The December 2018 edition of The Watchtower, the monthly magazine released by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, offers some truly horrific advice to women in abusive relationships.
In a section discussing marriages between Witness women and “unbelieving” husbands, the magazine urges the women not to get a divorce under any circumstances partly because they could influence their husbands to convert.
Apparently, that possibility is supposed to carry them through any and all problems in the relationship, including physical abuse.
Admittedly, there have been instances where an “unbelieving husband” seems to prove that he is not “agreeable to staying with her.” He might be extremely physically abusive, even to the point that she feels that her health or life is in danger. He might refuse to support her and the family or severely endanger her spirituality. In such cases, some Christians have personally decided that, despite what he might say, the mate is not “agreeable to staying” together and that a separation is necessary. But other Christians in comparably difficult situations have not; they have endured and tried to work at improving matters. Why?
In such a separation, the two are still marriage mates. If they lived apart, each one would face challenges, as mentioned earlier. The apostle Paul gave another reason for staying united. He wrote: “The unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14) Many loyal Christians have remained with an unbelieving mate under very trying circumstances. They can testify that doing so was worthwhile in a special sense when their mate became a true worshipper.
JW watchdog Lloyd Evans is obviously appalled by this advice, though he’s glad they finally spelled it out so bluntly. It makes it a little easier for him to prove to skeptics what’s wrong with the faith.
Evans also calls for JW celebrities, like Serena Williams, to condemn the Witnesses for putting women in harm’s way. It would be great if any of them would listen; I doubt they will.
Still, this policy is just an extension of the idea that all marriages are considered spiritual and eternal. There shouldn’t ever be grounds for divorce in the minds of JW leaders, which means really good causes for divorce have to be swept under the rug.
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