[From ws4/16 for June 20-26]

“Pay back…God’s things to God.”—Mt 22:21

The full verse for the article’s theme text reads:

“They said: “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.”” (Mt 22:21)

The Jewish leaders had again failed to trap Jesus by asking him a loaded question: “Should Jews pay Roman taxes?”  The Jews hated the Roman tax.  It was a constant reminder that they were subservient to their Roman overlords.  A Roman soldier could take a Jew and impress him into service on a whim.  This was done when Jesus was unable to carry his own torture stake.  The Romans impressed Simon of Cyrene into service to carry it.  Yet Jesus told his disciples they had to pay taxes and as regards obeying the Romans when impressed into service, he said, “…if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles.” (Mt 5:41)

What if the Roman soldier was impressing a Christian to carry his weapons?  Jesus gave no specific direction.  Thus the question of neutrality is not so black and white as we might wish.

It is important to have a balanced view of such things as we consider this week’s study.  There is no question that the Bible requires a Christian to remain neutral as regards the military and political systems of this world.  We have this principle:

“Jesus answered: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”” (Joh 18:36)

The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is instructing us about neutrality in this week’s study.  With all the foregoing principles in mind, let us examine their record.

View Human Governments as Jehovah Does

“Although some governments might appear to be just, the very concept of humans ruling over other humans was never Jehovah’s purpose. (Jer. 23:10)” – Par. 5

Is this not also a problem with religions?  The Catholic Church rules over more people than any single nation on earth.  The instructions from the Papal throne supplant or take precedence over even the Word of God.  This is surely an example of men ruling over other men to their injury.  (Ec 8:9)  Instructions from the Vatican have caused faithful Catholics to follow life courses of action that have often resulted in great difficulty, even tragedy.  For example, the unscriptural policy of celibacy in the clergy is viewed as a contributing factor resulting in many of the scandals currently rocking the church.  Likewise, the policy of prohibiting birth control has imposed great economic hardship on countless families.  These are men’s rules, not God’s.

Now we must ask ourselves if the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is any different.  The Governing Body has laid down rules and laws that are not found in the Bible.  For example, in the past, JW publications prohibited vaccinations.  Witnesses loyal to JW leadership would deny their children protection from such diseases as Polio, Chickenpox, and Measles.  Then there’s the ever-changing policies on the medical use of blood.  At one time, many life-saving techniques were prohibited which are now allowed.  Jehovah doesn’t prohibit something then change his mind later.  Those laws came from the Governing Body.   Yet to disobey the law of the Governing Body in such things was to bring down punishment on oneself.  Ergo, “humans ruling over other humans” to their injury.[i]

A Thought to Remember

Paragraph 7 has this expression which we should bear in mind as our study continues:

“Although we would not march with the protesters, might we be with them in spirit? (Eph. 2:2) We must remain neutral not only in our words and actions but also in our heart.”

So it is not enough to maintain neutrality in deed.  We should also do so “in spirit”.

A Double Standard

Paragraph 11 makes reference to the persecution which thousands of witnesses suffered in Malawi from 1964 to 1975.  Homes and crops were burned, women and children were raped, Christian Witnesses were tortured, even murdered.  Thousands fled the country for refugee camps.  Even there they experienced suffering and disease when there was a lack of medicine and proper care.

All this because they refused to buy a political party card.   And the reason they refused was because the interpretation of the Governing Body at the time was that to do so would be a transgression of Christian neutrality.  Let us not debate here whether that was a valid application of Bible principles.  The point is, the decision was not left up to the individual conscience of each Christian, but was made for them at head office thousands of miles away. It was “humans ruling over other humans”.  The evidence that it was not divine guidance can be seen from another similar situation going on south of the US border.  In Mexico, and indeed throughout Latin America, brothers were bribing officials to obtain a “Cartilla de Identidad para Servicio Militar” (Identity Card for Military Service).

The card identified the holder in Mexico as a member of the armed forces, placing the holder “in the first reserve subject to being called if and when an emergency should arise which the army in uniform could not handle.”[ii]  Without this military identity card, the citizen could not obtain a passport.  While this would constitute an inconvenience, it pales by comparison to being raped, tortured and burned out of house and home.

If holding a party card is seen as compromising Christian neutrality, why would holding a military identity card be any different?  Additionally, the Malawi brothers would have obtained their cards legally, while the Mexican brothers all got theirs by breaking the law and bribing officials.

Is this not a double standard?  What does the Bible say about such things?

“Two sorts of weights are something detestable to Jehovah, and a cheating pair of scales is not good.” (Pr 20:23)

Returning to the thought expressed in paragraph 7, was this double-standard policy of the Governing Body remaining “neutral not only in our words and actions but also in our heart”?

But it gets much worse.

Gross Hypocrisy

One of Jesus’ most frequent condemnations of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish leaders was that they were hypocrites.  They taught one thing, but did another.   They talked a good story and pretended to be the most righteous of men, but inside they were rotten.  (Mt 23:27-28)

Paragraph 14 says:

“Pray for holy spirit, which can give you patience and self-control, qualities needed to cope with a government that may be corrupt or unjust. You can also ask Jehovah for the wisdom to recognize and deal with situations that could cause you to violate your Christian neutrality.”

Surely the United Nations qualifies as such a corrupt and unjust government?  After all, the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand says: “The UN is actually a blasphemous counterfeit of God’s Messianic Kingdom by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.” (pages 246-248)  The UN is depicted in that book as the scarlet-colored wild beast of Revelation upon which is seated the harlot Babylon the Great, representing the world empire of false religion.

It would appear therefore that the Governing Body did not follow its own counsel by asking ‘Jehovah for the wisdom to recognize and deal with situations that could cause them to violate their Christian neutrality’ when, in 1992, they joined the United Nations as an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization member)!

Their membership continued for 10 years and was only withdraw when the news went public causing embarrassment.  Keep in mind that there was a one-party government in Malawi, so purchasing a party card was a requirement, not an option, and didn’t make one a real party member any more than holding a passport makes you a member of whatever government is ruling your nation at the present time.   Even if you dispute that, it has to be acknowledged that purchasing a party card in Malawi in the 1960s was a government requirement, not an option.  However, the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was not required to join the United Nations.  No pressure was brought to bear on them at all. They did so of their own accord and quite willingly.  How could holding a party card in Malawi constitute a violation of neutrality, yet holding membership status with the United Nations be okay?

According to the UN, an NGO must share the ideals of the UN Charter.

Again, we return to the counsel from paragraph 7:

“Although we would not march with the protesters, might we be with them in spirit? (Eph. 2:2) We must remain neutral not only in our words and actions but also in our heart.”

Even if the Organization represented by its Governing Body did nothing overt to show it shared in the ideals of the UN Charter, does not the act of becoming a member of the UN mean that they support it “in spirit”?  Can they claim they are neutral in their heart?

According to documents published by the UN, a Non-Governmental Organization member agrees to “meet criteria for association, including support and respect for the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and commitment and means to conduct effective information programmes with its constituents and to a broader audience about UN activities.”[iii]

The extent of the hypocrisy is evident from this excerpt from the June 1, 1991 Watchtower written a scant year before the WT&TS joined the UN.

10 However, she [Babylon the Great] has not done so. Instead, in her quest for peace and security, she insinuates herself into the favor of the political leaders of the nations—this despite the Bible’s warning that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4) Moreover, in 1919 she strongly advocated the League of Nations as man’s best hope for peace. Since 1945 she has put her hope in the United Nations. (Compare Revelation 17:3, 11.) How extensive is her involvement with this organization?

11 A recent book gives an idea when it states: “No less than twenty-four Catholic organizations are represented at the UN. “ (w91 6/1 p. 17)

So 24 Catholic NGOs were represented at the UN in 1991 and in 1992 one Watchtower NGO was also represented at the UN.

So while the counsel from this week’s Watchtower study on neutrality is worthy of consideration, it is very much a question of following Jesus’ counsel:

3 Therefore all the things they tell YOU, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform. 4 They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. 5 All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; . . .” (Mt 23:3-5)


[i] For these and more examples of the tragic result of JW rulership, see the five part series “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood”.

[ii] Letter from Mexico branch, August 27, 1969, page 3 – Ref: Crisis of Conscience, page 156

[iii] For full information and proof of UN and WT correspondence on this issue, please visit this site.

Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.
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