On Sunday, April 3 2011 the article “Empowered to Overcome Any Trial” was studied. Notice paragraphs 10-12:
10 Some young ones might face a dilemma if they learn that a friend has engaged in unscriptural conduct. They may feel that seeking spiritual help for their friend would violate an unwritten code of silence; therefore, they refuse to speak about the matter because of a misguided sense of loyalty. A wrongdoer may even pressure his friends to keep his sin hidden. Of course, this kind of problem is not unique to young people. Some adults too may find it difficult to approach congregation elders concerning the wrongdoing of a friend or a family member. But how should true Christians react to such pressure?
11 Imagine this situation. Suppose that Alex, a young brother, learned that Steve, his friend in the congregation, was in the habit of viewing pornography. Alex tells Steve that he is deeply concerned about what his friend is doing. However, Steve shrugs off his words. When Alex urges him to talk to the elders about it, Steve responds that if the two really are friends, then Alex will not tell on him. Should Alex be afraid of losing his friend? He might wonder whom the elders would believe if Steve denied everything. Still, the situation is not going to improve if Alex keeps quiet about it. Indeed, it could lead to Steve’s losing his relationship with Jehovah. Alex would do well to recall that “trembling at men is what lays a snare, but he that is trusting in Jehovah will be protected.” (Prov. 29:25) What else could Alex do? He might lovingly approach Steve again and lay bare his fault. That will take courage. It may well be, though, that this time Steve will welcome the opportunity to talk about his problem. Alex should again encourage Steve to speak to the elders and tell him that if he does not do so within a reasonable period of time, then Alex will alert them.—Lev. 5:1.
12 If you ever have to handle such a situation, your friend may not at first appreciate your efforts to help. But he might in time come to realize that you are acting in his best interests. If the erring one receives and accepts help, then he might be lastingly grateful to you for your courage and loyalty. On the other hand, if he becomes hardened against you, is he really the kind of friend that you want? Pleasing our greatest Friend, Jehovah, is always the right thing to do. When we put him first, others who love him will respect us for our loyalty and become true friends. We should never allow place for the Devil in the Christian congregation. If we were to do so, we truly would grieve Jehovah’s holy spirit. We act in harmony with it, however, by working to keep the Christian congregation pure. —Eph. 4:27, 30.
The Society puts all JWs under the obligation to tell the elders of any kind of wrongdoing that any JW has committed, even friends and family members. Even if that friend or family member in confidence tells someone that person must inform the elders if the person who confessed refuses to.
The Watchtower, September 1, 1987, page 13 says “All who become part of the Christian congregation put themselves under ‘oath’ to keep the congregation clean, both by what they do personally and by the way they help others to remain clean.”
The scripture used to support this is part of the Mosaic Law. It is the text Lev. 5:1. Notice how the HCSB puts this text “When someone sins [in any of these ways]: [If] he has seen, heard, or known about something he has witnessed, and did not respond to a public call to testify, he is guilty.”
Here is the same verse in the NIV “If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.”
The CJB “‘If a person who is a witness, sworn to testify, sins by refusing to tell what he has seen or heard about the matter, he must bear the consequences.”
The ESV “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity”
The nation of Israel being an independent nation had to handle all kinds of criminal cases, civil cases, and other disagreements between individuals. The city elders handled these matters in a very public place, at the city gates (Duet. 16:18). This publicity would motivate the judges to be fair and just, since there would be many observers. Leviticus 5:1 has to do with the public calling of witnesses for a particular case. These witnesses were sworn to testify to the truth. The Society would have us believe that responding to a public call for witnesses is the same as initiating a report of wrongdoing to the elders.
Notice what Matt. 1:19 says of Jesus’ father Joseph when he found out his fiancee, Mary, was pregnant seemingly by another man “However, Joseph her husband, because he was righteous and did not want to make her a public spectacle, intended to divorce her secretly.”
Joseph had no intention of telling the village elders of Mary’s apparent fornication. And how does the bible describe Joseph? As righteous (Prov. 19:11).
Not only does the Society have no business applying a law from the Mosaic law to Christians today but they even apply that law wrongly. It is strongly implied that if a JW does not confess to the elders any grave wrongdoing, he cannot be cleansed from his sin. This is similar to the Catholic teaching. It is true that the bible does encourage us to confess our sins to one another. But this is not talking about going to the elders as a Catholic would go to a priest for confession. A Christian would confess to other fellow believers (not necessarily elders) their sins, which would promote the overcoming of these weaknesses. For this confession to happen there must exist a spirit of love and trust. This spirit cannot exist when the person fears being rejected and expelled from the Christian community. It is true that occasionally a congregation (not just the body of elders) might need to remove someone from their group. But this would not be because someone committed a grave sin, for instance immorality, a couple of times. It would be because he or she had become dominated by this grave sin and was leading an immoral life. The lifestyle of the sinner would probably be common knowledge.
Love and trust do not usually define a judicial meeting with the elders. Instead this policy of required informing on our brothers to the elders has created the opposite environment that is needed for a Christian to overcome his weaknesses. This policy foments the tendency to hide one’s sins and not seek the help of mature Christians. If one is found out a sense of overwhelming dread often fills the person. This policy may even motivate the spouses of those who question the teachings of the Society to inform the elders of their mate’s beliefs which has resulted in the disfellowshipping of some. This has created to a certain extent a police state atmosphere in the congregation. Once more in this policy we see the devastating result of legalism in the congregation.