“There is … a time to be silent and a time to speak.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1,7
[From ws 03/20 p.18 May 18 – May 24]
A time to speak
“Why is it so important that we have the courage to speak up when necessary? Consider two contrasting examples: In one case, a man needed to correct his sons, and in the other, a woman had to confront a future king.” (para.4).
It then continues “5High Priest Eli had two sons for whom he had deep affection. Those sons, however, had no respect for Jehovah. They held important positions as priests serving at the tabernacle. But they abused their authority, showed gross disrespect for the offerings given to Jehovah, and brazenly committed sexual immorality. (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22) According to the Mosaic Law, Eli’s sons deserved to die, but permissive Eli merely reproved them mildly and allowed them to continue serving at the tabernacle. (Deut. 21:18-21) How did Jehovah view the way that Eli handled matters? He said to Eli: “Why do you keep honoring your sons more than me?” Jehovah then determined to put those two wicked men to death. 1 Samuel 2:29, 34.
6 We learn an important lesson from Eli. If we find out that a friend or a relative has broken God’s law, we must speak up, reminding him of Jehovah’s standards. Then we must make sure that he gets the help he needs from Jehovah’s representatives. (James 5:14) Never would we want to be like Eli, honoring a friend or a relative more than we honor Jehovah. It takes courage to confront someone who needs to be corrected, but it is worth the effort.”. The Watchtower article then immediately moves on to examine the example of Abigail.
This is all very helpful, but did you spot what is missing?
Consider the situation.
- The nation of Israel was under rule by God with the High Priest being God’s representative. The authorities were the priests, there was no King at that time.
- Fast-forwarding to today, whether we are Jehovah’s Witnesses or not, we all live under governments with governmental authorities that have laws.
Regarding these very governmental authorities the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by [the allowance of] God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God”. That is why Paul went on to say “Therefore he who opposed the authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God; … for it is God’s minister to you for your good. … for it is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad. There is therefore compelling reason for you people to be in subjection, not only on account of that wrath but also on account of your conscience” Romans 13:2-5.
Therefore, in the light of these paragraphs in the Watchtower article and Roman 13:1-5, how should Jehovah’s Witnesses act in the case of an accusation of a minor against an adult of child sexual abuse?
What principles should guide one who finds themselves in the unfortunate position of either being a victim or hearing of the accusation?
Adults have authority over children, especially if they are the parent of the child. Even non-parents have a measure of responsibility because the non-parent is an adult and the child is rightly deemed of not always being capable of behaving responsibly.
- So, what was the problem with Eli’s two sons? They had no respect for the superior authority, in this case it was Jehovah. Today, the superior authority would be the secular authority.
- Secondly, Eli’s sons abused their authority. Today, an adult who sexually abuses a child also abuses his or her authority over that child. This is especially even more so if the abuser is appointed to a position of trust in the congregation as an elder.
- Thirdly, just as Eli’s son committed sexual immorality, today an adult who sexually abuses a child rapes that child, and commits an act sexual immorality with that child, as the adult cannot be legally married to that child. The child, being a minor cannot be found guilty of consent or leading the adult on into wrongdoing, as by definition the adult is considered responsible enough to know better what they are doing and a child is by definition not capable of understanding the full implications of its actions.
- Fourthly, did Eli report the illegal behavior of his sons to the priests who administered the law? No, he covered it up. Hence the article says “We learn an important lesson from Eli. If we find out that a friend or a relative has broken God’s law, we must speak up, reminding him of Jehovah’s standards. Then we must make sure that he gets the help he needs from Jehovah’s representatives”. What, therefore, today, should the important lesson be? Surely it is that “if we find out that a friend or relative or marriage mate has broken the superior authorities law, and clearly that law does not contravene God’s law, then we have a duty to speak up, reminding him of the government’s standards, and make sure that he or she gets the help they need from the authorities representatives, the police authorities. These authorities are best placed to help him or her cease offending or judge whether a crime was committed. What we do not do, is keep the actions quiet like Eli did, maybe because we mistakenly love the reputation of an organization we are part of, more than justice. Remember, Eli loved his own reputation more than that of justice and was condemned for it.
Just as Jehovah viewed this cover-up by Eli as showing a lack of respect for the authority of Jehovah, likewise the governmental authorities would rightly view it as a lack of respect for their God allowed authority, if today we were to cover up such crimes or allegations of such crimes.
Now this may not be easy, after all as the article says, “It takes courage to confront someone who needs to be corrected, but it is worth the effort”. In what ways? It stops the abuser from hurting others. It also puts them in the position where possibly they can be helped.
But, should the abused one be expected to confront the abuser personally? The simple answer is, Would you as an adult confront someone you saw murder someone else? Of course not. You would reasonably likely feel intimidated and afraid. So reason dictates that in most circumstances we would not expect a child to confront an adult abuser.
We also have to ask the question, why did the Organization not take the opportunity to make these very points?
Paragraph 7 & 8 contain another case of double standards on the part of the Organization. It covers the events surrounding David’s request for succor from Nabal. It says “When Abigail met David, she spoke courageously, respectfully, and persuasively. Even though Abigail was not to blame for the bad situation, she apologized to David. She appealed to his good qualities and relied on Jehovah to help her. (1 Sam. 25:24, 26, 28, 33, 34) Like Abigail, we need to have the courage to speak up if we see someone heading down a dangerous path. (Ps. 141:5) We must be respectful, but we must also be bold. When we lovingly offer a person necessary counsel, we prove that we are a true friend. Proverbs 27:17”.
Here the Organization promotes the example of a married woman giving counsel to a man she is not married to, and to a man already anointed as Israel’s future King by Jehovah via prophet Samuel. Now, if today a sister in the congregation were to attempt to counsel publicly an elder, the sister and if married, her husband, would receive strong counsel about her keeping her proper place in the congregation, by allowing Jehovah to deal with the elder, rather the elder humbly accepting and applying the counsel.
Paragraph 13 tells us “Those who are appointed to a position of trust in the congregation cannot be “double-tongued,” or deceitful”. Herein lies another issue. Here the Watchtower claims the elders are appointed to a position of trust in the congregation. However, when these elders abuse that trust, then the Organization turns round and claims in court that they are not responsible for brothers and sisters viewing the elders as men to be trusted.
In addition, the Organization claims that it is the responsibility of the individual witnesses, not the elders, even when problems are covered-up, due to a misplaced view of confidentiality.
No silence when it is time to be silent
In most if not all congregations there is too much use of “confidentiality” as a get-out clause. It enables slander of the good name of many Witnesses to go on behind closed doors amongst bodies of elders. As a result we can identify one of the most commonly broken principles of the Organization, that of the wives of elders not knowing what is going on in the secrecy of elders meetings. Instead of being silent, both elders and elder’s wives contribute to the insidious slander that spreads to the congregation in general, with no redress for the slandered one.
Keep silent or speak out?
Finally, there is one more very important occasion when we should speak up. We here on this site will, therefore, speak up and continue to do so here on this site.
Galatians 6:1 states “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself for fear you also may be tempted”.
Firstly, even this verse is incorrectly translated. A review of an interlinear translation reveals that the word “qualifications” is an inserted word and incorrect in the context and changes the meaning of the verse. Please see this online interlinear translation.
“Brothers” is referring to fellow Christians, not men-only and not as the NWT implies, elders only, those it views as the only ones having the “spiritual qualifications”. “a man” is also referring in the generic sense to someone of mankind or humankind as we would more correctly say today. This verse should, therefore, read “Fellow Christians, even though someone should be overcome in some trespass [take a wrong step], you who are spiritual [as opposed to earthly, sinful] restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness considering yourself lest you also be tempted [because you also could take the same false step, and how would you like to be treated in that case?]”.
This means that anyone who sees another taking a wrong step, perhaps teaching something from the Bible that contradicts something else in the Bible should accept correction.
How does this apply today?
This means even if the Governing Body were appointed by Christ (for which they have no proof unlike the first-century apostles), they would still not be above correction. But how do they react if criticized or provided evidence that some of their teachings are wrong in a serious way, such as their chronology of 607BC to 1914AD, for example[i]? Do they accept the counsel in the spirit of gentleness with which it was given? Or do they rather seek to silence those with dissenting voices by branding them as apostates and throwing them out of the congregation?
Is it not disturbing that the apostle Peter (appointed by Christ) was humble enough to accept counsel from the apostle Paul, (also appointed by Christ), also his fellow brother, yet the Governing Body (with no evidence of appointment by Christ) refuse to accept counsel from anyone else?
In the light of this we publish the following open appeal to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
Dear Governing Body
Please kindly accept this counsel and criticism in the spirit with which it is given, which is in love and kindness with a desire to help, not to destroy. This counsel is given to help you and those that blindly follow you, not to punish you. Your current intransigent attitude is causing thousands of Witnesses to lose their faith, not only in the Organization but more seriously in Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and their wonderful promises.
Please avoid the thousands of congregations of containing a large number of right-hearted Christians from being taught falsehoods and teaching others falsehoods about the Bible. It is thereby causing them to become spiritually sick, because as Proverbs 13:12 says “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick”.
Please do not put a millstone around your own necks and those who blindly follow you, rather be humble correct your errors and cease being a cause for stumbling to those who love God and Christ. (Luke 17:1-2)
Your brother in Christ
[i] See the series “A Journey of Discovery through Time” on this site for an in-depth examination on the truth of 607BC as the date for the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and hence the derivation of 1914AD as the start of Jesus Kingdom. Also, the series on “The Messianic Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27”, and the series of Youtube videos on Matthew 24 amongst many article and videos.