Jehovah’s Witnesses have what they call a “two witness” rule when it comes to allegations of child sex abuse in their religion. Anyone making an accusation against another person for this type of abuse, for the most part, must present a second witness to that crime or wrongdoing, if the accused person does not confess. If the accuser cannot produce another witness, the matter is typically dropped.
Scriptures for the Two-Witness Rule
Jehovah’s Witnesses base this rule on Matthew 18:16, which says, in part, “…so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established,” and 1 Timothy 5:19, which says, “Do not accept an accusation against an older man except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
These scriptures themselves are based on the law in Deuteronomy 19:15, which says, “No single witness may convict another for any error or any sin that he may commit. On the testimony of two witnesses or on the testimony of three witnesses the matter should be established.”
Scriptures for Not Calling the Police
If you’re not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you might assume that the parents of an alleged victim would automatically call the police. The literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses says that they are free to do this if they so choose, but the truth of the matter is that they are often privately discouraged from doing this. Why?
This is also because of the scriptures; 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 which says, in part, “Does any one of you who has a dispute with another dare to go to court before unrighteous men, and not before the holy ones? … I am speaking to move you to shame. Is there not one wise man among you who is able to judge between his brothers? Instead, brother goes to court against brother, and before unbelievers at that!”
The fact that child abuse victims are discouraged if not outright forbidden from going to court was shown at the Australian Royal Commission in 2015; note the testimony of one sex abuse victim, when she told the elders that she wanted to report her abuse to the police:
Misapplication of Scripture
Where does the misapplication of scripture come into play?
While both Matthew and Deuteronomy talk about the need for two witnesses, Deuteronomy chapter 22 talks about what should happen if a woman was raped. The woman was required to scream during this attack and, if she did not, she was put to death along with the rapist for apparently consenting to the act.
However, verses 25-27 say that if the assault happened in a field, the man alone should die, “For he happened to meet her in the field, and the engaged girl screamed, but there was no one to rescue her.”
In other words, there was an exception to this “two witness” rule in Deuteronomy, namely, if it was a sexual assault and if it happened in a field, or isolated area where no one could see it or be there to “rescue her.”
By not applying these scriptures to cases of child rape, Jehovah’s Witnesses are actually ignoring the bible’s direction in this regard, as these child sex assaults typically happen in private areas, away from others, where no one is around to “rescue” that child or be witness to the attack.
Additionally, when it comes to calling the police, the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 6 were not talking about sex crimes and rape, and certainly not these crimes being committed against children. Note verses 7 and 8: “Really, it is already a defeat for you when you have lawsuits with one another … Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded?”
Note the wording of these scriptures; they talk about “lawsuits” and being “defrauded.” Obviously this was referring to business transactions and things that might be handled in a civil court, not accusations of raping a child!
In both these cases, Jehovah’s Witnesses are overextending the application of these scriptures, and ignoring other scriptures that make it obvious that their “two witness” rule, and any hesitation against calling the police, are not meant to apply to cases of child molestation.
The Real Issue
The real issue when it comes to how Jehovah’s Witnesses handle child sex assault accusations and their “two witness” rule is that they are stubbornly adamant about doing things their own way, and refuse to listen to a dissenting opinion. No one else can try to explain a different interpretation of the scriptures to them, or point out scriptures they’re ignoring. They strongly feel that they, and they alone, have the truth about the bible and scriptures, and no one can tell them anything different.
This interpretation of the verses in Deuteronomy, about an exception to the “two witness” rule being applied to cases of rape in isolated areas, is logical and sound and based solely on scripture; it’s not just my rambling personal opinion, or taken from other religious material.
However, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to consider this application of these scriptures, or hear anyone suggest they handle things differently when it comes to child molestation, or anything in their religion.
Not only is this horrifically dangerous for children in the religion, but it also shows a blatant hypocrisy of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Followers of this religion always encourage other people to “keep an open mind” about the bible, and to examine what it says against their long-held beliefs, but then they refuse to do the same.
They are blatantly misapplying and ignoring scriptures, not in a trivial matter, but in cases of sexual assault, but don’t even try to tell them that. The scriptures are clear, but unless they arrive at a conclusion on their own, they won’t budge in their own self-righteous stubbornness.