Providing Comfort for Victims of Abuse (Part 4 of 4) – Study 2019/20
“The God of all comfort … comforts us in all our trials.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
[From ws 5/19 p.14 Study Article 20: July 15-21, 2019]
The first 7 paragraphs are a good summary of some of the effects of child abuse.
But sadly the incorrect JW doctrine enters to spoil the article in Paragraph 8 “Such widespread abuse is clear evidence that we are living in the last days, a time when many have “no natural affection” and when “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13)”
Widespread abuse is no evidence that we are living in the last days. Is there evidence that the incidence of abuse has greatly increased? Or is it just that it is more reported on, or better known than in the past? In his letter to Timothy, Paul was referring to the fast approaching end of the Jewish nation, which was foretold by Jesus to occur while the generation he preached to was still alive. More importantly did Jesus say we would be able to realise we were living in the days just prior to Armageddon?
Matthew 24:49 records Jesus as warning “On this account YOU too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming”
So, to claim we are living in the last days is to contradict Jesus. He said when “you do not think to be it”, and in Matthew 24:36 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” What makes the Organization think they know better than the angels and Jesus?
The section “Who can provide comfort?” tries to push the elders as the source of comfort.
Surely, those best placed to help victims are those who have suffered similarly and recovered as far as is possible. They can therefore more easily understand what the victim is going through and how they feel. Those who are next best placed to help are professionals who are trained to assist such ones and have experience doing so. Elders, even genuinely caring ones, may likely never had to help such a victim before. Regardless of their sincerity, and their Bible knowledge, they will be highly inexperienced and ill-equipped to properly assist such victims. As such they could do more harm than good. For example, how would the elders answer this question from a victim “I prayed to Jehovah, asking him to stop the abuser, but why did the abuse continue”? Would the elders be prepared to admit that despite Watchtower articles suggesting the opposite, the evidence in the scriptures is that God, only rarely, intervened on behalf of an individual, and this is when the outcome of his purpose is at stake. Or would an elder be prepared to admit that (if the abuser was an appointed man) Jehovah does not have the Holy Spirit appoint elders and servants in the congregation, but rather they are appointments by men?
For congregation members paragraph 13 contains good advice saying regarding “1 Kings 19:5-8. That account illustrates a useful truth: Sometimes a simple act of practical kindness can do a great deal of good. Perhaps a meal, a modest gift, or a thoughtful card would assure a downhearted brother or sister of our love and concern. If we feel uncomfortable discussing very personal or painful subjects, perhaps we can still give such practical help.”.
Paragraph 14 suggests “For instance, elders should keep in mind that a distressed sister may feel safer and more comfortable having a cup of tea in a relaxed setting at home than she would in a Kingdom Hall conference room. Another might feel the opposite.” Although the picture shows another sister present, (and therefore the elders accepting it), the footnote mentions the sister (the victim) invited the other sister, not the elders. Why does it not recommend that when elders are making this type of visit they should suggest to the victim that the victim might like to have a close friend present and that would be more than acceptable to them?
Paragraphs 15-17 give good reminders about being good listeners. However, encouraging professional help would perhaps be better, with this type of help being more useful later in the healing process.
The concluding paragraphs deal with suggestions as to how to pray earnestly with victims and choose the right words to say, and some good scriptures to share with them.
All of this is good, but as shown in our review of last week’s study article, if only the Organization would make changes to their unscriptural, unloving policies, so that the number of victims was minimised in the first place.
At least we can whole heartedly agree with the concluding comments, “Meanwhile, let us do all we can to show love to those who have experienced abuse. Moreover, how comforting it is to know that Jehovah will permanently heal all those who have been abused by Satan and his world! Soon, these painful things will never again come up into the mind or heart. Isaiah 65:7”.