The real WT deal on 1 Cor 5 -- shunning non-household family members.

by FatFreek 2005 7 Replies latest social family

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    I don't want to hijack that thread with the British interview of an ex-jw who is now shunned by his mother and brother(s). The interviewer then properly and fairly contacted a WT official who gave the party line answer. Those of us who have really studied WT references know that this lawyer-like answer actually follows WT teaching. Here's [bracketing and other highlighting is mine] what he said:

    "Witnesses do not shun family members because of differences in religious beliefs. Many Witnesses have religiously mixed families and enjoy normal loving relationships together. If a family member who is a baptized Witness is disfellowshipped the spiritual ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. Accordingly, the marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings can continue. As for disfellowshipped relatives not living in the same household we apply the counsel from the Bible at 1 Corinthians: "quit mixing with them." The scriptures are sacred to us and we therefore take this counsel seriously. The degree of family contact is a personal decision based on one's Bible trained conscience. If there are consequences, these relate primarily to one's relationship with God."

    However, for those interested in the "quit mixing with them" reference, here's the full context of that scripture. Keep this handy for future reference.

    (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) . . .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. 12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do YOU not judge those inside, 13 while God judges those outside? "Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves".. . .

    The first thing the WT official does is partially answer the question. It would have been so simple for him to say, "Witnesses do not shun family members within the same household because of differences in religious beliefs. Most onlookers would think that he actually meant that entire families are never shunned. Most of us know that nothing is further from the truth.

    When the official finally deals with "relatives not living in the same household", he gives what I would call an abstract and indirect answer. Instead of fessing up directly -- "yes, we do shun those family members" -- he cleverly throws 1 Corinthians at the interviewer, but only a small part of it, "quit mixing with them". The interviewer didn't have a chance to cross examine that answer because the official did not quote the entire verse.

    Fact is, the entire verse never makes a distinction between household family members or non-household family members. It says, "anyone called a brother". That's it. Please let that completely sink in.

    The WT must think that the apostle Paul was too ignorant (although they acknowledge he was inspired by God) to distinguish between household family and non-household family. Or they must think that he forgot to mention it.

    Now this is where Watchtower gets practical. This is where Watchtower realizes that they are forced to read between the lines, help out the Holy Spirit where it certainly must've fallen down on its job of inspiration.

    Interpret that scripture literally, and to the nth degree, would mean that a disfellowshipped person must be shunned, period. Spouse? Shun that husband or shun that wife. Sibling? Shun that wicked brother or sister, even inside the same household. That doesn't matter one iota. Child or parent? Again, Paul makes no distinction. Nada! Like it or leave it.

    Watchtower has always realized that if they ever tried to apply that scripture in its literal entirety, and as it is written -- with none of Watchtower conditionals -- all political hell would break loose. Jehovah's Witnesses would be banned worldwide. We would not be posting within this forum. Thankfully, most, if not all peoples on this planet value their families very highly.

    Watchtower has always realized that they had to intervene with what Paul really said to those Corinthians. What he said was too harsh. We must make it appear like we're more lenient than that, be more politically correct. Hey, let's remember "honor thy father and thy mother". That's it! Paul must've forgotten that. Honestly, we'd like to obey what he says but we know we can't. If we could, we'd stone them all like the good old days. No -- we'd be shut down.

    Saying that 1 Cor 5:11-13 applies only to "relatives not living in the same household" is entirely Watchtower interpretation spun out of control.

    I respectfully ask you to correct me if I'm wrong.


    ps: As an aside to that "we'd be shut down" expression I'm reminded of my only elder's school in the early 70's. Someone raised the question, "why the distinction between disfellowshipping and disassociation? Why not simply, disfellowshipping?

    Our instructor couched his words carefully. I'll paraphrase my best recollection. He said, "Brothers, if we didn't provide for disassociation, we'd be shut down. Think about someone joining the military. Disfellowship that person and we'd be facing treason with most governments. By stating John Doe has disassociated himself from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, we're stating that the action taken was John Doe's, not ours. It doesn't matter that John Doe never notified us. We must keep the organization clean. We must not allow Brooklyn to get shut down."

  • agonus

    ..."with anyone called a brother..."

    Are DAs or DFs called "brothers"?

    No, they are not.

    Therefore the shunning rule cannot apply to them.

  • just n from bethel
    just n from bethel

    Excellent - I'm sure this has been touched on before - but it kind of reminds me of the blood fraction issue. Abstain from blood - should literally mean any part of blood. 'Quit mixing with anyone ..' should literally mean anyone. But now you can associate with a fraction of those who are disfellowshipped.

    I've always focused on the 'anyone called a brother' part of the scripture. On how someone that no longer believes can't be called a brother, so why disfellowship someone that just doesn't want to be a JW? Doesn't make sense. But you're point adds more weight to the WT's word games. Thanks for the fresh outlook.

  • agonus

    My point is, if they're going to cherry-pick, split hairs, and rely on literal/legalistic interpretations of obscure scriptures to support policies that are neither loving nor logical, then we should hold them to the literal/legalistic interpretations just to prove how bogus they are.

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    then we should hold them to the literal/legalistic interpretations just to prove how bogus they are.

    Interesting thought on that "called brothers" phrase, Agonus.

    Your blood fraction parallel is spot on, JNFB. I think we all see where that may be going. Legal is getting their foot in that door.

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    I've always focused on the 'anyone called a brother' part of the scripture. On how someone that no longer believes can't be called a brother, so why disfellowship someone that just doesn't want to be a JW?

    Watchtower depends on ignorance and naiveté before baptism.

    After baptism, fear is their only defense. Seasoned brothers (or sisters) who no longer believe Watchtower spin know far too much and if allowed open influential access to others within the fold, they could reveal to them what they've found behind the curtain. Can't allow that. Do something that makes them fear the consequences. Stoning them would be fitting (check out early 50's Watchtower), shunning them permissable.


  • brotherdan

    Also, if you read the context of ALL scriptures that the WT uses to justify df'ing...there are some things that will stick out.

    For one, these were EXTREME situations. In one of these there was actually a man that was having sex with his step mother. And he was bragging about it in the congregation about how it was ok. This wasn't a simple sin of having sex with someone that you were not married to. It was someone that was actually promoting wrongdoing.

    Whether you believe the Bible or not, the WT form of df'ing for whatever reason tickles their fancy is not biblical.

  • happyexjw

    If we are going with the literal / leaglistic interpretation of that scripture, then as Sister's we are all excluded from the command. Paul did not say brother or sister just brother


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