He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God? – Micah 6:8
Disassociation, Disfellowshipping, and the Love of Kindness
What does the second of God’s three requirements for earthling man have to do with disfellowshipping? To answer that, let me tell you about a chance encounter that came to my attention some time ago.
Two Jehovah’s Witnesses meet for the first time at a Christian gathering. During the conversation that ensues, one reveals that he is a former Muslim. Intrigued, the first brother asks him what drew him to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The former Muslim explains it was our stand on Hell. (Hellfire is also taught as part of the religion of Islam.) He explains how he always felt the doctrine portrayed God as grossly unfair. His reasoning is that since he never asked to be born, how could God give him only two choices, “Obey or be tortured forever”. Why couldn’t he simply return to the state of nothingness he was in before God gave him a life he never asked for?
When I heard this novel approach to countering the false doctrine of Hellfire, I realized what a great truth this brother had discovered.
Scenario A: The Just God: You don’t exist. God brings you into existence. To continue existing, you have to obey God or else you return to what you were, non-existent.
Scenario B: The Unjust God: You don’t exist. God brings you into existence. You will continue to exist whether you want to or not. Your only choices are obedience or unending torture.
From time to time, some members of our Organization wish to withdraw. They do not engage in sin, nor do they cause dissension and division. They simply wish to resign. Will they experience a parallel to scenario A and simply return to the state they were in before being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or is a version of scenario B their only option?
Let’s illustrate this with a hypothetical case of a young girl growing up in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’ll call her “Susan Smith.”[i] At age 10 Susan, wanting to please parents and friends, expresses a desire to be baptized. She studies hard and by age 11 her wish comes true, much to the delight of all in the congregation. During the summer months, Susan auxiliary pioneers. At 18 she starts to regular pioneer. However, things change in her life and by the time Susan is 25, she no longer wishes to be recognized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She doesn’t tell anyone why. There is nothing in her lifestyle that conflicts with the clean, Christian practices which Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for. She just doesn’t want to be one anymore, so she asks the local elders to remove her name from the congregation membership list.
Can Susan return to the state she was in prior to her baptism? Is there a scenario A for Susan?
If I were to ask this question of any non-witness, he would likely go to jw.org for the answer. Googling “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses shun family”, he’d find this link which opens with the words:
“Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest.” [boldface added]
This paints a picture of a kindly people; one who do not force their religion on anyone. There is certainly nothing to compare with Christendom’s/Islam’s Hellfire God who gives a man no choice other than full compliance or eternal torment.
The problem is that what we say officially on our web site is a classic example of political spin, designed to present a favorable picture while hiding the not-so-pleasant truth.
Our hypothetical scenario with Susan is not really hypothetical. It fits the situation of thousands; even tens of thousands. In the real world, are those who follow a course like Susan’s shunned? Not according to the jw.org web site. However, any honest member of Jehovah’s Witnesses would be obliged to answer with a resounding “Yes”. Okay, maybe not a resounding one. More likely it would be a head-hung, eyes-downcast, feet-shuffling, half-mumbled “Yes”; but a “Yes”, nonetheless.
The fact is that the elders would be obliged to follow the rules established by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and consider Susan as disassociated. The difference between being disassociated and being disfellowshipped is similar to the difference between quitting and being fired. Either way you end up on the street. Whether disfellowshipped or disassociated, the same announcement would be made from the Kingdom hall platform: Susan Smith is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.[ii] From that point forward, she would be cut off from all her family and friends. No one would talk to her anymore, not even to say a polite hello should they pass her on the street or see her at a congregation meeting. Her family would treat her like a pariah. The elders would discourage them from having any but the most necessary contact with her. Simply put, she would be an outcast, and if family or friends were seen to be breaking with this Organizational procedure by even talking with her, they would be counseled, accused of being disloyal to Jehovah and his Organization; and if they continued to disregard the counsel, they would also risk being shunned (disfellowshipped).
Now all of this would not have happened if Susan had remained unbaptized. She could have grown to adulthood, even taken up smoking, getting drunk, sleeping around, and the JW community would still be able to speak with her, preach to her, encourage her to change her way of life, study the Bible with her, even have her over to a family dinner; all without repercussions. However, once she got baptized, she was in our Hellfire God scenario B. From that point forward, her only choice was to obey all the instructions of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or be cut off from everyone she has ever loved.
Given this alternative, most wishing to leave the Organization try to drift away quietly, hoping not to be noticed. However, even here, the well-chosen, kindly words from the first paragraph of our web site answer to the question “Do You Shun Former Members of Your Religion?” constitute a shameful prevarication.
Consider this from the Shepherd the Flock of God book:
Those Who Have Not Associated for Many Years[iii]
40. In deciding whether to form a judicial committee or not, the body of elders should consider the following:
- Does he still profess to be a Witness?
- Is he generally recognized as a Witness in the congregation or the community?
- Does the person have a measure of contact or association with the congregation so that a leavening, or corrupting, influence exists?
This direction from the Governing Body makes no sense unless we can still consider such ones as being members of the congregation and thus under its authority. If a non-Witness in the community were sinning—say, committing fornication—would we consider forming a judicial committee? How ridiculous that would be. However, if that same individual used to be baptised but had drifted away, even years earlier, everything changes.
Consider our hypothetical sister Susan.[iv] Let’s say she simply drifted away at age 25. Then at 30 she started smoking, or perhaps became an alcoholic. Would we still consider her a former member and leave it up to the family as to how they would deal with the situation, as our web site implies? Perhaps she needs family support; an intervention even. Can we leave it to them to handle as they see fit, based on their trained Christian conscience? Alas no. It is not up to them. Instead, the elders are required to act.
The final proof that those who drift away are not treated like former members is the fact that if the elders formed a judicial committee in Susan’s case based on the foregoing criteria and ruled to disfellowship her, the same announcement would be made as was made when she was disassociated: Susan Smith is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This announcement makes no sense if Susan was already not a member of the JW community. Obviously, we would not consider her to be a former member as our web site implies, even though she fits the scenario described as one who ‘drifted away’.
Our actions reveal that we still consider those who drift away and those who stop publishing as under the authority of the congregation. A true former member is one who resigns his or her membership. They are no longer under the authority of the congregation. However, before they go, we publicly instruct all the members to the congregation to shun them.
In acting this way, are we meeting Jehovah’s requirement to love kindness? Or are we acting like the hellfire God of false Christianity and Islam? Is this how Christ would act?
A family member who doesn’t join the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses will still be able to talk and associate with his JW family members. However, a family member that becomes a JW then changes his mind will be forever cut off from all others in the family who practice the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This will be the case even if the former member lives an exemplary life as a Christian.
What Does It Mean to “Love Kindness”?
It’s an odd expression to the modern ear, is it not?…“to love kindness”. It implies so much more than simply being kind. Each of our three requirement words from Micah 6:8 is tied to an action word: exercise justice, be modest while walking with God, and love kindness. We are not simply to be these things, but to do them; to practice them at all times.
If a man says he really loves baseball, you would expect to hear him talking about it all the time, going to baseball games, reciting game and player statistics, watching it on TV, maybe even playing it whenever he had the chance. If however, you never hear him mention it, watch it, or do it, you will know he is deceiving you, and possibly himself.
To love kindness means to act unfailingly with kindness in all our dealings. It means loving the very concept of kindness. It means wanting to be kind all the time. Therefore, when we exercise justice, it will be tempered by our overriding love of kindness. Our justice will never be harsh nor cold. We may say we are kind, but it is the fruitage we produce that bears witness about our righteousness or lack thereof.
Kindness is most often expressed to those in dire need. We must love God but would there ever be an occasion when God would need us to be kind toward him? Kindness is most needed when there is suffering. As such it is akin to mercy. Not to put too fine a point on it, we might say that mercy is kindness in action. Can the love of kindness and the exercise of mercy play a role in how we deal individually with the Organization’s policy on disassociated ones? Before we can answer that, we need to understand the scriptural basis—if there is one—for disassociation.
Is Equating Disassociation with Disfellowshipping Scriptural?
It is of interest that up to 1981, you could leave the congregation without fear of punishment. “Disassociation” was a term only applied to those who entered politics or the military. We didn’t “disfellowship” such ones so as not to run afoul of laws that could have brought us a lot of persecution. If asked by an official if we expel members who join the military, we could answer, “Absolutely not! We don’t disfellowship congregation members who choose to serve their country in the military or in politics.” Nevertheless, when the announcement was made from the platform, we all knew what it really meant; or as Monty Python might put it, “So-and-so’s disassociated. Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no more. Say no more.”
In 1981, about the time Raymond Franz left Bethel, things changed. Up to that point, a brother who handed in a letter of resignation was simply treated like anyone we viewed to be “in the world”. This was scenario A. Abruptly, after 100 years of publishing the Watchtower, Jehovah allegedly chose that point in time to reveal hitherto concealed truths through the Governing Body on the subject of disassociation? Thereafter, all disassociated ones were suddenly and without warning thrust into scenario B. This direction was applied retroactively. Even those who had resigned before 1981 were treated as if they had just disassociated themselves. An act of loving kindness?
If you were to ask the average JW today why brother Raymond Franz was disfellowshipped, the answer would be, “For apostasy”. That was not the case. The fact is he was disfellowshipped for having lunch with a friend and employer who had disassociated himself from the Organization before the 1981 position took effect.
Still, before we label this action unjust and unkind, let us see what Jehovah has to say. Can we prove our teaching and policy on disassociation from Scripture? That is not only the final measuring stick—it is the only one.
Our own encyclopaedia, Insight on the Scriptures, Volume I is a good place to start. “Disfellowshipping” is covered under the topic, “Expelling”. However, there is no subtopic or subheading which discusses “Disassociation”. All there is can be found in this one paragraph:
However, regarding any who were Christians but later repudiated the Christian congregation…the apostle Paul commanded: “Quit mixing in company with” such a one; and the apostle John wrote: “Never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.”—1Co 5:11; 2Jo 9, 10. (it-1 p. 788)
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that leaving the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is tantamount to ‘repudiating the Christian congregation’. Do the two scriptures cited support the position that such ones be treated as disfellowshipped, not even ‘saying a greeting to him’?
(1 Corinthians 5:11) 11 But now I am writing you to stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.
This is clearly a misapplication. Paul are talking about unrepentant sinners here, not about people who while maintaining a Christian lifestyle, resign from the Organization.
(2 John 7-11) . . .For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those not acknowledging Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Look out for yourselves, so that you do not lose the things we have worked to produce, but that you may obtain a full reward. 9 Everyone who pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. The one who does remain in this teaching is the one who has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. 11 For the one who says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.
The Insight book only quotes verses 9 and 10, but the context shows that John is talking about deceivers and antichrists, people engaging in wicked works, pushing ahead and not remaining in the teaching of the Christ. He is not talking about people who quietly walk away from the Organization.
Applying these two scriptures to those who simply wish to break off association with the congregation is insulting to such ones. We are indirectly engaging in name calling, labeling them with fornicators, idolaters and antichrists.
Let’s go to the original article that launched this new understanding. Surely, as the source of this radical change of thought there will be much more scriptural support than we’ve found in the Insight book.
w81 9/15 p. 23 par. 14, 16 Disfellowshiping—How to View It
14 One who has been a true Christian might renounce the way of the truth, stating that he no longer considers himself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or wants to be known as one. When this rare event occurs, the person is renouncing his standing as a Christian, deliberately disassociating himself from the congregation. The apostle John wrote: “They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us.”—1 John 2:19.
16 Persons who make themselves “not of our sort” by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshiped for wrongdoing.
You will likely notice that only one scripture is being used to change this policy which will radically affect the lives of tens of thousands. Let’s have a good look at that scripture, but this time in context.
(1 John 2:18-22) . . .Young children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared, from which fact we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But they went out so that it might be shown that not all are of our sort. 20 And you have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you have knowledge. 21 I write you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie originates with the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
John is not talking about people who simply left the congregation, but of antichrists. People who were against Christ. These ones are ‘liars who deny that Jesus is Christ.’ They deny the Father and the Son.
It seems this is the best we can do. One scripture and a misapplied one at that.
Why are we doing this? What is to be gained? How is the congregation protected?
A person asks to have his name removed from the roster and our response is to punish him by cutting him off from everyone he has ever loved in his life—mother, father, grandparents, children, intimate friends? And we dare to present this as the way of the Christ? Seriously???
Many have concluded that our true motivation has nothing to do with the protection of the congregation and everything to do with the preservation of ecclesiastical authority. If you doubt that, consider what exhortations we get repeatedly when articles come out—on an increasingly frequent basis—dealing with the need for us to support the disfellowshipping arrangements. We are told that we must do this to support the unity of the congregation. That we must show submission to Jehovah’s theocratic organization and not question the direction from the elders. We are discouraged from independent thinking and told that to challenge the direction from the Governing Body is pushing ahead, and following in the rebellious steps of Korah.
Often those who leave have come to see that some of the core teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses are false. We teach that Christ began to reign in 1914, which we have shown in this forum to be untrue. We teach that the majority of Christians have no heavenly hope. Again, untrue. We have prophesied falsely about the resurrection coming in 1925. We have given false hope to millions based on flawed chronology. We have given undue honor to men, treating them as our leaders in all but name. We have presumed to alter the Holy Scriptures, inserting God’s name in places it does not belong based solely on speculation. Perhaps worst of all, we have devalued the rightful place of our appointed king by underemphasizing the role he plays in the Christian congregation.
If a brother (or sister) is disturbed by the continuing teaching of doctrine which conflicts with Scripture, as per the examples just cited, and consequently wishes to distance himself from the congregation, he must do so very carefully, and quietly, realizing that a large sword hangs over your head. Unfortunately, if the brother in question is what we might term, high profile, having served as a pioneer and elder, it is not so easy to back away unnoticed. A strategic withdrawal from the Organization, no matter how discreet, will be seen as an indictment. Well-meaning elders are sure to pay the brother a visit with a view—perhaps one that is truly sincere—of restoring him to “spiritual health”. They will understandably want to know why the brother is drifting away, and will not be satisfied with vague answers. They will likely ask pointed questions. This is the dangerous part. The brother will have to resist the temptation to answer such direct questions honestly. Being a Christian, he will not wish to lie, so his only option is to maintain an embarrassed silence, or he can simply refuse to meet with the elders at all.
However, if he answers honestly, expressing that he disagrees with some of our teachings, he will be shocked how the atmosphere of loving concern for his spirituality shifts to something cold and harsh. He might think that since he’s not promoting his new understandings the brothers will leave him alone. Alas, that will not be the case. The reason for this goes back to a letter dated September 1, 1980 from the Governing Body to all Circuit and District Overseers—to date, never rescinded. From page 2, par. 1:
Keep in mind that to be disfellowshipped, an apostate does not have to be a promoter of apostate views. As mentioned in paragraph two, page 17 of the August 1, 1980, Watchtower, “The word ‘apostasy’ comes from a Greek term that means ‘a standing away from,’ ‘a falling away, defection,’ ‘rebellion, abandonment. Therefore, if a baptized Christian abandons the teachings of Jehovah, as presented by the faithful and discreet slave, and persists in believing other doctrine despite Scriptural reproof, then he is apostatizing. Extended, kindly efforts should be put forth to readjust his thinking. However, if, after such extended efforts have been put forth to readjust his thinking, he continues to believe the apostate ideas and rejects what he has been provide through the ‘slave class, then appropriate judicial action should be taken.
Just for holding a different belief in the privacy of your own mind, you are an apostate. We are talking about a total submission of heart, mind and soul here. That would be fine—indeed, laudable—were we talking about Jehovah God. But we are not. We are talking about the teachings of men, claiming to speak for God.
Of course, the elders are directed to first scripturally reprove the erring one. While the presumption here is that such “Scriptural reproof” can be made, the tested reality is that there is no way to defend our doctrines of 1914 and the two-tier system of salvation using God’s inspired Word. That will nonetheless not inhibit the elders from taking judicial action. In fact, in account after account, we are told that the accused is eager to discuss the differences in belief from Scripture, but the brothers sitting in judgment will not engage him. Men who quite willingly engage in lengthy scriptural discussions with total strangers over doctrines like the Trinity or the immortal soul, will run from a similar discussion with a brother. Why the difference?
Simply put, when truth is on your side, you have nothing to fear. The Organization is not afraid to send its publishers door-to-door to discuss the Trinity, Hellfire and the immortal soul with members of Christendom’s churches, because we know they can win by using the sword of the spirit, God’s Word. We are well trained on how to do this. As regards those false doctrines, our house is built on a rock mass. However, when it comes to those doctrines peculiar to our faith, our house is built on sand. The torrent of water that is cold scriptural reasoning would eat away at our foundation and bring our house crashing down around us.[v] Therefore, our only defense is an appeal to authority—the alleged “divinely appointed” authority of the Governing Body. Using this, we attempt to quell dissent and silence contrary opinion by a misuse of the disfellowshipping process. We quickly stamp the figurative forehead of our brother or sister with the label “Apostate” and like the lepers of ancient Israel, all will avoid contact. If they do not, we can pull out the Apostate stamp a second time.
When we retroactively changed the policy regarding how we treat those who withdraw from us, we were instituting an arrangement that would adversely affect tens of thousands. Whether it drove some to suicide, who can say; but we do know that many were stumbled which lead to a worse death: spiritual death. Jesus warned us of our fate should we stumble the little one.[vi] There is a growing weight of bloodguilt as a consequence of this misapplication of Scripture. But let us not think that it only applies to those who are taking the lead among us. If a man ruling over you demands that you cast a stone at the one he has condemned, are you to be excused for hurling it because you are only following orders?
We are to love kindness. That is a requirement of our God. Let’s repeat that: God requires that we “love kindness”. If we treat your fellow man harshly because we are afraid that we will be punished for disobeying the orders of men, we are loving ourselves more than our brother. These men only have power because we have given it to them. We are fooled into granting them this power, because we are told that they speak for God as his appointed channel. Let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves if our loving Father, Jehovah, would be party to such unkind and unloving acts? His Son came to earth to reveal the Father to us. Is this how our Lord Jesus acted?
When Peter rebuked the crowd at Pentecost because they had supported their leaders in killing the Christ, they were cut to the heart and moved to repentance.[vii] I confess that I have been guilty of condemning the righteous one in my time because I put faith and trust in the word of men instead of following my conscience and obeying God. By doing so, I made myself something detestable to Jehovah. Well, no more.[viii] Like the Jews of Peter’s day, it is time for us to repent.
True, there are valid scriptural reasons to disfellowship an individual. There is a scriptural basis for refusing even to say hello to a person. But it is not for someone else to tell me or you who we can treat as a brother and who we must treat as an outcast; a pariah. It is not for someone else to hand me a stone and tell me to throw it at another without providing me with all I need to make the decision for myself. No more should we follow the course of the nations and surrender our conscience to a mere human or group of humans. All manner of wickedness has been done in that way. Millions have killed their brothers on the battlefields, because they surrendered their conscience to some higher human authority, allowing it to take responsibility for their very souls before God. This is nothing but a grand self-delusion. “I was just following orders”, will carry less weight before Jehovah and Jesus on Judgment Day than it did at Nuremberg.
Let us be free of the blood of all men! Our love of kindness can be expressed through the judicious exercise of mercy. When we stand before our God on that day, let there be a huge credit of mercy on the ledger in our favor. We don’t want our judgment to be without God’s mercy.
(James 2:13) . . .For the one that does not practice mercy will have [his] judgment without mercy. Mercy exults triumphantly over judgment.
To view the next article in this series, click here.
[ii] Shepherd the Flock of God (ks-10E 7:31 p. 101)
[iii] (ks10-E 5:40 p. 73)
[iv] The fact is that Susan’s case is far from hypothetical. Her situation has been repeated thousands of times over the years within the worldwide community of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[v] Mat. 7:24-27
[vi] Luke 17:1, 2
[vii] Acts 2:37, 38
[viii] Proverbs 17:15
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Thanks Ross. What I referred to with the 11th hour is Matthew 20:1-16. Don’t have to accept this as truth, it’s a feeling/opinion of mine only. The master calls workers at various times. I observe that not many anointed were called after 1935, but the last few years have been nothing short of amazing. The partakers have doubled since 2007, and what I personally find amazing is that I meet these brothers who were led by spirit to know they are anointed like its a daily thing now. Combine this with my belief we live in the last days, I… Read more »
Could this increase in partakes just be that more and more are coming to realize that all Christians should be partaking?
Yes it is, but it’s the spirit causing this realization, and what amazes me is that this happens worldwide. Even a close family member called me up and asked me about them being anointed, and plan to partake next memorial.
Meanwhile the elder she/he informed about it, said in response he had been contemplating too.
I know this is anecdotal evidence, but that’s why I say it’s my feeling, impression, etc.
I want to believe Jehovah cares about his JW servants not to leave them in the dark!
That’s interesting Alex. I wonder what the numbers will be like this year?
Hi Alex Rover, sorry, I tried to insert my question by clicking the ‘reply’ icon on your comment 16 posts above from here, but the ‘tech-gremlins’ made it appear here at the bottom for some reason. I am not trying to be critical, just thinking there was something more to your comment, which I reproduce here below: Alex Rover said: February 7, 2014 at 10:20 PM Dear Brother, You are not alone. There’s other sites but I have to give credit to Meleti and Apollos for being so balanced and respectful. I hope they stay this way. It’s so easy… Read more »
Hi Alex Rover,
in saying ‘Jesus is calling his sons by name,’ were you referring to
those with an earthly hope, or the anointed, who actually are His
I am just curious about your view here, and why you felt that way,
because I enjoy your considered comments.
I doubt if I would have used that exact wording, for the reason that Jesus is not the Father. Would you be so kind to provide the full quote in context and what page I would have said that on?
Please do keep commenting. I have one more post on the subject of disfellowshipping which will make my reason for saying this clear.
One of the biggest mysteries to me about the whole disfellowship shunning thing is this . The rank and file brother can be guilty of sharing in the sins of others just by saying a simple hello .ok but the elders can have a whole conversation with a disfellowshipped person once a year and remain innocent also if a brother or sister has a buisness arrangement with a disfellowshipped person they can hold a conversation and remain innocent thats money for you . This is one of the great mysteries of life to me like the trinity or where did… Read more »
Kev, that is an excellent point about the elders being immune to disfellowshipped ones. About those elder’s visit, I have been D/F for about 7 years and have NEVER had an elder’s visit! Yet almost 2 years ago at my mother’s funeral, I had 3 different elders whom I’d known most of my life, from 3 different congregations come up to me and all 3 said to the affect that if I only came back, it wouldn’t be hardly any time and I would be re-instated, as if that was a for-gone conclusion. I found it strange that not one… Read more »
I dont think i will be getting a visit either country girl . Bumped into one sister on the street and she moved back cringing and put her hands over her face To block the sight of me . Even my wife has been shunned as well when she spoke to a couple and shes never been a witness .ive enjoyed your comments by the way keep it up
Please keep commenting country girl I just feel like crying. Gush!
This whole issue reminds of the days of Sir Thomas More who tipped the ax-man for a clean cut since dying for a cause was of greater valor than supporting Henry XIII in his arbitration against the church in Rome. While More hadn’t been as enlightened as some of us JW’s might want to think, his conscience was better tuned to do what was needed to protect his family and his own integrity before God and Christ.
“A Man for All Seasons” is an excellent film portraying this valued piece of history.
I came across this YouTube video “Taking On Tony – My rebuttal to the Anthony Morris III Shunning.” If you haven’t seen this video already you might be interested in watching it. The narrator is a former Jehovah’s Witness who is now an agnostic; however he is respectful of a person’s choice to be a Christian. I found it intelligent and informative. I’m glad someone is willing to speak out publicly on such an unchristian practice. It’s a fairly long video but I hope you will take the time to watch it as I think it is definitely worth the… Read more »
It is most regrettable that brother Morris didn’t us the opportunity to speak to an audience of thousands about the good news. There are so many encouraging and upbuilding subjects. In this day and age, anything said goes global within minutes and remains to indict the speaker for years to come. A man in his position has to be so careful about what he says, and yet, it is so easy to avoid erring by simply imitating the Christ. In the three and one half years of Jesus’ ministry is there any record of him speaking about disfellowshipping, personal grooming,… Read more »
That reminded me of these scriptures. How far Morris’ talk is from Paul’s modest determination to speak only of things pertaining to Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) 2 And so I, when I came to YOU, brothers, did not come with an extravagance of speech or of wisdom declaring the sacred secret of God to YOU. 2 For I decided not to know anything among YOU except Jesus Christ, and him impaled. 3 And I came to YOU in weakness and in fear and with much trembling; 4 and my speech and what I preached were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with… Read more »
I love those scriptures! That is a great example of how to deliver God’s message to his people …whether it is letters/conversation/talks.
Thank you so much for this little dollop of reason.
What a pompous arrogant little bully.
He is really showing his true colours, as we expect all the GB members will do more boldly in the future.
If he is one of Jesus’ brothers then I am Mickey Mouse.
If I’m ever in a judicial meeting…. I pray that he is not on the case. His words are neither kind nor merciful. I’m not an elder …but I imagine that the GB’s meetings are interesting with him around. He definitely believes he is in a position authority or rulership. Since the annual meeting and their appearance in the WT near our Almighty God Jehovah(minus our Lord Jesus ) it appears that they want to take their show on the road. Based on the comments of the Coordinator at my KH,during one of my meetings weeks ago, they definitely have… Read more »
1:11:00 “That’s not what Jehovah wants. That’s not what the Governing Body wants.” 1:17:20 “The Bible does not say: ‘don’t keep company with anyone, unless it’s one of your close relatives’. It does not say: ‘well this is my daughter; this is my son that was disfellowshipped’. It doesn’t say: ‘well you don’t understand, this is my mother that was disfellowshipped, my father that was disfellowshipped’. The Bible says “ANY-ONE”. ( Does the Bible say that ? where?) “Governing Body members have experienced [disfellowshipped family members]. We understand it’s a sword. We also accept our torture stake. We wanna be… Read more »
It’s not ok to speak like that to God’s children , but to God’s friends perhaphs is. We are rank and file and we have to listen obey and be blessed.
I’m a former elder and have faded as quietly as was possible and it has been about 2 1/2 yrs. since I last attended a meeting. Although the other elders are aware there are a number of things I don’t agree with in the org. I’ve avoided being disfellowshipped because I avoid almost all contact with other JWs except for family, and I don’t talk about my disagreements. The time has arrived when I would once again like spiritual fellowship perhaps at a local church which is tolerant of a wide range of different beliefs. However I am unable to… Read more »
You have already found a family of like-minded ex-elders and about-to-be ex’s here.
Do not loose faith in Jehovah’s ability to shortly reveal the man of lawlessness, who has put himself “in charge at headquarters” (quoting G. Jackson).
Dear Brother, You are not alone. There’s other sites but I have to give credit to Meleti and Apollos for being so balanced and respectful. I hope they stay this way. It’s so easy to say GB this GB that, but we must resist to judge too heavily. Jesus loved his enemies. Most important is what Jehovah thinks of US. We need to become more like him. I think there is something happening across the world. I can feel it, Jesus has started calling his sons by name. This is the eleventh hour. It’s no longer about 1914, its not… Read more »
A very well written and well reasoned article once again Meleti, well done ! I only wish I could get my JW family to read it ! They have been very good since I stopped all activity, but it is evident that I am no longer invited to family functions, as some of my views have become known to them, views which are the same as yours Meleti, and therefore are perfectly Scriptural, but enough to persuade them to keep me at a distance. Their actions are a far remove from shunning I suppose, but are still hurtful, and the… Read more »
Not too many years ago, I was where your family is now. The power of indoctrination is great. By restricting the free flow of information to a channel emanating from the Governing Body, they have effectively blinded the minds of their subjects to the truth. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6) . . .If, in fact, the good news we declare is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, 4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God,… Read more »
Maybe that should be one of your following posts Meleti. I really want to work on a positive alternative. There are many of us in the same boat, actively going to meetings, etc… Personally, I made a promise to pioneer and I want to stick to it, but realizing that the good news that I’m preaching was the wrong one makes it increasingly harder for me. I hope one day we can all put our heads together at how we should approach our preaching in a positive and productive way, and how we can help widows and orphans better. We… Read more »
Thank you for your kind remarks. Yes, it would make for a good topic of discussion, though it would be a most challenging post. Preaching in the congregation while avoiding the teaching of false doctrine without exposing one flank is a lot like traversing a minefield. You never know where they are and when they’ll go off. One of my fellow elders met a man in the preaching work claiming to be a Christian without denomination who says he has a problem with out teaching of 1914. This brother wanted me to go along with him on the call since… Read more »
Your comment is very encouraging to me today. “True, Jehovah doesn’t need us, but he’s given us this opportunity. We don’t want to leave the work for the rocks to do.” (Luke 19:40) My faith is being very much tested in preaching work. I love the ministry so much! However, my views have changed a lot so I believe the message of my ministry should change. I generally try to dodge conversations of doctrine especially the 1914 doctrine. In the last five years or so I just carry my bible and share scriptural thoughts and place no literature whatsoever. Even… Read more »
Haha I know the feeling 😉 The other day one of my biblestudies asked me and a brother to share their stories of faith. My fellow brother asked me if I ever doubted if I was in the truth.. HAHA I was like Oh Boy…. When doing ministry/biblestudy I try to refer to the third person when it comes to doctrines I disagree with. For instance I will say stuff like, the official view of Jehovah’s witnesses is X, Jehovah’s witnesses came to the conclusion about 1914 after analyzing X, Y and Z scripture. These are the arguments made, what… Read more »
I’m going to use this terminology from the platform also. Thanks
In Need of Grace, others: i am struggling with exactly the same dilema. I believe a christian should tell the good news to others, in order for the people to learn about Jezus and HIs Kingdom and what it will bring. However, when it comes to doctrines and incorrect teachings, I apply same approach. I say that the JW organisation believes that x is this beacuse of that. But I also add that not all Christian organization have the sam opinion. I leave it to the person to make up his own mind. Recently I had to explain during TS… Read more »
My family has been torn apart by this “loving arrangement” after my parents disassociated themselfs some years ago. I myself went along with this arrangement for some time practically shuning them and then I relized, hey this does’t make sense ! I did research on this topic a realized this is an evil thing to do ! This was the starting point of my decline as one of the Jw. Here I am in 2014 reading this web pages, believing something completely different then I used to believe few years ago and thinking if my own family will shun me… Read more »
Confirmation of the entrenched ‘hard line’ approach by the WT leaders is demonstrated in the leaked videos of the confidential 2012/13 kingdom ministry school for elders on the internet.
JimmyG, what is that leaked video about? Thanks. Overall, I truly like this site as it allows me to openly share my “observations, doubts, concerns etc” about the teachings we get every week.
Meleti, Thank you for this loving and supportive article! For a very long time, I have felt in my heart that disfellowshipping and shunning were inherently wrong. Shunning is hurtful, cruel, judgemental, unkind and unforgiving. Why would anybody want to come back to that attitude and treatment? Somehow I cannot picture Jesus shunning someone. It always brought to my mind, Jesus when the Scribes and Pharasees brought the adulteress to him and wanted to know what he would say about stoning her . “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who… Read more »
This article was very hard to read. It felt like a ton of bricks. Although I shared many of the same thoughts prior to reading it …I felt like I was looking in a mirror. Thanks Meleti for the research and deep thought that was put into this article. This article along with “Was there a time the Son didn’t exist” are very dear to me. Imacountrygirl2 thanks so much for sharing your experience. In light of the child abuse cases it is comforting, refreshing and relieving to hear your story. Every victims road is different. To know that Jehovah… Read more »
Thanks meleti thats exactly what happened to me I just couldnt be a party to things that i knew were wrong anymore .we have to obey god as ruler not men .as for disassociation how christian is that i would be saying that i do not want anything to do with my brothers anymore i will not be forced to make such a statement . I Sent a heart wrenching letter to the elders on the committee forgiving them as for the shunning its up to them if they want to act like that .its one awful witness though kev
By way of comparison, PBS just aired this show(available by on-line streaming): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/introduction/shunned-introduction/ Premiering on PBS February 4, 2014. What is it like to be cut off from your faith and your family? The Amish: Shunned follows seven people who have chosen to leave their closed and tightly-knit communities for the outside world, knowing they can never return. Each has paid deeply for their decision. Estranged from loved ones, these former Amish find themselves struggling to make their way in modern America. To the Amish, shunning is an essential tenet of their faith, a way to maintain the strength and… Read more »
Thanks very much. I also watch that same show. I found it you really similar to the practices that we have is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even some of their expressions as “people of the world” and the like were very similar to ours. They even frowned on higher education. They also had high standards of conduct like us. Like us they shun any who leave the church saying that such ones will not get salvation. As I watched I found it so strange to look into a mirror and see a organization so similar in the control it wields on it’s… Read more »
I had been wondering when we started our modern day arrangement. Thanks for clearing that up. The 1947 reference is particularly damning in light of our current practice.
1 Cor. 5:11 says to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother. However, once we make the announcement from the platform that so-and-so is no longer a JW, aren’t we saying, in effect, that he’s no longer a brother? So, why do we shun him?
Excellent article Meleti !! There is no easy way to walk away. I had a sister tell me how terrible she thought it was that some Mormons were being shunned by their family and friends for becoming Jehovah’s Witness. I told her that is the pot calling the kettle black, because Jehovah’s Witnesses would do the same thing if the reverse is true. It is interesting that the organization used to teach (back in 1947) that excommunication (or disfellowshiping) was not scriptural. But that it was used as a weapon for “ecclesiastical power”. It was not until 1952 that they… Read more »
Have you noticed the new wording of Micah 6:8? The word kindness has been replaced by loyalty in the new edition.
Thanks. I hadn’t noticed. Now isn’t that an interesting rendering. Our new version isn’t the result of scholarly research by experts in either Hebrew or Greek. This particular rendering makes a good case in point. It appears to be a biased rendering given our push for loyalty to the Governing Body. Check out how the Hebrew word חָ֫סֶד (transliteration: checed) is defined here. It is also noteworthy how the majority of translations render it. It saddens me to see how they’ve undermined the power of this scripture in the new NWT.
I will pray for patience and self-control ahead of time some brother using this scripture on me to prove a point about proskuneo / obeisance / worship to the GB.
Micah 6:8? I checked it and it’s true. Both Hebrew and Greek interlinear disagree. Talk about apostate!
To change things in the bible to suit ones bias is truly a new low. We cannot use Gods Word to further our own interests. I am afraid to what lengths the organization will go to in order to maintain authority.
Hello, i have done a little more research into this and it seems the expression ‘lovingkindness’ has been replaced by ‘loyal love’ in the new edition. There is some additional information here about the word ‘hesed’ http://preceptaustin.org/lovingkindness-definition_of_hesed.htm It seems that loyalty is tied in with this love or kindness. It just came as a bit of a suprise to me to read it as Micah 6:8 is one of my favourite scriptures and i believe kindness to be an important quality of a Christian. Anyway, the research has helped me to understand that loyalty is involved with this kindness. Sending… Read more »
Loyalty to what though? Loyalty to our brothers in the faith and God, or loyalty to an organization that demands it of us? Perhaps you need to do more research on what Jesus preached about mercy and loving kindness and forgiveness as well as “true justice”, instead of accepting the governing body’s version of this. As for Micah 6:8, it is exactly as it is written as in this translation, instead of the glorified new edition of the New world translation of the scriptures of the Watchtower Society. 7 Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands… Read more »
‘Perhaps you need to do more research on what Jesus preached about mercy and loving kindness and forgiveness as well as “true justice”, instead of accepting the governing body’s version of this’ .Thats quite a statement by you dont you think? Ive been a student of the bible and Jesus for many years, did you actually read what i wrote, that i find kindness to be a key quality of a christian? Perhaps you need to look at how Jesus displayed humility? You finish with the line, that i made this into a loyalty issue, me personally? I did the… Read more »
Hi Martin Unfortunately in replying to comments some (myself included) can do so impulsively, especially if they think they’ve read something objectionable (even when it isn’t there). I myself try to keep a close eye on not doing that, because I know how easy it can be. I don’t presume to speak for ASfT but I do think s/he got the wrong end of your point. I appreciated that information you posted. Just as we can find ourselves falling into the trap of cognitive bias as JWs the same is true when we get something in our head about why… Read more »
Hi Martin, perhaps I do need to exercise some more humility, and that is a fair enough comment. Yes I did have a quick look at that link and was not initially impressed with the accuracy of it as with many other things that I have read on the Internet to date. I will endeavor to analyze it in a more thorough way, when I look at it again. What I am actually concerned with is the organization’s motive for changing this word to bringing loyalty to the fore. From my own perspective and as I do believe many others… Read more »
Loyal love is a phrase used to try to translate the flavor of the Hebrew. It emphasized the loyal aspect of the love toward its object. It isn’t a loving loyalty, but loyally loving. Quite a different thing. If they had replaced “love kindness” with “exercise loyal love” or “loyally love” or even “cherish loyal love”, it would be consistent with the spirit of the Hebrew. Loyal is the modifier of the noun “love”, not the other way round. By rendering it “cherish loyalty”, love and kindness are taken out of the picture and it is the love we should… Read more »
I definitely agree Meleti. The rendering has certainly changed the principle/ point that Micah was trying to get across. Your explanation of Greek/Hebrew translation supports that. I do appreciate Martin posting that information because I certainly did not notice that the wording was changed. After reading the new rendering I agree with the question posed by ASFT “Loyalty to what though ?” However, I tend to think along the lines of Apollos in giving the GB the benefit of the doubt …I don’t believe that there was an ulterior motive for them doing so. I do believe as you state… Read more »
After rereading the entire book of Micah, there is indeed a subtle, sublimity to changing the text since most translators keep to the original. While expressions such as “loyal love,” “loving kindness” and are related to what God, i.e., He being the epitome of love, since He first loved us. To love is to act, to do. If we love kindness we are loving a quality of God’s love. But if we are merely “exercising loyalty” we could just as well exercise restraint from departing from God. Exercising is not synonymous with loving unless it is for the sake of… Read more »
Accurate assessment Meleti, thank you and thank you for the breath of fresh air this site is
In my Bible reading today of 2 Thessalonians this scripture stood out to me today…. 2 Thess 3: 14-15 “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Paul addressed many serious issues in this letter to the congregation of Thessalonica. Notably, some in congregation were wrongly stating that the presence of Jesus Christ was imminent. This was obviously not the Apostle Paul’s view or… Read more »