While thumbing through a 1948 WT recently I came upon a questions from readers that struck me as rather interesting. It is a rather long read, for which I apologize, but bear with it and you will notice a WT dealing with issues of sexual activity in quite a different manner than they would today.
Dear Brethren :
In the Norwegian Watchtower for April 15, 1947, we had a very fine article about marriage. The only reason a brother had to divorce his wife in accordance with this article was unfaithfulness from his wife?s side - if she had sexual intercourse with another man or men.
Specially since World War II a rather peculiar phenomenon occurs here in Norway : married women are seeking other married women, no doubt with the intention to seek sexual pleasure with each other. The doctors have much to write and say about the matter.
May I ask you; What does the Bible say about this? Is it counted as a great sin as if a man had sexual intercourse with another man, just as the inhabitants of Sodom & Gomorrah?
If it can be proved that the wife of a brother has been seeking such pleasure, has he the right to divorce her in accordance with the Bible? I thank you in advance if you would be so kind as to let me have your answer to this question.
In answer to your inquiry of August 27:
When women, as is now being reported in Norway, seek sexual pleasure with other women, committing masturbation among themselves, it is not the fornication for which, or adultery for which Jesus said a husband should divorce his wife. But it is an unnatural vice of the female sex, and it is gross uncleanness and is sinful in God?s sight. It eventually results in great degradation mentally and physically and though it may not constitute Scriptural grounds for the husband to divorce his wife, yet he should warn her of the serious consequences of such a practice , not merely in body and mind but particularly spiritually. According to what God?s word says about related sinful practices? debarring a professed Christian from inheriting the kingdom of God, such a vile sin, if persisted in after due warning from the scriptures, would debar a woman from life in God?s new world.
In parallel fashion, where a male commits sexual filthiness with another male, in other words, sodomy, it does not constitute the scriptural grounds for his wife to divorce him. A man cannot be married to another man, neither cam a women really be married to another women; no matter what the sexual abuses each one commits with the same sex. But sodomy is named in the scriptures as a very vile sin a practice which debars the sinner from inheriting Gods kingdom and also life on earth in the new world. Sodomy by a husband shows great disrespect of the man for his wife, just as masturbation by a wife with another woman shows similar disrespect for her husband. The wife of learning of her husband?s guilt in sodomy, should warn him of the end results to him, especially as to his relations with God and Christ and his prospects of eternal life in the new world. If he quits the practice, seeking Gods forgiveness through Christ, she also in a Godly manner may forgive him
I cannot help thinking that the whole pre-judicial committee idea, that is, of partners taking care of their own sexual lives is one that is alien to the majority of Jehovah?s Witnesses today who have become used to the intervention of the WTS in every aspect of their lives. They may even find it hard to believe that these things tended to be left to partners to deal with, rather than a judicial committee.
Despite the muddled theology regarding divorce, it was left to the wife for example, to warn her husband of sexual matters that could cause an issue between them, and there was no hint of needing to ?keep the congregation clean?, or disfellowship those who chose a path that the WTS found disagreeable. Basically, they behaved in a manner that many mainstream churches have always behaved, that is, to frown on bad behavior but to leave the judgment part of things to God.
What is interesting is that comparing attitudes towards these matters over the past fifty years, the WTS is forced to admit that the edict of progressive revelation does not just relate to doctrine, but also to the very sensitive matter of personal sexual morality. They now feel that they are able to police the morality of their adherents, punishing and rewarding at will at the behest of a corporate image, rather than an appeal to genuine morality. They do this, because God took his time letting them know how to deal with these issues and they were only told by him in the 60's and 70's.
How does the WTS really know that its adherents are for the greater part upright and moral? Surely it is only if they allow the freedom to choose that a persons true desires will become manifest. As it is, I can confidently state from my own experience as a JW, that even with the morality police in action, around 30-35% of Jehovah?s Witnesses end up in the interrogation room relating details of their personal lives, often before virtual strangers.
Best regards - HS