Questions From Readers
● If the Watchtower Society is free from racial prejudice, why does it tolerate segregation at its assemblies in certain sections of country? Is this not a course of compromise?—F. C., Wisconsin.
Why do we tolerate the segregation laws and policies of certain governments and organizations of this world? Because Jehovah has not commissioned us to convert the world, which is wicked beyond recovery and hence will be destroyed. Jehovah has commissioned us to preach the gospel. Now what should we do? Drop preaching to fight racial issues? We never have separate meetings and baptisms when we can have them together. But when impossible, shall we have separate meetings and baptisms, or none at all? Shall we serve spiritual food to all, even if separately, or serve it to none? Shall we provide baptism for all, even if separately, or provide it for none? Should we buck Caesar’s segregation laws, when they do not force us to violate God’s laws? God does not forbid separate assembly and baptism, and he commands assembly and baptism. (Matt. 28:19; Heb. 10:25) So should we disobey God to fight a racial issue? To buck the segregation laws would bring on disruption of the witness work, halting of it, mob violence, and possible loss of life. Only laws prohibiting gospel-preaching will we buck at that price.
Some may argue segregation is prohibited by God, citing Galatians 3:28 (NW): “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.” That Paul spoke in a spiritual sense and not in a literal, physical sense is obvious, since actually there were male and female, slave and free, Jew and Greek. Because of the existence of Jew and Greek he specially accommodated himself and his preaching to such classes. (1 Cor. 9:19-22) His recognition of slave and freeman we will consider in more detail, since it bears directly on segregation. How so? Because segregation is rooted in slavery, is the outgrowth and hangover of slavery. Segregation, the stain left by slavery, is a lesser evil than slavery. So if the Bible does not instruct Christians to fight slavery it would not sanction them to battle the lesser evil of segregation, at the expense of gospel-preaching.
Even within the Christian congregation Paul did not protest the slavery of his time. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, and both were Christians. (Philem. 10-16) Paul wrote Timothy, who pictured the society of witnesses today: “Let as many as are slaves under a yoke keep on considering their owners worthy of full honor.” Why? “That the name of God and the teaching may never be spoken of injuriously.” Kingdom preaching and Jehovah’s vindication are the issues to keep foremost, not creature equality and racial issues. “Moreover, let those having believing owners not look down on them, because they are brothers. On the contrary, let them the more readily be slaves, because those receiving the benefit of their good service are believers and beloved.” (1 Tim. 6:1, 2, NW) Here again note that the slavery of those times existed even within the Christian congregation.
Paul also wrote: “In whatever state each one was called, let him remain in it. Were you called a slave? Do not let it worry you; but if you can also become free, rather seize the opportunity.” If Paul could say this regarding slavery, how much more so can it be said to those discriminated against by segregation laws: “Do not let it worry you.” It is no cause for Christian concern or anxiety. But if the Lord’s people are in locations where they are free of segregation laws or policies, they rejoice in the greater freedom and delight to be together in assembly. All are slaves of Christ, as Paul goes on to show: “Anyone in the Lord that was called a slave is the Lord’s freedman: likewise he that was called a free man is a slave of Christ.” (1 Cor. 7:20-24, NW) Surprisingly, some colored brothers have strenuously objected to this, protesting as offensive the use of the word “slave” in the New World Translation. Any who do not wish to be Christ’s slave, whether white or black, can cease such service at any time; but they will be slaves nonetheless, only slaves of Satan and sin. (Rom. 6:16-23, NW) Those who magnify human importance soon hide from their view the really vital issues.
Jehovah is no respecter of persons. Neither are his people. But the world in which we live is. Whites are prejudiced against colored, colored are prejudiced against whites. In some colored communities after nightfall a white person would enter at the risk of his very life. To justify this on the grounds that the whites started the discrimination is not Scriptural. (Rom. 12:17) Now, where the danger is extreme should white persons enter these hostile communities and suffer beating and possibly death to prove they have a democratic right to be there? Should a white witness endanger his life to attend a meeting of colored witnesses in such places, or stay overnight with his colored brothers there, just to prove his democratic right to do so?
Many colored persons practice color-prejudice against their own people. Lighter-colored Negroes will shun the darker ones. Some from the Western Hemisphere look down upon the very dark ones from Africa. In South Africa, whites discriminate against the mixed coloreds, the mixed coloreds against the native blacks, the native blacks against the Indian coolies, and in their native India the Indians discriminate against the no caste or outcasts. Who is innocent to throw the first stone? Can we not see that all classes of the human race are evil, that if we start reforming we shall be lost in an impossible task, with endless discriminations and many varieties or injustices to beat down, which crusading social and political organizations of this world have hopelessly fought for years? For us to become like them would be to fail with them, consume our time in such reforms, lose out as Jehovah’s witnesses, and please only the Devil.
So let us please God by preaching the gospel despite the undesirable conditions the Devil’s world may make for us. Let us not be sidetracked by Satan and caught in a subtle snare camouflaged in lofty motives and ideals. Can we not wait upon Jehovah to avenge the wrongs we suffer now? Really, our colored brothers have great cause for rejoicing. Their race is meek and teachable, and from it comes a high percentage of the theocratic increase. What if the worldly wise and powerful and noble look down on them as foolish and weak and ignoble, not on an equality with self-exalted whites? It is to God’s ultimate honor, for he confounds the wise of this world by choosing those the world considers foolish and weak and ignoble. Let us boast in Jehovah and in our equality in his sight, rather than wanting to boast in equality in the world’s sight. (1 Cor. 1:26-31, NW) In due time the exalted ones will be humbled, and the humble ones will be exalted. (Matt. 23:12) All of us await this vindication from God, which will come in his due time. Until then, as Paul advised concerning slavery we advise concerning its lingering trace, segregation: “Do not let it worry you.” (1 Cor. 7:21, NW) When possible we will meet together, when not possible we will meet separately; but in either event we are always united in spirit, brothers equal in our own sight, in Christ’s sight, and in God’s sight.
● A folder advertising the supposed health aids of The Jonadab Wise School of Health was distributed to Jehovah’s witnesses attending the recent assembly in Washington, D.C., and among other things said: “This unusual authentic service is prepared and offered to you by Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Does the Watchtower Society endorse this?—W. H., California.
No, the Society does not endorse it. For the sake of the record, let us say that we are not medical advisers. We leave it up to each individual to choose his own type of treatment. Some may favor surgery, some medicines, some diets, and some may prefer other forms of treatment. One illness may require surgery, another may call for dieting. Also, the treatment that helps one may be of no aid or even be detrimental to another. So let each one go to those who are trained in the treatment of his choice. The Society is formed for the purpose of preaching the gospel, and in this field of activity we are happy to offer help and advice. We are not professionally trained doctors, and do not advise on health matters except as they may involve Scriptural issues, such as in the case of blood transfusions.
From time to time we do publish articles on such subjects as surgery, chiropractic, osteopathy, zone therapy, etc. Such articles constitute no endorsement of these practices by us. They are offered in Awake! on the same basis that articles on other subjects are offered, namely, as general information and not as a recommendation. God’s provision to restore us to perfection is the ransom by Christ Jesus. In the meantime, fanaticism in health matters is unwise, and absorption in health fads is a form of introversion that keeps the mind on oneself, which is conducive to neither physical nor spiritual health. Sweeping claims for cures by this or that system are always suspect. As stated before, each individual differs. (Rom. 14:2, 3) Moderation is usually beneficial.
Finally, if any claim that the Society is supporting this or that health program, be alerted that such one is wrongly using the Society’s name for commercial purposes, for personal gain. (1 Tim. 6:5-10) Some may attempt to boost their pills or other health products or practices by naming one prominent among Jehovah’s witnesses as a user or patient; that should never be taken to mean that the Society backs such pills or practices. There are both honest ones trying to help and crooked ones working a racket in all the various fields of orthodox and unorthodox therapies. The Society is separate from them, wholly absorbed in its work of gospel-preaching.