Watchtower’s depiction of homosexuality is offensive and could be traumatic for some readers. If you are struggling emotionally with this topic, please be with someone to support you whilst you go through the information, or reach out to a Support line if you feel depressed. Acknowledging Watchtower teachings for the harm they cause are an important step in building a successful future for yourself, but do not feel you need to do this alone.
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 a Jehovah’s Witness. Watchtower does not accept that people are born homosexual, rather it is a developed choice that can be overcome.
In 2016, Watchtower released an Awake! stating that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not prejudiced against homosexuals.
“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 as tolerant, 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 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
Succumbing to homosexual desires is compared with molesting children.
“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
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
Oral and anal sex are forbidden for married couples, described as perverted, homosexual practices. (True Peace p.150; Watchtower 1983 Mar 15 p.31)
Homosexuality is described as learned behavior, a choice.
“In fact, masturbation can lead into homosexuality. … Contrary to what many persons think, homosexuals are not born that way, but their homosexual behavior is learned.” Your Youth, Getting the Best Out of It p.39
“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)
Since same sex attraction is considered learned behavior, Watchtower falls for the slippery slope fallacy that such people will continue becoming ever more debased.
“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.” Awake! 1989 Jul 8 p.27
Even more deplorable is when Watchtower links homosexuality with pedophilia, since abuse of children is not linked in any way to 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?” Awake! 1982 Jun 22 p.6 “Chickens” and “Hawks”
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.
“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
“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.” Awake! 1997 Dec 8 pp.14-15
Watchtower says it is no more unreasonable for a homosexual to abstain from fornication than for a heterosexual.
“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.”” Teenagers Ask : I’m Attracted to the Same Sex—Does That Mean I’m Gay?(2012-06-26)
This is not a valid comparison. Whilst gay and straight Jehovah’s Witnesses must abstain from sex if they are not married, straight followers have the hope of marriage, and regularly do marry at a young, often due to their sexual desires. Gay followers have no such hope, knowing they are bound to the single life, a concept made even more difficult as they watch their friends all marry. Not only can’t they marry, they do not even get to experience the joy of dating.
Watchtower takes homophobia to a new level when when banning fashion it deems as homosexual, such as tight pants.
“…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.
“Any individual who manifests the aforementioned extremes in dress and grooming or who displays gender-blurring characteristics should not be recommended for Bethel service or the School for Kingdom Evangelizers.” Circuit Overseer Meets With Elders and Ministerial Servants Program for September 2015 Through February 2016
Image courtesy of Watchtower 2016 June study edition
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.
The writer of The Hardship of being a Gay Jehovah’s Witness
succinctly sums up the destructive presurres forced up a gay Jehovah’s Witness. 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
Despite Watchtower’s vitriolic condemnation of homosexuals, numerous children raised as Jehovah’s Witness come out as gay. What a terrible form of child abuse they have been forced to endure, being constantly told their God, congregation, friends and family all detest the sort of person they know themselves to be.
The level of ignorance Watchtower displays regarding the topic of homosexuality is a clear indicator the leaders are not fit to dictate either doctrine or how people should live their lives. If you are a gay Jehovah’s Witness, make yourself aware of Watchtower’s history and the flaws in its doctrine. Learning how overwhelmingly dishonest and incompetent it has been in this areas is an important step in accepting that anything they have written about homosexuality should not be given any regard.