Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have repeatedly encouraged women who are victims of domestic violence to stay in the marriage, no matter the extent of abuse to her or her children. Case in point, the April 2013 Awake magazine featured the story of “Troy” a man who physically abused his wife and son, even holding a knife to the child’s throat at one point.
In that magazine, Troy’s wife, “Valerie,” says that women shouldn’t “be quick … to follow advice from people who think they know what is best for you.” She also says she was glad she didn’t “throw [her] marriage away.”
In other words, Valerie is outright saying to ignore advice from those who might recommend you do the opposite of what she did, and get out of an abusive marriage!
The December 2018 study edition of the Watchtower again discusses abusive marriages and, again, virtually eliminates a woman’s right to be safe in her own home. This article even subtly suggests that children are better off if a woman stays in an abusive marriage!
Twisting the Scripture
First, note a huge twisting of scriptures in this Watchtower. The article quotes the apostle Paul:
“To the married people I give instructions, not I but the Lord, that a wife should not separate from her husband. But if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled with her husband…” (1 Corinthians 7:10,11)
The magazine then makes the comment:
“Paul advised that whatever the underlying problems, if sexual immorality is not involved, the goal should be reconciliation.”
This is an interesting statement, because Paul never said anything about a “goal” for a separated woman.
The scriptures say that a woman who leaves her husband has two options; to remain unmarried, or be reconciled with her husband.
There is nothing in these verses, or the surrounding context, about which of those options she should choose, or which is preferred in god’s eyes, etc. The Watchtower is putting these words in Paul’s mouth, as it were.
In reality, the writers of the magazine are also inserting these words into the bible, since they’re talking about actual scriptures. This is not their right to do, as 1 Corinthians 4:6 says to “not go beyond the things that are written.” This is also a form of blasphemy, as only god has the right to dictate scripture, or so I would assume.
Encouragement to Stay With Abusive Mates
The Watchtower goes on:
“…and if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is agreeable to staying with her, let her not leave her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:13)
The magazine notes that a man’s behavior may indicate that he is not “agreeable” to living with his wife, outright saying that she may feel her health or life is in jeopardy. It then says:
“In such cases, some Christians have personally decided that … a separation is necessary. But other Christians in comparably difficult situations have not; they have endured and tried to work at improving matters. … They can testify that doing so was worthwhile in a special sense when their mate became a true worshipper.”
As I’ve brought out in past posts, and as demonstrated in this magazine, the wife in an abusive home is not the Watchtower’s priority. They say nothing about her dignity, self-esteem, or happiness. Instead, their entire concern is for the man, the abuser, and whether or not he’ll become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As brought out, even becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses doesn’t necessarily mean that his abuse will stop, as domestic violence was far too common in Jehovah’s Witness homes when I was in the religion. (See this post.) The lack of concern for women and their welfare is absolutely obscene.
The Damaging Twist of Mentioning the Children
As brought out in this post, Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to have little, if any, concern for how children are affected when raised in homes marked by domestic violence:
As I’ve brought out, a child doesn’t need to be a victim themselves to be affected by abuse in the home; UNICEF published a report noting how witnessing domestic violence can harm the physical development of a child’s brain. Children in these homes may have trouble learning and sleeping, and be at an increased risk for substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy, and criminal behavior.
Despite this, the writers of this Watchtower displayed a gross hypocrisy when it comes to a child’s welfare. First, this Watchtower said nothing about any positive aspects of a woman leaving her cheating husband, but only warned about such a separation, asking:
“Are there children to consider? Would a divorce make it harder to raise them in the truth?”
So, if a woman is considering divorcing an immoral husband, the writers of the Watchtower:
- don’t counsel women to consider the effects of having an unfaithful husband in the home, including the fact that it teaches girls to overlook a man’s hurtful behavior and teaches boys that they can potentially get away with cheating on their wives
- are only concerned if a divorced woman could raise children “in the truth” (meaning their religion), and not with other issues a woman might face, such as providing materially for the children, having time for the children, etc.
Next, this Watchtower brings up children again when talking about why a woman might actually stay with a violent, abusive man:
“The apostle Paul gave another reason for staying united. He wrote: “The unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.””
Again, the writers of the Watchtower say nothing about how an abusive husband could also be abusing the child, and nothing about the affect on children who simply witness domestic abuse. Instead, this Watchtower actually encourages women to think that it’s somehow good for the children to stay in abusive homes, calling those children “holy,” versus children raised in broken homes, who are “unclean”!
This is a bizarre, sick twist for the Watchtower. As I’ve brought out previously, Jehovah’s Witnesses have never outright suggested that a woman consider leaving an abusive husband for any reason, much less for the sake of her children. Now, the Watchtower is actually implying that children are better off in abusive homes, no matter the extent of the abuse!
Blood On Their Hands
Something striking about this article is that the writers of the Watchtower openly admit that a woman’s life may be at risk in abusive homes, but then applaud the idea of staying in such situations, despite that risk.
This realistic risk to a woman’s life is nothing to diminish, as I bring out in this post:
- According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.
- In 70%-80% of these cases, the man physically abused the woman before the homicide.
- According to the American Psychological Association, some 3 women are killed by an intimate partner in the U.S. every day.
The writers of the Watchtower freely acknowledge that they’re not talking about verbal or emotional abuse, but outright say that there may be a risk to a woman’s life. By their own words, Watchtower writers know the risk of homicide at the hands of an abusive spouse, but state that staying with an abusive spouse can be “worthwhile.”
This information itself puts blood on the hands of the writers of the Watchtower magazine. If they admit that a woman’s life is at risk, and by default, the children’s lives as well, but then say that staying in that home and taking that risk is “worthwhile,” they are complicit in that abuse, and share responsibility for any injuries, whether they be mental, emotional, or physical, and share responsibility for any death that should occur, to her or the children.
Writers of the Watchtower openly admit that a violent man might kill his wife, they admit the risk to her, but encourage that woman to stay and take that risk, so she can potentially recruit that man into their religion. That’s complicity. That’s blood guilt.
This Isn’t New
This December 2018 Watchtower is nothing new, not in the least. Watchtower articles encouraging women to stay in abusive homes have been in print for decades; you can browse the Domestic Violence category of this site to see for yourself.
Throughout the years, in all these articles, a woman’s happiness, self-esteem, or dignity are hardly mentioned, much less are they a priority; neither is her welfare or even her life. The welfare of the children is also rarely mentioned in these magazines, as said, but this article takes it one step further by implying that children are somehow better off in abusive homes than in broken homes.
This is pure emotional blackmail on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses, hinting to women that their children might somehow be “unclean” and not “holy” if she were to leave an abusive husband. I have always been of the opinion that women should work hard to escape an abusive home for the children’s sake, if nothing else, but Watchtower is now using children as emotional leverage to convince women to actually stay in those homes.
Never let Jehovah’s Witnesses tell you that they love their neighbors or even their own congregants. Jehovah’s Witnesses have so little feeling for women and children in their religion that they actually encourage mothers to keep those children in an abusive home, even if it should risk that woman’s life.
Everything about this religion demonstrates, time and again, that they care nothing for even the most helpless and vulnerable among them.
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