[Due to my move, this article was overlooked and was not published in time for the WT Study. However, it still has archival value, so with sincere apologies for the oversight, I publish it now. – Meleti Vivlon]
“The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”– 1 Corinthians 3:19
[From ws 5/19 p.21 Study Article 21: July 22-28, 2019]
The article this week covers 2 main topics:
- The world’s view of morality compared to the Bible’s view, particularly with regard to sexual relations between single and married people.
- The world’s stance with regard to how a person should view oneself in comparison to the Bible’s stance on a balanced view of oneself.
(Just to qualify the statement made above, the “world’s view” is as it is presented by the Watchtower article.)
Before discussing the article in more detail, let us consider the theme scripture:
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” – 1 Corinthians 3:19 (New Living Translation)
The word used for world is “kosmou”[ii] which can denote order, arrangement or decoration (as in the stars decorate the heavens), the world as in the universe, the physical planet, the inhabitants of the earth, and the mass of inhabitants alienated from God in the moral sense.
Paul is therefore referring to the moral wisdom in society which is contrary to the standards God sets.
It is important to understand that this does not refer to all aspects of human insight. Some insight relating to practical issues should be adhered to. Often preachers and religious leaders encourage congregants to do harmful acts which go against existing human wisdom. This works to their detriment. One does not want to ignore practical advice relating to safety, healthcare, nutrition or other aspects of daily living based solely on the viewpoints of religious leaders.
Like the ancient Beroeans, we therefore need to carefully examine all counsel we receive to ensure that we are not taken captive by the philosophies of men. (Acts 17:11, Colossians 2:8)
Main points in this article
The World’s View of Sexual Morality
Paragraph 1: Listening to and applying the Bible makes us wise.
Paragraphs 3 and 4: The 20th century saw a change in people’s viewpoint towards morality particularly in the US. People no longer believed that sexual relations were reserved for married people.
Paragraphs 5 and 6: In the 1960s, living together without being married, homosexual conduct and divorce became prominent.
A quotation is made from an unsubstantiated source citing deregulation of sexual norms as being responsible for broken families, single-parent families, emotional wounds, pornography and similar issues.
World’s view of sex serves Satan and abuses God’s gift of marriage.
The Bible’s View of Sexual Morality
Paragraph 7 and 8: The Bible teaches us that we should control our improper impulses. Colossians 3:5 says, “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion, hurtful desire, and greediness, which is idolatry.”
A husband and a wife can enjoy sexual relations without regrets and insecurities within marriage.
Paragraph 9: This claims that Jehovah’s Witnesses as a people were not swayed by the changing views towards sex.
While it is true that the Organization upheld and continues to uphold the Bible’s moral standards, it would be wrong to say that the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses have done the same.
[Comment by Tadua]: Certainly, the congregations with which I am familiar have a significant proportion of congregants who have broken those moral standards at one time or another, sometimes in ways even many non-Witnesses would find appalling, such as a brother going off with his best friend’s wife. As a result, within the congregations there have been many divorces and broken marriages, often due to immorality on the part of at least one of the parties. There have also been Witnesses leaving to become homosexuals, lesbians, and even transvestites. This is before counting the number of judicial cases to deal with fornication and adultery which have not resulted in disfellowshipping.
Changes in Viewpoint toward Love of Self
Paragraphs 10 and 11: The paragraphs quote from an unsubstantiated source citing the proliferation of self-help books from the 1970s which urged readers to know and accept themselves as they are. One such book advocates for a “religion of self”. No reference to the source of the information is provided. This makes it difficult to accept the authenticity of what has been cited. This also goes against normal writing conventions, and contradicts the Organization’s claim that they research everything carefully. In the academic world, it is a given that you quote your source(s), but the Organization generally does not reveal its sources, which makes it possible for it to quote things out of context or misquote completely, as we have seen in other articles in the past.
Paragraph 12: Today people think too highly of themselves. No one can tell them what is wrong or right.
Paragraph 13: Jehovah detests proud people; those who develop and promote an inflated love of self thereby reflect Satan’s own arrogance.
The Bible’s View of Self Importance
The Bible helps us to have a balanced view of ourselves.
Overall, the article presents some good points with regard to how we should view sexual relations and how we should have a balanced view of ourselves.
What is problematic is the historic approach taken and the unsubstantiated sources cited.
There is also the rather rose-coloured view of the morality of their fellow Witnesses in general, which is not borne out in reality.
The scriptural thoughts and Bible verses were sufficient to drive the two main points of the article.
It appears the aim of the article was to show how Jehovah’s Witnesses have remained consistent in their view of the issues raised. However, personal experience would indicate that the standards of Jehovah’s Witnesses have fallen with those of the world around them.