reasons you wouldn't be dating OFTEN. Number one: You're emasculated and have no EARTHLY desire....or you're extremely selfish and you have no GODLY desire. Either way, you're not going to be effective making disciples. You gotta have a lot of great friendships with women, and a lot of great dates. And then people will say, 'I think you're a COOL DUDE. And God will bless you.” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 3, sd 1)

[I wonder if Mr. Brown would call Jesus a COOL DUDE because of all the great friendships that He supposedly had with “great numbers of women”, and because of all the women that “flocked” to Him. Mr. Brown then tries to really push home his idea that a man is not going to be effective spreading the gospel unless he is dating often.]

“The 7 habits of spiritual single brothers. Habit number one: Date often. Gotta be honest here. If you don't date often, you're WEIRD. You can't disciple men or be a disciple maker if you don't date often, because it's not manly. You're weird. How are you gonna study the Bible with men and try to talk them into becoming a disciple....how do you think you are going to sit down with most men and effectively study the Bible with them when they're talking about the babes they're running with, and you haven't gone out with anybody in a month?” (Jim Brown, ibid, tp 3, sd 1)

[I didn't know that being able to swap dating stories with the unsaved was a prerequisite to preaching the Gospel or leading someone to Christ. This is by far one of the most ludicrous things I've heard in a long time from a leader in the ICOC. And what is frightening is that the people attending the seminar appeared to swallow it. In a very recent sermon on "Dating" another person in leadership in NYC stated the following.]

"What is the purpose of dating?... What is the purpose? What it says here, "to do good to the family of believers.' That's what it means to date... it's a way of seeking first the kingdom." (Paul Sharobeem, Dating, NYC church, 10-28-2001)

We need to protect our sisters. It's only selfishness and laziness if we don't date them." (Paul Sharobeem, ibid)

[I guess Mr. Sharobeem was in attendance at the dating seminar given by Mr. Brown. Either that or it shows this type of teaching is common throughout the church (or at least in NYC).]

“That’s why you need to date. You need to date to fight Satan’s scheme for your life.” (Judy Weager, Great Expectations, Singles Retreat at Turtle Bay Hilton, 1998, sd 1)

“Every Saturday night….brothers, you need people that are able to, you know, you’re coming in from a date and you sit on down and they’re there waiting at the kitchen table. That’s how we used to do it. We wouldn’t go to bed till everybody got in….we’d wait, we’d wait till they all came in and then we’d all sit down and say “Hey, how’d you do? How’d you do? How were your thoughts? Where were your hands, tonight?” (Dave Weager, ibid, sd 1)

“And uh, you know, we, we loosened this up a lot, this whole double dating thing. We said, ‘Hey, it’s ok, you know, go on single dates whenever you want to, that sort of thing.’ I say single dating is the very rare exception, VERY RARE. If you’re engaged, you might go on a single date to pick out your, you know, everyday silver ware.” (Dave Eastman, Christian Dating, 1991, sd 2)

"I had to work really hard to convice people to let me date Summer. [daughter of Kip Mckean] I really did. Here she, you know, Summer Mckean, you know, blah, blah, blah, been around the kingdom forever. And here I come, as far as everyone else is concerned, some random guy from New Jersey that ended up getting converted." (Paul Sharobeem, Dating NYC church, 10-28-2001)

“You feel like, man, you know, if I’m really gonna be in tune with my girlfriend, we need to be on the phone, you know, an hour a night before bed. No you don’t. There’s a lot of other things you have to do. You have brothers that you need to minister to. You have people you need to challenge. You have non-Christians you need to spend time with. You have people you need to convert.” (Dave Eastman, Christian Dating, 1991, sd 2)

“I wonder, well, what is happening in this person’s personal ministry that they can spend 14 hours on a date on Saturday?” (Dave Eastman, ibid, sd 2)

“This is an area where we have given a lot of direction and some of you brothers and sisters have been flat out rebellious. In the things I’m about to say, this is not my ‘advice’ as the leader of the church. This is direction….I expect this of every disciple….As the leader of the church I expect this to be followed by every one with no exceptions….The big rule that I have, and I call it a rule. I don’t make any bones about it. It is my rule for the church….here it is. There is no reason for a man and a woman, who are not married, to be alone for any period of time in an apartment, home or car. NO REASON! None. No reason. It should not be done.” (Dave Eastman, ibid)

[In as much as I agree that unmarried men and women, refraining from being alone together in locations that might produce strong temptations, especially those who are younger and having romantic interests toward each other, is a good guideline to consider, anyone in church leadership attempting to make it a blanket church-wide rule and demanding adherence to it by every member of the congregation at all times without exception is violating Scripture, Biblical authority, and each individuals Christian freedom to govern themselves. Mr. Eastman does not have the authority, regardless of how much liberty he may take with Scripture, to police people to this extent. And if Mr. Eastman ever thought to threaten someone’s membership in his church (which in the view of the ICOC would be expulsion from the Kingdom of God) for simply refusing to comply with ‘his’ rule, something that former members claim is a common practice among leaders, he would be placing his authority on the same level as that of Jesus’. That is an authority he just does not have.]

“Some of you guys need to spend less money on the date and put more money in the plate. [meaning the church offering plate]” (Randy McKean, Dating That Moves The Heart, 1990, sd 1)

“Take care of the details. You give notice, you plan ahead. Uh, in light of the uh, special contribution coming up, you need to keep the cost down. [more pointedly] You need to keep the cost…down.” (Dave Eastman, Christian Dating, 1991, sd 2)

[Please show me even one Scripture that supports Church leadership making any kind of blanket statement limiting the monetary value of social activities in order to obtain more money from the congregation.]

“Just some quick advice, here. If someone you date misses church, they skip church for a reason. OK, uh, skip the date. Not as a punishment, but let’s say someone just didn’t want to go to church, you know….in my mind if someone skips church for no reason, that’s someone who’s not doing too great spiritually.” (Gary Vermass, Dating Workshop, 2001)

“There came a point in Kendal and I’s relationship, um, you know, he was having to wrestle with going into the ministry full time, and the timing of it and working with it. And he needed to be able to take the advice of the spiritual men around him and step out on faith. And I’ll never forget Rhonda and I having a talk and she said, ‘You need to pray because whether or not he’s willing to take this advice is going to show you whether or not he’s the man for you, whether or not he’s the man that’s going to get you to heaven.’ And I remember that moment thinking, ‘Excuse me?! Now?! After I’ve given my heart away?!. No, no, no, no, no, no, no! No, don’t tell me that, now! Don’t tell me that, now! No! No!’ But you know what? I listened and I prayed and he took the advice. And we’re leading in the ministry and we have an awesome marriage.” (Dian Knight, Couples Facing One Another, Singles Retreat: “Face Off”, 1998, sd 2)

[So Dian was being told that Kendal’s acceptance of (obedience to) other’s “advice” to go into full time ministry was going to dictate whether or not he was the right man for her to marry, even after she had already given her heart to him. The future of their relationship rested on Kendal’s ministry status and his obedience to other’s “advice”. This is the kind of counseling Dian was receiving from her discipler. Was this perhaps because Dian was in leadership (or being groomed for it) and they couldn’t have her marrying a man who was not going to be in full time ministry, as many of the accusations concerning relationship manipulation have declared? And from Dian’s response, an idea that not only had not even occurred to her until it was introduced by her discipler, but an idea that she was initially opposed to (“Excuse me?!…). But like a good disciple she “listened”, and “prayed” that he would take the advice. Fortunately for her he did. This, of course, begs the question, “If Kendal had not accepted the advice and gone into full time ministry, would he and Dian be married? I wonder how many couples there are in the ICOC where the husband is in full time ministry and the wife is not or vice versa?]

“Don’t hide or protect each other, either. You know. If your girlfriend says something, you know, that’s just not right, spiritually, tell on her. Go tell her discipling partner.” (Gary Vermass, Dating Workshop, 2001)

“Sisters, don’t try to protect your boyfriend. Please don’t. You see something weird, he says something weird, he does something to make you feel uncomfortable, go tell on him. Tell the D-group. We’re men, we can take it. Tell the girls, tell the men, tell everybody. Uh, if you gotta…And men, you can’t have issues with that.” (Gary Vermaas, ibid)

“Don’t disciple each other. Uh, on the other side of the spectrum, don’t disciple each other. Tell on each other instead.” (Gary Vermaas, ibid)

[Whom would these dating couples be protecting each other from? WHAT would they be protecting each other from? And why is this word “protect” even being used? Why would they not be able to speak to each other about being uncomfortable with certain actions or certain topics of conversation? Why are adults being reduced to preschoolers who run around snitching on each other? According to Scripture, if a person has a problem with something another person has said or done to them, they should first go to that person to deal with it. And for people who are in boyfriend/girlfriend type relationship, thus seeking a possible future marriage partner, this is an important part of building a healthy relationship. Now, if a person has a problem with someone they are dating and they decide to talk to someone in church leadership about it, so be it. But no one should feel pressured to do so, and they should feel free to do so without feeling like they are snitching on the other person. And it should be kept confidential. It should not be something spread around the entire congregation. Yet this leader is not only encouraging this type of behavior, he is instructing the members of his congregation to practice it. What happened to following Scripture?]

“There should be nothing in your life, men, that only your girlfriend knows. Like Jody taught before, if you get there, you’re in a mess.” (Gary Vermaas, ibid)

“I’ve had couples buy the tickets and then get advice. ‘I got two tickets. What do you think?’ You know. And I’ll tell them I think you need to sell your tickets. Or I think you need to eat a thousand dollars. But I do not think you should go away. That’s my advice. Uh, now, when you do go away there’s a proper way to do it. You go away for a short period of time. You cannot be away from the kingdom for a long period of time and expect to do well. It doesn’t work. You go away for 3 days. Maybe, if it’s a really far away, 4 days.” (Gary Vermaas, ibid)

[This last statement was referring to dating couples visiting each other’s parents. Talk about control. Here again we see a reference to the ICOC being the kingdom, exclusively, and that being away from the fellowship of the ICOC is being away from God’s kingdom. According to Scripture, God’s kingdom is spiritual. You become a part of it through spiritual birth. It is a part of you, and you a part of it, regardless of where you are geographically. As a Christian, you cannot be “away” from God’s kingdom simply because you are not in the midst, physically, of the fellowship of your congregation. If so, Paul was separated from the kingdom on several occasions, especially when he was imprisoned. More importantly, if a person is “away” from the kingdom of God, then they would be “outside” God’s kingdom and, therefore, no longer a Christian, spiritually dead, unsaved. So it is gross error of Scripture for Mr. Vermass to even suggest such a thing.

I’m also amazed that ICOC leaders have such a low estimate of their member’s faith that a dating couple cannot be away from the fellowship of the ICOC for more than 3 or 4 days, yet remain faithful to God. Their faith appears to be based more on being surrounded by other members keeping them “in line” than it does on an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus. Ironically this is a common stance among many abusive groups.]

As in my other articles published on this web site I challenge everyone, especially current members of the ICOC, to do their homework to verify for themselves the accuracy of these quotes and to study in Scripture the points brought out in this article. Paul said, “We are not looking for praise from men....We are not trying to please men but God who tests our hearts.” (1Th 2:4-6) I also urge every believer to follow Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians

Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1Th 5:21)

Pray continually so that you will not be deceived, and seek the Lord thy God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, with all of your strength. Only there will He be found. (Jer 29:13-14, Dt 4:29)

Final Note: I also make this request: that people, regardless of how well meaning the intentions may be, refrain from copying the quotes contained in this article and tossing them around the Internet. Many hours were spent listening to tapes of sermons and speeches to obtain these quotes made by leadership. This article was written to deal with these statements, to help shed light on the error of ICOC practices and teachings. Because of the manipulation practiced by leadership, many of the members of the ICOC are unaware that these statements and teachings are in error of Scripture. Just listing the quotes or tossing them around the Internet won’t be of much impact to those members. Explaining the Scriptural error of these statements by leadership, and appealing to common sense is what will be of greatest value.

If there is a strong desire to make people aware of these quotes then please make mention of this article and link to it. They will get much more out of the article than they will by just reading a list of quotes. If, however, the desire is to merely enhance your own web site, I would ask you to sincerely pray about the motivation behind creating your web site in the first place. If anyone chooses not to respect this request, at least make sure that the quotes are copied correctly and make sure that each has the correct bibliography attached to it. (The use of “ibid” after a quote means that it was taken from the same speech or article as the quote appearing just before it)

“…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2)

 

(All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted. The use of bold type and underlining in Scripture references are for emphasis and do not appear within the Scriptural text of the NIV)

 

 

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