“We are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
[From ws 6/19 p.8 Study Article 24: Aug 12-Aug 18, 2019]
This article has many fine points in the first 13 paragraphs. However, there are a number of issues with the later paragraphs.
Paragraph 14 is about choosing good associations. The paragraph suggests that “we can find the best type of association at our Christian meetings”. That is true if those at the Christian meetings have transformed themselves. While there are many honest hearted ones at meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, sadly there are also many who seem to make little effort to transform themselves. These ones seem to have been taken in by the hype of the Organization and believe that preaching is all that is required of them.
Paragraph 15 suggests that Satan tries to influence our thinking and thereby counteracting the influence of God’s word in the following areas:
Let us examine the questions posed in paragraph 16, one by one. We will give the Organization’s answer first, followed by a scripturally based answer.
“Does God really not approve of same-sex marriage?”
ORG: Yes, he does not approve.
Comment: Genesis 2:18-25 records God instituting the first marriage. It was between male and female. (See also Jesus words in Matthew 19:4-6).
What is God’s view of same sex marriage? To answer this, we need to understand his view of sexual relations with someone of the same sex. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 makes his position clear. If he detests the act of sexual relations between the same sex, then he would also not approve of marriage between two people of the same sex.
Conclusion: The Organization has this answer correct.
“Does God really not want you to celebrate Christmas and birthdays?”
ORG: Yes, he does not want you to celebrate Christmas and birthdays.
Comment: For a review of the history of Christmas in the Organization please see the CLAM God’s Kingdom Rules portion review here.
Simply put, the only event of Jesus’ life he asked us to commemorate was his death. (Luke 22:19). So, if Jesus or God wanted us to celebrate Christmas there would surely be instructions in the Bible.
The present Christmas celebration is full of pagan religious symbols and rites, such as Saturnalia, Druidic, and Mithraic customs and more, though today almost all are oblivious to the celebration’s real origins. Most view it as a time for family get-togethers.
Wedding rings also have a pagan origin, but nonetheless are considered acceptable. Therefore, some parts of what is now considered part of Christmas is surely an individual conscience matter, not a law from God. However, a true Christian would want to consider carefully how their actions are understood by others so as not to stumble others. (Consider Romans 14:15-23).
Birthdays, as all JWs know are only mentioned twice, in both cases celebrated by kings who were non-worshippers of Jehovah. (Pharaoh at the time of Joseph, and King Herod when he killed John the Baptist.) In Ecclesiastes 7:1 Solomon stated “A name is better than good oil, and the day of death than the day of one’s being born” because a new-born baby has no reputation good or bad, but by the day of one’s death one could have a good reputation for serving God and obeying his commands.
One can raise arguments both for and against these celebrations based on Bible principles. As clearly birthdays have been around for thousands of years one could argue that if God did not want us to celebrate birthdays, he would have given a clear instruction in the Bible. After all he has given clear instructions with things like murder and immorality. However, one interesting point to note is that the Jews of the 1st century considered celebrating Birthdays as a custom which was forbidden according to Josephus[i]. It also seems that birthdays are originally rooted in mythology and magic amongst other things. Nevertheless, that can be said about most customs that are acceptable today. Even the names of the days of the week and months of the year, not to mention the planets in our solar system are named after mythological gods. The Jews also were forbidden to do many things that Christians are free to engage in, so their customs should not be a guide for us.
Paul wrote: “. . .Therefore, do not let anyone judge you about what you eat and drink or about the observance of a festival or of the new moon or of a sabbath. Those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.” (Col 2:16, 17)
Conclusion: A blanket prohibition is Pharisaical. Each one should make their own choice based on individual conscience.
“Does your God really expect you to refuse a blood transfusion?”
ORG: Yes, he expects you to refuse a blood transfusion.
Comment: Again, the Bible does not mention Blood Transfusions. Acts 15:28-29 does however mention to keep abstaining from blood. That refers to the eating of blood, but does the prohibition extend to its medical use?
From the foregoing, it seems clear that receiving a blood transfusion should be a conscience matter.
Conclusion: The Organization is wrong in its policy on blood transfusions.
“Does a loving God really expect you to avoid association with disfellowshipped loved ones?”
ORG: Yes, he expects you to avoid association with disfellowshipped loved ones.
Comment: Romans 1:28-31 is an apt description of this so-called command of God. In part it says, “And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting… 31 without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, merciless.”
To shun one’s own family, just because they were once baptised Witnesses and now no longer believe it is the truth, is definitely having no natural affection. Shunning one’s family is hating the person because of the action, not hating the action, but loving the person. Parents do not succeed in getting a child to obey them with love by such treatment. The child needs to be spoken to and reasoned with. Is it not necessary to treat adults in the same way?
Conclusion: The Organization has its viewpoint badly wrong on this subject. They appear to be using it as a control mechanism to keep the Witnesses from straying, by hiding behind misapplied Scripture.
Paragraph 17 is very accurate when it says, “We need to be convinced of our beliefs. If we leave challenging questions unanswered in our minds, they can become serious doubts. Those doubts could eventually distort our thinking and destroy our faith. What, then, do we need to do? God’s Word tells us to transform our minds, so that we may prove to ourselves “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)”
We would therefore encourage in particular any Witnesses reading this review, rather than taking our word for it, to examine those 4 questions in the Bible and the Bible alone, not researching it in the Organization’s publications as they want you to do.
As you do so, think seriously about the Bible principles and what the scriptures are actually saying rather than what you may have been used to interpreting them as saying. Then, make a decision based on your Bible trained conscience, not that of the Organization, after it is you that will have to live with the consequences of any decisions on these matters, not the Organization or the Governing Body.
The concluding paragraph (18) is valid when it says “No one else can stabilize your faith for you, so continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude. Pray constantly; plead for the help of Jehovah’s spirit. Meditate deeply; continue to examine your thinking and motives. Seek good associates; surround yourself with individuals who will help you to transform your thinking. By doing so, you will counteract the poisonous effects of Satan’s world and successfully overturn “reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.”—2 Corinthians 10:5.”
In conclusion, if we apply what this paragraph actually says, rather than what the Organization want you to think it says, you will be certain of what God really expects of you, and not persuaded by what an Organization tells you that God expects of you as it itself raises lofty things against the knowledge of God.
[i] “Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the births of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess; but it ordains that the very beginning of our education should be immediately directed to sobriety. It also commands us to bring those children up in learning, and to exercise them in the laws, and make them acquainted with the acts of their predecessors, in order to their imitation of them, and that they might be nourished up in the laws from their infancy, and might neither transgress them, nor have any pretense for their ignorance of them.” Josephus, Against Apion, Book 2, Chapter 26 (XXVI).