June1,2001WT QFR Confess to Elders?
Questions From Readers
In view of Jehovah’s willingness to forgive sins by the merit of the ransom sacrifice, why is it necessary for Christians to confess to the older men in the congregation?
As can be seen in the case of David and Bath-sheba, Jehovah forgave David’s sin, grave though it was, because of David’s genuine repentance. When the prophet Nathan approached him, David openly confessed: “I have sinned against Jehovah.”—2 Samuel 12:13.
However, Jehovah not only accepts a sinner’s sincere confession and extends forgiveness but he also makes loving provisions to help the erring one progress to spiritual recovery. In David’s case, the help came through the prophet Nathan. Today, in the Christian congregation, there are spiritually mature older men, or elders. The disciple James explains: “Is there anyone [spiritually] sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.”—James 5:14, 15.
Skillful elders can do much to ease the pain of heart that is felt by the remorseful sinner. They strive to imitate Jehovah in their
dealings with him. They never want to be harsh, even though strong discipline maybe warranted. Rather, they compassionately consider the immediate needs of the individual. Patiently they strive to readjust erring one’s thinking by using God’s Word. (Galatians 6:1) Even if a person does not voluntarily confess his sin, he may still be moved repentance when approached by the elders, as David was when approached by Nathan. The support thus rendered by the elders helps the one to avoid the danger of repeating the sin and the serious consequences of becoming a hardened practicer of sin.—Hebrews 10:26-31.
It is certainly not easy to confess to others deeds that one feels ashamed of and to seek forgiveness. It takes inner strength. Reflect for a moment, though, on the alternative. One man who failed to reveal his serious sin to the elders in the congregation said: “l felt a pain in my heart that would not go away. I increased my efforts in the preaching work, but the sickening feeling remained.” He felt that confession to God in prayer was enough, but clearly it was not, for he experienced feelings similar to King David’s. (Psalm 51:8, 11) How much better to accept the loving assistance that Jehovah provides through the elders!
THE WATCHTOWER • JUNE 1, 2001 31
.....end of article
The bible does mention confessing sins but in the context of confessing directly without the elder ‘filter’.
*** Rbi8 1 John 1:9 - 2:2 ***
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we make the statement: “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2 My little children, I am writing YOU these things that YOU may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. 2 And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.
Why go beyond that? Especially since the account of David and Nathan was pre-Christ. You really doubt that many elders will consider anyone that did not confess voluntarily as ‘repentant’ although how many judicial committees would have considered David repentant?
Why confess only to elders? The same reason Catholicism distorted the verse on confession and made it only right to confess to clergy. The same reason Pentecostal laedars love to also be your "counsellor". That is: knowledge is power, plain and simple. Anything you confess in a genuine attempt to unload your guilty burden and receive some sense of absolution can later be used against you. Vying for a leadership position but have a different biblical perspective on certain issues to that held by other leaders? Is that the reason they reject you for the position you're applying for? No; they'll reject you for the fact that you've got a problem with being easily tempted in the area of masturbation! You'll notice that most leader types you confess to will never admit to you their own weaknesses; only their self-perceived strengths - usually in the area where you are weak, in order to impress on you how spiritually striong they are and worthy of the lofty position which they hold. That's my take on the subject, anyway!
The descriptions of elders in the reply to the reader's question above do not fit any elder I have ever known. The answer contemplates an ideal situation with ideal people performing an ideal function. In real life, elders are the biggest bunch of prying, nosy bastards on earth, seeking titillation with every question. Any decent church would have burned them all long since.
Good comments on the article. The only positive thing I can say is it was not as dogmatic as they have been in the past. In fact there were only comments regarding this being a “provision to help” and “better to accept loving assistance”. It may be leaving the door open in the mind of many to reject the “loving assistance” and keep it between themselves and God. I hope so.
Note the contradiction: Para 2 says “Jehovah not only accepts a sinner’s sincere confession and extends forgiveness” then Para 4 says it is “not easy to confess to others deeds that one feels ashamed of and to seek forgiveness”. So ‘Jehovah extends forgiveness’ but one still must ‘seek forgiveness’ through the elders. My brothers still inside, seek Jehovah’s forgiveness first, then you will need nothing nor gain nothing by confessing to anyone else.
Thank ISP for bringing that article to our attention.
This is really a sore subject for me. I've experienced committees and have seen so many helpless people at the mercy of those wielding power over the weak.
The experience in the quoted WT article of the man who only confessed his sins to God and not to the elders stresses, that the man said:
l felt a pain in my heart that would not go away
IMO that doesn't prove that he needed to go to the elders to confess in order for his guilt and pain to leave.
(1) The belief that we'll only have God's forgiveness and blessing if we confess to the elders is conditioned and programmed into us from the beginning to think that way.
(2) Many times the guilt and pain neverleave. Confessing to elders doesn't fix that because our memory takes over many times and won't let us forget or forgive ourselves.
Skillful elders can do much to ease the pain of heart that is felt by the remorseful sinner. They strive to imitate Jehovah in their dealings with him. They never want to be harsh, even though strong discipline maybe warranted.
The key word here is skillful. How many are skilled and trained to help people with problems. None. To force that rule, that only confessing to the elders will eradicate ones sin, is outrageous.
Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.”—James 5:14, 15.
That scripture above says "sins". Most times the elders will look at someone who commits a sin more that once, as not repentant and feels justified in condemning the "sinner" even though he/she is repentant and has turned away from the sin.
These are imperfect, untrained men put in a position of power. They cannot judge the heart and therefore have no place in making decisions on anyone's life that can destroy their family life.
When the WTS say on their website that disfellowshipping does not sever family ties, they are blatantly lying by their famous doublespeak. How they can boldfaced say this is beyond me.
No wonder I've...
"Especially since the account of David and Nathan was pre-Christ."
And with all due respect, there is no "pre-Christ." For all the prophets knew about the Christ, the coming One that kept atoning for the sins of both the prophets and Israel whenever they had a vision. But, needless to say you are correct. And with regards to David and Nathan ........ THIS IS WHY JWs TOGETHER WITH THE WORLD GET MISLED, they DON'T READ!
Looking at the account in 2 Samuel if you read 12:1 it says Jah SENT Nathan to David. In addition to that, without David telling Nathan anything, Nathan spoke a parable to David regarding David's error. This in itself proved to be a "message from Jah." Upon hearing the words David basically 'condemned himself.' Once that was MANIFESTED, he immediately repented. This NEVER happens with an elder unless that "elder" heard 'holy spirit speak' as Nathan did.
Also regarding the article:
"Even if a person does not voluntarily confess his sin, he may still be moved repentance when approached by the elders, as David was when approached by Nathan. "
David's repentance was NOT on his heart at the time Nathan came to David. Again THEY DON'T READ. First, if David was already repentant Jah would NOT have sent Nathan to him. In addition to that, looking at the 'parable' it says Jah was going to bring evil upon ALL of David's house and EVERYTHING would be known to the rising of the sun. (2 Sam. 12:11, 12). But almost everything changed when David DID repent, and thus his life was spared. Had David repented earlier, he never would have recieved the entire parable.
So, evidently David NEEDED someone to be sent to him to bring up his error and the following judgement. Because David LISTENED and repented, he was spared. The account does not mention Nathan's help, other than Nathan letting David know his repentance was heard, when he finally repented.
Just another case of the blind leading the blind....
I could not help but be struck by how convieniently absent the real meat of this story was in the WT; David's child is the one who paid the real price for David having yet another sexual escapade. Not criticising, mind you, I fall in love very easily myself.
It's surprising why JWs criticize the Catholic Church for the tradition of confession and then instruct that sins be confessed to elders as a conditon to forgiveness. The word "spiritually" has been conveniently in the text of James 5:14, 15. It's all in the pattern of structured spirituality through human agents. And I'm yet to hear of an elder who prayed with someone who's come to confess a sin.
Excellent post which I can relate to.`
Our friends sickening feeling of guilt is typical of a dub caught up in a so-called sin. You see, like all dubs he will have been conditioned to believe that confession to the elders is the only way that his guilt feelings will be relieved. This WT article re-affirms this JW belief, doubtless many dubs who have been trying to alleviate their guilt feelings through "more good works" will, as a result of this article, now finally confess their sins to the elders.
This "cult of confession" was imprinted into me as a youngster by such phrases as being "unclean in the eyes of Jehovah", impurity would "block the spirit", or, far worse, "if armageddon comes before you have confessed to the elders you will die".
All dubs believe that forgiveness is only available through confession the the elders. The sinning JW may re-double his efforts to try to gain some peace of mind, eventually he will feel impelled to confess.
Englishman ( Who once conducted the WT study shortly after losing his cherry to the Asst PO's daughter whilst waiting for lightning to strike him dead.)
No where in that scripture that the Dubs quote regarding going to the elders does it say to CONFESS TO THEM. It says to call them TO you and have them PRAY over you. They conveniently add to the scripture to make it say something it does not. And that allows them to continue their POWAH hold over people. And...to weed out anyone who isnt toeing the line with Mommy Dearest. Jehovah listens to confessions, FORGIVES AND FORGETS IMMEDIATELY. There is no period of RESTITUTION or MONTHS of making up for the sin...or for repentence. If someone confesses...they already ARE repentant. Done deal.
I agree...it gives the Smelders ammo against you. Skilled?? Ohmygod...exactly what CLASSES have these "spirited appointed princes" taken that would prepare them for molestation cases? for suicide threats? for marriage counseling if they arent married? for child rearing if they have no children? Is EVERYTHING done with a Watchtower COOK BOOK OF ANSWERS TO ALL LIFE'S PROBLEMS. (subtitled: If You Cant Find It In Here...THEN YOU MADE IT ALL UP)
Confess confess my children, so I can listen to all the gory details and then go home and get off on the memory if it while I tell my wife, Sister Repeatsitall.