TRANSITIONING TO THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
SEXUAL UNCLEANNESS AND
THE HEAVENLY HOPE
September 29, 2016
The main purpose of this site is to help Jehovah’s Witnesses understand that they are ALL sons of God and heirs to the heavenly kingdom, as the apostle Paul declared:
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3:26
“If, then, we are children, we are also heirs—heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ—provided we suffer together so that we may also be glorified together.”
– Romans 8:16
The major hurdle Jehovah’s Witnesses face is overcoming the false doctrine of the ‘earthly hope’ which asserts that the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are destined to live forever on earth, not in heaven. This concept of an ‘earthly hope’ is a fallacy and a work of fiction that was fabricated in the early 1930's. (See Proving Ourselves Worthy of the Christ.) Most Jehovah’s Witnesses fail to appreciate that eternal life in heaven for all mankind is the will of the Father, and is the only hope ever taught by Jesus or the apostles. (See Foreordained From the Founding of the World and The Destiny of Man.)
But another significant hurdle that prevents Witnesses from accepting their sonship with God is the matter of sin. The majority of Witnesses hold the idea that anyone who is invited to be with the Father and Christ Jesus in heaven must be a special, superior, near perfect individual. They seem to believe the “anointed sons of God” do not experience personal weakness or fall victim to fleshly sin. This is erroneous. As the psalmist wrote:
“If errors were what you watch, O Jah, Then who, O Jehovah, could stand?”
– Psalms 130:3
No. The truth is:
“But now apart from law God’s righteousness has been revealed, as the Law and the Prophets bear witness, yes, God’s righteousness through the faith in Jesus Christ, for all those having faith. For there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
– Romans 3:21-23
Still, sometimes it is not so much sin itself, as it is the type of sin. For example, we often receive emails from visitors who want to accept their sonship and openly partake at the Memorial Supper, but who hesitate due to personal sin of a sexual nature. Most of the time, the issue is fornication, but recently, the issues are a growing addiction to pornography and the practice of masturbation.
The fact that the Watchtower organization has published many articles on these topics reveals that this is a real problem among Jehovah’s Witnesses. And we are finding that the general admonition to ‘deaden your body members’ (Colossians 3:5) or to ‘not look at a woman passionately’ (Matthew 5:28) is good counsel, but not entirely helpful. The reason is because it is not a matter of mere obedience to counsel. The issues are far more complex. Excessive attention to masturbation and pornography is often a symptom of something else – and that ‘something else’ may be serious or it may be rather benign. So it is hard to provide sufficient counsel without knowing the person personally and taking into consideration one’s upbringing, age, marital status, spiritual status, and even gender.
We recently received a very personal email on these issues from one of our brothers to which we responded privately. The response we received in return helped us see that the points we raised might prove to be of some benefit to others who are also struggling with these issues. So we publish our thoughts in this article. This is a ‘grown up’ topic and it will be addressed in a candid and ‘grown up’ fashion. We hope that our words are received honorably and in the spirit of Paul’s words to the disciple Titus that “all things are clean to clean people.” (Titus 1:15)
Making Room for Singleness
When excessive masturbation and pornography is the practice of young single people, the cause is often one’s attempt to go against nature. We live on a ‘sex planet.’ Practically every living creature practices sex in some fashion, both as a means of bonding and as a means of procreation. We are designed by our Creator to have sex and to crave sex. The need for sexual relations is engineered into us as is evident from the command given to Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:22)
Having sex is so important that not many people can exclude sex from their lives and remain emotionally healthy. Instead, what often happens is that abstention can lead not only to excessive masturbation and an addiction to pornography, but it can also lead to some forms of perversions, fetishes and deviant behaviors that had never before come to mind. In a few words, abstention and celibacy are unnatural. Accordingly, we believe a solution for young single people who are struggling with these issues is to find a compatible mate, fall in love, get married and have natural sexual relations. If you really love each other, and apply yourselves to making a marriage work, you will discover that there is far more joy in having sex than in watching it.
Now, of course, we know that singleness is promoted in the Watchtower organization. Over the decades, many Jehovah’s Witnesses, male and female, have chosen to forego marriage and raising a family because they were taught that ‘the end is just around the corner.’ Unfortunately, many older Witnesses today who made that decision when they were young are now very bitter and resentful. Not all, but certainly a large number. Many gave up the natural relations between men and women, and the natural desire to raise a family, based on false expectations. Many were told they would not even graduate high school before the end comes. Well the end has not come, but their opportunities for a healthy and happy sex and family life have passed. They are experiencing first hand the results of going against the natural order of things, as Paul explained to Timothy:
“However, the inspired word clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired statements and teachings of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron. They forbid marriage and command people to abstain from foods that God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth. For every creation of God is fine, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified through God’s word and prayer over it.”
– 1 Timothy 4:1-5
Yes, the Apostle Paul said those who can make room for singleness should make room for it. (1 Corinthians 7:1-7). But the fact is, few have the ‘gift of singleness.’ And any single person who practices masturbation and excessively views pornography is clearly one who does not have the gift. Such a person may have natural cravings for sex. But if they continue too long in these solitary practices, it can, in time, ruin one’s natural sexual appetite and the behavior can become a true addiction and can lead to perversions that will require some kind of intervention, beyond marriage, to correct. To those who are not yet at that point, we suggest that you save yourself from the frustration of going against your nature, and your own limitations, and seek out a compatible mate with whom you can explore and enjoy loving, natural sexual relations.
This is our advice to single men and women, especially the young, who engage in these practices on a regular basis. We also recognize that finding a suitable mate among the small pool of eligible men and women in the Watchtower organization may be difficult. But this is nevertheless a workable solution to solve a problem that interferes with ones primary duty to openly confess union with Christ Jesus. (Matthew 10:32-33) The question then is whether there is a divine mandate that you can only select a mate from among a particular religious group, or whether you have the freedom to enlarge your search to find someone who shares your love for God and your hope for your future.
But what about those who engage in these practices who are married? What advice can we give under those circumstances?
Uncleanness in the Marital Union
A married person who finds him or herself excessively viewing pornography and engaging in personal masturbation is a more complex issue than that of a single person. This is because another person is involved; it directly effects the other spouse and has a bearing on loyalty, fidelity, and marital oneness. In reality, such a person is in a sexual relationship with him or herself, outside of the marriage. It is an extra-marital affair.
In many instances, the underlying cause is a lack of communication and a failure to be honest with one’s mate. There are a lot of factors that determine one’s sexual appetite, including upbringing, culture, environment and one’s own physical makeup. One who has developed a more liberal view of sex might not be compatible with one who has a more conservative view of sex. And the disunity is exacerbated if the one with the more liberal view is ashamed or afraid to have an open and candid discussion with his or her mate about sex. Consequently, it is often the one with the more liberal view who falls victim to this type of extra-marital affair.
The solution, then, is open and honest communication. This can be extremely difficult, especially in homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses who view the information in Watchtower publications as if it were ‘the word of God.’ Much of that information about sex and marital relations is prudish and overly restrictive. Some sexual activities that have long been practiced by loving and consenting men and women throughout human history have been labeled by traditional authoritarian religious groups as deviant and perverse. At one period of time in the Watchtower organization, the elders practically policed the marital beds of the congregation members compelling wives and husbands to confess to elders the types of sex acts that are performed between lawfully married couples. This improper interference in the marital relationship resulted in many divorces and broken homes. Although that practice has officially stopped, the residual effects continue.
Restrictive views of sexual relations continue to be promoted in the organization, and mature men and women continue to suffer from outside interference in their marital bed, if not by direct intrusion, then by the opinions and judgments of others as to what is acceptable sexual behavior. Consequently, as mentioned above, those with more liberal views are effectively silenced and shamed into hiding their natural sexual needs from their mates. No good can come from that. Hiding one’s natural sexual needs can give rise to perversions that had not been previously considered, and is a primary reason why a married person would venture out of the marriage either by an actual affair, or vicariously through pornography.
Given the potential negative outcome, it is important for married couples to be honest and open about sex. They should remember that their sexual union is the one unique feature of their relationship that is solely between the two of them. No outsiders have any say in how a husband and wife mutually enjoy one another. It is their private place where they can take their time and create a safe atmosphere for sexual exploration, experimentation and expression. Together, they can discover the heights of sexual satisfaction that was divinely engineered into the human body and that can and will surpass whatever voyeuristic pleasure might come from watching strangers act out.
Finding Our Sexual Balance
Finding our sexual balance is very important, but we should remember that sexual sins are no greater on the divine scale than are other sins. All sin is a failure to act in harmony with the divine character and will of the Father. Thus, those who steal, those who lie, those who call their brothers despicable names, those who abuse alcohol and other substances, and those who gossip and backbite are just as sinful as those who engage in the various forms of sexual uncleanness mentioned in this article. And persistence in any kind of sin can lead to a place where divine forgiveness is no longer available.
It is not that God would not forgive us. To the contrary. The Father has already forgiven us for whatever sins we might commit. He is extremely wise, fully understands our problems, and remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:14) (See Question and Response April 7, 2012-3.) The real obstacle we must overcome is to forgive ourselves. Having a guilty conscience can cause a person to reject God’s forgiveness; so that it is not God who rejects us, but it is we who reject God.
That appears to be what is happening to many who write us with concerns about personal sexual sin. They have determined that their behaviors make them unclean and therefore they resist the pull of the spirit and fail to confess union with Christ Jesus as he commanded. (Luke 22:19; John 6:53-56) The solution is to confess our sins to the Father, and thus gain a clean conscience before God, which, in turn, encourages and strengthens us to turn away from anything that could ‘grieve’ God’s spirit. (Ephesians 4:30)
Those who are struggling with matters of a sexual nature should remember that sexual relations are not a part of the heavenly experience. Jesus said:
“... for in the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but they are as angels in heaven.”
– Matthew 22:30
Our sexual history, practices or needs do not go with us into heaven, nor does there appear to be a need for procreation in heaven. The angelic host and all other celestial beings seem to be direct creations of God. So while we may struggle with these issues now, as long as we continue to strive to be better, and to do the best we can under the circumstances, we can look forward to a time when these problems will not exist.
However, since God is the personification of love (1 John 4:8), we are inclined to believe that there will continue to be loving affectionate relationships in heaven. We will no doubt continue to care for others and to have special affection for those who are closest to us. So the ability and the need to love others, to communicate, to share, and to be open and honest with our feelings will continue. And because “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9), we would not rule out the likelihood that we will experience joys and pleasures in heaven that will far surpass the sensations achieved through mortal sexual relations.
The Primary Thing
No matter how hard we try, we will always face challenges in living up to the mandate to “be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) The more we try, the more we realize the reality of what Paul expressed:
“I find, then, this law in my case: When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin's law that is in my body. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God's law, but with my flesh to sin's law.”
– Romans 7:21-25
Yes, it is because of the mercy ministry of Christ Jesus that we can take our stand before the Father, in spite of our shortcomings, so we should never allow anything to interfere with our opportunity to confess union with Jesus as his spiritual brothers, sons of God and joint heirs to the heavenly kingdom. According to Jesus, the primary thing is love. When Jesus was asked what are the greatest commandments, he said:
“‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 22:36-40
The apostle Paul explained:
“For the entire Law has been fulfilled in one commandment, namely: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Galatians 5:14
And the apostle Peter exhorted:
“But the end of all things has drawn close. Therefore, be sound in mind, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
– 1 Peter 4:7-8
Yes, no matter what personal challenges we face, if we can continue to show genuine love and mercy to our brothers, and remain in constant, open and honest communication with our Heavenly Father, then we can expect divine mercy for the many ways we fall short, including in matters of sexual uncleanness. Let no one, not even ourselves, deprive us of the prize of the upward call.
These are our thoughts. As always, we welcome your comments.
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