Indeed, this is the riddle. But since I've nothing to offer anyone, I'd prefer to draw people towards Jesus and away from blindly trusting men. I think most anyone who has been one of Jehovah's Witnesses and challenged their beliefs (subsequently watching them fall like a house of cards) would probably feel the same, assuming they didn't just give up on religion altogether.
I find myself in a rather unexpected position. After marrying into the JW religion, which I was planning to walk away from, but didn't because I loved one woman too much to do so, I found myself greatly troubled that I willingly chose to live a lie. Of course, I hadn't seriously considered that it was only a matter of time before my wife figured it out.
She read my e-mail and discovered my doubts about 'the organization'. She then confronted me about it. I proceeded to explain to her that I had very legitimate reasons for my doubts. I then proceeded to dismantle 1914, 'the light gets brighter', the real meaning of Daniel chapter 4, and the underlying arrogance betrayed by the Society over the course of its long history of grievous doctrinal errors and false predictions which if anything brought reproach on God's name. Clearly false teachings, like the chronology associated with 1874, 1799, and 1925, were presented with just as much fervor and demands for unquestioning belief as the current beliefs are today. This, I explained to her, was to be found in our own literature. I explained to her that I considered these errors as very serious, not merely evidence of imperfection, but evidence of a serious lack of humility and willingness to simply listen to God's Word rather than speculate about his future plans.
She listened. And she hardly argued with me at all. She believed me. She was just grateful I trusted her and felt foolish for being so duped into trusting men over the Christ and over the scriptures. I'm assuming it wasn't an act because she didn't yell at me, she didn't start packing her things; she just expressed her concerns to me and wanted me to tell her what was going on, all this time.
The other thing that tells me it wasn't an act was that, when our meeting night came around, she asked that we stay home so that she could allow the implications of what I'd told her to sink in for awhile. **Note: I found that to be a very good idea. As anyone who's read Steven Hassan's book would know, getting a cult member away from the cult environment and into their own thoughts is the best way to start separating them from the cult's control.
I felt a great relief come over me, realizing that perhaps if she had studied it all more thoroughly herself, she might never have believed me. Or perhaps it is that she loved me enough to believe I had good intentions and that I would not come to such conclusions without thorough, careful research. Whatever the case, I'm very thankful to God through Christ for it. I'm thankful for brave men like Ray Franz and Carl Olof Jonsson and so many others who have written so many insightful things that get to the heart of the issues that often need to be waded through for the JW who is having serious doubts.
Yet, strangely enough, though I do not believe in this religion anymore, I felt guilty about not being at that meeting. I felt as though I really was drawing her away after myself, even though I do my best to point to Christ and to admit freely that I don't know everything, that I'm relearning the Bible from scratch. I wonder about the moral implications of involving her in this situation. But I know most would say that any group that uses mind control and deception on its members is one you would not want your loved ones to be involved with, period, no matter what positive benefits it may have. That's obvious, of course.
So why feel guilty? I'm not sure. I wonder if it's the residual fear, guilt, and shame from having spent my whole life inside. Or perhaps the realization that she'll be expecting me to provide some direction, or...what if she wanted to leave altogether? Would we still have a spiritual life? I'd like to. Ultimately, what I want more than anything is for us to learn to think for ourselves and to enjoy life, to have the time we need for each other. To experience love through our own eyes and not through the eyes of the Society. Spirituality will come on its own, in its due time. But we need to clear our heads first.
I don't know if she'll still want to remain in the organization simply for the friendships she's formed there--not to mention her inactive relatives wanting to resume their study/meeting attendance. If she does, I'll be there with her, as I could not leave her to this organization no matter what I personally believe. I have a duty to keep watch over her and all my loved ones still inside. Some choose to walk away and hope for the best; I was inclined to do the same before. But in observing this organization over this past year, for me, I find that it's just too dangerous to not keep my ear to the ground as long as people I love are still in. Power over the minds of men grants one extraordinary pride, the kind that men have used in the worst possible ways throughout man's history. I have a feeling everyone here watches the Watchtower simply for that reason. Because beneath the surface, we've got to be asking: just how far are they willing to go? It's already too far as it is.
But for now, the good news, great news is that my wife may be joining the conscious class after all. I knew there was a reason I loved her so. Because...I knew she wasn't like them. With all her faults, she wasn't petty or backbiting or condescending. She was real, and compassionate, and selfless. It wasn't until I really chose to trust her that I came to see just how much of a blessing she really is.
It was a suicide mission, I told myself. No way I could tell her the truth. If there's one lesson that all of us can take away is that it's good to be wrong sometimes. We just have to have the courage to admit it, to stand for and face truth as it is and not as we would make it.
I hope this tale will encourage those of you still struggling with family inside the organization. Freedom's not free. We all know that well. But freedom is worth fighting for, no matter the cost. And it doesn't matter whether you win or lose. Freedom is something we fight for whether we're going to get it or not. It's that precious. Don't give up hope. Many of us here found out by accident, or by chance. Others took a stand for the truth they found in God's Word and were punished for it by religious leaders. But we're all united in our belief that we've got the right to believe as we see fit and not as any body of men dares to determine for us. All of you are an inspiration. Thank you for being here, for posting so many insightful, funny, and even irritating things. You have the right to do it. And that in itself makes it worthwhile.