“Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting.” (Romans 1:28 NWT)

It may seem like a bold statement even to suggest that the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been given over to a disapproved mental state by God.  However, before weighing in on one side or the other, let us look at how other versions of the Bible render this verse:

“God…abandoned them to their foolish thinking…” (New International Version)

“God…let their useless minds rule over them.” (Contemporary English Version)

“God allowed their own immoral minds to control them.” (God’s Word Translation)

Now let’s consider the context:

“And they were filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and badness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice, being whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, schemers of what is harmful, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, and merciless. Although these know full well the righteous decree of God—that those practicing such things are deserving of death—they not only keep on doing them but also approve of those practicing them.” (Romans 1:29-32)

A Jehovah’s Witness reading this will surely object that none of the qualities listed above apply in any way whatsoever to those governing the Organization.  Yet, before jumping to any conclusion, let us bear in mind that it is God who “abandons” these ones to this mental state, or as the New World Translation puts it, “gives them up”.  When Jehovah abandons someone, he does so by withdrawing his spirit.  What happened when God withdrew his spirit from King Saul?

“Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.” (1 Samuel 16:14 NASB)

Whether from Satan or whether from one’s sinful inclination, without the positive influence of God’s spirit, the mind goes into a downward spiral.

Has this now become the state of the Organization? Has Jehovah withdrawn his spirit.  I know some will contend that His spirit was never there in the first place; but that’s just fair to say?  God does not pour out his spirit upon any institution, but on individuals.  His spirit is very powerful, such that even if a small number of individuals have it, they can have a great effect on the whole.  Remember, he was willing to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah just for the sake of ten righteous men. Has the number of righteous men inhabiting Witness leadership dwindled to such a degree that we can now suggest they have been given up to a disapproved mental state?  What evidence is there to even make such a suggestion?

Take, as but one example, this letter written in answer to a sincere question concerning whether forensic evidence could be considered as a second witness in cases where there is only one eyewitness to the sin of child rape, i.e., the child victim.

If this image is too small to read on your device, here is the text of the letter.

Dear Brother X:

We are pleased to respond to your letter of November 21, 2002, wherein you discuss the handling of child abuse cases in the Christian congregation and mention the reasoning you have used in answering those who have been critical of certain procedures followed that are based on the Scriptures.

The reasoning outlined in your letter is generally sound. Establishing the facts in some diffi­cult situations is not easy, but Jehovah’s Witnesses are making determined effort to protect Jeho­vah’s people from sexual predators, at the same time holding to his standard and principles as set forth in the Bible. Commendably, you have thought matters through and are prepared to answer the charges of the critics, as this seems necessary and appropriate.

You observe that evidence from a medical examination may be quite convincing because of technology today that was not available in Bible times. You ask if, at times, this could not be so in­criminating that it, in effect, amounts to a second “witness.” It could be very strong evidence, de­pending, of course, on just what substance was produced as evidence and how reliable and conclu­sive the test was. But since the Bible specifically refers to eyewitnesses in establishing a matter, it would be best not to refer to such evidence as a second “witness.” Nevertheless, the point you make that there often would be more to consider in investigating the charge against the accused than just the verbal witness of the alleged victim is certainly a valid one.

It is a pleasure to be associated with you and our brothers around the world in the Kingdom ­preaching work Jehovah is having done earth wide today. We all are eagerly looking forward with you to the momentous events just ahead when God will deliver his people into his new world. 

Let us ignore the boilerplate platitude which ends all such correspondence and concentrate on the meat of the letter.  This 17-year-old letter reveals that the thinking of the Organization regarding how to handle cases of child sexual abuse has not changed. If anything, it has become even more entrenched.

Let’s start with this: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are making determined efforts to protect Jeho­vah’s people from sexual predators, at the same time holding to his standard and principles as set forth in the Bible.”  

This makes it sound like the protection of Jehovah’s people from sexual predators and His “standard and principles as set forth in the Bible” are separate and not always compatible with each other.  The idea conveyed is that by holding fast to the letter of the law, the Organization cannot always adequately protect children from sexual predators.  God’s law is to blame.  These men are merely doing their duty in upholding divine law.

As we read the rest of the letter, we see that this is very much the case.  However, is it God’s law that is at fault, or is it the interpretation of men that has led to this mess?

If, after reading this letter, you feel a level of rage at the stupidity of it all, don’t beat yourself up.  That is quite a natural response when faced with the stupidity of men.  The Bible condemns stupidity, but don’t think that word is being applied to those with a low IQ.  A person with a low IQ can be very wise.  On the other hand, quite often those with a high IQ prove to be very stupid.  When the Bible speaks of stupidity, it means moral stupidity, a distinct lack of the wisdom that benefits oneself and others.

Please, read and absorb this wisdom from Proverbs, then we’ll come back to it, one by one, to analyze the letter and the policies of JW.org.

  • “. . .[how long] will YOU stupid ones keep hating knowledge?” (Pr 1:22)
  • “. . .YOU stupid ones, understand heart.” (Pr 8:5)
  • “. . .but the heart of the stupid ones is one that calls out foolishness.” (Pr 12:23)
  • “. . .Everyone shrewd will act with knowledge, but the one that is stupid will spread abroad foolishness.” (Pr 13:16)
  • “. . .The wise one fears and is turning away from badness, but the stupid is becoming furious and self-confident.” (Pr 14:16)
  • “. . .Why is it that there is in the hand of a stupid one the price to acquire wisdom, when he has no heart?” (Pr 17:16)
  • “. . .Just like a dog returning to its vomit, the stupid one is repeating his foolishness.” (Pr 26:11)

Proverbs 17:16 tells us that the stupid one has the price to acquire wisdom right in his hand, but he will not pay that price because he lacks heart.  He lacks the heart to pay the price.  What would motivate a man to reexamine his understanding of Scripture with a view to protecting children?  Love, obviously.  It is a lack of love that we see in all the Organization’s dealings relating to child sexual abuse—though that lack of love is hardly restricted to this one issue.  Thus, they hate knowledge (Pr 1:22), do not understand or are blind to their own motivation (Pr 8:5) and so just dispense foolishness (Pr 12:23).  Then when someone calls them on the mat for doing so, they became furious and haughty (Pr 14:16).  (In regards to this last point, it is to protect the letter’s recipient from such fury that we have blanked out the name.) And like a dog returning to its vomit, they keep repeating the same old foolishness again and again to their own detriment (Pr 26:11).

Am I being too hard on them to accuse them of hating knowledge and not being willing to pay the price for it, because they lack love?

I’ll let you be the judge.

They admit that there may be very strong evidence to establish sexual abuse.  For example, a rape kit can gather DNA evidence to establish the identity of an attacker.  However, their interpretation of the “two-witness rule” requires that there be two “eyewitnesses” to an incident of child rape, so even with overwhelming forensic evidence, the elders cannot act if the only eyewitness testimony comes from the victim.

Now you see what they meant when they wrote that they “are making determined efforts to protect Jeho­vah’s people from sexual predators, at the same time holding to his standard and principles as set forth in the Bible.”  In other words, they must hold to their interpretation of what the Bible says about the two-witness rule, even though that might result in a lack of protection for Jehovah’s people.

Yet, they have the means to buy wisdom, so why do they lack the motivation to do so? (Pr 17:16) Why would they hate such knowledge?  Remember, it is the stupid one who hates knowledge (Pr 1:22) .

A simple search on the word “witness” using the Organization’s very own software program indicates that a witness can be something other than a human who happens to see an event.

“This mound is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this mound to harm you, and you will not go past this mound and pillar to harm me.” (Genesis 31:51)

“Taking this book of the law, YOU must place it at the side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah YOUR God, and it must serve as a witness there against you.” (De 31:26)

In fact, the use of forensic evidence to bear witness in a case involving immoral sex is established in the Mosaic law code.  Here’s the account from the Bible:

“If a man takes a wife and has relations with her but then comes to hate her and he accuses her of misconduct and gives her a bad name by saying: ‘I have taken this woman, but when I had relations with her, I did not find evidence that she was a virgin,’ the father and mother of the girl should produce the evidence of the girl’s virginity for the elders at the gate of the city. The girl’s father must say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as a wife, but he hates her and is accusing her of misconduct by saying: “I have found out that your daughter does not have evidence of virginity.” Now this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ They will then spread out the cloth before the elders of the city. The city elders will take the man and discipline him.” (De 22:13-18)

With reference to this passage, Insight on the Scriptures reads:

“Proof of Virginity.
After the supper the husband took his bride into the nuptial chamber. (Ps 19:5; Joe 2:16) On the wedding night a cloth or garment was used and then kept or given to the wife’s parents so that the marks of the blood of the girl’s virginity would constitute legal protection for her in the event she was later charged with lack of virginity or of having been a prostitute prior to her marriage. Otherwise, she could be stoned to death for having presented herself in marriage as a spotless virgin and for bringing great reproach on her father’s house. (De 22:13-21) This practice of keeping the cloth has continued among some peoples in the Middle East until recent times.”
(it-2 p. 341 Marriage)

There you have it, Bible proof that forensic evidence can serve as a second witness.  Yet, they refuse to apply it and “just like a dog returning to its vomit, the stupid one is repeating his foolishness” (Pr 26:11).

It is easy to blame the organization for all the tragedy that thousands have suffered due to their aversion to report the crime of child rape to the appropriate governmental authorities charged by God as his minister to handle such things. (See Romans 13:1-6.)  I never had children of my own, so I can only imagine how I would react at learning that some brother in the congregation had molested my little boy or my little girl.  I’d probably want to tear him limb from limb.  I’m sure many a parent with an abused child has felt that way.  That being said, I’d like us all to look at this in a new light.  If your child is raped, who would you turn to for justice?  I can’t imagine you saying: “I know this fellow who is a janitor, and another who washes windows for a living, and a third who is an automobile repairman.  I think they would be just the people to contact, who would know how to handle this situation.  I can count on them to punish the evildoer and help restore my child to mental and emotional health.”

I know that sounds ridiculous, but isn’t that exactly what thousands have done by contacting the elders instead of educated and trained professionals?

True, the leadership of the Organization certainly seems to be acting stupidly in the Biblical sense by “hating knowledge” and “spreading abroad their foolishness” (Pr 1:22; 13:16)  The elders are also stupidly “self-confident” (Pr 14:16) in not recognizing their own inadequacy and inability to properly deal with this complex issue.  They have frequently shown an unwillingness to act out of love and report these crimes to the authorities so as to protect Jehovah’s people.  Nevertheless, it is easy to blame others for our own shortcomings.  God judges all people.  He will ask an accounting from each one.  We cannot change our past, but we can affect our present.  I wish I had realized all this before, but I do recognize it now.  Therefore, I implore all Jehovah’s Witnesses who are aware of the crime of child abuse to not report it to the elders. Don’t even involve them.  You are just setting them up for failure. Instead, obey God’s command at Romans 13:1-6 and make your report to the superior authorities who are equipped to investigate and interrogate and ferret out the evidence. They are the ones who are appointed by God to protect us in such cases.

I have no illusion that the Organization will ever change its policies. So why even bother with them?  Leave them out of it. If you are aware of a crime, obey God and contact the authorities.  The elders and the branch will likely be upset, but what of it? What matters is that you are good with God.

 

Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.