Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reading PCG's Booklet, Single Minded for God

In 2015 PCG released a booklet giving instructions to singles in PCG about finding contentment while being single, looking for a partner by dating widely within PCG, building a marriage after that, telling PCG singles to let the minister give "counsel" regarding personal relationships and calling for men to rule over women. The copyright is dated 2013 and 2015. The PCG authors of this booklet are Joel Hilliker, Gerald Flurry, Stephen Flurry, Dennis Leap, Eric Anderson, Ryan Malone, Gary Restall, Antonius Hallmark and Steve Hercus. You can read this booklet on their website.

Some old articles from WCG as well as excepts from Gerald Flurry's writings are quoted in this booklet but this post shall refrain from discussing those sections of this booklet. Let us see what PCG's leaders today are saying about this topic.


Among the things mentioned in this booklet are the following:

Denigration of dating outside of PCG.

A call for PCG members to date within one's race. (p. 50.)

A complaint that people have chosen their mate over PCG. (p. 61.)

A curious remark saying that Isaac and Rebekah not meeting each other before marriage was unusual. (p. 104.)

A statement saying "it is never too early to involve the ministry" in one's personal relationship. (p. 108.)

Comparing Versions

There were two different versions released in 2015. The following sections have been added in the current version of this booklet. Most of the additions are to be found in Chapter 3.
Chapter 2: How to Overcome Fear and Self-Consciousness.

Chapter 3: Be Not Afraid.

How Does Emotion Effect Your Dating

How to Know the True Feelings of Someone You Like (Old WCG writing)

How to Choose Your Spouse

Single men: A mindset you need to build.

Do Not Have This Conversation With Your Date

Marriage Counseling and Engagement
WCG Articles

The following WCG articles are quoted in this booklet but they are quoted in small excerpts scattered throughout the booklet.
"Single Christians -- Glorify God in YOUR Life" by Malcolm Tofts (Good News, September 1980, pp. 4-7).

"Single Christians and the Abundant Life" by K. Neil Earle (Good News, January 1984, pp. 6-8, 21-22).

"SINGLES Who Can't Find Mates" by Ronald D. Kelly (Plain Truth, July-August 1984, pp. 8-9, 36).
An article by HWA is also quoted.
"What is the Best Age for Marriage?" by Herbert Armstrong (Youth 84, October-November 1984, pp. 1-2, 25-27).
And with those details accounted for let us take a look at this booklet.

Chapter 1: The Role of a Single

Joel Hilliker: Building God Family Culture
Within His Church of Spirit-begotten saints, God is actively building the groundwork for a millennial utopia that will soon spread to cover the Earth. He is promoting a way of life that exalts His law of love, that builds within us wholehearted love for God and love for fellow man. (p. 2.)
PCG will take over the world after Christ's return, they say.
To the singles in the Church, God presents a grand challenge—and a wonderful opportunity. He wants you to recognize and reject the toxic anti-family thinking of Satan’s world. He wants you to distance yourself from the selfish singles attitudes and lifestyles all around you. He wants you to join together in fashioning an altogether different kind of singles culture within His Church. (p. 2.)
Who is Hilliker talking about here?
But spiritual growth requires embracing challenges and breaking out of our comfort zone. God wants life for His singles to be active! He wants you dating regularly, spending time with families, attending Church functions, enthusiastically participating in and even helping to organize singles events. He wants you to live the abundant life! (p. 3.)
Of course PCG's leaders want their young people dating regularly. If the young stay single and do not end up having children then it will not be possible to propagate PCG through the children of members.
Sadly, those without physical family can easily be, and too often are, overlooked. God wants everyone in His Church to be included, respected, cared for, loved. He wants His singles looking out for each other and actively ensuring no one is left on the fringes. That requires dating widely and viewing each other as God does... (p. 3.)
Of course they are overlooked. PCG as an institution gets less from an individual without a family than from members who are part of a family integrated into PCG. It is hard to overcome such tendencies while PCG remains as restrictive as it is.
Worldly singles culture tends to be lawless. God’s singles strive to do everything according to God’s will, in a way He would be pleased with. That means keeping His laws regarding chastity and purity.... It means not being ruled by emotion or rushing into a relationship. It means seeking and applying counsel from God’s ministry. It means always seeking to act out of love, not lust. (pp. 3-4.)
These words are a license for PCG's ministers to interfere in the romantic lives of their single members. The potential for bad decisions and bad outcomes is enormous.

Eric Anderson: I'm So Lonely!

Many authoritarian groups tend to denigrate life outside the group as somehow unutterably vile. That tendency may be seen in this passage in which it is insisted that if one is not in contact with (PCG's) God then he or she will never get proper friendships and relationships.
Without regular contact with God and Christ, sure, we may have some friends, but we won’t have true, edifying relationships with others. Why? Because we won’t know how to become a truly friendly, outgoing, morally upright person that others like to be around. Strong contact with God helps make our contact with each other profitable and lasting. Contact with God—through heartfelt prayer and regular Bible study—can help develop a “magnetic” personality in us that attracts others.

Without contact with God, we won’t be able to effectively develop the attributes that we ought to in order to maintain great relationships with others around us. These important attributes include love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control.... (p. 10.)
This is loading the term. Relationships within PCG are praised as blessed by (PCG's) God. Relationships which do not prop up PCG's authority are derided as deformed friendships.
Loneliness causes you to be a negative person. In order to fight it, you must replace it with the positive action of giving— and having outgoing concern for others. Overcoming lonely feelings is part of you learning to take control of your life and your emotions. Conquering loneliness is part of developing an attractive personality, and becoming a leader instead of a follower. (p. 11.)
"Loneliness causes you to be a negative person." Surely there must have been better words that could have been used?

Joel Hilliker: The Void in You 

Three paragraphs on pages 12-13 contains quotes from HWA.
You see this everywhere: People chasing something. Many people try to fill that void with education, travel, work, entertainment, sports, music, drugs, pornography, or any number of other physical things. Not all of those things are bad, but none will ever fill the void that can only be filled by God’s Spirit!
You definitely see this happening in the world’s single scene. People think they just need that relationship —or maybe merely sex—so they hop around from one person to another. That didn’t fill it, they think. I must need someone else—another relationship—another encounter. (p. 13.)
The "world's single scene" seems to be about sex according Hilliker.
There have been times when a baptized single has been interested in an unbaptized single. Some have even entered into a relationship, putting that person above God. Did that baptized person really understand this reality? Did he or she recognize that we are incomplete without the Holy Spirit? Was that individual using and being led by that Spirit? (pp. 13-14.)
This is loaded language. HWA discouraged Radio/Worldwide COG members from marrying non-members. PCG imitates this restrictive practice. If a PCG member marries a non-member then it will be harder to control that family as the non-member does not need PCG.

Incidentally this is likely a reason why PCG's singles are so desperate they need a booklet like this because potential relationships with non-members are discouraged and denigrated as contrary to (PCG's) God's will.

The human being outside of PCG is denigrated as failing to fulfill PCG's teachings.
We need the Holy Spirit that can give us this nature! This is the opposite of human nature. It smashes human nature! ...

That is our human nature! Do you really see how much you love your self? How much self-love you have?

As Mr. Armstrong said in a sermon in 1982, “ Self-love is the very essence of sin.” God’s way of life is always outflowing—it is give. Anything other than that is sin —it is a result of loving our self more than God, or more than the other guy. (p. 15.)
Sin is equated with self-love.
Whenever there is a problem— conflict, discouragement, unhappiness— sin is the cause, which means that self-love is in there somewhere! Every particle of unhappiness is caused by sin, and self-love is the essence of sin. (p. 16.)
You can just about hear him raising in voice in this section.
Are you unhappy as a single? Then examine yourself for self-love. You are trying to satiate that gnawing inner hunger with something other than God. To some degree, most prob - ably, you are combating your inferiority complex with conceit, self and vanity! 
This Satan-inspired human nature makes us miserable. Sin makes us miserable. Self-love makes us miserable! Yet, so often, in specific situations, we put ourselves first because we think that is going to make us happier. We are certain that putting the other person first is going to make us miserable! We prioritize our own desires. We focus on how we want to be treated. Our service and sacrifice are required somewhere—someone needs us—but we are into what we’re doing, so we insist that we’re too busy, or we pretend like we don’t hear or don’t see the problem. 
We do these things all the time —and we may even feel justified in doing so. But the reality is that self-love is sin! It is not the way God thinks! It is not His nature to do that. It is not His love. (p. 16.)
In other words acting contrary to PCG's rules is redefined to mean you are a bad person. This is not true. This is confusing an inability to conform to expectations with whether one is good or bad. For those who wish to live life without PCG there is no need to allow him or anyone else in this organization to judge us.

Reading this it almost sounds like a self confession from Maoist China.
How much is your self-love impacting your interactions with other singles and Church members? How much is it interfering with your relationship with God? How much are you allowing your vanity to be a substitute for the Holy Spirit flowing in your life? How much does your human nature prevent God from using you to serve His Family? How much is vanity directing your choices—your dating—your marriage preparation? How much is self-love driving your thoughts— your motivations—your emotions? (p. 16.)
The model self confession is then followed with scare mongering against one's self, or more specifically against anything contrary to PCG dogma.
Human nature is tough, deeply rooted, pernicious and extraordinarily resilient. If you are not fighting it ferociously every day, then it is almost certainly influencing your thinking and your life more than you realize. (p. 17.)
This is what Steven Hassan would call an indirect suggestion. Instead of directly saying what is wrong the reader is allowed to imagine for him or herself what is wrong and react accordingly.

Ryan Malone: Harmless to Singles?

Here Malone condemns pornography.
In one sense, pornography essentially eliminates the need for a dating life, for marriage and for family. If someone is getting his or her sexual fulfillment and “intimacy” from a computer screen, what incentive is there to find that special someone and settle down? (pp. 21-22.)
What unhinged rhetoric. It is insinuated that just because somehow happens to watch pornography it will make them uninterested in having a relationship? Ridiculous.

Has the author thought this statement through? This implies that relationships are just for enjoying sex.
Suggestive movies and television inflame a strong pull in people—especially teens, as this study shows. How much more does pornography? (p. 22.)
What about natural hormones like testosterone and estrogen?

Pornography comes from Satan the Devil according to Malone.
Pornography affects any mind—married or unmarried— old, and especially young. It is from the mind of the devil! He broadcasts his messages through pornography—that humans are slaves to their sexual urges and that marriage and family are obstacles to sexual fulfillment. (p. 22.)
Natural hormones seem to have nothing to do with it according to this article.

Chapter 2: Godly Dating

Joel Hilliker: Invaluable Advice from the Creator of Sex

Hilliker presents some advice about dating.
Do you have trouble understanding women? Do men seem mysterious? (p. 26.)
It's called sexual attraction.
God designed men and women to be different. This makes it so the two can work together as a perfect team. The strengths of one complement the strengths of the other. (p. 26.)
What team? The COGs teaching regarding how men and women relate can be summed up in just four words: Men rule over women. Camouflaging this attitude with gentle words cannot hide this attitude that influences so much of PCG's views concerning family relations.

Hilliker thinks a lot of problems are caused because people are selfish and merely think about he or she will get out of a relationship from the other person. This theme will be mentioned fairly often in this booklet.
We are all naturally selfish. And selfishness is the number-one obstacle to having meaningful relationships—especially with people of the opposite sex. It is a common trap to look at those relationships— whether friend or spouse—primarily in terms of what we get from them, and when the other person doesn’t fulfill our needs and expectations, we can get very impatient. (p. 26.)
Hilliker cites one example of a problem.
As a single, you can consistently shut people of the opposite sex down because you interpret any sign of friendliness as proof positive that they want to marry you. (p. 27.)
But why do young PCG members think "any sign of friendliness" indicates a desire for marriage? Is it because PCG ministers constantly tell the young members that they need to be married?
Women: Realize that men are flattered when you call on them for help. We like to be the hero. So call him! Don’t abuse him— don’t expect him to up-end his life because you happen to need some help. But don’t be too bashful about asking him if you need an escort, or in fixing something, or moving heavy objects, or you just need a shoulder to cry on. (p. 29.)
Why did Hilliker imply that some women do not know how to fix things?
Men Need to Lead—Women Need to Help  ... God made men to be the leader in the relationship. He equipped men mentally, physically, emotionally, temperamentally to fulfill that role. A man feels fulfilled when he’s being a leader, taking charge and making things happen. (p. 29.)
In other words: Men rule over women. That is the rule PCG's leaders promote. That is the goal that the COGs have often worked towards.
At the same time, God made the woman mentally, physically, emotionally, temperamentally to yield to that leadership and to be a helper. He designed her to want the man to take charge, to want to see him being decisive and strong, and to want to follow those decisions. (p. 29.)
The message is: Men rule over women.
Women: You have found the way to a man’s heart when you understand true submissiveness. This doesn’t mean being his slave. It means being willing, even eager, to help him and see him succeed. Take an interest in his goals and ambitions. Show that you love your role and you love it when he embraces his. (p. 29.)
What if she has goals and ambitions? Are they not worth as much as the man's? Shouldn't the man in the relationship take such things into account? But because of the overarching theme of "Men rule over women" this is not taken into account.

However many people for whatever reason do not quite follow Hilliker's script. He knows this which is why he says the following in the next paragraph.
The problem is, society today is so hostile to that divinely inspired order, that we as men and women may find ourselves resisting it. Some men think, I don’t really want to be the leader. Why does it always have to be me? And some women think, I’ve had some bad experiences, and I’d just as soon take charge myself. These “men” don’t really know how to lead anyway, and someone’s got to do it. (p. 29.)
Those who do not meet Hilliker's expectations are ridiculed as lazy and apathetic. It is insinuated to the male readers that women who do not follow the script prescribed in this booklet look down on them.

It is insisted that any deviation from the script will cause problems.
But here is the truth of the matter: This is how God designed men and women, and anytime we step outside that divine order, there will be problems. Our relationships won’t be as fulfilling. There will likely be friction. There will be hurt feelings, frustrations, anxiety and discontent. If we break this spiritual law, then curses will result. (p. 29.)
Hilliker mocks people outside of PCG as having bad taste in women.
Women: Realize how truly beautiful and feminine you are when you show inner charm, refinement and culture. Our culture favors loud, boisterous women. But godly men love femininity, charm and grace. Gentleness of speech. (p. 30.)
So does this mean Hilliker cannot handle those he perceive as "loud, boisterous women"?

Hilliker also insists that men are to lead the conversation.
Men: Women do admire you when you try to lead in conversation. It’s difficult, but it’s important to learn how to do so naturally. Try to have a few subjects to fall back on in case of an awkward silence. Ask good, open-ended questions to draw her out—but don’t get too personal. Make sure there’s a give-and-take, and neither of you is dominating the conversation. (p. 30.)
Hilliker tells women to not be argumentative.
And women: Make it easier for the man to communicate by showing an interest and being responsive. Realize too that men actually appreciate a difference of opinion from time to time. If you disagree, however, don’t be argumentative—be feminine in how you present your point. (p. 30.)
In PCG's world "Men rule over women" so to fulfill this dream it is necessary to discourage women being "argumentative" against men.
Men Need Respect—Women Need to Respect (p. 30.)
Shouldn't men respect women as well? One may say this goes without saying. Then why is it not said in this statement?

Hilliker insists that men want women to defer to and revere them. It is furthermore insisted that (PCG's) God made it this way.
But women: All men secretly crave your respect. God hardwired us to really want that veneration, deference and reverence. So in your relationships with men, if you give that to them, the relationship will go much further. It will have far less frustration and friction.
Hilliker equates church lay members with children obeying their parents.
Nowhere in Scripture does it say women need to be obedient to all men—only wives to their husbands, children to their parents, servants to their masters, and church members to the ministry. But if you want to improve your relations with any man, here is how: Show him respect. Show him that you value his opinions and appreciate his ideas. (p. 30.)
So lay members are expected to obey what their ministers tell them to do? Where are the boundaries? What can the minister say or not say to lay members? If the minister should over extend his authority what procedures are in place to address such problems? Such important questions are not discussed in this booklet.
If you criticize him or focus on his weaknesses, be assured that will break down the relationship. Instead, focus on the positive—try to make him feel like royalty. The more you respect a man, the better that relationship will be. (p. 30.)
But what if the criticism is necessary? If women are reluctant to criticize how will the men know that there is something wrong? 
Notice: God’s ground rules for improving these relationships are all about the way of give. A man must be willing and able to give love to a woman. A woman must be willing and able to give reverence and submission to a man. 
In addition, a man must be willing and able to give godly leadership to a woman—leadership that earns her respect and that is a joy to submit to. And a woman must be willing and able to be a lovable woman, and prepare herself to recognize and encourage and to receive a man’s love. (p. 31.)
Men rule over women. That is the ideal PCG's leaders seek to encourage their members to enact.

Joel Hilliker: Avoid These Eight Relationship Killers

Here Hilliker seems to admonish the single males not to be overly jealous or be quick to assume their partner is somehow cheating.
Maybe you think they’re being flirty, or just throwing themselves at some guy. Such thoughts can kill your friendship both with the person of the opposite sex and the one of your sex! God’s love is never jealous in that way! (p. 32.)
Hilliker then discusses how to ask for a date.
Consider the simple act of asking someone out for a date. Men: Don’t be an oaf about it. “What are you doing tonight?” “I don’t have anything else to do—wanna go out?” “So-and-so backed out on me and I need a date.” Instead, approach the woman privately and leave her the option of declining gracefully. And women: Realize how hard it is for a man to ask for a date. Most of all, he doesn’t want rejection. If you have to turn him down, be gentle. (p. 32.)
Hilliker chides those men who are too eager to dominate the woman.
Men: Being a leader doesn’t mean being macho or domineering. It means being responsible, mature and caring. If you throw your weight around to try to show her who’s boss, you are sure to turn her off. (p. 32.)
But how is one not supposed to dominate if a man should follow the advice discussed elsewhere in this booklet. To lead the woman. To lead even the conversations with the woman. To insist that the woman gives reverence and submission to the man. How are the male readers of this booklet supposed to tell the difference?

Hilliker then tells women to keep their emotions in check and to keep themselves consistent and predictable for the man in the relationship. He tells men to be aware that women have hormones.
Women: Try to be consistent and predictable in your reactions and day-to-day disposition. Your moods can wreak havoc on a man. Make a strong effort to be sunny and cheerful. Level out the peaks and valleys in your day-to-day reactions. At the same time, men, don’t misinterpret a woman’s emotional highs and lows or changing moods. She is not intentionally directing them at you. It’s easy to take any fluctuation in emotion personally. But there may be a number of reasons why she may be friendly one day and distant the next: stress—a lack of sleep—hormones—a personal problem with someone else. (p. 32-33.)
Hilliker encourages people to think about others.
Don’t focus on yourself and your own needs; focus on the other person’s needs and on helping that person to grow. (p. 33.)
Hilliker warns that women are "terribly sensitive".
Men: Understand that women can be terribly sensitive and easily crushed. Sarcasm, cynicism, negative comments—these don’t go over well. She wants you to be pleased with her, so rejection and ridicule can really hurt.  
Women: Realize how easy it is to wound a man’s self-respect. Don’t compare him to other men. Don’t ignore him, or cut him down in front of others. If you want to be treated like a lady, then protect his self-respect. (p. 33.)

Joel Hilliker: Seven Things That Make Friendship Flourish

Hilliker encourages men not to leap to conclusions about the woman in the relationship.
Men: Women would rather you encourage, console and comfort them than lecture or preach. If a woman comes to you with a problem, don’t criticize or immediately offer solutions. Just listen. (p. 34.)
He reassures the female singles to not assume so much if a man gives her gifts.
Women: Don’t feel guilty if a man spends money on you. In most cases, he’s not trying to get anything from you—he’s just trying to be kind. Show gratitude, acknowledging the sacrifice he made with a follow-up note, phone call or some other gesture. (p. 34.)
But what if he is trying to get something from her? What should be done then?

Hilliker tells the female single, "Don't throw a fit" at the man if things go wrong.
Fourth is “ bearing all things.” This means being slow to expose another person’s sin, and never bringing up those things that are past. Don’t throw it in someone’s face when they make a mistake, and be willing to let past mistakes go.

Women: Be flexible and self-controlled when plans fall apart or there is a crisis. The way you react in difficult circumstances tells a man a lot about your own level of maturity. Life has its challenges. Don’t throw a fit. (p. 34.)

Joel Hilliker: Is Your Attitude Toward Marriage Right?

Hilliker encourages the singles in PCG by saying they are the elite of the world.
We are the Kingdom of God in embryo—which is the Family of God! God intends us to be the vanguard of a revolution that sets this world’s mixed-up families right-side up! (p. 36.)
Vanguard of a revolution? Wasn't that Lenin's idea?

Being part of "the vanguard of the revolution" means being different from everyone else.
The singles in God’s Church really should be different from the singles in the world. Your attitudes should be different. Your communication with other singles should be different. Your dating should be very different! Your interaction with families and children should be different. (p. 37.)
Being pessimistic about marrying is of the Devil according to Hilliker.
If you have picked up that crusty pessimism, chip it away— break it off. Never allow yourself to hold on to Satan’s crabby, curmudgeonly, discouraging attitudes about marriage and family. If you find those, work to drive them out. Be a positive single! (p. 37.) 

Joel Hilliker: 'What a Large Blemish You Have'

Here Hilliker says singles in PCG are too fussy about who they want to have in a relationship. One of them said to Hilliker that he or she was uninterested in the other person because of a wart on that person's face. For some reason he keeps alluding to that incident.
It’s human, isn’t it? Someone might have a lovely face, but all we can see is the big wart on the end of the nose. (p. 37.)
There is more to be said about this anecdote about the nose later on.  
In many of the conversations I’ve had with singles in God’s Church, I have noticed a tendency to take offense and/or to lose interest in somebody over some pretty piddly issues. Oh, let’s just name a few. His laugh is obnoxious. She makes noise with her jaw when she chews. He asked me on a date by texting me. She was interested in someone else a while back. He’s too serious; I need someone with a sense of humor. She’s a little feministic for my tastes. He’s not assertive enough. I’m looking for a woman who’s more into sports. He doesn’t make enough money. She’s too quiet. He’s too opinionated. She’s too tall. He’s just not attractive to me. Sorry, but I just can’t see past that wart. (pp. 37-38.)
"Feministic"? Doesn't he mean feminist?

Hilliker then seems to say that some of the singles in PCG are "quirky".
Many of you are surveying the singles scene and thinking, Wow—there are some really quirky singles in this Church. And you’re right. But guess what? There are also a lot of pretty quirky married people as well— happily married quirky people. Someone, at some point, decided that there were enough lovable qualities in them that it was worth overlooking the peculiarities. 
The fact is, we all have quirks. Yes, even you. There are things about you that other people could easily find irritating or obnoxious if they chose to. ...

As a result, many are overlooking people who could actually make good, close friends—or even a wonderful spouse! (p. 38.)
What a sterling note of confidence in the singles in PCG this is.

It is not possible that the ministers of PCG may have played a role in making them so "quirky"? But there seems to be no awareness that the behavior within the group partly encouraged by the ministry may have contributed to this situation.

Joel Hilliker: Selfish Dating vs. Serving Dating

Dating that is done outside of PCG is denigrated as largely selfish.
In today’s world, dating truly is a lost art. Real dating has largely been replaced by “hanging out,” doing various mindless or even destructive activities.

Look at the dating scene in this world, and you will see a tremendous amount of confusion. People’s focus is entirely selfish. Their motives are self-centered. They don’t care about the other person beyond what that person will do for them. ...

That’s right: If you want to build an enduring, fulfilling relationship, you need to start right now by dating in a way that is entirely different from the selfish approach unwittingly followed by the great majority of singles! (pp. 41-42.)
It is insinuated that dating outside of PCG is done for casual sex.
When I say that dating is a lost art today, essentially I’m talking about the fact that unselfish dating is rarely practiced. The singles in God’s Church are not dating to have casual sex. However, the attitudes and practices of singles in the world can still rub off on us more than we may realize. (p. 42.)
People who do not feel like dating are denigrated as being selfish.
For example, some singles simply don’t date because, basically, they don’t feel like it. Their only concern is whether it’s convenient for themselves, or what they get out of it. They may convince themselves of excuses— I don’t have time; I can’t afford it; there’s no one to date —all things that can be overcome. They may deem someone as “not marriageable” and thus have no interest in dating them. (Obviously there are legitimate reasons where it would not be appropriate to date someone.) All these hindrances typically boil down to one thing: They are thinking too selfishly to want to extend themselves. (p. 42.)
He also condemns those who date simply to find a spouse to marry.
Other people date, but do so with selfish motives. Some singles believe the sole purpose of dating is to find a mate. This is selfish and leads to many problems. Anyone who is on a date primarily to assess someone’s ability to fulfill duties as a husband or wife is going to behave awkwardly and inappropriately. (p. 42.)
Perhaps they are trying to imitate what they hear from the ministers in PCG? So often ministers in PCG ridicule and mock people who behave contrary to their dogmas as may be seen in this very booklet. So why wouldn't the young lay members seek to implement these ideals by getting married? They are mimicking their leaders within PCG.

Garner Ted Armstrong's Article

Astoundingly page 43 contains a little excerpt from an article by Garner Ted Armstrong. Even though HWA expelled him from WCG in 1978 and despite what is known about his personal conduct contrary to COG teachings he is still cited as a source worth listening to in this booklet by PCG's leaders.

Joel Hilliker: Get to Know Your Follow Singles!

Hilliker mentions that the singles in PCG are widely scattered and it is hard for singles to get together. He responds to this problem by saying there are lots of singles available within PCG.
The singles in the Philadelphia Church of God are quite scattered. And it’s difficult not to get pessimistic about your chances of meeting someone when you don’t even see anyone. However, as it turns out, the PCG has a lot of singles. You make up about 30 percent of the membership of the Church! God’s Church has a lot of singles you don’t know very well— and probably many you haven’t even met. (p. 46.)
He encourages singles in PCG to note how things are managed in PCG's Herbert W. Armstrong College. (Which is unaccredited.)
This is an area where the vast majority of you, of every age, would benefit from looking more closely at the way God has set things up at Herbert W. Armstrong College and doing what you can to emulate that model. (p. 47.)
PCG's leaders set things up the way they are in the unaccredited Herbert W. Armstrong College.
You may think that is only true for younger singles. I disagree. Many of the older singles in the Church never even had the opportunity to date God’s way—because they came into the Church later in life, or perhaps were already married. (p. 47.)
And how does one "date God's way"? This seems to be a euphemism for dating within PCG.

It is mentioned that the unaccredited college encourages students to date numerous people.
“For this reason, the administration has taken significant steps to ensure that you have many valuable dating experiences while here—and with as many different people as possible,” the handbook continues, and then describes some of those opportunities.

That’s fine and wonderful for those at the college. But the reality is that outside of headquarters, there simply aren’t as many opportunities to date as would be ideal. The ideal situation is where you’re in close proximity to many other singles that you can date and get to know face-to-face. (p. 48.)
So what is to be done about this?
So how can you increase your opportunities? Get creative. 
Today, you have this wonderful tool called the Internet. Video conferencing—through free tools like Facetime, Skype, Oovoo or Google Hangouts—even allows you to see who you’re talking with “face to face”! Yes, you need an Internet connection, but other than that, it’s free. There are no additional long-distance costs. And what do you do on a date anyway? You have conversation and share experiences. You can do that to an amazing degree online. Using technology opens up possibilities for interacting regularly with singles from all over! (pp. 47-48.)
It is surprising to see Hilliker talk as if people in PCG are somehow unaware of the Internet.

And because PCG's ideal is "Men rule over women" he says the following:
Whether this succeeds or fails depends in large part on you men. God designed you to be the leaders. He wants you to initiate most of the dating, setting the pace, leading the way, serving your sisters in the Church. You have a responsibility in this area. Be proactive! (p. 48.)
He has advice for women doing this as well.
And women, do what you can to encourage the men who do step out. Don’t interpret an e-mail invitation for an online date as a marriage proposal and freak out. Have some fellowship with a brother, and let him know his efforts are appreciated.
Now why would single women in PCG interpret such an invitation as being like a marriage proposal? Could it have something to do with how PCG's ministers constantly insisted that their members are to marry and have children?

Hilliker mentions that there is a turnabout weekend held at the unaccredited college.
Most of this responsibility falls on you men, but women can also participate in planning. Get creative! At the college, we have Turnabout Weekend, where the women do the asking. The AC handbook says, “Turnabout Weekend happens once a semester and gives AC women the opportunity to take on the responsibility of planning for and asking AC men on dates.” It wouldn’t be out of the question to do that occasionally. “Outside of Turnabout Weekend, generally speaking, women should not ask men out on dates at AC. Unless it is a special, off-campus occasion or a turnabout date, women should allow the men to ask for dates” (ibid). (p. 49.)
It is mentioned that students are not allowed to enter a relationship at first while at the unaccredited college.
AC students are not permitted to pair off or to consider marriage until the end of the first semester of their senior year. “Until then, all students must date widely and put all thought of marriage out of mind,” the handbook says. Remember, these aren’t just the college standards— these are God’s standards! (p. 49.)
Did God talk to them to implement this policy? Of course not. These are the standards PCG's leaders have imposed on this unaccredited college.

Hilliker then makes quite an outrageous statement.
Be sure that, as at God’s college, you date within your race— even online dating. In most cases this is obvious, but sometimes it isn’t. If you have any doubts, please talk with your minister before you do any one-on-one dating—although group dating, with three or more people of different races, is encouraged. (p. 50.)
Once again HWA's racist condemnation of interracial marriage rears its ugly presence once again. This is not from the Bible. Some authors have argued that the peoples of those ancient times did not divide each other along racial lines as we tend to do today. This attitude comes from slavery.

To justify forcing African Americans to be slaves it was necessary to devalue them as human beings. Forbidding them from marrying whites was part of the ideology justifying slavery.  In 1967 the US Supreme Court ruled that it was not allowed for any authority to restrict interracial marriage. But PCG's 1% insist on having such authority for themselves today and seeks to restrict interracial relationships among their followers as the words above prove.

These words reveal that not only is this discouragement of interracial dating practiced at the unaccredited college but he encourages people outside of the unaccredited college to enforce this rule among themselves. Even in online dating. (Did someone in PCG say interracial online dating was fine but not other kinds of interracial dating?)

And what is this obfuscation about group dating being allowed but interracial dating being forbidden? Such words cannot excuse or minimize the contempt for interracial relationships that Hilliker expressed above.

Even HWA did not follow this rule even though he was the one who imposed it. According to David Robinson in his book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web in between his marriages HWA had a relationship with a Filipina woman. William Dankenbring citing Albert Portune asserts that there were two Filipina women involved.

One shudders to imagine how many potential relationships have been destroyed because of this racist restriction promoted in this booklet. This restriction is wrong and racist. It is an attitude that derives from the slave plantations that existed in the United States till 1865.

Love and affection knows not race. It is shameful that PCG's 1% wish to impose this racist rule upon their followers.

Let us continue with this booklet.

Hilliker denigrates society outside of PCG as "completely selfish."
This world is completely selfish. We all tend to get into very selfish thinking. ... This world tells you that selfishness makes you happy. That’s a lie! Christ is telling us, I realize that this involves sacrifice—giving up something you’d rather be doing and putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own. In fact, it involves getting down on your knees, handling someone else’s dirty feet, and helping that person! But guess what? If you do that—you’re actually going to be happy! (p. 50.)
Joel Hilliker: Are You Using Excuses?

Hilliker encourages the singles of PCG to go out and about date numerous people. Within PCG.
It’s probably the most common dating advice from the Church: Date widely. This can be mighty difficult to do, considering how spread out so many of you are. For the majority of singles in God’s Church, the options for dating are so limited, “date widely” is almost a punchline: Who’s “widely”? Where is he/she? I’ll gladly date him/her if (s)he’s around! This is a genuine, bona fide obstacle, no question about it. I understand that your dating options are probably limited. (pp. 51-52.)
He then encourages PCG singles to be more open to dating other singles that they might not have considered before.
But I have a question for you: Are you really taking full advantage of the options you do have?

For many of you, the answer is no.

In recent conversations with singles, several have given me reasons why they are not dating widely. Some have said they’re “too old for that.” They’re not interested. Some have said they’re too poor. Some have said that they came from the world and just think differently—like it’s impossible to change from a worldly view of dating. Some have said they don’t want to ask a woman on a date who they’re not interested in, for fear of leading her on. Some have said that because of personal issues like health problems or a handicap, they wouldn’t want to burden someone else, so they don’t date. (p. 52.)
What is Hilliker's response to these problems? Before he tells us he makes an exception for his follow ministers within PCG.
Now, there may be circumstances where a minister counsels you to refrain from dating for a particular reason. Follow that counsel. (p. 52.)
Now he responds to these concerns by PCG members.
Otherwise, let me be blunt: Those are excuses. Flawed thinking, pure and simple. (p. 52.)

Joel Hilliker: The Invisible Singles

Hilliker complains that some singles in PCG are not being asked out by other singles.
I have heard many troubling stories of people who are being slighted, neglected, or even wholly ignored. People with “complicating” issues like having children in the picture, or being in ill health or overweight, who simply aren’t considered as “available.” People who dread attending singles events because of insensitive things others have said. Men who have been turned down for more dates than they’ve been accepted for. Women who have been single in the Church for 20 years and never once been asked on a date! Such rejection and neglect exacts a painful emotional toll, often causing the person to withdraw and become even harder to relate to. (p. 54.)
He quotes a female member who had not been asked on a date.
Wouldn’t you agree that this shouldn’t be the case in God’s Church? Wouldn’t you agree that everyone should feel included, nurtured, respected, cared for? Wouldn’t you agree that “invisible people” shouldn’t exist?  (p. 54.)
He encourages members to date widely because it such activities would integrate the members of the organization more closely together.
Think about it. If all the singles in God’s Church were taking whatever steps they could to date as widely as possible, this would have several wonderful effects. It would draw many people away from the periphery and more deeply into the Family of God. It would involve many more people in rewarding, upbuilding activity. It would contribute to individual growth and character enrichment. It would strengthen our congregations and the Church as a whole. (pp. 54-55.)
He warns that people from outside PCG are getting PCG's women. They are from the Devil according to Hilliker.
Men, let me tell you a secret. Many of the single women in God’s Church feel you are overlooking or ignoring them. Did you realize that the only “attention” some of them are getting from men is coming from men in the world? If you aren’t paying attention to them, you can be sure that the devil is going to bring worldly fellas along to try to convince them that some guy from the world will provide all her needs! That is a very sad truth. Some women have left the Church because they were too weak to resist this temptation. But perhaps if the single men were supplying the proper supportive companionship, it wouldn’t have even been a temptation. (p. 54.)
It is chilling to imagine the stories that must lie behind this comment. Perhaps even more chilling is how there seems to be no awareness that the various restrictions imposed by the PCG ministers contribute to this situation. Forbidding members from marrying non-members or people of another race make it much harder for members to find a spouse.

He encourages members to date widely.
Do your part to make sure there is not even one "invisible single" left in the Church! (p. 56.)

Gary Restall: You Are Dating Future Gods!

Restall encourages members to date widely by saying that PCG members are destinated to rule planets and galaxies after the Millennium. So why wouldn't you want to date such a person?
Remember, each of those you communicate with will be part of the future universe rulership with Jesus Christ. Maybe involved with a certain planet or galaxy—or several of them. You will be able to say, I know that Being! Or, knowing them better, you might be able to help them—and they you—in all of those future endeavors. (p. 57.)

Joel Hilliker: How Godly Dating Protects You

Hilliker complains that some PCG singles are not interested in the PCG leadership's call to date widely.
Some singles dislike dating widely the way God’s Church promotes. They think it’s a hassle. They want to date only those they are pretty sure they want to marry. They consider it a waste of time to date someone they have no intention of marrying. (p. 60.)
He notes how some in PCG have trouble finding a relationship.
Some singles in God’s Church want so badly to be in a relationship that they leave the Church to make it happen! You might see the “fun” that worldly singles are having and think they are getting away with it.... You might feel that keeping yourself pure and unspotted is getting you nowhere.... You can focus on all that you have to give up for God. Intellectually, you can understand that this thinking is wrong. But sometimes, if we allow it, our emotions get the better of us. (p. 60.)
It is insinuated that people outside of PCG date to get casual sex.
When you look at the world’s singles’ scene, it doesn’t take much vision to see where it is leading. Look at the way people date, and even marry. They get into and out of relationships casually and quickly—usually with sex. As they do that, they are deadening their lives, and handicapping their ability to truly connect with someone! (p. 60.)
He states that if one only dates in a serious relationship this might make one go through a breakup and be reluctant to find another partner.
This is why God’s Church— and really, God —advocates the type of dating we do. God wants to preserve our innocence, our trust, in our relationships with one another. (p. 60.)
Once again it is seen that the will of PCG's leaders is equated with the will of God.

Hilliker insists that PCG members must not put a partner above God, meaning above PCG.
God has to know that He comes first in your life. Would you ever put a potential mate above God? So many people have. That shows just how strong our human nature can be, and how easy it is for our emotions to short-circuit this process. How many people have left God’s Church over this exact issue? Odds are, you personally have known someone who has done this. (p. 61.)
It is chilling to imagine what stories lie behind this statement.

It is presented as though it was the member's fault for choosing a partner over PCG. Yet if PCG's leaders simply accepted the fact that individual PCG members will sometimes happen to choose a partner who happens to not be a PCG member then the PCG member would never have had to choose between the partner or the group. It is the PCG leadership who decided to make such things an issue. If the PCG leadership left those PCG members alone it is quite possible that many of those PCG members would have simply remained in PCG.

Antonius Hallmark: Calling All Singles to Online Dating

Here Hallmark encourages single PCG members to date online by doing a shared activity while being connected with the partner over the Internet.

Chapter 3: Preparing for Marriage

Joel Hilliker: Be Not Afraid

Hilliker mentions that some male singles within PCG are reluctant to look for a woman to marry after constantly hearing PCG ministers say how important it is to marry and have children.
Especially among men, this can be common. When you recognize the weight of this decision, it can feel overwhelming— so much so that you don’t make the decision.
If you are intimidated by messages on the magnitude of marriage, biblical manhood, being a Christ-like husband or a Church-like wife or a Father-like father, I have some words of encouragement for you: Fear not. It’s actually not that hard.
Yes, marriage is a big responsibility, but you don’t have to be good at it before you get married. (pp. 70-71.)
Do not worry, Hilliker states. Marriage is made for amateurs, he says.
The way God designed marriage, you don’t have to be an expert from the beginning. God made marriage for the amateur —the person who does it just for the love of it! You learn it by doing it. It’s a wonderful process that leads you step by step into the world of the God Family! (p. 71.)
It is simple, according to Hilliker.
The prerequisites for a good marriage are simple: a man submitting himself to God’s will and a woman submitting herself to God’s will. (p. 71.)
So much of Armstrongism's advice about how to maintain a marriage can be summed up in just four words: Men rule over women.

If things go wrong, do not worry, male singles in PCG. She will support you through it.
This relationship was designed by God to help two novices to grow and to overcome. He designed it to easily withstand the trials that arise from lack of expertise.

You start with just one woman—a woman whom you love, and who loves you and wants to revolve her life around you and be the best helper she can be. You’re a newbie, and so is she. You are a Christian trying your best to live up to the biblical marriage role that you have been taught. So is she. You make mistakes and must learn by experience. So does she. You’re in this wonderful relationship together. (p. 71.)
And why will these male PCG singles be fine in their marriages? Because PCG's God is with them, according to Hilliker.
The point is, you’re going to do fine! Why? Because God is with you, the Creator of marriage, and the Creator of your mind. Look to Him, and He will lead you into and through a fantastic marriage, one day at a time. (p. 71.)
Steve Hercus: Use Your Preparatory Years

Here Steve Hercus, the designer of PCG's recruitment magazine, encourages PCG members to prepare themselves for marriage. For instance he encourages them to get their finances in order and learn how to mange their money.
Sure, saving is hard—it really is. In this faithless world, credit is easy, and keeping-up-with-Joneses materialism is rampant. Both of these conditions can cripple the advantage we should gain in our single years. Look back on all the years you have worked hard and not saved. We have to think long-term. Our ability to save and make wise financial decisions will have a massive impact on our children and theirs.

To get headed in the right direction, get help. Solid advice on how to run your life financially is critical. Many people are simply destroyed financially because of a lack of financial knowledge. If you haven’t been taught how to handle money, you have to find out how. Both men and women need this information in order to establish good financial habits that will carry over into later years. (p. 77.)
Maybe if PCG members did not send so much of their money to PCG it would be easier for them to manage these things.

Hercus also encourages PCG members to get an education.
The time you invest in higher education or other training will pay dividends for the rest of your life. This doesn’t mean racking up mountains of college debt on a misguided degree. There are other means to educate yourself for a career. Some countries have strong apprenticeship systems where you learn on the job and get paid as you go. Mr. Armstrong set a tremendous example of educating himself. Some have stepped out and started their own business and have grown along with it. God’s college is an institution that teaches people how to be highly productive and employable people. (p. 78.)
PCG's college also is unaccredited so its degrees are not recognized outside of PCG.

HWA often ridiculed Colleges thus discouraging his followers from going to them. He later received honorary degrees.

Hercus also encourages women to educate themselves about these things.
Women will look at this subject quite differently than men, which is appropriate. However, it is easy for single women to be short-sighted about education and career. They can think marriage is just around the corner, or that further education would be of no benefit in marriage. But who knows how long you will be single? Use your time—don’t fritter it. Just don’t buy into the world’s thinking that puts material concerns above family. (p. 78.)
Why would single women in PCG "be short-sighted about education and career"? If - and I only say if - they are like that quite likely the PCG leadership helped make them like that. Could it be that the PCG leadership's constant idealization of marriage and family cause the single women in PCG to fixate on building a family at the expense of their careers? 

Joel Hilliker: How Does Emotions Affect Your Dating?

In this section Hilliker makes a distinction between "infatuation" and "love." Infatuation is condemned as being essentially selfish. Love is defined as something focused on others, not oneself. 

Hilliker starts by noting that HWA made a list to himself of what to look for in a woman while dating. Hilliker felt it necessary to state that his PCG do not teach such a thing.
So he developed a system in his dating. He would only date girls that appeared marriageable, just in case he lost his head. (Note: This “system” isn’t the Church’s teaching.) (p. 79.)
PCG's leaders felt it was necessary to point that out. Alas, PCG's constant idealization of HWA have made PCG members vulnerable to viewing matters in this way.
Though we don’t use this dating “system” (and discourage anyone from “coldly analyzing” your date), Mr. Armstrong got something right: He didn’t allow emotion to govern his relation - ships with the opposite sex. He sought to avoid becoming emotionally entangled with someone and later regretting it. And guess what? It worked! The first person he gave his heart to was the woman he married. And they had a wonderful marriage of more than 50 years. (pp. 79-80.)
And after her death in 1967 HWA married another woman, Ramona Martin, but that marriage ended in a divorce.
Singles in this world allow emotion to drive their romantic relationships. They mistake a bit of electricity between two people as love. (p. 80.)
Do not trust yourself, is the message here. Do what the PCG ministers tell you what to do.

Joel Hilliker: Viva La Difference

Here Hilliker talks about having realistic, less romantic expectations about what to expect in a marriage.
I’m sure such relationships do exist. Some couples work together in amazing ways: Their interests and talents converge; they naturally tend to form a dynamic team. They help disadvantaged youths as principal and teacher at an inner city school. He runs a gourmet restaurant and she is the pastry chef. He writes songs that she sings. Those kinds of couples. (p. 89.)
Is Hilliker talking about African Americans when he talks about "an inner-city school"?

Hilliker states that it problems of compatibility are a conversion issue not a compatibility issue.
One Ambassador College graduate told me she remembers Mr. Armstrong giving a Bible study where he said that any two converted people should be able to make a marriage work. Based on my experience, I believe that. When I see people struggling with marriage problems, I think, This is not a personality compatibility issue—this is a conversion issue. (pp. 90-91.)

Quotations from Gerald Flurry

Quotations from Gerald Flurry are included on pages 91-97. However since these words were published in print in other booklets before the publication of the booklet under discussion they will not be mentioned here.

Joel Hilliker: How to Choose Your Spouse

Here Hilliker emphasize how important deciding to get into a relationship.
Deciding whom to spend the rest of your life is among the biggest decisions you will face. It will have a huge impact on your success, accomplishment in life, health, mental wellbeing, lifestyle, happiness, even your personality. This person will be your companion for who knows how many mornings, evenings, meals, road trips, vacations. The spouse you choose could have a huge impact on your eternal life! It will greatly impact the lives of your children. You need to get it right! How do you do that? (p. 102.) 
Is it any wonder why some singles in PCG choose not to look for a partner with this sort of pressure placed on them?
It’s a crucial life decision. Yet it is one that many otherwise intelligent, capable, successful people make an absolute mess of. (p. 102.)
This statement is a license for PCG's ministers to intervene in these decisions by PCG members.

Hilliker then discusses Isaac marrying Rebekah. He says it was unusual for them to have never met each other.
This was an unusual situation in some ways: Isaac was the son of promise, through whom God would fulfill His promises to Abraham; as one of the patriarchs, he needed a special wife; and he was a type of Christ. But it was even more unusual in the sense that Isaac and Rebekah never even met each other! (p. 104.)
Isaac and Rebekah not meeting each other before marriage was not unusual. Arranged marriages were not unusual in the Middle East in ancient times. The fact that Hilliker thinks this is unusual exposes his lack of knowledge about customs in the Middle East in ancient times.

Hilliker encourages singles in PCG to pray to PCG's God while deciding who could be a potential partner.
Maybe you have a list of qualities you’d like in a mate. What does God think of your list? Talk to Him about it. God has a list of qualities you need in a mate. Have you ever asked yourself what’s on His list? 
Take another look at your list and ask God to help you align it more with His. Before you “eliminate someone” from your list, ask God about it. Does He want you to rule that person out? Are you reasoning with Him about it? Do you really see that person the way God sees him or her? (p. 106.)
When deciding who to choose in matters of love let PCG's God decide for you, Hilliker advises. This sort of advice might mike it more likely that single members will pay more attention to what a minister should happen to say. Note what Hilliker thinks is not so important in making this decision.
It’s easy to throw those kinds of considerations out the window and get distracted by things that aren’t nearly so important, like looks, attraction or some kind of spark. If you are really reasoning with God, you will be able to keep these kinds of questions in mind. And as you get to know someone, you’ll begin to be able to answer them honestly. And God is going to help you find accurate answers! (p. 108.)
PCG singles are encouraged to get PCG's ministers involved in the relationship early on.
Involving the Ministry When should you involve God’s ministry in your dating? If you mind starts entertaining more serious interest in a particular person, it is never too early to involve the ministry. We recommend talking to a minister as soon as you have a desire to narrow the dating experience down to one person. (p. 108.)
These words are a license for PCG's ministers to intervene in the romantic lives of PCG members. The potential for things to go wrong is colossal.

What if the minister has a motive to order a relationship to not continue? What if the PCG member should complain? Who will they complain to? Presumably those higher up within the PCG ministry. Who will those ministers side with? A minister they work with and know rather well. Or a lay member that they may not know very well. Even if we give the higher ups the benefit of the doubt how will they overcome the temptation to side with the minister? There are so much potential for problems with this arrangement.

Joel Hilliker: Single Men: A Mind-set You Need to Build

Here Hilliker Much of PCG's attitude toward marriages is: Men rule over women.
In many places in Scripture, God shows special concern for widows and fatherless. That shows you He considers it vitally important that women and children have a man protecting them. For those who lack that man in their lives, God Himself fulfills the role of Protector —and with extraordinary zeal.... (p. 110.)
So women need men with them to be secure?

Hilliker call upon PCG members to be aware of those who are disadvantaged.
Men: Are you zealous like God about the duty He gave you to protect women and children? Are you vigilant against any threat to them? Do you shield them from harm and injustice, even at risk to yourself?
To our great shame, our modern society sorely lacks this elementary mind-set of manhood. Men are confused about sex roles. Teaching men to protect women is not only lacking, it is condemned. God denounces our selfish society and men who don’t care for the needs of widows and the fatherless.... He says providing a masculine presence and relieving their affliction is pure religion.... (p. 110.)

Joel Hilliker: Do Not Have This Conversation with Your Date

Here Hilliker discourages expressions of affection "too early" in one's relationship.
This is discussion about the two of you —about your developing relationship —about how much you enjoy your time together...— about the possibility of you sharing a future — about whether you’re spending enough time together —or whether you wish you could spend more time together —or how someone else asked you out but you wish you could have gone with them —etc. ad nauseam. There are thousands of variations on this theme. Whatever it is, it’s a comment or discussion that puts focus on your friendship, or your relationship.

I’m telling you, this is a trap. Why have this conversation? Because you like the little hit of excitement it gives you. But the only purpose it serves is to stir up your emotions and to feed infatuation. Such discussion also tends to have a snowball effect. Once “us” becomes a topic of discussion—it can become a greedy monster. (p. 114.)
As an alternative he encourages singles to talk about what is taught by PCG as though listening a sermon every week is not enough.
Talk about God’s Work and God’s truth. Discuss what values matter most to you. What virtues inspire you. ...
This is not to say you should start trying to force having intensely probing conversations, especially early on in a relationship. But if you want to build a stronger friendship with a brother or sister in the faith—and you are also interested in testing your real compatibility with someone—then it shouldn’t feel that strange to engage in some deeper conversation about some of the more important things in life. (p. 115.)
Go deeper than just your interests or even your goals. You might have similar interests with someone (“We’re so compatible because we both love tennis and animated movies!”). You might even have similar goals with someone (“We’re so compatible because we both have a dream of moving to a small town somewhere and opening a coffee shop!”). (p. 115.)
He encourages PCG singles to not be insincere and deceitful.
With the person you are dating, or courting, you don’t want them to be insincere and deceitful. You want to make your decisions based on truth! And you owe it to the other person to be sincere and truthful as well. (p. 118.)
Although he just said that it is not necessary to get into "intensely probing conversations, especially early on in a relationship" he states that there should not be so much of a difference between a date while dating widely and a date in a more serious relationship.
When all is said and done, there really shouldn’t be a big difference between a date you would have during the “date widely” phase and a date during a serious courtship! (p. 117.)

Joel Hilliker: Marriage Counseling and Engagement

Here Hilliker gives advice about letting the PCG minister talk to couples about their relationship. The COGs have a long history of letting their ministers tell their followers what to do about their relationship.
When and how should two people approach the ministry for marriage counseling? The general guideline that we give to students at Herbert W. Armstrong College is that it should be after you have dated exclusively (which is also undertaken with ministerial counsel) for two or three months; ideally at or about the time you say, “I love you.” (pp. 117-118.)
He also tells his followers not to compare their experience of receiving counsel from the minister with that of other couples.
Once you seek marriage counseling, what should you expect? It varies from couple to couple. Allow the minister to guide you through it, and don’t compare your courtship with another couple. (p. 118.)
Why does Hilliker think this should not be done?

Turns out these counseling sessions with the ministers will allow the minister to learn about these members' savings and employment situation.
Generally, the minister will question you about your physical preparedness: how much savings you have, your employment situation and so on. The Church doesn’t have a rule about this, but individual ministers may have specific expectations, or your minister may counsel you what he feels would be wisest in your situation. (p. 118.)
 Such couples will likely be told to look through writings by HWA.
You will likely review The Missing Dimension in Sex and Why Marriage—Soon Obsolete! There will be lots of questions. You will likely cover subjects like love, the God-ordained roles of husband and wife, compatibility and finances. (p. 118.)
It is well known that the author of these writings had a far from ideal family life. He conducted himself contrary to what he himself taught and what is taught by PCG. It is well known that HWA committed incest with his younger daughter for about ten years after he had supposedly converted to "the truth." He divorced his second wife, a marriage which is rarely ever discussed among the COGs. He expelled his own son from his following. According to Meredith it was after he saw his elder daughter wearing too much makeup for his taste that he banned his female followers from wearing makeup. (He later changed his mind on this issue. PCG still teaches against makeup.)

The Missing Dimension in Sex was originally published in 1964 as God Speaks Out on the "New Morality" and that was credited to Charles Dorothy, Herman Hoeh, Ernest Martin, Roderick Meredith, Benjamin Rea, HWA and Ralph Merrill. In later versions it was credited only to HWA.

Both of these writings are now owned by PCG after they paid about $3 million to WCG in an out of court settlement after losing a court case with them concerning PCG's previous publication of HWA's writings from 1997 onward.

Hilliker then relates the following anecdote.
I once heard about this story of a couple that was dating. They really liked each other, but one thing holding the man back from marrying was that she had a very large nose. He found it unattractive, and he told her. She said she wouldn’t mind getting a nose job—she had considered it for a long time anyway. So they got engaged. Life got busy, and she didn’t have time to do the operation before the wedding. After they married, their lives were even busier. Soon she was expecting. Before they knew it, they had been married a few years with a couple of kids. Finally, one day she decided to have her nose operation, and she made a doctor’s appointment. When she told her husband about the appointment, he was shocked: “What? You’re going to let someone touch that beautiful nose of yours? Please don’t!”

You grow into love. Don’t expect to have the deep love of a couple that’s been together 20 years before you even get married. (p. 121.)
This story seems to have had quite an impact on him since he seems to allude to this story back on page 37.

Chapter 4: Parenting

Dennis Leap: Successful Single Parenting

Here Leap discusses single parenthood. It is worth noting that Leap has never had to raise up children by himself.
So, you’re a single parent. Take heart: You are not alone. It is ever more common for a parent—father or mother—to end up facing the challenges of life without a mate but with children. Single-parent households are on the rise in Western society. 
God’s Philadelphia Church has its share of single-parent households. Some have suffered the heartbreak of a spouse dying; many have come into the Church divorced or separated from their mates. Some have suffered divorce or separation as a result of coming into the body of Christ. God’s ministers understand well that even two parents raising a family is a tough job. We fully know that being a single parent—acting as both Dad and Mom—is both daunting and demanding. Yours is not an easy task. (p. 123.)
If some PCG members have suffered divorce because of joining PCG did PCG's practices help produce such an unfortunate result? Shouldn't PCG's leaders try to address such problems to prevent such a thing happening again? Such questions are discussed here.

He encourages such parents to not focus on themselves.
Strive for contentment. Find every measure of happiness, no matter how little, with your single status. This will enable you to focus on your job of parenting. Do everything possible to shift the focus off you. Realize this kind of contentment comes with prayer, study, meditation and fasting. (p. 124.)
He encourages such single parents to make PCG's God her or his partner.
Continually remind yourself that you are not alone. Certainly, it is very easy to feel alone if you focus on the physical. Learn to look at your situation spiritually. Spiritually, you have both a Father and a Husband. Make God your partner in everything you do. Don’t forget that God knows your situation and is ready to help you in every way. God never fails us. We often let God down by not asking for help. Lean on God as never before, and He will be the strong pillar beside you. (pp. 125-126.)
And what should such a single parent do first of all in the day?
With the increased demand on your time and energy, be sure to get your prayer and Bible study in first each day. Ask God to guide and bless your day. Daily ask Him to protect you and your children from accident and illness. And most of all, ask God to give you the power to fight discouragement. (p. 126.)
In other words such single parents are instructed to learn PCG's dogmas and teachings first of all in the day.

He advises his single parent followers to go to their minister to discuss their financial problems.
God has set His ministers over the Church to help the brethren.... This certainly includes single parents. Be sure to seek out the ministry for help with tough problems. Be sure to counsel prior to making big decisions like a major purchase, a job change or a move to a new location. In addition, teach your children to seek your counsel or counsel from the ministry as well. (p. 127.)
These words are a license for PCG's ministers to intervene in the single parent's personal and professional life. Also what qualifications will such a minister have to discuss and address these issues?
When facing financial problems, besides your minister, you may need to meet with a financial professional. In general, child discipline problems will require you to seek the help of your minister. (p. 127.)
Why does Leap casually assumes that a single parent PCG member should go to the minister for advice about financial problems? Furthermore what help will PCG ministers be with such problems? Their income is the tithes and offerings of PCG members.

Also most PCG ministers are men who presumably have their wives raise up the children. What do they know about disciplining children? Furthermore it is all too likely that such ministers will give advice influenced by Garner Ted Armstrong's awful and horrible piece of writing, The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. Advising parents to spank their children has historically caused a lot of trouble among the families of COG members. We need to be careful about such things. Generally society has moved away from such things.
The most successful single parents are the ones who keep in touch with their minister, family and friends. (p. 127.)
Why does Leap think that the successful single parents are those in touch with the ministers? Is it not possible that it is the ministers who decide who is successful as a single parent or not in PCG's social scene?

Leap then gives some practical advice about setting a budget and scheduling one's time. He then encourages such single parents to encourage their children to attend PCG activities.
Encourage your children to participate in all Church-sponsored youth activities. Even though we are scattered, each region hosts activities to help inspire and uplift the youth of God’s Church. All teens should be encouraged to attend the Philadelphia Youth Camp. The Church also plans special activities for young people at each Feast site. Don’t miss these opportunities. (p. 130.)
If the children are taught to believe PCG's doctrines it may be harder for the single parent to leave should such a situation arise.
Reserve Sundays for family time. Work together around the home. Take care of missed cleaning chores, or use the day for grocery shopping and preparing for the week ahead. As time and budget permits, use the day for family recreation and fun. Family picnics, hikes and sporting activity add a refreshing diversion from family stress and strain. (p. 130.)
This assumes the single parent is able to do this. For many hard working people, including single parents, this is not an option for them. This reveals how deficient this advice can be. What can those who live off the tithes and offerings of PCG members be able to relate to those who are without?


Stephen Flurry: A Secret to Being a Happy Single

Here Stephen Flurry encourages singles to learn to be content with what they have.
There is a secret to facing any and all circumstances, including singlehood. That secret is to learn how to be content. Whether abased or abounding, Paul learned to thank God in every circumstance. (p. 133.)
He denigrates people outside of PCG as wanting everything right now.
Many people today want a lot —the best job, the fancy car, the nice home, the passionate romance. But we have to delight in God and commit our ways to Him, or we set ourselves up for frustration and failure. God wants to bless us and give us a lot—but we must put Him above everything else, and learn to patiently and contentedly wait on Him. (p. 134.)
Stephen Flurry assures his readers that if one is content then blessings will follow.
The thing is, if we become godly and are content, then physical blessings will follow! ... Singles who think that marriage will solve all their problems too often find that their dissatisfaction and their inability to embrace their life circumstances follows them into the marriage! It is the happy single who becomes the happy married person! (p. 135.)
Stephen Flurry ends this booklet with the following words.
So in order to prepare for your future marriage and family—physical and spiritual—learn to be content in your present state. Delight in God, commit your way to Him, trust in Him— and He will give your the desires of your heart! (p. 135.)
What a vast and extravagant promise that is claimed to await those who follow this booklet.

That Which is Not Mentioned

Perhaps the most concerning thing about what PCG's leaders wrote in this booklet is what they do not talk about. They do not talk about the problem of sexual harassment. They do not give instructions about how to note if one is giving consent or not. They give no instructions about how to protect oneself from sexually transmitted diseases. They give no advice about seeking medical help.

Those topics are very important and the young in PCG deserve to be given good instructions about such things. But such advice is not to be found from PCG's leaders in this booklet.


Ultimately this booklet is an attempt to persuade PCG's lay members to allow PCG's ministers to intervene in the relationships of single PCG members, particularly those who are young. So often in this booklet it is asserted that members are to obey the ministers and that they are to seek counsel from the ministers. Dating practices outside of PCG are denigrated as terribly flawed thus discouraging PCG lay members from seeking advice outside of PCG's leaders. PCG members are not trusted to manage these things themselves hence the frequent calls for members to seek counsel from the ministers and to follow their simple dream: namely "Men rule over women." HWA discouraged WCG members from dating people outside of the group. Unfortunately PCG seems to continue this prohibition. This prohibition causes all kinds of problems, some of which are attempted to be addressed here but have been created by this prohibition.

This booklet was supposed to give advice about dating and building a relationship to PCG members but it also reveals just how dependent PCG's lay members are expected to be toward those who are supposed to be their ministers. This booklet is a license to get PCG's ministers to get the authority from their followers to intervene in the personal relationships of their followers.


  1. The irony here is that the principle individual giving "advice" is Joel Hilliker. This person has absolutely no functional life experience; a man who has spent most of his adult years living in the confines of the Edmond compound bubble. Over the last few years our friend Joel has been carefully stylizing himself as the relationship expert in the PCG, which is laughable when you consider the superficial drivel he spouts.

    On another note what impacted me about this booklet was the overall quality of the publication. It is essentially just a selection of older PCG-WCG articles simply cobbled together. I remember receiving an electronic version and thinking this is just a scrolling PDF of old material. The point here is that PCG can literally spend millions on music and dancing, college facilities, administration and a rock star lifestyle for its elite, but when it comes to serving the membership the best they can manage is a cheap tawdry booklet of old writings. Is this simply because they lacked the inclination and interest to produce something for the members that was substantial and new?

    Sadly the main application of the booklet will be with PCG's ministry, who when asked about dating or complex relationship issues, will simply be able to say, "Here read this". Instructing members to read a particular article or booklet as answer to any problem is essentially the main function of a PCG minister.

    Lastly it is somewhat amusing to think that one of the articles in Hilliker’s booklet is by GTA - the ultimate “pants man”.

  2. L. Jeffries, thank you for your comment.

    You are right. PCG can spend so much money, time and effort acquiring things but when dealing with such an important topic for their young people they are given a compilation of articles, some of which are quite old. Never looked at it that way before.

    It is indeed quite bizarre that Garner Ted Armstrong should be quoted in a booklet like this.

  3. I actually knew a couple in Dallas. The husband was a teacher and the wife a counselor at inner schools. Ironically, the couple met outside the church: with the husband being baptized and wife not. They dated secretly for a while and the wife started reading and was finally baptized into PCG and they got married soon after. Yeah, a succesfully couple that started off on the "wrong" way according to this piece of garbage booklet.

  4. Thank you for sharing that story here. I wish the married couple good wishes.

    It is so unfortunate that the leaders of the COGs keep telling members to only marry among members. This is an unnecessary burden that has caused much harm among COG members.

  5. Another problem with this booklet is that it does not provide the reader with suggestions on what resources to look up for further study on the topics discussed. HWA's writings and the sources of the quotations seems to be all that is mentioned.