Sexual Deviance in the Cults
One of the most shocking doctrines of the Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, was his sexual demands placed upon the women and young girls in his group. According to USA Today, "While the men live in what some former cultists have described as an anguished celibacy, Koresh freely takes whatever woman catches his fancy, sometimes girls as young as 12" (4 March 1993, p. 3A).
Time magazine quotes former members, including Marc Breault who had been associated with the group in the late 1980's as saying, "He (Koresh) was fixated with sex and with a taste for younger girls. He began to teach that all the women in the world belonged to him and only he had the right to procreate."
Elizabeth Barabya, who had also been a member of the commune, explained Koresh's twisted reasoning on this point. "God believed it was necessary to send him (Koresh) down to be a sinful Jesus so that, when he stood in judgement of sinners on Judgement Day, he would have experience of all sin and degradation" (15 March 1993, p. 38).
As horrifying as this sounds, it is actually quite consistent with this type of group. Based, in part, on the communal/utopian philosophy, Koresh began to practice the doctrines which many other utopian groups have practiced throughout America's history.
One leader which shares many similarities with David Koresh - Jim Jones of Jonestown. "Jones's sexual gluttony became another focal point. The egotistical leader insisted he only had sex with his followers to satisfy their needs. He presented himself as the `only legitimate object of sexual desire'" (People's Temple Peoples Tomb, Phil Kerns, p. 158).
Also, before Rev. Moon arrived in America, his followers say he taught a type of ritual sex. "Since Moon was a pure man, sex with him was supposed to purify both body and soul, and marriages of other cultists were in fact invalid until the wives slept with Moon" (The Spirit of Sun Myung Moon, Zola Levitt, p. 13).
The altering of sexual habits in these aberrant religious communities is not simply a phenomenon of recent origins. Rather, historical similarities can be found in non-Christian groups which were begun over a century ago.
In Utopias: The American Experience, Gairdner Moment and Otto Kraushaar explain, "Many utopian communities have sought to better the relationship between the sexes through some kind of sexual reformation."
While it may be argued that Koresh's "reformation" did not "better the relationship" the same can be said for Moment and Kraushaar's examples. They cite the Shakers with their doctrine of "total celibacy" and the Mormons for their practice of "polygamy" (p. 218).
This same idea of sexual manipulation by a communal leader is echoed by Mark Holloway in Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities in America 1680-1880. Holloway writes, "Mormon polygamy was part of the general attack that was everywhere being made upon the institution of monogamy.
"Celibacy among the Shakers and Rappites, and the system of complex marriages which we shall encounter at Oneida, are other examples of this attack; and there can be little doubt that, whatever immediate sanctions for these unorthodox practices were advanced by those who introduced them, they served a useful purpose in binding such societies together. They necessarily involved a direction of interest towards the group rather than towards the individual" (p. 118).
Because of its communal philosophy, with a central dictatorial ruler, Koresh was able to manipulate his followers' beliefs as many other leaders of such groups have done in the past.
While this aspect of Koresh's theology has received much emphasis in the secular media, and rightly so, it must be remembered that Koresh was not the first to implement such abominable practices. Nor, unfortunately, is he likely to be the last.