Possibly The Best Article I Ever Wrote: Are You Living A Lie?
In the past several months I’ve heard from many active Jehovah’s Witnesses who freely admit that there are problems with the organization. They admit that Jesus Christ is placed in a more or less subservient role to Jehovah and that there are inconsistencies in their translation of the bible that would indicate doctrinal problems and a biased translation of key scriptures.
Yet these people still cling to the Watchtower as their only hope for survival, redemption, and everlasting life. Why?
I’ve experienced this myself. I knew for several years in my 20’s, while attending the Kingdom Hall and being an active JW, that their teachings were false and yet I kept up appearances. Why?
My own personal answer?
Fear of men. Fear of the disapproval of my family, friends, and the organization that I had devoted twenty-three years of my life to. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being all alone in the world. Fear of admitting that I had wasted my life.
John spoke of this same predicament in his writings.
“Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
One could substitute for many of the key words in that scripture. For example here is what could be said of the modern day Jehovah’s Witness who believed in Jesus Christ but continued to remain a part of the Watchtower:
“Nevertheless many even of the [Jehovah’s Witnesses] believed in Him, but because of the [elders i.e. Watchtower leadership] they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be [labeled an apostate and disfellowshipped from the organization]; for they loved the approval of [the Watchtower Society, their fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their family and their friends] rather than the approval of God.”
The Watchtower teaches their followers that any JW who becomes an apostate (i.e. anyone who openly disagrees with the Watchtower on any point) has an ego problem and that they are seeking their own glory rather than God’s. They teach that these ones are only seeking to draw people after themselves.
Do the Watchtower’s accusations ring true in this context?
Any JW who openly disagrees with the Watchtower on any point is risking his or her social standing in the congregation (synagogue) as well as their relationships with their family, their friends and possibly even their employers (approval of men)!
This is always a matter of self-sacrifice as the offending JW is always maligned, mistreated, and outcast from the congregation. It is social suicide.
Does that sound like someone who is on an ego trip, seeking to draw people after themselves, or does it rather imply that this person has come to a very traumatic and heartbreaking decision based on an issue of conscience and undisputed self-honesty?
Most JW’s will never openly challenge their leadership on any point, not because they don’t disagree with anything they teach, but rather because they fear the reprisals for their audacity from the Watchtower leadership.
Imagine losing every friend you’ve ever had. Imagine losing your mate, parents, children, siblings, and possibly even your employment? Of course you can always find another job but just imagine being faced with the challenge to either conform or to lose everyone you’ve ever loved.
The threat of expulsion from the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a very real power that the Watchtower leadership wields over their members. The results of such an action are traumatic and life-changing.
I maintain that this one facet of the Watchtower defines the entire organization as a manipulative, controlling and destructive cult. Families are broken up every day in this organization. Divorce, loss of employment, loss of friends, estrangement from children and/or parents and even suicides are and have been the repeated end result of someone choosing to leave the Watchtower organization.
Next time you think about accusing an apostate of seeking his or her own glory, profit, or ego I want you to really examine the context and try to find any selfish motivator for their actions. I maintain that there is simply nothing selfish about it. The emotional, financial and social damage to themselves and their families is simply too great.
The one and only motivator for a Christian JW leaving as an apostate?
A direct relationship with Jesus Christ and everlasting life.
Remember the blind man who was healed of his affliction by Christ and spoke with authority when being interrogated by the Pharisees in the synagogue? He was removed from the synagogue for his audacity in testifying about Jesus Christ.
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
Notice there that the Pharisees accused the blind man of being egotistical and trying to “teach them” just as the Watchtower accuses apostates today.
May you find the courage, fortitude, and the spiritual sight to stand up to the Watchtower and to testify about Jesus Christ and how He helped you to see!