How Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to treat the disfellowshipped as if dead by God, but publicly play this down.
Imagine you gave a gift to your grandfather, but wrapped it in such a way it displeased him. So much so that he kills you, and your brother who is with you.
Your father is then told that his sons dishonoured their grandfather. While his nephews take their deceased cousins (ie you) for burial, the father and surviving siblings are told not to mourn. Grandfather will be angry if they do. Obey him, or else the community will suffer, this is the law they are told.
This is fictitious – unless you read Leviticus Chapter Ten as literal. The father is Aaron, the high priest. Moses is laying down the law, and the particular homicidal grandfather is the loving creator Jehovah. The gift was burning incense.
I burn with indignation that such horror stories are used to endear people to God. In a recent Watchtower magazine this above story is used to encourage Jehovah’s Witnesses to treat the disfellowshipped as … dead.
A heartrending experience for Aaron’s family is recorded at Leviticus 10: 1-11. They must have been devastated when fire from heaven consumed Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu at the tabernacle. What a test of faith it was for Aaron and his family not to mourn their dead relatives! Are you personally proving yourself holy with regard to not associating with family members or others who have been disfellowshipped? —Read 1 Corinthians 5:11 ~ The Watchtower November 15 2014, p.14]
The bible quote at the end is part of “The Expel The Immoral Brother” passage. It reads:
11) But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one.
This is not a new thing – the practice of shunning even family members where you would not even say “Hello” to them. For example how to react to your son having sex, but he lives under your roof:
“Suppose, for example, that the only son of an exemplary Christian couple leaves the truth. Preferring “the temporary enjoyment of sin” to a personal relationship with Jehovah and with his godly parents, the young man is disfellowshipped. … the Bible says “to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator. … They also realise that the word “anyone” in this verse includes family members not living under their roof. … Our hearts go out to those parents. After all, their son had a choice, and he chose to pursue his unchristian lifestyle rather than to continue to enjoy close association with his parents and other fellow believers. The parents, on the other hand, had no say in the matter. … But what will those dear parents do? Will they obey Jehovah’s clear direction? Or will they rationalize that they can have regular association with the disfellowshipped son and call it, “necessary family business”? In making their decision, they must not fail to consider how Jehovah feels about what they are doing. … Today, Jehovah does not immediately execute those who violate his laws. He lovingly gives them an opportunity to repent from their unrighteous works. How would Jehovah feel, though, if the parents of an unrepentant wrongdoer kept putting Him to the test by having unnecessary association with their disfellowshipped son or daughter?” ~ The Watchtower 2011 July 15 p.31, p.32 [my emphasis]
Jehovah does not immediately execute those that displease him now. What a mercy. But he still gets angry if you say hello to those disfellowshipped by congregation elders. Probably wants to kill you, every word you say testing his divine patience. Jehovah comes first, not your child – especially if fornicating.
What if the son is a minor living at home, but becomes disfellowshipped?
If the child is a minor and is living at home, you will naturally continue to take care of his physical needs. He also requires moral training and discipline, and you have the responsibility to provide these. (Proverbs 1:8-18; 6:20-22; 29:17) You may want to conduct a Bible study with him, involving his direct participation. You can draw his attention to various scriptures and to the publications provided by the faithful and discreet slave. (Matthew 24:45) You can also take the child with you to Christian meetings and have him sit with you. All of this can be done in hopes that he will take Scriptural counsel to heart.
The situation is different if the disfellowshipped one is not a minor and is living away from home. The apostle Paul admonished Christians in ancient Corinth: Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. (1Corinthians 5:11) While caring for necessary family matters may require some contact with the disfellowshipped person, a Christian parent should strive to avoid needless association.
When an erring child is disciplined by Christian shepherds, it would be unwise if you were to reject or minimize their Bible-based action. Siding with your rebellious child would not be providing any real protection from the Devil. Actually, you would be endangering your own spiritual health. On the other hand, by supporting the efforts of the shepherds, you will remain solid in the faith and will provide the best help for your child.” ~ The Watchtower 2007 Jan 15 p.20 [my emphasis]
You see the devil is at work on the disfellowshipped. Also via apostates like myself, and indeed non believers.
Try to square the above magazine excerpts from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with their website FAQ on the subject:
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.
We do not automatically disfellowship someone who commits a serious sin. If, however, a baptized Witness makes a practice of breaking the Bible’s moral code and does not repent, he or she will be shunned or disfellowshipped. The Bible clearly states: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”—1 Corinthians 5:13.
What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.
Disfellowshipped individuals may attend our religious services. If they wish, they may also receive spiritual counsel from congregation elders. The goal is to help each individual once more to qualify to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Disfellowshipped people who reject improper conduct and demonstrate a sincere desire to live by the Bible’s standards are always welcome to become members of the congregation again.
This is not the experience – just one example from a thread discussing:
I have a similar problem with my nana. She raised me for the most part, I left the religion when I was 18 and we remained close until this past year when they forced her to first only see me for business reasons so shed make up trips she needed my help with to see me then to I can’t even speak to her and my kids can’t either. Im 25 and my older son who is 5 asks about his nana all the time and im at a loss what to say. I cry about it a lot. I feel helpless because those awful fools have taken my only real family member I cared about. They are cracking down apparently on people with disfellowshipped family members, though I willingly disassociated and was not disfellowshipped they’re saying it’s no different now. If only I’d never gotten baptized, it was my ultimate mistake and cost me dearly.
This is about control, punishment and preventing challenge to the organisation. But it is also about demanding God is put before family. This is what you would be expected to do if you became baptized. Separating loved ones from each other because they lose their faith is cult like behaviour. It is abuse done in the name of the creator, sanctioned by the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I will always be grateful that before my life could be ruined as a child we left. That story can be read here.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog