WHAT IS THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY SO AFRAID OF? WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?
The Watchtower, October 1st 1986 Issue, Page 30-31, Footnote:
Elders in the Christian congregation are responsible to handle violations of divine law, such as stealing, murder, and immorality. But God did not require congregation elders to enforce Caesar's laws and codes. Hence, Paul did not feel compelled to turn over to Roman authorities Onesimus, who was a fugitive under Roman law. (Philemon 10, 15) Of course, if someone flagrantly violates secular law, gaining the reputation of being a lawbreaker, he would not be a good example and might even be disfellowshipped. (1 Timothy 3:2, 7, 10) If lawbreaking was involved in causing another's death, bloodguilt requiring congregation investigation might result.
The Watchtower, October 1st 1954 Issue, Pages 596-598:
PROTECTION FROM ENEMIES
19. When evil men are seeking to do injury to a Christian or some of his brothers or to God's organization and they come trying to pry into private affairs, is it necessary for a Christian to answer such evil men? What can be done for self-preservation or the protection of Christians particularly in times of difficulty or persecution? If you know an evil man is trying to inflict harm on a brother and he asks you where the brother may be found, it is not necessary to answer. Jesus often countered questions with other questions, which put his opponents in a bad light. It shows, too, how one can properly be evasive with evil men. (Matt. 15:1-6; 21:23-27; 22:15-21) There are instances, such as existed in the Nazi German regime, where it was a crime to be one of Jehovah's witnesses. If someone came and asked an individual to commit himself as to whether he was one of Jehovah's witnesses or not and he replied that he was, he could be immediately arrested and put into prison. In such an instance the individual would have to decide for himself what he wanted to do. He might conclude that it is proper merely to say, “I am a Christian,” or else say nothing at all. This would not be a denial of Christ such as is mentioned at Matthew 10:33. In the Dominican Republic at this time it is against the law to be one of Jehovah's witnesses. This harsh law was made by the dictator in an effort to stop the preaching work's being carried on there. So it would seem to be unwise for a person to go around telling everyone he is one of Jehovah’s witnesses, but he can go on with his work of telling the people the good news from the Bible and protect the interests of himself and the organization of Jehovah by not answering questions for every person who might ask.--Ps. 29:1.
20. The Constitution of the United States provides that an individual does not have to testify against himself. The Constitution is leveled at compulsion to testify against oneself in criminal proceedings. It also gives a witness the right in any legal or legislative or executive proceedings to refuse to answer a question on the grounds that it might incriminate him. A person does not have the right to refuse to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate some other person, but under some circumstances one may choose to remain silent and face contempt charges. (See explanation in paragraph 22.) The exemption is individual and for the benefit only of the person claiming it. Laws are made whereby some individuals can lose their employment if they refuse to answer questions. Even in employment cases a person cannot be compelled to incriminate himself. But his refusal to answer--whether it incriminates or not--is ground legally for firing. It is up to the individual to make the decision as to whether he wishes to answer questions or to suffer the penalty that goes along with his silence.
21. No harm is practiced, however, by withholding incriminating information from one who is not entitled to know. An example of this in English-speaking countries is, when one is under arrest, he can, if he chooses, legally refrain from giving information to a police officer who may ask incriminating questions. No answer need be given him, as it is none of the officer’s business. It is a matter for court. But when one goes into a court and enters within the witness box and swears to tell the truth, matters concerning the transaction theretofore confidential and possibly incriminating no longer can be withheld without risking contempt charges, as the judge has the authority to demand an answer. A man charged with a crime while on the stand as a defendant witnessing for himself may not claim exemption from answering questions about the crime he is charged with. A witness, too, must tell all he knows about the particular crime under investigation, but neither the defendant nor the witness may be compelled to testify against himself concerning some other transaction that might involve a crime in English-speaking countries. All facts about the event under trial must be answered. If a defendant wishes to avoid incrimination of himself about the particular transaction in question he should not go on the witness stand if the law of the land gives him that right; and in some countries he can refuse to take the stand. While the defendant may refuse to testify, a witness under subpoena to testify may not refuse to go on the witness stand. When one takes the stand about the transaction or crime in question, he by that act gives up the right to claim his privilege or exemption from incriminating himself about the particular transaction or crime. He can claim his exemption as to other crimes or transactions. Such exemption also applies to all witnesses brought before American Congressional investigating committees. There is no particular crime or transaction involved. Before such committees it is proper for all persons to claim the privilege. The exemption from self-incrimination is usually confined to English-speaking countries. In the case of Jesus, at Matthew 26:63-65 (NW), the court exceeded its own legal privilege where the high priest put Jesus under oath to tell whether he was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus replied: “That was for you to say. Yet I say to you men, from henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus was unjustly forced to make an answer and the sum total of his reply indicates that his answer was understood by the high priest to be in the affirmative.
22. Even in court under oath circumstances arose in totalitarian countries, such as under Hitler’s rule, where the brothers were faced with two evil alternative courses. One course was to tell everything one knew and incriminate and expose brothers to persecution and punishment and also bring sentence upon oneself. The other course was to refuse to answer questions while on the witness stand and be held for contempt of court. In similar circumstances today it is up to the individual to choose whether he wants to answer or not. Refusal means punishment. He can choose to stay silent and go to prison or speak and multiply his punishment or place his brothers in danger. He has no choice on lying but he does on refusing to answer, remembering that he must pay the penalty that Caesar imposes, which may be years of imprisonment. A Christian will not lie under oath, and therefore those in Nazi Germany had to suffer the consequences of living where there was no justice, where it was a crime to be a Christian. Jehovah gave them strength and wisdom to endure it. However, this is not to say that a person should always remain silent before an unjust court. There are times when good can be accomplished to the honor of Jehovah's name by giving a bold witness. Jesus Christ pointed out that his followers would come before the rulers to give a witness and that they would speak. (Matt. 10:17-20) Acts 22 and 26 show how Paul gave a bold, tactful testimony before the authorities. So it is left to the accused Christian to judge whether it is advisable under the circumstances to speak freely or not, but if one chooses to speak he must tell the truth.
23. Some men have claimed that circumstances such as those in Nazi Germany would justify lying under oath, but the Bible does not say so. Jesus answered when under oath, saying the truth, though he said little. There is no indication in the Bible that Jesus ever lied. His words at John 7:8 (AS), “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up unto this feast,” and then his going up to the feast later, have been resorted to by those who would justify telling an untruth; however, a consideration of the New World Translation shows Jesus did not in fact tell an untruth. He said: “I am not yet going up to this feast.”
24. There is a record in Matthew 26:69-75 of how Peter denied Jesus with an oath. When one makes an oath he must tell the truth. What Peter did was certainly not right. He knew it, because afterward he wept bitterly. His conscience bothered him. Jesus had not given him such an example to follow. He was wrong but in this case it is apparent that Jehovah showed undeserved kindness to Peter and forgave him, because he was used later to carry on the work of the early Christians and serve the brothers. The good course of Jesus Christ and the bitter experiences of Peter are examples for modern Christians.
25. Various characters of the Bible have been accused of lying, such as Jacob, Rahab, the Gibeonites, David and others, but there is no record in the Bible that they came under divine disapproval for this. How these instances of apparent lying are to be understood will be treated in another article that we hope to publish in The Watchtower.
The Watchtower, June 1st 1960 Issue, Page 333:
13. Another opportunity to bridle the tongue out of respect for the peace and unity of the congregation is in connection with any violation of God’s law by a member of the Christian congregation. When we hear that someone erred or even engaged in immorality, it is not proper to pass gossip around quickly and cause a stir. Matters of that nature are the business of the congregation servants who represent the congregation, and the controlled tongue will speak to them. One should not seek prominence by telling everyone all he knows, but in due humility consider the interest of the congregation as a whole. Let the congregation committee decide what action to take and what information to pass on to the congregation. If you heard something that was actually false and you went spreading it about you would fall in the class of slanderers. “The one walking about as a slanderer is uncovering confidential talk, but the one faithful in spirit is covering over a matter.”--Prov. 11:13.
14. When a matter has been dealt with individually with a personal offender or if the congregation has dealt with an offense that required probation or disfellowshiping of a member and after some time a brother or sister has been reinstated, no benefit can come to anyone by a continual harping on the transgression that was committed. Where is there love for brothers in that manner of speaking? When something has been settled and forgiven, then let it die out. “The one covering over transgression is seeking love, and he that keeps talking about a matter is separating those familiar with one another.”--Prov. 17:9.
Our Kingdom Ministry, July 1970 Issue, Page 4:
It is necessary to treat the names and addresses in our files [at Bethel] as confidential_____________________________________________
The Watchtower, April 1st 1971 Issue, Pages 222-224:
Questions from Readers
• What is the meaning of Proverbs 20:19, and how does this apply to a Christian’s keeping certain matters confidential?--E. M., U.S.A.
The verse in question reads: “He that is going about as a slanderer is uncovering confidential talk; and with one that is enticed with his lips you must have no fellowship.” The first part is quite plain. A slanderer is a person who intentionally spreads harmful talk designed to put someone in a bad light. Often to accomplish this he deliberately makes public and distorts things that were supposed to be kept confidential.
The second portion of the text is somewhat parallel, but it deals with “one that is enticed with his lips.” A person can be enticed with his lips just as with his eyes or hands in that any of these organs can allow him to be tempted and drawn into evil ways. (Matt. 5:27-29) One enticed with his lips is led astray into trouble because his mouth is open in speaking whatever he hears. He has no protection, for he does not control his speech. King David observed: “I will guard my ways to keep from sinning with my tongue. I will set a muzzle as a guard to my own mouth.” (Ps. 39:1) The person that “is enticed with his lips” is just the opposite; he seldom keeps anything confidential. Proverbs 20:19 counsels, “You must have no fellowship” with him, for he can cause you just as much trouble as a slanderer.
There are actually two aspects of this topic of confidential matters. The latter half of Proverbs 20:19 focuses on one of them The advice basically is to be careful as to the one to whom you entrust confidential matters. Sometimes a person has certain private information or plans that he does not want made public at present. Perhaps he tells these to an acquaintance, expecting that one to keep the matters confidential, and he may even request as much. Later he learns that the second person spread to others the private information that was of no real concern to them. The wise man will learn from such an experience with an acquaintance and determine accordingly how much he will say in the future.
However, without in any way excusing the habitual betrayer of confidences, it must be admitted that all humans are imperfect. The disciple James wrote: “The tongue, not one of mankind can get it tamed.” (Jas. 3:8) Even persons with the best of intentions occasionally make mistakes and unintentionally mention or hint about things that they know ought to be kept private. Thus, a degree of responsibility rests on the person himself who has a matter that he does not want made public. The more persons to whom one tells a confidential matter, the greater is the possibility that it will become general knowledge. And when one tells such a matter to a person who has proved himself to be “one that is enticed with his lips” the possibility becomes a probability.
The other important aspect of this topic is that of personally being trustworthy. Proverbs 25:9, 10 recommends this, saying: “Plead your own cause with your fellow man, and do not reveal the confidential talk of another; that the one listening may not put you to shame and the bad report by you can have no recall.” So there is a stigma affixed to the one who needlessly and without authorization reveals information that he was expected to keep confidential. And once a private matter has been publicized, there is no recalling it despite all the complications to which it may lead.
Let us consider some situations and relationships in life that bring to one's attention private information.
A husband and wife, being “one flesh,” are aware of many family matters, plans or weaknesses that are understood to be confidential. (Matt. 19:5) If either mate got into the habit of thoughtlessly telling other people such things, many problems could result. For example, perhaps a husband kiddingly comments to others about an unusual personality trait his wife has. When this gets back to the wife, she easily might be offended. Though this is just an illustration, it shows how a wedge can come between the mate who expected the matter to be kept confidential and the one who publicized it. On the other hand, how the bond of love between mates is strengthened when each sees that the other is worthy of full trust in regard to personal or family matters. (Eph. 5:25, 28) Children also can be taught to use discretion about repeating things they hear discussed within the family circle.
In one's relationship as a close friend or business associate a person sometimes knows of things of a confidential nature. It would be impossible to set any rules on just what should be kept confidential in these relationships. But a person can keep in mind that one strong binding force between close friends is mutual trust. (Prov. 18:24) If in your mind there is any question as to whether something your friend told you can be mentioned to others, it is best not to, or at least not until you have his permission. The same general view holds true in business matters, keeping in mind that one could severely hurt one's employer economically by revealing confidential business plans. The Scriptures urge those in the relationship of employees to exhibit “good fidelity to the full.”--Titus 2:9, 10.
Other situations that should be considered involve the Christian congregation. In each congregation of Jehovah's witnesses there are mature ministers appointed to care for various assignments. (1 Tim. 3:2, 12) As they discharge their duties they often are told about confidential things, and it is essential that they respect this confidence. For instance, James 5:13-16 shows that a member of the congregation who has some spiritual problem, perhaps even having committed a sin, should go to the spiritually older men for help. Isaiah 32:2 prophetically pictured these men as places of comfort and protection. What a fine thing it is to be able to explain one's problem and get balanced spiritual help, and at the same time have full confidence that the matter will not become general knowledge in the congregation or community.
Those mature ministers will not discuss even with their wives and close friends what they thus learn in confidence. They know that if they did so it would undermine respect for their positions; it would make individuals hesitant to come to them; yes, in time it might even make it impossible for them to fulfill their role as spiritual shepherds. Another reason why they maintain this confidence is so as to avoid burdening others. For instance, if a man tells his wife some confidential matter related to his ministerial duties, she is put under pressure to maintain that confidence. Is that fair to her as the “weaker vessel”? (1 Pet. 3:7) Even if in a moment of weakness she out of curiosity asked her husband what took place or why he was speaking with a certain person, the loving and correct course is for him to say kindly that it is a confidential matter regarding the congregation. In that way she does not have to carry unnecessary mental burdens. And if someone asks her about the matter, she can honestly say that she does not know the details.
All in the congregation should cooperate with the appointed servants by not trying to obtain the details on such confidential matters. Humans are somewhat curious by nature, and we usually like to learn new things. This is not bad. The number of new points about the Bible and the Christian ministry that we can learn and share with others is limitless. (Phil. 4:8) Yet we need to keep our curiosity in check when it comes to things that are confidential. Remember Samson and Delilah. When he would not tell her a secret that related to his theocratic assignment, she said in effect, 'You don’t love me.' And “because she pressured him with her words all the time and kept urging him, his soul got to be impatient to the point of dying. Finally he disclosed to her all his heart.” (Judg. 16:15-17) As a consequence, Samson suffered personally and he also temporarily hurt the cause of true worship by depriving Israel of his leadership. (Judg. 16:20, 21) Surely no Christian relative or friend today wants to copy Delilah's example.
There may be an occasion when the presiding minister announces to the congregation that its representatives have had to expel an unrepentant sinner or had to offer strong discipline to someone because of his unchristian conduct. The members of the congregation are informed so that they can avoid that one altogether or be careful in his presence, as the case may require. (1 Cor. 5:11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14, 15) But they should not try to ferret out all the details. Those are confidential and ought to be kept as such.
How thankful we can be that Jehovah provided in his Word perfect counsel on this vital topic. He had recorded, for example, the proverb: “The one walking about as a slanderer is uncovering confidential talk, but the one faithful in spirit is covering over a matter.” (Prov. 11:13) He obviously knew that it was a common failing of imperfect human nature to talk about confidential matters that should be kept private. But by calling attention to this danger He helps all who want to please Him to guide their steps in a way that will encourage peace, friendship and unity.
Our Kingdom Ministry, February 1974 Issue, Page 8:
Judicial matters: Confidential correspondence dealing with serious judicial matters should be kept in a safe place, accessible only to elders. It should be retained for at least five years from the date a case is handled to its completion, or longer if the elders deem it advisable in certain cases.
Our Kingdom Ministry, July 1975 Issue, Page 3:
How Do You View Confidential Matters?
1. As Christians we have many fine things that we can enjoy discussing-Scriptural points, experiences, conventions. Still, the Bible shows that some self-control is necessary regarding what we talk about. (Ps. 34:13; Prov. 10:19) We would not, for example, want to be slanderously spreading harmful talk or be one who indiscriminately tells everything he hears.--Prov. 20:19.
2. We are open and honest people, not suspiciously secretive. But some matters are confidential and we should not discuss them without authorization. This may not be easy, for we might be tempted with the impulse to share with a friend a confidential matter we learned. Also, it takes discipline not to try to pry confidential information from others.--Judg. 16:15-17.
3. What are some areas where this is so? Family: In the confidence of your family you may learn of a family member's weakness or private plans. Yet, husband, wife and children should not publicly converse about everything that happens or is planned in the family. (Ps. 50:20) One aspect of family love is that one's family members are trustworthy. This is something that parents can help children to learn. Employment: Revealing your employer's business details or plans could cause him financial harm. Congregation: Elders maintain confidence about problems they handle, for if someone confided in an elder about a spiritual or family problem and he talked about it publicly, others might hesitate to seek help from any elder. (Jas. 5:13-16) Even if, out of curiosity, his wife or child asked, an elder should not reveal confidential congregational matters. Thus he avoids burdening his family with keeping confidence on such congregation matters. (Watchtower, April 1, 1971, pp. 222-224)
4. Having this view of confidential matters, we can concentrate on speech that is upbuilding, helpful.--Prov. 25:9; 16:13.
The Watchtower, August 1st 1975 Issue, Page 474:
The meetings of the elders are not secret gatherings. But there is no need to tell everybody, or anybody not concerned, what is discussed at the meetings that is of a confidential nature. Why burden or upset others with matters with which they are not individually concerned? There are confidential matters that are disclosed to the elders that should not be publicized. Others, especially the wife or other members of the elder’s family, can help by not probing elders for information on such matters. ________________________________________________
Our Kingdom Ministry, December 1975 Issue, Page 5:
To All Bodies of Elders
Moral cleanness in the congregation is another possible vital topic. The judicial committee may have knowledge of circumstances that the rest of the body of elders could be informed of, so as to know how best to cooperate in protecting the congregation’s spiritual health, as well as to aid individual members who are weak. (Information of a confidential nature should be kept that way and not passed on to others outside the body.)
...The elders should not try to ‘police’ the brothers’ private lives, but should allow the exercise of personal conscience.
Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1977 Issue, Page 6:
What is considered at this initial [Judicial] meeting should not be discussed with those not entitled to know. Elders have the responsibility to keep things in confidence. Problems can be caused by indiscreet talk or a breach of confidence on the part of any one of the elders or members of the judicial committee. Proverbs 25:9 says: “Plead your own cause with your fellowman, and do not reveal the confidential talk of another.” The wisdom of those words should be closely observed. If there is a breach of confidence, elders should realize that this may raise questions regarding their soundness of judgment and depth of love for others who may be involved.--Prov. 10:19; 11:13.
The Watchtower, September 15th 1977 Issue, Page 553:
...there are certain things that a wife can do to help, without inquiring into matters that may be of a private nature if her husband has responsibilities in the congregation.
The Watchtower, September 1st 1980 Issue, Page 24:
...appointed undershepherds [elders] must refrain from openly discussing judicial matters involving those who have violated God’s righteous principles. Confidentiality must be maintained.______________________________________________
Our Kingdom Ministry, February 1981 Issue, Page 8:
All the addresses in the Society’s files and in congregation files are confidential and they cannot be released for personal use.
The Watchtower, September 1st 1981 Issue, Page 27:
29. In either of these situations, the congregation elders can arrange to deal with the matter at the weekly service meeting, not at other meetings. At the service meeting it could be announced that the former wrongdoer has been reproved by a judicial committee and has demonstrated repentance. Also, the judicial committee may feel it necessary to impose certain restrictions. These might include not sharing in meeting parts, not representing the congregation in prayer or, perhaps, not reading scriptures or commenting at meetings. If the committee has instituted some restrictions, they may advise the elders whether they feel that this should be announced to the congregation. Such restrictions can gradually be lifted in the future.
30. The same evening, but somewhat later in the service meeting program, an assigned elder could deliver a firm Scriptural talk. He should not mention the wrongdoer by name nor reveal any specific details of the confidential information that came to light in the judicial committee meeting. But he could discuss what God’s Word says about the type of error or sin involved in this instance, its danger and how to avoid it. All the congregation can benefit from such Scriptural admonition.--2 Tim. 4:1, 2.
The Watchtower, September 1st 1983 Issue, Page 26:
We also greatly appreciate the sacrifices the elders' wives sometimes have to make! At times, such women are left at home while their husbands attend special meetings or are making shepherding calls. Sometimes carefully made personal plans have been set aside because of some urgent problem in the congregation. Yes, we commend these fine sisters, too, who circumspectly avoid trying to draw out their husbands on confidential matters. They show respect for the elders and are an asset to the congregation.--Compare Romans 16:12; Titus 2:3-5.
The Watchtower, November 15th 1985 Issue:
Learn to keep confidential matters private
The Watchtower, September 1st 1987 Issue, Pages 12-15:
“A Time to Speak”--When?
MARY works as a medical assistant at a hospital. One requirement she has to abide by in her work is confidentiality. She must keep documents and information pertaining to her work from going to unauthorized persons. Law codes in her state also regulate the disclosure of confidential information on patients.
One day Mary faced a dilemma. In processing medical records, she came upon information indicating that a patient, a fellow Christian, had submitted to an abortion. Did she have a Scriptural responsibility to expose this information... even though it might lead to her losing her job, to her being sued, or to her employer’s having legal problems? Or would Proverbs 11:13 justify keeping the matter concealed? This reads: “The one walking about as a slanderer is uncovering confidential talk, but the one faithful in spirit is covering over a matter.”--Compare Proverbs 25:9, 10.
...when there seems to be serious wrongdoing, should a loyal Christian out of love of God and his fellow Christian reveal what he knows so that the apparent sinner can receive help and the congregation’s purity be preserved?
...At times Jehovah brings concealed wrongdoing to the attention of a member of the congregation that this might be given proper attention.--Joshua 7:1-26.
...Another Bible guideline appears at Leviticus 5:1: “Now in case a soul sins in that he has heard public cursing and he is a witness or he has seen it or has come to know of it, if he does not report it, then he must answer for his error.” This “public cursing” was not profanity or blasphemy. Rather, it often occurred when someone who had been wronged demanded that any potential witnesses help him to get justice, while calling down curses--likely from Jehovah--on the one, perhaps not yet identified, who had wronged him. It was a form of putting others under oath. Any witnesses of the wrong would know who had suffered an injustice and would have a responsibility to come forward to establish guilt. Otherwise, they would have to ‘answer for their error’ before Jehovah.* [FOOTNOTE says: In their Commentary on the Old Testament, Keil and Delitzsch state that a person would be guilty of error or sin if he “knew of another’s crime, whether he had seen it, or had come to the certain knowledge of it in any other way, and was therefore qualified to appear in court as a witness for the conviction of the criminal, neglected to do so, and did not state what he had seen or learned, when he heard the solemn adjuration of the judge at the public investigation of the crime, by which all persons present, who knew anything of the matter, were urged to come forward as witnesses.”]
This command from the Highest Level of authority in the universe put the responsibility upon each Israelite to report to the judges any serious wrongdoing that he observed so that the matter might be handled. While Christians are not strictly under the Mosaic Law, its principles still apply in the Christian congregation.
...True, it is illegal in many countries to disclose to unauthorized ones what is found in private records. But if a Christian feels, after prayerful consideration, that he is facing a situation where the law of God required him to report what he knew despite the demands of lesser authorities, then that is a responsibility he accepts before Jehovah. There are times when a Christian “must obey God as ruler rather than men.”--Acts 5:29.
While oaths or solemn promises should never be taken lightly, there may be times when promises required by men are in conflict with the requirement that we render exclusive devotion to our God.
...Mary was somewhat apprehensive about the legal aspects but felt that in this situation Bible principles should carry more weight than the requirement that she protect the privacy of the medical records. Surely the sister would not want to become resentful and try to retaliate by making trouble for her, she reasoned. So when Mary analyzed all the facts available to her, she decided conscientiously that this was a time to “speak,” not to “keep quiet.”
There may be occasions when a faithful servant of God is motivated by his personal convictions, based on his knowledge of God’s Word, to strain or even breach the requirements of confidentiality because of the superior demands of divine law.
...when there is an attempt to conceal major sins, this may be the “time to speak.”___________________________________________________
The Watchtower, February 22nd 1988 Issue, Pages 8-9:
If you expect others to respect your privacy, you must also honor the privacy of others by refraining from what may be considered embarrassing personal questions and gossip.
“Let none of you suffer . . . as a busybody in other people’s matters,” warns the Bible. (1 Peter 4:15) Referring to some busybodies in the first century, an educated Christian wrote: “They also learn to be unoccupied, gadding about to the houses; yes, not only unoccupied, but also gossipers and meddlers in other people’s affairs, talking of things they ought not.”--1 Timothy 5:13.
Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1989 Issue, Page 8:
All addresses in the Society’s files and in congregation files are confidential and cannot be released for personal use. Therefore, no one should write to the Society or to its branch offices, requesting such information.
Awake!, September 22nd 1989 Issue, Page 26:
What if you are the one entrusted with a private matter? Be loyal and “do not reveal another man’s secrets, or he will reproach you when he hears of it and your indiscretion will then be beyond recall.”--Proverbs 25:9, 10, The New English Bible.
The Watchtower, November 15th 1991 Issue, Page 23:
The obligation to maintain confidentiality also requires that an elder be alert to practice firm self-control. Pertinent here is the counsel: “Do not reveal the confidential talk of another.” (Proverbs 25:9) Experience suggests that this may be one of the most widely violated requirements among elders. If an elder has a wise and loving wife with whom he has good communication, there may be a tendency on his part to discuss or just to mention matters of a confidential nature. But this is improper and most unwise. To begin with, it betrays a trust. Spiritual brothers and sisters come to elders and confide in them because they have confidence that the matter will be held strictly confidential. Imparting confidential matters to one’s wife is wrong, unwise, and unloving also because this places a needless burden upon her.--Proverbs 10:19; 11:13.
The Watchtower, January 15th 1995 Issue, Page 23:
A certain elder made a serious mistake and lost his privilege of oversight in the congregation. “When the announcement was made about my removal as an elder, I thought that the brothers would feel uncomfortable in my company,” he says. “Nevertheless, the elders kept the reason strictly confidential and went out of their way to give me encouragement. The rest of the congregation likewise extended love and companionship, which definitely promoted my spiritual recovery.”
Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1995 Issue, Page 5:
...congregation records for which forms have been provided should not be kept on computers, since children or other unauthorized persons could access them. All congregation records--accounts records, Congregation’s Publisher Record cards, and so forth--should be kept on the forms provided by the Society, and the information on these congregation forms should not be stored in a computer. In this way, the confidential records of the congregation will be protected.
The Watchtower, March 15th 1996 Issue, Pages 18-19:
Loyalty presents particular challenges to elders. One of these challenges is the matter of confidentiality. A member of a congregation may confide in an elder. Loyalty to that one will keep the elder from violating the principle of confidentiality. He will heed the counsel at Proverbs 25:9: “Do not reveal the confidential talk of another.” That means not even to his own wife!
...When there has been a disfellowshipping, loyalty requires that we back up the elders, not trying to second-guess whether there were sufficient reasons for the action taken.
The Watchtower, March 1st 1997 Issue, Page 28:
What you discuss with an elder will remain strictly confidential.
The Watchtower, March 15th 1997 Issue, Pages 12-13:
If a professing Christian should carry his or her loose talk to the point of slander or reviling, appointed elders must act to put an end to this unwholesome situation in the congregation--Leviticus 19:16; Psalm 101:5; 1 Corinthians 5:11.
Unlike those “in want of heart,” individuals of “broad discernment” keep silent when it is appropriate to do so. They do not betray a confidence. (Proverbs 20:19) Knowing that unguarded speech can cause harm, discerning ones are “faithful in spirit.” They are loyal to fellow believers and do not divulge confidential matters that might endanger them. If discerning Christians receive confidential information of any kind pertaining to the congregation, they keep it to themselves until Jehovah’s organization sees good to make it known by its own means of publication.___________________________________________________
The Watchtower, June 1st 1997 Issue, Page 11:
Confidential matters that could cause embarrassment or pain should not be revealed to unauthorized people. Christian elders keep this in mind when they must offer personal counsel or comfort to fellow Christians or possibly even discipline them for seriously sinning against Jehovah. Handling these matters in a Scriptural way is necessary; revealing confidential details to those not involved is unnecessary and unloving. Certainly, members of the Christian congregation will not try to pry confidential information out of elders but will respect the elders’ responsibility to keep confidential things secret. Proverbs 25:9 notes: “Plead your own cause with your fellowman, and do not reveal the confidential talk of another.”
Of course, loyalty to Jehovah and his righteous principles, as well as love for erring individuals, may occasionally necessitate telling parents, Christian elders, or other authorized ones even confidential matters. But in most cases, Christians hold the personal secrets of others in confidence, guarding them as they guard their own.
In summary, a Christian imitates Jehovah by keeping certain matters confidential when necessary
Confidential personal matters, on the other hand, he guards, realizing that in most cases revealing them would amount to showing a lack of love.
The Watchtower, June 1st 1999 Issue, Pages 16-18:
‘Be Obedient and Be Submissive’
10. When we receive a gift, it is only fitting to express appreciation. “Show yourselves thankful,” says Colossians 3:15. What, then, about the “gifts in men,” the precious gift that Jehovah has given us? Of course, we are primarily thankful to Jehovah, the generous Gift-Giver. But what about the “gifts in men” themselves? How can we show that we appreciate them?
11. We can demonstrate our appreciation for the “gifts in men” by being quick to heed their Bible-based counsel and decisions. The Bible advises us: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.” (Hebrews 13:17) Notice that we must not only “be obedient” but also “be submissive” to those taking the lead. The Greek word for “be submissive” literally means “be you yielding under.” Commenting on the expressions “be obedient” and “be submissive,” Bible scholar R. C. H. Lenski says: “One obeys when one agrees with what he is told to do, is persuaded of its correctness and profitableness; one yields . . . when he has a contrary opinion.” When we understand and agree with the direction of those taking the lead, obedience may come readily. But what if we do not understand the reason behind a particular decision?
12. Here is where we may need to be submissive, or yielding. Why? For one thing, we need to trust that these spiritually qualified men have our best interests at heart. After all, they well know that they must render an account to Jehovah for the sheep committed to their care. (James 3:1) In addition, we do well to remember that we may not know all the confidential facts that led them to an informed decision.--Proverbs 18:13.
13. What about being submissive when it comes to judicial decisions? Granted, this may not be easy, especially if a decision is made to disfellowship someone we love—a relative or a close friend. Here again, it is best to yield to the judgment of the “gifts in men.” They are in a position to be more objective than we can be, and they may know more of the facts. These brothers often agonize over such decisions; it is a sobering responsibility to ‘judge for Jehovah.’ (2 Chronicles 19:6) They make every effort to be merciful, for they are mindful that God is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) But they must also keep the congregation clean, and the Bible directs that they disfellowship unrepentant wrongdoers. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) In many cases the wrongdoer himself accepts the decision. The discipline may be just what he needs to come to his senses. If we, his loved ones, are submissive when it comes to the decision, we may thereby be helping him to benefit from the discipline.--Hebrews 12:11.____________________________________________
Awake!, October 22nd 2000 Issue, Pages 14-15:
So when you are looking for help, it is important to find someone who does “not reveal the confidential talk of another.” (Proverbs 25:9)
The Watchtower June 15th 2002 Issue, Page 31:
A Time to Reveal a Confidential Matter
Keeping certain matters confidential can mean the difference between peace and contention. But is there a time to reveal a confidential matter? Note what the prophet Amos says about his God: "Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7) From these words, we can glean something concerning confidentiality. Jehovah may keep certain matters confidential for a period of time and eventually reveal them to some individuals. How can we imitate Jehovah in this regard?
At times, the appointed shepherds in the Christian congregation find it beneficial to keep a certain matter undisclosed. (Acts 20:28) For instance, with the benefit of the congregation in mind, they may decide to keep the details of some arrangements or changes in congregation responsibilities confidential until a specific time.
In such a case, however, it is important to make clear to those who are involved if, when, and in what manner the matter is to be revealed. Knowing when a matter will be publicly disclosed may help them to maintain confidentiality.--Proverbs 25:9.
I would love to hear everyone's comments about these Quotes (especially in relation to the Pedophile Cover-Up).