Homosexuality as viewed by different Christian denominations
Jehovah's Witnesses & homosexuality behavior
Jehovah's Witnesses expectations of persons with a homosexual orientation:
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (WTS) is a conservative
Christian denomination whose theology differs greatly from that
of Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations. However, their attitude towards
homosexuality is similar to essentially all other conservative
religious groups. They require that
both homosexual behavior and feelings be suppressed. That is:
- Gays and lesbians must remain celibate.
- Bisexuals must not engage in same-sex behavior.
- Any opposite-sex
behavior must be restricted to one man and one woman who are married to each
- Jesus' stated that to obsessively lust after another person is to commit adultery with them in your
heart. Conservative Christian groups generally ignore the term "obsessively;" it does not appear in Bible translations, even though it is in the original Greek. Thus they expect a gay or lesbian to suppress or distract themselves from their desire, longing, feelings of
attraction, love, sexual fantasies etc. towards others of the same sex.
- The WTS would not recognize a same-sex marriage as legitimizing two sexually active men or two women living together.
Homosexual Witnesses are expected to refrain from both sexual activity and
sexual thoughts involving other persons of the same-sex. Although individuals with any orientation can
choose celibacy, it is quite impossible for any person to totally control and
eliminate their sexual feelings. The Witness' literal and restrictive interpretation of Jesus'
statement places an immense emotional load on its heterosexual, bisexual, gay
and lesbian membership who try to live up to the group's expectations.
Jim Moon is webmaster of A Common Bond, an international support group for
ex-Jehovah's Witnesses who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
1 Their web site states that:
Jehovah's Witness religion teaches its membership to believe that homosexuality
is 'detestable', 'an abomination', 'abhorrent', and is caused by demon
possession. Because of this, thousands of gay Witnesses are living lives of
deeply closeted guilt, and fear of destruction by God. Those who choose to
leave, or are expelled from the Witnesses face immediate isolation and shunning
from family and friends. It is for this reason that 'A Common Bond' was created
- to offer support and comfort to those who once thought they were alone and
condemned...Gays and lesbians who have been kicked out of the JWs are in a special need for
all the emotional and spiritual support they can get. If JWs don't conform completely to
the sect's doctrines and practices, including a strict prohibition against merely being
gay, they are disfellowshipped, which is a severe punishment. It amounts to total
If detected, gays and lesbians who refuse to remain celibate are expected to
repent of their actions and to refrain from same-sex behavior in the future.
Those who refuse are almost inevitably disfellowshipped. The WTS expects all of
its members to agree with and follow all of the requirements of the
organization, which are based on the WTS' interpretation of the Bible.
While disfellowshipped, fellow members are required to shun him/her completely, avoiding all
contact. If the disfellowshipped person is a family member, then they are treated normally
within the family, except that they are made to understand that their actions are
disapproved of. There is no discussion about church matters in their presence. This
can have a devastating effect on a person whose entire religious, family and social life
were grounded in the Society.
As in most large religious organizations, official policies must be administered by junior
officials within the local congregation. Some consider even celibate gays and lesbians as unsuitable for membership.
The Society publishes a confidential Kingdom Ministry School Textbook which is titled "Pay
Attention to Yourselves and to all the flock." The name comes from Acts 20:28. It
is used by congregation elders and traveling overseers.
Pages 92 to 94 deal with "wrongdoing", which they regard as increasing "in
frequency and depravity..." in society. In the area of sexual misconduct, they
differentiate among three escalating levels of seriousness
- Uncleanness (e.g. momentary touching of another person's sexual parts
outside of marriage). This does not
require a judicial hearing.
- Loose conduct (e.g. heavy petting outside of marriage). This requires judicial action
- "Pornei'a" which:
"... involves immoral use of the genitals of at least
one human (whether in a natural or a perverted way), and there must have been another
party to the immorality: a human of either sex or a beast...It includes oral and anal sex
or mutual masturbation between persons not married to each other, homosexuality,
lesbianism, [sic] fornication, adultery, incest, and bestiality."
Any person who
engages in such activity must be handled through judicial action. Neither actual
penetration or orgasm need be involved.
It seems that this text defines "homosexuality" in terms of actual behavior.
This is common among religious conservatives. Most others define "homosexuality"
in terms of sexual orientation.
The reference to "lesbianism" appears to be redundant because homosexuality
includes both male and female same-sex behavior.
In Page 111, the handbook covers the evidence required to convict an accused person.
Either two eyewitnesses or a confession of wrongdoing are adequate. However, evidence that "the
accused stayed all night...with a known homosexual...under improper circumstances, is
Article in Awake! Magazine comparing child sexual abuse to homosexuality:
"Awake" is one of two mass-circulation magazine published by The
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. Their issue for 1995-FEB-8
commented on homosexuality, drawing a comparison between the pedophilia and
"Scientists may never resolve exactly how much of a
role nature and nurturing
play in same-sex attraction. But one thing is clear: All humans are born with the tendency
to succumb to wrong thinking and inclinations. --Romans 3:23. A youth who desires to
please God must therefore conform to his moral standards and shun immoral behavior, though
doing so may be agonizingly difficult. True, some individuals may very well be prone to
"Similarly, a Christian cannot excuse immoral behavior by saying he was 'born that
way.' Child molesters invoke the same pathetic excuse when they say their craving for
children is "innate." But can anyone deny that their sexual appetite is
perverted? So is the desire for someone of the same sex."
See also our essay on the Jehovah's Witnesses and same-sex marriage
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- A Common Bond is an international "support network for gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender former and current Jehovah's
Witnesses." The California chapters have a web site at:
http://www.gayxjw.org/ They have a
list of web sites maintained by other "A Common Bond" chapters
Copyright © 2002 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2012-APR-02
Author: B.A. Robinson