Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s name is Jehovah. They also believe it is imperative that a true Christian should use God’s name. These beliefs are primarily based on a biblical scripture found at Psalms 83:18. One might think that these are harmless beliefs. After all, what does it matter if God’s name is John, Michael or Angela? It matters to Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is based on a verse at Ezekiel 38:23. Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe – based on these and other verses – that it is their duty to promote his name.
No one can doubt that Jehovah’s Witnesses have done a good job in promoting the name “Jehovah” throughout the world. When you think “Jehovah”, you are most likely to think “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. That is not to say that the world is aware that “Jehovah” is God’s name. Regardless of what the world thinks of the name “Jehovah”, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe it to be God’s name and for them, that’s all that matters.
Is that all that matters? For the purpose of this article, we will ignore the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the name “Jehovah” and its origins. Rather, we will focus on what problems arise from Jehovah’s Witnesses’ use of the name.
In the Jehovah’s Witnesses literature, there is an article entitled “Why Disfellowshipping is a Loving Provision“. In that article, they make this statement:
Just as a son’s conduct can bring either honor or reproach on his parents, so people’s feelings toward Jehovah will depend to some extent on the good or bad example they observe in his name people.
Let’s simplify this statement.
John and Mary Browne had two children. One named Michael and another named Tom. Michael grew up, studied hard in medicine and became an esteemed physician: Michael Browne Ph.D. He brought honor to his parents, Mr. and Mrs Browne, his name people due to his conduct. Tom, on the other hand, struggled through life. He was abused as a child by a close relative. He never really recovered from it. He couldn’t hold down a job. Eventually, he got into drugs and resorted to thievery to support his habit. He found himself before the courts more often than his parents would like to admit. His conduct brought reproach on his parent’s good name. John and Mary don’t talk about Tom too much as he is a disappointment to them.
The Jehovah’s Witness article noted above goes on to make this interesting statement:
We would bring reproach on God’s holy name if we practice immorality.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have created a problem for themselves that other religions do not have. They have incorporated what they believe to be God’s name into the name of their religion. For that reason, they believe they are God’s “name people”. In bestowing this accolade on themselves, they have heaped enormous pressure upon each member to eschew a sense of perfect godliness that is impossible to achieve.
When Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t be good they will do their best to try to look good.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, like every other human being on this planet are imperfect. They cannot possibly be as good as they would like the world to see them. But that doesn’t stop them trying. In fact, most members have an unnatural obsession in avoiding bringing reproach on “Jehovah’s name”. It starts at the top of the hierarchy and it works its way down to the lowliest member.
You might think that there is no harm in trying to be good. You are right. There is no harm in trying to be good. It’s a noble pursuit. It’s a pursuit, we as humans should all be actively involved in. However, it is one thing trying to be good; it’s a very different thing when you are trying to look good. When Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t be good they will do their best to try to look good. Why? Because they can’t be seen to bring reproach on Jehovah’s holy name.
In what situations would a Jehovah’s Witness resort to looking good when they can’t be good? Jehovah’s Witnesses have to deal with a variety of problems that are not uncommon to non-Jehovah’s Witnesses. When they call to your door with their magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! they are happy to tell you that they have financial woes, have to deal with sickness, old age and death like anyone else. They do not see these as bringing reproach on Jehovah. It’s the more serious issues that they do not want you to see. What issues? The type of issues that are not socially acceptable. These issues include, but are not limited to, crimes such as domestic abuse and child abuse. Jehovah’s Witnesses see these issues as ones that need to be covered up so as not to bring reproach on Jehovah’s holy name.
Before we go any further, one must understand what “cover up” is in the context of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Cover up” is the willing concealment of crimes from the authorities by either a victim, a victim’s parents (if they are a minor), a perpetrator, or those within the church hierarchy handling the crime or providing assistance in any capacity.
They did not want to bring reproach on Jehovah.
When Joseph F Rutherford changed the name of the Bible Students to “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931, did he envisage the pressure he would place on his religion’s adherents to live up to God’s holy name? We’ll never know. What we do know is that the pressure to look holy is greater than the need to do the right thing.
The evidence shows that, since the 1930’s Jehovah’s Witnesses have bent over backwards to hide domestic abuse and child abuse. Spouses have been unwilling to go to the police to report domestic abuse. Many have even avoided getting medical attention. Parents have allowed unqualified Jehovah’s Witness elder’s handle cases where their children have been sexually abused and haven’t reported the abuse to the authorities. In all cases the reason is the same: they did not want to bring reproach on Jehovah.
It’s an unfortunate situation that Jehovah’s Witness believers find themselves in. On the one hand, they truly want to do what is good. On the other hand, they can’t be seen to do what is bad because of how it reflects on their god. Yet, there is no verse in the bible that says one must not bring reproach on Jehovah’s name. It’s a distorted view of 1 Peter 1:16. For their misapplication of scripture and their obsession with looking holy, they are going to pay the ultimate price: the ever-revealing scale of how they have covered up crimes is going to bring the greatest reproach on Jehovah’s name.