home > interesting watchtower topics > homosexuality
Watchtower View of Homosexuality & Transgenderism
The following content is upsetting and may be triggering. If you feel distressed right now, come back to read the article later when you feel a bit better. If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, please seek help immediately. There are many free resources that you can call confidentially for assistance.
- Australia 13 11 14
- Canada: 1833.456.4566
- UK: 116 123
- USA: 1800-273-8255
International Crisis Lines and suicidestop.com contain up-to-date lists of free support lines for almost 100 countries. There is also a large community of current and former Jehovah's Witnesses at reddit.com/r/exjw that can answer questions and provide support.
Watchtower is strongly against homosexuality, describing it as one of the most vile of sins. A person that engages in same sex sexual relations can be disfellowshipped, however a celibate homosexual can remain as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watchtower does not accept that people are born homosexual, and teaches that homosexual desires are a choice that are developed, such as through masturbation, and can be overcome.
In 2016, Watchtower released an Awake! stating that Jehovah's Witnesses are not prejudice against homosexuals, even though they believe it is against the Bible code.
"Although the Bible condemns homosexual acts, it does not encourage prejudice, hate crimes, or any other kind of mistreatment of homosexuals....
Jehovah’s Witnesses choose to live by the moral code set forth in the Bible. They do not approve of the actions that the Bible prohibits. But they neither mock nor mistreat people whose practices differ from their own. ...
The Bible thus makes a distinction between inclinations and practices. (Romans 7:16-25) A person who has homosexual leanings can control what he allows his mind to dwell on, just as he would control any other wrong desire, including leanings toward anger, adultery, and greed.—1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Peter 2:14, 15.
While Jehovah’s Witnesses uphold the moral code set forth in the Bible, they do not force their views on others. Nor do they try to reverse laws that protect the human rights of those whose lifestyle differs from theirs." Awake! 2016 No 4
Whilst this article appears to present the Watchtower view of same sex relations in a balanced and tolerant manner, it is not in harmony with what has appeared for many decades within the pages of the Watchtower, nor align with how homosexuals are treated within the congregations.
Watchtower describes homosexuality as:
- abhorrent, sexually degrading, unnatural, sordid - Watchtower 2012 Mar 15 p.31
- an unnatural sexual perversion - Awake! 1997 Dec 8 pp.14-15
- sick and perverted - Awake! 1995 Feb 8 p.16
- gruesome, violent, and downright sadistic." Awake! 1995 Feb 22 p.14
- disgraceful sexual appetites, obscene - True Peace p.150
- worthy of the death penalty - Awake! 1982 Jun 22 p.10
- perverted desires - Awake! 1989 Jul 8 p.27
- detestable to Jehovah, vile, repulsive - Watchtower 1979 Mar 15 pp.10,11
These descriptions are not from another time when people in general were less sensitive to the harm their words could cause others, they are terms that continue to be used in Watchtower publications.
"... if someone tries to convince you that God's standards regarding homosexual conduct are mistaken, will you agree with him? Or will you agree with Jehovah God, whose Word clearly states that those who carry out such acts are "working what is obscene"?" Pure Worship of Jehovah - Restored at Last! (2018) p.157
The 2020 Elder's Manual labels homosexual pornography as abhorrent, grouping it with rape, bestiality and child pornography.
Shepherd the Flock of God (2020 printing) ch.13 s.3
An article entitled "Young People Ask, Why do I have these Feelings?" compares succumbing to homosexual desires with molesting children.
"True, some individuals may very well be prone to homosexuality, just as some individuals are, according to the Bible, “prone to wrath.” (Titus 1:7) But the Bible still condemns displays of unrighteous anger. (Ephesians 4:31) 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 any one deny that their sexual appetite is perverted? So is the desire for someone of the same sex." Awake! 1995 Feb 8 p.16
A follow up article continued the theme, appearing critical of the medical profession's acceptance of homosexuality as something other than a mental disorder.
"The medical profession has also jumped on the bandwagon. Traditionally, doctors viewed homosexuality as an illness. But in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality would no longer be considered a psychiatric disorder. Since then, many in the medical profession have all but placed their seal of approval upon the homosexual life-style." Awake! 1995 Feb 22 p.12
It concluded that homosexuals are alienated from a relationship with God.
“Homosexuals find themselves “in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God.”” Awake! 1995 Feb 22 p.14
The Governing Body have such intense contempt towards homosexuality that practices considered of homosexual nature are labelled obscene and forbidden even for married heterosexual couples, with threat of disfellowshipping.
"The inspired Bible writer did not have to explain the natural way in which the reproductive organs of husband and wife complement each other. Homosexual relations obviously cannot follow this natural way. So, male and female homosexuals employ other forms of intercourse in what the apostle refers to as "disgraceful sexual appetites" and "obscene" practices. (Romans 1:24-32) Could married couples imitate such homosexual forms of intercourse in their own marriage and still be free in God's eyes from expressing "disgraceful sexual appetites" or "hurtful desire"?" True Peace (1986) p.150
"Thus, a mates enforcing perverted acts, such as oral or anal sex, within the marriage would not constitute a Scriptural basis for a divorce that would free either for remarriage. ... However, if it becomes known that a member of the congregation is practicing or openly advocating perverted sex relations within the marriage bond, that one certainly would not be irreprehensible, and so would not be acceptable for special privileges, such as serving as an elder, a ministerial servant or a pioneer. Such practice and advocacy could even lead to expulsion from the congregation." Watchtower 1983 Mar 15 p.31
“Contrary to what many persons think, homosexuals are not born that way, but their homosexual behavior is learned.” Your Youth p.39
Watchtower comments show an exasperating ignorance about homosexuality, describing it as behaviour that is a choice that is developed, not part of who a person is. This can be seen either subtly or directly in the following comments.
"Reports from various countries indicate that living apart from a mate or children in order to work abroad is a factor that for some has contributed to serious problems. These include infidelity on the part of one or both mates, homosexuality, or incest, ..." Watchtower 2014 Apr 15 p.19
"Fact: In many cases, same-sex attraction is nothing more than a passing phase." Teenagers Ask : I’m Attracted to the Same Sex—Does That Mean I’m Gay? (2012-06-26)
Whilst the Awake! 8 Feb 1995 article "Why Do I Have These Feelings?" admits "genes and hormones may play some role", it dismisses the idea that "homosexuals are born that way and that sexual orientation is unchangeable." It claims that studies of identical twins show when one identical twins is gay, the other is also gay half the time, then uses this to show genetics are not a factor, as both should be gay all the time - very flawed reasoning. It says "Some experts also feel the antimale propoganda promoted by feminists has contributed to the rise of lesbianism." Who these experts is not revealed. Watchtower shoulders responsibility for homosexual upon the father.
"Sometimes, faulty family environment also seems to play a major role, especially among males. ... Mental-health writer Joseph Nicolosi claims that male homosexuality is "almost always the result of problems in family relations, particularly between father and son." ... Interestingly, significant numbers of homosexuals are victims of childhood molestation. ... Scientists may never resolve exaclty how much of a role nature and nurture play in same-sex attraction. But one thing is clear: all humans are born with the tendency to succumb to wrong thinking and inclinations. ... 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 it the deisre for someone of the same sex." Awake! 8 Feb 1995 p.15-17
Your Youth - Getting the Best out of It (1976) p.42
"In fact, masturbation can lead into homosexuality. In such instances the person, not satisfied with his lonely sexual activity, seeks a partner for mutual sex play. This happens much more frequently than you may realize. Contrary to what many persons think, homosexuals are not born that way, but their homosexual behavior is learned. And often a person gets started when very young by playing with another's sexual parts, and then engaging in homosexual acts." Your Youth - Getting the Best out of It (1976) p.39
It is an incredible claim "that masturbation can lead into homosexuality." With over 95% of males admitting to masturbating, and only around 5% of males being gay, it is impossible to find a correlation between masturbation and homosexuality.
In a 2022 video regarding gay marriage, a Jehovah's Witness student states that there are no gay Jehovah's Witnesses.
Library > Videos > The Bible > Apply Bible Principles - “The Result of True Righteousness Will Be Peace” jwbcov22-4.v 2022
What does this mean, since I have known many gay Jehovah's Witnesses? Watchtower promotes the concept that people are not born gay, if they have gay inclinations it is due to external influences. Since Jehovah's Witnesses are disfellowshipped if caught engaging in gay sexual behaviour, on that basis there are no gay Jehovah's Witnesses. However, this completely invalidates the sexuality of all Jehovah's Witnesses that identify as gay, but repress their desires in order to remain part of the religion.
Gateway to Worse Behaviour
Watchtower uses the slippery slope rhetorical fallacy that if a person caves in to homosexual desires, they risk further becoming debased by even greater perversions.
"Since sexual immorality is based largely on self-gratification, it often leads to more debased acts. And fallen human nature being what it is, once an act becomes commonplace, its excitement tends to wane. Thus, some homosexuals have gone on to sadomasochism and other vile practices . One Bible commentary says that the effect of such base and unnatural passions ... tended to debase the mind; to sink man below the level of the brute; to destroy the sensibility." Awake! 1989 Jul 8 p.27
The article ““Chickens” and “Hawks”” used a discussion of men who prey on young boys to denounce the evil of homosexuality.
“The homosexuals are pushing for changing the laws to lower the age of consent and to legalize sex between adults and children. They are fighting for children’s rights, they say, and make themselves out to be crusaders. ... Children’s rights to be abused, prostituted, sodomized? Their proclaimed concern for children’s rights is a cover-up for men whose only interest is gratification of their own sexual perversion. When the children become a little older these “loving” adults dump them back on the streets and pick up new victims. Willing or not, children at these tender ages are unable to understand the choice they are making or to foresee the consequences. They are victims. They are vulnerable. Misguidedly they seek affection from a homosexual and are psychologically devastated when they are cast off. Some are murdered. One homosexual man killed thirty-three boys and buried them under his house. Where has all that supposedly great love gone?” Awake! 1982 Jun 22 p.6 “Chickens” and “Hawks”
This dishonest portrayal is deplorable, as abuse of children is not linked in any way to homosexuality. This article was inspired by North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a pedophile organization which started in 1978, and subject of the movie Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys. Awake! presents this group as representative of homosexuals, when in fact they were condemned and forbidden from inclusion in the gay rights movement. (See Chicken Hawk). This article shows Watchtower's ignorance on a very important topic, and the following explains how homosexuality is not connected with pedophilia.
""There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147)." ... Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy (1998) similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, "The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women"" (p. 259). Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation as of May 2016
To call child molestation of a boy by a man “homosexual,” or that of a girl by a man “heterosexual,” is to misunderstand pedophilia. No true pedophile is attracted to adults, so neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality applies. Accordingly, Herek suggests calling men’s sexual abuse of boys “male-male molestation,” and men’s abuse of girls “male-female molestation.”
Interestingly, Anna C. Salter writes, in Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists and other Sex Offenders, that when a man molests little girls, we call him a “pedophile” and not a “heterosexual.” Of course, when a man molests little boys, people say outright, or mutter under their breath, “homosexual.” Homosexuality and Pedophilia as of May 2016
In the July 2015 episode of JW Broadcasting, Anthony Morris used this 1982 Awake! as an example of how Watchtower has proactively spoken out about child abuse, the very edition that showed Watchtower's ignorance about pedophiles. Morris validated the idea that homosexuals are perpetrators of child abuse, proudly declaring;
“It warned about homosexual men who prey on and advocate the right to use boys for sex. Shame on them!”
With the Governing Body showing such poor understanding of child abuse, it is little wonder that they have come under a barrage of criticism globally for their flawed policies.
Can be Overcome
Since homosexuality is considered something learned, and not a part of a person's makeup, it is also explained that it is possible to overcome these desires.
"Some would say that the Bible’s position is cruel. But their claim is based on the premise that we must act on our impulses or that sexual impulses in particular are so important that they should not—even cannot—be controlled. However, the Bible dignifies humans by stating that they can resist their urges. Unlike animals, they can choose not to act on their impulses. ... The Bible thus makes a distinction between inclinations and practices. (Romans 7:16-25) A person who has homosexual leanings can control what he allows his mind to dwell on, just as he would control any other wrong desire, including leanings toward anger, adultery, and greed." Awake! 2016 No 4
"The Bible admonishes: O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad. (Psalm 97:10) Hence, Christians are expected to hate every practice that violates Jehovahs laws. Some people may even react with stronger feelings of aversion or disgust toward homosexuality than toward other types of immorality, viewing homosexuality as an unnatural sexual perversion. ... Those who practice what is bad, including homosexuals, can make radical changes in their pattern of thinking and behavior, and many have indeed been successful in making this transformation. Jesus himself preached to such ones; and on showing repentance, they became acceptable to him. Matthew 21:31,32. Christians welcome repentant people from diverse walks of life. After leaving behind immoral practices, whatever they might have been, all can enjoy the full benefits of Gods forgiveness because Jehovah is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works." Awake! 1997 Dec 8 pp.14-15
"The Bible’s stand is not unreasonable. It simply directs those with homosexual urges to do the same thing that is required of those with an opposite-sex attraction—to “flee from fornication.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) The fact is, millions of heterosexuals who wish to conform to the Bible’s standards employ self-control despite any temptations they might face. Those with homosexual inclinations can do the same if they truly want to please God."
Teenagers Ask : I’m Attracted to the Same Sex—Does That Mean I’m Gay? (2012-06-26)
Stating that unlike animals, humans can have control, insultingly implies that those that engage in same sex intercourse are no better than animals when following these desires.
These comments are extremely damaging to a Jehovah's Witness teen. They regularly hear how they are detestable in Jehovah's eyes, and come to the realisation that they have no hope of ever truly enjoying love, sex or marriage. I have read many experiences of suicidal Witness youth as a result, such as Monk3y.
In the 1980's, Watchtower commented against Androgynous fashion styles.
"For example, the androgynous look, recently popularized by certain rock singers, blurs the line between the masculine and the feminine by using makeup, hairstyle, and mannerisms borrowed from the opposite sex. It is not sensible to adopt such a style just because it is popular with certain groups. And note in the Bible what Deuteronomy 22:5 states on this matter." Awake! 1987 Feb 8 pp.17-18
A wave of anti-gay rhetoric has appeared since Anthony Morris' appointment to the Governing Body in 2005. Morris has made a number of comments regarding homosexuals and gay fashion influence in his public talks and tv.jw.org broadcasts, and during his tenure there have been pointed articles and videos about this topic.
In 2007, metrosexuality was spoken against. Not only isn't Mark Simpson as the source of the quote properly attributed, but his comments are taken out of context to imply metrosexuality has gay connotations.
""Metrosexuality" - a lifestyle in which men give excessive attention to themselves and particularly their appearance - has done much to blur the line between gay and straight. According to the man who reportedly coined the term, the metrosexual "might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference."" Awake! Feb 2007 p.30
Watchtower homophobia reached new levels when determining fashion trends such as "tight pants" be banned as homosexual.
“…they have what they call now the ‘metro sexual’ look. It is becoming very popular. ... What it means is that, if they have a suit on, or their pants, extremely tight all the way down to the ankles - very, very tight. ... What’s wrong is this extremely tight pants. It is not appropriate for a Christian. And I want you brothers to think about this. Do you remember that many, many, many homosexuals are in the clothing industry and doing the designing. Don’t you know they love it when you’re wearing tight pants? Oh yeah. You chuckle. I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s disgusting! Think hard about it. You don’t look as good as you think you do look, except to a homosexual. ... You look disgusting.” Governing Body member Anthony Morris's comment to Rome Bethel 20th Jan 2014. Also repeated at the November 2014 United States Zone Visit.
Watchtower speaks openly against androgynous or unisex clothing.
"The Law showed Jehovah's strong feelings against clothing that does not make clear the distinction between male and female - what has been described in our day as unisex fashion. (Read Deuteronomy 22:5.) From God's stated direction about clothing, we clearly see that God is not pleased with styles of dress that feminize men, that make women look like men, or that make it hard to see the difference between men and women." Watchtower 2016 Sep Study Ed. p.18
The boundary of context is pushed by referencing Deuteronomy, which says a woman should not to dress as a man, or visa versa. It does not discuss unisex clothing, which does not hold a gender statement.
The Circuit Overseer program for elders in 2015/16 contained a section explaining that the metrosexual look excludes a person from qualifying for Bethel, and may even exclude them from being eligible for the preaching in the ministry work. This includes a brother with effeminate grooming and characteristics, or a sister with a masculine hairstyle or clothing.
Circuit Overseer Meets With Elders and Ministerial Servants Program for September 2015 Through February 2016
Following on from these comments, an image was released in the June Watchtower 2016 study edition of elders counselling a young brother wearing a tight legged business suit.
It shows how all-encompassing the control of Watchtower leaders is, when a well dressed man in a business suit can be counselled for his clothing.
Being strongly opposed to homosexuality, it is no surprise that Watchtower speaks out about same sex marriage.
"Our Creator established rules governing marriage long before governments began regulating the institution. The opening book of the Bible tells us: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The Hebrew word “wife,” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, “connotes one who is a female human being.” Jesus confirmed that those yoked together in marriage should be “male and female.”—Matthew 19:4.
Thus, God intended marriage to be a permanent, intimate bond between a man and a woman. Men and women are designed to complement each other so they may be capable of satisfying each other’s emotional and sexual needs and of providing children." Does the Bible Comment on Same-Sex Marriages? (2012-06-26)
“Even when same-sex unions last, they could hardly be a result of the love described in the Bible. Such love “does not behave indecently.”” Awake! 1995 Feb 22 p.14
A disturbing piece of propaganda aimed at children is the cartoon video One Man One Woman, released in May 2016. Here Sophia's Jehovah's Witness mother explains to Sophia that God intended for human marriage to be One Man, One Woman, and any alternative lifestyle would bar a person from Paradise. The video can be viewed at jw.org/bible-teachings/family/children.
In the video, Sophia's tells her mother that her classmate Carrie has two mothers, and her teacher said what is most important is for people to love each other. Sophia does not appear judgemental of Carrie's parents when matter of factly telling her mother, and the default in the most pure form of human nature isn’t to say it is wrong.
Rather, it is the Witness mother that provides an inappropriate lesson when she tells Sophia that "people can change." In addition to the issues of homophobia is the message that Sophia has to judge her school friend Carrie as unwelcome in the New System, and that Carrie and her parents will shortly die at Armageddon unless they convert to Sophia's belief system. Sophia's mother sets up a practice session to teach Sophia what to tell Carrie about the paradise and presumably how to be saved. The underlying message is that Sophia should tell Carrie that the only way she can enjoy living forever in paradise is to reject homosexuality and same sex marriage, putting Carrie in the impossible situation of knowing that Sophia is critical of her family arrangement, and that she will die at Armageddon if she does not reject her gay parents' lifestyle. Is it appropriate for a young child to try and convince her friend that her parents are sinners, particularly when that child has no option but to live with them?
Sophia is told that gaining access to Paradise is like checking onto a plane. A person that carries an item that "wasn't allowed" on the aeroplane "can't go on the trip." This is a poor illustration, as there is no comparison between discarding "unacceptable baggage" such as an aerosol deodorant, and being forced to change your identity.
It is difficult to understand the preoccupation with a person's sexual orientation in relation to entering paradise, when it was long taught that marriage, sex and childbearing will come to an end in the New System. The latest teaching is that they are unsure if there will be marriage, but without death, procreation will need to end to prevent overpopulation. This is not a topic regularly discussed in any depth, as it does not align with Watchtower depictions of paradise filled with children. The sexual desires a person has in this system is therefore a moot point, since these will not exist in the next system. If God will need to remove the desire for sex, then it matters little whether someone is gay or straight.
There is also an overarching level of dishonesty it the video's simplistic summary of marriage. It summarises God's view of marriage by presenting that Genesis says Adam and Eve were expected to be one husband and one wife, and Jesus said the same. Adam had no choice in the number of wives he could have, as the only woman available was Eve, and later his daughters. The passage referenced regarding Jesus comments at Matthew 19:3-7 is not discussing polygamy but rather an answer about divorce. What Watchtower conveniently is silent about is that in the Bible Jehovah demanded polygamy. The Mosaic Law dictated polygamy, forcing a man to marry his brothers wife if the brother died childless, and bear children with her. (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) Many of the men of old that are held out as examples to follow had multiple partners, such as Abraham. King David was given Saul's wives by Jehovah (2 Samuel 12:7-8). King Solomon, whom was blessed with building the temple, had over 700 wives and 300 concubines. When 1 Timothy 3:2 says "The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife," it shows that there were Christians with more than one wife. The Bible does not show that Jehovah's standard in marriage is One Man One Woman, rather these standards change over time in line with what suits local culture.
This video is a classic example of Watchtower homophobia. Rather than release a video of Sophia being trained to criticise her friends with unmarried heterosexual parents, it choses the far less common scenario of a homosexual couple, despite both falling under the same Watchtower classification of fornication. It then handles the topic by deceptively misrepresenting what the Bible presents about marriage.
Very little is written by Watchtower regarding transgenderism. A search of the jw.org online library, as of May 2016, returns no results for transgender or hermaphrodite. The word transsexual returns a single short news article regarding a transsexual minister. The Watchtower CD library, extending back to the 1950 Watchtower contains a few minor news articles and defines transsexual, but contains little guidance as to the Watchtower stance on this topic. The most direct statements appear as follows.
"And any who, before becoming Christians, were confused about their identity or sexual preferences can trust that it will be to their everlasting good to live in accord with God’s standard, one that will certainly be appreciated by all who reach human perfection." Watchtower 1997 Jun 15 p.19
"The increase of transsexualism is but one more facet of the spread of practices “contrary to nature” characterizing much of this present period. (Compare Romans 1:26.) The remedy for those with such inclinations is not surgery but a change in outlook, ‘being made new in the force actuating their minds’ with the aid of God’s Word." Watchtower 1974 Jun 15 p. 360
It is however covered in Correspondence Guidelines (2011) p.98, an internal Bethel document used by the Writing Department for answering questions received by Watchtower followers. Here it contains a very black and white view of the topic, presenting the following rules.
- An hermaphrodite, a person born with both sex organs, is expected to chose one sex to identify with.
- Transvestism (cross-dressing) is described as "Scripturally condemned," and a person known to publicly display in such manner can be disfellowshipped for "loose, brazen conduct."
- A transgender individual that feels their sex organs are not in line with what they "emotionally and mentally feels himself or herself to be," is instructed "to live in accord with the biological facts of the situation."
- A transsexual is looked upon as having "mutilated" their body. To become one of Jehovah's Witnesses, they are expected to live in accord with their original biology. If a transsexual is in a biologically "same sex" marriage they cannot be baptised until leaving their mate.
The 2007 and 2011 editions contain identical wording regarding this topic.
“Mutilating the sex organs, such as having the male organ surgically removed and an artificial female organ created, does not change the facts or make the person into the opposite sex. Someone desiring to be baptized who has already undergone a mutilating operation of this sort (a transsexual) would be expected to take his or her place in life in accord with what the individual biologically is, not in accord with what the person has been mutilated to appear to be. This may even require that the person leave a “mate” to whom the person is “married,” since the mutilated one is actually (biologically) of the same sex as the “mate.”” Correspondence Guidelines (2011) p.98
I personally experienced this situation with a Bible study in Hobart congregation in the late 1980's. Bethel was contacted, who advised she was to use the disabled toilet, and was expected to take on the role of a man before she could be baptised. After this, she shortly stopped studying to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Watchtower guidelines are very simplistic, and fail to take any consideration of research around this very complex topic. Transgenderism is in no way related to homosexuality, and is a subject of gender identity. Indicators of whether a person is male or female are:
- sex chromosomes
- anatomical sex characteristics
- gender identity
In transgender individuals, these three indicators do not align.
A person may display a gender identity that does not align with their chromosomes and anatomy. This appears to be due to a person's nature, since the environment (nurture) of transgender people varies greatly, and can manifest itself in children as young as 4, the age by which children become aware of gender differences. It is the case that some parents chose gender reassignment for the child, and they spend their life living the gender that was not their anatomical birth gender. It would be entirely inappropriate for Watchtower to expect such a person to change gender in order to be baptised.
Transgenderism is not only related to gender identity. In intersex conditions, a person may have sex chromosomes that do not match their anatomical sex. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is where a person has XX(female) chromosomes, but male sex organs, and androgen insensitivity syndrome is where there are XY(male) chromosomes but some female genitalia. Klinefelter syndrome, a male with two or more X chromosomes (XXY), occurs in up to 1:500 men, and can lead to the development of female characteristics.
The Bible does not use the term transgender, with the most closely related topic being discussion of eunuchs. A Eunuch is a castrated male, and when castration is early in life there are related hormonal changes, resulting in feminine mannerisms, voice, skin and features. Queen Esther had eunuch servants, mentioned in Esther 4:4. At Matthew 19:12, Jesus positively discusses eunuchs when saying those that can be like eunuchs (celibate) should be.
In the account of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26–40), after meeting Philip and having the gospel explain, the eunuch asked that day "what prevents me from getting baptized?” There was no discussion around "mutilation", effeminate mannerisms, or androgynous clothing, and he was baptised on the spot.
With no specific discussion on transsexualism in the Bible, Governing Body rulings on this go beyond the Scriptures. Jesus and the early Christian treatment of Eunuchs are a good example of how far the Governing Body have deviated from their example.
Being transgender is filled with emotional difficulties. It is not an easy situation to come to terms with and is linked with high rates of depression and suicide. By completely ignoring the complexities behind this topic, Watchtower heartlessly puts transgender people born into the religion at great risk.
Watchtower is attempting to soften its image to the outside world when presenting articles explaining their tolerance towards the lifestyle choice of other people. The reality is far different for anyone that has spent any length of time as a Jehovah's Witness. Homosexuality is frequently written about in vile and slanderous terms, and spoken about as such from the platform.
The result is that Jehovah's Witnesses are the least tolerant of any mainstream religion in the United States in regards to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The following tables have been taken from the Pew Report Religious Landscape Study 2014.
Despite how Watchtower describes homosexuals, there are numerous children raised as Jehovah's Witness that come out as gay. Many of the Witnesses I grew up with are gay, and sadly some did not accept this until after they married Jehovah's Witness sisters. A person does not choose to be homosexual, and all the bigoted beratement within Watchtower pages is unable to change that nature in individuals. This does shocking damage to such Jehovah's Witness children, as it is a terrible form of child abuse to constantly hear how God, the congregation, friends and family all detest the vile person that they secretly know themselves to be.
The anonymous writer of The Hardship of being a Gay Jehovah's Witness succinctly sums up why the life of a gay Jehovah’s Witness is so destructive. You:
- have feelings of complete inadequacy because you are something detestable to Jehovah
- need to be fixed in paradise because you are abnormal
- live a life alone, watching all your friends set up family, knowing you will never experience love, hold someone or build a life with someone
- will have elders share your confidential information with members of the congregation, especially among your peer group, making it difficult to form any friendships
- will have parents keep their children away from you, making you feel like a sexual predator
After I was disfellowshipped, I was drawn to and felt a strong bond with the LGBTQ community. It is traumatic to face rejection for being true to yourself, whether it relates to your religious belief or sexual identity. Disfellowshipped Jehovah's Witnesses are condemned, looked down upon and shunned, as is common for LGBTQ individuals. This mutual bond is perfectly encapsulated by the incredibly talented Eartha Kitt who, despite a life of inconceivable tragedy and oppression, stood up for justice and equality regardless of the cost.
"We're all rejected people, we know what it is to be refused, we know what it is to be oppressed, depressed, and then, accused, and I am very much cognizant of that feeling. Nothing in the world is more painful than rejection. I am a rejected, oppressed person, and so I understand them, as best as I can, even though I am a heterosexual." Eartha Kitt talks to Dr Anthony Clare, BBC Radio interview 29 July 1989.
Watchtower has a long way to go before it can honestly state "they neither mock nor mistreat people whose practices differ from their own." Around 8,000 gay Jehovah's Witness children are born each year, and it is sad that most of these will suffer depression and family rejection, with many committing suicide due to Watchtower's outdated and openly slanderous, homophobic rhetoric. It is hoped that they live up to the picture they are attempting to paint to the outside world, and not openly victimise and vilify those that do not chose to follow their interpretation of God's standards.
For the full quotes referenced in this article see Watchtower Quotes - Homosexuality.
“Also, our publications have said that in the new world, resurrected ones will most likely not marry. We cannot say. … The Bible definitely says that death brings an end to a marriage.” Watchtower 2014 August Simplified ed
"The bringing forth of children by honorable marriage of HarMagedon survivors and, in turn, by such post-HarMagedon children will be approved by the King for evidently a limited time for how many generations we do not know." Watchtower 1963 Oct 15 p.627
"When the mandate to fill the earth is fulfilled, when childbearing ceases, the marriage partners may continue their association together as life companions, or they may not, depending upon the divine will at that future, distant time." Watchtower 1952 Aug 1 p.478
There were around 8,000,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in 2016, during which time the global average birth rate is around 20/1000. At that average, there would be 160,000 children born to Jehovah's Witnesses. Studies generally show around 5% of people identify as homosexual, which would translate to 8,000 Jehovah's witness children each year.
Written May 2016, latest update March 2023.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2023