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.



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14 Comments on Should I Inform the Elders?

  1. greybeard says:

    Thank you Andrew,

    I couldn’t agree more. The GB runs the organization more like the mafia than the first century Christians did. Obey us or die.

    Your brother in Christ,


  2. JJ says:

    It has also torn apart marriages and families due to one member “informing” on another. The WT emphasizes often how “loving” this arrangement is. I wonder if Jesus feels it is loving? I honestly do not think he does.


    • Picardo371 says:

      JJ said, “The WT emphasizes often how “loving” this arrangement is.”

      Daddy always said, “You can put lip stick on a pig but in the end it’s still a pig.” lol



  3. Amos says:

    Another excellent article Andrew, I’ve seen it many times during my time within. I have seen families completely torn apart, never to be re-united again.

    The first century “church” handled all matters openly within the congregation, & NOT behind closed doors, by an elitist gestapo/maffia like body of three….an unholy trinity.
    I have seen cases where there has been absolute, conclusive proof that the accused person was actually innocent, yet this evidence was deliberately ignored or rejected by these elders.


    • DanielB says:

      I realized that their “theocracy” was no different than human politics. Probably worse. (“A loving arrangement”, simply lovely).


  4. DanielB says:

    Andrew, I have realized since looking objectively on the organization as a whole, that in many respects Jehovah’s Witnesses are standing with one foot in Christendom, and one foot in Law to Jews of antiquity. Much of the Christian writings are a bit obscure in their reality. Thank God for His Son! And His spirit.

    Your reference to Leviticus 5:1 got my attention, as it had been used. Other things you remind me of here, are quite the same. The issue they have over eating blood, for example. They miss entirely why Christians were encouraged to abstain back then; on account of stumbling some Jews and possibly Jewish Christians.

    I do not revel in JW-bashing, but this is so good to compare notes, so to speak. Thank all of you.


    • DanielB says:

      Oops. I did it again. (An edit to the above) …”writings are a bit obscure in their reality.” I meant to say …”writings are obscure in the JW ‘reality'”.


  5. Allison says:

    I have a question. I am dating a jw and I am a ninbeliever myself. He goes to meetings and then comes to hang out with me including engaging in sexual activities. I don’t feel this is roght on his part to lie to his parents and his congregation and it hurts me that he hides me. Should I go to the elders myself? I don’t know if they will trust in me and I ffel like he will some how make me out to be the bad one. He is scared of losing his family because it has already happened to him once before and they let him back in? What should I do?


  6. Allison says:

    We have been dating for two hrs so thisnisntough fornme to do. I don’t feel that he should get to lien and be deceitful just so we can be together.


  7. JJ says:

    Allison could you email me? I really would like to help, but maybe in a more private setting than a public comment page.

    This is JJ, I am at jwstrugglegmailcom


    Thanks for the email address Allison. Let’s discuss this there.


  8. Canilynn says:

    I really like this site. First time Im on here. And Andrew I love how you put things. First reading the insert from the wt kinda gave me chills remembering how they word things and how many times I’ve heard those words growing up in “the truth”. I appreciate how you use the scriptures to support what your saying and compare what the society says.

    And Allison, I don’t know what kind of conclusion you came to about your bf but I would like to say a few things. First off I know that it must be so difficult on you being with your bf for that long and being a secret. I unfortunately put a few bf’s through a similar situation growing up a jw. With that said I feel it’s prob best (but stictly only my opinion) to really talk to your bf about it. Be upfront and if it’s unacceptable for you to continue the relationship this way than tell him. Maybe start by encouraging him to just be honest about who he is and what he wants out of life. Unfortunately, and I’m just trying to be honest, this may mean he confesses to the brothers and tries to stop dating you. Because I can tell you now since you are not a jw the brothers will never encourage him to be with you regardless of if you are a good honest person, which it seems like you are. On the other hand he may realize how much he loves you and how wrong it has been for him to put you through this. Regardless it’s best for him to just be real and not have to live a double life which includes lieing which no one wants to be considered a liar. However please realize how hard this all is on him too. I mean I told my parents about my bf after dating a year and now we have been together 3. They barely talk to me and have never asked to meet him. It’s something probably hard to understand bc most people can’t imagine a parent will stop talking to their child. You might think they will get over it after he tells. Trust me, jw parents, jw friends, cousins, blood brothers and sisters…. WILL stop all contact with Someone who gets disfellowshipped. So he really does have alot on him right now.


  9. just a girl says:

    OM, I’m just a girl and will not presume to teach- but all things are by order and arrangement? We do not just go running off to the elders for every discretion Or even tell someone they should go talk to the elders about something we find fault with [col 3:13] (especially since much we complain about our brothers is not always disfellowshipping or even reproof things but things that parties do not have complete knowledge on yet-sisters are a bit gossipy and over the top sometimes with issues so I am talking a bit from experience(s))

    First we talk with the one we feel is taking a miss step (my personal opinion is you might have to use a three strike policy- maybe the first time they did not hear you, so you go and talk with them again, they may not have understood the issues the way you presented it the first time so you present it again.{You better have your scriptural proof and not just the personal opinion, speculation and conjecture-consider it a common courtesy to teach them the biblical knowledge you have of the issue) If they blow you off again or tell you silly things they may not be ready to confess they have a problem so give them time to ponder on it and give it a third shot- again my personal opinion based on stiff neckedness yet use your Bible to set the matter straight)

    Scripture say If you lay the fault bare BETWEEN YOU AND HIM ALONE if he listens you gained your brother-(again- no elders involved here) But if he doesn’t listen you get another or two and the two/three of you together lay the fault before him again to establish this matter (again no elders and use discretion- keep the issue between you/your group- you are trying to turn your brother around- God wants us all to turn around)

    If he still does not listen then you take it to the congregation (elders since disfellowshipping offenses are now all secret private maters…hmmmm?)THEN if he doesn’t listen to the congregation… well actions taken, This appears to be a Christian arraignment- (Matthew 18:15-17 http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....ersion=NIV) One that if- IF it was followed much bad feelings could be avoided (A bit of common sense like when Paul says we should marry only in the lord- That was HIS PERSONAL OPINION- not a law but it is a protection over all to avoid extra unnecessary possible troubles and ill feelings) But again it is to you bros to decide if this is so, I’m just a girl. (sorry if that comes off condescending or sarcastic I am not trying to be- just trying to keep MY place in perspective)


  10. whateverhappenedtome says:

    It is not difficult to see misapplications of of such principles. So there are many out there whose understanding are a bit twisted, in the sense that a lot seem to forget that ”forgiveness is granted ONLY by Jah himself and that only HIm can read the human hearts”…
    It is so sad to hear other brothers and sisters say things like ”the elders will forgive you” or things like if the elders are not informed then Jah will not grant forgiveness, not even in private prayer.

    Whilst i agree that it benefits (and is scriptural) a sinner to reveal his own wrongdoing, but reality is that, FEAR has gripped members of congregation causing them to HIde their sins. Others also don’t really repent (who really knows?) and there are also others who still feel guilty of the past wrongdoing even when he /she is not disfellowshipped.

    I have a real life experience about this…and i would like to share one day…


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