Two absolutely jaw-dropping official Jehovah’s Witness videos have just been leaked.
Intended for audiences at the religion’s various headquarters around the world, known inside the religion as “bethels,” the two videos lay out in excruciating detail a series of rules and regulations regarding clothing, sex and masturbation that all Bethel workers are required to obey.
One of the videos is intended for men, and is narrated by high-ranking Witness Leader Gary Breaux – the overseer for the Governing Body’s Service Committee.
The other is intended for women, and is presented by another Governing Body helper, Ralph Walls.
Both videos are combined below with commentary by JWsurvey founder Lloyd Evans. The full-length, unedited videos are also available and are embedded later in this article.
These videos are astonishing in three respects:
Firstly, for how awkward and hilarious these videos are to watch due to the way the information is delivered by the speakers. Their delivery is so earnest and Poe-faced that it turns the moment when they discuss the dangers of Bethelites having sex with pillows into some of the funniest footage I’ve seen in months. (I’m not joking about the pillows. Trust me, we’ll get to that!)
Secondly for the sheer absurd and inappropriate nature of some of the laws and claims made, laws that are either deeply damaging for a person’s mental and sexual life, or just simply so bonkers they make you laugh.
Thirdly for the quite frankly terrifying level of totalitarian and pharisaical control these videos showcase as demanded by the religion from its followers, and the ugly level of bigotry on display to members of the LGBTQ community.
I’m going to outline below some of the most astonishing claims made and rules laid down by Breaux and Walls so that you can quickly grasp both how absurd and almost hysterically funny these videos are, but also see how they illustrate the terrifying level of totalitarian control that Watchtower demands of its followers.
I’m going to cover the video intended for males for most of the article, as the female video covers the same material. However, the female video is extremely problematic in its own right, so we will take a look at those extra concerns as well.
The Threat of Homosexuals Who “Blend In”
In his video, Breaux spends a lot of time instructing Witness men not to wear tight clothing. He outlines the need to:
…avoiding tight-fitting clothes that can identify you with homosexuality. What kind of clothes are we talking about? Some outfits are designed to feminize a man’s appearance as homosexuals try to do, especially displaying the buttocks and genitals.
This isn’t anything new for Watchtower. In recent years they have repeatedly instructed their male congregants to avoid “tight pants.” Indeed one of the religion’s leaders, Tony Morris, has become infamous for his long and sometimes rambling public tirades against the evils of tight trousers, which he regards as part of a homosexual conspiracy.
However, this rather strange fixation on tight trousers becomes especially awkward and excruciating to behold as Breaux continues to dwell on why tight pants are so subversive and evil:
it makes it harder to tell the difference between a homosexual and a heterosexual man, making homosexuals blend in.
This is just utterly bizarre.
Apparently, Gary Breaux and the JW leadership think of gay people as nefarious scheming predators who need alter the fashion sense of innocent heterosexuals to allow them to “blend in” and walk among us undetected. Breaux seems to be lost in the time-warp of some absurd and bad-taste 1970’s comedy show where gay men strut down the street dressed like members of the Village People with a tiny poodle on a pink leash, and thus can have their sexuality instantly identified visually.
I’ve got news for you Gary; members of the LGBTQ community ALREADY blend in. They are human beings who blend in with all the other human beings walking down the street just like them. They look just like normal people because they ARE normal people.
It gets worse from here. Later in the video, Breaux makes the following absurd claim:
At times you may find yourself struggling with same-sex desires or you may realize that others are doing so. That doesn’t mean that you or they are homosexuals but it does mean that you have to keep on guard.
Hmm. Well, whatever you need to tell yourself to get through those communal Bethel showers, Gary. Turns out denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. However, it gets more specific. Breaux later says:
Consider a situation. A group of single brothers has a meal together and after most leave two of them remain behind in the room drinking alcohol. At one point the one asked the other if he has ever woken up with an erection. Their conversation starts to touch on sexual matters. Are they flirting?
Their conversation can arouse sexual desires in them even though they are the same sex. This could easily lead to comments or curiosity about each other’s bodies.
Don’t deceive yourself thinking this could never happen. Keep in mind that alcohol tends to lower your inhibitions and can make thoughts that you’d normally suppress or view as repulsive seem acceptable; even inviting.
So firstly, is it just me or does that sound a bit too specific to be a purely theoretical scenario?
Secondly; Gary, those guys are gay. You are trying to paint this picture of alcohol turning pure and clean heterosexuals into perverted gay sinners, because you are unable to accept the fact that some people are just gay, and that being gay is fine.
If this is indeed a reference to a real event that took place at Bethel, as I suspect it is, I feel so sorry for the two Witnesses here whose sexuality was so repressed and crushed down by Watchtower’s repressive, bronze-age morality that it could only come out once they were utterly drunk, and that afterwards Watchtower had trained them to be so full of self-loathing that they felt compelled to seek out JW elders to confess and be judged.
There are actually a lot more of these “male locker room” scenarios in Breaux’s talk, and he outlines all of them in exquisite detail, each time stressing the danger that otherwise “normal” heterosexual males are in if they let a towel slip a bit too much, or turn their back on a lurking, hidden, homosexual.
Breaux wears Watchtower’s bigoted view of the LGBTQ community on his sleeve later in the video, referring to homosexuality as a “perverted practice,” and then saying: (Bold is mine)
Satan is waging war to influence people’s thinking on the subject of homosexuality. Jehovah hasn’t changed his view on the matter. Some israelites allow the nations around them to contaminate them with homosexual desires and practices. If you go to Romans 1 verse 24 note how Jehovah reacted toward those Israelites.
Watchtower views homosexuality as a “contamination,” and Breaux here refers to a scripture which relates how God allowed the nation of Israel to be destroyed because it entertained “uncleanness,” re-iterating Watchtower’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin deserving of death.
Lastly, as if there was any doubt in the mind of his audience, Breaux tells his audience: (bold is mine)
Homosexuality is unholy and repugnant to Jehovah and he will not tolerate it among his dedicated servants does your love for Jehovah move you to have the same view?
Watchtower has railed against the LGBTQ community before, such as in their now infamous “Caleb and Sofia” children’s cartoon which gained widespread condemnation, but not often does it wear its sneering homophobia so openly on its sleeve.
But we’ve only just begun. Because Breaux is about to dive into a section of video that we at JW Survey have come to refer to as…
The Masturbation Monologues
Let’s be very clear on one thing before we start.
Nowhere does the Bible ever refer to masturbation.
Even in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, where other matters of sex are laid out in excruciating detail, there is not one mention of the practice. Nonetheless, Watchtower has for many years condemned masturbation as an obscene practice and this video is no exception.
Here, Breaux again issues a condemnation of masturbation, using the vaguest and flimsiest scriptural justification to do so. However, in a move I’ve never seen Watchtower pull before, he then goes on to recite a long list of very detailed scenarios and then plays a “Masturbation: Yes or No” game with his audience!
I’m not making this up, I swear!
With a really off-putting, over-earnest tone of voice that renders the entire exercise both hilarious and awkward, Breaux lays out scenario after scenario. For example, he asks:
Does a person have to use their hands to masturbate? For example say a brother wears an undergarment that’s so tight it rubs his penis as he moves around. He gets aroused and even ejaculates. Is he masturbating?
Any guesses? Well, the answer is:
Yes he is because he’s deliberately stimulating his genitals, even though he’s not using his hands.
Or how about this one.
Does there have to be an orgasm for it to be considered masturbation? Suppose a brother starts rubbing his genitals against a pillow. He gets an erection but stops before having an orgasm. Is he masturbating?
Again, is it just me or are these scenarios oddly specific? Are lots of Bethelites having sex with their pillows? And how did this epidemic of pillow-boffing reach the attention of the Governing Body? Do they check bed-linen with a blacklight or something? Or is there a long line of crestfallen and guilty-looking Bethelites shuffling into the offices of the Governing Body, driven by conscience to confess, clutching a somewhat forlorn and dank pillow to their burdened chests?
Anyway, the answer is apparently:
Yes, again, because he’s deliberately stimulating himself whether he has an orgasm or not.
So that’s clear. Pillows are off limits. Let’s try another one.
How about having an emission of semen at night maybe even after an erotic dream. Is that masturbation?
Answers on a postcard, and the winner is…
No, Jehovah made that a part of a man’s reproductive system and it happens without any deliberate stimulation.
Phew. You’re off the hook guys…
…except you’re not because Breaux goes on to say the following:
but even so when this happens to you it would be good to examine whether you were dwelling on sexual thoughts before going to sleep. Could you have been sleeping in a position that stimulated you, such as with a blanket or pillow held tightly between your legs? If you’re honest with yourself about these matters it will help you to avoid falling into unclean practices.
Yes. You read that correctly.
It is now possible to sleep in an unclean position!
You can’t even decide for yourself how you sleep now!
There. Are. Sleep. Rules!
Ahem. Okay, I’m calm now.
Breaux then goes on to warn that a Christian cannot be holy whilst “under the influence of masturbation,” which is a phrase I don’t think I’ve heard used anywhere before in any context, but is somehow hilarious, especially when he delivers it in his over-earnest, serious manner.
These scenarios continue as we move out of the realm of the masturbation and into the realm of “porneia”
It Takes Two To Be Disfellowshipped For The Tango
Watchtower has long held that sex outside of marriage is fornication, or as they term it in this talk “porneia.” Jehovah’s Witnesses who commit “porneia” will be thrown out of the religion and completely shunned if they are deemed to be not sufficiently repentant, and their doctrine holds that fornicators will all be killed by God very soon when Armageddon comes. In this video, Breaux defines porneia as:
Sexual relations involving persons not married to each other. It includes acts such as oral sex anal sex and masturbating another person. It always involves deliberate manipulation of the genitals and at least one other person or animal.
Now, let’s set aside that this isn’t necessarily the definition of the Greek word “porneia” that other scholars accept (the original Greek word actually just meant prostitution – see here for more details) and take a look at what Breaux has to say about the “manipulation of the genitals.”
Take one of the scenarios discussed here.
Does manipulation of the genitals always involve the use of the hands? Not necessarily for example suppose a brother pays a stripper to perform a lap dance that lasts several minutes she grinds her clothed genitals on his leg while he’s fully clothed. He becomes aroused but doesn’t ejaculate.
(Well I don’t know about you, but that was quite graphic and I’m a bit turned on, which I’m not sure is what Breaux was going for…)
Was that porneia? His genitals aren’t being manipulated and he’s not touching the woman’s genitals with his hands however he is committing pornea by allowing her to use his leg to stimulate her own genitals.
So presumably, as long as the strippers make no contact, it’s okay? I’m glad to know that Watchtower has thought long and hard about how long and hard a stripper has to work the client before God gets angry about the whole affair. Maybe that’s why Tony Morris looks so hot and bothered these days…
However, this does raise another question, specifically about skin.
Can there be porneia without skin-to-skin contact? Say a brother lies down on top of his girlfriend while both are clothed and they simulate having sex. Are they committing porneia?
What do you think everyone? Is Jehovah happy or sad?
They have their clothes on but the genitals of both are being manipulated so they’ve committed porneia whether a climax is reached or not.
Awww. Jehovah is sad, and they didn’t even get to climax. Poor show all round. And incidentally, Breaux goes on to state that this also outlaws any dancing where genitals might get “moved” or contact through clothing as well.
So no sexy close dancing for you anymore.
Shall we do another one?
What of the following situation? Two brothers masturbate in front of each other but without touching each other. Is it porneia?
What do you think? Surely that HAS to be porneia. I mean if a bit of clothed dancing can be porneia, then naked gay masturbation must be far worse in Watchtower’s eyes…
The answer is no since neither is touching the other person. However it is a flagrant disregard for Jehovah’s laws and a serious sin that has to be addressed by the elders.
Wait a moment.
So let me get this straight.
A couple fully clothed rubbing groins together but not climaxing is porneia and a sin for which they are destroyed, but two guys getting naked and masturbating in front of each other until they both ejaculate is less serious and not porneia?
I’ll run that by you again.
A couple fully clothed, dancing groin to butt, a little bit of friction, no climax, is porneia.
A couple stark naked, frantically masturbating, both climaxing…well you’re in trouble but it’s not porneia. But don’t make it worse by dancing sexy fully clothed or anything, coz that’s REALLY serious.
It should hopefully be clear by now that these videos are reaching levels of pharisaical insanity that are absurd even for Watchtower. I’ve even had to leave out a number of other crazy scenarios and rules that Breaux lays down, because I want to get to something that’s even more unsettling about the whole affair.
The other video.
The one directed at women.
Female Sexuality Is a Male Accessory
In some ways, the video aimed at women is a copy of the one aimed at men. It’s given by Senior JW official and governing body helper Ralph Walls, and he covers many of the same topics as covered by Breaux. But there are differences, some of which are very telling.
In the video for “sisters’ there is a much heavier emphasis on dress and grooming. Women are banned from wearing short skirts or dresses that come above the knee, low cuts tops, or anything deemed “tight” or “revealing.”
Walls repeatedly makes statements that amount to the same thing; that women are basically objects of temptation to men and so carry an obligation to cover up. He even quotes a very old Watchtower from August 1st 1969 that states how: (bold is mine)
Christen women are obligated not to dress provocatively.
Although Walls at one point makes a token statement about how women cannot be held accountable for what men think, he then makes many other statements that imply the exact opposite. He speaks repeatedly of how a “sexy” appearance is unacceptable and unfair to any poor innocent brothers who look at them, even quoting one male Witness as saying of women dressed outside of Watchtower rules:
“I personally find it rather hard to think only pure thoughts about younger women when I see the way they dress.”
So women; it’s your fault that the old men at Bethel are leering over you. You can’t possibly expect them to take responsibility for their own thoughts upon seeing a pretty girl in a summer dress. You must therefore surrender control of your wardrobe and appearance because an old man is scared of the way he feels when he looks at you.
Not only does this manifest an unhealthy desire to control a woman’s appearance to conform to a rigid “modesty culture,” it also manifests a particularly ugly victim-blaming mentality that Watchtower has displayed on more than one occasion. They once even claimed that children need to “dress modestly” to avoid sexual assault!.
However, by contrast, masturbation is only briefly discussed, which Walls refers to as “self-abuse.” This is extremely odd; in reality, women are just as sexual as men and enjoy (and benefit from) masturbation just as much as males do. In fact, for some women, masturbation with a sex toy may be the only way they can actually achieve an orgasm. Thus, you would expect Watchtower to extend the same paranoia and lengthy lectures about the practice to women as well as men. However, these topics are given only a glancing blow in the video.
Likewise, there is only a passing mention of same-sex issues for women. Contrast this to the long discussion of male same-sex issues in the Breaux video. It suggests that Watchtower either doesn’t think female same-sex relationships are a thing, or that they are not worth talking about much because they don’t impact men as much as gay relationships do.
Ultimately this demonstrates something very obvious about Watchtower’s view of sexuality; It is all seen through the lens of men, and female sexuality is only discussed or focused on insofar as it impacts upon men. Indeed, the very fact that this video about female sexuality is being presented to an audience of women by a man is an obvious proof of this.
Which is no surprise once you are aware of Watchtower’s strict male-only hierarchy. The word “patriarchy” gets thrown around a lot today, but Watchtower is an organisation where actual genuine patriarchy is fully alive and kicking.
A Lone Woman In A Room Full Of Men
All this leads us on to one of the most awful moments of all in the videos. After his lecture to women, instructing them as to how they should confirm their sexuality to the decrees of the eight old men who run the religion (the Governing Body), Walls says this;
What should you do if you now realise that you need some assistance? Please, take advantage of mature sisters or the elders. According to James 5:14-15, these men are Jehovah’s arrangement to raise us up.
Here is where the rigid patriarchal nature of Watchtower’s sexual regulations becomes even more troubling; women young and old are required by Watchtower to approach a male elder if they have violated of any of the rules and regulations set down, and then give that elder detailed intimate sexual information so that the elder can “counsel” them. This will almost always be done in a closed setting with at least two elders.
So a woman will have to disclose detailed sexual information about herself to two men. It should be clear from the outset how invasive and inappropriate this is – indeed many accounts exist from former JW women of how sometimes the elders they spoke to appeared to be getting aroused by what they were being told, pressing for more and more detail of the “sin” in a lurid manner. As a related issue, you can review the findings of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which found that the JW practice of all male elders interrogating a female sex abuse survivor was deeply unacceptable..
Now let’s be very clear about something. Whilst Walls says that a woman has the option to turn to a “mature sister” instead, this does not mean that the “sin” can be delt with without male involvement. If a woman in the JW religion confides in a “mature sister” regarding intimate sexual habits, then that “mature sister” is obligated to report to the male elders if there is anything “sinful” in what she has been told. And those elders are then obligated to hunt this woman down and demand any and all of the private sexual information that they feel is relevant to the “case” against her.
In short, there is no way for a JW woman to comply with the instructions Walls gives without being required to discuss intimate personal sexual details with male elders. Additionally, this woman will have been indoctrinated to believe that if she does not speak to the elders she will be destroyed by Jehovah God.
Amazingly there is yet more to the video that sheer time restrictions prevent me from properly covering here. For example, both videos attack the disgraceful practice of “flirting” and draw up a set of rules and regulations to govern the interactions of the sexes.
According to these videos, just complimenting someone’s haircut means that they are entitled to think you are intending to “court” them. Yes. Seriously. These rules are so absurd that they turn the already difficult and fraught task of JW men and women interacting with each other into a minefield of “do nots” and “sinful signals.”
But overall these videos demonstrate the following things.
- The repressive and sex-negative worldview of Watchtower, where sex is a deadly thing draped in guilt and secrecy that men aggressively seek and women must grudgingly ration out, rather than a sex-positive view where sex in an awesome thing for consenting adults of all sexual orientations to enjoy, and where women are just as capable of wanting and enjoying sex as the men.
- The crazy, micromanaging pharisaical rule-making that is growing ever more frantic inside the religion, which now even extends to include acceptable sleeping positions, and views some types of dancing as more sinful than naked mutual masturbation.
- The awful patriarchal system in which women and some members of the LGBTQ community are trapped, a system which either considers their sexuality only relevant to the extent that it impacts men, or considers it repellant and a contamination worthy of death.
- The fact that this video got made at all indicates that some really interesting things are happening at Bethel. Seriously, those endless scenarios feel too specific to be totally made up. I think we just got a list of some of Bethel’s greatest sex scandals!
- These videos are hilarious.
The transcripts are wince-inducing enough to read, but once you see the actual footage it becomes sublime. Watching Breaux and Walls struggling their way through this clunky and poorly written script full of graphic sexual imagery and ultra-specific, nonsensical sex rules, all delivered in a poe-faced, earnest “holier than thou” tone of voice makes for one of the strangest, funniest, and most jaw-dropping media moments Watchtower have ever created.
I’m raising a glass to all who were involved in the making of these two videos.
Thank you for showing us the crazy, controlling, bigoted heart of Watchtower, and for giving us so many laughs while you did it!
Follow me on Twitter @covertfade