Jehovah's Witnesses Practices - Discipline

Discipline

Formal discipline is administered by congregation elders. In the event that an accusation of serious sin is made concerning a baptized member, if there is sufficient evidence, a tribunal or judicial committee is formed to determine guilt, administer help and possibly apply sanctions.

Disfellowshipping is the most severe form of discipline administered. Before taking this step, the judicial committee must determine that the individual has committed a "serious sin" and that there is no evidence of true repentance. To judge that repentance is genuine, members of the judicial committee ask questions and review the actions of the accused member. Baptized members who spread teachings contrary to the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses can be disfellowshipped for apostasy. A member who "persists in believing other doctrine", even without promoting such beliefs, may also be subject to disfellowshipping. Once the decision to disfellowship has been made, a person has seven days to appeal, after which, if the person has not appealed, the disfellowshipping will be announced to the congregation; disfellowshipping does not take effect until the announcement is made to the congregation. After a person is disfellowshipped, the person is shunned by all baptized members. Exceptions to this would include cases where a member was forced to have commercial dealings with a member who is disfellowshipped, or if the disfellowshipped member is living with family members who are baptized. In these cases, the Witness are not permitted to speak about matters pertaining to the religion, except in the case of parents conducting a bible study with a disfellowshipped minor. The extent to which disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives living in the same household are included in family life is left to the discretion of the family. Family members living outside the home who are disfellowshipped have minimal contact.

Reproof involves sins that could lead to disfellowshipping. Ones considered "truly repentant" are reproved rather than disfellowshipped. Reproof is given "before all onlookers". If the sin is private in nature, the reproof would involve just the individual(s) involved. If the sin is known generally by the entire congregation or the community, an announcement is made informing the congregation that the person has been reproved. Later, without disclosing names or private details, one of the elders gives a separate talk ensuring that the congregation understands the sin, its dangers, and how to avoid it. Reproved individuals have some congregation privileges restricted, until the elders decide that the member has regained "spiritual strength." Restrictions may include not sharing in meeting parts, not commenting at meeting parts, and not praying for a group. The duration of restrictions depends on the elders. One cannot "pioneer" or "auxiliary pioneer" for at least one year after reproof is given.

Marking is practiced if a person's course of action is regarded as a violation of Bible principles, reflecting badly on the congregation, but is not a disfellowshipping offense. The person is strongly counseled. If, after repeated counsel sessions, the person still pursues the disturbing course, he might be 'marked', which involves an announcement stating that the actions in question are wrong, without naming the individual involved. Congregation members limit social contact with that person. The purpose of this is to shame the person into correcting their actions. "Marked" individuals are not shunned completely, but social contact is minimized.

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Discipline

In its original sense, discipline is systematic instruction given to disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or any other activity which they are supposed to perform, or to follow a particular code of conduct or "order". Often, the phrase "to discipline" carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order – that is, ensuring instructions are carried out – is often regulated through punishment.

Discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be synonymous with self control. Self-discipline is to some extent a substitute for motivation, when one uses reason to determine the best course of action that opposes one's desires. Virtuous behavior is when one's motivations are aligned with one's reasoned aims: to do what one knows is best and to do it gladly. Continent behavior, on the other hand, is when one does what one knows is best, but must do it by opposing one's motivations. Moving from continent to virtuous behavior requires training and some self-discipline.


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Famous quotes containing the word discipline:

    And when discipline is concerned, the parent who has to make it to the end of an eighteen-hour day—who works at a job and then takes on a second shift with the kids every night—is much more likely to adopt the survivor’s motto: “If it works, I’ll use it.” From this perspective, dads who are even slightly less involved and emphasize firm limits or character- building might as well be talking a foreign language. They just don’t get it.
    Ron Taffel (20th century)

    Discipline isn’t just punishing, forcing compliance or stamping out bad behavior. Rather, discipline has to do with teaching proper deportment, caring about others, controlling oneself and putting someone else’s wishes before one’s own when the occasion calls for it.
    Lawrence Balter (20th century)

    My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
    Bible: Hebrew, Proverbs 3:11-12.