You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive.—Ps. 86:5.
How do we know that Jehovah’s forgiveness is permanent? Consider Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the new covenant, made with anointed Christians, which makes true forgiveness possible for those who exercise faith in the ransom. Jehovah says: “I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.” So Jehovah assures us that once he forgives, he will never in the future act against us because of those sins. He does not rehash our sins in order to accuse us or punish us again and again. Rather, Jehovah forgives those sins and puts them behind him—permanently. We can imitate Jehovah’s forgiveness by choosing to be forgiving toward one another whenever there is a basis for doing so. And when we forgive others, we too can forget by putting the matter behind us and not bringing it up again in the future.
Jehovah is always good and ready to forgive. However, his extending goodwill and forgiveness is always on his terms. First, there must be genuine repentance and a good-faith attempt to rectify an error.
In the case of an individual it is pretty straightforward; but when it comes to a nation or an organization, it is much more problematic. And if lawyers are involved – forget it!
In the case of Israel Jehovah forgave them many times for their rebelliousness and idolatry. But eventually their sin reached the point where Jehovah refused to extend forgiveness anymore. The result was the nations were destroyed – both Israel and later Judah and Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, Jehovah still extended forgiveness to a repentant remnant. That is the pattern for Jehovah’s Witnesses now.
Like their ancient counterparts – Israel and Judah – the Watchtower organization simply refuses to acknowledge any error or make amends for the damage that it has wrought. If anything the leadership of the organization is becoming more entrenched, devious and stubborn.
That was painfully evident in the testimony a representative of the Governing Body recently gave to the Australian Royal Commission public inquiry into the Watchtower’s child abuse policies.
Under oath Goffrey Jackson told the Commission that it would be much easier if Australia would just simply pass a law requiring ministers to report crimes against children, because Jackson claimed that Christian elders are bound by the Scriptures not to overstep their authority in such private matters. He was implying, though, that if there was a law in place that required them to report such crimes, that would solve their “spiritual dilemma,” as he called it. If compelled by law then elders could then set aside the scriptural principles that they claimed prevented them from reporting a crime committed against a child by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (To read the transcript of the Governing Body member’s testimony download this PDF – Transcript-(Day-155))
Of course, Jackson was lying.
For one thing, elders do not make the decision. Since the late 80’s all elders are under strict orders by Bethel that whenever a report of child abuse comes to their attention they are to do one thing and one thing only: They are to pick up a telephone and dial Bethel’s Legal Department hotline. The Watchtower’s lawyers will then advise the elders whether to report the crime or not. And their determination is apparently based upon whether or not the legal authorities in that particular jurisdiction require it. If no law requires them to report, then Bethel forbids elders from reporting crimes committed against the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is why of the 1,006 crimes the WT has on their records not one was reported to the police, because Australia does not require it.
So, contrary to what Goffrey Jackson told the Royal Commission of inquiry, Jehovah’s Witnesses elders are not restrained from reporting crimes because of their adherence to Bible principles. They are prevented from do so by the Watchtower’s Legal Department.
To be clear, if an elder neglected to obey the guidelines of the lawyers and acted upon his own in notifying the police, he would more or less be immediately removed from serving as an elder.
While the Australian Royal Commission may be bamboozled by such flimflam, we may be sure that Jehovah is not. Just as there is a penalty in the human realm for lying under oath, there are also consequences for playing false to God. While it is unclear if Jackson will be charged with perjury, not that it would matter in the universal scheme of things, we may expect Jehovah’s heavenly court to address such matters in the near future when this present system implodes.