Jws and smoking...

by Bryan 22 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Bryan

    When was it that the GB decided witnesses could not smoke?

    Thanks in advance,


  • bikerchic

    Bryan here is the first year I could find an article about smoking. Note they make a reference to a 1942 Watchtower about it also I highlighted it.

    2-15 1950 Watchtower, pages 59-61;

    Why Christians Shun Tobacco

    MANY new ones are coming to a knowledge of the truths in the Bible and are taking their place in the gospel-preaching ranks of Jehovah?s witnesses. Many of these new ones formerly smoked tobacco, but have now quit. A few others come to a knowledge of the truth but do not quit smoking. When an effort is tactfully made to instruct them they reply that the Bible does not forbid smoking, that when they are shown from the Bible that it is wrong then they will quit. Some of these have even offered cigarettes to non-smoking witnesses when at local Kingdom Halls. At least, their attempt at humor is unbecoming and savors of taunting. At most, they could tempt only another who had cleansed himself of the habit.

    It is true that the Bible does not specifically name tobacco-smoking as an evil to be avoided. If Christians should shun it, why does not the Bible definitely mention it? Because in the times when the Bible was written the smoking of tobacco was unknown. Under the heading "Tobacco" the Encyclopedia Americana, 1942 edition, states:

    "Originating in America, the use of tobacco has been extended into practically all parts of the world, and, indeed, it has come to be incomparably the most generally used of all narcotics. . . . Tobacco was widely used by the Indians at the time of the discovery of America by Columbus and relics of the Mound Builders show that pipe smoking was a very ancient custom among the aborigines. On landing in the West Indies in 1492 members of Columbus? crew observed that the natives smoked rolls of dried tobacco leaves. When the Spaniards landed in Mexico in 1519 they found the natives cultivating tobacco with care and skill. . . . The American Indians had evolved methods of cultivating tobacco and preparing it in all forms which are now used. . . . The culture and the use of tobacco were introduced into India, Persia and other Asiatic countries early in the 17th century."

    Hence it was not used in Biblical lands till more than fifteen centuries after the last book of the Bible was written. Nevertheless, inspired admonition contained in Scripture is of such scope as to definitely embrace the use of tobacco. A meek and humble person who wishes to receive instruction could consider with profit such scriptures as Proverbs 30:12, Isaiah 52:11, Galatians 5:19, Colossians 3:5, James 1:22, Ephesians 5:3, 4, and other texts concerning cleanness in matters both physical and spiritual. These texts establish a principle of purity and cleanness that should guide Christians, and 2 Corinthians 7:1 is explicit when it orders: "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." A translation in modern English reads: "Let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates either flesh or spirit; let us be fully consecrated by reverence for God."?Moffatt.

    Is not tobacco-smoking filthy in that it stains the flesh, stinks clothes and body, and litters ashes about? Is it not expressing inconsiderate selfishness rather than love when one fouls the air with strong smoke for others to breathe, and which smarts the eyes? Does not the habit contaminate the flesh by harming health? It admittedly cuts wind or endurance, slows reflexes, fogs the brain, promotes diseases of heart and blood vessels, lowers vitality, irritates sinuses and membranes of nose, mouth, throat and lungs, induces cancer, impairs reproductive functions in both men and women, weakens moral fiber and shortens the life span. To what advantages can cigarette smokers point to counterbalance these disadvantages? Can one consecrate his full potential of strength and energy to God if he siphons off a measure of it by sucking on cigarettes? Is a Christian?s consecrated strength and time and money being wisely spent when dissipated and wasted through the tobacco habit? It is not necessary for Jehovah?s witnesses to badger or heckle smokers with these and similar questions. It is sufficient for each smoker, particularly those who have come to a knowledge of the truth and who engage in Jehovah?s service, to honestly consider these questions and look frankly into his own mind and heart for the answer.

    They might also remember that it was Jehovah?s visible organization that God used to rid their mind of false religious doctrine, that He used it to teach them Kingdom truths, to picture for them new-earth blessings, and to train them in the gospel-preaching work that leads to such joys and eternal life. They trusted the organization in those matters, certain that God was and still is using it. Is it not reasonable that God also uses it to cleanse His people of such filthy habits as smoking? After the novice becomes a witness through the organization?s aid, does he suddenly become wiser than his visible teacher on the subject of cleanliness and on explaining scriptures relating thereto? On different occasions in times past The Watchtower has discussed the use of tobacco. Note the following comments taken from the Watchtower magazine of July 1, 1942, after it quoted 2 Corinthians 7:1.

    "Any filthiness, whether it be of the flesh or of the spirit, is abominable in His sight. Cleanliness of the flesh and spirit is the very opposite of filthiness, and means that the creature must be clean in body and in mind and use the natural faculties with which he is endowed to the glory of God. Having taken his position on the side of Jehovah in the great issue, and having been granted by Jehovah the great privilege of being associated with his Theocratic organization, he must deport himself in keeping with that holy organization.

    "The armies [of this world], and the religious organizations with them, are seeing to it that those fighting for world domination are amply supplied with tobacco. The Encyclopædia Britannica (Vol. 26) says: ?As the continent of America was opened up and explored, it became evident that the consumption of tobacco, especially by smoking, was a universal and immemorial usage, in many cases BOUND UP WITH THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AND SOLEMN TRIBAL CEREMONIES.? That means the use of that herb was associated with demonism, to bring its dupes under the power of the demons. Is the use of tobacco, then, clean or filthy within the meaning of the Scriptures? The use of tobacco is extremely filthy, regardless of the form in which it is used. It befouls the body and dulls the mental faculties. It makes the user offensive to those with whom he comes in contact, and works great injury to the user and is a dishonor to God and Christ. The use of tobacco has greatly demoralized the human race. It creates an appetite for other impure and filthy things. Under no condition is the use of tobacco approved by God?s Word, although not mentioned by name.

    "It, therefore, does not seem consistent for anyone of God?s organization or those who have been privileged by His grace to enter the ?cities of refuge?, to use tobacco. . . . Those who persist in the use of the harmful weed cannot be considered as proper examples in word, in charity, in spirit, in faith, or in purity, and by their course of action the example they are setting forth works ill to their neighbor. They are rebelling against a reasonable requirement of the Lord?s organization . . .

    "If a man chooses to injure himself by the use of tobacco, no one has the right to say he shall not use it, but certainly no person has the right to blow tobacco smoke into the nostrils of another person. The habit of tobacco-smoking is one of the most selfish that is exercised by human creatures; and, being selfish, it is the very opposite of love. The smoker fails to give any consideration to the rights and privileges of others about, to whom tobacco may be offensive. There is every reason against the use of tobacco; there is not one reason that supports its use. . . .

    "Tobacco is the Devil?s weed employed for the purpose of demoralizing human creatures, particularly in the ?time of the end?. The use of tobacco having originated with demonism, it should be expected that the ?prince of the demons? would introduce its use into Christendom by religionists and popularize it there among religious practitioners. The contaminating influence thereof has spread to all parts of the earth. Imagine the ?great multitude? of Armageddon survivors, under the righteous rule of the visible ?princes in all the earth?, with cigarettes in their lips and trying to carry out the divine mandate to fill the earth with a healthy-blooded righteous race!" (Pages 205, 206)



    And one more point that new ones among Jehovah?s witnesses should remember relative to the use of tobacco. That is, is it their purpose to bring filthiness into the organization and spoil its reputation for cleanness? The fact that Jehovah?s witnesses as a group do not smoke has become a marker of them, a sign that distinguishes them from worldlings, a cause for special notice and comment by outside observers. Typical of this is the press report in the Springfield Union, July 2, 1949, in the section "With the Witnesses" published during the district assembly held in Springfield, Massachusetts:

    "One boy about 12 years old had his binoculars trained on the speakers, even though he had a seat right near the front. Use of the glasses tended to create a racetrack atmosphere. But another condition in the Coliseum was a far cry from what?s usual at sporting events of any sort. People who attend hockey games there, particularly, wouldn?t have recognized the place. Indeed, who had ever before been in the Coliseum with 4,500 other people when there wasn?t the tiniest trace of cigaret smoke?"

    Do new ones wish to mar this standard of cleanness that has made Jehovah?s visible organization outstanding? It does not seem that any new witnesses appreciative of the truths they have learned from the organization would want to repay by doing evil, by wrecking such a long-established reputation for freedom from tobacco?s filth. It is not the purpose of the visible organization to be narrow or dogmatic or lacking in tolerance and mercy. It realizes that it takes time for new ones to cleanse themselves of worldly filth, both physical and spiritual, and those making up the visible organization should exercise patience and understanding with one another. New ones should be meek and teachable and not stubbornly resist for selfish reasons the Scriptural admonitions against the filthiness of the tobacco habit. On the other hand, those in the organization who are clean of this contamination of the flesh should not fall short of being merciful and long-suffering, but should allow time for new ones to readjust themselves and conform to the Scriptural ways of Jehovah?s organization.

    Many different methods for breaking the tobacco habit are recommended by worldly theorists, such as special diets, exercise, medicines, gradual tapering-off of smoking, etc. The best method for quitting is to have a good incentive for doing so and then to stop abruptly. It is the method used by many when they became Jehovah?s witnesses and wanted to cease fouling themselves with tobacco. Many of this multitude of witnesses numbering into the tens of thousands were at one time in slavery to tobacco with the rest of the world, but they broke free of its unclean bonds, not because they followed a special diet or course of exercise, but because they realized that it was defiling their bodies and harming their health and making them unclean for Jehovah?s service. Had they not learned that Jehovah?s witnesses were commanded to be clean in both mind and body??Isa. 52:11; 2 Cor. 7:1.

    How, then, were so many thousands able to break the tobacco habit? Most people fail to appreciate that the mind is the agency that controls, governs and directs the body and its habits. But Jehovah?s witnesses fully realize this and know that the battle against tobacco must be fought and won in the mind. They know full well that the great adversary the Devil as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour attacks one?s mind, and so they take mental refuge under the protecting hand of Jehovah God. (1 Pet. 5:8) Under such overshadowing protection they are taught by God?s Word, the Bible. But in addition to a mind fed, strengthened and directed by God?s Word he gives them that all-necessary invisible force or energy toward righteousness, and that is his holy spirit. To those who ask him persistently he gives this spirit more readily than earthly parents give good gifts to beloved children. Thus, fortified and moved by his holy spirit, and with honest-to-goodness appeal or prayer to God for his help to overcome the entrenched habit, they are bound to vindicate his power in gaining the victory.

    Food and exercise are also important factors for Jehovah?s witnesses. Their special diet is that prescribed by the great Physician: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4) They do not get choosy and stubbornly reject the spiritual food that puts their unclean habits in an unfavorable light, but partake of the spiritual food to get strength to overcome the uncleanness. For exercise they have their "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15), and they hasten from house to house with this good news. They do not sit around in a tobacco-laden atmosphere, but get out into the fresh air and occupy their mind and body by standing on the street corners with magazines heralding forth the Kingdom message.

    This, then, is the sure and positive cure for the tobacco habit, and anyone who will make a clean and abrupt break from the snare and follow this course will find that in a short time he will have lost his desire for the weed. Then he will have more health and strength and energy to expend in Jehovah?s service. He will have redeemed time and money for worth-while uses. He will have Scripturally cleansed himself from that particular "filthiness of the flesh". Then, instead of tearing down the organization?s reputation for cleanness, he will be a clean associate of the clean organization that today is preaching the good news of Jehovah God?s righteous new world of endless blessings.

    The next reference is 1954 Watchtower, 4-1-54 pages 201-205

    They seem to skip the '60's altogether but hit it hard again in the '70's and 80's which are the years I remember most.

    Edited to add: I think it was in the mid to late 60's where they cracked down on smoking to the point that you could no longer serve as an Elder, then it was late 60's where it became a Disfellowshipping offense. If I remember right? LOL

    Let me know if you need these references posted too.


  • Bryan

    Thanks Kate!

    This looks like all I need.


  • Margie
    "Tobacco is the Devil?s weed employed for the purpose of demoralizing human creatures..."

    Well that seems like an apt observation from the Devil's organization employed for the purpose of demoralizing human creatures. I guess it takes one to know one.

  • Mulan

    I am pretty sure it became a disfellowshipping offense in 1972 or 1973. Those who smoked were given six months to quit or be df'd.

    When I was a child in the early 50's, our school overseer smoked. No one cared, no one talked about it until he died, and they said it was because he smoked.

  • Balsam

    I started studying with JW in 1971, and got baptized in 1972 and they were talking then about making smoking a disfellowshipping offence. By the end of 1972 beginning of 1973 it was offical. I do remember they gave 6 months for smokers to beat the habit. I remember a couple who were new to the JW and newly baptized they had to quit or be disfellowshipped. They quit but it was very very hard.

    I wonder now where in the bible did the get the policy to disfellowship for smoking. The bible don't even mention smoking at all, then to make it a disfellowshipping offence is just bizarre. Then they made growing tobacco a disfellowshipping offence. There were farmers here who really suffered financial set backs because of the policy in the mid to late 1970's.

    Anyone what a cigarette????? I picked up smoking right after I got disfellowshipped. Have sense quit, it seemed like a waste of money to me and I didn't enjoy it once the novelty wore off. LOL


  • bikerchic

    You're right Mulan about the dates and I did a more thorough check and I goofed there were lots of articles about smoking in the 60's, oops!

    Also I remember our CO smoking and he eventually stepped down because of smoking.

    Okay Bryan here is the article from 1973 where the Society really clamps down on smoking and gave those who were smokers 6 months to quit or be booted.

    Watchtower 6-01-73:

    Keeping God?s Congregation Clean in the Time of His Judgment

    "Do you not know that a little leaven ferments the whole lump?"?1 Cor. 5:6.

    CLEANNESS works for the good of the human body, both physical cleanness and moral cleanness. Good attention to this promotes healthful living. What is true of the human body is also true of the body-like congregation of genuine disciples of Christ Jesus, found today in all parts of the earth. Jehovah God requires such healthful cleanness in that body of his servants?for his own name?s honor and for the lasting good of all who love him.?2 Cor. 6:17; Isa. 52:11; Mal. 3:2, 3.


    Writing to fellow Christians nineteen hundred years ago, the apostle Paul exhorted: "Pursue peace with all people, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord, carefully watching that . . . no poisonous root may spring up and cause trouble and that many may not be defiled by it; that there may be no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things, like Esau, who in exchange for one meal gave away his rights as firstborn."?Heb. 12:14-16.


    So, while pursuing peace with all persons, shepherds of God?s flock must protect it from any infiltration or cropping up of undesirable elements. They must realistically recognize that "a little leaven ferments the whole lump."?1 Cor. 5:6; Acts 20:28.




    Today, drug addiction has become like a plague in many lands. Certainly there is no place in God?s clean congregation for such practice. But what of persons who may be on some government-sponsored program where controlled doses of a product (such as that known as methadone) are given in substitution for a more dangerous drug, like heroin? Persons on such government programs may say they are doing nothing ?illegal?; that they do not experience the hallucinations so characteristic of drug addiction; that they are able to function as a ?working part of society.? What if they seek to become recognized, baptized members of the worldwide congregation of Jehovah?s witnesses? Should they be accepted for baptism?


    These questions have come up for prayerful consideration. From the Bible?s viewpoint it appears clear that those on such programs do not Scripturally qualify, since they may rightly be considered as still addicted to drugs. There is, of course, a proper use of drugs in medication, in treating physical or organic illness. But the person on, for example, methadone is not properly compared with the diabetic who has an organic illness requiring insulin, or the chronic arthritic or the person with terminal cancer who receives medication to reduce pain. The diabetic, arthritic or cancer cases are not using these medications to avoid the disagreeable, even agonizing, experience of "withdrawal" from "hard"-drug addiction; nor are they using the medications as a ?crutch? to maintain mental and emotional equilibrium. And, while doctors may prescribe a sedative to provide some temporary relief or to induce sleep at a critical time, or to prepare a patient for surgical operation, this is not the same as being enslaved to a drug through addiction.


    The ?legality? of using a product, such as methadone, in some government drug program is not the decisive factor. In some countries addicts may ?legally? obtain heroin through government dispensaries. This does not make it Scripturally proper.


    Generally such programs are just a case of substituting one drug for another, one viewed as less harmful than a drug like heroin. Yet now we read in the newspapers of methadone as being sold on the streets to drug addicts like other ?illegal? drugs. Rather than go through the pangs of "withdrawal" and then take up a life free from drug addiction, persons continuing on these programs are seeking to evade or postpone facing up to their problem and conquering it. This raises the questions: Just how meaningful would their baptism be? What would it signify?


    Christ Jesus said that anyone wishing to be his disciple should ?pick up his torture stake? and follow him, being willing to lose even his life for Christ?s sake. (Luke 9:23, 24; John 12:25) Anyone who is baptized should have made such heart decision. If the person is willing to bear a "torture stake" and would be willing to follow Jesus to the point of impalement, can he then say he is not willing to endure the pain of "withdrawal" from drug addiction? (Compare Romans 6:6; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 3:5.) In reality, the suffering that "withdrawal" brings is but a natural consequence of a wrong practice, a ?reaping of what has been sown.??Gal. 6:7.


    How complete, then, has been such one?s ?repenting and turning around? from his previous way of life? (Matt. 3:8; Acts 26:20) Can he truly present himself with whole heart, soul, mind and strength to God as his slave if he continues enslaved to addictive drugs? (Mark 12:29, 30) Does the person on such a program really have faith in God?s Word, as at Philippians 4:6, 7, wherein we have the promise that God?s peace will ?guard our hearts and mental powers? if we look to him in faith? Will he put his trust in the power of God?s spirit or will he show doubt as to that power and rely on some substitute drugs to guard his heart and mental powers and keep him from losing control of himself? Where is he demonstrating the "self-control" that is a fruit of God?s spirit? (Gal. 5:22, 23) At the time of his impalement, Jesus refused to drink "wine drugged with myrrh," evidently being determined to keep his full senses as he sealed his integrity in death. (Mark 15:23, New World Translation; also An American Translation) He thus set an example for us of reliance on God?s power to see one through such vital tests.


    There is no denying the extreme difficulty experienced in overcoming heroin and other "hard"-drug addiction, or that only a very small minority successfully do so. The very fact that some persons have done it, however, shows it can be done. The fact that persons of the world have been able to do it gives all the more reason for believing that those wanting to become true disciples of God?s Son should also be able to do so. Rather than exchange enslavement to one drug for enslavement to another, such as methadone, they should face up to the challenge and trust in God?s help to overcome that slavery.


    To admit persons for baptism before they do this would simply be to condone their postponing any facing up to the issue. It would not be truly helpful to them, for eventually they must face that issue and take a firm stand. The time may come soon when such government programs will not be available to them. If addicted persons are accepted now as recognized members of a congregation, might not they become a real source of danger or of grave reproach at some future time? Even before that, might not their full acceptance into the congregation weaken the resistance of some of our Christian brothers to the taking of drugs? We cannot ignore the good of the congregation as a whole to favor an individual.?Gal. 5:9; 6:10.




    This raises, however, the question of consistency as regards accepting for baptism persons still using tobacco. They too are enslaved to a harmful product, whether by smoking, chewing or snuffing it. Consider what a report in Science World of April 9, 1973, says:


    "The drug . . . that causes the addiction is nicotine. . . . Within a minute or two after a person ?takes a drag? on a cigarette, nicotine is present in the brain. But 20 to 30 minutes after the ?last drag,? most of the nicotine has left the brain for other organs . . . . This is just about the time when the smoker needs another cigarette. . . . When there is no nicotine, the body ?hungers? for it. So much so that the body sometimes becomes ?sick? without it. Withdrawal symptoms?a sick feeling?begin. . . . Some of these symptoms are drowsiness, headaches, stomach upsets, sweating, and irregular heart beats."


    Even worldly governments have been moved to issue serious warnings against the danger of tobacco use. Do, then, persons who have not broken their addiction to tobacco qualify for baptism?


    The Scriptural evidence points to the conclusion that they do not. As has been explained in other issues of this magazine, the Greek word phar·ma·ki´a used by Bible writers and translated "practice of spiritism" or "spiritistic practices" has the initial meaning of "druggery." (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21) The term came to refer to spiritistic practices because of the close connection between the use of drugs and spiritism. Tobacco was also used initially by the American Indians in this way. It can properly be placed, therefore, in the category of addictive drugs like those that provided the source for the Greek term phar·ma·ki´a. The nicotine in tobacco does not have the same mental and emotional effects produced by "hard" drugs such as heroin or the so-called psychedelic drugs like LSD; yet nicotine addiction does definitely affect the mind and exercises a strong enslavement. In Europe at the close of World War II, in some instances cigarettes were worth more than money. Reportedly, prostitutes sold themselves for a few cigarettes, and ordinary people sacrificed even food ration coupons to obtain tobacco.


    Tobacco?s damaging effect on the body is well known and its befouling effect is just as evident. Surely it does not show respect for the Creator?s having given us life if we misuse and befoul our bodies through tobacco addiction. Medical authorities warn that pregnant women using tobacco are far more likely to suffer abortion than others, and this, too, would show gross disregard for the sanctity of life. Tobacco addicts cannot Scripturally defend themselves by arguing that God created the tobacco plant and that it is part of the "vegetation" that God gave mankind for "food." (Gen. 1:29) Tobacco users do not use it as "food" by eating the green leaves as a salad or cooking it like spinach. No, but they cure these and use the dried, brown leaves for smoking, chewing (without swallowing the juice), or snuffing for physical sensations, and all of this with real harm to body and mind.


    Questions like those presented regarding persons on government-sponsored drug programs may similarly be raised regarding tobacco addicts who present themselves for baptism. Have they truly ?repented and turned around,? or are they still hanging on to practices that they themselves know to be contrary to Scriptural principles? (Rom. 6:19; 1 Thess. 4:7; 5:22) At 2 Corinthians 7:1 the apostle says: "Therefore, since we have these promises, beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God?s fear." Have tobacco addicts taken this to heart? Surely all will acknowledge that persons living in God?s new order will not be addicted to tobacco and need spittoons and ashtrays and pollute the air with tobacco smoke for others to breathe in.


    So, then, should those now addicted to tobacco not discontinue its use as evidence of their faith in that clean new order and of their love for the righteousness that will dwell therein? If wanting to be found by God as "spotless and unblemished" at his time for executing judgment, should they not take a firm stand now rather than, perhaps, hoping that the experience of passing through the coming "great tribulation" would somehow produce a change and cure them of their nicotine addiction? (2 Pet. 3:11-14) When the approaching "great tribulation" makes commercial tobacco unobtainable, it would then be no easier to break addiction under force of circumstances than to do so now in a desire to please God.


    What is said regarding tobacco would apply with similar force to the use in some areas of such harmful habit-forming products as betel nut and the coca plant leaves (these latter containing cocaine, which clearly has a stupefying effect on the mind).




    For decades the publications of Jehovah?s witnesses have warned against the use of such addictive products as tobacco. Persons associated with congregations of Jehovah?s witnesses in almost all cases recognize the wrongness of these habits. Newly interested ones, then, should take a firm stand and not postpone matters by asking to be baptized and accepted into the congregation, or to share in presenting information from the platform in their Kingdom Halls, while still in the grip of nicotine or other harmful addiction. As the new order now draws very near, it is assuredly in harmony with God?s Word to take the position that those unwilling to abandon any such harmful addictive practices do not qualify for our baptizing them and recognizing them as approved members of Jehovah?s Christian congregation.


    Actually, to accept such ones into the congregation could prove a disservice to them, salving their consciences. Refusal to accept them can prove a blessing, aiding them to feel seriously the need for decisive action and for preparing themselves for life in God?s new order. By facing up to such challenges one gains a moral victory that brings true strength and confidence in God?s power and willingness to help.


    What, then, of those who in the past were baptized while still using such addictive products as tobacco, other drugs, or who are on some treatment such as the "methadone program" and who continue in such practice? They may now be given a reasonable period of time, such as six months, in which to free themselves of the addiction. So doing, they will show their sincere desire to remain within Jehovah God?s clean congregation of dedicated servants.


    Surely if one can go through the agonizing experience of withdrawal from "hard"-drug addiction in order to become a true disciple of God?s Son, then those addicted to tobacco or similar products should have no sound objection to undergoing the lesser suffering of withdrawing from their addiction. Refusal to do so would certainly set a very poor example for the person striving to overcome a "hard"-drug habit who faces a much more difficult challenge.


    If persons already baptized are not willing to abandon their addiction to damaging and enslaving products, what then? Then they show that, like Esau, they do not ?appreciate sacred things,? preferring such habits to the privilege of being part of Jehovah?s clean people. They should therefore be removed from the congregation due to such conduct unbecoming a Christian.?1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 12:15, 16.


    Would there be need for rebaptism on the part of those abandoning their addiction to tobacco or other harmful product? No, this does not seem necessary. Knowledge brings responsibility and educates the conscience. (1 Tim. 1:13) The congregation gave them to understand that their practice did not ?prevent them,? and they were baptized in accord with that understanding. (Acts 8:36) Of course, if an individual feels that he presented himself for baptism with a ?bad conscience? due to such practice, he may decide to be rebaptized. That would be his personal decision.




    These rulings with regard to spiritual and moral matters of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah may appear to some to be very strict. But this represents no effort to act in an arbitrary, dictatorial manner. The strictness really proceeds from God, who expresses himself through his written Word. In view of the time in which this generation of mankind is living, it is the time for careful attention to cleanness of conduct by those who desire to please God and to enter into his approaching righteous new order.


    Nineteen centuries ago the apostle Peter was a member of the Governing Body of the Christian congregation of the first century C.E. As such, he wrote letters of counsel and instruction to the congregations of Jehovah?s people. Peter realized that the Christian congregation was then living in the final period of the Jewish system of things that centered around Jerusalem and its temple. His Master, Jesus Christ, had foretold that such culmination would occur within that generation. (Matt. 23:36; 24:34) It was a very serious time, especially for Christianized Jews, and also in view of the fact that persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire was about to break out. So Peter felt moved to write to his fellow Christians.


    His first letter was written about 62-64 C.E., just a short while before the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire in 66 C.E., this to be followed by the end of Jewish Jerusalem and its temple in 70 C.E. Peter knew that his death was approaching, and he sensed his obligation to warn his fellow Christians against running with the unchristianized worldly people in their "course to the same low sink of debauchery." To emphasize the urgency of avoiding such a ruinous course even at the cost of persecution, Peter showed the lateness of the time by writing: "But the end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind [not drugged into an escape from reality], therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers." (1 Pet. 4:4-7) The matter was made all the more serious, because the process of expressing divine judgment was already begun with reference to the Christian congregation. Who would stand approved under the divine examination and scrutiny? Not the easy-going ones, not those who conformed to the debauched ways of the world, not those who willfully indulged in unchristian things that gave pleasure to the depraved, fallen flesh. (Prov. 1:32, 33) Wrote the apostle Peter:


    "If he suffers as a Christian, let him not feel shame, but let him keep on glorifying God in this name. For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us [the house of God], what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? ?And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner [inside the Christian congregation] make a showing?? So, then, also let those who are suffering in harmony with the will of God keep on commending their souls to a faithful Creator while they are doing good."?1 Pet. 4:16-19.


    Even while remaining "righteous" within the Christian congregation, a faithful follower of Jesus Christ is "being saved with difficulty." For a baptized Christian to imitate the "ungodly" and the "sinner" to any extent it would make his salvation all the more difficult. Or would he make a showing of worthiness of salvation at all? This is something for Christians to remember today. Certainly with regard to our generation it can truthfully be said: "The end of all things has drawn close." God?s rendering of judicial decisions toward his own "house" of worshipers is now in progress. This was referred to in the prophecy of Malachi, chapter three, which tells of Jehovah?s coming to his spiritual temple, accompanied by Jesus Christ as the "messenger of the covenant." Against whom will the divine Judge, Jehovah, bear witness as against lawbreakers and sinners? He tells us, in Malachi 3:5:


    "?And I will come near to you people for the judgment, and I will become a speedy witness against the sorcerers [phar·ma·kous´?according to the Greek Septuagint], and against the adulterers, and against those swearing falsely, and against those acting fraudulently with the wages of a wage worker, with the widow and with the fatherless boy, and those turning away the alien resident, while they have not feared me,? Jehovah of armies has said."


    Note that the first ones whom Jehovah mentions as the targets of his speedy witness regarding their wrongdoing are the "sorcerers." The Greek Septuagint Version, as translated by Alexandrian Jews before Christ, rendered "sorcerers" by the Greek word phar·ma·kous´. This is the same word used in Revelation 21:8, where some translators render it as "sorcerers," but the New World Translation renders it as "those practicing spiritism." The ancient sorcerers indeed practiced spiritism. The Greek word applied to them literally means "druggers," not "druggists" such as "pharmacists." The ancient sorcerers were the drug pushers of their day.


    The pre-Christian Greek Septuagint Version uses the related Greek word phar´ma·kon (meaning literally "drug," but translated as "sorcery") at least five times. Idolatrous Queen Jezebel of ancient Israel practiced such phar´ma·kon (in the plural number) or "sorcery." (2 Ki. 9:22, LXX) She was executed by King Jehu acting as Jehovah?s executioner. Those who patronized the professional "sorcerers" or practicers of spiritism also participated in spiritistic practices and were condemned.


    It is little wonder, then, that, in these days of widespread addiction to drugs and the growing use of tobacco, those indulging in such things should come under judicial observation. Jehovah God, the Supreme Judge, is at his spiritual temple and is specially scrutinizing those who profess to worship him in that holy place. He has promised to be a speedy witness against the sorcerers or the practicers of spiritism, which from ancient times onward had a connection with habit-forming, enslaving drugs.


    Do we want to have Jehovah God be a speedy witness against us as addicts to drugs or other habit-forming injurious weeds, things that expose us to the influence of the spirit demons? Jehovah?s judgment against such addicts during the oncoming "great tribulation" will mean their destruction. (Rev. 21:8) Most assuredly, Jehovah God does not want such addicts among the congregation of his Christian witnesses now in this "conclusion of the system of things." Of the promised "New Jerusalem," Revelation 22:15 says: "Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism [the druggers, Kingdom Interlinear translation] and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone liking and carrying on a lie."


    Therefore, with a feeling of a deep sense of responsibility to Jehovah God, these instructions are issued. It is accordingly the duty of the elders, as spiritual overseers of God?s flock, to see to it that such undesirable elements are not accepted as approved, baptized members of congregations of Jehovah?s Christian witnesses.


    See The Watchtower of March 15, 1973, pp. 176-187, for a full discussion of the Bible?s teaching on this subject.

    See The Watchtower of October 1, 1972, pp. 594-597, for additional information regarding such products.

    See Organization for Kingdom-preaching and Disciple-making, page 98, par. 5.

  • Terry

    I hate smoking and breathing other people's mouth farts. However, Jesus might have forgiven smokers for their "filthy habits" since it is not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him; but, what comes out.

    I think the smoking policy is just legalism on the part of the "faithful and discreet Slave". It is a means of wielding power.

    There are ways of helping people overcome the barriers they have to a happy and healthy life.

    Religion should ideally be a kind of "hospital and therapy clinic". Instead religion is a way of making people lose self-esteem in order to control them by feelings of unworthiness.

    Have JW's ever HELPED somebody when they are weak?

  • Elsewhere
    MANY new ones are coming to a knowledge of the truths in the Bible and are taking their place in the gospel-preaching ranks of Jehovah?s witnesses. Many of these new ones formerly smoked tobacco, but have now quit. A few others come to a knowledge of the truth but do not quit smoking. When an effort is tactfully made to instruct them they reply that the Bible does not forbid smoking, that when they are shown from the Bible that it is wrong then they will quit. Some of these have even offered cigarettes to non-smoking witnesses when at local Kingdom Halls. At least, their attempt at humor is unbecoming and savors of taunting. At most, they could tempt only another who had cleansed himself of the habit.

    Interesting how the WT used to openly talk about trying to coerse people using social pressures... even admitting that they are going "beyond what is written".

    "an effort is tactfully made to instruct them"

    Translation: You must do what we tell you to do even if there is nothing about it in the bible.

  • Bryan

    Thanks everyone!


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