“I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them.” – Ezekiel 34:11
[Study 25 from ws 06/20 p.18 August 17 – August 23, 2020]
This article is based on the premise that the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only place where God’s sheep are found because it is the [only, is implied] Christian congregation!
Paragraphs 4-7 covers the topic “Why do some stop serving Jehovah?”
This is based on the premise that serving Jehovah can only be done in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It gives the following reasons for leaving Jehovah as the Organization defines it:
- Materialism, through working more secularly
- Overwhelmed with problems – health and a problem of the Organization’s making, the disfellowshipping of a family member.
- Unjust treatment by a fellow witness (or fellow witnesses)
- Guilty conscience
Not surprisingly it does not mention disagreeing with the Organization’s teachings or its policies on child abuse accusations! That would alert brothers and sisters to what are probably the biggest reasons Witnesses are leaving the Organization today. The congregation with which we are officially still part of has lost some 10+ individuals this way in the last 2 years, with none of the 4 reasons given in the Watchtower article, the cause of the leaving. We are also familiar with another congregation, Pennsylvania, which likewise has lost around 10 individuals in the last 6 months because of disagreeing with the Organization’s teachings and policies on child abuse accusations. No doubt you know as we do of many others who have left for the same reasons.
In paragraphs 10-14 it covers “Jehovah searches for his sheep”.
It suggests that “First, the shepherd would search for the sheep, which could require much time and effort. Then, once he located the stray, the shepherd would bring it back to the flock. Further, if the sheep was injured or starving, the shepherd would lovingly support the weak animal, binding its wounds, carrying it, and feeding it. Elders, the shepherds of “the flock of God,” need to take these same steps to help any who have strayed from the congregation. (1 Peter 5:2-3) The elders search for them, help them to return to the flock, and show them love by providing the necessary spiritual support”.
These are all good fine words but try stopping attending meetings telling others it is because you disagree with some of the Organizations teachings and see what happens. There likely will be a rush to arrange a meeting of yourself with 3 elders for the purpose of “spiritual assistance”, at the end of which the likely result will be that you are disfellowshipped.
The final three paragraphs 15-17 discuss “How should we feel about God’s lost sheep?”
It correctly points out that “As the fine shepherd, Jesus also did his utmost to avoid losing any of Jehovah’s sheep. Read John 6:39”.
In light of this, we ask, if the Governing Body is truly the Faithful and Discreet Slave, why are they driving so many Witnesses away with their false teachings including prophesying about being in the last day of the last days and their unjust policies on child sexual abuse? Why do they not obey the words of Jesus, who they claim is their master?
Jesus spoke this way to the Pharisees of his day and by extension all those today who act in a Pharisaic way, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin (all cheap, small, light herbs and spices), 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. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel.” Here Jesus acknowledged it was binding to look after the small things such as the 10th of the mint, but not at the expense of disregarding the other things, justice and mercy and faithfulness.
Are we being unfair about this?
No, paragraph 6 gives the following experience “Consider the experience of Pablo, a brother in South America. He was falsely accused of wrongdoing and, as a result, lost a privilege of service in the congregation. How did he react? “I got angry,” says Pablo, “and I gradually drifted away from the congregation”.
If it is a true experience, (because as usual, we cannot verify it), where was the application of the two-witness rule to his situation? Or are we expected to believe that there were 2 or more people prepared to lie and accuse him falsely of wrongdoing? (which sadly is actually possible, as the author knows from bitter personal experience). More importantly, one of the scriptures the Organization misapplies to accusations of child sexual abuse actually relates directly to his position. This is 1 Timothy 5:19, which says “Do not admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses”. (Paul was not giving a rule that could not be broken, but a principle to minimize petty accusations (caused by jealousy) against hard-working brothers in the congregation). If the principle is wrongly turned into a rule, why is it not enforced equitably? Is there not a saying, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If the two-witness rule is enforced on child sexual abuse for which it was not designed, then why was it not enforced to exonerate Pablo?
If the Organization really cares about the welfare of lost sheep then it should stop disfellowshipping and supporting the shunning of those child sexual abuse victims who have left the Organization because they cannot cope with being in close proximity to their abuser who has escaped any similar censure. Let them not stick to the two-witness principle in positions where it results in injustice to the victims, straining out the gnat, and then going on to gulp down the camel by ignoring the spirit of reporting laws and ignoring justice for the vulnerable and unprotected.
Jehovah and Jesus Christ view their sheep as precious, but how many they will find among the elders and Bethelites and Governing Body is a good question.