Do you see anything wrong with this picture, taken from the March, 2015, Awake magazine of Jehovah’s Witnesses? The article was about how to get along with your in-laws. Granted, the first and last scripture quoted are all well and good, but notice anything odd about the scripture quoted in the middle? Yes, the wife should have deep respect for her husband when it comes to dealing with in-laws, but I guess the husband should… what, exactly?
In all fairness, the top and bottom scriptures would apply to both husbands and wives, but note how Jehovah’s Witnesses purposely put in a scripture addressed specifically to wives, without putting in a scripture addressed specifically to husbands. This is significant because, if you read the scripture quoted in its entirety, it says, “Nevertheless, each one of you must love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” I must ask, why would they fragment a scripture like this to simply omit instructions given in the bible to the husbands about family and marriage, while seeing fit to include the instructions given to wives?
Imbalance of Power … Again
This is not an insignificant matter, as there are other scriptures that could be quoted that give the man some direction in this particular set of circumstances. For example, just two verses above this, Ephesians 5:31 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will be one ﬂesh.” So if a couple is having problems with the man’s parents, it would seem clear that he needs to “leave” his parents, not by abandoning or turning his back on them, but by at least ensuring their wishes come second to his wife, his “one flesh.” Yet, neither that verse, nor the first half of verse 33, were included in this illustration.
The imbalance of power in a relationship and this incessant counsel given to wives to yield to their husbands, and the attention given to the authority he has in the marriage, is also not insignificant when it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses. As brought out in this post, husbands in a JW marriage are told outright that they have authority to “correct” their wives with “firmness,” even in matters of how she dresses and wears her makeup, while wives are told to be silent and submissive. She has no authority over him even if he’s being abusive to her or the children, and literature published by Jehovah’s Witnesses has praised wives who stay in physically abusive marriages, even if that abuse is directed at the children as well.
Leaving Out Your God’s Own Words
What is particularly disturbing about this scriptural citation, however, is that the god of Jehovah’s Witnesses put that information in his bible; this was his direction, that men should leave their parents and should love their wives as themselves. The bible says to do those things, but this article from Jehovah’s Witnesses decided to omit that information from their fancy text box. They not only conveniently left out any scripture specifically directed at men when it comes to how to treat their wives, but they actually cut a scripture in half so they could do that!
Yes, the article in question was somewhat balanced in its advice, talking about setting reasonable boundaries for both sets of in-laws and learning to accept them in your life. Despite that, this box is meant to stand out from the article, as is any illustration or colored text box; this is what people will see if they were to scan the article, and these points are what the writers want you to remember most.
What the bible says about husbands and wives is not really a personal concern of mine; as I’ve brought out in another post, I don’t really consider myself a Christian and don’t adhere to the bible as a guidebook for my life. The problem here is that Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to follow the bible, and yet this counsel is grossly biased toward the men and how women are supposed to treat them, even when scriptures might balance out that power somewhat. The few times when the bible does seem to give men some counsel about treating wives as something even close to being an equal, Jehovah’s Witnesses purposely outright omitted those scriptures from this box.
Jehovah’s Witnesses often use this trail mix joke when talking about non-JWs, accusing them of overlooking scriptures that seem to support the JW doctrine and interpretation. I find this attitude obscenely hypocritical; how you want to interpret the bible is one thing, as I firmly believe interpretations are up for grabs. However, we’re not talking about interpretations. We’re talking about purposely cutting scriptures in half so you can counsel just some of your god’s sheep, and continue to make them victims of their own suffocating marriages, while slyly omitting what your own god saw fit to print in his holy book. As I writer, I despise editors who cut and trim my words to suit their own opinions and agendas, and I’m just a lowly human trying to make a living. I wonder, if this god exists, how he would feel about this same practice?
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