Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 5:13 that wicked persons must be removed from the congregation. In 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6, different kinds of wicked persons are mentioned. Instead of verbs, we note that substantives, including one substantivized adjective, are used to describe the wicked persons. This shows that persons are not disfellowshipped for what they do but for what they are —what they have become. This is also the view that is expressed in The Watchtower of 1 May 1983.
What does it mean to become intoxicated? The scriptures that the Shepherd book refers to describe persons who are completely drunk, persons who stagger or move unsteadily due to loss of balance, who feel like they are swaying to and fro, and who do not feel it if they are smitten. When drunkenness becomes an issue, we must keep in mind that different persons have different views regarding which stage of alcohol consumption constitutes the point of drunkenness. But the examples in the Scriptures show that when a person first becomes completely drunk and has lost control of himself, can he rightly be declared as being drunken.
Of the 45 disfellowshipping offenses listed in the Shepherd book, 34 are made up and invented by the GB without any basis in the Bible. And the cruel and inhuman way disfellowshipped persons are treated is also an invention of the GB. The shunning of persons who have been disfellowshipped for abuse of alcohol is especially problematic and counterproductive because it actually prevents them from quitting their bad habits.
Most persons who become alcoholics are genetically predisposed to it, and alcoholism is, from a medical point is viewed as “a chronic disease of the brain.” This means that it is difficult for an alcoholic to stop drinking alcohol. We often see that when an alcoholic gets professional help he, for a while, is able to stay away from alcohol, and then there is an almost inevitable relapse. This may happen several times, and finally, the person is disfellowshipped.
If a person is disfellowshipped, he is, in effect, thrown out into total darkness. He has lost all his friends and family except those in his own household, and so he also loses hope. The only thing he feels he has left is the alcohol. It is almost impossible for such a person by his own strength to stop drinking. But the GB has taken away from him any possibility for help and support.
The way JW are taught to treat disfellowshipped persons is the very opposite of the example of Jehovah God. The Scriptures show that God did not cast off his people, Israel, just because they sinned once, twice, or even five times. Rather, Jehovah “kept sending” help and support to his people, by means of his prophets, “again and again” for many years (Jeremiah 35:15). He never gave up on them, even though they sinned against him repeatedly. Only after there was no remaining hope of repentance—when they showed that they were wicked—did Jehovah stop supporting his people.
A person who has become an alcoholic or is abusing alcohol, in most cases has not reached the point of no return where repentance is impossible. But in order to change his course, he needs the help and support of others. And the GB has denied him this crucially needed help.
In order to follow the example of Jehovah, the family and friends of a person who is disfellowshipped should ‘keep offering’ him all kinds of help and support “again and again” in his effort to stop drinking. Without using it as an excuse, alcoholism is a chronic brain disease, and a person will almost never be able to cure himself of the disease. He needs the assistance of a doctor, and he needs medicine. In this case, his family and friends can serve as part of his medical regimen.
If a disfellowshipped Witness dies early because of alcohol abuse, the members of the GB would bear some responsibility because their hardline decisions and unscriptural procedures have prevented the Witness from getting the help he otherwise could have.
The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” chapter 12, points 18 and 19, says regarding drunkenness:
- Drunkenness: (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9, 10; it-1 p. 656; lvs pp. 20-21, 83) A judicial committee is required when there is a practice of drunkenness or a single incident of drunkenness that brings notoriety (w83 5/1 p. 8) A Scriptural description of drunkenness can be found in the following references: Job 12:25; Psalm 107:27; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35; Isaiah 24:20.
- If an individual confesses to an elder that on one occasion he overindulged in alcohol to the point of drunkenness in a private setting, such as in his home, and there is no notoriety, it may suffice for the elder to give strong counsel. In any case, the elder should inform the coordinator of the body of elders of the matter. (the author’s italics)
HOW TO TREAT DRUNKENNESS IN THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
There are several questions in connection with the drinking of alcohol and becoming intoxicated that need to be discussed in detail.
Drunkards act wickedly and must be removed from the congregation
According to 1 Corinthians 5:13, Paul says, “Remove the wicked person from among yourselves.” The marginal note of the NWT13 with References correctly says that Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 17:7 in the Septuagint version. This version has the rendering ponēros “wicked.” The Hebrew text has the word rā‘, which, according to the Hebrew-English lexicon of Koehlenberger and Mounce has the meanings: “bad, disagreeable, inferior in quality; by extension: evil, wicked in ethical quality.”
Deuteronomy chapter 17 refers to a person who serves other Gods than Jehovah, and it directs that this person should be killed. In this way, “the wicked one” is removed “from your midst.” Both the Hebrew word rā‘ and the Greek word ponēron are adjectives referring to something that is bad. However, ponēros in the Septuagint refers to the person who was killed, and therefore the adjective is substantivized and refers to “the wicked one.” Christians do not kill wicked persons, but they are disfellowshipped from the congregation.
The word “drunkard” (methysos) is an agent noun showing what a person is and not what he does
In 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, Paul mentions wicked persons who must be removed “from among yourselves”:
9 Or do you not know that unrighteous people will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Do not be misled. Those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who submit to homosexual acts, men who practice homosexuality, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners will not inherit God’s Kingdom.
In order to understand the meaning of the Greek word methysos (“drunkard”), we need to understand why 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 use substantives, and one substantivized adjective, instead of using verbs to describe those who must be disfellowshipped. Actions are expressed by verbs, but the substantives in the chapters are what we call nomen agentis (“agent nouns”). This means that a disfellowshipping offense is not an action done one, two, or even five times. The agent nouns do not show what a person does, but they show what a person is —what he has become. A person who is liable for disfellowshipping is permeated by wicked action. This means, for example, that a thief is one who is permeated by thievery, an incorrigible stealer. And interestingly, Louw and Nida define the word methysos as “a person who habitually drinks too much and thus becomes a drunkard.”
How should the elders treat a person who has problems with alcohol? The Watchtower of 1 May 1983 has a very balanced article entitled “Drinking problems — What can elders do?” I quote from this article below.
First, it should be noted that there is a difference between being unwittingly overtaken by drinking too much on one occasion and being a drunkard—making it a practice to become intoxicated. Consider the example of Noah, who on one occasion drank too much wine and got drunk. (Genesis 9:20, 21) Certainly, Noah was not a confirmed drunkard. There is no other indication in the Scriptures that he ever again got intoxicated.—Compare Hebrews 11:7.
Clearly, the Scriptures do not in any way condone drunkenness. In particular do Christian overseers have the responsibility to see to it that confirmed, unrepentant drunkards are not tolerated in the Christian congregation; they are to be disfellowshipped. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13; Galatians 5:19-21) But elders should first of all be desirous of helping repentant ones who have been overreached in the use of alcohol.
So an individual need not be disfellowshipped just because he is an alcoholic. If he truly wants to stop, he should be given the opportunity. But what if by his actions he shows that he really does not want to stop? What if there have been repeated instances of drunkenness, and all reasonable assistance has not helped him? Then, according to Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, he should be disfellowshipped.
The most important point in the quotation above is that the author, without directly saying so, treats the Greek word methysos (“drunkard”) as a nomen agentis (“an agent noun”) — a methysos is a drunkard, one “making it a practice of becoming intoxicated,” one that is permeated by overdrinking.
The author’s comment that a Witness need not be disfellowshipped because he is an alcoholic, provided that he wants to stop drinking, is an important one. This article has much good advice for the elders on how to help a brother or sister who has an alcohol problem. And there is also much good advice for the Witness who has such a problem.
What are the characteristics of intoxication?
The Shepherd book refers to several scriptures that describe in detail what intoxication means. I will quote these from the NWT84:
25 They grope in darkness, where there is no light. That he may make them wander about like a drunken man.
27They reel and move unsteadily like a drunken man, And even all their wisdom proves confused.
1 Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by is not wise.
29 Who has woe? Who has uneasiness? Who has contentions? Who has concern? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has dullness of eyes? 30 Those staying a long time with the wine, those coming in to search out mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it exhibits a red color, when it gives off its sparkle in the cup, [when] it goes with a slickness, 32 At its end it bites like a serpent, and it secretes poison just like a viper. 33 Your own eyes will see strange things, and your own heart will speak perverse things. 34 And you will certainly become like one lying down in the heart of the sea, even one lying down at the top of a mast. 35 “They have struck me, but I did not become sick; they have smitten me, but I did not know it. When shall I wake up? I shall seek it yet some more.”
20 The land absolutely moves unsteadily like a drunken man, and it has swayed to and fro and like a lookout hut.
The passages above describe persons who are completely drunk, persons who stagger or move unsteadily due to loss of equilibrium, who feel like they are swaying to and fro, and who do not feel it if they are smitten. If we follow these definitions of intoxication, there will never be any doubt when a person has reached the point of being truly intoxicated (methyō)—drunk. In other words, if there are any doubts about whether a person is intoxicated or not, the person is not “intoxicated” in the biblical sense of methyō.
However, most elders do not understand the biblical definition of methyō, that a person must first exhibit behavior that make it crystal clear that he is intoxicated—the behavior Jehovah has defined in the aforementioned Scriptures that constitute intoxication. Only then can it be said that the person has done something that can lead to his disfellowshipping if it is practiced.
I remember a situation several years ago. A family would have their dinner in the evening, and they would often drink wine with their meal. Sometimes, the family watched television after their dinner. On a few occasions, the father fell asleep while watching television with the family. Because of this, he was accused of drinking too much wine and becoming drunk. But the father denied it.
Was his sleeping evidence that he was drunk? This was discussed back and forth by the elders in the congregation and with elders in another congregation. And a letter was even sent to the Service Department. This discussion lasted for several weeks until it was rightly decided by the judicial committee that there was no evidence that the brother had been drunk.
A great number of the 34 disfellowshipping offenses that are made up and invented by the GB without any basis in the Bible are ambiguous. And because the elders have not received any systematic training in handling judicial cases, those who serve on judicial committees end up simply following their gut feelings in many situations. This is also the case where someone is accused of drunkenness and the elders have to ask themselves: “What does it mean to be drunk?” “Was the brother really drunk?” So, we understand how difficult it can be for three elders in a judicial committee to make a consistently just judgments. The current situation in the organization is that different committees will make different judgment calls in cases that are very similar.
. A detailed discussion showing why substantives and not verbs are used in connection with disfellowshipping is found in the article “greed” in the category, “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses.”
HOW TO TREAT A WITNESS WHO HAS BEEN DISFELLOWSHIPPED BECAUSE OF ABUSE OF ALCOHOL
When a person has been disfellowshipped, he is shunned by all his friends and family, except the family members in the house where he lives. I show in three articles in the category “Shunning not based on the Bible” that shunning disfellowshipped persons is made up and invented by the leaders of JW, and it does not have any biblical basis. Moreover, this treatment is cruel and inhuman, and it is contrary to Jehovah’s personality. In connection with persons who are alcoholics or have problems with alcohol, the shunning of them is particularly problematic because this treatment pushes them further down in the mire and greatly reduces the possibility of recovery.
Sins that can be forgiven and sins that cannot be forgiven
In connection with the treatment of persons who have been disfellowshipped for the misuse of alcohol, there is also an important biblical point to take into consideration, namely, inherited sin and the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Because all humans have inherited sin, God does not demand that we be perfect. When a human being has committed sins, he or she can get forgiveness because of the ransom sacrifice. But some sins cannot be forgiven, namely, sins against the holy spirit. (Matthew 12:31, 32; 1 John 5:16).
What is the difference between sins that can be forgiven and those that cannot be forgiven? Every sin that directly or indirectly is caused by our imperfection, by the sin we have inherited, can be forgiven. But sins that are caused by our own wickedness cannot be forgiven. What does that mean? According to Matthew 12:27, the sons (disciples) of the Pharisees could expel demons. In this case, the demons cooperated with the disciples of the Pharisees in order to mislead those who saw the demons being expelled. When this expelling of demons occurred, the Pharisees evidently used this as an argument that God was on their side. Jesus expelled demons on a much greater scale than the disciples of the Pharisees. But in his case, the Pharisees said that Jesus expelled the demons with the help of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons (verse 24).
Were the Pharisees tempted to ascribe the great works of Jesus to Satan? Did they say this due to their inherited sin from our first father? No! But because they were wicked, and Jesus threatened their position, they disregarded the obvious manifestation of God’s holy spirit at work here and accused Jesus of being in league with Satan. This was a conscious decision that could not be ascribed to their inherited sin. Sin against the holy spirit, therefore, is an intentional wicked course of action that continues despite the fact that the sinner knows that his or her course is wrong and is done purely out of selfishness. This is the sin that “incurs death,” that is, the unforgivable and unchangeable penalty of death, according to 1 John 5:16.
How can we apply the words in the Bible to the person who is an abuser of alcohol?
The predisposition for addiction to alcohol
What is the reason that some persons can consume massive amounts of alcohol over many years without becoming alcoholics, while others who consume comparatively less alcohol become addicted to it? A part of the answer lies in the genes of the persons because some persons are predisposed to alcoholism, as the quotation below shows.
Genetics and Addiction: Is Alcoholism Hereditary or Genetic?
Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, affecting the reward and motivation centers, and for decades, scientists have argued about the genetic and hereditary components of addiction.
Alcohol use disorder, the medical term for alcoholism and alcohol abuse, has been linked to some specific genes. Having a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, who struggles with alcohol use disorder increases the chances that a person will also struggle with the same addiction.
While genetics and heredity are closely linked – because parents pass their genes down to their children, so children inherit the genes –from a medical perspective, there are some differences when discussing genetic versus hereditary diseases. A person with a genetic disease has an abnormality in their genome; an individual with a hereditary disease has received a genetic mutation from their parents’ DNA. When scientists debate whether alcohol use disorder is hereditary or genetic, they debate whether the condition stems from a larger set of genes that are passed down or the disease stems from mutations in some genes.
Alcoholism is a serious problem in the United States. One estimate suggests that as many as 18 million adults in the country struggle with alcohol use disorder; that is one in 12 individuals. Around 100,000 people die every year because of alcoholism, including deaths due to cirrhosis and other organ damage. Chronic heavy drinking also increases the risk of kidney disease, diabetes, and several cancers.
Genetics are 50 percent of the underlying reason for alcohol use disorder. If a person is predisposed to metabolize alcohol in such a way that the pleasurable effects are more prominent than feeling nauseous, overheating, or experiencing mood swings, the person may be more likely to develop alcohol use disorder.
A 2008 study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reviewed much of the research on alcohol use disorder and a possible genetic contribution. The study concluded that genetic factors account for 40-60 percent of the variance among people who struggle with alcohol use disorder. Since then, some specific genes that contribute to alcohol use disorder have been found, and they correlate with the development of the reward centers in the brain.
The phenotypic expression of genes is complex, however. For example, a person may have one parent with blue eyes and one parent with brown eyes, so they have genes for both eye colors, but only one eye color will be expressed. Strong genes are the exception to the rule, and a gene responsible for the movement of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in synapses between neurons appears to be a strong gene associated with a higher risk of alcoholism. It is still unknown how, precisely, this genetic sequence can ultimately influence the outcome for a person.
Genes that influence alcoholism may be expressed in various ways.
- Smaller amygdala: People who have a family history of alcoholism have, in some studies, been shown to have a smaller than average amygdala. This is the part of the brain that likely plays a role in the emotions associated with cravings.
- Different warning signs: People who have a genetic predisposition to alcohol use disorder may experience fewer or different warning signals from their brain or body when they need to stop drinking.
- Abnormal serotonin levels: Serotonin is one of the most important mood-regulating neurotransmitters and closely associated with depression. Unusual levels of serotonin have also been associated with people who are genetically predisposed to alcohol use disorder.
The conclusions in this quotation do not represent an excuse for persons who become alcoholics or abusers of alcohol. But it illuminates the issue, and its data stress how totally wrong it is to shun a person who has been disfellowshipped because of alcoholism or abuse of alcohol. I will use the apostle Paul’s struggle to do what was right as an example of the situation facing persons addicted to alcohol.
The flesh versus the spirit
In The Watchtower of 15 august 1973, page 511, we find the following question:
Why is it that, even when a person is trying to fix his attention on good things, bad thoughts will come into his mind at times?—U.S.A.
The answer to the question gives us some food for thought:
This is because humans are imperfect, born in sin. Says First John 1:8: “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Of his own struggle in connection with bad inclinations, the devoted apostle Paul wrote: “I find, then, this law in my case: that 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 behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.” This occasioned the apostle considerable misery.—Rom. 7:21-24.
Like Paul, we have to contend with sinful desires and passions, which prevent our adhering to divine requirements perfectly. Though we may really want to do what is right, repeatedly we find ourselves being hindered by inclinations of the sinful flesh. Appreciating the rightness and righteousness of God’s law, we may find real delight and pleasure in it. Yet, in spite of this, we can be stimulated by circumstances, or suggestions can arise that stimulate us to give way to wrong thinking. The fact that we fall short of what we would like to do results in a painful conflict within ourselves. Nevertheless, as in the case of Paul, on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, we can gain true forgiveness of sins and thereby maintain a clean conscience before God and men.
Also, if we allow ourselves to be led by God’s spirit, we will not become practicers of sin. As we read at Galatians 5:16: “Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.” That is, though desires of the sinful flesh may ‘crop up’ in our minds, we will reject them and thus will not fulfill or carry these desires to fruition. In view of our sinful tendencies, we must continue to work hard not to let wrong desires take root in the heart and become fertile so as to give birth to sin. (Jas. 1:14, 15) The apostle Paul admonishes from his own personal experience: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”—1 Cor. 9:27.
Those who read the words above will agree with Paul that there is a fight between the flesh and the spirit. The comfort is that we can gain forgiveness of our sins because of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, provided that we fight against the flesh and do not “become practicers of sin.”
The extra burden of those who abuse alcohol in addition to their inherited sin
I return to the following question: What is the reason that some persons can consume massive amounts of alcohol over many years without becoming alcoholics, while others who consume comparatively less alcohol become addicted to it? As I have shown, the answer is that some are predisposed to alcohol abuse. What does that mean in relation to the ransom sacrifice?
The important point is that we cannot get forgiveness for sinning against the holy spirit, as I have discussed above. But all the sins that we can ascribe to that which we have inherited from Adam can be forgiven when we do not give up in our fight against our fleshly desires. However, alcoholics and abusers of alcohol have given up their fight against the flesh, and are, therefore, practicers of sin.
What accounts for this divergence on the part of those who become alcoholics? Because in most cases, the alcoholics and abusers of alcohol are subjugated to a negative force in addition to their inherited sin—they are predisposed for alcohol abuse. These facts would not prevent the congregation from disfellowshipping drunkards, because the Scriptures direct that this should be done. However, it should prevent the congregation from shunning drunkards that have been disfellowshipped. One important purpose with disfellowshipping is expressed in The Watchtower of 15 April 2015, page 30:
Likewise [as the progidal son, Luke 15:11-24], disfellowshipped ones who are no longer members of the Christian congregation—their spiritual family—may come to realize what they have lost. The bitter fruits of their sinful course, together with the memories of happier days when they enjoyed a good relationship with Jehovah and his people, could bring them to their senses.
Love and firmness are needed to produce the desired result. “Should the righteous one strike me, it would be an act of loyal love,” said the psalmist David, and “should he reprove me, it would be like oil on my head.” (Ps. 141:5) To illustrate: Imagine a hiker who succumbs to exhaustion on a cold winter day. He begins to suffer from hypothermia, and he feels drowsy. If he falls asleep in the snow, he will die. While waiting for a rescue party, his companion occasionally slaps him in the face to keep him awake. The slap may sting, but it could well save his life. Similarly, David recognized that a righteous person might need to give him painful correction for his own good.
In many cases, disfellowshipping provides the discipline the erring one needs. After some ten years, Julian’s son, mentioned at the outset, cleaned up his life, returned to the congregation, and now serves as an elder. “Being disfellowshipped brought me face-to-face with the consequences of my lifestyle,” he admits. “I needed that sort of discipline.”—Heb. 12:7-11.
The problem is that shunning a person who has been disfellowshipped for abuse of alcohol will in most cases have the opposite effect of what is expressed by the brown text above. How so?
As I have mentioned, my articles under the category “Shunning not based on the Bible” show that no disfellowshipped person should be shunned. And that is especially the case with alcohol abusers and abusers of hard drugs. A member of the congregation who has become an abuser of alcohol has probably tried to quit his bad habit several times with relapses. After several of such relapses, he has been disfellowshipped.
Using your imagination, try to empathize with his situation: He has tried to quit his bad habit several times but has not succeeded. Now he has been thrown out of the congregation into total darkness. The elders have told him that he has lost Jehovah’s approval. He has lost all his friends and family, except those who live in the same household, and he has lost his hope! What does he still have to help him cope? The alcohol.
The wish of the elders, as seen in the quotation above, is that he repent and return to the congregation. But they have taken away the very things that can help him achieve that goal—he has been cast into total darkness. We should not minimize the fact that in addition to inherited sin, this person is predisposed for the sin that he practices. Alcoholism is a chronic disease of the brain, and to cure a disease, a doctor and medicine are needed. In this case, the “doctor” may be a real doctor or his family and friends, the “medicine” being the support from these. But the elders have taken away both “the doctor and the medicine.” They have given up on him and have left him alone.
On this basis, we may ask: When did Jehovah give up on the nation of Israel who, time and again, grossly sinned against him? When did he give up on persons who were grave sinners but who had not sinned against the holy spirit, such as King Manasseh? The answer is that he gave up on the nation of Israel at the end of the figurative 70 weeks that the nation was given to repent, when there was no longer any hope for the nation. But even at that time, he did not give up the individual members of that nation. Most of those who died when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE will get a resurrection and may yet be offered everlasting life.
But the elders give up the disfellowshipped abuser of alcohol because the members of the GB, not the Bible, have decided that. Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 5:11 by the use of the Greek word synanamignymi (“mix together; associate with”) that members of the Christian congregations should not socialize with persons that are disfellowshipped. But Paul shows by the use of the same Greek word in 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15, in connection with marked persons, that we can, in fact, greet a disfellowshipped person, speak with him and also admonish him to do the right thing.
So, from Jehovah’s viewpoint, the situation is clear. Family and friends should treat the person who is disfellowshipped for abusing alcohol with love and respect. The elders can only do so much because they have so many duties in the congregation. But they can possibly advise the family and friends of the alcohol abuser about different kinds of help they can give.
In many situations, professional help can be good. And while the person gets such help, his family and friends can support him and help him to understand that Jehovah has not given up on him. And they must, in turn, help him to understand that he never must give up on himself even when relapses occur. This is not a devaluation of the punitive sanction of disfellowshipping because they will show him that they cannot socialize with him, and they will let him know that he has to repent to regain his friendship of Jehovah.
But the treatment I have described is Christian love in practical work, in contrast with the cruel and inhuman shunning-treatment of disfellowshipped persons that is advocated by the members of the Governing Body. A person who abuses alcohol often dies from the side effects of this abuse a long time before he normally would have. In such cases, the members of the GB would bear some responsibility for this death because of their hardline decisions and unscriptural procedures preventing the person from getting help.
. A detailed discussion of this issue is found in the article “‘Stop keeping company with’ 1 Corinthians 5:11” in the category “Shunning not based on the Bible.”
A person who is abusing alcohol is one who is permeated by overdrinking. That such persons are disfellowshipped by JW accords with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:11, 13. However, the way such a person is treated by the congregation after he or she has been disfellowshipped violates several Scriptural principles.
From a medical point of view, alcoholism is “a chronic disease of the brain,” and the disease must be treated by a doctor and by medicines. Because of the nature of alcoholism, it is very difficult for a person to stop drinking without support and help. And the “medicine” in this case is the love and support of family and friends. But because the GB demands that a disfellowshipped person is to be shunned by family and friends, he or she is deprived of the help and support that he needs.
I show in this article that members of the congregation are Scripturally allowed to greet and speak with a disfellowshipped person. And I suggest that family and friends do their utmost to help the disfellowshipped person to change his behavior and stop abusing alcohol.