JW Shunning is it really Biblical?

by greendawn 16 Replies latest jw friends

  • greendawn

    The Watchtower society has this practice of expelling and then shunning members for a number of reasons, often trivial, causing to the expelled a great deal of problems in the family, socially and psychologically.

    But is there any real basis in the Bible for this practice? Does it empower them as they claim, to expel people or are they once more twisting the scriptures to suit themselves? Should they not be more tolerant to the "wrongdoer"? Isn't that the true Christian spirit? Jesus associated with the sinners to help them. And is it not the angels that will be sent to throw out the wrongdoers during the final day?

  • carla

    I agree it is not Biblical. Another thing, so often they like to use the, 'leave it to jah' , or 'shouldn't we forgive?' when talking about pedophiles or wrongdoing on the part of elders and MS's, or even Brooklyn. Yet, they don't apply this same thinking to their own family members.

  • AlmostAtheist

    There are scriptures that seem to describe shunning. How would a bible-believer understand those verses to apply?


  • zagor

    Well what they are saying is that any trivial matter, wearing beard, joining union or YMCA, having few drinks with your mates, smoking an odd cigar, etc. is as bad as (if not worse) than practicing an incest that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.

  • AlmostAtheist

    They don't DF for beards as far as I know, but they'll manage to judge you in other ways. You wouldn't "get away with it", that's for sure.

    I just went through the whole DF'ing thing with SweetScholar via pm. Unfortunately, he didn't toss many scriptures my way on it. He leaned more on the "shepherding" role the elders are supposed to play, and so by extension, they of course have the authority to DF you. (Yeah, I didn't get it either...)

    But I am curious how those shunning verses are really meant to be taken.


  • Confession

    Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with an individual.

    It appears that a form of shunning did indeed occur in the early Christian era, and that it was biblical.

    1 Corinthians chapter 5 says...

    “Actually fornication is reported among YOU, and such fornication as is not even among the nations, that a wife a certain [man] has of [his] father.” Then later it says, “But now I am writing YOU to 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… Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.”

    "To quit mixing in company" sounds like the same thing as "deliberately avoiding association with an individual." This scripture does not mention anything about refusing to speak with such a shunned person, but it does teach that certain ones should be 'removed' from the congregation's association. But what sort of persons?

    The original man in question had apparently begun a relationship with the wife of his father. No one knows the details of this, but the Watchtower Society has long suggested that it refers--not to the man's mother--but to his father's subsequent wife. This does not appear to be a situation in which this man had committed an act of adultery--or even a number of acts. It says the man "has" this woman, which leads me to believe that he was keeping her as a wife--that he had taken her away from his father and had begun a full blown marital-style relationship with her. It would also appear that he was still in association with the congregation at this time. To me this suggests a pretty powerfully rebellious attitude:

    "Yeah, she's my dad's wife. Yeah, I'm living and having sex with her. Yeah, I claim to be a Christian. Hey, wanna go get some hummous with me?"

    My conclusion? People claiming to be Christians, who deliberately and rebelliously carried on grossly sinful behavior were not to be associated with. You shouldn't even eat with them, since doing so might indicate a tacit approval of their behavior. But it says nothing about not speaking to them.

    2 John 9-11 says...

    “Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God . . . If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.”

    This scripture does teach that some people should not be spoken to. What people? Those who do "not remain in the teaching of the Christ." This suggests that they once did dwell within the teaching of the Christ. But did this refer to those who did not submit to the supposed authority of a body of men? No. The standard for shunning centered upon Christ--not men.

    What about 2 Thessalonians chapter 3?

    “ Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly… For we hear certain ones are walking disorderly among YOU, not working at all but meddling with what does not concern them. But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.”

    Here again we return to the type of counsel given in Corinthians. Basically, if there were out-of-control Christians, the congregation was told to "withdraw from" them. In this case it does appear to include obedience to the basic instructions from the men--including Paul--who were taking the lead. But did they regard these ones as "God's enemies?" No! "Continue admonishing him as a brother," it says. This in no way supports the Watchtower Society's practice of disfellowshipping with it's accompanying shunning.

    Of course the Society claims that the above scripture does not refer to "disfellowshipping," but instead to "marking" certain ones who may not have been guilty of anything major, but who were just walking unsteadily. They would have to conclude this in order to maintain their policy of shunning, wouldn't they? But this is a personal opinion--and by no means can be considered clear Bible teaching.

    To me, it identifies how shunning was practiced in the first century Christian era. If you were bad association, people were encouraged to keep away from you. The idea that someone would be ignored, treated as an enemy of God and made to undergo--not the simple forgiveness taught by Christ--but a period of humiliation, is NOT biblical.

    It is instead the way people who want to retain their power control others who bother them.

  • drew sagan
    drew sagan

    I don't think we should be talking about this guys. We might get in BIG trouble. Then we wouldn't be able to see each other any more. In all reality, I believe the Bible is telling us we need to MAKE UP OUR OWN MIND on who is good association and who is bad. It's not telling us to go into group hate.

  • heathen

    I think it's scriptural . I think the first century church did remove people from the herd after they showed a lack of repentance . The apostles did say to not let the sun go down while being in a provoked state but to settle complaints against fellow worshippers but also to remove people that practiced sin from duties involving the preaching and conversion work . 1st corinthians 5:11-13. Ephesians 4:26

  • AlmostAtheist

    2 Corinthians 2:6 says that the rebuke (presumably shunning) was given by "the majority", indicating that a minority of persons not only did not rebuke him, but were not in anyway chastised for not doing so. (My JW apologist never had an answer for this one -- he's going to do "more research")

    I think I agree with others that have said the shunning was not an official thing, but a "if you know he's a fornicator, then stay away from him" sort of advice type of deal. I like this, because the more notorious a person was, the more people would know about it, the more he'd be shunned. So it was relative to the sin-level. That makes a ton more sense than EVERYONE shunning some poor single brother that grabbed a quickie one too many times.


  • lynnmelo

    Confession, you make a lot of sense. Thanks for your explanation. You wrote,

    My conclusion? People claiming to be Christians, who deliberately and rebelliously carried on grossly sinful behavior were not to be associated with. You shouldn't even eat with them, since doing so might indicate a tacit approval of their behavior. But it says nothing about not speaking to them.

    Agreed. And were the early Christians saying anything that any mother or father doesn't tell their children? I mean, parents would advise their children to avoid the "bad crowd" at school. Why? Because they're a bad influence.

    I think the main thing the JW's are wrong about is not speaking to that person. In other words, they seem to carry the shunning to the extreme.

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