UNIT 5 (a)

'Ruling for Justice Itself'

Jehovah, as a loving Shepherd, has directed overseers to
"rule as princes for justice itself." ( Isa. 32:1, 2 ) Since Jehovah
God is holy, he requires that all those who worship him be
spiritually and morally clean. ( I Pet. 1:14-16) As appointed
overseers, you have a large part in safeguarding the cleanness
of the congregation.

Protective care is a basic idea embraced in the word "over-
seer" (e.pi'sko.pos), which carries also the thought of one who
watches over, a guardian, a shepherd of the flock. You have
the responsibility to cultivate in the hearts of the brothers a
love for what is good and a hatred for what is bad, wicked.
(Rom. 12:9) By holding to God's Word and by effectively
using the art of teaching, you will be able to help your
brothers not only to understand what is right and what is
wrong but also to have an active part in keeping the congre-
gation clean and chaste for public service to Jehovah.

How Elders Promote Justice

All elders are responsible to shepherd the flock, to teach,
reprove, reprimand, and exhort as necessary. (Titus 1:

When teaching, state clearly what God requires, and en-
courage faithful adherence to his righteous principles.

Help fellow believers to appreciate their responsibility to
keep the congregation clean.

Assist them to understand that this involves:

Keeping their own personal conduct chaste.

Listening to their Bible-trained conscience.

Relentlessly resisting temptations.


Refusing to feed their minds on immoral ideas;
perceiving how wrong thoughts lead to wrong ac-

Parents' instilling moral character in their children.

Younger ones' obeying their parents.

Refusing to imitate the world and its unscriptural

Teaching interested persons the Bible's high moral

Set a fine example yourself in attitude, conduct, and
speech so that the congregation can imitate your faith. (Heb. 13:7)

Display the traits of a spiritual man; do not give way to
unclean practices of a physical man. (1 Cor. 2:14, 15 )

Your example will help your brothers to have "the
mind of Christ."(l Cor. 2:16)

Take the initiative to help anyone in the congregation
who has taken some false step; do your best to readjust
him. (Gal. 6:1)

Encourage good associations; warn the brothers to guard
against bad associations both inside and outside the con-
gregation. ( I Cor. 15:33 )

Yet, do not create ill will toward a weak one in the
congregation who is being helped.

Some may not yet have their perceptive powers trained to
distinguish right and wrong. (Heb. 5:14)

Keep watch over their souls, since you will render an
account for them too. (Heb. 13:17)

Discern the difference between a weak person and a wick-
ed person.

Deal with your brothers as Jehovah would deal with
them. (Eph. 5:1)

Always give them direction from God's Word; avoid
giving your own opinions. (2 Tim. 4:2)

UNIT 5 (a)


Be just yet kind in all your dealings. (Mic. 6:8)

Manifest humility by showing empathy, since you are
also a mere human made of dust. (Ps. 103:13, 14)

Act as qualified judges.

Keep the spirit of the world out of the congregation.
(I Cor. 2:12; Eph. 2:1, 2)

Reprove and readjust wrongdoers. (Titus 1:9)

Remove unrepentant wrongdoers. ( I Cor. 5:7, 13 )

Uphold Jehovah's Righteousness

Wrongdoing is increasing in frequency and in depravi-
ty; such can infiltrate and affect the Christian congrega-
tion. (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13; .Jude 3, 4, 11-13)

The Scriptures clearly show that Jehovah forbids certain
conduct among his clean people; brothers need to up-
hold Jehovah's righteous standards regarding the follow-


A degree of guilt could result from careless driving, care-
less maintenance of one's automobile, or other careless or
thoughtless action that causes injury or death. (Compare
Deuteronomy 22:8. )

Being a professional boxer may be viewed in a similar
way. (w817/1 pp. 30-1)

Attempted suicide may be the result of deep despair or
major depression; deal carefully and compassionately with
such a person. In most cases a judicial hearing is not
required. (Ps. 88:3, 17, 18; Prov. 15:13; Eccl. 7:7; g90
9/8 pp 22-3; w90 3/15 pp. 26-30; w90 3/1 pp. 5-9; w83
8/1 pp. 3-11)

Sexual misconduct, including; adultery, fornication, and
other forms of "por.ne'a.."

Uncleanness includes an intentional momentary touching
of sexual parts or caressing of breasts. ( I Thess. 4:7, 8;
1 Tim. 5:1,2)

"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"


Such minor uncleanness can be handled at the discre-
tion of an elder or two; it does not require a judicial

There is a need for strong counsel, admonition, and
assistance to help the individual to maintain chaste
conduct in the future.

If not corrected, such conduct may escalate in gravity
and by frequent repetition become loose conduct.

Loose conduct is a shocking, flagrant disregard for Jeho-
vah's moral standards. (Gal. 5:19; w83 3/15 p. 31; w73
9/15 pp. 574-6)

It may include the willful practice of heavy petting or
the fondling of breasts.

The nature, circumstances, and actual extent of what
has occurred may indicate loose conduct, which would
require judicial action.

Such practices can easily lead to por.nei´a.

"Por.nei´a" involves immoral use of the genitals of at least
one human ( whether in a natural or a perverted way ), and
there must have been another party to the immorality‹a
human of either sex or a beast; willing participation incurs
guilt and requires judicial action. It is not a casual touch-
ing of the sex organs between persons but involves the
manipulation of the genitals. (w83 6/1 pp. 23-6; w83
3/15 pp. 30-1)

It includes oral and anal sex or mutual masturbation
between persons not married to each other, homosexu-
ality, lesbianism, fornication, adultery, incest, and bes-
tiality. (Lev. 20:10, 13, 15, 16; Rom. 1:24, 26, 27, 32;
1 Cor. 6:9, 10)

Also included are sexual abuse of children, including
practices involving a catamite (a boy kept for purposes
of sexual perversion). (Deut. 23:17, 18, Ref.: Bi., ftns.)

Victims of sexual abuse need to be treated with
extreme thoughtfulness and kindness. Elders should
always do what they reasonably can to protect
children from further abuse;
follow the Society's directives on such matters. (g85 1/22 p. 8)

UNIT 5 (1 )


Self-abuse, or masturbation, is not "porna'a," nor
would one who was raped be guilty of por.nei´a. (w83
3/15 p. 30; w74 3/1 p. 160; it-l pp. 862-4; tp p. 144)

The term por.nei´a lays emphasis on both the lewd
nature and the intent of the person's conduct, and it
embraces all illicit sexual activity characteristic of that
found in a house of prostitution.

Copulation (as in penetration) is not necessary to
constitute por.nei'a, and neither is sexual climax.

In borderline cases, it is the responsibility of the
judicial committee to weigh carefully the Scriptures
and the particular facts in the case to determine
whether por.nei'a was involved.

This responsibility should not be taken lightly,
especially when Scriptural freedom to remarry is
involved. (Mal. 2:16a)


Apostasy is a standing away from, a falling away, defec-
tion, rebellion, abandonment; it involves teaching false
doctrines, supporting or promoting false religion and its
holidays or interfaith activities. (Deut. 13:13, 15; Josh.
22:22, ftn.; Acts 21:21, ftn.; 2 Cor. 6:14, 15, 17, 18;
2. John 7, 9, 10; Rev. 18:4)

Those with sincere doubts should be helped, dealt with
mercifully. (Jude 22, 23; w82 9/1 pp. 20-1;w80 8/1
pp. 21-2)

Apostasy includes action taken against true worship of
Jehovah or his established order among his dedicated
people. (Jer. 17:13; 23:15; 28:15, 16; 2 Thess. 2:9, 10)

Persons who deliberately spread (stubbornly hold to and
speak about) teachings contrary to Bible truth as taught
by Jehovah's Witnesses are apostates.

If it is learned that a person has taken up association with
another religious organization, the matter should be inves-
tigated, and if verified, a committee should be formed.

If it is clearly established that the person has joined
another religion and intends to remain with it, the


"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

elders would make a brief announcement to the congre-
gation that such- one has disassociated himself. (w86
10/15 p. 31 )

Working secularly for a false religious organization could
put one in a position similar to that of one preaching false
doctrine. (2 Cor. 6:14-16)

Celebrating a false religious holiday would be similar to
performing any other act of false worship. (Jer. 7:16-19)

The Bible condemns the following:

Causing divisions and promoting sects.

This would be deliberate action disrupting the unity
of the congregation or undermining the confidence
of the brothers in Jehovah's arrangement.

It may involve or lead to apostasy. (Rom. 16:
17, 18; Titus 3:10, 11 )

The practice of spiritism. (Deut. 18:9-13; I Cor. 10: 21, 22; Gal. 5:20)

Idolatry. ( I Cor. 6:9, 10; 10:14)

Idolatry includes the possession and use of images
and pictures that are employed in false religion.

Drunkenness. (I Cor. 5:11; 6:9,10; it-l p. 656)

Stealing, thievery, fraud. (Lev. 6:2, 4; I Cor. 6:9, 10; Eph. 4:28; it-l p. 870)

Deliberate, malicious lying; bearing false witness. (Prov. 6: 16, 19; Col. 3:9; Rev. 22:15; it-2 pp. 244-5)

Reviling; slander. (Lev. 19:16; I Cor. 6:10; it-l pp. 989-91; it-2 pp. 801-2)

Obscene speech. (Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:8)

Failure to abstain from blood. (Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:20, 28, 29)

Greed‹gambling, extortion. (I Cor. 5:10, 11; 6:10; I Tim. 3:8; it-l pp. 1005-6)

Adamant refusal to provide materially for one's ovn family‹leaving wife and children destitute when having the

UNIT 5 (a)


means to provide. ( 1 Tim. 5:8; w88 11/1 pp. 22-3; km
9/73 p. 8)

Nonneutral activitics. ( Isa. 2:4;John 6:15; 17:16)

Fits of anger, violence. (Prov. 22:24, 25; Mal. 2:16; Gal.

Misuse of tobacco or addictive drugs (2 Cor. 7:1; Mark
15:23; Rev. 21:8, Int.; 22:15, Int. )

Loose conduct. Term not restricted to sexual immorality.
(Gal. 5:19, Ref.. Bi., ftn.; 2 Pet. 2:7, Ref.. Bi., ftn.; w83
3/15 p. 31; w73 9/15 pp. 574-6; it-2 p. 264)

SUMMARY: There are varying degrees of wrongdoing.
At times there may have been an overlapping of sins, and
this must be discerned in order to determine the proper
Scriptural view of a person's conduct. In all cases, elders
should carefully weigh each situation or circumstance.
They need to find out what actually occurred, the extent
and nature of misconduct, intent and motive, frequency
or practice, and so forth. Good judgment, reasonableness,
and balance are necessary as elders assess conduct in the
light of the Scriptures.

Your Aim Should Be to Help the Person

We want to help individuals to stay within Jehovah's
spiritual paradise.

When elders are approachable and display a genuine inter-
est in the spiritual welfare of the congregation, they will
keep themselves informed and alert to any special needs
within the congregation.

In some cases an erring individual will come to the elders
voluntarily, seeking aid and confessing his wrongdoing.
(Prov. 28:13)

If the person is guilty of serious wrongdoing, it is wise
for him to speak to one or more of the elders about the
matter. (Jas. 5:16)

For gross sins committed, a judicial committee
should be formed.


"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

In other cases an accusation may be brought against a
member of the congregation. ( 1 Cor. 1:11 )

If a person has definite knowledge of wrongdoing that
could contaminate the congregation, he is obligated to
report the matter in order to keep the congregation
clean. (Lev. 5:1; Num. 15:32-34; Prov. 29:24)

A judicial committee is not automatically formed even
when a person is accused of serious sin.

Some matters may be handled by the elder who hears of
the wrongdoing. (Gal. 6:1 )

Although you may feel that your counsel will suffice to
restore the individual, it is advisable to inform the
presiding overseer of the matter; there may be other
factors involved.

The matter may have come up before, or there may
have been other acts of wrongdoing concerning
which he has knowledge.

Some matters may be investigated and handled by two
elders assigned by the body of elders.

There are certain cases that the body of elders is respon-
sible to investigate and, when necessary, appoint a judi-
cial committee to handle:

Gross sins‹either those that have brought the congrega-
tion into public disrepute or those of a more private
nature. (Rom. 2:21-24; I Cor. 5:1; 2 Cor. 7:11 )

Any serious sin that constitutes a clear threat of contami-
nating the congregation. (I Cor. 5:6, 9-11; Gal. 5:19-21;
1 Tim. 1:9, 10)

When an elder or a ministerial servant commits a gross
wrong, he is morally obligated to inform the body of
elders of his being reprehensible.

He would not qualify to continue in his appointed
position of service.

The same would be true concerning a pioneer who
becomes involved in serious sin.

UNIT 5 (a)


Elders, ministerial servants, and pioneers should be
irreprehensible and serve with a clean conscience.
( I Tim. 3:2, 8, 9; Titus 1:6)

Baptized minors.

When a baptized minor becomes involved in wrongdoing
that threatens the cleanness of the congregation, the as-
signed committee should meet with such individual just as
they would with any other member of the congregation.

It would be best to meet with the youth and his or her
Christian parents; the parents have the responsibility to
raise him and train him.

Try to restore the individual, if this is possible. (Gal. 6:1,
ftn. )

If efforts to restore bring no response, disfellowship-
ping is in order.

When minors are disfellowshipped, parents are still
responsible for raising, training, and teaching them,
even studying with them if the minors are in their
home. (w88 11/15 p. 20)

Married people.

If the wrongdoer is a married woman, it would be best to
meet with her and her believing husband.

He is her head, and his efforts to restore her and direct
her can be very helpful.

If there is no response to efforts to bring about repen-
tance, the wrongdoer should be disfellowshipped. (w81
9/1 pp. 22-7)

The disfellowshipping of a mate does not end marriage

Unbaptized publishers.

Unbaptized publishers who engage in serious wrongdoing
may be readjusted.

Two elders will talk with the wrongdoer and determine
what action should be taken. (w88 11/15 pp. 18-20)


"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

They may instruct him not to share in the public
ministry or comment at meetings, and they may re-
strict him from being in the Theocratic Ministry
School until he has made more spiritual progress.

If the wrongdoing is widely known but the person is
repentant, the Congregation Service Committee may
arrange for an announcement to the congregation as
follows: "A matter involving [name of person] has
been handled, and he [she] continues to serve as an
unbaptized publisher with the congregation." (w88
11/15 p. 18)

When the unbaptized publisher who is a wrongdoer is
a minor, his or her Christian parents should be consult-
ed to determine what they are doing to correct the
wrongdoer. It may also be necessary to meet with the
youth together with his parents.

In the case of unbaptized publishers who unrepentantly
continue in wrongdoing despite all efforts to help them,
an announcement can be made saying: ''[Name of person]
is no longer a publisher of the good news." (w88 11/15
p. 19)

Your goal in dealing with unbaptized publishers whether
youths or adults, is to help them. (1 Thess. 5:14 j

Baptized persons who have not associated for some time.

If you learn of serious wrongdoing on the part of such a
person, the matter should be investigated if it poses a
threat to the congregation's cleanness and welfare or caus-
es a public scandal.

Consider the following:

Does he still profess to be a Witness?

Is he generally recognized as such in the congrega-
tion and/or t e community?

Does the person have a measure of contact or
association with the congregation so that a leaven-
ing, or corrupting, influence exists?

How did the matter become known to the elders?

UNIT 5 (a)


Is the person willing to meet with a committee,
thus admitting accountability to the Christian con-

Depending upon length of inactivity and other factors
suggested above, elders may determine to hold the
matter in abeyance.

In such a case, a record of the person's questionable
conduct should be made for the congregation file so
that everything noted might be clarified when the
person shows interest in becoming active again.

If the sinful conduct is known only to believing family
members and no congregation action is taken because
of the factors outlined above, believing relatives will
likely determine to curtail family association severely,
viewing the relative as bad association. ( I Cor. 15:33)

If the individual still professes to be a Witness and is
willing to meet with the judicial committee, the matter
should be handled in the normal way. However, when
factors such as possible legal action exist, it is best to
consult the Society before proceeding. (w87 9/1 p. 14)

If individuals Persist in "walking, disorderly" in serious
violation of well-established Bible principles, but not yet
to a degree warranting judicial action, they may be
«marked» by members of the congregation. (2 Thess. 3:
6, 14, 15; w85 4/15 pp. 30-1; om pp. 152-3)

However, this would occur only after repeated efforts to
provide authoritative Scriptural counsel and admonition
have been ignored and in many cases after a warning talk
has been given to the congregation. (w85 4/15 pp. 30-1;
w81 9/1 pp. 19-21 )

If a person who has been marked continues his wrongful
course in brazen defiance of Christian standards, ada-
mantly rejecting loving Scriptural counsel,
judicial action
may be taken if the situation becomes scandalous loose

Propriety of Disfellowshipping

When making decisions or answering questions about
judicial reproof, disfellowshipping, disassociation, or

"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"


reinstatement, elders should be certain that their deci-
sions and answers are based solidly on the Bible and are
in harmony with the most recent statements by the
Society. (Compare 1 Corinthians 4:6. )

Before initiating a judicial hearing, elders assigned to serve
on the judicial committee should r~ guidelines set out
in Units 5 (a), 5 (b), and 5 (c) as well as examine perti-
nent scriptures and references in the Society's publica-

They should also be sure to proceed in harmony with
current information published in TheWatchtower and in
letters from the Society.

Purposes served by disfellowshipping:

Upholds Jehovah's name and standard of righteousness.
(Acts 15:14; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; compare Isaiah 52:5.)

Protects the purity of the congregation. (I Cor. 5:1-13;

May correct the unrepentant wrongdoer, bringing him to
his senses. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)

Implications of Disassociation

Whereas disfellowshipping is an action taken by a judi-
cial committee against unrepentant wrongdoers, disasso-
ciation is an action taken by an individual who has
decided that he no longer desires to be one of Jehovah's
Witnesses. ( 1 John 2:19)

God's Word speaks of those who renounce the way of the
truth; they may do this either by written notice or by
action. (w81 9/15 p. 23)

If an individual takes a course contrary to the neutral
position of the Christian congregation, the congregation
is compelled to view him as one who has chosen to
separate from us. (Isa. 2:4;John 15:17-19)

A brief announcement should be made to notify the
congregation that this individual, by his chosen course, no
longer desires to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. (The
Society should be notified using the S-77 and S-79 forms. )

UNIT 5 (a)


If a baptized person insists that he does not want to be
part of the congregation and requests that his name be
removed from all our records, we should comply with
his request.

Since he takes such an adamant position, encourage him
to put his request in writing.

If he refuses to do this but states resolutely before
witnesses his decision to disassociate himself and not be
known as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, the witnesses to
his statement would be asked to put this in writing and
sign it.

In all cases of disassociation, a committee would consid-
er the evidence regarding the matter.

If the person has definitely terminated his status as a
member of the congregation, the elders will make a brief
announcement of his disassociation. (w86 10/15 p. 31 )

The Society should be notified using the S-77 and S-79

He would be viewed as one who has disassociated

It will not be necessary for a committee to continue the
investigation into alleged wrongdoing if the accused per-
son makes known his decision to disassociate himself.
(w84 7/1 p. 31 )

However, the committee would prepare a summary of the
alleged offense(s) and the evidence of such.

This would be kept along with information regarding
the disassociation.

If the person later requests reinstatement, these matters
would need to be considered with him at that time.

Those who disassociate themselves should be viewed and
treated the same as disfellowshipped persons. (w85 7/15
pp. 30-1)

If one disassociates himself and later wants to return to the
congregation, he must request a hearing for reinstatement,
the same as one who has been disfellowshipped.

"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"


Proper View of
Disfellowshipped and Disassociated Persons

If an individual is trying to influence others to take an
unscriptural course or is trying to deceive others, all
should avoid him; he is described at 2. John 9-11.

Disfellowshipped and disassociated ones are shunned by
those who wish to have a good relationship with Jeho-

Basic Scriptural counsel on the proper view of those who
have been expelled from the congregation is set out in the
apostle Paul's words at 1 Corinthians 5:11- 13.

John counsels against speaking to or associating with a
disfellowshipped or disassociated person so as not to be "a
sharer in his wicked works." (2 John 11 )

Scriptural and historical guidelines on how to view
disfellowshipped and disassociated persons are found in
The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, pages 20-31.

We need to be especially cautious about contact with
disfellowshipped persons who have apostatized and
those who continue in their immoral conduct. (Titus 3:
10, 11; 1. John 2:19)

These can contaminate the congregation like gangrene.
(2. Tim 2:16-18)

The principle set forth in Jesus' words at Matthew 10:
34-38 has a bearing on situations involving disfellow-
shipped or disassociated relatives.

Special and difficult problems may arise in relation to
social gatherings.

Loyal worshipers of Jehovah will want to adhere to the
inspired counsel at I Corinthians 5:11.

Normally, a close relative would not be disfellowshipped
for associating with a disfellowshipped person unless there
is spiritual association or an effort made to justify or
excuse the wrongful course.

UNIT 5 (a)


How funeral arrangements for a disfellowshipped person
may be handled:

If the disfellowshipped person had been giving evidence
of repentance, some brother's conscience might allow him
to give a Bible talk at the funeral home or grave site.
However, the Kingdom Hall should not be used. (w81
9/15 p. 31; w77 6/1 pp. 347-8)

If the deceased still advocated false teachings or ungod-
ly conduct, it would not be appropriate to give a
funeral talk for him. ( 2 John 9-11 )

Keep in mind that all the related hardships and tests
generated in this regard are an outgrowth of the wrong
conduct of the disfellowshipped person.

Cooperation Between Congregations

When a case being considered requires the cooperation
of two or more congregations, do not hesitate to provide
the assistance needed.

If a person has moved from one congregation to another,
do not make the matter of jurisdiction an issue.

Do you have the facts? Can you handle the case most

Then it may be appropriate for you to follow through
without delay.

If the wrongdoing involves persons who attend different
congregations, seek assistance from elders in the other
congregation( s ) and benefit from their observations.

The judicial committees can interview individuals sepa-
rately and/or jointly to ascertain the facts and clarify
discrepancies. (Prov. 18:13, 17)

If a joint meeting is held, thereafter the judicial committee
of each congregation will withdraw and handle the case( s)
of the person(s) from its own congregation.

Good communication and cooperation will minimize in-
consistencies in the judgments rendered.

Do not let a matter remain unhandled.


"Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"


Do not discuss private or judicial matters with members
of your family, including your wife, or with others who
are not involved. (w714/1 pp. 222-4)

Think before you speak.

Be extremely careful that you do not inadvertently dis-
close private information when speaking on the telephone
while others are listening in or when people are nearby
where they could possibly hear the conversation.

At times, complicated judicial cases may necessitate con-
sultation with an experienced mature elder in another
congregation or with the circuit overseer.

Generally, the pertinent details should be discussed, but
names should not be used.

However, when the circuit overseer is the elder consult-
ed or when circumstances require that you contact the
Society, use of names may be necessary. (w87 9/1
pp. 12-15; km 9/77 p. 6)

Be careful to maintain confidentiality. (Prov. 11:13;

Be "Imitators of God"

Jehovah is a God of justice; he is merciful, kind, loving,
and patient. (E~. 34:6, 7; Ps. 37:28)

As you deal with your brothers, imitate Jehovah in dis-
playing these qualities, and you will bring honor to him
and be a blessing to your brothers. (Eph. 5:1 )

UNIT 5 (a)