by the Speaking Witness (*)
Last Sunday during the Watchtower Study, one of my favorite passages of the Bible was quoted, that of the Good Samaritan. The article was about the importance of generosity. My eye fell on the following passage, me quote: “We can please Jehovah by imitating his perfect example and that of Christ, by paying attention to the welfare of others, and by looking for ways to help them. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear what he expects of his followers: They must do their utmost to help people, what their background also is. (Read Luke 10: 29-37.)”
I suddenly wondered how such a passage is actually read and interpreted by the gentlemen brothers policymakers and administrators. Would not background matter really matter? Obviously, the anonymous writers of the article did not find it necessary to at least put a warning footnote to said passage. Something like: *Of course, it is not permissible for a brother or sister to do benefits to apostate or excluded persons. No nothing of all that.
Nevertheless, such a crooked logic must have taken hold in the brains of the brothers at the Emmen branch. On Saturday, October 6, an enthusiastic group of people stood there in front of a closed gate. The aim was to draw attention, among other things, to poignant issues such as a lack of protection for children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse within the community of Jehovah's Witnesses. Two women held a banner during that meeting which, among other things, read: Why did you forbid me to go to the police? Why did I get a duty of silence? Why was nobody warned that there were 2 pedophiles? Why do you say that we are lying? These are exactly the kind of questions that have remained unanswered for decades. However, the fence remained closed on that sunny Saturday morning, as did the hearts of the responsible brothers who had left such questions unknowingly unanswered in the past decades.
A modern variant of the good Samaritan
Several Biblical stories have been made into the last years by the Witnesses and placed in a modern way. For example, I think of the parable of the Prodigal Son and the three-part biblical drama "Think of the wife of Lot". With this I want to describe in turn a modern variant of the parable of the good Samaritan. It would be nice if such a scenario were filmed by the brothers and shown at a next congress. Who knows, there might be some proverbial scales here and there. I like to dream about ...
A young sister walked home after an afternoon field service in an outlying area, but fell into the hands of an elder who undressed her, raped her, abused her, and left her half-dead. Coincidentally another elder came by after half an hour. When he saw her lying so undressed along the road, he went to inquire what had happened. The woman told the whole story. The elder sighed deeply, reminded her that she had no further witnesses to confirm her story, then silenced her and continued.
Shortly afterward, a circuit overseer also came by. When he saw her, he too stopped and asked her what had happened. When she related what had happened to her, he shook his head compassionately and suggested that the whole thing rest in Jehovah's hands for lack of evidence. Before he walked on, however, he explicitly ordered her not to discuss it with anyone else under penalty of exclusion.
In the meantime it had become dark and after a while an excluded gay man came along the same route. He saw the young woman lying there and felt sorry for her. He went to her, treated her wounds, bought her new clothes, and then listened carefully to her story. The next day he decided to put her in touch with people who could help her further. These were people who could offer her specialist help and who were willing to provide her with legal support if required.
Although she started to feel less bad after a few months, it started to gnaw at her more and more that she could not talk to anyone in her religious community. It was only after a number of years that she succeeded in breaking the silence about her case within her congregation. She trusted an elder and told him the above story. After having told everything, she asked him which of the three had shown the neighbor.
I suggest not leaving these things in Jehovah's hands, but taking them into our own Jehovah-made hand and that important question 'Who is the neighbor?' answer yourself with actions.
* The Speaking Witness is an active Jehovah's witness who is connected to one of the local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands. He is critical of how Jehovah's Witnesses react to the media reports about sexual abuse and shows that there are also people in the organization who believe that the subject of sexual abuse should be dealt with differently.
Blogs from the Speaking Witness express the personal opinion of the author. This personal opinion does not automatically correspond with the opinion of the board of Stichting Reclaimed Voices.