After reading the article, a more accurate title might be “Do You View Human Weakness Within The Organization as Jehovah Does?” The simple fact of the matter is that we have a double standard between those inside and those outside the Organization.
If we were to extend the fine counsel of this article a little further, would we run into resistance from the publishers? Would our view of human weakness cease to coincide with Jehovah’s?
For example, paragraph 9 says: “When a motorcyclist injured in a traffic mishap arrives at the emergency ward, do those on the medical team try to determine whether he caused the accident? No, they immediately provide the needed medical assistance. Similarly, if a fellow believer has been weakened by personal problems, our priority should be to provide spiritual assistance.”
Yes, but what if the weakened one is disfellowshipped? What if, like so many, he or she desisted from the conduct that resulted in the disfellowshipping and has been faithful attending meetings awaiting reinstatement. Now his or her personal situation has resulted in depression, or health issues, or financial difficulties. Do we still view weakness as Jehovah does in these circumstances? Most definitely not!
We are directed to read 1 Thessalonians 5:14 as part of the consideration of paragraph 9, but if we read just one verse more we find that this counsel of Paul is not limited to the congregation.
“. . .always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” (1Th 5:15)
Paragraph 10 continues in the same vein, giving the example of “a single mother regularly coming to meetings with her child or children.” But if the single mother is disfellowshipped because of her sin, yet still regularly attends meetings, are we still as “impressed by her faith and determination”? We should be all the more impressed as doing so while being treated as a pariah requires even more faith and determination, does it not? Yet will cannot offer even a single word of encouragement for fear of the elders, who have not yet ruled officially that the mother is truly repentant. We must wait on their “okay” before we can view the weak as Jehovah does.
Adjust Your View to Jehovah’s View
Under this subtitle, we are encouraged to make adjustments individually to line up with Jehovah’s view. Deplorably, we are not willing to make these adjustments as an Organization. The example of Jehovah’s treatment of Aaron during the Golden Calf fiasco is given to show how merciful and understanding of human weakness our God is. When Aaron and Miriam began to criticize Moses for marrying a foreigner, Miriam was struck with leprosy but mindful of human weakness and her repentant state, Jehovah restored her health in just seven days.
If a congregation member were to engage in similar activity, criticizing the Governing Body or the local elders, and was disfellowshipped for it (not quite the same as being struck by leprosy, but we make do) would a repentant attitude result in a reinstatement inside of seven days?
This has never been our attitude since the institution of our modern organizational arrangement of disfellowshipping. [i]
“Hence, it is recommended that the disfellowshipping action remain in effect at least one year…. Privileges open to those who have been disfellowshipped but are now on probation are unlimited opportunities in the field ministry, student talks in the ministry school, minor service meeting parts, commenting at meetings and reading of paragraph summaries. This probationary period will generally be one year.” (Kingdom Service Questions, 1961 by WB&TS, p. 33, par. 1)
Implementation of a minimum time period for disfellowshipped ones has no scriptural foundation whatsoever. This indicates that our main purpose is punishment in line with the reasoning most modern jurisprudence follows when determining a minimum sentence for crimes against the state. Repentance ceases to be a factor once the individual is disfellowshipped. For those who would argue that this requirement has been dropped and that now a disfellowshipped person can be reinstated in less than a year, they have but to try to do so to learn that there continues to exist a de facto one-year standard period. Any reinstatement in less than a year—particularly for an act equivalent to Miriam’s against Moses—will be questioned by the C.O. at the very least, and most likely in writing by the Service Desk. Thus, through gentle coercion, the one-year time period remains in place.
In judicial matters, we most definitely need to adjust our view to Jehovah’s. This also applies to how we support the family members of a disfellowshipped person. The standard course of action is one of benign neglect. We don’t know what to do, so we do nothing; leaving little ones without needed spiritual and emotional support during their tribulation—a time when they are most vulnerable. We are afraid that if we drop by we might come face to face with the disfellowshipped one and then what do we do. How awkward! So better to do nothing and pretend all is well. Is this how Jehovah views and reacts to weakness? He never leaves place for Satan, but our twisted judicial process all too often does just that. (Eph 4:27)
Before writing articles like this, we really should put our own house in order first. Jesus’ words ring strong and true:
“Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw from your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:5)
[i] For an extensive treatise on the unscriptural nature of our modern implementation of disfellowshipping and how far we have deviated from the Scriptural requirement, see the posts under the category, Judicial Matters.