Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest
(FAQ on JW Org).
A lot of the time the organisation of Jehovahs Witnesses will twist bible verses to fit their in beliefs, sometimes though they blatantly just lie about things. Certainly this quote from JW.org caused a stir with the EX JW community when it was submitted on the website as we know this statement on JW.org is just not true. But the latest talk at the “Remain loyal to Jehovah” convention has caused even more of stir in the community due to its content as well it being completely contradictory to the statement on jw.org . This talk will be given in the UK over the coming months but it has already been given in certain states in America.
This is the talk that has got everyone in the EX JW community angry as the Jehovahs Witness leaders not only re-affirm their stance on shunning former members, but now take it to another level.
Let’s take it one point at a time.
The introduction by the man on the platform starts with “Doesn’t seem like we have a rule for everything?”…I guarantee that 80% of people sitting in the audience was nodding!! But cleverly he links in to Moses and the fact that he gave a law to all the Israelite’s, now all of a sudden what this man says now sounds like it is from the bible. But from sentence number 4 you can instantly see that it is so far away from scripture
“The laws that where given to the Israelite’s where to protect them and also tested their loyalty”
But this just isn’t true – Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelite’s how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelite’s how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; Ephesians 2:15 (directly off gotquestions.org).
So how you can use the Old Testament law to say we still need extra laws today when even Jehovahs Witnesses admit that we don’t live under it? Somehow though this talk has now captured the audience and now everything you hear you will think is biblical.
They then quote 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 as they are now going to convince the audience that is right to shun ex- Jehovahs Witnesses. This is what the verses say
. 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Is it right though that if someone is committing serious sin that you should disfellowship them and then shun them? Lets go back to the start of the chapter of 1 Corinth 5…
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this.
So Paul is actually dealing with the issue of incest! And the fact was is that people where actually proud of it. However I just want to list a few things that you can be disfellowshipped of if you are a Jehovahs Witness, remember it maybe that you have only done this once for it to be an disfellowshipping offense:-
- Being drunk.
- Having a brazen attitude.
- Having a blood transfusion.
- Celebrating your birthday.
- Celebrating Christmas.
- Sleeping with your girlfriend.
These are just a few of MANY different reasons you can be disfellowshipped. Although some of these things we certainly wouldn’t want to do is Christians, the fact of the matter is we all have, because we all sin. But the issue was in Corinth that people where proud of their sin, they were not ashamed of it. These people certainly should be put out of the congregation and encouraged to repent. To apply this verse though to what Jehovahs Witness do though is completely irresponsible. This is a total miss-representation of scripture.
But where is shunning mentioned in this passage? NOWHERE!! It speaks about not eating with such a person, what is the significance with this?
Jewish tradition recognizes a meal as a time for intimacy, fellowship, and significant conversation. Kindness is the basic mood of the Jewish meal. People are fed and nourished, and in this intimate setting people talk with each other about what matters. That is why the Rabbis say that if people eat together and Torah talk is not exchanged then the meal is a vain enterprise. If eating does not create the opportunity to teach and to learn then it becomes biological feeding.
People sit down around a table or some other shared space. They face each other. Someone has prepared the food, someone serves the food, and people pass food to each other.
Sharing a meal with someone was something considered sacred.
The talk continues…
“Disfellowshipping helps keep the congregation clean, helps not bring a bad name on Jehovah and stops apostates spreading wrong ideas”
Again I have to object.
1) Most of the time people who are disfellowshipped it simply rips their family apart and cause mental problems which actually what causes the bad name upon Jehovah.
2) The congregation isn’t clean, every weekend congregations of young Jehovahs Witnesses up and down the country are going out clubbing, getting drunk and sleeping with other members. How can I say this? Because for 20 years of my life I saw it with my own eyes. I even witnessed people getting drunk in Bethel (JW headquarters in the UK). The ones who got dis-felowshipped where the ones that actually confessed what they did – the rest would just hide it and turn up as normal on Sunday morning.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.- Matthew 23:27
3) Apostates that are spreading wrong ideas, actually is code for “we don’t want people asking questions about the false prophesies, the issues with child abuse etc etc. If you are a Jehovahs Witness you can not ask questions about the theology and if you do you are indeed considered an apostate.
They then give the example of someone who was in-active, which now just changed the doctrine of the current policy concerning shunning. The example was of someone who was an in-active Jehovahs Witness. An in-active Witness is someone who is a Jehovahs Witness but hasn’t recorded any time in the preaching work or gone to a meeting for a while. It talks about someone who had limited association with their Mother during this time claiming that his “relationship with Jehovah was more important than anything”. As a dis-fellowshipped Jehovahs Witness I know this is something that my family have also said. But I have to tell you this has nothing to do with their love for Jehovah, but rather their love for a religion that they have never questioned.
This is the first time I have ever heard them teaching that you should actually limit association with someone who hasn’t actually “sinned” but just someone who hasn’t actively being showing their status as one of Jehovahs Witnesses.
“We must not allow our family ties to affect our loyalty to Jehovah” .So what the talk is going to do is convince that shunning comes from Jehovah and by dis-obeying the rules of the organisation you are dis-obeying him.
This is really easy if you are a Jehovahs Witness with family who are disfellowshipped. Do you feel burdened by this law that stops you seeing your children, parents, brothers, sisters etc? I guarantee you do feel burdened. What does the bible say?
“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3)
This law then that is a burden to you, cannot be one of God.
There then comes an extremely disturbing drama of a young girl who gets disfelowshipped and how her Dad kicked her out un-less she changed her way as this was becoming a bad influence on her younger brother. This was breaking the heart of her Jehovahs Witness family. You see Jehovahs Witnesses will only consider the affect disfellowhshipping has on family not on the one that has been disfellowshipped. They don’t consider the heart ache that comes with leaving the organisation and they have to leave 20-30 years of friends and family behind. It’s only their own that they will try to care for. In the drama it keeps talking about how this disfellowshipped person let all of her family down and it was such a difficult situation for them all.
There is little mention of this person’s relationship with God.
The disfellowshipped person said how it was such a good thing that her Mother and Father even used to reject her calls as this is what helped her come back to Jehovah.
This therefore will encourage ones across the world that the best thing you can do with your disfelowshipped family is keep shunning them as they will come back to Jehovah.
The false hope is then that this act will help you “remain loyal to Jehovah” and will help your disfelowshipped family come back.
A number of things to consider here:-
- It is only a very small number of people who return to the organisation once being disfelowshipped.
- If they do it is generally because of the family inside, not because of the “loyalty to Jehovah”
- For me and I know others to the shunning issue was actually something that pushed me away from the organistion not help me re-join it!!
The fact that now Jehovahs Witnesses are now told they have to shun people who in-active not just disfellowshipped is proof that they are continuing to get tighter as a group and they are trying harder than ever to stop anything “questionable” coming in.
This will do 1 of 2 things to those inside who have disfellowshipped family. 1) They will get further and further away from their family and closer to the organisation. 2) They will see through the lies of the organisation and come to Christ for invites us.
Matthew 28:18 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.