Former Jehovah’s Witnesses: Spiritual Ronin
There are several ways to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One is being disfellowshipped. The other way is being disassociated. Both are basically the same thing. The third way is to just quit going to the meetings and stop going out in field service. When you do this you are basically “on the outs” with Jehovah’s Witnesses and are no longer considered “good association” by the rank and file.
I liken this to the dilemma of the Samurai of feudal Japan. Whenever a Samurai lost his master the only fate considered honorable was to commit suicide. The other option was to become a Ronin.
The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
“According to the Bushido Shoshinshu (the Code of the Samurai), a samurai was supposed to commit oibara seppuku (also “hara kiri” – ritual suicide) upon the loss of his master. One who chose not to honor the code was “on his own” and was meant to suffer great shame. The undesirability of rōnin status was mainly a discrimination imposed by other samurai and by the daimyo (the feudal lords).”
It is interesting how the rōnin status reflects the status of an ex-Jehovah’s Witness both in their situation as well as their treatment by their former peers.
Sadly many Jehovah’s Witnesses have chosen to commit suicide rather than endure the shame of being disfellowshipped by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. If you doubt that then simply google “Jehovah’s Witness suicide” and see how many hits you get. My own father-in-law committed suicide as a former circuit overseer and elder. Depression and psychological problems are quite common in the Jehovah’s Witnesses as the following article will confirm:
Many other former Jehovah’s Witnesses choose to pursue a life without God. They live for today and don’t worry about tomorrow. They believe that they are “cursed by God” and will suffer destruction either at their death (not ever being resurrected) or at the hands of God almighty at Armageddon. This leads to a selfish and many times debauched existence. Others become atheists or agnostics.
What about you?
Where will you go? What will you do? Will you just live for today? Will you pursue a life of sensual gratification as so many do? You are free from the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society but are you really free “in your mind”? Does that nagging doubt in the back of your mind torment you? Whenever you see events unfolding like that of Japan’s most recent tragedy, do you think “Better get back to the meetings! The end is coming!”?
It is important to know that your time in the Jehovah’s Witnesses exposed you to psychological programming that has conditioned you to have these reactions. The only way to really combat this is to read the following book by Stephen Hassan:
It is a fairly inexpensive book and such a fantastic read! It doesn’t mention Jehovah’s Witnesses at all. It documents Mr. Hassan’s involvement in another completely different cult. What is most revealing is the similarity between this cult and that of Jehovah’s Witnesses! If you read it you’ll most likely stop and go “Aha!” many times like I did. Things will “click” and you’ll see many of the very same mechanisms used in the “moonies” that were foisted upon you in the Jehovah’s Witnesses without your even realizing it! I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is either in a cult or has left but still has the “latent programming loops” that can be extremely powerful even decades after leaving the group.
This is for those of you who thirst for knowledge and want to know more about God and His plan for you. You know that the Watchtower is wrong. You know that you’ve been deceived. However that old “programming loop” is still in your head.
“To whom shall we go?”
Here is my advice for anyone who wishes to really know what God’s plan is and how you fit in:
- Read the four gospels (Matthew Mark Luke and John) in any version other than the Jehovah’s Witness’ New World Translation.
- Read them again and take notes. Make special notes on anything you see in the gospels that fly in the face of Watchtower teachings.
- Read Paul’s letter to the Romans.
- Read it again and take notes following the advice in #2.
- Read Stephen Hassan’s book “Combatting Cult Mind Control”. Take notes on the similarities between the programming in the “moonies” versus the programming you experienced in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
- If at this point you know without a doubt that you’ve been thoroughly deceived by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and you still wish to have a relationship with God then pray something similar to the following prayer: “Jehovah I know now that I’ve been deceived by the Watchtower. I know that you love me not for how much work I do or how many magazines I sell or for how many meetings I make but for me; just for me in all my sinful nature. I know that you love me because you sent your only Son to die for my sins. I know that what He did was a free gift and not something that I could ever earn. I know that my belief in Jesus and His sacrifice has given me the free gift of grace. I know that right now I am forgiven, not only for everything I’ve ever done but for everything I will ever do. I love you and I want you to come into my life and help me to find my place in your service. In the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Do some research online about churches in your area. I will tell you that this is not an easy process. There are many churches out there that serve in different ways. The one that appealed to me was more bible based. I think that being a former Jehovah’s Witness that this appealed to me more so than the “worship” related churches. It might be a shock to you to see a Christian rock band perform in a church. However in many churches that is a common occurence. What you want to do is experience as many different churches as you can. Beware of those churches that judge and condemn other churches. Beware those that are legalistic and put emphasis on rules rather than grace. It is common for those leaving cults to find an equally destructive cult and become a member. Don’t fall into that trap! Attend a church on Sunday and take notes. Try a different one the next Sunday and take notes. It may take you several months to find a truly compatible church home. Take your time and enjoy the freedom that you have in Christ. Know that your being saved has nothing to do with a church or a building or an organization. You are saved because Christ died for you and was raised up. He has come into your life and has sent His Holy Spirit to live within you and to direct you in your path of service to God. You are a spirit begotten brother or sister of Christ now. Nothing can stand against you!
- Become baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as soon as you possibly can at your new church home.
- You are now a Christian free in Christ. You can read the bible for yourself and the Holy Spirit will guide you as to what it means. You can discern truth from fiction and you can make your own decisions for yourself and your family.
- Try to associate with others who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses for Christ. You can do this online or in person. The reason that I advise this is simply because it can be lonely. Your new church brothers and sisters love you and support you and your new service to God. However they don’t and can’t know what you’ve gone through. The only people who really know what you’ve gone through are other spirit begotten Christians who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to serve Jesus Christ. They understand what you’re feeling and they can provide you with the support to help you through the tough times that are ahead. That is the purpose of this blog. To encourage and foster this “fellowship” and to address questions, problems and concerns that we all have during this process.
Thank you so much for your continued reading of this blog and I encourage you to post your own stories about your experiences coming out of the Watchtower, whether funny or sad. Also any questions about doctrine or even personal questions about me (okay within reason!) will be answered as quickly as I get them.
The purpose of this blog is to promote the healing process in all of us. We all miss the “closeness” of being in the Jehovah’s Witnesses even if it was an illusion. We miss the blissful ignorance of having been in a mind control group and being thoroughly deceived. However you and I have exchanged what is false for what is real in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The real fellowship of Christians who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses begins right here and right now.