If you’re a married woman and find out that your spouse has been unfaithful, what type of response would you expect from others? Support, sympathy, a strong shoulder to cry on, a listening ear?
How about a lecture about how your husband is your “head” and because of that, you should do what he says when he asks for forgiveness?
How about a lecture about how god forgives all the “debts” you owe him, so in turn you should just forgive this “debt” that your husband owes you?
How about if that lecture was from a nine-year-old boy, and your son no less?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the most misogynistic religions working today, and this experience really takes the cake. First note what I’m talking about, from the November 1, 1981, Watchtower:
NEED a husband’s one act of adultery absolutely require that the wife divorce him, even when he is truly repentant? One wife thought so, but her nine-year-old son thought otherwise.
A certain baptized man with a dedicated wife and three young children recently committed adultery. It was a single offense and he immediately informed the appointed congregational elders. He was urged by the elders to seek his wife’s forgiveness by confessing to her as well. The wife was very upset and was determined to bring their marriage to an end. She stated to the elders handling the case that her mind was made up and that she had already consulted with a lawyer. The elders talked with her, mentioning that the three children still were of tender years, the eldest being nine. But in spite of this, she was resolute. As a result, the husband was sorely distressed and would hardly eat. He wept much of the time.
In the meantime, the children got to know what was happening, and the eldest boy decided to do something about it. He sat down to work out a talk or what he would say to his mother. From attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall, he recalled some scriptures and also information from the book “Making Your Family Life Happy.” Now he was well prepared to tackle his mummy. He called her into the bedroom and sat down with her. His first comment was to the effect that he was very upset and did not desire his family to break up. Then he said: “Look, Mummy, what the Bible says at Nehemiah 9:17.” After the mother read this text, he said: “You see how Jehovah is a God that acts in a forgiving way. Mummy, do you not think that you also should forgive Daddy?” “Perhaps,” his mother replied. He was really intent on helping his mother to see the importance of being forgiving.
The lad also quoted Ephesians 5:22, 33 and argued that as his daddy is the head of the house, the mother should listen to him. Next, the boy referred to Matthew 6:11, 12. After he read these two verses, he asked his mother what the word “debts” meant. She gave him the answer and he urged her to forgive “Daddy’s debts.” He used many more scriptures and, in conclusion, asked his mother: “Do you not think that you should forgive Daddy?” Happily, the answer was, “Yes, I will.”
Now the family is happily united once again. The woman later said that she was glad about the way things worked out and remarked that she could see that her husband was really repentant and trying hard to make amends in the family relationship. So, what others’ comments did not bring about, those of a nine-year-old boy did, with the use of God’s Word. Truly, “out of the mouth of children . . . you [Jehovah] have founded strength.”—Ps. 8:2.
Confessing to Elders?
Let’s first note what the man did after committing adultery; he confessed to the elders. Not his wife; the elders. As a matter of fact, the story says that the elders “urged” him to confess to her as well. Did this man not think that his wife should have been the first person to whom he should confess? After all, he didn’t cheat on the elders or break the marriage vow he made to the elders; he cheated on his wife.
Someone might say that his guilty conscience impelled him to confess to god first, but this doesn’t say he prayed to god for forgiveness. He confessed to humans, but not his wife, his “one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5) Would he have even told his wife, if the elders had not “urged” him to speak to her?
So immediately we see how the wife is relegated to the position of a domestic; apparently she is entitled to know something about her own marriage and sexual intimacy of her husband when, and only when, elders “urge” her husband to confess to her. The elders have more rights to know about her marriage than she does.
Counsel to the Husband?
Let’s next consider the little boy. He’s going to not just counsel mommy, but “tackle” her. Not daddy, the one who broke up the family by having sex with someone else. He didn’t chastise his father for his inexcusable actions, and he didn’t even have sympathy for mom and what she must have been put through by such humiliation and betrayal. He decided to “tackle” mommy, as if she was the one who was doing something wrong. Mommy didn’t cheat, mommy didn’t have sex with someone else, mommy didn’t treat daddy like he didn’t have any business knowing what was going on in their marital bed. Yet, was there any sympathy for mommy? No, she deserves to be “tackled.”
Note, too, that he told her that daddy was her “head,” so she needed to listen to him. This is what it means to be the “head” of the household, special privileges to get away with cheating on your spouse? Wouldn’t that whole “headship” arrangement be considered null and void the minute the husband had sex with someone else? Interesting that this is what Jehovah’s Witnesses feel is meant by “headship;” it gives you special rights even after you’ve had sex outside your marriage. Remember that if JWs ever tell you that they consider women to be equal to men.
Not only is this insulting in of itself, but the bible says that adultery is the one thing that freely allows a person to get divorced and remarried. (Matthew 19:9) The scriptures gave this woman the full right to divorce her husband, no matter the opinion of others. Even the bible, with all its lectures about forgiveness, allows for divorce and remarriage when a spouse has been unfaithful, as it’s such a serious matter. Yet, instead of respecting her rights in this matter, she is “tackled” and lectured. 1 Corinthians 4:6 says to not “go beyond the things that are written,” and yet that is exactly what is being applauded here. The bible says she has the right to divorce this man, he is the one at fault for the family breaking up, and yet she is counseled about what she should do, despite what the bible says.
I’m Sorry, How Old?
What is especially sickening about this subject is that this counsel was given by a 9-year-old boy. Nine years old. Please tell me what a 9-year-old knows about marital intimacy, relationships, betrayal, and all these other serious, difficult subject matters here. Who knows what other factors the wife had considered in making this decision. Had her husband been arrogantly and cruelly indulging in behavior that led up to his affair, such as flirting with other women? Was he consistently negligent of her feelings and of the marriage as a whole, so that there wasn’t much of a relationship to salvage? Did she feel that his going to the elders first was an insult, and decided that his actions even after being unfaithful were unacceptable?
Would she honestly be able to trust him again? After a betrayal like this, she may look at her husband with suspicion for years, and her hurt feelings may have made their relationship more damaging than healthy. It might have even been for his advantage that they divorce, so that he wouldn’t need to live with someone that was always looking over his shoulder, mistrusting him.
All of that is in addition to the horrifically hurt feelings she must have been experiencing. Cheating on your spouse is not an accident; you don’t just trip on your shoelaces and fall into someone’s lap. You get yourself alone with them, you flirt with them, you put your spouse out of your mind, etc. An innocent spouse can feel ugly, undesirable, mocked, humiliated, and so on. These are not feelings and circumstances that are very easy to get past.
Whatever her reasons for deciding on a divorce, who is anyone to tell her what is best for her and her family, much less a 9-year-old? Consider the gross lack of respect this shows for the woman, a grownup adult, the one who is married and who had to live through this experience. She is obviously not capable of making the best decision for herself and all her children, but a little boy who hasn’t even hit puberty yet, who still has a curfew and isn’t allowed to date or hold a job, is considered wiser than her. Rather than showing respect to her as his mother, as an adult, she is treated as if she is the child and he is the grownup. What about the scriptures that say that children should “honor” their father and their mother? (Ephesians 6:2) What if this was a different matter; would a 9-year-old be in a position to tell mom what to wear, how to spend the grocery money, what food to eat? Yet, something as deep and involved as marital fidelity is apparently within his area of expertise, but not hers.
What I also find disturbing is that this child is counseling his mother about sexually intimate matters. How does a child belong in the bedroom of his parents? Daddy wasn’t breaking up the family because of moving out of the country; he put his penis into another woman. How is this the business of a child that young? I can perhaps understand talking to your adult child about these things once he or she has reached their 20s or older, and is sexually active themselves, but 9? Nothing about his parents’ marriage is this child’s business, much less their sex life.
Consider this; if the mother wanted advice on what to do in this situation, to whom do you think she would turn? A 9-year-old child? A woman who would do that might be counseled herself, for bringing an innocent child into this situation and for asking advice of someone who is in obviously no position to offer any type of words of wisdom. If you can see the shortsightedness of asking a child for marriage counseling, why would the idea of this child offering unsolicited advice be applauded or considered appropriate?
The disrespect that Jehovah’s Witnesses show to women is abundant in this article and experience. This is not something to applaud, this elevating of a 9-year-old child above a grownup, adult, mature parent, and especially in such delicate, deep matters as marital fidelity and unfaithfulness. In my mind, anyone “tackling” a woman who has just lived through such a horrible betrayal should be chastised themselves, but especially if that person is the woman’s own immature, prepubescent, haughty child. To me, this is a form of mental and emotional abuse, from a child, from her child, and which is applauded by Jehovah’s Witnesses no less.
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