● Is it appropriate for a brother to conduct a funeral service for a person of the world who is a notorious criminal?
Questions arise from time to time concerning conducting a funeral when the deceased, such as an unbelieving relative of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has had little or no association with Jehovah’s Witnesses. A balanced approach to conducting a funeral service for such an individual is presented in The Watchtower of June 1, 1977, pages 346-7.
If asked to conduct the funeral for a person in the world who is viewed as a notorious wrongdoer, we should decline because it would reflect in a negative way on Jehovah and his organization.—Prov. 18:3.
What about an undedicated person who has engaged in wrongdoing in the past? There is a difference between one who continued to live a life of wrongdoing and someone who led an unsavory life in the past but who was being spiritually transformed and was endeavoring to put on the new personality. (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:17, 20-24) The individual may not yet have become a dedicated and baptized Christian who was walking uprightly and who had been cleansed. (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rev. 7:9, 10) But he may have been taking steps to transform his life, and this can be taken into consideration if a request is made to handle his funeral. If the elders feel that it would not disturb the peace and harmony of the congregation nor bring reproach upon God’s people, there would be no objection to an elder’s giving a talk if his conscience allowed him to do so.—1 Cor. 10:23, 24, 29, 32, 33.