I don’t know how I missed this at our 2012 district convention, but a friend in Latin America—where they are now having their district conventions for the year—brought it to my attention. The first part of the Saturday morning sessions showed us how to use the new tract about Jehovah’s Witnesses. The part used the term our “spiritual mother” when referring to the earthly organization of Jehovah’s people. Now the only Scripture that uses ‘mother’ as a term to refer to an organization or group of individuals is found in Galatians:
“But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Gal 4:26)
So why would we invent a role for the earthly organization that does not appear in Scripture?
I did some research to see if I could answer that question from our publications and was surprised to find nothing in writing to support the concept. Yet I have heard the term used repeatedly from the assembly and convention platforms, and even had a circuit overseer use it once when encouraging us to follow some unpalatable direction we were getting from the branch office Service Desk. It appears to have crept into our oral tradition, while skirting our official written doctrine.
It is remarkable how easily and unquestioningly we can slip into a mindset. The Bible tells us not to ‘forsake the law of our mother’. (Pro. 1:8) If the convention speaker wants the audience to obey the Governing Body, it adds much to the weight of the argument if we see that the direction comes not from a humble slave, but rather the honored matriarch of the household. In the home, mother is second only to father, and we all know who father is.
Perhaps the problem lies with us. We want to return to the protection of mommy and daddy. We want to have someone care for us and rule over us. When God is that someone, all is well. However, God is invisible and we need faith to see him and feel his care. The truth sets us free, but for some that freedom is a kind of burden. True freedom makes us personally responsible for our own salvation. We have to think for ourselves. We have to stand before Jehovah and answer to Him directly. It is so much more comforting to believe that all we must do is submit to a visible man or group of men and do what they tell us to be saved.
Are we acting like the Israelites of Samuel’s day who had only one King, Jehovah, and enjoyed a freedom from care that was unique in history; and yet threw it all away with the words, “No, but a [human] king is what will come to be over us.” (1 Sam. 8:19) It may be comforting to have a visible ruler take responsibility for your soul and your eternal salvation, but it is only an illusion. He will not stand beside you on judgment day. It’s time we started acting like men and face up that fact. It’s time we took responsibility for our own salvation.
In any case, the next time someone uses the “spiritual mother” argument on me, I’m going to quote the words of Jesus at John 2:4:
“What have I to do with you, woman?”
When I go.back and remember this.and the scripture in Proverbs 6 : 20 Observe, my son, the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the instruction* of your mother. …. What in all the. Holy bible does this have to do with the so called Organization… nothing.. It seems the organization loves to take out of context Poor Proverbs from the infamous Proverbs 4:18 to now this scripture..
And how Jehovah is our Father and Our Mother is the Organization… So where is Jesus our Cousin… It makes no sense and it is getting out of Control..
This line of reasoning about something needed besides the Bible overlooks the means of delivery of the Word. When Jehovah first wrote his “ten words,” he provided not only the stone he wrote the words on, but a mediator and administrative organization. After the death of the mediator he provided the “books” of Moses. Likewise, after the kings and prophets, he provided a continuing priestly class, with both oral and written traditions, with “teachers.” The mediator of the New Covenant, the Christ, said he would send the “helper.” And after the apostles, that spirit helper continued to guide the 2000-year… Read more »
I’d like to know if in this talk of your own convention was used following sentence: “Bible does not explain Jehovah’s will by itself”. I was shocked when I heard it, but I don’t know if in English convention was said that, or only in Spanish convention. You know, sometimes translators of outlines, books and magazines sometimes change some words when translating from English original source.
I have a recording of the part in question. In English, what was said was, “And yet, the Bible doesn’t shine forth life-giving truth all on its own. That’s why Jehovah has provided an organization.”
I’m sure brother Russell and the tiny group of Bible students who revealed so many long hidden truths from the Scriptures without the aid of any organization would take great exception to this teaching.
I was shocked also when I heard that sentence, and went to some trouble to verify if I had heard it correctly. It may seem justified in the light of the Ethiopian’s words “how could I ever [understand what I’m reading], unless someone guided me?”, as long as we forget that those words were spoken at a time when most of the Greek Scriptures weren’t yet written or available to the public. That is no longer the case. If there were, indeed, faithful, true Christians down through the centuries since the apostles died, they gained divine approval with the Bible… Read more »
My brother and I was shocked too. We also felt that such sentence implies that the Bible is uncomplete. That idea is inconcebible for us.
The letter of accusation against Rutherford by the Society’s Legal Counsel, Olin Moyle, expelled as a result of its publication, is on-line at
Perhaps it gave rise to the inside Bethel phrase, “Can you feel the love…?”
With the greatest respect Brother Meliti… Ref: John 2:4 I trust your last aside was tongue in cheek…?!… I’m sure The Lord always addressed and treated His mother with utmost respect… and I’ve long suspected the English interpretaion of this verse was based on the Western male bias…? Taken in context…? Yes, He was telling Mary to mind her own business… and that the time for publicly declaring His Father’s Purpose was in the future… But… she obviously felt no rebuke, as v5 shows… and He went ahead and performed the miracle… in deference to her…??! Maybe! As far as… Read more »
By the way, I came up as Anonymous..? but my name is Pauline Spearing…?
Oops…:) It is 2 Timothy 4:1-5 … 🙂 And, when you read it, you will see that I wholeheartedly concur… In fact, whilst we are asked, “…to show consideration for those taking the lead…”, (I Thess 5:11-15) Paul would be the first to admonish any diversions by these brothers from the, “Good News in our Lord Jesus Christ…” and surely it should be our Christian duty to bring their attention to their, unscriptural directions…?? There is a well documented, historical court case, brought against Judge Rutherford, by his Secretary (male), referencing his dogmatic and brutal verbal treatment of the bethel… Read more »
With the greatest respect Brother Meliti… Ref: John 2:4 I trust your last aside was tongue in cheek…?!… 🙂 I’m sure The Lord always addressed and treated His mother with utmost respect… and I’ve long suspected the English interpretaion of this verse was based on the Western male bias…? Taken in context…? Yes, He was telling Mary to mind her own business… and that the time for publicly declaring His Father’s Purpose was in the future… But… she obviously felt no rebuke, as v5 shows… and He went ahead and performed the miracle… in deference to her…??! Maybe! As far… Read more »
It was tongue-in-cheek…well, in part. Jesus was putting his mother in her place. I think every son (and daughter) has had to do that at some point in time, since it is difficult for a mother (in particular–though fathers can suffer from this as well) to let go of the image of a baby in diapers. Nevertheless, one’s natural mother comes by this urge honestly. Our self-proclaimed spiritual mother does not, as she has no legitimacy. So if the advice or counsel originates from God’s Word, I’ll take it, even though the channel is via a man or group of… Read more »
There seems to be another point being missed here. Jehovah is our spiritual Father, the org is our spiritual mother, and Jesus Christ is …? During the whole of those two parts Jesus was not once mentioned. When I raised this point with one person, he said yes, they could have referred to Jesus as the model to follow somehow. Yes, Jesus is the model to follow, but his role is not limited to that. He is our King (Rev 19:16), our Lord (Phil 2:11), and the head of the congregation (Eph 5:23). We must honor the Son in order… Read more »
Very good point, Apollos. I’ve begun to notice how seldom Jesus is mentioned in any publication or talk. It disturbs me greatly. He does not hold a position behind our organization or second to the Apostle Paul. Look how seldom Jesus is mentioned in our song books as well.
Just out of curiosity I checked how many times Jehovah and Jesus are mentioned in our songbook. Jehovah is mentioned 250 times, whereas Jesus, 29.
On the matter of mentioning Jesus, have you noticed that whenever mention is made of those from whom our modern-day spiritual provisions come mention is always made of Jehovah and the faithful slave but never Jesus? How often have you heard or read a statement referring to our modern-day spiritual provisions as coming from Jesus? Isn’t Jesus the head of the congregation? Doesn’t he have the stars in his right hand according to Revelation? So why don’t we ever at times speak of our modern-day provisions as coming from him? It is true that Jesus is not to be worshiped… Read more »
I couldn’t agree more.
Very good post Meleti. I’ve been reading your posts for a couple of weeks now and I have to say I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts as expressed in this blog. About this ‘spiritual mother’ thing, what happened to “solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong”? (Heb 5:14) Are we going to go back to being spiritual babes? Because that is basically what you’ve aptly described in your post, this comfort zone of letting others do the thinking for us, tells us what we… Read more »
You make an excellent point, Alec. Thanks for contributing.
Thank you Meleti, thank you for making this forum available where we can respectfully discuss spiritual things even if sometimes we reach a different understanding than that taught in our publications. After having read the posts and comments here I was relieved to find that I’m not alone in some of the questions I have sometimes. Ironically or not, I found your blog after reading the renewed understanding about the faithful slave on JW.org. I remember once talking to a pastor about Jehovah’s Witnesses in a return visit and my companion asked, “Do you have a faithful and discreet slave… Read more »