This was the JW position on excommunicating as of 1947:

 

This article shows that the Watchtower society thought excommunication was unbiblical. It finds “no support in these scriptures” and is “foreign to Bible teachings”.

A change happened in the fifties regarding this view of shunning. Notice these cites from 1970:
*** w70 6/1 pp. 351-352 Questions From Readers ***
But the primary question under consideration has to do with a relative outside the immediate family, one who does not live in the same household. Would any contact be possible?
Again, the disfellowshiping does not dissolve the flesh-and-blood ties, but, in this situation, contact, if it were necessary at all, would be much more rare than between persons living in the same home. Yet, there might be some absolutely necessary family matters requiring communication, such as legalities over a will or property. But the disfellowshiped relative should be made to appreciate that his status has changed, that he is no longer welcome in the home nor is he a preferred companion

*** w70 6/1 p. 352 Questions From Readers ***
But until that happens, faithful Christians have an obligation to uphold the disfellowshiping action by avoiding association with the disfellowshiped individual. If that one is a relative living outside the home, they will try to have no fellowship with him at all. And if some unavoidable and absolutely necessary family matter comes up, they will keep contact with that one to a bare minimum, definitely not having any interchange of thoughts on spiritual matters. In that way they prove their loyalty to God, his Word and his congregation.

 

Quite a change! Now instead of saying excommunication is unbiblical the Watchtower society goes to the extreme of saying even disfellowshipped relatives that do not live in the home should be completely shunned. Only in the most dire and extreme situations should the DFed relative be spoken to.

Now let us consider a 1974 Watchtower:

*** w74 8/1 p. 471 par. 21 Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones ***

21 As to disfellowshiped family members (not minor sons or daughters) living outside the home, each family must decide to what extent they will have association with such ones. This is not something that the congregational elders can decide for them. What the elders are concerned with is that “leaven” is not reintroduced into the congregation through spiritual fellowshiping with those who had to be removed as such “leaven.” Thus, if a disfellowshiped parent goes to visit a son or daughter or to see grandchildren and is allowed to enter the Christian home, this is not the concern of the elders. Such a one has a natural right to visit his blood relatives and his offspring. Similarly, when sons or daughters render honor to a parent, though disfellowshiped, by calling to see how such a one’s physical health is or what needs he or she may have, this act in itself is not a spiritual fellowshiping.

 

Now we see a significant change has happened in that now association with a DFed relative living outside the home is up to each individual. In the early 80’s it changed again. From that time until the present the policy has become stricter once again. Let’s see what a 2008 publication says:

*** lv pp. 208-209 How to Treat a Disfellowshipped Person ***

In other cases, the disfellowshipped relative may be living outside the immediate family circle and home. Although there might be a need for limited contact on some rare occasion to care for a necessary family matter, any such contact should be kept to a minimum. Loyal Christian family members do not look for excuses to have dealings with a disfellowshipped relative not living at home. Rather, loyalty to Jehovah and his organization moves them to uphold the Scriptural arrangement of disfellowshipping.


***w2011 7/15 p.31***

Suppose, for example, that the only son of an exemplary Christian couple leaves the truth. Preferring “the temporary enjoyment of sin” to a personal relationship with Jehovah and with his godly parents, the young man is disfellowshipped.—Heb. 11:25.

13 The parents are devastated! On the subject of disfellowshipping, they know, of course, that the Bible says “to quit mixing in company with any- one 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.” (1 Cor. 5:11, 13) They also realize that the word “anyone” in this verse includes family members not living under their roof. But they love their son so much! Strong emotions might cause them to reason: ‘How can we help our boy return to Jehovah if we severely limit our association with him? Would we not accomplish more by maintaining regular contact with him?

14 Our hearts go out to those parents. After all, their son had a choice, and he chose to pursue his unchristian lifestyle rather than to continue to enjoy close association with his parents and other fellow believers. The parents, on the other hand, had no say in the matter. No wonder they feel helpless!

15 But what will those dear parents do? Will they obey Jehovah’s clear direction? Or will they rationalize that they can have regular association with their disfellowshipped son and call it “necessary family business”? In making their decision, they must not fail to consider how Jehovah feels about what they are doing. His purpose is to keep the organization clean and, if possible, to incite wrongdoers to come to their senses. How can Christian parents support that purpose?

 

 

We have seen significant changes back and forth on policy on this extremely important matter. In 1947 shunning is anti-biblical. According to the 1970 Watchtower shunning of DFed individuals is to be practiced even with relatives not living in the home. In 1974 the policy becomes much more lenient and it is a conscience matter. In the 2008 book we see that once again DFed relative are to be totally shunned.

What does this show about this policy? Could it possibly be guided by God? Is there any way God would be so changeable and fickle? The only logical way to view these changes is that all of these changes were due to men’s opinions on the matter not God’s direction.

 

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30 Comments on Changes on Treatment of Disfellowshipped Ones

  1. Mark M says:

    Another great post JJ! I’m sure in rank and file fashion the poor un-awakened friends read these articles and consider it “brighter light”. If JW’s today could see this article and how the org linked disfellowshipping with paganism in the past it would likely raise many questions within the R&F. As far as disfellowshipping is concerned, I do believe it’s necessary if we have a blatantly unrepentant sinner that falls under the category which Paul was speaking of in 1 Corinthians 5:11, 13. However I disagree (as I’m sure most of us do) with the way it is handled in the org. It seems to me that when a df’d person comes to the KH they should be treated and greeted as anyone else, but outside of the KH doors we should limit our association with the person. This would come under the category of, “Not even eating with such a man.” I know that you and I have talked in the past about how the org. separates being df’d and “marking.”

    Not surprisingly, I disagree with the org. on this point. If I remember correctly you do as well. Anyway, I believe that “marking” and disfellowshipping are to be treated the same. 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 says: “But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother”. The Greek word which the NWT translates “stop associating with” in 2 Thessalonians 3:14 is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 5:11 for “quit mixing in company with”. Both texts in the Greek language are speaking of someone who is unruly or immoral. Also, notice that 2 Thessalonians 3:15 tells us to, “not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.” A question I have asked many JW’s over the years is, how can we admonish one as a brother if we cut him off as the organization says we should? Many said that is a good question, yet others responded by saying, we will follow the organization.

    Your Bro,
    Mark M.

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    • andrew says:

      Hi Mark
      For the reasons you mentioned I believe 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14,15 is talking about the same class of individual. Those texts are talking about a brother who has fallen into sin but is still part of the congregation. He is still a brother.

      If it becomes necessary for the congregation to remove someone from itself so that they are no longer a brother, Jesus instructed that the person would be regarded as a sinner and tax collector or in other words as a non-brother. In that case any association with this person would be up to each individual Christian. Certainly it would be wise to limit association with those who refuse to live a Christian life.

      BTW I was the one who posted the article, JJ may agree or not on what it states.

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      • greybeard says:

        Thank you Andrew for another very good article. I agree with you and Mark. The JW’s were so much closer to true Christianity before they started this foolish disfellowshipping practice the way they do today. They go way beyond what is written and have made the organization and themselves Gods. I have personally experienced being DFed and if it wasn’t for that, I would still be “Captive To A Concept”. They were very unloving and did not try to “snatch me out of the fire”. They “handed me over to Satan” as they put it. Good enough, now I know the real truth as it freed me to research everything as I did. It was an answer to my prayers. So in this light, being DFed can open your eyes!

        Your brother in Christ,
        Greybeard

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  2. Mark M says:

    Sorry about that Andrew. (oops) Somehow I thought I saw JJ attached to the article. Thanks for the correction. Anyway, great post just the same. I also agree with you on limiting association with those who are unrepentant. Hopefully what I said won’t be misunderstood. My thought is, when a brother who is a wrongdoer comes into the congregation for worship, we should be cordial and not totally shun him, perhaps even trying to encourage him to come to repentance. However, outside of the congregation we should be very careful and seriously limit association, “not even eating with such a man,” until he has repented and corrected the sin.

    Thanks again for the post.

    Mark M.

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  3. Jayme says:

    Andrew, thanks for putting these changes together for us to review. A total reversal in stance is quite interesting isn’t it? Both written by the same org. and said to have complete support from the bible.

    As far a 1 Cor. 5:11 and disfellowshipping are concerned I have a slightly differant take on it. I think it is good to remember that the 1st century congregations were differant than what we have today. They met in private homes and took a common meal together, enjoyed upbuilding association and sang songs of praise together. If we were to go back and attend we would probably find it much more akin to a get-together than the meetings that we are used to. For these reasons I offer that what Paul was refering to was not letting a unrepentant member continue to have the priveledge of this intimate fellowship until they repented of their sin. Please also see vs 13. “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” In any case I dont think that this would involve a “shunning” as is now practiced by JWs. I also feel that the extent of personal association with the wrongdoer outside christian gatherings would be a matter of personal conscience.

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  4. Alden says:

    I’m sure that w74 8/1 p. 471 par. 21 Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint was written by our dear brother Raymond Franz.

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  5. JWB says:

    Andrew, thanks for the post and pointing to the 1974 article “Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones” (which I read in its entirety). How different and truly balanced that article was! Mark and Jayme make good points, and I have to let Alden know that the it did cross my mind the fact that Raymond Franz (with his seemingly more reasonable nature) was around on the GB at the time.

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  6. Alden says:

    Yes brothers and sister, this whole issue has been my “wake-up call”. Whereas I once thought that the intentions of the WTS were loving in their entirety, when two of my children were dfed, it dawned on me that this was not the case. The love of the WTS is conditional as, unfortunately, is also common among the brotherhood.
    The WTS needs to reform its whole concept of disfellowshipping. The quotation from 1947 was great. Why did they deviate from that merciful standpoint? It’s no wonder that growth is minimal among JWs; people hardly come in from the outside! If we preached at the doors, “Wouldn’t you just love to have a religion that nullifies your family bonds”, who would respond? If the WTS asks me “Who do you love more, the “Organisation” or your children?”, can anyone be surprised at my answer?
    Here’s a question for all: If ‘faith without works is dead’ is love without works also dead?
    Peace and love to all.

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  7. CAMELOT says:

    I agree with Andrew, how does God keep changing his mind so rapidly. 1000 years is like a day to Jehovah. So breaking it down, 62.5 years is like 1 1/2 hours that he changed his mind 4 times. I have a question. I disassociated myself so I am being shunned by my daughter and her husband. If my husband wants to go by their house because we have to drive by thier home on our way back home often, am I to sit outside in the vehicle waiting for him as he visits? This will be an upset in our marriage if he has to drive home first to drop me off and then go back? I almost feel like they should just say “treat them as though they were dead.”

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    • Picardo371 says:

      CAMELOT:
      I agree with Andrew, how does God keep changing his mind so rapidly. 1000 years is like a day to Jehovah. So breaking it down, 62.5 years is like 1 1/2 hours that he changed his mind 4 times. I have a question. I disassociated myself so I am being shunned by my daughter and her husband. If my husband wants to go by their house because we have to drive by thier home on our way back home often, am I to sit outside in the vehicle waiting for him as he visits? This will be an upset in our marriage if he has to drive home first to drop me off and then go back? I almost feel like they should just say “treat them as though they were dead.”

      I feel for you Camelot. Just Tuesday my family (Brother, Sister-in-law, Dad & Mom) told me that they would not be having any further contact with me. Funny, the only time I spoke of spiritual things to them was if they initiated it. Sharing my beliefs was not the issue. Just holding contrary beliefs to the Society was enough. Of course now I am haughty, lack humility, proud, mentaly ill, have exhibited these traits most my adult life, lets see, what else. Oh, almost forgot, I’m an apostate all because I have theological disagreement with the Society. Sick isn’t it! While I feel sad and somewhat numb it’s probably for the best. I got tired of putting my Lamp (light) under a basket. In some ways I feel free. I’m am now preparing my DA letter. The only reason I hadn’t done it yet was because I wanted to maintain a relationship with my parents. Now that it’s not an issue I am cutting the tie. No more reason to hide.

      Christian Love,

      Dennis Parker
      Visalia CA 93292!!!!!!

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      • CAMELOT says:

        I applaud your courage Dennis. It’s hard to do that in the face of such harsh consequences. Rejection hurts. You will find comfort knowing you have peace of mind and are free to follow the Bible now. You can still live the same christian lifestyle just not inside the organization. I hope you find good friends to support you. Remember it is NOT you the are rejecting the are following what they think God requires of them to be loyal. I wish you the best. Do not all the WBTS to steal your joy. Peace!

        Camelot

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        • Dennis says:

          CAMELOT:
          I applaud your courage Dennis. It’s hard to do that in the face of such harsh consequences. Rejection hurts. You will find comfort knowing you have peace of mind and are free to follow the Bible now. You can still live the same christian lifestyle just not inside the organization. I hope you find good friends to support you. Remember it is NOT you the are rejecting the are following what they think God requires of them to be loyal. I wish you the best. Do not all the WBTS to steal your joy. Peace!

          Camelot

          Thanks for your kind words.

          Dennis

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    • Alden says:

      CAMELOT:
      I agree with Andrew, how does God keep changing his mind so rapidly. 1000 years is like a day to Jehovah. So breaking it down, 62.5 years is like 1 1/2 hours that he changed his mind 4 times. I have a question. I disassociated myself so I am being shunned by my daughter and her husband. If my husband wants to go by their house because we have to drive by thier home on our way back home often, am I to sit outside in the vehicle waiting for him as he visits? This will be an upset in our marriage if he has to drive home first to drop me off and then go back? I almost feel like they should just say “treat them as though they were dead.”

      Changing is not bad – as long as it’s for the better. But the WTS has changed its policies for the worse

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  8. DanielB says:

    Remember that Peter was scolded over Simony. This works as the shunning sin of today that is referred to here. If my family has disowned me, that this is according to the bible worse than being without faith for the offender. There are several implications here to consider, including the supposed service to God that the offenders suppose they are doing in such spiritual killings. Time is ticking and all will be clearly understood on the subject as knowledge abundantly reveals more.

    God is Good !

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    • DanielB says:

      I meant to write above, “If my family has disowned me, then this is according to the bible, worse than being without faith for the offending family member.”

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  9. InactiveMan says:

    I’ve always tried to apply the advice from the 1974 Watchtower, even though the tide has changed Jehovah’s Word does not. I ran into a disfellowshipped person the other day asked how they were and that was it. I would never want to offend someone elses concience by publicising that in the congregation, just a small act of kindness as far as I’m concerned.

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  10. Alden says:

    To “InactiveMan”: small acts of kindness can work a lot of good! You took note of a fellow human being, with respect, dignity and consideration – all parts of the term “love”.

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  11. Echo says:

    I have too much to say on this subject – I don’t know where to start!! It’s such a relief to find others that feel as I do that there needs to be changes with the practice of disfellowshipping. I don’t beleive it works anymore and is too harsh for our times. It pushes people further away from the truth and Jehovah and once outside there’s nothing to attract them back TO THE ORGANIZATION. However, Jehovah and the truth are always attractive and I don’t believe what is taught that if a person is DFS that they don’t benefit from J’s holy spirit. Jehovah still guides those he loves and who are making the effort to please Him DSF or not.

    Thankyou for this whole site! I only discovered it the other night at 2am as I couldn’t sleep. Now I can’t stop looking at it!

    God bless and guide all your efforts to promote the real truth.

    Echo – UK

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    • JJ says:

      Welcome to the site Echo.

      Your comments and your thoughts here are listened to and appreciated. Continue to struggle for what’s right and what’s important in your life. Serving our Heavenly Father and his appointed King Christ Jesus is the key to being happy.

      In Christ,
      JJ

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  12. Disappointed says:

    Welcome Echo. Hope you have a good look round the site, it’s been literally a godsend to many of us! I’m in the UK too.

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    • Amos says:

      Welcome to the site Echo.

      I’m sure that you’ll enjoy our many different topics, & please be encouraged by what you read. Your own comments will be much appreciated. You may like to check out the attached forum also.

      BTW, I’m from Australia.

      Amos

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  13. Lina2286 says:

    hello! i am so glad i found this web site!! Thank you for such a great explanation and support! I was a sister in ukraine, and when i deided to marry (non JW) i moved to US and stopped attending congrigation. I love Jehovah with all my heart, but some things that i ancountered in diffrent congrigations made me doubt the organization. My mother is still very much involved and i am the one that always help her understand scripture, read bible together, and now she is a pioneer. Sadly some brothers and sisters came to their own conclugion and judjement regarding me, which is very upsetting to my mother, but as my Mama knows i am with Jehovah, i live my life by his laws, pray daily and read our publications. I just can not go back to the congrigation, it hurt me. Sisters in US were very supportive and i recently starteted a bible study with them, but i am not sure i will be ready to go back to the gatherings.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Welcome Lina2286 ! It is so nice having you here . You will also see a link to a Forum here , near the top of the page , if you havn’t seen it already . It is very unlikely that you will find any bad conclusions about you here . I hope you feel free to comment / participate .

    I will pray for you ,

    brother dan

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  15. “Marking” is just the Watchtower’s way of disfellowshipping you even when they know they have no grounds to do so. I was marked back in ’94 after the big newspapers in Rochester began printing my political and social views on their op-ed page (even though I never wrote about the Watchtower, JWs or religion). It was just the beginning of my career in journalism as a columnist. Shortly after I began writing columns in the black press. Our Presiding Overseer (slave overseer in hindsight), who was a close friend at one time had the audacity to tell me to stop, which of course I didn’t. I wasn’t a member of his congregation anymore anyway and didn’t learn of what he did until I called a friend just to see how he was doing, and he told me he couldn’t talk to me anymore. I asked why since I didn’t recall meeting with the judicial committee, and he said an announcement had been made that I was marked. This PO even traveled to my hometown of Buffalo where I had just moved to look after my mom (my father had just passed away then), and called a special meeting with various elders from different halls about me, as I would later learn. I was kind of flattered that I was thought to be important enough to be the subject of a special meeting. lol, but disappointed at how petty he could be.

    He even went to my old hall in Buffalo to give the public lecture, after which he went out into the parking lot to sell generic perfume. Evidently the great Jehovah thought his usefulness had reached it’s limit because he died of a stroke. Though I never bore any ill-will toward the WTS, I continued writing my political views and became nationally-syndicated. My first column on the WTS came about by accident as I was researching for information on the Catholic Church and it’s wave of child-molestations, and lo’ and behold guess what religion kept popping up on the search engines? So to be fair I had to modify my writings.

    My next article will be on their disfellowshipping practice which has literally ruined people’s minds and relationships so Andrew and JJ I thank you for this piece. When you are directly in the JW timestream it’s not easy to see the discrepancies. Love them or hate them, the Watchtower Society is the best game in town.

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    • JJ says:

      Thanks for this perspective Chris! I can’t wait to read about it on The Buffalo Bullet. Please if you can, let us know when the article goes live.

      In Christ,
      Eric aka JJ

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  16. Chris says:

    Dear Chris,
    It is one thing to point out the failings of the WTS and, like many here, you may feel slightly embittered at their gross hypocrisy. But it is another thing to mock Jehovah. We all stand and fall as individuals before God and benefit from the sacrifice of Jesus if we are repentant. Marking and disfellowshipping are both scriptural practices. It’s the misapplication of the scriptural outline for treatment of erring ones that is often abused. This occurs across all denominations who claim to be Christians. But to try and pretend that all those who have been marked or disfellowshipped were somehow hard done by is just deluded. Many have blatantly shown a strong leaning for a political expression of the Kingdom of God, or ventured into commentaries on political philosophies. Worse still some have rejected their Master and now look to men for a solution and like to throw their voice into the mix, hoping for a hearing ear to swell their egos. Which are you?

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  17. @JJ my bad, here’s my piece on disfelowshipping and shunning in general and the range of damage it accomplished–> http://thebuffalobullet.com/av.....s-insular/

    @Chris what makes you think there’s no politics in the Watchtower Society? Considering Jesus continued associating with Peter after he was denied by him 3 times supersedes your beloved scripture where he says he came to cause division. Especially since strict faiths ran around the block with those verses.

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  18. And here’s another I wrote earlier you all will find interesting: http://thebuffalobullet.com/new-light-blood-lite/

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  19. Samuel V says:

    Good day! Can I post my problem?

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