At least 3 years...

by Confession 18 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Confession

    For some time now I've been searching the WTS' publications for a policy that I clearly remember from my time as an elder. But I just can't find it. It was the one which stated that if someone--even a congregation servant--came forward and confessed to wrongdoing, there would not have to be a Judicial Committee, nor would a servant even need to lose his privileges--if at least three years had passed and the individual had put the sin behind him/her. I've not been able to find it in "Pay Attention to Yourselves," the OM book--anywhere. Was this a letter to elders? Who knows where it is?

    To me, it is important to demonstrating that the WTS themselves understand that confession (yes, my pet issue) to congregation elders is, in fact, NOT necessary to receiving Jehovah's forgiveness. In that policy, I recall they'd said something to the effect that, 'from all appearances it is evident that Jehovah had forgiven the erring one.' It clearly shows that, on some level, they recognize that a person can sin and be forgiven by God--without having confessed to elders. If you read very closely, MANY of their publications reveal the same principle, BUT they of course reserve the right to disfellowship you, in part, for lack of confession--or even lack of a speedy confession. Hypocrites!

  • Crumpet

    Well obviously I was never party to elder information but if this was true and I knew aboyut it then i might have stayed a witness for longer if I realised I'd been forgiven.

  • zen nudist
    zen nudist

    for most of my ten year time with JWs I was under the false impression that JWs were different from the catholics they mocked for having such a human institution as confession.... what a shock I got when I learned this was not the case... but much of the literature does give the impression that one must only confess to God and that no humans need be an intercessor as Jesus was in that spot.

  • GetBusyLiving

    I never even knew this until I DA'ed. I was alway's the guy going to the elders to confess my sins while all my friends just covered it up. Now I'm the one out and those jokers are still in. Funny.


  • tijkmo



    What is meant by "some years ago" on page 170, paragraph two, in the "Organization" book?

    This indicates more than a year or two. It may be noted that it did not say "many years ago." So it is not an exact number of years, but more like two or three years. It was not intended to have a brother go back into the distant past to bring up wrongs of which he repented years ago and that have evidently been forgiven by Jehovah and are not being practiced now. In many cases the wrongs occurred prior to the time when the "Watchtower" drew attention to what the Scriptures say on such misconduct.

    If a brother has been serving faithfully for some years and has seen evidence of Jehovah?s blessings upon him, why should he now step down from office? If he has the right viewpoint now on conduct and will give good counsel he should be able to continue to serve. If the local body of elders see that he has the respect of the congregation and has shown the proper qualifications over the last two or three years, he may remain in his position of service.

    Must wrongdoing be brought to public attention after many years? The book (page 168) under "Public Reproof" quotes 1 Timothy 5:20 and mentions reproof of those who confess to committing more than one offense. But it really has to do with recent events. The "Interlinear" refers to those "sinning," something going on at the time. So if repentance occurred some years ago, three years ago or more, and sinning ceased, and he is respected by the congregation, it is not necessary now to publicly reprove one who committed more than one offense "some years ago


  • GetBusyLiving

    So, by this rationale, an elder can have sex with a prostitute, shoot heroin, paintball an old lady and cheat on his taxes and as long as he waits 3 years or more and keeps the sin hidden he can continue as an elder? This is effed up.


  • talesin


    Can we have the reference, please? Useful for moi,, tks!


  • tijkmo

    kingdom ministry..october 1972

  • Confession

    Thanks, TJKMO! In fact, I believe I did find that Question Box before, but again Im confused. When I refer to the OM book (1983) page 170, it makes no reference whatsoever to such a policy. Was this a previous edition of the OM book?

    The question of confession was actually the flashpoint that has assisted in my awakening about this organization. It all began when I was serving as chairman of an expanded 5-member Judicial Committee, hearing the case of a fellow elder whod been charged with pedophilia. Of course I now recognize that those accused of this crime often refuse to confess, but at the time I was troubled by it. I asked the committee to consider all the possible reasons why he wouldnt confess other than that he simply didnt want to face the music. The possibility occurred to me that this man didnt believe he had to confess to men, having perhaps already confessed to Jehovah. I decided to do the research needed to demonstrate that it was an obligation and thus to restore my brother.

    Problem: I simply couldnt find the scriptural support for such a teaching. No matter how many times I read James 5:14-16, I just couldnt see it as describing the situation existing in JW congregations in which a person sinning was obligated to go to the elders. It seemed merely to be describing the way a person who was suffering could receive help and encouragement from others. The presumed response from a Pharisaical elder might be?

    Oh yes, we ARE going to help you! Just come to us and we will refresh you! We will build you up! Yes, its true that we will do so by pulling out legal pads, recording your every word, subjecting your sorry, wicked ass to an onslaught of prying questions, consulting our secret, legalistic Elder Book, and of course unless you reverently kowtow to us we will nail you quicker than you can say Fred Franz. But demonizing you and having you shunned by your whole family and the entire community of friends you have known since birth might just be the refreshment you need!

    Okay, so what are all the other scriptures that suggest such a policy? What? They dont exist? Wait a minute! I remember very clearly my own mother telling me when I was seventeen that Unless you confess to the elders, Jehovah wont forgive you. Wow! Phantom Memory! You know what else I recall about my mothers saying that to me? That when she was talking to me she was looking me straight in the eye, but when she uttered the above comment, she looked away and down for several seconds. Oh my gosh! Is it possible that Mom herself was uncomfortable about this Watchtower policy on confession?

    All right, now what? So I go to the WTS? publications. Im a loyal subject, putting full faith in this organization as being the sole channel of communication from Almighty God. Lets see what they say on the subject. Why not start with the book that JWs refer to more than any other: Reasoning from the Scriptures. Most of us even have it bound together with our Bibles. Under Confession if soundly lambastes the Catholic church for its policy of confession and absolution.

    When a person sins against God

    Matt. 6:6-12: When you pray, go into your private room and, after shutting your door, pray to your Father who is in secret . . . Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified . . . and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    Ps. 32:5: My sin I finally confessed to you [God], and my error I did not cover. I said: I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah. And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.

    The italics are the Watchtower Societys--not mine. They seem to suggest that confession is something we do to Jehovah as opposed to men. In referring to James 5:14-16, it is preceded by the following heading When Someone Becomes Involved in Serious Wrongdoing and Wants Spiritual Help Huh? So its not really an obligation to confess then? Its just there if you want it? An option? Says the Pharisee...

    Well yes, only if you want the help. Nothing legalistic or authoritarian here. Your decision. (pause) But of course if you dont want the help we will have no choice but to view you as wicked and wont hesitate to slam you like the bald-headed stepchild that you are. (smile) So do you want the help?

    Heres what Insight on the Scriptures has to say about confession...

    Confessing sins to one another. The disciple James counsels: Openly confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may get healed.? (Jas 5:16) Such confession is not because any human serves as helper [advocate, RS] for man with God, since Christ alone fills that role by virtue of his propitiatory sacrifice. (1Jo 2:1, 2) Humans, of themselves, cannot actually right the wrong toward God, on their own behalf or on behalf of others, being unable to provide the needed atonement. (Ps 49:7, 8) However, Christians can help one another, and their prayers on behalf of their brothers, while not having an effect on Gods application of justice (since Christs ransom alone serves to bring remission of sins), do count with God in petitioning his giving needed help and strength to the one who has sinned and is seeking aid.

    Now from the Watchtower...

    *** w97 12/1 p. 14 Jehovah, a God Ready to Forgive? ***

    Despite what mistakes you may have made, if you have truly repented, taken steps to right the wrong, and earnestly prayed for Jehovahs forgiveness on the basis of Jesus shed blood, you can have full confidence that the words of 1 John 1:9 apply to you: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    So, if you read carefully, they DO get it. Confession IS something the scriptures teach that we do to God, and not man. But since they have assumed authority on earth, they apparently believe they can counteract the scriptures, requiring the flock to confess to them or face their wrath.

  • bronzefist

    I heard this 3 year thing was only mentioned at an official elders meeting, the big get together usually held at an assembly hall. The impression was that there was a shortage of elders so by coming forth now and confessing they could still retain their positions. This only aplied to elders and not the general congregation. This information was from an elder that attended. If I remember it was a few years ago.

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