QUESTION: I have asked this question of two other witnesses on this forum and they refused to respond. Their silence on the subject speaks volumes, but I did want to provide an opportunity for a jw to actually answer. I hope that will be you. My question is, "Are Jehovah Witnesses "encouraged" not to associate with people who are not Jehovah Witnesses"? Thank you.
ANSWER: Hello Carol
Thank you for your question and I hope that I can provide a satsifactory answer for you.
I an sorry that some others have not responded to your question, I do not understand why any JW would avoid that question. If they have not sent an automated reply to you yet, then they may well still answer you in a day or so. The only way we get notification that we have a question is if we happen to check our emails. You may appreciate that time restraints may mean that we do not get to check our emails every day I sometimes go several days without checking. Them when we do check it may be some time before we can have the time to answer.
I appreciate your concern about associations. Unfortunately it is not as simple as giving a yes or no answer to your question. We take the Bible very seriously and even though we are as imperfect as every one else our aim is to do the best we can with the influences of this system to live by and adherer to the council and advice found in the Bible. The Bible has some black and white laws (rules) where a Yes or No answer is easily given. Association is one of these areas where we do not have out right laws (or rules) that have to be adhered to in the stickiest of senses. So I will answer you by using our guide to life, the Bible
The Bible warns: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” (Proverbs 18:1
) In line with that, evidently a ten-year study in Australia found that elderly people who had “better social networks with friends and confidants” were more likely to live longer. So to start with it is important that we have association. It is part of the way we are made to want and need to be with other people. Now our creator has given us some guidelines and council in this regard, and it is up to each one of us to make up our own mind where to draw the line. A key Bible text that we try to keep in mind is found at 1 Corinthians 15:33
which reads “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” Here are are advised that to associate with “bad” people can (or more forcefully WILL) spoil useful or good habits . The question is what constitutes bad association. There are a lot of guidelines in the Bible that cover that and that is where are conscience must dictate where we stand. A person conscience on this matter can change over time.
Just the fact that must must live and work means that we have no choice but to associate with non JWs. Paul in writing to the Galations said “Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all
, but especially toward those related to [us] in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10
How far to take that association is question. If we have non JW family members we often scripturally obligated to look care for them. Depending on where we live it may be a necessity in say a small close rural community to there may be a real need to be supportive and rely on each other. Basically what I am saying is that each JW must weigh up their own circumstances and needs along with the various scriptural examples of which there are many that demonstrate what may happen when a worshiper of the Almighty God becomes overly freinf=dly with people who do not want to abide by Gods laws and principles.
Bellow are a cut and past from a couple of articles on this matter so that you can see what sort of information is published may influence what JWs do. You will notice the reference on both to 1 Corinthians 15:33
I have highlighted some important points in bold and or underline
*** w06 3/15 pp. 30-31 Keep Clear of False Worship! ***
“Go On Walking in Wisdom”
14 Should true worshippers shun all contact with people who engage in false worship? Should we hold ourselves completely aloof from those who do not share our faith? The answer is no. The second of the two greatest commandments states: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Matthew 22:39) We certainly display love for our neighbors when we share with them the good news of the Kingdom. Our love for them is also shown when we study the Bible with them and make them aware of the need to keep clear of false worship.
15 Although we preach the good news to our neighbors, as Jesus’ followers we are “no part of the world.”
(John 15:19) The term “world” here refers to human society alienated from God. (Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 John 5:19) We are separate from the world in that we shun attitudes, speech, and conduct that offend Jehovah.
(1 John 2:15-17) Moreover, in harmony with the principle that “bad associations spoil useful habits,” we avoid intimacy with those who do not live by Christian standards
. (1 Corinthians 15:33) To be no part of the world is to remain “without spot from the world.” (James 1:27) Hence, being separate from the world does not mean that we physically withdraw from all contact with other people
.—John 17:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 5:9, 10.
16 How, then, are we to treat those who are not acquainted with Bible truths? To the congregation in Colossae, Paul wrote: “Go on walking in wisdom toward those on the outside
, buying out the opportune time for yourselves. Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” (Colossians 4:5, 6) The apostle Peter wrote: “Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Paul counseled Christians “to speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.”—Titus 3:2.
*** w93 8/1 p. 19 pars. 15-17 Let No One Spoil Your Useful Habits ***
Certainly, the Christians in ancient Corinth had neighbors. In some communities it is normal to be quite friendly and supportive of neighbors. In rural areas neighbors may rely on one another because of isolation. Family ties are particularly strong in some cultures, giving rise to many invitations to meals. Obviously, a balanced view is important
, as Jesus manifested. (Luke 8:20, 21; John 2:12) In our dealings with neighbors and relatives, are we inclined to carry on as we did before we became Christians? Rather, should we not now review such dealings and consciously determine what limits are appropriate?
16 Jesus once likened the word of the Kingdom to seeds that “fell alongside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.” (Matthew 13:3, 4, 19) Back then, soil along a road became hard as many feet walked back and forth on it. It is that way with many people. Their lives are filled with neighbors, relatives, and others coming and going, keeping them busy. This, as it were, tramples the soil of their hearts, making it hard for seeds of truth to take root. A similar unresponsiveness could develop in one who is already a Christian.
17 Some worldly neighbors and relatives may be friendly and helpful, though they have consistently shown neither interest in spiritual things nor love for righteousness. (Mark 10:21, 22; 2 Corinthians 6:14) Our becoming Christians should not mean that we become unfriendly, unneighborly
. Jesus counseled us to manifest genuine interest in others
. (Luke 10:29-37) But equally inspired and necessary is Paul’s counsel to be careful about our associations. As we apply the former counsel, we must not forget the latter. If we do not keep both principles in mind
, our habits can be affected. How do your habits compare with those of your neighbors or relatives as respects honesty or obeying Caesar’s law? For instance, they may feel that at tax time, underreporting income or business profits is justified, even necessary for survival. They might speak persuasively about their views over a casual cup of coffee or during a brief visit. How could that affect your thinking and honest habits? (Mark 12:17; Romans 12:2) “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits
I hope I have demonstrated that there is no direct Yes or No answer to your question. The Bible principles that we try to live by, suggest that there can be dangers in being overly familiar with people who do not want to live by Gods standards, but there is a need to be balanced in the matter. Each JW must make up their open mind just where that balance is according to their circumstances. For some it means a very limited association with non JWs and others will allow their association to a greater degree.
I hope that has answered your question. P;lease feel free to ask for any clarification on any thing
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello, and thank you for your answer. I found it very interesting, and quite "tactful" considering the answer is "yes" to my question. Of course, the Watchtower Society (not the Bible)would never full out forbid associations with non Witnesses,however, it is made very clear by the info you provided. Who decides who is living by Gods standards? Jehovah Witnesses? The watchtower Society? Maybe it should be God himself. There can only be "dangers" with others if your faith is exposed as not being true. If you are solid in your faith and beliefs, the "dangers" are minimal at best. The fact that you feel you feel you have "no choice", but to live and work among others that are not part of your particular organization speaks volumes. This is just one of the many reasons that others view Jw's in a bad and dangerous light. Thank you for your time. May you too keep and open mind.
Thanks for the follow up. I appreciate your thoughts.
You say ...”This is just one of the many reasons that others view Jw's in a bad and dangerous light..."
I can truly understand why people may feel that way especially when there have been some isolation type groups such as those years ago in “ Jones-town” and the Waco Texas group The Branch Davidians and several others that have taken their lives on mass. I have read of people comparing us to those types of cults.
We are nothing like those groups. We are not
isolationists. We do not form our own separate communities away from every one. We are a people who take the Bible very seriously, and that following the laws, principles and guidelines in the Bible results in the best, most satisfying way of life.
You asked … “Who decides who is living by Gods standards? Jehovah Witnesses? The watchtower Society? Maybe it should be God himself.....”
To us, Gods moral standards are extremely high.
The “Watchtower Society” nor Jehovah's Witnesses not set any standards or laws as to who is living by Gods standards. It is what we see God saying as recorded in his word. Therefore we say that the answer is God himself who sets the standards of what our behaviour should
be. We are told that all of the Bible is beneficial for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16
) so we look to Gods word for examples and guidance. The personal decisions we make are based on our knowledge of what God has said and how that knowledge trains our own consistence. What the conscience of one JW may allow, another may not when it comes to association.
You make this comment …. There can only be "dangers" with others if your faith is exposed as not being true. If you are solid in your faith and beliefs, the "dangers" are minimal at best...”
It is absolutely true that a strong faith can protect one from what happens around us, including the various associations we may have. There are many Bible examples of individuals being able to cope with the various pressures of life including the association of the people around them.
If Satan could induce two perfect humans—not to mention a number of spirit creatures—to reject God’s sovereignty, he could deceive us too
A good example of staying faithful is the boy Samuel. By the time he was born, the nation of Israel had gone astray from pure worship. At the age of 5 he was sent to live with the High Priest Eli. Eli and his sons, even though they were priests, did not follow the moral standards of God. Amongst other things Eli's two sons would have relations with temple prostitutes. Samuel grew up in that environment, but stayed faithful to God and became an important prophet.
There are many examples of people including high priests of Israel and kings such as Salomon that lost favour with God because of their associations. Now Solomon was used to pen parts of the Bible, so at one time he had Gods favour and blessing. We know that because God granted him wisdom that no other person had had (1 Kings 4:29-34
), and riches. He had the privilege of building the temple to God that was denied hid father David. But his association with non Israelite wives led him into false religious worship at the end of his days. (1 Kings 11:1-8
A well known account of how not being careful of the people we associate with can lead to getting into trouble is Jacob’s daughter Dinah. She got into serious trouble because of associating with the wrong people. The Genesis account about her tells us that she was in the habit of associating with the young Canaanite women in the area where her family dwelt. The Canaanites moral standards leaved a lot to be desired. the Canaanites’ ways way of life was filled with immorality, depraved sex worship, and violence. (Ex. 23:23; Lev. 18:2-25; Deut. 18:9-12
In the account we are told of A local man, Shechem, described as “the most honourable of the whole house of his father,”
. fell in love with here. This most noble man violated (Gen. 34:1, 2, 19
) In response her brothers took revenge on the men of the town. What a tragedy! Like Dinah we may never think that the people we associate with would eve do anything to brig us harm.
It is because of such warnings in the Bible that the council was given at 1 Corinthians 15:33
as per the NWT “Do not be misled
. Bad associations spoil useful habits”
Here are some other Bible renderings of that verse
“ Be not deceived
: evil communications corrupt good manners. “ King James Version
“Do not be tricked
by false words: evil company does damage to good behaviour. “ Bible in Basic English
“Be not seduced
: Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Douay Rheimes
“Do not be fooled
. "Bad companions ruin good character." Good News Bible
Notice all the words in bold. They indicate that a person with a good faith can
be misled, deceived, tricked, or fooled
The apostle Paul in writing to Timothy shows that it is possible to be led astray from the faith. 1 Timothy 6:9,10
“9 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred [ literally to be led astray ]
from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (KJV) This tells us that some had a good faith but allowed the love of money and the temptation of riches (which can come from associating with the wrong company) were led astray
from the faith.
IIn Matthew 24: 24Jesus shows warns his followers that even some of the “chosen ones” or the will be mislead “ For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect
.” (JKV) It is a reality that even the elect
(Greek eklektos = “picked out, chosen by God”
)can be mislead by false teaches. To be mislead by false teachers they would have to be associating with them is some way.
Yes having a good solid faith is important and a protection, but there is always the possibly that we could become complacent and be led I to practices that are displeasing to God.
It is not only the lack of morals that displease our God it is also religious ideologies that displease him. There are many practices that we understand to be displeasing to our creator, so it is very difficult to associate with family and friends who are not Witnesses when they are participating in things we know that God does not approve of. We do not see celebrating Christmas, Easter, valentines, birthdays etc as aspects of popular culture as something that the Almighty God approves of, so that limits for many people time when JWs and non JWs can associate together. Just as Jesus warned about false Christ in the text above associating with individuals at such times may
be like being persuaded by false Christ or teachers. (I am not saying everyone that practices those things I just mentioned are false Christ it is the principle of maybe
being influenced by such things that perhaps they're good times and we are missing out. That is what Satan told Eve, You are missing out on something good)
Now when it comes to normal every day association as say having a meal together, going on various outings etc just for the enjoyment of the time spent together there are no rules. Each JW must let their own conscience decide.