[From ws4/17 p. 3 May 29-June 4]
“You must pay your vows to Jehovah.” – Mt 5:33
The opening paragraphs of this study article make it clear that a vow is a solemn promise or a sworn oath. (Nu 30:2) It then goes on to consider the sworn oaths made by two Hebrews who lived long before the Christian era: Jephthah and Hannah. Both these oaths were the result of desperation, and didn’t turn out well for the parties involved, but the point being made is that despite the hardship the oaths caused, both individuals paid their vows to God. Does that mean we should make vows? Is that the lesson from Scripture? Or is the lesson that it is unwise to make vows, but if we choose to do so, we must pay the price?
The theme text seems to support the understanding that Christians can and should make vows to God. However, since it is not included in the four “read” texts in the study (texts that are to be read out loud) let us examine it for ourselves.
Here, the article is quoting Jesus’ words and in isolation, it might seem to the reader that Jesus is supporting the idea that it is alright to make vows as long as one pays them to God. The full text of verse 33 is: “Again you heard that it was said to those of ancient times: ‘You must not swear without performing, but you must pay your vows to Jehovah.’”
So Jesus isn’t actually preaching the taking of vows, but referring to customs from ancient times. Are these good customs? Does he approve of them? As it turns out, he’s using these to contrast with what he says next.
34 However, I say to you: Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear by your head, since you cannot turn one hair white or black. 37 Just let your word ‘Yes’ mean yes, your ‘No,’ no, for what goes beyond these is from the wicked one.” (Mt 5:33-37)
Jesus is introducing something new for Christians. He’s telling us to break free from the traditions of the past, and he goes so far as to label them of Satanic origin, saying “what goes beyond these is from the wicked one”.
Given this, why does the writer extract a single phrase from Jesus’ new teaching—”You must pay your vows to Jehovah”—as if to attribute this to our Lord? Does the writer of the article not understand that things have changed? Has he not done his research? If so, how did this oversight get through all the checks and balances that precede the publication of any study article?
It would appear that the thrust of the article favors the making of vows as they did in the ancient times. For example:
Now that we understand how serious it is to make a vow to God, let us consider these questions: What sort of vows might we as Christians make? Also, how determined should we be to keep our vows? – par. 9
Based on what Jesus tells us at Matthew 5:34, would not the answer to that first question be, “None”? There is no “sort of vows” that we as Christians should make if we are to obey our Lord.
Your Dedication Vow
Paragraph 10 introduces the first vow the Governing Body wants us to make.
The most important vow that a Christian can make is the one with which he dedicates his life to Jehovah. – par. 10
If you feel you know Jesus, then ask yourself if he is the kind of king to give conflicting instructions to his people? Would he tell us not to make vows at all, and then turn around and tell us to make a vow of dedication to God before baptism?
In introducing this “most important vow that a Christian can make”, the paragraph offers us no scriptural support. The reason is that the only time the word “dedication” even appears in the Christian Scriptures is when it refers to the Jewish Festival of Dedication. (John 10:22) As for the verb “dedicate”, it appears three times in the Christian Scriptures, but always in connection with Judaism and always in a somewhat negative light. (Mt 15:5; Mr 7:11; Lu 21:5)[i]
The paragraph does try to find support for this idea of a pre-baptism vow of dedication by citing Matthew 16:24 which reads:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and keep following me.” (Mt 16:24)
Disowning oneself and following in the footsteps of Jesus isn’t tantamount to making a sworn oath, is it? Jesus is not speaking here of making a vow, but of a determination to be faithful and follow his life pattern. This is what the Children of God must do to attain to the prize of everlasting life.
Why does the Organization make such a big deal out of pushing the unscriptural idea of a dedication vow to Jehovah? Are we really speaking about a vow to God, or is something else being implied?
Paragraph 10 says:
From that day forward, ‘he belongs to Jehovah.’ (Rom. 14:8) Anyone who makes a dedication vow should take it very seriously… – par. 10
The writer undermines his own argument by citing Romans 14:8. In the original Greek, the divine name does not appear in this verse in any of the thousands of manuscripts available to us today. What does appear is “Lord” which refers to Jesus. Now the idea that Christians belong to Jesus is well supported in Scripture. (Mr 9:38; Ro 1:6; 1Co 15:22) In fact, Christians can only belong to Jehovah through the Christ.
“in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God.” (1Co 3:23)
Now, some might argue that the name of Jehovah was removed in Romans 14:8 and substituted with “Lord”. However, that doesn’t fit with the context. Consider:
“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:7-9)
Then paragraph 11 speaks of something I used to believe and teach my Bible students, though I now realize that I never researched it, but simply believed it because those instructing me were trusted.
Have you dedicated your life to Jehovah and symbolized your dedication by water baptism? If so, that is wonderful! – par. 11
“Symbolized your dedication by water baptism”. It makes sense. It seems logical. However, it is unscriptural. Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken the scriptural requirement of baptism and turned it into the little brother of dedication. Dedication is the thing, and baptism is merely the outward symbol of one’s dedication vow. However, this conflicts with what Peter reveals about baptism.
“That which corresponds to this is also now saving YOU, namely, baptism, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the request made to God for a good conscience,) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 3:21)
Baptism is in itself a request made to God that he forgive us our sins because we have symbolically died to sin and risen from the waters to life. This is the essence of Paul’s words at Romans 6:1-7.
Considering its lack of scriptural basis, why then is this Dedication Vow viewed as all important?
Recall that on your baptism day, before eyewitnesses, you were asked whether you had dedicated yourself to Jehovah and understood that “your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization.” – par. 11
The selection marked here by boldface is italicized and in a different font in the PDF version of this issue of The Watchtower. Apparently, the Governing Body really wants this idea to hit home.
The paragraph continues by saying: “Your affirmative answers served as a public declaration of your unreserved dedication…” If our baptism serves to identify us as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and membership implies submission to the authority of the organization, then it is in effect a “declaration of unreserved dedication” to the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is it not?
Your Marriage Vow
This articles discusses three vows which the Organization approves of. The second of these is the marriage vow. Perhaps by including a vow with which few see a problem, it hopes to validate the first and third vows it is promoting.
However, in light of Jesus’ command at Matthew 5:34, is it wrong to take marriage vows?
The Bible says nothing about marriage vows. In Jesus’ day, when a man married, he walked to the home of his bride and then the couple walked to his home. The action of taking her into his home signified to all that they were married. There is no record of vows being exchanged.
In most Western lands, vows are not required either. Answering “I do”, when asked if you take someone to be your spouse, is not a vow. Often, when we hear marriage vows spoken by the groom or bride, we realize that they are not vows at all, but declarations of intent. A vow is a solemn oath made before God or to God. Jesus tells us simply to ‘let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No”, no.’
Why does the Organization demand a sworn oath, a vow of dedication?
The Vow of Special Full-Time Servants
In paragraph 19, the article speaks of the third vow that the Organization requires some Jehovah’s Witnesses to make. Remember that Jesus told us not to make vows because vows come from the Devil. In requiring this third vow, does the Governing Body believe they have found an exception to Jesus’ commandment? They say:
Currently, there are some 67,000 members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some perform Bethel service, others engage in construction or in circuit work, serve as field instructors or special pioneers or missionaries or as Assembly Hall or Bible school facility servants. They are all bound by a “Vow of Obedience and Poverty,” with which they agree to do whatever is assigned to them in the advancement of Kingdom interests, to live a simple lifestyle, and to abstain from secular employment without permission. – par. 19
For the record, this “Vow of Obedience and Poverty” states:
“I vow as follows:
- While a member of the Order, to live the simple, nonmaterialistic life-style that has traditionally existed for members of the Order;
- In the spirit of the inspired words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8) and the prophetic expression of the psalmist (Psalm 110:3), to volunteer my services to do whatever is assigned to me in the advancement of Kingdom interests wherever I am assigned by the Order;
- To be submissive to the theocratic arrangement for members of the Order (Hebrews 13:17);
- To devote my best full-time efforts to my assignment;
- To abstain from secular employment without permission from the Order;
- To turn over to the local organization of the Order all income received from any work or personal efforts in excess of my necessary living expenses, unless released from this vow by the Order;
- To accept such provisions for members of the Order (be they meals, lodging, expense reimbursements, or others) as are made in the country where I serve, regardless of the level of my responsibility or the value of my services;
- To be content and satisfied with the modest support that I receive from the Order as long as I am privileged to serve in the Order and not to expect any further remuneration should I choose to leave the Order or should the Order determine that I no longer qualify to serve in the Order (Matthew 6:30-33: 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:5);
- To abide by the principles set out in God’s inspired Word, the Bible, in publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in policies dispensed by the Order, and to follow the directions of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses; and
- To accept readily any decision made by the Order regarding my membership status.
Why would Jesus condemn the making of vows? Vows were common in Israel, but Jesus is bringing about change. Why? Because in his divine wisdom he knew where vows would lead. Let us take the “Vow of Obedience and Poverty” as an example.
In paragraph 1, one vows to conform to a standard of living set by the traditions of men.
In paragraph 2, one vows to obey men in accepting any assignment they give.
In paragraph 3, one vows to submit to the authority hierarchy set up by men.
In paragraph 9, one vows to obey the Bible as well as the publications, policies, and directions of the Governing Body.
This vow is all about swearing obedience and allegiance to men. The vow doesn’t include Jehovah nor Jesus, but does emphasize men. Even paragraph 9 doesn’t include Jehovah in the oath, but only that one “abide by the principles set out in” the Bible. Those principles are subject to the interpretation of the Governing Body as “guardians of doctrine”.[ii] So paragraph 9 is really talking about obeying the publications, policies and directions of the leaders of JW.org.
Jesus never commanded his followers to obey men as they would God. In fact, he said that one cannot serve two masters. (Mt 6:24) His followers told the religious leaders of their day that, “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Imagine if the apostles had taken the “Vow of Obedience and Poverty” before that governing body—the Jewish religious leaders of their day? What a conflict that would have created when told by these same leaders to stop witnessing on the basis of the name of Jesus. They would have to break their vow which is a sin, or keep their vow and disobey God which is also a sin. Little wonder that Jesus said that the making of vows comes from the wicked one.
A stalwart Witness will argue that there is no conflict today because the Governing Body has been appointed as the faithful and discreet slave by Jesus. Therefore, what they tell us to do is what Jehovah wants us to do. But there is a problem with this logic: The Bible says that “we all stumble many times.” (James 3:2) The publications agree. In the February Study Edition of The Watchtower on page 26, we read: “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction.”
So what happens when one of the 67,000 members of the Order finds that the Governing Body has erred and is instructing him to do one thing while God’s law instructs him to do another? For instance—to go with a real-world scenario—the legal desk of the Australia branch staffed by members of the Order is under investigation for failing to comply with the law of the land that requires crimes to be reported to the authorities. God’s law requires us to obey the governments. (See Romans 13:1-7) So does the Christian obey the policies of men as he has vowed to do, or the commands of God?
To take another real-world scenario, the Governing Body instructs us to have no association with—not even to say hello to—someone who has resigned from the congregation. In Australia, and in many other places, victims of child sexual abuse have been so demoralized by the poor treatment they received by the elders dealing with their case that they have taken the step of informing these older men that they no longer want to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. The result is that the elders instruct everyone to treat this victim of abuse as a pariah, a disassociated one (disfellowshipping by another name). There is no Scriptural basis for this policy of “disassociation”. It originates from men, not from God. What we are told by God is to “admonish the disorderly, speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all. 15 See that no one renders injury for injury to anyone else, but always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” (1Th 5:14, 15)
If someone does not want to be a Jehovah’s Witness anymore, there is no Bible command telling us to treat him or her like an apostate such as John describes. (2 John 8-11) Yet that is exactly what men tell us to do, and any one of the 67,000 members of the Order would have to break his vow—a sin—to obey God in this matter. The rest of Jehovah’s Witnesses would also have to break their implicit vow to the organization (See par. 11) if they were to disobey this unscriptural rule of disassociation.
Thus, it should come as no surprise to us that Jesus’ words are again proven true: Making a vow is from the Devil.
[i] Ironically, the reason Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays is that the only two occurrences in the Bible of a birthday celebration are linked to negative events. It seems that this reasoning is not applied when it doesn’t suit them.
[ii] See Geoffrey Jackson’s testimony before the Australia Royal Commission.
[…] is aside from the issue of whether a formal dedication is required (discussed at length here) since Matthew 28:19b says nothing about vows and dedication but instead speaks only of baptism […]
[…] [iv] See “What You Vow, Pay”. […]
Hey. Just looked at the article again and all the comments. Did we all miss James 5:12??? It’s the icing on the cake for this one:
“Above all, my brothers, stop swearing, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath. But let your “Yes” mean yes and your “No,” no, so that you do not become liable to judgment.”
I went to this meeting last Sunday to hear how this article would go down,as usual it all got swallowed without a blink,completely ignoring the context of Jesus advice to avoid vows. The established pattern is to down grade,misinterpret or just plain old ignore what Jesus actually says.This goes back all the way to the judge,when he coined the name Jehovah’s Witness,unwitttingly or not,can’t really say,he automatically downgraded all the scriptures that say that we should be witnesses of Jesus,that’s one of the main reasons I don’t want to be callled a JW,doesn’t fit with clear unambiguous statements made by… Read more »
When did we first start depicting Jesus bearded? I think it was around 1968 in the “Truth Book”. Could have been before that. I recall seeing some old books from the Rutherford era with color panels depicting a blond, clean shaven Jesus. Apparently, he was just a good ole American boy.
Yeah a good ol boy?
I can’t help but wonder is Jesus insulted ,because by taking his beard away your saying he broke the law covenant,how could anyone who claims to be a brother of Christ downgrade his effort in proving his worth as the one that Jehovah chose to be the sacrifice to take sin away,because he kept Jehovah’s laws,to the letter,including the minor things like not cutting off the beard.
Just an additional thought on the hypocrisy evident in this study. So much emphasis is placed on the seriousness of this so called dedication vow, yet GB members are encouraging 10 year olds to commit to the most important vow you will ever make?
Spot on @caasi notwen
There’s a 10 year old in my hall who was baptized at the tender age of 8! This was always a source of disturbance for my husband and I. Per Kingdom Hall rules (where we are from) a child cannot use the restroom without being accompanied by their parent because children were found to be using the bathrooms for ‘playing/horsing around’. Mature enough to be dedicated and baptized into an Organization, too immature to potty by himself.
I just shake my head…..
LOL to the factor of 10. 🙂
Hi Candace. What Mailman says is good. Try to pick the good things from the meetings. There may be stuff that is presented with a big JW.Org slant on it. Be grateful you can see through it. Be ready with tactful comments to correct the slant (you cannot go wrong if you point to what the scriptures actually say, with a “I found this interesting” attached to it. I made a comment today about the baptism vow being different to the one I had taken back in the 70s. A brother came up afterwards and commended me for pointing it… Read more »
I like the phrase “with a bit of a brain”. It really made me smile and laugh too. 😀
Why the WT did not include Matthew 5: 34-37? Was it because the contextual message would not be supportive to the the main theme which the WT writers are pushing? To understand Christ’s message on this subject, we need to see other accounts where our Lord is teaching before the crowd. Take for example Matthew 5:43-44. 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His… Read more »
I’m trying to imagine Christ’s thoughts on demanding oaths be sworn to you.
Oh my god.. I can finally see how the org is making ‘dedicated’ witnesses pay for the vow we all had to make at our baptism. There is so much control over our lives its totally suffocating to be honest. The sad bit is we have been taught over and over that the organisation is God’s sole spirit directed channel. It took me forever to realise this is not scriptural or even true. Isn’t it funny how no one mentions in conversations that we actually dedicated our lives to an organisation, not Jehovah? This means that whatever the org ask… Read more »
It’s really a roller coaster ride Candace. But I’ll share you some unsolicited advice and tips to survive the spiritual ups and downs. First, focus on the good spiritual food that’s biblical, be happy with it. On the other hand, try weeding out the contaminated food so that it doesn’t wear you down or poison you. Second, When obvious errors are present in the study materials, find ways to ignore, be less emotional. Third, find time to visit this site regularly to have an objective perspective of the information being fed to us. Those are the things I have been… Read more »
Interesting about matthew 5 v33 and 34 meleti , it’s possible that the motive behind jesus words of discouraging oaths could have been that some were using an oath in gods name to convince others of the truthfulness of what they were saying , even though they were lying , a sort of confidence trick , more than likely to get some sort of gain . Still though a shocking twist on the theme scripture in this week’s study , just awful , and blatant and any self respecting bible student should be able to see it
Ime with eve04,Joseph anton and SOG. I was only thinking yesterday,considering what’s available to the publishers of the WT,volunteer labour,only responsibility is to teach and guide,no having to earn a living or cope with the day to day grind in the workforce,a bottomless bank account,one would think that the published literature would contain top notch research and content,how mediocre it becomes when you really start soaking in the bible. It might be a bit off topic,but I can’t help but think that with the situation in Russia,some of our bro and sis are going to have an awakening,since they will… Read more »
Meliti, straight to the point with the example of vowing undying love a parent. of course we might well say something like that from the heart, but we would not expect our mum or dad to ask us to declare it to them. Those brief comments are flashes of inspiration. Love it. We prove our love by obeying commandments, by praying regularly, by our conduct. That is what Jehovah and Jesus have asked of us, and of course to worship with spirit and truth
1 Cor 4:2 Now it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. That’s it.
Excellent article. Hits every nail. Baptism questions changed in 1944, 1956,1966,1970,1973 and 1985. Prior to 1956 according to info on JW facts it was not always necessary to be re-baptised when becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As the scriptures explain, baptism is in symbol of repentance and to show we want to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It is his command. The marriage vow is to our spouse, before God. Our baptism is a symbol that we want to follow Christ and all that involves. The more we change the questions to further we seem to get away from… Read more »
I was discussing this with a friend yesterday who thought it wasn’t a big issue because dedicating oneself to God seems a no-brainer. She has two kids, so I asked her if she wanted her kids to love her, and obviously she did. Then I asked if she wanted them to make a vow of undying love to her. She saw the point.
According to bible, baptism has two prerequisites: faith in Jesus as the redeemer and the son of God, and repentance of the sinful life. I’d say the faith in Jesus is primary. Both the true repentance and the baptism are already acts stemming from the faith in Jesus. Baptism according to bible is an appeal to God for cleansing, an ask that God made us a new creation. Nowhere does bible talk about a vow related to baptism. If it would be truly a vow to God then I could accept it. But the intent of the Org is to… Read more »
Hi John S , Thanks for your comments. I find it hard though to decipher what your stance is on Vows , Divorce and a lot of other issues. You wrote” Then, if they break the vows, they are publicly shamed. Oh yes, that’s a deterrent for sure, and it should be.” Are you saying you support the organizations stance on disfellowshipping and public shaming even though this practice has been proven on this forum to be unscriptural? I dont know . Your comments are long and seem to pendulum from one issue to the next.
It helps that the brothers and sisters have gone mostly digital. One click on the link to Matthew 5:33 takes you directly to only that scripture, and nothing after or before. I think they’re banking heavily now on link Christianity. It’s certainly allowing them some freedom in interpretive scripture application.
That’s interesting you say that. I was telling a friend a year ago before we went digital, I felt like I would study harder because I would read more of what the bible said even though it was with the publications. Now I said, I don’t feel like I study because you click on the scripture or publication and only that scripture or paragraph from the link comes up. He said “yea it’s much better”. Now I see it as a dummying down of the scriptures or just that we get what they want us to get out of it.
Felt the exact same way eve04. Everything at my finger tips would make ‘studying’ that much more enlightening and thorough. In fact it had the opposite effect. I felt even more disconnected from the scriptures especially, and wasn’t getting any ‘nourishment’ from it. Interesting we had the same experience.
Thank you SeasonsofGrace. That is totally 100% how I felt. Now with the information from Meleti, studying is such a joy to me again. It’s good to know we are not crazy 🙂
Totally agree. I carry my father’s bible to meeting. A last-gen NWT. Most of my Bible discoveries in my life have been in the verses and chapters surrounding the verse we’re looking up. I’ve read through entire chapters just because a single scripture gave me a starting point. The next generation won’t have that same experience. I think we could call that a narrow, carefully controlled and orchestrated viewpoint on scripture.
Paragraph 13 in the article to my mind is an absolute disgrace , I’m sorry but all I wanted to do was to get baptised like jesus said , it never had anything to do with any vow , especially to any organisation , neither was I told that , if I was I would have told them to forget it , The whole thing looks like a trap now designed to force others to do the will of men and the article is there to strangle the witnesses into submission ,
Paragraph 13 speaks of the one who goes back on his dedication baptism vow is accountable to jehovah , really , what about the one who changed baptising a person “in the name of the father , son and holy spirit , like jesus commanded into a dedication vow to an organisation , how about that one
I got baptized in 83. The second question was not what it is now. You are right I think I would have questioned it more if they said anything about dedicating myself to an organization. I think I would have ran like a bat out of torment. ?
The Witnesses I grew up with prided themselves on knowing their bibles. I also believe, through discussions and debates in the ministry, they are well versed in Christendom’s habit of misapplying scripture to fit pagan dogma their churches inducted throughout their history. So I know there must still be plenty of these well versed brothers and sisters who will easily spot this flagrant misapplication of Matthew 5 and will hopefully start opening their eyes to what they’re now being taught. It’s articles like this that are waking the most people up. To twist Jesus words and feel like nobody should… Read more »
wow what an eye opener! Had never given much thought to this subject before, but Meleti hit the nail on the head! After studying the article as a family,it has given us a lot to think about with scriptural meditation ,as we see how all things are fitting together, light bulbs are coming on in our heads.. well done!
Excellent! I do not ever recall Jesus telling his apostles to make a dedication/vow to follow him. If a precedent was going to be set as to what to do, it would have been the time when he chose them. Even when asking Peter to feed his sheep he did not say you must vow to do this. When Paul was on the road to Damascus no mention of a vow or dedication. Lydia and all those that were joined to the Lord no mention. I appreciate going down a few versus, Jesus even says in verse 36 “And do… Read more »
In some articles it is easier to see the duplicity of JW.ORG than others.
This is one of the really easy ones because of the theme scripture. Every JW has heard the scripture immediately following the theme. (don’t make a vow at all) I can’t help but hope there will be a few at the WT study that will think about it and wonder. I am going to make sure I mention it I know that. 🙂
Great article Meleti. Two things come to mind. We usually view Jepthah as an example of a person faithful to the vow he made to Jehovah. (Nu. 11:30-40) However, I wonder if Jepthah’s account was recorded to show how serious a matter it is to make a rash vow and that, as Solomon says, it would be better not to make one. In light of this, it seems strange that Stephen Lett would publicly commend a ten year old for making a dedication vow at such a tender age. (Eccl. 5:4-6) Secondly, it seems one should be allowed to disassociate… Read more »
I concur, Jerome. Both examples show the folly of vowing. Hannah reasoned that the only way she could get pregnant was to bargain with God. “If you do this, then I’ll do that for you.” What does this make Jehovah out to be? Will he only deal with his servants kindly if there is something in it for him? Likewise with Jephthah’s vow, was Jehovah going to abandon his servants to the enemy if there wasn’t something in it for him. I think both these are recorded not as instruction about the value of vowing, but as examples of what… Read more »
The legalistic relationship between Watchtower and its “adherents” began in the 1980s. The baptism “vow” was modified to permit disfellowshipping (one p or two? It switched spellings.) From 1958 to 1985 the #2 question failed to give congregations sufficient legal authority to expel members: *** w58 8/1 p. 478 par. 22 Baptism *** (1) Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him, the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ? (2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for… Read more »
Nicely summed up, Rufus.
The difference between the a Catholic Church’s vow of poverty and the Society’s vow of poverty has one major difference. In turn for the clergy’s vow to a life of poverty the Catholic Church vows to take care of you in your old age. The Society offers no such safety net, because – ironically this is part of their safety net – you won’t need elderly care when the entire system collapses in the next couple years.
When I was in Brugge, Belgium last year, my friend showed me a beautiful place that the Catholics have set up to care for aging nuns. This was right when Witnesses were throwing faithful, longtime servants out on the streets with no financial cushion whatsoever.
Thanks Meleti, well reasoned once again. it seems the vows are similar to the oral laws of Jesus time. The w73 10/1 p. 606 Questions From Readers *** ● If, in earlier years, a person made a vow to God that he now realizes was unwise, does he have to continue conforming to it?—U.S.A. .. Nor are Scriptural vows to be compared with the so-called ‘monastic vows’ that persons in later centuries were required to make in order to gain admittance into certain religious orders of church organizations. Those vows of ‘chastity, poverty and obedience’ placed those vowing under obligation… Read more »
Thanks for including that Q from A, Lazarus. That is going to prove useful. As to your question, I don’t have an answer, but since the VOP allows the Vowee to exempt the Vower from the provision of outside employment, perhaps the individual got permission to make the additional funds.
Hi Lazarus. For many years, I was a bethelite and also a special pioneer. The VOP is just a legal arrangement for tax exemptions as Rufus very clearly highlights above. The Society will do anything to avoid paying taxes if it can, even it means making all its servants accept a vow of poverty to belong to a “religious order,” even if it means no one will receive from the government when let go from bethel. They have taken advantage of a tax-free loop hole and dressed it up as a vow to Jehovah. While they like to condemn the… Read more »
Thanks for the clarification of the practical side of the VOP arrangement, Yehorakam. Truly, we see the same hypocrisy today that typified the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.
Thanks Yehorakam, that is very interesting. Once I read through the different points, I thought it to be for legal purposes. I appreciate the insight and how this works for those under this VOP. lol well, those Bethelites are always looking for loopholes in man made rules.
“You must pay your vows to Jehovah.” Wow. Just wow. This has got to be one of the most egregious examples I’ve seen yet of how the Organization parses out some words from a scripture and makes it seem like the Bible (and in this case, Jesus himself) is saying something completely opposite from what it really says. Ignore the context, ignore the surrounding words, simply read what is in the Watchtower and agree with our interpretation of it, no matter how wrong-headed that may be. I try not to get angry about these things, I really do! I know… Read more »
Deoc. You have every right to be furious. It is just another example where they pull a verse out of the hat, and out of context. Meleti has a gift for ‘smelling the skunk.’ As he very clearly shows, Jesus was discouraging the making of vows. The WT took only his first words and is teaching millions it is okay. That is twisting the scriptures. I should hope that your love for righteousness and hatred for unrighteousness will continue. Don’t feel bad about these feelings. Do not the scriptures say: “Let everyone calling on the name of Jesus renounce unrighteousness.”… Read more »
Thank you so much for those words, Yehorakam, they strengthened my heart, and I appreciate your support and Christian love. As it stands, I am in a very critical place right now – my marriage is a hair’s breadth away from ending (in no small part from our religious differences – he’s/she’s in and I am fading). However, today, for reasons I won’t get into, my spouse told me I either turn in my letter of disassociation, or she is going to the elders to tell them that I am, in essence, an “apostate.” So either way, it looks like… Read more »
So sorry to hear that D A C , what a shame , I think all you can do here is just try to be a good husband , some nice words at 1 peter 3 v 8 to 17 , and proverbs 17:14 , gods blessing mate
Hi Deo. It is very sad to hear all this. I do not know what to say, so I let others speak. There’s a jw elder’s stepping down speech. The link has been shared in this site before I think, but in case you haven’t heard it …
Hi Deo_ac_veritati, If you want to avoid disassociation/disfellowshipping for personal reasons, you may have a third option. If there is nothing in writing between you and your wife, then it becomes her word only–one witness. If one witness isn’t enough to convict a pedophile, it isn’t enough to convict an apostate, or a Jeremiah. When the elders question you, you have the right to say that you will not answer questions for which they have no hard evidence–one witness isn’t hard evidence. That they should take your refusal to answer as neither a confirmation nor a denial of what they… Read more »
Hi D-A-V, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out which morsels of counsel really apply. Personally, I’m a big fan of stonewalling. And the best way to stonewall the elders is to avoid ever being alone in a room with more than one of them. If they come around to say that “your spouse told us something and we need to talk”, you might try telling them that taking care of your troubled marriage is absorbing all your emotional energy and sorry, just don’t have the strength right now to meet. Sorry bros, do whatever you feel is best.… Read more »
@Deo If I may, … Tell them the truth! You’re confused, the many changes have rattled your cage, …what was once solid, irrefutable doctrine (supported by scripture) are now false and only to be replaced by new irrefutable doctrine (also supported by scripture.) The certainty is gone… The credibility is gone… That you are in a dark place and need time to sort it out. Of all the video encounters I’ve watched where elders confront an accused, 10 out of 10 times, the poor accused never stands a chance when arguing scriptural context, translation or intent. But, …when stating our… Read more »
Yes , when they came v around to see me they tried to trap me in my speech , trying to put words in my mouth , Jesus when confronted with them just said nothing , you don’t have to meet with these people do you , or answer thier questions , it’s only the same attitude they have toward the ARC and the UK charity commission , the old loose conduct card will probably appear then , gods blessing brother
Yeah , I remember I just refused to meet with them , until I got sick of the religion and wanted out anyway , “er can we have a chat ” “no you can’t “
I’m sorry this is causing tension with your wife. An elder said in his comment one day, and I think this is the case with most Bro and Sis.
“Don’t confuse me with the facts my mind is already made up”
One wonders if equating baptism with the “dedication vow” is not in itself self serving for the organization’s leadership. Having indoctrinated their members to believe that they must now “live up to their dedication”, together with most members equating the G.B. on par with that of Jehovah, they can be more easily controlled or “shamed” into action or submission. On a side note, at the end of the article there is a footnote in regards to birthdays. Apparently, since on two separate occasions, murders were committed on birthdays, this indicates that birthday celebrations are not proper for Christians. Well, if… Read more »
Hey Meleti, I have a couple questions about this; “In paragraph 19, the article speaks of the third vow that the Organization requires some Jehovah’s Witnesses to make. Remember that Jesus told us not to make vows because vows come from the Devil.” Jesus said, 34 ”However, I say to you: Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear by your head, since you cannot turn one hair white or… Read more »
Hi John S, A vow is a sworn oath before God, such as Jephthah and Hannah made. I think the confusion arises if we equate a promise with a vow. They are not the same thing. If you are right about the context, then Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t make a vow or sworn oath when we get married either. There was no vow that Adam made when he took Eve for his wife, and no command in the Bible to get married based on sworn oaths exchanged with one another. My take on this is that the marriage… Read more »
Well, yes a promise surely. But almost everyone calls these the marriage vows. It is commonly understood, and legally witnessed by the officiator, and a second many times, as to it’s validity. I’m telling you, when you get hit in the face with ‘I don’t love you, so I don’t have to keep my promises, or vows!’ You really think on this,,,HARD. Jesus goes further, as he always points up the BIG BASIC Law of love in any law definition. “Don’t even THINK about having relations with another!” No, promises and vows of faithfulness are necessary, and Jesus said, “Let… Read more »
I agree, John S. My point was that the Watchtower includes the question of Marriage Vows as a way to lend validity to its unscriptural vows of dedication and “obedience and poverty”. It is true also that we commonly call them marriage vows even though often–more so these days in the world–they are poetic declarations of love. The lines get blurred. That being said, even if we choose to recite actual vows of marriage, that doesn’t support the idea that they are scriptural. The Bible doesn’t require us to make vows of marriage. One reason I can see for this… Read more »
Interesting information Meleti, the way the wording is for the “vows” per the Organization. I pretty much agree with your summation, though it again makes my earlier point (IMHO anyway) that it’s really not so much a “vow” as a simple declaration that one is accepting the other as their marriage mate, as outlined in the divine law of the Bible.
In that context, yep, it’s a total Red Herring.
Hey Meleti, I like your last post above. Looked up ‘vow’; Google: “a solemn promise” I see it that way, and yes my last marriage had vows similar to what you posted as the Witness way. Jesus also gave specific laws about the marital promises each one agrees to: Jesus’ words as Christians should. As we know, Jesus stresses adultery as the main marriage breaker, while Paul amplified what Jesus said, and under inspiration stated that if a man’s wife left him, without being an adulterer, (as in my case), the brother was under no obligation to the marriage vows,… Read more »
And thank you Yehorakam for the kind words and explanation, which Meleti and you others are touching on . Jesus’ words, at the sermon on the mount, in Mat.5 go into the way the Law is to be fulfilled: LOVE. And he gives examples. Ultimately he points to God, and shows he makes it rain on righteous and wicked, and states; “You must be perfect as your H. Father is perfect. (In love) Perfect does not mean mistakes, errs in judgment, or shortfalls aren’t going to occur. We all are going to make them eternally wherever we live; heaven or… Read more »
Andere: “As you can see, it’s a lot easier to distinguish between a contract and a vow, than it is to distinguish between a promise and a vow. But I agree with Meleti, the marriage contract makes the vows redundant. We may think that the marriage vows contain the element of love whereas the contract does not, but the element of love is already binding on Christians per Jesus’ command at John 13:34. So I don’t see how the vows are necessary, or how their absence provides a loophole.” A vow is a promise. If you get married, it is… Read more »
Brother Deo, I have been where you are 10 years ago. I couldn’t stand it any longer, and my wife and I were separating and not gradually because of my enlightenment for the spirit. That is bound to happen if you stand up for Christ. I did, and turned in a one-page declaration, that I no longer believed what WT was doing was Christian at all, and that I no longer wanted to be associated with this perversion of Jesus’ teachings. I believe and it is true to scripture, That WT knows what they are doing is a lie, and… Read more »
From dictionary.com Promise: 1. a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one: unkept political promises. 2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based: promises that an enemy will not win. 3. something that has the effect of an express assurance; indication of what may be expected. 4. indication of future excellence or achievement: a writer who shows promise. 5. something that is promised. Vow: noun 1. a solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment: marriage vows; a vow of secrecy. 2. a solemn promise made to a deity or saint committing oneself to an act, service, or condition. 3. a solemn or earnest declaration. Contract: noun 1. an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified. 2. an agreement enforceable by law. 3. the written form of such an agreement. 4. the division of law dealing with contracts.… Read more »
I’m not even sure it’s a “promise” as Meleti has conjectured. Oftentimes I’ve heard it simply phrased as “Do you take this man/woman to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband.” Despite the phrasing “marriage vows,” to me, it’s not a vow or a promise, simply an affirmation that you are entering into a legally binding marriage contract. It means that you are affirming that you are no longer single, but legally joined in marriage, with all that that entails. Contracts have certain stipulations in them, in this case, stipulations such as you cannot be unfaithful, you cannot beat or abuse your… Read more »
I think it cannot be stated with absolute certainty, what Jesus really meant or even what he exactly said regarding vows. Some scholars believe that the gospel by Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and some scholars believe that the Hebrew-language Gospel of Matthew that appeared as an appendix to a Jewish polemical treatise in 14th century, authored by Shem-Tob, contained not a translation of Matthew from Greek, but was from an independent line of Hebrew language manuscripts. There’s an analysis and English translation of that Shem Tob Hebrew Matthew, where the verse reads: Matt 5:34 [Shem Tob] “But I… Read more »
Hi John. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my views on your Q’s about context. Context is indeed an important thing. To me, context means surrounding information that connects or helps to understand something. Their may exist two contexts in this passage of scripture. I think the first context is Jesus trying to show that Jewish society and culture had applied a written law a certain way, but really our heavenly Father had different view. To show the “old” way of thinking (that was inadequate), he said: vs.21 “You heard that it was said to those of ancient times:… Read more »
Well put, Yehorakam.
Yeah , in these verses at matthew 5 when jesus stated you have “heard it said ” jesus was picking out certain principles of the mosaic law that the jews hadn’t quite understood properly . For example we have “you must not murder , commit adultery , covet another man’s wife, by keeping on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her , divorce , oaths, eye for an eye , love your neighbour , are all well known verses of the mosaic law , this particular one is likely from dueteronomy 23 v 21 to… Read more »