I have come to the conclusion that the Great Apostasy rages on still, and there is no organization serving as God's sole channel of communication on earth. I have also come to the conclusion that it will not have Pharisaical characteristics when it appears. It will not be identified by how organized it is, how effective its bureaucracy is at achieving unanimity, or how methodical it is. It will be identified by love.
I remember well when my husband and I first started studying with the Witnesses. The Vietnam war was raging. My husband was grappling with the idea of going to Canada because he did not want to kill anyone for what seemed vague reasons-"To stop the spread of communism."
We were thrilled to know that there was a group of people worshipping God who were unwilling to fight in any man-made war. We were baptized in 1973. Charles Sunutko gave our baptism talk. He became (not so affectionately) known as the one who used the term "STAY ALIVE TILL '75!" in his convention talk somewhere around this time.
As 1975 approached, I remember some of the controversy, but was still on this incredible "high" of finding the one true religion that was the epitome of love for mankind. I was hooked. I wanted to serve God. I did not care that others hated Witnesses, including my own family. I knew that it didn't matter, because the woman who studied with us from the Truth Book stated that the world only had about two more years. Also, the Truth Book quoted some famous person as saying that "In fifteen years from now (1960) the world would be too dangerous to live in." That settled it. Even though 1975 wasn't the date (as we knew when 1976 rolled around) it had to be so soon you could smell the perfect coffee brewing.
What this meant for me was that the WTS had the ultimate knowledge. They had done all the research: O.K. so they didn't know the exact date, they at least were keeping on the watch. And of course, our new friends reminded us that the WTS never came out and said 1975 was the date, people read too much into their words. All was well, if not with the outside world, with the insular world of JWs.
Of course, little things began to nag at me through the years. If the world was too dangerous to live in past 1975, where was the big A? How did the Society not know? They were so sure that 6,000 years of mankind's existance had passed. Where was the beginning of the seventh year? The great jubilee? Oh, well, soon...soon...
One day, while on a Bible study that I was conducting, using the Live Forever Book, we were on the chapter about the resurrection. I remember asking the question about the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lo and behold, it bacame apparant that the book I was using was out of date. There had been a reprinting that I did not know about. My book said that these unfortunate people would not be resurrected and the new book, which the study and the other witness with me were using, said that they would be. Horrors!!!! How could this have happened. New light!!! And I didn't even know I had an outdated, wrong copy!!!!! I was unnerved to say the least.
Years later, while in service, a woman at the door told me that our religion was false because they wanted all old literature destroyed because of so many changes they had made through the years. How dare this woman say this. I defended the WTS and the truth which was nowhere near this!!! Why, we were free to look at any older publications-we even had such in our halls! However, I did remember later that day, as I thought about that woman, that any time we did research, we were encouraged to look at the newest material first, and not go back over ten years.I wondered also why the CD did not have any references to any information published by the Society that was back before the 1960s.
By this time, my husband was an elder. My job was to support the WTS as the best example of a Christian wife I could possibly be. Never gossip, head to the bathrooms when time to clean, always support the service arrangement on Saturday, keep a simple life. Actually, I did not want to complain because in principle, I agreed that this was the proper Christian way to live. I wanted to stay far away from the world, because indeed these people did not have a desire to live in a clean earth. All they wanted to do was wage war. I was in with the only group that did not.
I had a nice little rut, and did not want it disurbed by nagging doubts that began to surface when the doctrine of 1914 changed in 1995. Or was it 1994? Anyway, I had read and read and read the front of the awake magazine which stated that they wanted to instill confidence in me that the ones who were alive in the year 1914 would by NO means pass away until all things had been accomplished and we were in the beautiful cleansed earth. What really did me in was that when this "new light" came out, no one seemed to think it was any big deal. I remember looking around the hall as the WT study was going on, and different ones were raising their hands, spouting the new views as if they were discussing some minor adjustment in thinking. Why, I remember more controversy and discussion about changing the meeting times every year!
I wanted to discuss the change with my husband, but he was so Mr. Elder that I became a little afraid of voicing my opinion even to him. I began to realize, somewhere in the pit of my stomach, that if I voiced my concern with this change, it would not be percieved as a legitimate question, but as a threat. I decided to keep my concerns to myself. After all, no one else seemed to be bothered. I must have a problem. I must be deficient. It certainly did not seem to me that I was a good person. After all, sometimes our family did not study the WT. I quickly underlined some words on the way to the hall so that I would not seem a bad example. Also, I wanted our daughter to go to college. She was an honor roll student always, but was small and delicate. How could she support herself doing house cleaning or cleaning offices at night?
Some of the things the elders were doing were disturbing to my husband. There was a man and his wife, new to our Cong. that were having financial difficulties. The man was severely diabetic and had other health issues. She had to take him to various doctors and had only a part time job. They were in their late fifties. I gave her ten dollars for gas. I knew that a couple of others had given her a little bit of money for gas or had taken the husband to the doctor. I thought that was nice. However, my husband came home upset one night after an elder's meeting. He said that the elders had discussed how she ought to be out working full time. They said they knew that even though their family was not in the Truth, and even though her family would only take her in and not him, that is what should be done. They begrudgingly appointed someone to look into public assistance for them. Not one of these men said anything about giving them any money, even though many of them drove Lexus SUVs and lived in very expensive homes. My husband was so disgusted.
Now hubbie wanted to delete himself as an elder. He did not feel as though these men were loving. He also said that the P.O. was an unfeeling man. I tried to tell him that he was needed, as the one that I knew would do everything in his power to help people and be their advocate. He said he was getting burned out. I could see it.