What "Two Witness" Rule?

by Amazing 47 Replies latest jw friends

  • minimus

    A wife doesn't need 2 witnesses to get a divorce if her husband admits adultery to her privately. She could remarry and not be guilty of fornication, simply because the elders chose to believe her allegation.

  • IslandWoman

    I don't know if it's been already stated on this thread but imo, a major part of the responsibility for this problem must be put on the Bible, the NT in particular.

    Jesus gave the Matthew 18 procedure for personal problems between people, Paul on the other hand did what he seemed to be wont to do and that is to make rules, more and more rules. In his letter to Timothy he was the one who in the NT stated an unqualified 2 witness rule at 1 Tim.5:19:

    "Do no admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses."

    Paul set the standard for Timothy and for all Christians who believed his letters to be inspired by God, something many of us also believed. Jesus was not setting up congregational government, Paul was though, and in so doing set up a list of pharisaical rules and standards many of which are impossible to keep or ill advised. This was one of them.

    These different standards, rules, blah, blah found in the OT and NT along with the Watchtower's lack of a serious and honest review of their many procedural revisions and policies, has added significantly to the problem, imo.


  • JanH

    Good points, IW.

    It is worth noting, however, that modern Bible scholars do not believe that the pastorals (1& 2 timothy & titus) were written by Paul. Stylistic and historical evidence indicates that it was a later follower of Paul who authored those texts.

    - Jan

    Blogging at Secular Blasphemy
  • IslandWoman

    Hi Jan,

    It is worth noting, however, that modern Bible scholars do not believe that the pastorals (1& 2 timothy & titus) were written by Paul. Stylistic and historical evidence indicates that it was a later follower of Paul who authored those texts

    Very sad don't you think? So many have given their lives in defense of those writings and others in the NT.

    Th e NT scriptures contain some good things, some fine common sense things, but they also reflect a time long gone. Seems rather silly to conform our thinking to a time when slavery and other social ills were the norm. I think we should keep the good and throw away the bad.


  • Amazing

    Thanks everyone for excellent material and comments ... I spent half the day ging through my books and found some really cool stuff ... like a 750 page research work that Alan F wrote on the WTS Evolution book, a work he gave me for review ten years ago ... I have my BOE letters, but I never found the older 1972 Organization book ... but several of you scanned and wrote text ... and I also received some excellent email with a copy of the "Aid Book" discussion of the Two Witness rule ... so my next step is my essay ... and it appears that AlanF provided some very good work on some of the discrepancies ... so I have my work cut out ... thanks again.

  • UnDisfellowshipped

    IslandWoman said:

    I don't know if it's been already stated on this thread but imo, a major part of the responsibility for this problem must be put on the Bible, the NT in particular.

    Jesus gave the Matthew 18 procedure for personal problems between people, Paul on the other hand did what he seemed to be wont to do and that is to make rules, more and more rules. In his letter to Timothy he was the one who in the NT stated an unqualified 2 witness rule at 1 Tim.5:19:

    "Do no admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses."

    Paul set the standard for Timothy and for all Christians who believed his letters to be inspired by God, something many of us also believed. Jesus was not setting up congregational government, Paul was though, and in so doing set up a list of pharisaical rules and standards many of which are impossible to keep or ill advised. This was one of them.

    These different standards, rules, blah, blah found in the OT and NT along with the Watchtower's lack of a serious and honest review of their many procedural revisions and policies, has added significantly to the problem, imo.

    The Apostle Paul also wrote Romans Chapter 13, in which he stated the following:

    Romans 13:1: Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God.
    Romans 13:2: Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment.
    Romans 13:3: For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same,
    Romans 13:4: for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn't bear the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil.
    Romans 13:5: Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience' sake.
    Romans 13:6: For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are ministers of God's service, attending continually on this very thing.
    Romans 13:7: Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.
    Romans 13:8: Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.
    Romans 13:9: For the Commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," and whatever other Commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
    Romans 13:10: Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the Law.

    In my opinion, it seems obvious that Romans 13 would over-ride the "2-Witness" Rule.

    Also, read what Jesus Christ said:

    Matthew 18:5: Whoever receives one such little child in My Name receives Me,
    Matthew 18:6: but whoever causes one of these little children who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.

    So I think it is pretty clear that the Bible says NOT to hurt or stumble any Child.

    Also, lastly, look at the following Verse written by Paul:

    Ephesians 6:4: You fathers, don't provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

    Colossians 3:21: Fathers, don't provoke your children, so that they won't be discouraged.

  • UnDisfellowshipped
    Below are Watchtower Quotes about the "2-Witness Rule":

    The Watchtower November 1st 1995 Issue (This Article is on the Official Watchtower Website at this Address: http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/1995/11/1a/article_01.htm)

    Comfort for Those With a "Stricken Spirit"

    TODAY, Satan's world has come to be "past all moral sense." (Ephesians 4:19; 1 John 5:19) Adultery and fornication are pandemic. In many lands 50 percent or more of marriages end in divorce. Homosexuality is widely accepted. Sexual violencerapeis often in the news. Pornography is a billion-dollar industry. Romans 1:26, 27.

    Among the vilest perversions is the sexual abuse of innocent children. Like the wisdom of Satan's world, child sexual abuse is "animal, demonic." (James 3:15) In the United States alone, Time magazine says, "more than 400,000 reports of verifiable sexual assaults are filed with authorities each year by teachers and doctors." When victims of this abuse become adults, many still carry painful wounds, and those wounds are real! The Bible says: "The spirit [mental inclination, inner feelings and thoughts] of a man can put up with his malady; but as for a stricken [wounded, afflicted] spirit, who can bear it?" Proverbs 18:14.

    The good news of God's Kingdom appeals to people of all kinds, including "the brokenhearted" and those with a "downhearted spirit." (Isaiah 61:1-4) Not surprisingly, many who are in emotional pain respond to the invitation: "Let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life's water free." (Revelation 22:17) The Christian congregation can be a place of comfort for these. They rejoice to learn that suffering will soon be a thing of the past. (Isaiah 65:17) Until that time, though, they may need to be 'comforted' and have their wounds 'bound up.' Well did Paul counsel Christians: "Speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all." 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

    "Repressed Memories"

    In recent years some have been "brokenhearted" for reasons that others find difficult to understand. They are adults who, on the basis of what have been described as "repressed memories," say that they were sexually abused when they were children.* (FOOTNOTE SAYS: "Repressed memories" and similar expressions are enclosed in quotation marks to distinguish them from the more typical memories that all of us have.) Some have no thought of having been molested until, unexpectedly, they experience flashbacks and "memories" of an adult (or adults) abusing them when they were young. Do any in the Christian congregation have such disturbing thoughts? In a few lands, yes, and these dedicated ones may experience deep distress, anger, guilt, shame, or loneliness. Like David they may feel isolated from God and cry out: "Why, O Jehovah, do you keep standing afar off? Why do you keep yourself hid in times of distress?" Psalm 10:1.

    Many aspects of these "memories" are not well understood by mental-health professionals. Still, such "memories" can affect the spirituality of dedicated Christians. So we look with confidence to God's Word for guidance in handling them. The Bible provides "discernment in all things." (2 Timothy 2:7; 3:16) It also helps all concerned to put faith in Jehovah, "the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation." 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.

    Did It Really Happen?

    In the world, there is much controversy as to what these "memories" are and to what extent they represent things that actually happened. Jehovah's Witnesses are "no part of the world" and take no part in this controversy. (John 17:16) According to published reports, "memories" have sometimes proved to be accurate. For example, after insurance adjuster Frank Fitzpatrick "remembered" being molested by a certain priest, almost one hundred others came forward to claim that they too had been abused by the same priest. The priest reportedly admitted to the abuse.

    It is noteworthy, however, that a number of individuals have been unable to corroborate their "memories." Some afflicted in this way have had vivid recollections of a certain individual committing abuse or of the abuse being committed in a specific place. Later, though, legitimate evidence to the contrary made it clear that these "remembered" details could not be true.

    Providing a Refuge

    Nevertheless, how can comfort be given to those who experience a "stricken spirit" because of such "memories"? Remember Jesus' parable of the neighborly Samaritan. A man was set upon by robbers, beaten, and stripped of his possessions. When the Samaritan came along, his heart went out to the wounded man. What did he do? Did he insist on hearing every last detail about the beating? Or did the Samaritan get a description of the robbers and immediately chase after them? No. The man was hurt! So the Samaritan gently dressed his wounds and lovingly carried him to the safety of a nearby inn where he could recover. Luke 10:30-37.

    True, there is a difference between physical wounds and a "stricken spirit" caused by actual childhood sexual abuse. But both cause great suffering. Hence, what the Samaritan did for the wounded Jew shows what can be done to help an afflicted fellow Christian. The first priority is to give loving comfort and to help him recover.

    The Devil afflicted faithful Job, apparently confident that either emotional or physical pain would break his integrity. (Job 1:11; 2:5) Since then, Satan has often tried to use sufferingwhether he directly causes it or notto weaken the faith of God's servants. (Compare 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.) Can we doubt that the Devil now plays upon child abuse and the "downhearted spirit" of many adults who suffered this (or are troubled by "memories" of having suffered it) to try to weaken the faith of Christians? Like Jesus when under attack by Satan, a Christian who suffers pain but who stalwartly refuses to abandon his integrity is saying: "Go away, Satan!" Matthew 4:10.

    Stay Spiritually Strong

    "The faithful and discreet slave" has published information to help handle the spiritual and emotional hurt caused by child abuse. (Matthew 24:45-47) Experience shows that the sufferer is helped if he can rely on the 'power of the Lord and the mightiness of his strength,' putting on "the complete suit of armor from God." (Ephesians 6:10-17) This armor includes Bible "truth," which exposes Satan as the ultimate enemy and dissipates the darkness in which he and his henchmen work. (John 3:19) Then, there is "the breastplate of righteousness." The afflicted one should strive to hold to righteous standards. For example, some have strong impulses to harm themselves or to commit immorality. Every time they resist these impulses, they win a victory!

    Spiritual armor also includes "the good news of peace." Talking to others about Jehovah's purposes strengthens the one talking as well as anyone who listens. (1 Timothy 4:16) If you should be one with a "stricken spirit," making it difficult for you to talk about the good news, try to accompany another Christian as he or she does this vital work. And do not forget "the large shield of faith." Have faith that Jehovah loves you and that he will restore all that you have lost. Believe without reservation that Jesus also loves you, and he proved this by dying for you. (John 3:16) Satan has always falsely claimed that Jehovah does not care for his servants. That is just another of his gross, vicious lies. John 8:44; compare Job 4:1, 15-18; 42:10-15.

    If pain of heart makes it difficult to believe that Jehovah is concerned about you, it will help to associate with others who firmly believe that he does have concern. (Psalm 119:107, 111; Proverbs 18:1; Hebrews 10:23-25) Refuse to allow Satan to rob you of the prize of life. Remember, "the helmet of salvation" is part of the armor; so is "the sword of the spirit." The Bible is inspired by holy spirit, which Satan cannot defeat. (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12) Its healing words can soothe emotional pain. Compare Psalm 107:20; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.

    Finally, pray constantly for the strength to endure. (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18) Heartfelt prayer sustained Jesus through intense emotional agony, and it can help you too. (Luke 22:41-43) Is it difficult for you to pray? Ask others to pray with you and for you. (Colossians 1:3; James 5:14) Holy spirit will support your prayers. (Compare Romans 8:26, 27.) As with a painful physical illness, some with deep emotional wounds may not be completely healed in this system of things. But with Jehovah's help we can endure, and endurance is victory, as it was in Jesus' case. (John 16:33) "Trust in [Jehovah] at all times, O people. Before him pour out your heart. God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8.

    What of the Alleged Abuser?

    A person who actually abuses a child sexually is a rapist and should be viewed as such. Anyone victimized in this way has the right to accuse his abuser. Still, an accusation should not be made hastily if it is based solely on "repressed memories" of abuse. In this case the most important thing is for the sufferer to regain a degree of emotional stability. After the passage of some time, he may be in a better position to assess the "memories" and decide what, if anything, he wants to do about them.

    Consider the case of Donna. She reportedly had eating disorders and went to a counselorapparently one of dubious competence. Soon she was accusing her father of incest and he was taken to court. The jury was deadlocked, so the father did not go to prison, but he was left with $100,000 in legal bills. Then, after all that, Donna told her parents that she no longer believed that the abuse happened!

    Wisely, Solomon said: "Do not go forth to conduct a legal case hastily." (Proverbs 25:8) If there is some valid reason to suspect that the alleged perpetrator is still abusing children, a warning may have to be given. The congregation elders can help in such a case. Otherwise, take your time. Eventually, you may be content to let the matter drop. If, though, you want to confront the alleged perpetrator (after first assessing how you would feel about the possible responses), you have a right to do so.

    During the time that the one experiencing "memories" is healing, awkward situations may arise. For example, an individual may have vivid mental images of being molested by someone he or she sees every day. No rules can be laid down for handling this. "Each one will carry his own load." (Galatians 6:5) Sometimes one may feel that a relative or a member of one's immediate family is involved. Remember the dubious nature of some "repressed memories" when it comes to identifying the one suspected of being a perpetrator. In such a situation, as long as the matter has not been firmly established, keeping contact with the familyat least by occasional visits, by letter, or by telephonewould show that one is trying to follow a Scriptural course. Compare Ephesians 6:1-3.

    What Can Elders Do?

    If the elders are approached by a member of the congregation who is experiencing flashbacks or "repressed memories" of child abuse, two of them are usually assigned to help. These elders should kindly encourage the afflicted one to focus for the time being on coping with the emotional distress. The names of any "remembered" abusers should be kept in strict confidence.

    The elders' primary task is to act as shepherds. (Isaiah 32:1, 2; 1 Peter 5:2, 3) They should be especially careful to "clothe [themselves] with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering." (Colossians 3:12) Let them listen in a kindly way and then apply healing words from the Scriptures. (Proverbs 12:18) Some who are afflicted with painful "memories" have expressed appreciation for elders who make regular visits or even telephone calls to check to see how they are doing. Such contacts need not take a lot of time, but they show that Jehovah's organization cares. When the afflicted one realizes that his Christian brothers truly love him, he may be helped to recover a considerable degree of emotional balance.

    What if the sufferer decides that he wants to make an accusation?# (FOOTNOTE SAYS: It may also be necessary for the step outlined in this paragraph to be taken if the matter has become common knowledge in the congregation.) Then the two elders can advise him that, in line with the principle at Matthew 18:15, he should personally approach the accused about the matter. If the accuser is not emotionally able to do this face-to-face, it can be done by telephone or perhaps by writing a letter. In this way the one accused is given the opportunity to go on record before Jehovah with his answer to the accusation. He may even be able to present evidence that he could not have committed the abuse. Or perhaps the one accused will confess, and a reconciliation may be achieved. What a blessing that would be! If there is a confession, the two elders can handle matters further in accordance with Scriptural principles.

    If the accusation is denied, the elders should explain to the accuser that nothing more can be done in a judicial way. And the congregation will continue to view the one accused as an innocent person. The Bible says that there must be two or three witnesses before judicial action can be taken. (2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) Even if more than one person "remembers" abuse by the same individual, the nature of these recalls is just too uncertain to base judicial decisions on them without other supporting evidence. This does not mean that such "memories" are viewed as false (or that they are viewed as true). But Bible principles must be followed in establishing a matter judicially.

    What if the one accusedthough denying the wrongdoingis really guilty? Does he "get away with it," as it were? Certainly not! The question of his guilt or innocence can be safely left in Jehovah's hands. "The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men their sins also become manifest later." (1 Timothy 5:24; Romans 12:19; 14:12) The book of Proverbs says: "The expectation of the righteous ones is a rejoicing, but the very hope of the wicked ones will perish." "When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes." (Proverbs 10:28; 11:7) Ultimately, Jehovah God and Christ Jesus render everlasting judgment in justice. 1 Corinthians 4:5.

    Resisting the Devil

    When dedicated souls endure in the face of great physical or emotional pain, what an evidence it is of their inner strength and love for God! And what a testimony to the power of Jehovah's spirit to sustain them! Compare 2 Corinthians 4:7.

    Peter's words apply to such ones: "Take your stand against [Satan] solid in the faith." (1 Peter 5:9) Doing so may not be easy. Sometimes, it may even be difficult to think clearly and logically. But take heart! Soon, the Devil and his crafty acts will no longer exist. Truly, we long for that time when "God himself . . . will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away." Revelation 21:3, 4.

    The Following is the Watchtower's Response to Dateline they Posted on their Website:

    Jehovah's Witnesses Office of Public Information (This is on the Official Watchtower Media Website at this Address: http://www.jw-media.org/releases/bg_molestation.htm)

    Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Protection

    Child abuse is abhorrent to us. This is in harmony with the principle recorded at Romans 12:9. Even one abused child is one too many. For decades The Watchtower and Awake! have featured articles to educate both Witnesses and the public regarding the importance and the need to protect children from child abuse. Among others, there was the article "Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked!" published in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower ; "Help for the Victims of Incest" in the October 1, 1983, Watchtower, "Your Child Is in Danger!", "How Can We Protect Our Children?", and "Prevention in the Home", all in the October 8, 1993, Awake!, as well as "Child MolestingEvery Mother's Nightmare," in the January 22, 1985, Awake!

    When any one of Jehovah's Witnesses is accused of an act of child abuse, the local congregation elders are expected to investigate. Two elders meet separately with the accused and the accuser to see what each says on the matter. If the accused denies the charge, the two elders may arrange for him and the victim to restate their position in each other's presence, with elders also there. If during that meeting the accused still denies the charges and there are no others who can substantiate them, the elders cannot take action within the congregation at that time. Why not? As a Bible-based organization, we must adhere to what the Scriptures say, namely, "No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin . . . At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good." (Deuteronomy 19:15) Jesus reaffirmed this principle as recorded at Matthew 18:15-17. However, if two persons are witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind of wrongdoing, their testimony may be deemed sufficient to take action.

    However, even if the elders cannot take congregational action, they are expected to report the allegation to the branch office of Jehovah's Witnesses in their country, if local privacy laws permit. In addition to making a report to the branch office, the elders may be required by law to report even uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations to the authorities. If so, we expect the elders to comply. Additionally, the victim may wish to report the matter to the authorities, and it is his or her absolute right to do so.

    If, when confronted, the accused confesses that he is guilty of child abuse, the elders take appropriate congregational action. If he is not repentant, he will not be permitted to remain a member of the congregation. Even if he is repentantis cut to the heart and is thus resolutely determined to avoid such conduct in the futurewhat was stated in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower applies. The article said: "For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he cannot be a pioneer [full-time missionary of Jehovah's Witnesses] or serve in any other special, full-time service." He would not qualify Scripturally. (1 Timothy 3:2, 7-10) We take such action because we are concerned with maintaining Bible standards and protecting our children. Everyone in our organization is expected to meet the same requirements, namely, to be clean physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.

    In a few instances, individuals guilty of an act of child abuse have been appointed to positions within the congregation if their conduct has been otherwise exemplary for decades. All the factors are considered carefully. Suppose, for example, that a long time ago a 16-year-old boy had sexual relations with a consenting 15-year-old girl. Depending upon the U.S. jurisdiction where he lived when this happened, elders may have been required to report this as an incident of child abuse. Let us say that 20 years have passed. The child abuse reporting law may have changed; the man may have even married the girl! Both have been living exemplary lives and they are respected. In such a rare case, the man could possibly be appointed to a responsible position within the congregation.

    Our procedures have been refined over time. Over the years, as we have noted areas where our policies could be strengthened, we have followed through. We are continuing to refine them. We do not believe that our system is perfect. No human organization is perfect. But we do believe that we have a strong, Bible-based policy on child abuse. Anyone in a responsible position who is guilty of child abuse would be removed from his responsibilities without hesitation. We certainly would not knowingly allow him to serve elsewhere, either because he moved or through a transfer.

    The Bible teaches that individuals can repent of their sins and "turn to God by doing works that befit repentance," and we accept what the Bible says. (Acts 26:20) Still, the safety of our children is of the utmost importance. We take it very seriously.

    Edited by - UnDisfellowshipped on 14 October 2002 6:36:8

  • jwsons

    Look again in Pay Attention to Yourself...

    AND here:

    *** w97 8/15 27-8 Why Report What Is Bad? *** At least two witnesses are required to establish a charge of wrongdoing. (John 8:17; Hebrews 10:28) If the person denies the charge and your testimony is the only one, the matter will be left in Jehovahs hands. (1 Timothy 5:19, 24, 25) This is done in the knowledge that all things are openly exposed to Jehovah and that if the person is guilty, eventually his sins will catch up with him.Hebrews ; Numbers 32:23.

    But suppose the person does deny the charge and you are the only witness against him. Could you now be open to a countercharge of slander? No, not unless you have gossiped to those not involved in the matter. It is not slanderous to report conditions affecting a congregation to those having authority and responsibility to oversee and correct matters. It is, in fact, in line with our desire always to do what is correct and loyal.Compare Luke 1:74, 75

    *** w77 10/1 607 Questions from Readers ***My unbelieving husband admitted to me that he has another woman. Is his admission sufficient ground for a Scriptural divorce?

    In some cases if a Christians unbelieving mate admits to committing immorality, that would provide a Scriptural basis for a divorce, which, in turn, would free the innocent Christian for remarriage if desired.

    Jehovah Gods law to the ancient nation of made provision for divorce on various grounds. (Deut. 24:1, 2) Adultery, homosexuality and bestiality were bases for ending a marriage; the guilty person was to be executed. (Deut. 22:22-24; Lev. 18:22, 23) However, the Law set forth this important requirement: At the mouth of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one dying should be put to death. He will not be put to death at the mouth of one witness. (Deut. 17:6; ; Num. 35:30) Being a lover of righteousness and justice, Jehovah required that such matters be determined on the basis of proof, of witnesses, not merely suspicion. (Ps. 33:5) This, of course, was stated as regards applying the death penalty, not as regards a divorce action.


    Edited by - jwsons on 14 October 2002 3:48:38

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