The terms “gross uncleanness” and “uncleanness with greediness” are made up and invented by the Governing Body and have no basis in the Bible. However, the Governing Body tries to show that these two expressions are based on the Bible.
Claim 1: ‘Uncleanness’ covers a wide range of serious sins
Sins are, of course, unclean. But none of the ten examples of the Greek word akatharsia in the Christian Greek Scriptures refers to clear identifiable sins, small or serious. Thus, the claim has no biblical basis.
Claim 2: “Since “uncleanness” [akatharsia] is listed with “fornication [porneia] and loose conduct [aselgeia],” some forms of uncleanness warrant judicial action.”
This argument is completely untenable. That two words occur in the same context does not show that they have a similar meaning or similar function. The words akatharsia, porneia, and aselgeia occur in the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. If the argument were valid, it would mean that all the works of the flesh must be disfellowshipping offenses. But that is impossible.
The philosophy of science sometimes uses syllogisms to illustrate the difference between valid (true) and invalid (false) arguments. I use four syllogisms to show how fallacious the argument in the heading is.
Claim 3: Paul thus puts “uncleanness . . . with greediness” in the same category as loose conduct [NWT13, brazen conduct].
This is a laughable claim because the idea of “greed” or “greediness” is not found in the Bible. The idea of covetousness, which is expressed by the Greek word epithymia, is an idea found in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures. The meaning is “to greatly desire to have something.” The definition of “greed” is “an insatiable desire to have more.” Covetousness can be satisfied but greed cannot be satisfied. There is no Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word with the meaning “greed,” and this means that the translation of pleonexia as “greed” in NWT13 and other Bible translations is wrong. This also shows that “uncleanness…with greediness” is a fictional concept invented and introduced by the members of the Governing Body.
I give a short presentation of each of the seven disfellowshipping offenses under the umbrella term gross uncleanness/uncleanness with greediness.
A DISCUSSION OF THE TERMS “GROSS UNCLEANNESS/UNCLEANNESS WITH GREEDINESS”
The terms “gross uncleanness” and “uncleanness with greediness” are not found in the Christian Greek Scriptures. But they are made up and introduced by the members of the Governing Body. I will now discuss the background for these terms. The book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” chapter 12, point 14, says:
Gross uncleanness, uncleanness with greediness: (2 Cor. 12:21; Gal 5;19; Eph 4:19) Galatians 5:19-21 lists many vices that are not classed as por nei’a but that could lead to one’s being disqualified from God’s Kingdom. Among them are uncleanness (a ka thar si’a). When one practices uncleanness to a serious degree, it can be grounds for disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation. Elders should use good judgment in discerning whether the conduct is minor uncleanness that can be handled by counsel or is gross uncleanness that requires the formation of a judicial committee.—w06 7/15 pp.20-31: w 83 3/15 p. 31; lvs p. 249.
One reference is to The Watchtower of July 15, 2006, page 30, where we read:
Uncleanness (Greek, a·ka·thar·siʹa) is the broadest of the three terms rendered “fornication,” “uncleanness,” and “loose conduct.” It embraces impurity of any kind—in sexual matters, in speech, in action, and in spiritual relationships. “Uncleanness” covers a wide range of serious sins.
As recorded at 2 Corinthians 12:21, Paul refers to those who “formerly sinned but have not repented over their uncleanness and fornication and loose conduct that they have practiced.” Since “uncleanness” is listed with “fornication and loose conduct,” some forms of uncleanness warrant judicial action. But uncleanness is a broad term that includes things that are not of a judicial nature. Just as a house may be somewhat dirty or completely filthy, uncleanness has degrees. (My italics.)
Paul said, according to Ephesians 4:19, that some individuals had “come to be past all moral sense” and that “they gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.” Paul thus puts “uncleanness . . . with greediness” in the same category as loose conduct. If a baptized person unrepentantly practices “uncleanness . . . with greediness,” he can be expelled from the congregation on the grounds of gross uncleanness.
There are a number of conclusions without any biblical basis in the quotations above, and I will discuss some of these.
“‘Uncleanness’ covers a wide range of serious sins.”
The Greek word akatharsia occurs ten times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and in none of the cases is a concrete identifiable sin mentioned, let alone “a wide range of serious sins.” Instead of referring to identifiable sins, the word akatharsia characterizes different items, such as the uncleanness in connection with dead men’s bodies (Matthew 23:27), and the uncleanness of dishonoring their bodies (Romans 1:24), as well as unclean motives (1 Thessalonians 2:3). When a Greek word does not refer to any identifiable sin, subsuming different sins under the word, is the same as setting aside the Word of God as the only authority for Christians.
“Since “uncleanness” [akatharsia] is listed with “fornication [porneia] and loose conduct [aselgeia],” some forms of uncleanness warrant judicial action.”
The phrase “warrant judicial action” means that this is a disfellowshipping action. The argument in the heading is so weird and illogical that I simply become speechless. That the members of the Governing Body accept and use this argument illustrate the extremely low level of wisdom among these persons. I will illustrate the fallacious nature of the argument by the use of syllogisms, which is a method used in the Philosophy of Science:
All lions are predators.
Liza is a lion.
Liza is a predator.
All lions are predators.
Lizah is a predator.
Liza is a lion.
Syllogism (1) is valid while syllogism (2) is invalid. Why is syllogism (2) invalid? Because many different animals, including lions, are predators, we cannot conclude that Cheta is a lion because she is a predator. It is really a silly argument to claim that a concept that is listed together with a disfellowshipping offense, is a disfellowshipping offense as well. I illustrate this below with the syllogisms.
All actions of porneia represent uncleanness.
Peter is guilty of uncleanness.
Peter is guilty of porneia.
All actions of porneia are disfellowshipping offenses.
Peter is guilty of uncleanness.
Peter is guilty of a disfellowshipping offense.
Syllogism (3) is invalid because many different actions represent uncleanness in addition to porneia. Syllogism (4) illustrates the argument in the heading. It is invalid because there is no relationship between porneia and akatharsia (“uncleanness”) But this is what is claimed in the heading. We can also illustrate the issue by Galatians 5:19-20 (NWT13), In these verses porneia and akatharsia are mentioned together, and if the argument that because akatharsia is mentioned together with porneia, some kinds of akatharsia must be disfellowshipping offenses, then the same must be true with all the other works of the flesh that are mentioned together. But the Governning Body would not agree with that, and that is impossible.
19 Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are sexual immorality (porneia), uncleanness (akatharsia), brazen conduct (aselgeia), 20 idolatry, spiritism, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions, sects, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these.
The argument is even weirder than the invalid syllogism (4) implies. It is not “uncleanness” per se that is a disfellowshipping offense is the claim, but “some forms of uncleanness.” So only a part of the supposed relationship between porneia and akatharsia represents disfellowshipping offenses. But how can the members of the Governing Body know which parts of akatharsia that are disfellowshipping offenses? I return to my point that the whole argument in The Watchtower of July 2006 regarding akatharsia demonstrates the low level of wisdom that exists among the members of the Governing Body. But the real problem is that this total lack of wisdom is the basis for an issue of life and death, whether or not a Witness will be disfellowshipped from his or her congregation.
The three words porneia (“sexual immorality”), akatharsia (“uncleanness”) and aselgeia (“unrestrained lust”) occur together in 2 Corinthians 12:21 and Galatians 5:19. The NWT84 translates aselgeia as “loose conduct” and the NWT13 has the translation “brazen conduct.” The exact meaning of aselgeia is unknown. But it seems to include a strong desire with sexual connotations. Therefore, I translate aselgeia as “unrestrained lust.” The following can explain why the three words occur together. If a person has an unrestrained lust (aselgeia) for sexual pleasure, that may result in sexual immorality (porneia), and sexual immorality represents uncleanness (akatharsia). Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 5:9 that being permeated by porneia is a disfellowshipping offense. But there is no logical reason why akatharsia (“uncleanness”) and aselgeia (“unrestrained lust”) represent disfellowshipping offenses.
Paul thus puts “uncleanness . . . with greediness” in the same category as loose conduct [NWT13, brazen conduct].
A number of the disfellowshipping offenses that have been invented and introduced by the members of the Governing Body are ambiguous, such as “gross uncleanness” and “uncleanness with greediness.” The problem with the last expression is that the very concept of greediness is nonexistent in the original text of the Bible!
In our discussion, we need to distinguish between the Greek words epithymia and pleonexia. In Romans 7:7 we read:
For example, I would not have known covetousness (epithymia) if the Law had not said: “You must not covet (epithymeō).”
The noun epithymia occurs 37 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and according to Louw and Nida, the meaning is “to greatly desire to do or have something.” In many Bible translations, including NWT13, the Greek word pleonexia is translated by the English word “greed” or “greediness.” The study note of Ephesians 4:19 defines pleonexia as “an insatiable [= impossible to satisfy] desire to have more,” and this is a good definition. Both epithymia and “greed” can refer to a strong desire, but the difference between the two is that “greed” is an insatiable desire, while the desire expressed by epithymia can be satisfied. In connection with the rendering of pleonexia as “greed/greediness” in most modern translations, there is an insurmountable problem. There is no Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word with the meaning “an insatiable desire to have more.”
|Neither Hebrew, Aramaic, nor Greek has a word for “greed” with the definition “an insatiable desire to have more.” This is an artificial invention without any linguistic basis.|
We can illustrate the issue with Mark 7:21, 22 (NWT13):
21 For from inside, out of the heart of men, come injurious reasonings: sexual immorality, thefts, murders, 22 acts of adultery, greed (pleonexia), acts of wickedness, deceit, brazen conduct, an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, and unreasonableness.
Jesus spoke Hebrew, and his words were translated into Greek by Mark. We do not know which Hebrew word Jesus used. But because there is no Hebrew word with the meaning “greed,” Jesus could not have expressed the idea of greed. This also means that Mark could not have used the Greek word pleonexia with the meaning of “greed.” My article “Greed” in the category “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses” contains a detailed study of the words pleonekteō, pleonexia, and pleonektēs on the basis of the uses of these words in the Septuagint, Classical Greek, and New Testament Greek. My conclusion is that pleonekteō means “to exploit,” pleonexia means “exploited gain” or “exploitation” and pleonektēs means “exploiter.”
My detailed studies of these words show that the qualification “with greediness” in the expression “uncleanness…with greediness” is a fantasy character that does not exist. So, Witnesses are being disfellowshipped on the basis of the fantasy figures of the members of the Governing Body.
In order to justify the rendering “uncleanness…with greediness,” Ephesians 4:19 is used. The translation of NWT13 is found above and my translation is found below:
19 Having gone past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to brazen conduct (aseelgeia) to practice every sort of uncleanness (akatharsia) with greediness (pleonexia).
They have lost all feeling of shame; they gave themselves over to unrestrained lust (aseelgeia) so as to practice every kind of uncleanness (akatharsia) by exploitation (pleonexia).
I have already shown that the concept “greed” is not found in the Scriptures. My translation shows that the mentioned persons would “practice every kind of uncleanness by exploitation” and not “with greediness.” Even if “greediness” were the correct translation, the words could not rightly be used to define a Christian disfellowshipping offense because verses 17 and 18 show that the subject of the actions is not Christians but people of the nations. What these people do cannot rightly be applied to Christians.
The conclusion of this introduction is that both “gross uncleanness” and “uncleanness with greediness” are invented by the members of the Governing Body. And neither of the expressions has any basis in the text of the Bible.
There are Seven actions that are viewed as disfellowshipping offenses subsumed under the umbrella term “gross uncleanness/uncleanness with greediness.” But the book for elders says that this is not an exhaustive list, which means that the Governing Body all the time can add new disfellowshipping offenses under the mentioned umbrella term.
A PRESENTATION OF THE SEVEN DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES
A short presentation of the concepts that are subsumed under the umbrella term “Gross uncleanness/ uncleanness with greediness” follows:
Momentary touching of intimate body parts or caressing of breasts
The questions the members of the judicial committee are asked to answer are ambiguous and unclear: “Heavy petting on numerous occasions? “A brazen attitude?” “Gross uncleanness?” “A measure of greediness?”
The concepts “a brazen attitude” and “greediness” are not found in the Bible. The renderings of these concepts in NW13 are wrong translations. The concept “a measure of greediness” is even a contradiction of terms. The concept of “greed” is defined in Ephesians 4:19 in NWT13 as “an insatiable desire to have more.” It is not possible to have “a measure of” “an insatiable desire to have more.” Even if you have this desire in full or you do not have this desire.
Immoral conversations over the telephone or the Internet
Because neither telephones nor the Internet is mentioned in the Bible, it is clear that this disfellowshipping offense is artificial, it is invented and introduced by the members of the Governing Body.
Like so many other disfellowshipping offenses made up and introduced by the Governing Body, this offense is also ambiguous and unclear. What “immoral conversations” are will be viewed differently by different elders.
Abuse of medical and addictive drugs
In the Shepherd book, the members of the Governing Body have put tobacco, betel nut, marijuana, and illicit and addictive drugs on the same level. This is misleading indeed because only being permeated by the use of drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, that cause intoxication, are disfellowshipping offenses. Addiction to drugs that does not cause intoxication does not represent disfellowshipping offenses.
Quitting the habit of using hard drugs, such as heroin, is extremely difficult. To overcome this habit, loving support from family and friends is imperative. The members of the Governing Body have taken away this support by the order of shunning all disfellowshipped persons. When a person has managed to quit his drug habit, the use of methadone can be a help not to have a relapse. For 40 years from 1973, the Governing Body decided that the use of methadone was a disfellowshipping offense, so this help was also taken away. Because of their unbiblical decisions, the members of the Governing Body have a huge responsibility for the thousands of Witnesses that did not manage to quit their habit because of lack of help, and for the deaths of a great number of them.
The use of tobacco
The different viewpoints on tobacco:
1942: The Watchtower said that the use of tobacco was a filthy habit. But the Watchtower Society wrote that it did not have any power or desire to ask a person to stop using tobacco.
1961: A person who uses tobacco cannot have an appointed position as a representative of the Watchtower Society. However, if there is no person who can take the lead, the one who uses tobacco can be a servant or an overseer.
1969: A person who uses tobacco cannot have an appointed position as a representative of the Watchtower Society. The Watchtower Society strongly discourages the use of tobacco.
1973: The Watchtower of 1969 says correctly that the Bible does not say anything about the use of tobacco. In spite of this, The Watchtower of 1973 says that a Witness who does not quit the habit of using tobacco within six months will be disfellowshipped.
The chewing of betel nut
The chewing of betel nut is mentioned several times in the Watchtower literature as a filthy habit. But the first time it is expressed as a disfellowshipping offense, as far as I know, is in the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019). Betel nut is not mentioned in the Bible, and therefore it is a manmade disfellowshipping offense.
The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) says that extreme uncleanness is a disfellowshipping offense. The Bible admonishes Christians to be clean in body and mind, but extreme uncleanness is not mentioned as a disfellowshipping offense in the Scriptures. If extreme uncleanness is connected with a Christian, most likely he has a mental problem. Thus, he or she needs help and not disfellowshipping.
Viewing abhorrent forms of pornography
The members of the Governing Body mention nine different forms of pornography that are abhorrent and viewing one of these can lead to disfellowshipping. It was first in the year 2006 that viewing abhorrent forms of pornography became a disfellowshipping offense.
This new view was presented at a course for elders in 2006. At this course, the elders were ordered to start disfellowshipping persons who in the past had viewed pornography. This means that the new law was given retroactive force and persons were disfellowshipped because of a law they did not know existed. This is such bad behavior that not even persons in Satan’s world are judging persons retrospectively.
The definitions of most of the nine abhorrent forms of pornography are ambiguous and unclear. And because elders have little experience with pornography, we must assume that many Witnesses are disfellowshipped on a faulty basis. In The Watchtower of March 15, 2012, the members of the Governing Body tried to show that disfellowshipping because of viewing abhorrent forms of pornography was based on the Bible. But this attempt was not successful.
Other disfellowshipping offenses that represent gross uncleanness/uncleanness with greediness
The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” 12.15 says:
Though this is not an exhaustive list, gross uncleanness may be involved in the following:
These words show that the members of the Governing Body have given themselves the right to add other disfellowshipping actions under the umbrella term “gross uncleanness” to the seven that are mentioned in the book “Shepherd The Flock Of God”.