Chapter 13, “A Godly View of Life,” continues the Watchtower’s emphasis on law and works.
Paragraph 2 (p. 125) states, “…to enjoy life to the full, we need to learn God’s laws and obey them.”
I recommend that you show the Witnesses Bible passages which emphasize that righteousness comes by walking in the Spirit, not by self-effort in trying to keep the law.
I would start with Romans 3:20-22, which reads this way in the Watchtower’s New World Translation: “Therefore, no one will be declared righteous before him by works of law, for by law comes the accurate knowledge of sin. But now apart from law God’s righteousness has been revealed, as the Law and the Prophets bear witness, yes, God’s righteousness through the faith in Jesus Christ, for all those having faith.”
You can follow up with Romans 8:3-4 (ESV): “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
The value of human life
Paragraphs 3-4 (pp. 125-127) discuss the Mosaic law’s prohibition of murder. Paragraph 4 (p. 127) says, “This showed the Israelites that God values human life and that people must value the lives of others.”
At this point, I would simply agree with that. Later, I would remind them of this statement when the chapter presents the Watchtower teaching that God’s law requires people to die rather than take a blood transfusion.
Paragraph 5 (p. 127) states flatly, “…abortion is wrong.” Rather than get into a lengthy discussion of the abortion debate, I would point out that it’s fine to take that position but that since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t get involved in politics they have no impact on the way society treats the unborn.
Paragraph 6 (p. 127) says, “If we want everlasting life, we need to root out of our heart any hatred for our fellow man, because hatred is the root cause of most violence.) It is vital that we learn to love one another.”
I would respond that rooting out hatred in our lives is desirable but that God has to do the rooting out through the Holy Spirit. The flesh (all that we inherited from Adam) can’t cure the flesh.
Paragraph 8 (p. 128) states, “If we have respect for life, we will… avoid reckless driving and violent or dangerous sports.” Thus, according to the Watchtower, it would be disrespectful of life and displease Jehovah if you were to become a NASCAR driver or football player.
Although this chapter doesn’t say so, the Watchtower condemns as “works of the flesh” sports that are “aggressive, competitive, nationalistic, or violent.”[i] Because of this, Jehovah’s Witness children are generally not allowed to participate in organized school sports programs.
I would ask, “Where should we draw the line?”
You can point out that Paul used competitive sports analogies without condemning them. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Do you not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Now everyone competing in a contest exercises self-control in all things. Of course, they do it to receive a crown that can perish, but we, one that does not perish. Therefore, the way I am running is not aimlessly; the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air; but I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”
Next week, we will look at the Watchtower’s ban on blood transfusions.
[i] The Watchtower, “Is Your Conscience a Reliable Guide?” 9/15/15, p. 11