About Women. Part 1
Doesn't Do Birthdays. Part 3

Did the Watchtower Give Women Bad Advice?

It is ever the pitfall of zealots that they are so eager to prove a point that, in their haste, they will grab something that proves just the opposite, yet continue to gloat as though have found the smoking gun. Such was the case when advocates at an atheist website tore their hair out over “some truly horrific advice to women in abusive relationships” from the December 2018 Watchtower magazine. They were to stay in them no matter what!

Well, that does sound truly horrific, and there were many who immediately condemned the scoundrels who would give such a vile command. Others went to the article first, where they discovered that it said nothing of the sort.

Isn’t this just Witness opponents depriving women of the right to choose? It is ironic because they generally claim to be champions of that right. The article makes clear that a woman always has a choice, that she need not be railroaded into an action just because it is societally popular.

Some leave amidst very trying circumstances. Some stay. Either action works from the congregation’s point of view. They have the right to choose. How is that the Watchtower urging them to stay with an abusive mate no matter what, the accusation of the opponents?  If a woman wants to try to salvage a marriage, what business is that of theirs? It may be an unwise decision or it may be the best decision she ever made, but either way, it is her decision.

Given the staggering cost of family breakup—emotional, mental, financial, and long-lasting damage to the children, if a woman decides to stick it out more than opponents approve, with a view towards salvage, who is to say that she is crazy? Possibly reading this chapter are veterans of two, three, four, or more failed relationships who wish they had put more effort into a given one. If she pulls it off, she has gained something very good.

These are not short-term hook-ups that we are speaking of, latching on to some loser that you cut loose as soon as you see what he is. These are marriages of years or decades’ duration. In some cases, they never used to be abusive, but they have become so due to who knows what factors? Dignify the woman as having the judgement to decide, based upon history, pressures affecting her man, and factors only she might know, as to whether he should be jettisoned or not.  If the lout has to go, he goes. Just don’t let some third party push you into it. The choice is always hers.

It is as though the grumblers cheer at the breakup of a marriage, oblivious to the damage left in its wake. It is as though they would prevent a woman from trying to repair hers. Let her try if she wants to, or even put up with one far from ideal, if that be her choice. Sometimes when you are between a rock and a hard place, you don’t assume or let the opponents tell you that the hard place is really a bed of roses. It isn’t always that way. I mean, it is not exactly as though they will be around to repair the damage, is it?

Granted, they like marriage over there in the Jehovah’s Witness world. Until fairly recently, everybody did, and considered family the foundation of society. Witnesses consider it a divine institution. That doesn’t mean others have to, but surely it means Witness women should be allowed to. They let their view be bound by biblical injunctions. Adultery is the one acceptable ground for ending a marriage, but even then, it does not necessitate it; it is always possible for the innocent mate to exercise his or her right of choice and forgiveness.

Several decades ago the Witness organization took note, as did most of society, of the increasingly visible ne’er-do-wells who, while they might not be unfaithful, were nonetheless impossiblet to live with. It took another look at 1 Corinthians 7, a chapter that deals with marital matters—sometimes people are surprised at how it says a husband and wife both owe each other sex (no, not “on demand” – don’t even go there) and should not be depriving each other of it. Specifically, it looked at verses 12 and 13: “If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is agreeable to staying with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is agreeable to staying with her, let her not leave her husband.” “Maybe a marriage mate’s conduct says he is ‘not agreeable,’ regardless of what his words say,” they reasoned.

For some time, therefore, the guidance for women (or men) in not-so-hot marriages is that there are three conditions that any one of which might justify separation: if there is extreme physical abuse, if there is willful non-support, or if there is absolute endangerment of spirituality. It is at once apparent that much in is the eye of the beholder, so from time to time Watchtower publications revisit the subject, so that congregation members are guided by what they signed on for in the first place and not unduly influenced by what is all the rage elsewhere. If the bad egg must be fried, let him fry. A woman always has that right. But she needn’t feel railroaded into that choice by a flood of outside pressure.

Any Witness woman knows this, because she has read and considered the entire article, not just a cherry-picked paragraph, and she has taken into account how it fits into her overall framework of knowledge. You almost begin to think what causes the steam to emit from the ears of opponents is another possible benefit of the woman’s forsaking her right to leave: maybe the ‘unbelieving’ husband will become a believing one. How is that a bad thing?  If the guy makes it as a Jehovah’s Witness, he will have made significant inroads against what makes him such a loser in the first place.

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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