Both God’s law to Israel and the Christian Greek Scriptures show that cleanness is important for Jehovah’s worshippers. Having good hygiene with one’s body is something we learn from childhood. When someone in the congregation shows extreme uncleanness, this is most likely a sign of mental problems, and the person needs psychological help.
If a member of the congregation behaves in an unchristian way because of mental illness, no judicial steps will be taken. And so no judicial steps should be taken in the case of extreme uncleanness — both because of the likelihood of mental problems and because extreme uncleanness is not a disfellowshipping offense, according to the Christian Greek Scriptures.
The book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God”, 12.15 (5), says regarding extreme uncleanness:
Extreme Physical Uncleanness: (Deut. 23: 12-14; 2 Cor. 7:1: lvs pp. 108-110) Every effort should be made to help the offender see the need to keep his body and place of residence clean. Before judicial action would be considered, the elders would need to be certain that the uncleanness is pronounced and offensive, bringing much reproach upon Jehovah’s good name and his people in the community. Appropriate counsel should be given. If this is not heeded, a warning talk may be necessary (See 12:77-80). If there is blatant, willful disregard of the counsel given and extremely offensive unclean conditions continue, judicial action would be warranted.
God’s law to Israel stressed cleanness in different ways. (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 16:4, 23, 24) The Christian Greek Scriptures likewise show that cleanness is important for Christians. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:1 (NWT13), “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” This is an admonition to Christians, and it implies that Christians must be both physically and spiritually clean. If a Christian is unclean, he may indeed be “bringing reproach upon Jehovah’s name and his people in the community,” as the quotation above says.
But what if a Christian is counseled and “extremely offensive unclean conditions continue”? The quotation says that in this case, “judicial action would be warranted,” which means that the person can be disfellowshipped. However, the Christian Greek Scriptures do not authorize disfellowshipping in this case, so the words of the book for elders are a human commandment.
Having good hygiene in connection with one’s body is something we learn from childhood, and most people would like to have a clean home. If a person or his or her home is extremely unclean, there is a distinct possibility that the person has some kind of mental illness. This is because normal persons tend not to live under “extremely offensive unclean conditions.”
In the Majorstua congregation in Oslo, there was a sister who was mentally ill. She attended meetings without disturbing anyone. But one time she became very angry and she kicked the door the Kingdom Hall so hard that a window broke. We called the police, not to punish her, but we hoped that they would take her to a psychiatrist that could treat her. In her mental state, she was dangerous both to herself and to others. After that, there was no judicial committee because it was her illness that caused her extreme behavior. The point is that when the mental illness of a person causes wrong actions, the elders do not form a judicial committee.
The situation is similar with a Witness who is extremely unclean. The elders would not allow him to preach from door to door or represent the congregation in other ways. And even though he would not accept counsel, because his mental illness might prevent it, to hand him over to Satan by disfellowshipping him would be a violation of the Christian spirit and Christian love. To be sure, this person would be a challenge for the elders to deal with. But their wisdom should guide them to find ways to help the Witness without bringing reproach upon Jehovah’s name and the congregation.