Elders and Governing Body

Jehovah’s Witness Leaders Call People “Garbage” For Their Sins

In the latest broadcast on the internet TV channel for Jehovah’s Witnesses, tv.jw.org, one of the assistants to the religion’s governing body gave a long-winded discourse about what JWs call the “unforgivable sin.” The man was differentiating between the concepts of “grieving the holy spirit,” “sinning against the holy spirit,” and “blaspheming the holy spirit.” These are apparently important concepts to Jehovah’s Witnesses, as the bible seems to say that someone who “blasphemes” the holy spirit has no forgiveness available to them, while “grieving” and “sinning against” the holy spirit can be forgiven. (Mark 3:29)

Confused yet? I probably can’t help, but let’s press on.

Blasphemy I Tells Ya, Blasphemy!

There are two things wrong with the broadcast, one being that I still don’t know what it means to “blaspheme” the holy spirit. The presentation went on to talk about when Jesus performed a miraculous healing, and the religious leaders of his day denied that it was performed by holy spirit. The explanation seems to say that, if you know something is done by Jehovah’s holy spirit but deny it or doubt it, then you’ve blasphemed the holy spirit.

My problem with this is that trying to determine what is, or is not, done by Jehovah’s holy spirit is a bit tricky. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim all the time that they are guided by holy spirit.¹  They even claim that the appointment of elders and ministerial servants in the congregation is also directed by holy spirit.²

Which begs the question, what happens when Jehovah’s Witnesses are wrong about something they predict, as has happened time and again? (Please see JWfacts for a quick rundown of changed teachings and failed predictions.) How can you say you’re guided by holy spirit when you get your information and interpretations wrong; is the holy spirit wrong? Taking a break at that time? Just messing with your heads?

What happens when one of those men, appointed as an elder under the guidance of this holy spirit, turns out to be a wife beater or child rapist? You can read the Pedophilia and Domestic Violence categories of this site to see how often men who have supposedly been appointed by holy spirit wind up committing these vile acts, with other elders turning a blind eye, blaming the victims, and so on.

The point is, when someone doubts that Jehovah’s Witnesses are appointed or guided by holy spirit because they see these failures and know firsthand about these scandals, are they somehow guilty of “blaspheming the holy spirit”? Their doubt, or even outright thinking that only something evil could be behind such horrific crimes in an organization, is “blasphemy”? They’ve committed a sin for which there is no forgiveness? That seems a bit suspect.

Human Garbage

Questioning what is, and what is not, blasphemy is one thing, but what is also most disturbing about this video is that it was demonstrated to the audience with the use of actual loaves of bread. (*pause for the rolling of eyes*) The speaker showed how adding garlic powder to the bread makes it distasteful but still useful, like humans who sin but who are still acceptable to god. Dipping one side of the bread in mud is still workable, as you can cut off that muddy chunk and throw it away; in the same way, you can be forgiven, or get rid of, even serious sins.

However, this unforgivable sin or blaspheming the holy spirit is like squirting poison all over the bread. It’s no longer good for anything:

“That person’s relationship with Jehovah is forever ruined. Jehovah discards the person like a piece of garbage.”

A piece of garbage.

Nice.

I can’t comment much on bible teaching since I’m pretty much an atheist and have never really believed in, or felt drawn to, the bible, but I would need to strongly question the idea that any loving god would discard someone like “a piece of garbage” simply because they question, doubt, or even outright deny supposed works of his. Isn’t that what it means to be a human, to question, to be skeptical, and to expect extraordinary evidence from anyone who claims to be representing god?

Also, these child molesters in the congregation, and those who practice these other horrific things like domestic violence and shunning, they’re not garbage? God disposes of someone who questions or even rebels against his miracles, but not someone who molests little children, or tells a rape victim to her face that she didn’t scream and fight and resist enough so that she “consented” to the violation; they’re not the real garbage here?

blasphemyWicked Hearts, Self-Esteem, and More Blasphemy

Another part of the problem with this teaching; I could understand god tossing away certain people who commit horrible, vile acts, and who have no interest whatsoever in changing their ways. I’m sure we’ve all seen the faces of certain war criminals or thieving politicians and figured that they pretty much amounted to human garbage.

However, telling people who have doubts, who don’t believe people when they claim they’re from god, who leave certain religious leaders or ideas, that they are garbage to be tossed into a can, is inexcusable. Many people who leave Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially after seeing pedophile scandals and failed prophecies, don’t need someone to tell them that they’re human garbage, completely useless and only meant for the rubbish bin.

It’s also worth mentioning that, while the word blasphemy means “an impious utterance against god or the act of cursing and reviling god,” it also means “assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of god.” (Dictionary.com) Might this be applied to the teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

As an example, the May 15, 2006, Watchtower stated:

“Just as Noah and his God-fearing family were preserved in the ark, survival of individuals today depends on their faith and their loyal association with the earthly part of Jehovah’s universal organization.”

I can’t see where this is backed up in the bible; the example of Noah is a far stretch. Telling people that they need to associate with you or they won’t survive god’s judgment seems a bit blasphemous; isn’t it up to god to tell people what is acceptable, and to determine if people deserve salvation?

Also, as I bring out in this post, one thing I found surprising about the secret handbook that elders use, “Shepherd the Flock of God,” is that they are told they exercise judgment over others. Yet, the bible at John 1:22 says, “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son.” The elders haven’t been given this privilege to judge, according to the bible’s own words, but this is done by the Son. Saying that you’re going to fulfill a role that is given to Jesus, or assuming those rights to yourself, also seems blasphemous.

I don’t know if this teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses about the unforgivable sin is accurate according to the scriptures, but I do know that a person doesn’t need to leave the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses to have doubts about its leadership and teaching. Yet, the implication seems to say that if you just have those doubts or disagreements, even if you haven’t left, you’ve committed a terrible sin for which there is no forgiveness. You’re just human garbage.

To say that this sin means to blaspheme the holy spirit when the leaders themselves are also apparently guilty of blasphemy is hypocrisy at its finest. When you think of it, who really should be considered human garbage, those who doubt and question because of scandal and lack of evidence, or those who commit the scandals and lack the evidence?

***

¹February 15, 2010, Watchtower, “…our speaking with boldness and our using the Word of God skillfully in the ministry demonstrate that we are directed by God’s spirit.” April 15, 2010, Watchtower, “Jehovah uses his spirit to lead his organization in the direction that he wants it to go.”

²January 15, 2001, Watchtower, “The whole process of such recommendation and appointment is directed, or guided, by holy spirit.”

***

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21 replies »

      • Alex,
        I don’t mind admitting that I am starting to believe that your stance against the JW organization maybe justified.
        I mean if these people who are meant to be teaching the public how to worship god properly
        are found to be going against in private what they teach in public,
        it makes it kind of easy to understand why so many people are complaining about them.
        I still feel sad though cause I really thought and hoped they were genuine
        but now I’m starting to doubt them.

  1. Jehovah Witnesses are not interested in persons being repentant. There concern is that they are not exposed and being sued as they have been over the last several years. It has cost them millions of dollars!
    As a former Police Officer and ex-Jehovah Witness I exposed these Elders through an investigation
    on several occasions and I was informed by there WBTS that I could not come back into the congregation. No scriptures were used, no witnesses or evidence. They know I have the evidence to expose this Organization since the 80’s that this is a pattern or should I say a lifestyle that these sick perverts cannot stop. I currently live in Las Vegas Nevada, and it is even worse here than it was in Wisconsin when I started investigating these perverts. The evidence that I have is past the statute of limitation and the Organization will then use the 1st amendment to cover there wrong doing.

    • They are just evil, it’s all about appearances, power, and money. They are no different than any other religion or organization that abuses children and then goes out of their way to cover it up. Sickening.

  2. After 26 years being in this Cult and 7 years out, I can testify to men who have been so called ” Appointed by holy spirit” and are nothing of the sort. Rape , fraud, beating of wife’s and children, and just about every crime I can think of. As for the garbage they are becoming even more judgemental and angry than ever. Its nice to see that the cult is now being attacked from all angles as it tries to keep any credibility. Sex abuse , Joining the United nations in 1992 till 2001. The Stocks and shares in Military companies, and Tobacco, Alcohol. Etc etc.

    • I’m sad to know you are now disillusioned after spending 26 years of your life in god’s service.
      and I am sad to know that the organization which is meant to be “no part of the world”
      allegedly (I have to use that word Ron cause I don’t know if what you wrote is totally accurate despite you being a witness for 26 years)
      has shares in the tobacco business etc?
      I naturally want to believe that that isn’t accurate but until I know the facts I have to give you the benefit of the doubt.
      one thing I am certain of is that few people keep perfect integrity.
      here in the UK Ron do you know that members of the royal family have been accused of adultery for example?
      call me naive but I grew up believing that people who are born into privileged family are taught from childhood to keep themselves free from blame and that committing adultery would be unthinkable to a member of the royal family.
      but the reality is privilege doesn’t stop people doing what they know is wrong.
      so even though I am saddened and shocked to hear allegations of sexual abuse and wife beating within the organization of JW’s
      I’m not really surprised because I now know that every one is capable of doing wrong.
      but as I said to Alex earlier,
      if what I learned from JW’s about god’s judgment against modern day Babylon the great comes true in my lifetime and JW’s remain in tact
      then I will know that despite the allegations and scandals
      JW’s still represent god and have his approval.
      and any people within the organization that are still living a double life will be removed by god permanently.
      we can be absolutely certain of that.
      I’m sorry to know you left the organization Ron
      and judging by your words
      you don’t seem to have any regrets?
      I nevertheless hold onto to the hope that despite human weaknesses
      god will prove to be true and will reward those who have kept their integrity.
      Ron
      can you visualize rejoining JW’s in the future?
      what if revelations comes true?
      you won’t be able to deny that despite the scandals and allegations etc
      god’s word has proved to be true.
      I know that I’d at least like to see what life under Jesus ruler-ship will be like?
      today while at college I saw a blind woman walking along with her stick with a cup of coffee in her hand and that image has stayed in my mind ever since.
      it reminded me of the immense harm Adam and Eve brought on us…even that Blind woman.
      and if god loves us enough to sacrifice his son on our behalf
      and that his sacrifice will mean that woman will one day be able to see
      then I think I be willing to spend the rest of my life sharing the truth about gods love despite all the sad allegations and scandals.
      in my eyes gods love is for people like that woman.
      even now I feel like crying as I try to imagine what its like to have eyes and not be able to see?
      I have my own affliction which is a nervous disorder meaning that I am nervous 24/7
      and I cannot relax no matter what I do.
      but Despite that I can still see and I’d love to see that woman be given the ability to see for the first time in her life.
      I am actually crying now Ron,
      and its due to a combination of knowing how hurt we all are.
      some are hurt emotionally mentally and physically and it upsets me so much.
      and now I know about god and his promise I can’t let go Ron.
      after all its the only hope open to us…in its absence there is no hope at all.
      since man is so limited in what they can do and people are increasingly wicked
      and see no wrong in hurting each other.
      I prefer the world god holds out to us…and I’d love to see you me and that blind woman and Alex and everyone else there
      being healed by our Heavenly Father.
      don’t give up hope Ron
      just because people are not trustworthy
      it doesn’t mean god isn’t.
      Take care.

      • Shyn could you please try to edit your comments to be a bit more succinct? This one in particular is over 700 words; that’s a full page and a half, or half a blog post, and it’s the 4th such comment you’ve left on this page alone. There’s no reason to write every single thought you get, 200 words or one paragraph is usually sufficient for most people to express themselves and I would appreciate it if you would consider doing the same. If you need to write so many words in one place, I might suggest you start your own blog. Thank you.

    • Robert,
      the more former JW’s come forward and say Elders are basically living a lie as well as breaking the law,
      there must be some truth in it.
      I recall speaking to an elder from a local congregation about the allegations of abuse and cover ups
      and he expressed shock and surprise to hear that.
      but he also said that any allegations of any abuse wouldn’t be swept under the carpet
      because doing so would go against christian principles.
      I want to believe that he was telling the truth,
      but as long as the allegations keep coming out and the watchtower society tell the congregations to ignore them,
      that will arouse even more suspicion.
      after all how can allegations of sexual abuse be ignored?
      that sort of advice goes against principles as well doesn’t it?
      or is there one rule for the elders and another for everyone else?

  3. Regarding the book the elders have that no one else is allowed to see; if everything in the book is bible based and on the “up and up”, why can’t anyone else see it ? Seems fishy to me !

    • Can you imagine if rank-and-file JWs knew that elders could commit serious sins and still be elders, as long as the sin happened a few years ago? Or that women are not to be told information about their husband’s infidelity by the elders because they consider it “confidential” from her? I’m sure that’s why they keep it private, those things are just beyond stupid!

      • So Alex,
        are you saying you want the JW’s who are as of now living a double life to put their hands and leave the organization?
        or would prefer to close down completely?
        Believe it or not
        I often question how a religious organization that strives to live up to the high standards of being a christian
        is now being accused of the things it regularly reminds its followers to resist?
        the only logical answer has to be that it is a case of the guilty lacking the courage to come forward and leave
        or the elders etc wanting to keep face knowing that if wrongdoing is exposed it will damage the reputation of the organization?
        but if that is the case,
        why do the guilty do what they do knowing full well it goes against the guidelines of Christianity?
        and the only answer has to be its because they were selfish and ignored their conscience in order to satisfy their bad desires?
        that kind of thing isn’t limited to JW’s
        everyone is capable of ignoring their conscience in order to do what they know is wrong.
        and once they do it
        they tend to feel afraid of being exposed and pretend to be decent and law abiding
        but of course the truth is they have become corrupt.
        wife beating, raping, emotional blackmail etc are all bad and can’t be justified.
        and when those things allegedly take place within a religious organization which appears to be more zealous for living up to the christian ideal more than any other religious organization,
        it leaves me feeling sad and disillusioned because though I’m not a JW and not currently studying with them,
        I still believe they do represent Christianity in the right way despite the scandals and allegations of sexual abuse and wife beating etc.
        if JW’s can no longer be trusted then in my eyes all hope is gone.
        because I am utterly convinced that the churches don’t represent Christianity properly.
        neither are they free from blame and scandals of all sorts.
        but at the end of the day if I live to see the fulfillment of the final book in the bible in which god executes judgement against all those who dirty his name,
        whoever is left standing (and JW’s obviously believe it will be them)
        then that will clear up any doubts I currently have in mind.
        and I know that if when that happens and there are still people within the organization living double lives
        god will deal with them.
        so I’m not going to give up yet.

  4. Alex,
    OK so they use the garbage to describe someone who sin’s against God’s spirit.
    can you honestly say you NEVER USE inappropriate language to describe how you feel about their conduct?
    if you can’t then how can you condemn JW’s?
    I understand that as Christians they are meant to live up to a very high standard.
    But is that possible?
    think about the fact that a person is more likely to learn how to swear and curse and use various words that are considered to be offensive,
    than they are to learn the truth about god and faultlessly live up to his standards.
    I was in my early 20’s by the time I even heard the name “Jehovah”
    and by that time I had sworn and cursed enough to fill a zillion books and more.
    almost 30 years have passed and you know what?
    I still swear and curse when I’m frustrated and stressed.
    does it mean I have no self control?
    no it doesn’t.
    it just means that God’s influence on human nature is minimal.
    whereas Satan’s spirit (if the bible account of mankind’s downfall in the garden of Eden is true)
    is within us all like a disease without a cure.
    and as if you didn’t know that disease effects even JW’s even if certain ones are raised in the truth.
    and being raised in the truth of course does have advantages in that the children gain access to bible truths which would normally be hidden by Christendom’s clergy.
    but is that sufficient to stop them learning how to curse and swear and compare a person who sin’s to garbage?
    it’s possible…but I think we should try not to be too quick to find fault with other people
    especially if we are yet to control what comes out of our mouths.
    and again I ask you if you never swear?
    be honest Alex.
    do you always conduct yourself in a faultless way?
    if not, why give other people such a hard time for doing what you may do from time to time?
    remember as well that your Human Alex and are also imperfect and that it’s god’s judgement that will count at the end of the day
    not yours mines or anyone else.
    when we judge we are obliged to be free from fault
    otherwise our judgement will be unfair.
    we go around condemning others for the things we also do…that’s not fair and you know it as well as I and everyone else.
    no one can imitate Jesus without fault.
    and yet imitating Jesus is required of everyone who puts themselves forward to serve god.
    imagine now how difficult it would be for example for an out and out racist to change his/her attitude in order to serve god with as little fault and hypocrisy as possible?
    imagine how challenging it would be for a proud homosexual or lesbian to change their ways in order to serve god properly?
    Imagine how difficult it would be for a person accustomed to stealing to survive,
    to learn to be honest and law abiding in order to serve god without fault?
    basically Alex few people can walk through god’s door and serve god without fault.
    and though I understand that it looks wrong to say one is a JW while using an inappropriate word to describe someone who grieves god’s holy spirit.
    but we need to remember Alex that god is the judge not us…and till he judges us we just have to learn to accept that no one is perfect and we all say things that are wrong from time to time whether we are a JW or not.
    not even the clergy are free from fault.
    neither past or present.
    in fact I don’t know anyone that is free from fault.
    the only fault free person(s) that ever lived was Adam eve and Jesus.
    and only Jesus maintained his integrity.

    • Have I ever used offensive language? All the time. How can I condemn JWs then? Because no one ever raped a child in my home. No one ever beat up on their wife in my home. No one was ever encouraged to shun their family because they have different beliefs in my home. No rape victim was ever grilled mercilessly and obscenely in my home. I’ve never blamed a victim for their abuse or sent a victim home to their abuser. These things didn’t happen in my home, but they happen in Kingdom Halls. I gladly and freely, with a clear conscience, condemn JWs no matter the language I use or the minor imperfections I have that are absolutely nothing compared to their wicked works.

  5. This is spot on. The blatant hypocrisy is sickening. If anyone is blaspheming, it is those pompous asses who have the arrogance to claim they are God’s spokesperson and charge anyone who doubts that with blasphemy! The bible itself tells us to “keep testing every inspired utterance to see if it is from God” and warns us of false prophets.

    The Witnesses have an undeniable history of false prophecy, that most of the members are completely ignorant to, as the Society has made a valiant effort to edit their history and whitewash what they DO know about. Nothing is as sickening as the way they manipulate and control innocent, sincere, God-loving people and turn then into cold, heartless robots who turn on their close friends and family in a blink of an eye, if they think they are so much as having DOUBTS!

    I am so thankful I woke up after forty years of being blinded by them, but it breaks my heart that so many I love are still trapped in their web of lies, most likely for the rest of their lives.

      • but the “scare tactics” are in fact based on the principles from the bible Alex.
        and the bible writer wrote that all scripture is inspired of god and beneficial for teaching and setting things straight,
        for disciplining in righteousness etc.
        in other words god is the one who sets the standards.
        the Apostle Paul also acknowledged that no discipline at present seems good but is grievous.
        but those that have been trained by it along with endurance will reap peaceable fruit namely righteousness.(and that righteousness means they are deemed to be worthy of being saved on the day of Judgement)
        this is why learning to be humble mild with self control and respect for fellow humans early in life can be beneficial
        cause it helps people avoid giving into bad desires which lead to people being scarred mentally and emotionally and even physically.
        and by adhering to high standards of conduct it protects individuals and helps them to retain a clean conscience.
        but its not easy to do that in a world where standards tend to be lax
        and it can be easy to be lead into wrongdoing when society is either lax or has double standards.
        for example a society may frown upon rape and wife beating but it may approve of sleeping around etc.
        and in that way it can be easy to be mislead and one ends up sleeping around cause the government doesn’t consider it as a wrong.
        but the key thing to remember is its not what governments say is wrong or right that counts,
        its rather how god views those things.
        god clearly doesn’t approve of sleeping around and so he inspired the Apostle Paul to write saying flee from fornication cause god will judge fornicators.
        so when people ignore god’s warnings
        god can’t be blamed because his word makes it clear how he feels about sexual immorality.
        the blame lays with the individuals who “chose” to do as they please for a moments pleasure
        only to find that the consequences are often far from pleasurable.
        think how many people have needlessly died as a consequence of choosing to ignore god’s guidelines?
        and think too about the many people that were found guilty of sexual abuse who then commit suicide in order to escape punishment.
        such a waste of life and all because they chose to give into a bad desire that grew in their hearts and minds.
        living by god’s standards is far better than ignoring them and doing as we please.
        I accept that such self discipline is often grievous cause we are denying ourselves pleasure.
        but if the consequence of that “pleasure” is a guilty conscience along with emotionally and mentally scarred victims,
        then I think the “grievous pain of self control and discipline” is far more desirable.
        I accept that wife beating, sexual abuse, emotional blackmail etc are not righteous,
        but those who practice those things will get what the deserve in the end.
        they certainly won’t gain god’s approval that’s for sure.
        but if god is willing to forgive if the wrongdoers acknowledge the wrongs they have done and sincerely repent,
        there’s nothing anyone can do to change that Alex.
        I accept that there are certain crimes that leave lasting emotional and mental wounds and so even if people who commit those crimes while linked to JW’s repent,
        their repentance won’t heal the emotional and mental scars left on the victims.
        so in such cases permanent dismissal from my point of view seems to be the best option.
        and then it is up to the rest to try even harder to resist any bad desires that grow in their hearts
        and by resisting bad desires that helps to keep their name along with god’s clean.

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