The Two-Witness Rule under the Microscope

– posted by meleti

[A special thanks goes out to contributing writer, Tadua, whose research and reasoning are the basis for this article.]

In all likelihood, only a minority of Jehovah’s Witnesses have viewed the proceedings that took place over the past couple of years in Australia. Still, those few courageous ones who dared to defy their "superiors" by viewing outside material—particularly the interchange between Counsel Assisting, Angus Stewart, and Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson—were treated to a bizarre scene, at least to the mind of a faithful JW.  (To view the interchange for yourself, click here.) What they saw was a "worldly" lawyer, a representative of a secular authority, debating a point of Scripture with the highest authority in the Witness world, and winning the argument.

We are told in the Bible that when we are hauled before the superior authorities, the words we need will be given us.

“And you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. 19 However, when they hand you over, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak, for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour; 20 for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you.” (Mt 10:18-20)

Did the Holy Spirit fail this member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses?  No, because the spirit cannot fail. For instance, the first time that Christians were hauled before a government authority was just shortly after Pentecost 33 CE. The apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin, the High Court of the nation of Israel, and told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. That particular court of law was at once secular and religious.  Yet, despite its religious underpinnings, the judges did not reason from the Scriptures.  They knew they had no hope of defeating these men using the Holy Writings, so they simply pronounced their decision and expected to be obeyed.  They told the apostles to cease-and-desist from preaching on the name of Jesus.  The apostles answered on the basis of the Scriptural law and the judges had no reply save to reinforce their authority with physical punishment. (Acts 5:27-32, 40)

Why was the Governing Body not similarly able to defend its position on its policy of handling cases of child sexual abuse in the congregation?  Since the Spirit cannot fail, we are left to conclude that the policy is the point of failure.

The point of contention before the Australia Royal Commission was the Governing Body's rigid application of the two-witness rule in both judicial and criminal cases. If there are not two witnesses to sin, or in this case a sinful criminal act, then—failing a confession—witness elders are directed to do nothing. In tens of thousands of both alleged and confirmed cases of child sexual abuse around the world and over the decades, officials of the Organization continue to not report unless compelled to by a specific law. Thus, when there were not two witnesses to the crime, the alleged perpetrator was allowed to maintain whatever position he held in the congregation, and his accuser was expected to accept and put up with the findings of the judicial committee.

The basis for this seemingly peculiar, ultra-rigid stance are these three verses from the Bible.

“On the testimony of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die should be put to death. He must not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” (De 17:6)

“No single witness may convict another for any error or any sin that he may commit. On the testimony of two witnesses or on the testimony of three witnesses the matter should be established.” (De 19:15)

“Do not accept an accusation against an older man except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19)

(Unless otherwise noted, we will be quoting from the New World translation of the Holy Scriptures [NWT] since this is the one version of the Bible that Witnesses will universally accept.)

The third reference in First Timothy is particularly important as support for the Organization’s position on this question, because it is taken from the Christian Greek Scriptures. If the only references for this rule came from the Hebrew Scriptures—i.e. the Mosaic Law—an argument could be made that this requirement had passed away together with the Law code.[1]  However, Paul’s injunction to Timothy convinces the Governing Body that this rule still applies to Christians.

A Brief Hope

To a Jehovah’s Witness, this would seem to be the end of the matter. When again called before the Australian Royal Commission in March of this year, the representatives from the Australia branch office demonstrated the intransigence of their leadership by rigidly adhering to a literal application in all circumstances of this two-witness rule. (While Counsel Advising, Angus Stewart, did seem to have raised doubts in the mind of Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson that there might be a Bible precedent which would allow for some flexibility to this rule, and while, Jackson, in the heat of the moment, did acknowledge that Deuteronomy 22 provided grounds for a matter to be decided on the basis of a single witness in some cases of rape, this testimony was reversed shortly after the hearing when the Organization's counsel provided a document to the commission in which they clamped back down on their application of the two-witness rule. – See Addendum.)

Rules vs. Principles

If you are a Jehovah’s Witnesses, does that put an end to the matter for you?  It shouldn’t unless you are unaware of the fact that the law of the Christ is based on love. Even the Mosaic law with its hundreds of rules allowed for some flexibility based on circumstances. However, Christ’s law surpasses it in that all things are based on principles which are built upon the foundation of God’s love. If the Mosaic law allowed for some flexibility, as we will see, the love the Christ goes even beyond that – seeking justice in all cases.

Nevertheless, Christ’s law does not depart from what is stated in Scripture. Instead, it is expressed through Scripture. So we will examine all the instances where the two-witness rule appears in the Bible so that we can determine how it fits within the framework of God’s law for us today.

“Proof Texts”

Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15

To reiterate, these are the key texts from the Hebrew Scriptures that form the basis for deciding all judicial matters in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“On the testimony of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die should be put to death. He must not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” (De 17:6)

“No single witness may convict another for any error or any sin that he may commit. On the testimony of two witnesses or on the testimony of three witnesses the matter should be established.” (De 19:15)

These are what are called “proof texts”.  The idea is that you read a single verse from the Bible that supports your idea, close the Bible with a thump and say: “There you go.  End of story.”  Truly, if we do not read further, these two texts would lead us to the conclusion that no crime was dealt with in Israel unless there were two or more eye-witnesses. But was that really the case?  Did God make no further provision for his nation to handle crimes and other judicial matters beyond giving them this simple rule?

If so, then this would be a recipe for mayhem.  Consider this: You want to murder your neighbour.  All you have to do is make sure not more than one person sees you.  You can have the bloodied knife in your possession and a motive big enough to drive a camel caravan through, but hey, you're scot free because there were not two witnesses.

Let us, as freed Christians, not fall again into the snare laid by those promoting “proof texts” as the basis for doctrinal understanding.  Instead, we will consider the context.

In the case of Deuteronomy 17:6, the crime being referred to is that of apostasy.

“Suppose a man or a woman is found among you, in any of your cities that Jehovah your God is giving you, who is practicing what is bad in the eyes of Jehovah your God and violating his covenant, 3 and he goes astray and worships other gods and he bows down to them or to the sun or the moon or all the army of the heavens, a thing that I have not commanded. 4 When it is reported to you or you hear about it, then you should investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is confirmed to be true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 you must bring the man or the woman who has done this evil thing out to the city gates, and the man or the woman must be stoned to death.” (De 17:2-5)

With apostasy, there is no tangible evidence.  There is no dead body, or stolen booty, or bruised flesh to point to so as to demonstrate a crime has been committed.  There is only the testimony of witnesses.  Either the person was seen offering a sacrifice to a false god or not.  Either he was heard persuading others to engage in idolatrous worship or not.  In either case, the evidence exists only in the testimony of others, so two witnesses would be a minimum requirement if one is contemplating putting the evildoer to death.

But what about crimes like murder, assault and rape?

A Witness elder would likely point to the second proof text (Deuteronomy 19:15) and say, “any error or any sin” is covered by this rule.  The context of this verse includes the sin of murder and manslaughter (De 19:11-13) as well as theft. (De 19:14 - moving boundary markers to steal a hereditary possession.)

But it also includes direction on handling cases where there was only one witness:

“If a malicious witness testifies against a man and charges him with some transgression, 17 the two men who have the dispute will stand before Jehovah, before the priests and the judges who will be serving in those days. 18 The judges will thoroughly investigate, and if the man who testified is a false witness and has brought a false charge against his brother, 19 you should do to him just as he had schemed to do to his brother, and you must remove what is bad from your midst. 20 Those who remain will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything bad like this among you. 21 You should not feel sorry: Life will be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (De 19:16-21)

So if the statement in verse 15 is to be taken as an all-encompassing rule, then how could the judges “thoroughly investigate”?  They would be wasting their time if they had no option other than to wait for a second witness to turn up.

Further evidence that this rule was not the “end all and be all” of the Israelite forensic process can be seen when one considers another passage:

“If a virgin is engaged to a man, and another man happens to meet her in the city and lies down with her, 24 you should bring them both out to the gate of that city and stone them to death, the girl because she did not scream in the city and the man because he humiliated the wife of his fellow man. So you must remove what is evil from your midst. 25 “If, however, the man happened to meet the engaged girl in the field and the man overpowered her and lay down with her, the man who lay down with her is to die by himself, 26 and you must do nothing to the girl. The girl has not committed a sin deserving of death. This case is the same as when a man attacks his fellow man and murders him. 27 For he happened to meet her in the field, and the engaged girl screamed, but there was no one to rescue her.” (De 22:23-27)

God’s word doesn’t contradict itself.  There have to be two or more witnesses to convict a man and yet here we have only one witness and yet a conviction is possible?  Perhaps we're overlooking a rather critical fact: The Bible wasn't written in English.

If we look up the word translated "witness" in our "proof text" of Deuteronomy 19:15 we find the Hebrew word, ed.  Besides "witness" as in eye-witness, this word can also mean evidence.  Here are some of the ways the word is used:

“Now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and it will serve as a witness between us.”” (Ge 31:44)

“Laʹban then said: “This pile of stones is a witness between me and you today.” That is why he named it Galʹe·ed,” (Ge 31:48)

“If it was torn by a wild animal, he is to bring it as evidence. [ed] He is not to make compensation for something torn by a wild animal.” (Ex 22:13)

“Now write down this song for yourselves and teach it to the Israelites. Have them learn it in order that this song may serve as my witness against the people of Israel.” (De 31:19)

“So we said, ‘Let us by all means take action by building an altar, not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, 27 but to be a witness between you and us and our descendants after us that we will carry out our service to Jehovah before him with our burnt offerings and our sacrifices and our communion sacrifices, so that your sons may not say to our sons in the future: “You have no share in Jehovah.”’” (Jos 22:26, 27)

“Like the moon, it will be firmly established forever As a faithful witness in the skies.” (Selah)” (Ps 89:37)

“In that day there will be an altar to Jehovah in the middle of the land of Egypt and a pillar to Jehovah at its boundary. 20 It will be for a sign and for a witness to Jehovah of armies in the land of Egypt; for they will cry out to Jehovah because of the oppressors, and he will send them a savior, a grand one, who will save them.” (Isa 19:19, 20)

From this we can see that in the absence of two or more eye-witnesses, the Israelites could rely on forensic evidence to reach a just decision so as not to let the evildoer to free.  In the case of the rape of a virgin in Israel as described in the foregoing passage, there would be physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony, so a single eye-witness could prevail since the second "witness" [ed] would be the evidence.

Elders are not prepared to gather this type of evidence which is one of the reasons God gave us the superior authorities, which we are so reluctant to utilize.  (Romans 13:1-7)

1 Timothy 5:19

There are several texts in the Christian Greek Scriptures which mention the two-witness rule, but always in the context of the Mosaic Law.  So these cannot be applied perforce since the Law does not apply to Christians.

For example,

Matthew 18:16: This is not speaking of eye-witnesses to the sin, but rather witnesses to the discussion; there to reason with the sinner.

John 8:17, 18: Jesus uses the rule established in the Law to convince his Jewish listeners that he is the Messiah. (Interestingly, he does not say “our law”, but “your law”.)

Hebrews 10:28: Here the writer is merely using an application of a rule in the Mosaic Law well known to his audience to reason on the greater punishment that accrues to one who tramples on the name of the Lord.

Indeed, the only hope that the Organization has of carrying this particular rule forward into the Christian system of things is found in First Timothy.

“Do not accept an accusation against an older man except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19)

Now let’s consider the context.  In verse 17 Paul stated, “Let the older men who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.”  When he said “do not admit an accusation against an older man” was he therefore making a hard and fast rule that applied to all older men regardless of their reputation?

The Greek word translated “admit” in the NWT is paradexomai which can mean according to HELPS Word-studies “welcome with personal interest”.

So the flavor conveyed by this scripture is ‘Do not welcome accusations against a faithful older man who presides in a fine manner, unless you have good strong evidence such as the case with two or three witnesses (i.e. not frivolous, petty, or motivated by jealousy or revenge). Was Paul also including all congregation members? No, he was specifically referring to faithful older men of good repute. The whole import was that Timothy was to protect faithful, hard-working, older men from discontented members of the congregation.

This situation is akin to that covered by Deuteronomy 19:15.  Accusations of bad conduct, like those of apostasy, are largely based on eye-witness testimony. The lack of forensic evidence requires that two or more witnesses be used to establish the matter.

Dealing with Child Rape

The sexual abuse of children is a particularly heinous form of rape. Like the virgin in the field described at Deuteronomy 22:23-27, there is usually on one witness, the victim.  (We can discount the perpetrator as a witness unless he chooses to confess.)  However, there is often forensic evidence.  Additionally, a skilled interrogator can “investigate thoroughly” and often unearth the truth.

Israel was a nation with its own administrative, legislative and judicial branches of government.  It had a law code and a penal system which included capital punishment.  The Christian congregation is not a nation.  It is not a secular government.  It has no judiciary, nor does it have a penal system.  That is why we are told to leave the handling of crime and criminals to the “superior authorities”, “God’s ministers” for dispensing justice. (Romans 13:1-7)

In most countries, fornication is not a crime, so the congregation deals with it internally as a sin. However, rape is a crime.  Child sexual abuse is also a crime. It seems that the Organization with its Governing Body seems to miss that important distinction.

Hiding behind Legalism

I recently saw a video of an elder in a judicial hearing justifying his position by saying that “We go with what the Bible says.  We make no apology for that.”

It seems in listening to the testimony of elders from the Australia branch as well as that of Governing Body member Geoffrey Jackson that this position is universally held among Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They feel that by holding rigidly to the letter of the law, they are winning God’s approval.

Another group of God’s people once felt similarly.  It did not end well for them.

“Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but YOU have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things. 24 Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!” (Mt 23:23, 24)

How could these men who spent their lives studying the law have missed out on its “weightier matters”?  We must understand this if we are to avoid being infected by the same thinking. (Mt 16:6, 11, 12)

We know that the law of the Christ is a law of principles not rules.  These principles are from God, the Father.  God is love.  (1 John 4:8)  Therefore, the law is based on love.  We might think that the Mosaic Law with its Ten Commandments and 600+ laws and rules was not based on principles, not based on love.   However, that is not the case.  Could a law that originates from the true God who is love not be based in love?  Jesus answered this question when asked about which commandment was the greatest.  He replied:

“‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”” (Mt 22:37-40)

Not only the entire Mosaic Law, but all the sayings of the Prophets depends on obedience to these two simply commandments.  Jehovah was taking a people who—especially by modern standards—were barbaric, and He was moving them toward salvation through the Messiah.  They needed rules, because they were not yet ready for the fullness of the perfect law of love.  So the Mosaic Law became like a tutor, to guide the child to the Master Teacher. (Gal. 3:24)  Therefore, underlying all the rules, supporting them and binding them together, is the quality of God’s love.

Let us see how this might apply in a practical way.  Returning to the scenario painted by Deuteronomy 22:23-27, we are going to make a small adjustment.  Let us make the victim a seven-year-old child.  Now would the ‘weightier matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness’ be satisfied if the elders of the village looked at all the evidence and simply threw up their hands and did nothing because they didn’t have two eye-witnesses?

As we’ve seen, there were provisions for situations when there were insufficient eye-witnesses, and these provisions are codified into the law because the Israelites needed them since they had not yet attained to the fullness of the Christ.  They were being guided there by the law. We, however, shouldn’t need them.  If even those under the Law Code were to be guided by love, justice, mercy and faithfulness, what reason do we as Christians under the greater law of the Christ have for returning to legalism? Have we become infected by the leaven of the Pharisees?  Do we hide behind a single verse to justify actions that amount to a complete abandonment of the law of love? The Pharisees did this to protect their station and their authority.  As a result, they lost everything.

Balance Is Needed

This graphic was sent to me by a good friend.  I haven't read the article from which it originated, so I cannot endorse it per se. However, the illustration speaks for itself.  The Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses has de facto replaced the lordship of Jesus Christ with the lordship of the Governing Body with its rules.  Avoiding licentiousness, has slid toward "legalism".  We score high on all four products of this choice: Arrogance (We're the only true religion, "the best life ever"); Oppression (If you don't agree with the Governing Body, you will be punished by disfellowshipping); Inconsistency (Ever-changing "new light" and constant flip-flops labelled as "refinements"); Hypocrisy (Claiming neutrality while joined to the UN, blaming the rank-and-file for their 1975 fiasco, claiming to love our children while preserving policies that have proven harmful to the "little ones".)

As it turns out, the two-witness rule embarrassment is just the tip of the JW legalistic iceberg.  But this berg is breaking up under the sun of public scrutiny.


In an attempt to retract his testimony in which Geoffrey Jackson reluctantly agreed that Deuteronomy 22:23-27 seemed to provide an exception to the two-witness rule, the legal desk issued a written statement.  Our discussion would be incomplete were we not to address the arguments raised in that document.  We will deal therefore with “Issue 3: Explanation of Deuteronomy 22:25-27”.

Point 17 of the document alleges that the rule found at Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 is to be taken as valid “without exception”. As we’ve already shown above, that is not a valid scriptural position.  The context in each case indicates that exceptions are provided for.  Then point 18 of the document states:

  1. It is important to note that the two contrasting situations in verses 23 to 27 of Deuteronomy chapter 22 do not deal with proving whether the man is guilty in either situation. His guilt is assumed in both instances. In saying that he:

"happened to meet her in the city and lay down with her"

or he:

"happened to meet the engaged girl in the field and the man overpowered her and lay down with her ".

in both instances, the man had already been proved guilty and worthy of death, this being determined by proper procedure earlier in the judges' inquiry. But the question at this point before the judges (having established that improper sexual relations had occurred between the man and the woman) was whether the engaged woman had been guilty of immorality or was a victim of rape. This is a different issue, although related, to establishing the man's guilt.

They fail to explain how “the man had already been proved guilty” since the rape had occurred in the field far from witnesses.  At best they would have the testimony of the woman, but where’s the second witness?  By their own admission, he had “already been found guilty” as “determined by proper procedure”, yet they also allege that the only “proper procedure” requires two witnesses, and the Bible clearly indicates in this case that such were lacking.  So they admit there is a proper procedure that can be utilized to establish guilt that does not require two witnesses. Therefore, the argument they make in point 17 that the two-witness rule of Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 is to be followed “without exception” is rendered null and void by their subsequent conclusion made under point 18.


[1] It could be argued that even Jesus’ reference to the two-witness rule found at John 8:17 did not bring that law forward into the Christian congregation. The reasoning goes that he was simply using a law that was still in force at the time to make a point about his own authority, but not implying that this law would be in force once the law code had been replaced by the greater law of the Christ.

Archived Comments

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  • Comment by Robert-6512 on 2017-08-30 20:40:54

    Some time back I posted an article on Silent Lambs on this topic. Readers may find it of interest.

  • Comment by wish4truth2 on 2017-08-31 01:50:26

    hi Meleti, Brilliant article! it clears many things up for us.

  • Comment by Keepitsimple on 2017-08-31 10:06:17

    Thanks Tadua to give us ammunition against this perversion of Jehovah love.

  • Comment by Joseph Anton on 2017-08-31 11:23:50

    Great read. Has there ever been a case where a brother accused another brother of committing a murder? And did the local elder body feel confident enough to investigate it? I only bring this up because according to law enforcement sex crimes are infinitely more intricate and difficult to investigate.

  • Comment by tyhik on 2017-08-31 16:28:03

    Thank you Tadua for the research, and Meleti for shaping it up. Looking at the context and looking at the original text and/or meanings of the words may bring up big surprises. Definitely a new light!

    What amazes me, is the depth of deception in the Org's teachings, or in their claims. You really must check everything they claim before accepting it.

  • Comment by Robert-6512 on 2017-09-01 14:29:08

    I whole-heartedly agree that WT's policies about the two-witness rule are ill-conceived and cruel, and have resulted in great harm to victims of abuse. However, much of the reasoning you are using in this article to argue against those policies is poorly thought out. That is regrettable, but honesty compels us to state the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be.

    In discussing the passage at Deut. 19:16-21, you ask the rhetorical question:

    'So if the statement in verse 15 is to be taken as an all-encompassing rule, then how could the judges “thoroughly investigate”? They would be wasting their time if they had no option other than to wait for a second witness to turn up.'

    Unfortunately, asking a rhetorical question is not the same thing as having an answer for it. (If only it were.) How indeed could the judges investigate? Answer: We don't know. The account doesn't say. If it did say, there would be no arguments or debates like the one under discussion. Does that mean that sometimes the judges would in fact end up "wasting their time" or at least be unable to come to a scripturally justifiable decision? Maybe so. We have no idea if another witness will turn up, or if the person accused will confess. If one of these things didn't happen, what viable choice would the judges have? And whatever you claim that choice was, can you back up your claim with scriptures?

    When you start the next paragraph by saying, "Further evidence that this rule was not the 'end all and be all' of the Israelite forensic process can be seen when one considers another passage", the construction of this statement implies that what preceded it was 'initial' evidence, and now you are going to provide more evidence. But, you have failed to provide any initial evidence. All you have done is to bring up a rhetorical question that has not been answered. That is not evidence. It is an editorial opinion. You are certainly free to hold that opinion - or any other - but it's not evidence.

    You noted, "God’s word doesn’t contradict itself. There have to be two or more witnesses to convict a man and yet here we have only one witness and yet a conviction is possible? Perhaps we’re overlooking a rather critical fact: The Bible wasn’t written in English. If we look up the word translated “witness” in our “proof text” of Deuteronomy 19:15 we find the Hebrew word, ed. Besides “witness” as in eye-witness, this word can also mean evidence."

    On the surface, this assertion is true. However, there are serious flaws with this reasoning. First, if you look up the Strong's listing for "ed", the overwhelming number of references show "witness" and not "evidence". (For instance, the count for a particular form of 'ed' is something like once for 'evidence' and 50 for 'witness'.) Second, where "evidence" is a reasonable translation, it appears to be only used in the context of "things", such as a pile of stones being a form of evidence. Third, the rendering of verses like Deut. 17:6 which you show as "On the testimony of two witnesses" in Hebrew is literally "At the mouth of two witnesses". Forensic evidence may silently give 'testimony' but that evidence does not literally have a mouth - only people do.

    Now, if a child was sexually assaulted, it is possible that a doctor could collect forensic evidence. (Although doing so would be additional trauma and embarrassment for the victim, and given the circumstances the probability of such a procedure actually getting carried out is small, it is at least possible to do it). That approach may or may not succeed, depending on whether there was DNA evidence or just physical trauma and bruising. To date, I have not read anything suggesting WT would accept DNA evidence as an acceptable "second witness". If anyone has information regarding this, I would be interested in hearing about it.

    Be that as it may, you stated, "From this we can see that in the absence of two or more eye-witnesses, the Israelites could rely on forensic evidence to reach a just decision so as not to let the evildoer to [go] free. In the case of the rape of a virgin in Israel as described in the foregoing passage, there would be physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony, so a single eye-witness could prevail since the second “witness” [ed] would be the evidence."

    You don't KNOW "there would be physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony". You don't. If only you did. What is the likelihood that an Israelite would be trained (in any sense of the word) to perform such an intrusive, embarrassing investigation of an abuse victim, to find that evidence? It couldn't be done by a man, because seeing another person naked was against the Law. But, would the word of a woman investigating it be accepted, when that word would result in the death of a man?

    There is a real problem here, and you can't really use reason and logic to get out of it.

    Having said that, items 19-21 from the WT legal department's response elaborating on Geoffrey Jackson's statement about Deuteronomy 22 are, to me, reprehensible.

    They want to turn this around, and claim this passage is only about the guilt or innocence of the victim, not the perpetrator - which in itself reveals the WT's bias against victims of abuse. As they put it, having only one witness (the victim) was no reason to doubt the claim of innocence of that victim. So, they frame this as merely a question of whether or not the victim is going to be punished - not if the perpetrator is going to be punished.

    In item 20, they note how Deut. 22 equates the severity of rape with murder, but then claims it is "evidently ... established by the same Scriptural rules of evidence, which included having the testimony of two witnesses". However, they offer no prove that this is "evidently" the case - they merely assert it and move on. That is not proof - it is dogma. (Further, if we assume the narrative of Deut. 22 is accurate, then there was in fact only one witness. So, where is the second witness they are implying must exist? They are silent on this assertion, which is not surprising, because such an assertion is ridiculous and impossible to believe on its face.)

    In item 21, WT claims the Christian congregation does not "ignore" the accusation, because they supposedly take "further protective steps", including reporting of this when there are mandatory reporting rules. That is utterly pathetic. How much comfort to a victim will such toothless "protective steps" be that fail to bring a perpetrator to justice and halt their evil behavior? (Hint: none.) And are these 'champions of righteousness' only offering to report wrongdoing when it is "mandatory"? Are these people really going to brag about what great Christians they are, when the only reason they made this weak, pitiful gesture is because a government forced them into it? I only have words like "despicable" and "disgusting" that I can use to describe this; more accurate words would be too vulgar to include.

    So, I don't want anyone to think I approve of WT policies about this. I don't. However, Meleti and Tadua, based on what you wrote, you have not really made your case.

    I would strongly urge you to try again, and do further research. Your effort was noble, well-intended and commendable, but as it stands it is not enough.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2017-09-01 21:52:42

      The basis of your argument, Robert-6512, seems to be that if we are going to show that under the Israelite system there were exceptions to the two-eyewitness rule, we have to show exactly what these were. I disagree. We are not under obligation to explain the alternative methods; only that they existed. Our goal is to show that the two-eyewitness rule was not all inclusive. That the Bible speaks of trying cases where there was only one witness is sufficient to show that the two-eyewitness rule was not all inclusive.

      The organization has to show that 1) it was all inclusive, and that 2) it applies beyond the Mosaic law. That evidence in this article, I believe, shows that 1) it as not all inclusive under the Israelite system, and 2) it does not apply as a rule under the Christian system of things.

      • Reply by Robert-6512 on 2017-09-01 22:51:16

        I am afraid I cannot agree with you.

        First, I did not claim that you had to show exactly what the exceptions were. It would be extremely helpful if you DID show that, but that is not what I claimed. I said you failed to make your case, and you have.

        You may believe that you "are not under obligation to explain the alternative methods", but you are most certainly under obligation to explain SOMETHING. That is, if you cannot scripturally cite an explanation, you must at least draw the outlines of a hypothesized explanation, and attempt to show some scriptural backing for that hypothesis. Lacking that, merely asserting that such methods "exist" without offering the slightest idea what those methods could possibly be is wishful thinking at best, and dogmatism at worst. Let us take this matter and view it "in reverse", so to speak: I assert that there is no such alternative method. I defy you to prove me wrong. And, in my view, what you have offered so far does not constitute proof, but is only conjecture.

        WT's assertion that the rule was all-inclusive is severely damaged by Deut. 22, without question. What remains undetermined is how the apparent paradox of Deut. 22 is to be resolved. You have completely failed to show such a resolution, and so has WT. However, you both draw dogmatic (and opposing) conclusions from your respective failures.

        WT concludes from this that somehow, inexplicably, the event in which only one witness was present was as serious as murder (a crime which requires two witnesses), and therefore the one-witness event really had two witnesses (only, the second witness is imaginary, hypothetical, or "handled off-line" in modern-day language). WT reasoning here is absurd and nonsensical. Either there were two witnesses, or there was one, and yet there is only one event. They cannot BOTH be true. (This reasoning is as crazy as the Trinity.) Yet, if the account is to be believed and taken at face value, there was only one witness. So where does other one come from? And, if there really WAS another one, Deut. 22 must have lied about there being only one. To believe WT about this is to believe the impossible.

        In contrast, you conclude that the one-witness event really had only one witness, but could be prosecuted in spite of clear scriptural statements that two witnesses were needed - and you cite NO other scriptures to support that position. Basically, you are asserting that even though there is only one witness, and the scriptures require two, the scriptures don't really mean what they say and don't require two witnesses after all. To believe your side, we don't have to believe the impossible; we simply have to believe the Bible is lying.

        Both you and WT have a preconceived (though, opposing) mind-set and prejudice on this matter, and you both conveniently ignore the parts of the Bible that irreconcilably clash with your biases and prejudices.

        Finally, in spite of your claim that the two witness rules "does not apply as a rule under the Christian system of things", your confidence in this claim is utterly unconvincing, since the NT verse you cite only shows support for the rule.

        If the Christian arrangement and the law of law overrides the two witness rule, then why cite that rule at all? The Bible tells us that Christ is the end of the law. Because of that, the NT does not re-issue tenants of the Mosaic Law. Yet, here in the NT is that rule being cited again. Why? Why state a rule that has no force and effect, if the law of love is the rule? You can't have it both ways. I am sorry, but your arguments on this point lack credibility.

        Both you and WT are both in error. Defiantly clinging to your faulty reasoning, by either of you, is pointless. Neither of you have made your case. As the scriptures put it, you have deceived yourselves with false reasoning.

  • Comment by LaRhonda T. on 2017-09-02 07:48:35

    Yep! The light just "keeps getting brighter!" Watchtower world is crumbling...

  • Comment by Gogetter on 2017-09-02 08:03:26

    Greetings Everyone,
    This is a very interesting discussion albeit somewhat confusing at times.
    I just wanted to add that Jehovah gave us all the gift of reason and common sense although many choose not to use either!
    Those who do use those gifts on this subject should default to an often used slogan WWJD (what would Jesus do?) as the head of the Christian congregation in the case of child abuse.... the answer is very simple.
    We would not be debating words or even scripture for that matter,we would use those two abilities reason and common sense to 1-protect the victim and the congregation 2- turn the matter over to the professionals of "the superior authorities " to investigate. Elders are not qualified to deal with such a terrible situation and two witness's , one witness, or none doesn't make them qualified.
    The ONLY reason this is not done in the JW org. Is to protect the image of the organization! And as we can see that is in full backfire mode and will likely get worse for the orgs. Image, as knowledge of these cases become more prevalent.

    The other point I would like to make is how wonderful and refreshing it is that Robert-6512 and Meleti can have and open and honest discussion on this matter and still be respectful and remain brothers while not agreeing with each other, also the honesty and Humility Meleti as the moderator of this site shows by even allowing such debates and discussions to be posted for all read, it's not his way or the highway!
    Thank you!
    Now if we could just get the GB to do the same open discussion and let's say we start with.....uhmm "Overlapping Generations"
    never going to happen.?

  • Comment by Robert-6512 on 2017-09-02 08:35:08

    I don't really wish to to cause a controversy over this, although the subject is, by its very nature, controversial. The answer to this debate can be found in Deut. 22:27, which says the girl screamed but there was no one to rescue (or, save) her.

    How could it be known that the girl "screamed"? It is because there WAS a second witness. Someone did hear her.

    The account said the assault happened in a "field". It does not say the field and all the area around it were totally devoid of people. That is a mere assumption not borne out by the narrative. Both you and WT have made this assumption, and that is where you went wrong.

    So, how can we understand this event? Note that the verse says there was no one to SAVE her - it does NOT say there was no one to HEAR her. There was indeed a second witness who heard the girl scream. But for one reason or another, that witness was not in a position to save the girl. Perhaps the second witness was young, weak, ill or elderly, and while having good hearing, they may have been physically incapable of putting up a defense against the attacker on the girl's behalf.

    There were two witnesses, there is no contradiction, and the two witness rule is upheld.

    Believe me, I do not like this conclusion any more than you do, but this is a straight-forward reading of the scriptures, with a simple, logical and understandable result that does not strain credibility or rely on assertions or hypothetical forensic methods not discussed in the Bible, nor does it rely on impossible reasoning or imply that the Bible is lying somehow.

    You noted in your article that it would create an untenable position if a murder having no witnesses could not be resolved. You put up a straw man argument about someone holding a bloody knife and going unpunisished. But that is a ridiculous argument. Somebody who did that would effectively being holding a "confession" in their hand, and besides, no one would do such a thing.

    The Law already had a provision to handle a city's bloodguilt over an unsolved murder. The example you show here is silly, and does nothing to resolve the question at hand about the two witness rule.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2017-09-02 10:05:59

      Hi Robert-6512. It seems you have a problem with what you perceive as my methodology. I agree that we want to avoid basing conclusions on assumptions. But that door swings both ways. We cannot dismiss a conclusion based only on an assumption.

      For example, you wrote: "How could it be known that the girl “screamed”? It is because there WAS a second witness. Someone did hear her." You’ve drawn a hard conclusion based on an assumption that she was heard, but that the hearer was unable to rescue. You overlook a second possibility that the girl herself bore witness that she screamed. Is her witness not to be believed?

      How would the elders of the city even know there had been a rape were she not to bear witness and accuse her attacker? In the rape of a virgin, there is blood. The blood on her body and clothes would bear witness when she returned home to what had happened. The preceding verses show the importance of this blood evidence.

      "If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, 14And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: 15Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: 16And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; 17And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; 19And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.” (De 22:13-19)

      In a previous comment you made another assumption to try to demonstrate that the Israelites could not use a valuable piece of forensic evidence as a second witness.

      “You don’t KNOW “there would be physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony”. You don’t. If only you did. What is the likelihood that an Israelite would be trained (in any sense of the word) to perform such an intrusive, embarrassing investigation of an abuse victim, to find that evidence? It couldn’t be done by a man, because seeing another person naked was against the Law. But, would the word of a woman investigating it be accepted, when that word would result in the death of a man?”

      You assume that an Israelite woman would not have the ability to investigate whether there had been a rape. You also assume that the testimony of women would not be acceptable to an Israelite court.

      The point of all this is what we might call reasonable doubt. It’s a term we’re all familiar with. Usually applied to acquitting a person accused of a crime, here we use it to demonstrate that the all-encompassing application gives to the two-eyewitness rule could, at least, be wrong. We only have to show that there were occasions when it didn’t apply to create reasonable doubt.

      If you don't wish to accept that conclusion, that's your prerogative. If so, then let's look at it another way. Let us say that the two-eyewitness rule was inviolable and to be used in all circumstances in Israelite times. (I say this for the sake of argument.) It still proves nothing as regards its application in the Christian congregation. We are not Israelites under the law of Moses. There is nothing specific that requires Christians to apply this in judicial proceedings.

      Okay, then. What about Well, it’s their religion. They can make up or interpret any rules they want and live by them. If an elder rapes a five-year-old and there is only the testimony of the child against him, they can let him go on being an elder. The interpretation of the Governing Body is paramount. However, it is still a crime and they should report it. If they don't, then there will likely be repercussions from "God's Minister".
      (Romans 13:1-7) However, if the crime becomes known to the police, and they use forensic and investigative techniques to unearth the truth, and the system tries, convicts and sentences the man—even though there is no more than the one witness and no confession—then the Organization better live up to its creed and continue to treat the man as an elder and esteemed member of the congregation, because by their own rules THERE WAS ONLY ONE WITNESS.

  • Comment by Robert-6512 on 2017-09-02 11:18:20

    I have no problem with your methodology. I have a problem with you making assertions that have no support in the scriptures, and with you using illogical reasoning that fails to make your case.

    You said, "We cannot dismiss a conclusion based only on an assumption." But that is faulty reasoning. If you have failed to make the case that ends with the conclusion you have drawn, the burden rests with you to refute any claims against it, whether those claims are based on assumptions or not. By drawing a conclusion that neither scriptures nor logic support, and by not defending it, you have failed to carry your burden of proof.

    You said, "You’ve drawn a hard conclusion based on an assumption that she was heard, but that the hearer was unable to rescue. You overlook a second possibility that the girl herself bore witness that she screamed. Is her witness not to be believed?" I have done no such thing.

    Deut. 22:27 clearly says, "the engaged girl screamed". How could anyone ELSE have possibly known that? I submit that the only way that could be possible is if a third party to the incident heard her. If you can cite ANY possible means whatsoever that knowledge of the girl screaming could have become known, other than someone else overhearing it, now would be the time to explain yourself. Other than perhaps some superhuman intervention, there is simply no other explanation.

    I have asserted that the onlooker, in all likelihood, was unable to save the girl because of being too young, weak, ill or old to intervene. That is one possibility. A second possibility is that, being in a "field", the area may have indeed had people present to act as a second witness, but they may have been too far away to get there in time. A "field" might not just be any empty parcel of land, but could be (and in scriptures, often is) cultivated land, which we would commonly call a farm. Farm workers might be out in the field, but they could be located so sparsely that it could take some time between the point they hear the girl scream and when they could reach her, which then may have been too late. Of course, these are just examples to illustrate how the event could have taken place. The point is, these possible scenarios are not far-fetched and do not require convoluted or hard-to-follow reasoning to support. Rather, they describe rather ordinary situations that very likely could have occurred; likely enough to confirm the two-witness rule as a valid interpretation that in fact has no exceptions in Deut. 22 nor elsewhere in the OT.

    I have in no way overlooked that "the girl herself bore witness that she screamed". The girl herself is witness one, and the onlooker is witness two. That makes two witnesses. Of COURSE the girl's witness is to be believed. I am counting on it.

    There is also difficulty in the matter of blood evidence. A virgin girl having sex for the first time does not always bleed. That often does happen, but not every time. Further, this incident was not a "controlled event" where a "mantle" was laid down ahead of time, in order to collect evidence. Additionally, we don't know how much time transpired between the assault and it being reported. The ability to provide acceptable evidence under such circumstances is tenuous at best.

    I stand by my statement in which I say you don't know for certain that there would be physical evidence. You don't. There might be some evidence, and there might not be, for reasons I just noted above. There is no way we (or those persons in times past) could know for sure.

    I further stand by my statement that women (or men, for that matter) were not trained or qualified to collect forensic evidence after the fact. At the point someone would be on hand to attempt to collect that evidence, they would not conveniently have a "mantle" to examine, but only the girl herself. The scriptures are quite clear that it was unlawful to look at someone who was naked without good reason, but there isn't really any other way to collect the evidence you suppose is so readily available, without an intrusive genital exam - a thing the Law would prohibit on its face.

    As for women not being believed, we have only the example of the women who saw the resurrected Jesus. No one believed them until men came along and confirmed it. Even though the men's stories would have been identical to the women's, the women were ignored and discounted for the sole reason they were women. Women were second-class citizens (or worse) in Bible times. There is no reason to think women would be believed in the matter of the girl being assaulted. That is regrettable, but that is how it was.

    Your discussion of reasonable doubt is without merit. The Law does not really establish this as a legal precedent, especially in this particular case. You would have a better time claiming that the Christian arrangement provides for reasonable doubt, owing to the law of love. That I could be convinced of; under the Law, I would not be convinced. My unwillingness to be convinced has nothing to with me merely asserting my "prerogative" as though that were some arbitrary opinion I plucked out of the air on a whim, but it is because you have not made your case. So far, you have given me no reason to believe you. What does "prerogative" have to do with it? I'd say, nothing.

    I would claim that, under the Law, there was indeed a two-witness rule, one that did not have exceptions, and that Deut. 22 does not define any exceptions to it. Those are the facts. I personally dislike that those are the facts, but I see no way out of that conclusion.

    To make the case you want to make, your best course of action would be to simply state that the Law was done away with, and only cite NT scriptures for your position. As you noted, "We are not Israelites under the law of Moses. There is nothing specific that requires Christians to apply this in judicial proceedings." This statement of yours is correct, and I agree with it.

    What about If they claim to live by the Bible, then they must also live by the part that says the Law was done away with. Therefore they cannot use any OT passages to control how matters are resolved today in the Christian congregation. Further, the nation of Israel was not subject to the superior authorities, but Christians are. Of COURSE they should report child abuse. They ought to even if there was no law, but twice as much when there IS one.

    However, really, all of this is a moot point. WT is a false religion. WT and its followers are not the Christian congregation; they are pseudo-Christian pretenders and frauds. Asking or expecting them to "follow rules" and act with honor is like asking an organized crime syndicate to say "mother may I" before launching on a crime spree.

    It is pointless to try to argue about matters of reason and logic with a false religion. Our only defense is, not to attempt to "out-reason" them, but to leave them. If people left WT, their children wouldn't have been exposed and then abandoned as crime victims in the first place, with no one to stand up for their legal rights. In my eyes, anyone who remains part of WT is negligent, and is legally and morally liable for every crime committed against these children, because they are standing idly by while these assaults are carried out, unwilling to speak up, as though they had no conscience or morals. This tragedy is happening on your watch, and you are doing NOTHING.

    When children's lives are being destroyed daily, it is far, far past time to debate the niceties of doctrinal theory.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2017-09-02 15:00:13

      You wrote:

      “Deut. 22:27 clearly says, “the engaged girl screamed”. How could anyone ELSE have possibly known that? I submit that the only way that could be possible is if a third party to the incident heard her. If you can cite ANY possible means whatsoever that knowledge of the girl screaming could have become known, other than someone else overhearing it, now would be the time to explain yourself. Other than perhaps some superhuman intervention, there is simply no other explanation.”

      Your question is based on a faulty premise. You submit that there had to have been a second witness for “the engaged girl screamed” to have been believed. You agree that she can bear witness that she screamed, but unless there is a corroborating witness, she will not be believed. That means that a rape has occurred, but she did not scream—not second witness, right—so she must be put to death.

      Consider: What happens if the rape occurs in a city? There, the requirement is that at least one outside witness comes forward to corroborate the girl’s testimony. If only the betrothed girl claims she screamed, but there are no other witnesses, the girl must be put to death as a wilful sinner. The elders would not believe her testimony because there are no other witnesses and in a city, someone would have heard her scream. That is the basis for the judgement if the rape occurred in a populated place. However, in the country, it is quite possible that no one was close enough to hear her scream, so if a rape occurred and in the absence of a second witness, the girl’s testimony had to be believed. That is the whole reason this rule is stipulated in writing in the law code.

      If the two-eyewitness rule is inviolable and a requirement in all situations, then there is no reason for this passage to exist.

      As for your final statement: “This tragedy is happening on your watch, and you are doing NOTHING.”

      “MY WATCH”! I would caution you about passing judgment. Besides being provocative, violating cite commenting guidelines, and most important, violating a clear directive of our Lord (Mt 5:22), it is presumptuous to pass judgment when you do not even know someone else’s situation. I sense there is a lot of anger there, from your tone and things you’ve shared with us in other comments. That anger is understandable. It is a normal part of the awakening process. But please do not direct it at those who are themselves going through a similar difficult time. Our love for one another will give us the strength to come out the other side stronger and refined, with an approved status. (2 Co 4:17)

      Whether you want to accept my reasoning above or reject it, is your prerogative. You have the right to your opinion, and I respect that, as long as you respect my right to reject your opinion if I choose to. I think from this point forward, further discussion of this topic will only prove to be unprofitable.

      • Reply by Joseph Anton on 2017-09-04 08:44:02

        Genesis 34:30-31New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

        30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

        Just pointing out that there's no mention of multiple witnesses to the violation of Dinah. And that the averse, and frankly homicidal, reaction by her brothers to the news that their sister was raped is still pretty much the same gut reaction to rape in contemporary society. What's also telling is that right after this event the 'terror of God' strikes the other cities in the region, and the men there leave the sons of Jacob alone.

    • Reply by Dajo on 2017-09-03 06:57:36

      Hello Robert, thank you for your "artcle" .. thank you I always enjoy reading your opinions.
      You are a very intellectual man.
      I am not being sarcastic. I do not know Meleti, I know his artcles. I know he set up this website. It is obvious when reading his writings that he is balanced, experienced, wise and full of the fruits of his fathers spirit. He could just throw his hands in the air and say "stuff it all! Why bother.."
      He doesn't do that. Why? I guess he is very gifted, very discreet and discerning.
      For a man his age he obviously has "help beyond .what is normal".
      Have I got that right Robert?
      What is the difference between you and him? (I won't go into that as it will simply be my opinion- worth nothing)
      Robert, you said:
      "This tragedy is happening on your watch, and you are doing NOTHING."
      That is your opinion and nothing more.
      When an article is written by someone who sets up a website to write articles.. that person gives us the opportunity to COMMENT Robert,
      Dear Robert, please, just comment. Short N sweet. No need to write another article in the "comments" section.
      A final comment from me. If you wish to comment as you do- go the whole hog and set up your own website and write articles my brother!

  • Comment by Robert-6512 on 2017-09-03 11:18:45

    The WT child abuse scandal, like many subjects discussed on this forum, is controversial. Being controversial is not necessarily bad, in and of itself, because if there were no controversies, there wouldn't be anything to talk about and no reason to even have this forum. It is desirable not to 'create' controversies where none actually exist, especially when doing so might hurt other people's feelings. I know that sometimes I use more words than I should, and if any of those words have had that effect, I regret that.

    The root cause of any controversy is a set of assumptions, where one or more of those assumptions is incorrect. When persons involved in a debate about those assumptions believe they are all correct when in fact they actually are not, it sets up a paradox. We can never resolve the controversy until all of the assumptions are identified and we have a clear understanding of what the paradox is. Then, we can go about questioning each assumption, and perhaps adding new assumptions or removing old ones, until a clear picture emerges of what we are talking about. When the assumptions are complete and correct, they will no longer conflict with each other, and there would be no paradox. Once that occurs, the answer will stare us in the face, and the truth of the matter will be self evident.

    Whenever a paradox exists, it is because one or more of the assumptions are false - either because they constitute lies or unintended mistakes, or because a necessary assumption that would resolve the paradox is missing. That assumption may be missing due to human error, intentional concealment of the facts, or an honest lack of information owing to the limitations of human knowledge (we simply don't know everything).

    The process of resolving a paradox can and should be carried out much like a mathematical proof. We must stick to the facts. Our own personal opinions are not very important, and our emotions should have little to do with it. Who we are as individuals or our opinions of any other participant to the debate aren't relevant either. Either we have and understand the facts and assumptions, or we don't. Once we have them all and understand them, we are closer to resolving the controversy.

    Controversies can trouble us. Our sense of justice and reason demand that we find an answer. It is as if someone played a song on a piano and didn't play the last note, but just walked away. That incompleteness can be maddening, and we feel compelled to leap out of our chair, run to the piano, and play that last note. It is disturbing when controversies never seem to end. In an effort to bring about such an end, it is very tempting to attempt to end it by saying "I am right and you are wrong". The other side will say the same thing, and nothing gets done. That is not a good approach. It is best to enumerate the assumptions in effect, in the fewest words possible, and then deal with them.

    In the matter of the WT child abuse scandal, I would like to present what I see are the fundamental assumptions in play. You are free to modify or add to this list. Then, that could serve as a foundation to debate this controversy in a disciplined manner, which could help lead to a satisfying resolution. Note that what follows are ASSUMPTIONS. I am NOT saying that these assumptions are all TRUE. The task before you, of resolving the controversy, is to determine which of these assumptions are in fact true and which are not.


    1. The Bible is God's word; the statements, laws and principles it contains are true.
    2. Following the laws and principles in the Bible always leads to beneficial results.
    3. The Bible as we know it is essentially complete and correct from a textual standpoint.
    4. Everything that should be or needs to be in the Bible is already contained in it.
    5. Child abuse is reprehensible and unacceptable; anything that can be done to prevent it should be done; perpetrators should held accountable.
    6. Child abuse amongst members of Jehovah's Witnesses is presently occurring, and perpetrators rarely are held accountable.
    7. WT says it is bound to obey Bible laws and principles that are presently in effect.
    8. The two witness rule is a Bible law or principle that is presently in effect.
    9. The nature of child abuse is such that there is almost never a second witness to the event other than the victim's own testimony, which is not always accepted.
    10. If available, forensic evidence could constitute a "second witness".
    11. Forensic evidence is not always available, or might not be accepted as a "second witness".
    12. Deuteronomy 22 appears to establish an exception to the two witness rule.
    13. The wording and context of Deuteronomy 22 do not provide a clear-cut exception to the two witness rule, and is itself debatable.
    14. Implementation of the two witness rule as interpreted by WT has caused harm and has prevented perpetrators from being held accountable.
    15. If the two witness rule is not currently in effect, reasons for claiming this are hard to convincingly establish scripturally.
    16. Efforts to question the two witness rule can lead to counter-intuitive results that imply the Bible is incomplete or incorrect, which adherents of the Bible would reject out of hand.
    17. The Bible establishes that the Christian arrangement is the end of the Mosaic Law, so laws and principles appearing only in the OT are no longer in force.
    18. The Christian arrangements holds the law of love as its primary basis, rather than adherence to rules.
    19. The nation of Israel was not subject to the superior authorities, but Christians are now subject to them.
    20. When we fail to protect life and property from harm due to risks we knew of in advance, when we are in a position to prevent such harm, it is called negligence.
    21. The Bible considers negligence to be a sin for which we are to be held accountable.
    22. Child abuse within WT is a known risk.
    23. Child abuse is both a crime and a sin.
    24. For the safety of JW members as a whole, crimes committed by individual JWs must be reported, since WT is subject to the superior authorities, and failing to do so would be negligence.
    25. The WT organization's policies and practices have the effect of enabling and protecting pedophiles, preventing perpetrators from being held accountable for their wrongdoing.
    26. When rank and file JWs remain silent and fail to act to prevent child abuse and fail to speak out against WT practices and policies, it is negligence.

    The task before you all is to refine and validate these assumptions, and identify where any of them are incomplete or incorrect. Once you do that, the underlying paradox will be gone, and the answer will reveal itself.

    • Reply by Tadua on 2017-09-05 15:53:30

      Hi Robert-6512
      Thank you for your comments. I would like to share just a few further points from my research which have some bearing on a number of your points.
      1. The requirement in the Mosaic Law for 2 or 3 witnesses is only stated in relation to serious sins, sins which would result in the death penalty for the accused. Apostasy, murder (Numbers 35:30,31), and adultery\fornication\rape. As such it was a law for the nation of Israel. It was not restated as a law to continue to be followed
      2. Today as Christians we are to be subject to the laws of the land in which we live, unless they conflict with a clearly stated Biblical law or principle for Christians. We are not under the Mosaic law today. No judicial committee of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses has the power to pass and carry out the death sentence.
      3. There are instances of how to deal with cases with one witness. A case in point is Numbers 5:11-28:

      Scripture: “In case any man’s wife turns aside in that she does commit an act of unfaithfulness against him, … and it has been hidden from the eyes of her husband and has remained undiscovered, and she, on her part, has defiled herself but there is no witness against her, and she herself has not been caught;”

      Key Point: Here there are no witnesses, just suspicions on the part of the husband, yet there is a mechanism provided for resolving it. It involved both parties going to see the priest and putting it before Jehovah. A miracle from Jehovah was required for the punishment to be applied if the woman was guilty. It was not trial by ordeal as practiced in the Middle Ages.

      4. Jesus appealed to an invisible and impossible to question witness, his father Jehovah in John 8:17,18.

      5. Child abuse is a criminal act and as such should be reported to the authorities like any other criminal act. The Christian Greek scriptures do not give instructions for a 3 man judicial committee and the requirement for 2 or 3 witnesses. Matthew 18:15-17 is used as the basis, but the witnesses are not for the sin, but the efforts to redress the situation, and if this fails the whole congregation was to be involved.
      6. To draw this to a close (enough has probably been said) the final point I would like to share is that there are at least 2 scenarios where a judicial committee could judge someone as unrepentantly guilty of sin and disfellowship them without 2 witnesses to the same sin. They are :
      a. If a spouse suspects their partner is committing adultery, and then follows the partner to another house with another witness, if they wait outside overnight then adultery will be assumed to have taken place by a judicial committee even though the act was not witnessed, unless clear believable evidence is provided to the contrary.
      2. If an unmarried female becomes pregnant and makes no verifiable claim of rape, then she could be deemed guilty of fornication, due to the physical evidence of the baby.
      In neither of these instances are there 2 or more witnesses to the act of sin. So the organizations application of the 2 witness rule is inconsistent at best.

      In conclusion:
      What did Jesus say to the Pharisees about their tradition? Matthew 15:6 records Jesus as saying “And so you have made the word of God invalid because of your traditions.”

      In Matthew 23:23-26 Jesus condemned the Pharisees as hypocrites because while they faithfully gave a 10th of even the smallest herbs as a tithe to Jehovah in workshop they disregarded the weightier more important matters of the Mosaic Law, namely justice and mercy and faithfulness.
      By insisting on such a narrow interpretation of the requirement for 2 or more witnesses, especially in the case of child abuse where there is almost never another witness, the organization allows serial offenders to continue abusing their flock and the general public, thereby denying justice to the abused, but even worse giving mercy to the unrepentant wrongdoer on a technicality and a scripturally invalid one at that.
      The overriding principle at the end of the day is as already mentioned by another member, how would Jesus have handled such situations? Not in the way the organization currently does, that is certain.

      • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2017-09-06 08:08:14

        Very nice reasoning, Tadua. I concur.

        I was reading Titus today and came across these opening words of Chapter 3 which are germane to our discussion.

        "Continue reminding them to be in subjection and to be obedient to governments and authorities, to be ready for every good work,..." (Titus 3:1)

        Witness leadership seems to have a problem with "subjection and governments and authorities". The direction given them at the Australia Royal Commission has not been followed. That was evident from that March 2017 hearing.

        As for "being ready for every good work", the wording indicates a readiness or predisposed willingness to carry out "every good work". The record of our handling of child abuse cases around the world, and the resistance we've put up to rectifying the situation and making amends does not display any 'readiness for every good work.'

  • Comment by Warp Speed on 2017-09-03 14:45:42

    A warm hello to all. Meleti- thank you for hard work in behalf of all the brothers
    and sisters who greatly benefit from this site. Also to all the contributors like
    Tadua and many others. This site has been an invaluable resource to me
    recently. Keep up the fine spirit of Christian love that is always displayed here.
    With this being my first comment, I will leave it at that and try to add some positive feedback in the near future. Thanks again to all

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2017-09-03 15:31:47

      Welcome, Warp Speed, and "Engage"!

  • Comment by Warp Speed on 2017-09-04 12:18:45

    I wish I could say that Geoffrey Jackson's testimony at thr ARC was a real eye- opener for me. Sadly, it was really just another confirmation of all the nonsense that is occurring in the Org.

  • Comment by Applying the Two-Witness Rule Equitably | Beroean Pickets - Reviewer on 2017-12-21 08:08:49

    […] [i]  The reasoning behind this JW doctrinal misinterpretation has been debunked.  See The Two-Witness Rule under the Microscope […]

  • Comment by gavindlt on 2023-04-06 02:11:19

    What an incredible article!!! Thank you

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2023-04-16 10:23:51

      Thank you.

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