From the manual for elders of Jehovah's Witnesses
"Pay Attention To Yourselves and to All the Flock"
UNIT 5 (c) -- Part 3 of 3

Clarifications and Guidelines on Handling Certain

Even though all Iying is bad, when considering a case of
lying, elders should use good judgment, balance, and
reasonableness in determining the gravity of the sin and
whether it is a practice.

Some lying may involve either exaggerating the facts or
petty, misleading statements of relatively minor

The person may have lied because of momentary pressure
or fear of man. (Matt. 26:69-75 )

Unless it is established by witnesses or confession that he
has made a practice of flagrant, malicious lying, the elders
would endeavor to readjust the person through loving
Scriptural admonition without holding a judicial hearing.

If there is a question about the mental state of a baptized
individual who commits some deed for which he might be
disfellowshipped, a judicial committee should consider
the facts of the case.

Weigh the evidence along with the extent of mental
incompetence, and then decide whether some
announcement should be made or whether
disfellowshipping should occur.

Although there may be a basis for showing more than
ordinary consideration and patience, the elders must
protect the cleanness and spiritual well-being of the
congregation. ( 1 Thess. 5 :14 )

Marriage is of divine origin. (Mark l0:6-9)

Engagement is a serious commitment and is normally a
personal matter. (Matt. 5:37)

However, unilaterally breaking an engagement may
require inquiry if the one doing so has an organizational
position of responsibility. (w75 6/15 pp. 382-4)

Marrying an unbeliever is contrary to Bible principles.
(Deut. 7:3, 4; 1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14, 15)

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If a dedicated, baptized Christian marries an unbeliever,
this would result in disqualification from all special
privileges for the time being. (1 Tim. 3:2, 4, 5, 12, 13;
w82 3/15 p. 31)

If the parent is an elder, a ministerial servant, or a pioneer
and encourages, allows, or gives tacit approval to the
marriage, this raises questions regarding his or her

Use of the Kingdom Hall must be in harmony with God's

It would not be used for marriages of unbelievers or the
reenactment of marriages, such as on occasions of
anniversaries. (w84 4/15 pp. lO-15; km 12/81 p. 4)

However, on occasion the body of elders may decide to
allow two unbaptized publishers, who are regularly
associating and awaiting an assembly to get baptized, to
be wedded at a Kingdom Hall.

In each case, the body of elders will decide when the
Kingdom Hall may be used for a wedding.

The wedding vows that were puhlished in the April 15,
1984, issue of The Watchtower, page 14, and that appear
in the marriage outline, S-41, should be used.

These vows may be modified according to the local law,
but privately chosen and worded vows should not be used.

Divorce and remarriage was not Jehovah's original
purpose for man.

The Scriptures urge married persons to remain together as
"one flesh." (Gen. 2:22-24; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:10-16;
w83 3/15 p. 29)

Many marital problems can be resolved by following the
principle of Matthew 18: 15.

The Law of Moses allowed the husband, not the wife to
divorce on broad grounds of "something indecent."
(Deut. 24:1)

Jesus Christ strengthened the marriage arrangement for

UNIT 5 (c) - 133

Christians but gave equal right of divorce to the wife.
(Mark l0:11, 12)

In the Christian congregation, divorce is allowed only for
"fornication," or por.nei'a. (Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:3-9)

The marriage bond is not automatically broken in God's
eyes by sex relations outside the marriage union; the
innocent mate may forgive. (Hos. 3: 1-3; 1 Cor. 13:4-8)

While elders should be informed one way or the other, it
is up to the innocent mate to decide whether to divorce or

The innocent mate should be informed that resuming
sexual relations with the adulterous mate would indicate
forgiveness and would therefore cancel the Scriptural
ground for divorce. (w81 3/1 pp. 30-1)

Forgiven adultery cannot be used later as a basis for
divorce, but unrevealed instances of adultery, if later
brought to light, could be so used. (w74 8/15 pp. 511-12)

Forgiveness of adultery involves a willingness on the part
of the innocent mate to resume sexual relations with the
adulterous mate within a reasonable period of time. (w74
11/1 pp. 671-2)

A person guilty of adultery could obtain a legal divorce
and be viewed by the congregation as free to remarry if
the innocent mate refuses to resume sexual relations for a
very prolonged period and yet has not sought a legal

By withholding the marriage due, the nonadulterous mate
would be indicating that no forgiveness has been

The elders would consider evidence from the adulterous
mate to determine that there is a definite rejection by the
nonadulterous mate.

When divorce is the course decided upon, a divorce
freeing a Christian for remarriage should be obtained by
the innocent mate if possible or by the guilty mate with
the innocent mate's consent; both of them are then free to

134 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

If the guilty one unilaterally obtains a divorce over the
objection of the innocent mate, this does not free the
guilty one to remarry.

If he marries someone else while the innocent mate is still
willing to forgive his adultery and resume their marital
arrangement, his is an adulterous marriage. (Luke 16:18)

This calls for congregation judicial action in addition to
any already taken, unless he has already been

A divorced couple (even if only legally divorced) who
have sex relations with each other commit fornication.
(Heb. 13:4; w82 9/lp.31)

It is a matter for personal decision if a separated couple
choose to have sexual relations. (Rom. 14:12)

A person who commits adultery after having been
divorced by his or her mate on unscriptural grounds would
be Scripturally free to remarry, since he or she had already
been rejected by the mate that obtained the divorce.

The case of adultery would be dealt with by a judicial

Courting or dating when one party is not free to marry is
wrong. (w80 8/1 pp. 30-1; w68 4/15 pp. 255-6)

Strong counsel and repeated warnings should be given,
and if the counsel is ignored, the individual(s) may be
marked. (2 Thess. 3:14, 15)

When such action has escalated to the point where it has
become shocking and repeated efforts to help adjust the
situation have been ignored, there may be basis for taking
disfellowshipping action. (Gal. 5:19; w83 3/15 p. 31; w73
9/15 pp. 574-6)

If a person who has entered into an adulterous marriage is
eventually reinstated, it would be a rare case for him to be
recommended to serve in a responsible position in the
congregation, at least not until after the remarriage or
death of the mate he put away without Scriptural basis.

UNIT 5 (c) - 135

In any event, a considerable number of years should have
passed. (1 Tim. 3:2, 12, 13; w83 3/15 p. 29; w80 9/15
p. 31)

Christians should avoid gambling in all its various forms,
including lotteries. (Compare Isaiah 65:11; w89 7/15 p.
30; g82 7/8 pp. 25-7; g81 11/22 p. 27.)

Gambling can lead to or incite unchristian traits, such as
greediness and covetousness. (Rom. 13:9, 10; 1 Cor. 6: 9,
10; Col. 3:5)

Additional bad results from gambling and association
with gamblers give true Christians further reasons for
avoiding it. (1 Cor. 15:33; g85 8/8 pp. 22-3; g82 7/8 pp.
25-7; w80 9/1 pp. 29-30; w72 10/1 pp. 593-4)

If a person makes a practice of gambling and after
repeated counsel unrepentantly pursues a course of
greediness, he could be disfellowshipped from the
Christian congregation. (w80 9/1 pp. 29-30; w67 6/15 p.

A person must guard against the view that petty gambling
solely for entertainment is harmless. ( Gal. 6 :7, 8)

However, elders would not want to get involved in what
publishers do in this respect unless spirituality is
endangered, either that of the individual or that of the

If a business concern gives out prizes to winners of a
contest or to customers whose names were drawn from its
customer list, it may not be wrong to accept such a prize if
no money has to be paid to participate. (w73 2/15 p. 127)

A person needs to be careful that accepting such a prize
does not stir up greed.

The language used in advertising a drawing or contest, as
well as the kind of sponsors, may involve elements with
which a Christian would not want to be identified, either
for personal reasons or for fear of stumbling others. (Rom.
14:21; 1 Cor. 10:31-33; g75 7/8 p. 28)

Gambling-related employment is not appropriate for a

136 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

An individual continuing employment directly involved
with gambling or employment making him a clear
or promoter of a wrong practice would be
subject to disfellowshipping after being allowed time,
usually 90 days, to make the needed adjustment. (km 9/76
pp. 3-6)

God's Word counsels all Christians to be law-abiding.
(Rom. 13: 1; Titus 3: 1)

Christians are to pay to Caesar what is Caesar's and
should obey the laws of the land in all matters where there
is no conflict with God's law. (Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1;
w90 11/1 pp. 10-15, 18-28)

By doing this, they have no need to fear being punished
by the authorities as lawbreakers, and each one can
maintain a good conscience. (Rom. 13:3-5; 1 Pet. 3: 16)

When human laws conflict with God's law, true Christians
follow the example of the apostles of Jesus Christ. (Acts
4:19, 20; 5:29-32)

In all business matters, Christians should endeavor to
maintain a fine reputation.

They should not be a part of any business that is forbidden
by Caesar's law or engage in business practices that are

It is wise to avoid making purchases from or employing
the services of individuals or businesses known to be
illegal in their operation.

A person's employment should also be honorable so that it
will not become a cause for reproach or stumbling.

Following Scriptural counsel protects a Christian from
consequences of lawbreaking and protects his conscience.
(Rom. 13:3,5)

If the elders learn of illegal activity or of some serious
crime on the part of a member of the congregation, they
may not be obliged by law to report the offender or the
offense to secular authorities.

UNIT 5 (c) - l37

Though it is not the responsibility of the Christian
congregation to enforce Caesar's laws, yet the very nature
of some crimes demands that they be reported to secular

It may be necessary to encourage the wrongdoer to turn
himself in to secular authorities. Before any steps are
taken in this regard, contact the branch office. of course,
review the latest Society directives on such matters before

Although not enforcers of Caesar's laws, in cases that also
involve the breaking of God's law, elders must give
consideration to what has taken place.

Depending on the wrongdoing committed, a judicial
committee hearing may be needed.

As suggested by the apostle Paul's comments regarding
Onesimus, a person who was guilty of illegal activities
before coming to a knowledge of the truth is not required
to settle these things with the authorities prior to baptism.
(Philem. 10-18; w78 9/15 pp. 30-1)

A former thief would not be required to make restitution
to all from whom he stole before baptism, although in
some cases his conscience may move him to do so. (Luke

The blood of Jesus Christ covers the sins of such new
ones. They may get baptized. However, it is best to be
judicious as to extending additional privileges. (Isa. 1:18;
1 Tim. 2:5, 6; l John 1:7)

If a person approaching baptism is an illegal alien, he
should be urged to do what he can to rectify his status
with regard to the law of the land. (w77 3/15 pp. 191-2)

The Christian congregation today follows a course
harmonious with the Biblical pattern of the apostle's
dealing with the case of Onesimus. ( Philem. 8-22)

Overseers are not to police the lives of the brothers,
nor are they obligated to become acquainted with
all the details of civil and criminal law so as to
enforce these. Just as they do not check to see if
someone's home meets every detail of the building

138 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

code, they do not investigate in order to determine
whether a person has satisfied every detail as to his legal
situation in the country before allowing him to get
baptized or to continue in the congregation.

Baptism would not be denied such a person, but he would
not be viewed as exemplary and would not be used in any
responsible position in the congregation. The same would
apply to a person who uses fraudulent or illegal

A brother who has notified the authorities of his illegal
status and filed papers to resolve his situation would not
be restricted as to representing the congregation in prayer,
sharing in teaching, or being appointed as a pioneer, a
ministerial servant, or an elder if otherwise qualified.

Such privileges may be extended even though the
authorities do not act promptly on his request for
permission to remain in the country. He is no longer a

Certain disputes between brothers should not be taken to
secular courts but should be resolved in harmony with
Jesus' counsel at Matthew 18:15-17. (Unit 5 (b) p. l08)

At 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, the apostle Paul gave strong
counsel that Christians should not take other Christians
before secular courts to settle personal disputes that
should be settled with the help of the congregation elders.
(g83 2/8 pp. 13-15; w77 3/1 p. 147; w73 11/15 pp. 703-4)

For some disputes, a neutral brother, or elders, may act as

If an individual ignores God's Word on this matter, it may
affect his congregation privileges.

However, there are legal matters over which the
congregation does not have authority and which may
therefore be taken to a secular court for judgment without
violating the principle or the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.
These include:

Getting a divorce decree, child custody and support,

UNIT 5 (c) - 139

Obtaining insurance compensation.

If a person suffers loss or is injured in or by an automobile
owned by a spiritual brother, it might be necessary legally
to sue the brother in order to obtain compensation from
the brother's insurer.

Being listed among creditors in bankruptcy procedures.

Probating wills.

Certain countersuits. For example:

If a worldly creditor sues a brother, it might be necessary
for the brother, for his own protection, to file a countersuit
even though spiritual brothers are included in the action.

If a brother takes legal action against another baptized
Witness, it would not be a violation of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8
for the one being sued to defend himself or to countersue.
(This is true whether the matter was first taken before the
elders or not. )

Jehovah's Witnesses maintain neutrality with regard to the
political and military affairs of the nations. (John 17:16; rs
pp. 269-76)

They do not interfere with what others do as to voting in
political elections, running for or campaigning for
political offices, joining nonneutral organizations,
shouting political slogans, and so forth. (w86 9/1 pp. 19-
20; w68 6/1 pp. 351-2)

Since true dedicated Christians are "no part of the world,"
if a member of the congregation unrepentantly pursues a
course in violation of his Christian neutrality, he thereby
disassociates himself from the neutral Christian
congregation. (John 15:19; 17:14-16; w82 1/15 p. 31)

Elders should talk to one known to be contemplating
taking such a course, since he may be doing so in
ignorance. (Ps. 119:67; Gal. 6:1; 1 Tim. 1:13)

If he disregards the help proffered and pursues a course in
violation of Christian neutrality, a committee should send
the facts substantiating the disassociation to the branch
office on the S-77 and S-79 forms.

140 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

An announcement is usually made that the individual has
disassociated himself from the congregation, and the
person should be told orally about his position. If for
some extenuating reasons no announcement is made,
persons in the congregation who might be visited by the
disassociated person may be informed privately. The
individual should be treated as one who is
disfellowshipped. See Unit 5 (a), pages 101-2.

When asked to express an opinion or sign a petition on a
community issue, a person must weigh the matter
carefully. Such action may or may not be appropriate. Is it
a political issue? (w83 3/1 pp. 30-1)

If a government requests temporary use of Kingdom Halls
or congregation equipment in times of emergency, it
would not be a violation of neutrality to comply.

In some lands, all individuals are required to build roads
or work in the fields. Where this is not a form of military
service but is comparable to a tax, there would be no
objection as long as the work itself is not in violation of
Bible principles. (Matt. 5 :41; 22:21)

By following balanced Bible counsel, Christians can
usually avoid getting into situations that might involve
acts of self-defense. (Prov. 15:1; 17:14; 26:17)

If assaulted, a Christian could ward off blows or even
escape from the attacker by temporarily incapacitating

A Christian woman threatened with rape should resist to
the best of her ability. (Deut. 22:23-27; g84 2/22 pp. 24-7;
w83 3/15 p. 30; g80 7/8 pp. 9-13; g73 4/22 pp. 16-17;
w68 6/1 pp. 345-50)

Screaming is usually one of the best defenses; however,
some individuals are unable to scream out of intense fear.
(A male or female who is forcibly raped would not be
guilty of por.nei'a. )

It is not in harmony with the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-
7 or Isaiah 2:4 for a Christian to learn karate, judo, or
other martial arts. (Compare John 13:35; g75 12/8
pp. 28-9.)

UNIT 5 (c) - 141

A brother would be disqualified as an elder, a ministerial
servant, or a pioneer if he took up the study of such
martial arts and practiced them.

A person publicly advocating such could be dealt with in
line with 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15.

As in the case of a person who takes up professional
boxing and continues in such a course, he would be
expelled from the congregation. (w81 7/1 PP. 30-1)

While the Christian congregation is not in a position to
give direction as to all sexual matters concerning the
marriage bed, individuals may be advised that in their
intimate relations, as in all other aspects of Christian life,
they need to display kindness, love, and concern for each
other. (Eph. 5:28-3O; 1 Pet. 3:1, 7)

Each one should have a hatred for all perverted sexual
practices. (Lev. 18:22, 23; Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15; Rom.
12:9; Eph. 5:3, 10-12; Col. 3:5, 6)

Persons should be urged to act in such a way as to
maintain a clean conscience, and the marriage bed should
be undefiled. (Heb. 13 :4; w83 3/15 pp. 27-31)

While perverted practices are wrong, if within a marriage
one is involved or has been involved in such, it does not
mean that he or she would necessarily lose
service privileges.

If such conduct becomes known to the elders, they
would need to consider: Is the practice recent or
ongoing, or is it something that occurred in the past
and is definitely conquered? Is the individual pro-
moting such conduct as a proper life-style? Is his
attitude one of remorse? If he is sincerely repentant
and the situation is not generally known, it may not
be necessary to remove privileges of service.

142 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"

End of Part 3 (part 3 of 3)
"Pay Attention to Yourslves and to All the Flock"

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