There Are Only Two Sides
“YES, I like some things about your religion,” said Khumalo. “I like your teaching of an earth restored to paradise under God’s kingdom wherein we shall live as brothers.”
“And I,” interrupted Ndebele, “find comfort in your explanation about the dead being asleep and the hope of the resurrection.”
“As for me,” added Mwene, “I thoroughly enjoy going along to your big assemblies and experiencing the warm love and friendliness you show to one another.”
“But what we all feel,” said Khumalo, acting as spokesman for the little group, “is that your religion is too extreme. To hear you witnesses of Jehovah speak, one would think that everything is either right or wrong, that there is no middle ground, whereas to get along in this world and enjoy oneself one has to be more lenient.”
“Yes, that’s just what I was going to say,” exclaimed Ndebele. “Look, while the other churches say we should have just one wife, if we quietly take another wife, so what? We can still be in the church. But you Witnesses, even before a person can be baptized he must prove he has only one wife and that his marriage is registered, although that is often difficult for us Africans to arrange, especially if we haven’t paid all our lobola (bride price) yet. And then, once a person is a Witness, if he takes another wife or even if he just has a girl friend he visits now and again for sexual satisfaction, why, you Witnesses put him out of your organization.”
“And then there’s your attitude toward our age-old customs,” complained Mwene. “Maybe you’re right that the spirits of the dead cannot harm us, but, after all, we still have witch doctors, so what’s wrong with wearing a few charms or having some strong ‘medicine’ in the house just in case someone tries to bewitch us? But, if you’re a Witness you can’t wear even one little charm, never mind visiting the witch doctor.”
“Also,” said Khumalo, taking over the conversation again, “there’s your attitude toward the political party. In order to get along and hold down our job we have to carry a party card. It doesn’t matter if we really believe the party is right or not. As long as we carry the card and attend a few meetings we get along. Members of all the other churches do this, but you Witnesses bring a lot of trouble on yourselves by not carrying a card. Why not join the political party just to make things easier for yourselves? The same too with the anthem and the flag—why make a big issue over singing and saluting? After all, they are only symbols.”
“Yes, we like you,” exclaimed Ndebele, “but you’re too strict, too rigid. Why not be like the other churches and go along with the world a bit? You would have a much bigger following. Why be so one-sided?”
The preceding is a possible conversation based on true-to-life viewpoints. Such expressions are typical of those made by persons in certain independent countries of Africa. Do you find that they echo some of your own thoughts? Have you too enjoyed some of the Bible teachings of Jehovah’s witnesses, but cannot understand why they are so uncompromising? Why are the Witnesses like that?
Are There Just Two Sides?
It is because Jehovah’s witnesses believe what the Bible says. And God’s Word the Bible indeed makes clear that there are just two sides: God’s and the Devil’s.
A study of the Bible reveals that the Devil is not just some imaginary character, but a powerful rebellious angel bent on turning all creatures away from the true worship of Jehovah God and getting them to serve him. Right at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry the Devil tried to tempt Jesus from the course of single-minded devotion to Jehovah. (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) Thus, all Christians are warned: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith.”—1 Pet. 5:8, 9.
From this a Christian discerns that to please God he must be solid in his faith. Any weakening of the true faith by deliberately compromising with error or by carrying on practices out of line with the high standards of Christian conduct would please the Devil. Such a course would put one on the Devil’s side. Thus, there are just two sides: God’s side and the Devil’s side.
Jesus emphasized this principle in his illustration of the two roads, at Matthew 7:13, 14: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” Jesus did not refer to a third road, a middle way. A person is either walking the cramped way of God, living his whole life according to God’s principles and high moral standards, or else he is following the crowd along the broad and spacious way as a part of this system of things, a system controlled by Satan the Devil. (2 Cor. 4:4) There are just these two roads; there are just two sides, God’s side and the Devil’s side, and they are completely opposed to each other.
As further evidence that there are just two sides, consider the words of Jesus at Matthew 12:30: “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” We are either for Jesus or against him. To be for him would mean to uphold his teachings and to apply them in our own lives.
Marriage and Sexual Relationships
What did Jesus say about marriage and sexual relationships? Would he have done as many church groups, turning a blind eye to polygamy? Would he condone sex relations with an extra ‘girl friend’ now and then? Listen to his words at Matthew 19:5-9: “‘“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh” . . . Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart,’ . . . ‘I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.’” Jesus ruled that a man should have only one living wife to whom he should stick. Not three or four, but “the two will be one flesh.” And only if one’s mate were immoral would the innocent one be free to obtain a divorce and remarry.
The Christian apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus, saw most clearly that there are just two sides. Under divine inspiration he wrote at Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”
Can you understand, therefore, why Jehovah’s witnesses insist that for a person to be accepted as a Christian he must, if married, have only one living wife to whom he is honorably and legally married? And can you also see why Jehovah’s witnesses do not accept or permit to remain in their organization persons that practice sexual immorality? To water down God’s moral standards to suit local customs, as other religions do, would mean to leave the cramped road of God and join those walking on the broad road of the Devil. There is no middle road. There are just the two sides: God’s and the Devil’s.
In order to bring people to his side and to keep them there, the Devil has always used false religious teachings, superstition and fear. Particularly in Africa, witchcraft and the fear of ‘spirits’ of the dead have a prominent role in the Devil’s false religious system.
However, God’s view of witchcraft is plainly stated in the Bible at Deuteronomy 18:10-12: “There should not be found in you anyone . . . who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”
This helps you to understand why, as some complain, ‘Jehovah’s witnesses do not countenance even the wearing of one little charm.’ To resort to magic or witchcraft even in the slightest form would be to do something detestable to Jehovah. By doing this, you would certainly not be on God’s side but would be on the Devil’s side, subject to his corrupting influence. On the other hand, the servant of God can have faith in the promise: “For there is no unlucky spell against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel.”—Num. 23:23.
Today this Bible promise applies to spiritual Israel, the Christian congregation and their dedicated companions. These need have no fear of witchcraft or spells if they remain firmly on Jehovah’s side by rejecting anything connected with witchcraft, including charms or ‘medicine’ prepared by a witch doctor.
Friendship with the World
Another follower of Jesus Christ who discerned that there are only two sides, God’s and the Devil’s, and that you cannot be a friend of both, was the Bible writer James. In his letter, at Jas chapter four, verse four, he highlights the complete opposition between the two sides by saying: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”
Could any statement be more pointed than this? There is no middle ground. Either one is a friend of God and separate from the world, or one is going along with the world and is God’s enemy. These two are in opposition: friendship with God, and friendship with the world.
But why does friendship with the world mean enmity with God? Because, as the apostle John wrote, “we know we [those on God’s side] originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one [the Devil].” (1 John 5:19) Although there are many who sincerely offer various schemes for improving the present world arrangement, Jehovah’s witnesses know that none of these will permanently succeed. Why not? Because there is nothing man can do to change the real ruler of this world, who is the Devil. (John 12:31) Therefore, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses avoid cultivating the friendship of this world, refusing to identify themselves with one or another of the political programs vying for support.
However, on the other hand, Jehovah’s witnesses respect the duly appointed ruling authorities and governments as the “superior authorities” permitted by God until his Kingdom government takes over sole rulership of earth. (Rom. 13:1) They demonstrate relative subjection to these authorities by honestly paying all taxes demanded and obeying all laws that do not conflict with the laws of God. (Acts 5:29) But this due respect and subjection does not require that they pay homage by gesture and word to the material emblems of the governmental authority or that they sing a prayer or anthem for the permanence of that government. (Ex. 20:4, 5; 1 Cor. 10:14) As friends of God and not of the world they flee from any appearance of idolatry, exercising care not to go contrary to the example of Jesus, who said: “I make request, not concerning the world.”—John 17:9.
Choose God’s Side
Thus, as we examine the objections to the effect that the witnesses of Jehovah are too extreme, too strict, too one-sided, we see that if the Witnesses wish to remain on God’s side they really cannot do other than adhere strictly to God’s Word. We discern that for a Christian there are only two sides when it comes to religious truth—God’s side and the Devil’s. You simply cannot water down God’s standards and still remain on his side.
It may be that there is some other issue on which you feel that Jehovah’s witnesses are too extreme, too one-sided. Why not discuss it with them and get the Bible viewpoint? Very likely you will find that the view you once thought extreme is God’s view, and that it is the right one to have if you want to be on his side.
In fact, as you study the solid food of Bible principles with Jehovah’s witnesses you will find that you will progress to Christian maturity and come to be among those “who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Heb. 5:14) You, too, will discern that there are just two sides. Choose God’s side. Uncompromisingly stick to it. You will thereby experience peace, joy and a good conscience now, and everlasting life on an earth soon to be cleansed of all those on the Devil’s side.