The main scripture that is used for the shunning of disfellowshipped people is this passage at 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 “9 In my letter I wrote YOU to quit mixing in company with fornicators, 10 not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, YOU would actually have to get out of the world. 11 But now I am writing YOU to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. 12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do YOU not judge those inside, 13 while God judges those outside? “Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.”
To understand this passage we must understand the context so go ahead and read 1 Corinthians 5:1-8.
What problem was Paul addressing? He had heard through reliable sources that a brother in the congregation was in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife. Paul was worried by the reaction of the others in the congregation. This man was allowed to remain in a good standing in the congregation even though he was practicing crass immorality. Some of the congregation may have even condoned this grave sin.
This man was an insider (a brother) in the congregation a member of good standing. He was not an outsider. An outsider (someone not a member of the cong.) that is a fornicator or greedy person does not pose a threat to the congregation as Paul says in verse 10 “not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, YOU would actually have to get out of the world.” Christians must deal with people that fit this description all the time at work, while shopping, or in other facets of our lives.
Paul is dealing with the situation of someone within the congregation. Paul tells the corinthians that while that man is an insider and a practicer of fornication he is to be avoided. In fact they shouldn’t even eat with him. Paul finally recommends in vs. 13 that the congregation remove the wicked man from among themselves.
When a person is disfellowshipped from the congregation an announcement is made “so and so is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness”. In effect that person has been removed from the congregation and is no longer a brother. None of the members of the congregation consider him to be a brother and the expelled person himself does not consider himself part of the brotherhood until possibly he would be readmitted. He is a non-JW.
Therefore, could the counsel of vs 11 (quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.) be applied to him after his expulsion from the congregation? Is he not now part of the world? Would not then vs. 10 now apply to him? As he now is no longer an insider but an outsider Jesus counsel at Matt. 18:17 would apply – “If he does not listen to them, speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.” Yes, he would be treated as anybody else that is not part of the congregation. Jesus ate meals and had dealings with many sinners and tax collectors.
The danger of an unrepentant sinner for the congregation is when he is part of the congregation and allowed to continue to have a good standing. Once he is removed from the congregation that corrupting influence ceases. Any association that members would have with him when he becomes a non-brother would be up to their conscience, just as association with other non-members of the cong. is up to each Christian’s conscience.
In the very next chapter of 1 Corinthians notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:5,6 – “am speaking to move YOU to shame. Is it true that there is not one wise man among YOU that will be able to judge between his brothers, 6 but brother goes to court with brother, and that before unbelievers?”
Paul shows brother should not take brother to court before unbelievers. How does the Society view the action of a brother taking a disfellowshipped person to court?
***w73 11/15 pp. 703-704 Questions From Readers ***
However, if a Christian refuses to correct a serious wrong when it is made clear to him by elders serving in judicial capacity in the congregation, such a one would be expelled. This is in line with Jesus’ words: “If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.” (Matt. 18:17) Thus, for example, one who defrauded his Christian brother or who failed to provide materially for his wife and children would find himself outside the congregation if he did not repent.—1 Tim. 5:8.
The injured party could thereafter decide whether legal action should be taken in an attempt to force the guilty one, now disfellowshiped, to rectify matters. Of course, the injured party would want to take into consideration whether it would be worth the time and expense as well as whether the congregation could still come into disrepute by bringing to public attention the actions of one of its former members. If the wronged Christian conscientiously felt that God’s name would not be reproached and legal action was definitely needed, he would not necessarily be acting contrary to the spirit of Paul’s counsel if he were to take to court one who was no longer a part of the Christian congregation. Jehovah God has permitted secular authority to serve as his instrument in bringing lawbreakers to justice, and in this case the one wronged would be availing himself of legal help after exhausting the intracongregational means to have the wrong corrected.—Rom. 13:3, 4.
*** w55 2/15 pp. 126-127 Questions From Readers ***
But suppose the case has been brought before the representatives of the congregation and one of the disputants has been definitely proved in the wrong, shown guilty of working an injurious fraud against a brother, and yet this guilty one will not accept the decision of the congregation and will not repay the amount taken? When the evidence is clear and convincing the congregation cannot ignore it, but must disfellowship the one who is a thief. In this connection Paul said a thief, among other offenders, would not inherit God’s kingdom; neither does he have any right to be in the Christian congregation on earth. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) So when the evidence is conclusive and the offender shows no repentance and no inclination to repay, he should be disfellowshiped.
Now the disfellowshiped thief is on the outside of the congregation. He is no longer a brother. He is no longer involved in Paul’s instructions at 1 Corinthians 6:1-6. For the wronged one still within the congregation to now take the defrauder to court would be no violation of Paul’s counsel, for it would not now be a case of brother going to court against brother, which is what Paul was forbidding. Whether the wronged one would want to, or whether it would be worth the time and trouble and expense of a court case for him to do so, is another matter and one that he must individually decide for himself. The congregation’s role in the matter ends with the disfellowshiping action.
So we see from these Watchtower cites that the disfellowshipped person is no longer a brother and therefore the counsel of brother not taking brother to court doesn’t apply. Is it not a double standard to then apply “quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man” to a disfellowshipped person when he is no longer a brother? How can one say in 1 Corinthians chap.5 the DFed person is a “brother”, but in 1 Corinthians chap. 6 he is not a brother?
Recently one elder in my congregation called me a “rebel against Jehovah” because I talk with my son who is DFed. It can be disheartening to hear these words from someone I formally respected. Matthew 5:22 (YLT) “but I — I say to you, that every one who is angry at his brother without cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever may say to his brother, Empty fellow! shall be in danger of the sanhedrim, and whoever may say, Rebel! shall be in danger of the gehenna of the fire.”
The teachings of the organization having to do with disfellowshipping is unbiblical on several accounts. The way DFed people are treated as brought out in this article. The secretive nature of the judicial committee makes it a fertile ground for injustices. The procedures for reinstatement etc.
This policy had led to tens of thousands of ruptured families and even contributed to suicides on the part of the DFed individual or their loved ones who are forced to shun them. Forced shunning of DFed individuals is a God dishonoring practice.