Hey, it's California, anything is possible.
Long Distance Adultery and Other Issues
Some very liberal congregations do exist, but generally, I suspect that she either isn't fully a JW (maybe not baptized) or she is, as others have said, lying. It may be that SHE decided on the compromise you mentioned--that she can still have contact if the husband is around--but I doubt the Elders did. If any Elder did, he did it on his own and would probably be disciplined by the local body of Elders for it, or at least rebuked in some fashion. That simply isn't how it works.
JWs can't even go on dates without a chaperone around here--even if they have grandkids!
This sounds like a bad situation all around. I feel for you, and your son. Sounds like he's lonely. Ultimately, the smart thing would be for her to get her situation straight before he moves there. That means leaving her husband. But getting your son to take that advice is another matter. Like many others here, I am an ex-Witness, so bear that in mind when I tell you that becoming a JW isn't necessarily such a good thing. I can't tell you how easy it might be for your son to get pulled into the Watchtower Society, especially if he's far away from all he knows. Hopefully, if it gets that far, she will break it off with the Society anyway...or be disfellowshipped. Maybe then your son won't get pulled in and won't get hurt either. That's the best that can be hoped for. Sadly, it sounds like a long shot. :-(
Best of luck. And yes, you came to the right place for advice on this.
He suffers from depression and tragically low self esteem.
Any connection to the JW religion will worsen this. One thing they try to do with new converts is slowly and subtly "break" them. They want "brothers" to be "maleable" so they can be molded easily. In addition, they will harass him mercilessly about his weight problem every time he walks into a kingdom hall. Been there.
This relationship sounds like bad news, and it should end, but I believe it's one manifestation of his low self esteem and depression. That's what really needs to be addressed.
I am not clear what type of feedback you are looking for, but I'll give my two cents.First, although anyone is welcome to join here, most of the members of this board are former Jehovah's Witnesses-including myself. I will give you the warning that if you try to pursuade your son by showing him the advice of members here, if he is "in the know" about "apostates" (ex-JWs and anyone who publicly criticizes the JW organisation,or the organisations interpretation of theology) and "apostate" internet sites through his girlfriend or the local congregation he is attending, he will most likely turn a deaf ear to anything you say to him, as JWs are instructed never to listen to, read material from, or associate with apostates in any manner whatsoever.This site allows criticism and debate about the JW organisation, so it will be on a JW "no-no" list.
As a mom of four late teen/twenty-something sons, I fully understand your desperation and concern, as we have dealt with some "stuff" in our family that felt as if it would rip the heart right out of me and them.Because of your son's current mental health situation and the fact that he is in the throes of the chemical inducement of the passion of a possible new relationship, he is not exactly thinking logically.If I suspected one of my children were experiencing major depression and they were not under medical care, the first thing I would do is encourage them to seek counseling and/or talk to a qualified medical practioner.If they were already under care, I would encourage them to make an appointment with their practioner right away. If your analysis that he is depressed is correct,this issue seems to run much deeper than a forbidden love triangle, and trying to deal with that issue without dealing with the underlying depression is kind of like applying a bandaid to a serious gaping wound.That being said, I also realize it can be VERY hard to convince someone who is suffering from major depression to get help, so please don't beat yourself up if he refuses.Legally he is an adult and has the right to make his own choices. You can tell him that you think he is exhibiting signs of depression and you love and care for him and want him to seek treatment.You can tell him why you don't approve of his relationship choices or the JW ideology (then you can come here and rant and rave about them since most of us understand because we've been there, lol), but you ultimately must accept that sometimes kids learn their lessons through the school of hard knocks, and it isn't anything you did or didn't do that causes that to happen.Just tell him how you feel, let him go, and let him know your door is always open to him .
You also need to be aware that JWs teach that "worldly relatives" (ie-anyone who does not support JW theology) can be used by Satan (who they view to be a real entity) to try and cause newly interested ones to stop studying with the JWs, so new studies "expect" opposition and will be looking for it. You probably want to approach him with a logically reasoned debate giving all of the reasons why he should not become involved in this love triangle or with the JWs. If he is already agreeing with the JW worldview (albeit obviously with his own personal unorthodox spin to it), he may simply see this as you standing in the way of his desire to be with this woman, and possibly eternal life, if he is actually starting to accept their doctrine.That doesn't mean don't give him your reasons, it's just a warning about how he may react when you do.Try and word things so that he does not feel like you are expecting him to agree with you.Never assume that he has the same outlook on life he did in the past. Perhaps he has decided he doesn't have the same outlook on issues that you do. People do change (and change back later sometimes).;)Talk to him and find out what his current worldview is.
I can reiterate along with the others that as far as JW belief goes, this woman is NOT orthodox in any way. JWs officially view adultery as a serious sin, and being involved in an adulterous relationship results in a judicial hearing before elders and disfellowshipping (its a state of usually temporary excommunication used for discipline where other members shun the person until they repent and the elders give the go-ahead for them to associate with the person again).Unrepentant adulterers can be excommunicated permanently from the religion, but since she is encouraging your son to study, I don't think that's her plan.It is possible that she is hoping for charges of adultery to be levied and that her husband will divorce her for it, as adultery is the reason why JW couples can divorce each other "scripturally" (there are often reverberating social repurcussions for the adulterous mate later that she may not be considering at the moment, while she is so focused on wanting to be free of her current spouse in any way she can free herself).However, the adulterous mate is not given the right to decide for or against divorce-the innocent mate is.Her husband may decide to forgive her and not seek divorce. I highly doubt the elders gave her permission to keep talking to your son, although there are situations where elders "look the other way" when social ties are stronger than org policy or when doing so protects the org's image.
Good luck to you and your son. In my experience, then best thing you can do is say your piece, then go on living your life in the manner you have before.Someone here on this board gave me that advice when one of my adult sons was in crisis, and they were so right! Educate yourself on the JWs, as their view is very different from Buddhism (I attend a local Buddhist study/meditation group, although I am not personally Buddhist). This site has lots of very good information.
First of all, thank you all so much for the warm welcome and plentiful comments. I am more than relieved to see that this isn't a "pro JW" site and that in fact, it's largely the opposite. When I said "despite my personal opinions", what I was disguising was the urge to stand up on a virtual soapbox and proclaim how I too feel that JWs is a cult sect, and express my deep anxieties about the damage it can do to someone such as my already emotionally unstable son.
I want to add that he is in counseling at this time, however I am not sure it does much good. The counselor's nice and all; I've attended with him a few times, but he seems more like a "buddy" counselor that a "let's really get into the meat of your issues, like it or not" counselor.
I brought up JW in a counseling session actually, and even the counselor said uh, no, those elders probably did NOT tell her it was okay but only if the husband knows, etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if JW are strict about everything, even as one of you said sending chaperones on dates, they're surely not going to condone a long-distance "intimate" friendship when she's married. Come on. As the saying goes, I might have been born at night, but not LASTNIGHT, lol. The counselor also told him, "How do you know she's not okay with her life how it is? She gets the best of both worlds! She chats with you, you make her laugh, make her feel good, love her unconditionally and all that. Then she goes and gets into bed with her husband and gets to go out into her everyday world and say hey, this is my family..... while you have nothing." I mean hello, isn't that a wake up call? Well again, to cite a cliche, denial is more than a river in Egypt.
I've said to him, as far as her personally, I don't "hate" her. I don't know her from anyone, you know? She might be an awesome person..... but what I do know is that love ... Real Love is not what she is giving him, nor herself, nor her child, nor her husband, nor, if it's important to her, her church. I've said, "If she LOVES you.... she would care about you so much, so infinitely, that she would say hey, listen... I do love you. I do want to be with you. I want you to be in my daughter's life because you're a wonderful man. Because I care about you, I want to get my act together over here on my end, and darling, I want you to do the same. I want you to get better counseling maybe or even inpatient treatment if you need it, but please, because I love you, love yourself more. Get help and grow so we can grow together. On my end, I need to make decisions about where I'm going before I can decide where we're going, and I need space to do that. Because I know you love me as much as I love you, I know you'll understand."
My question to him - and the counselor's question in agreement to what I just said to him - was "So why doesn't that happen?"
One reason... -sigh- She's on antidepressants too. I'm sure - I mean again I don't know her but there has got to be some degree of similar mental problems with her as are with my son. They feed off one another's desperation, and you know, that's so sad. I just don't know what to do. I've got this woman's e-mail address and I thought deeply about e-mailing her and just basically telling her what she would say if she really did love him. In some ways I think she'd be easy enough in that way to get off his back, but I also know she'd tell my son and I fear that would literally lead to self harm or who knows, even pursue the veiled threats he's made toward me should I do something of the sort. Even if neither of these things happened, I feel that he wouldn't forgive me and both Buddha and Jehovah know that I've already made horrendous mistakes as a mother that have probably led him to be right where he is now. The last thing I want is more suffering for him because of me, even if it would be in the name of trying to do the right thing.
PS: I mentioned to a friend that I'd thought of contacting the JW here that he goes to and filling them in on the situation. What would that do?
Welcome Buddaasibetter. I was a JW for 28 years. When I was young and single I had a close JW friend her husband not a JW she had 2 young sons. Now mind you it was friendship ONLY with no appearance of anything else and there was none. One afternoon she asked if I wanted to go go the movies to see "Fantasia" with her 2 young sons. I said why not. We went saw the movie and that was it. It got back to the elders and they convened a Judicial Committee (think Star Chamber) claiming I was dating her and trying to break up her marriage. So I find it hard to believe the elders told her she could continue to text him as long as her husband knew about it...
Usually people get into affairs, online or otherwise, because their marriage is miserable, sounds like hers is no exception.
I am not surprised she told your son it was OK to text him; she is attached to him. That doesn't make it right, but it is understandable, it is hard to break off relationships that feel good.
But his move toward the Kingdom Hall is alarming. The Watchtower is more and more becoming a group with insider and outsider doctrines; the Awake magazine of August 2009 says no one should have to choose between beliefs and family, but that is exactly what the WT forces.
They are presenting one image to the outside world, and the reality is not at all the same.
It sounds like you are supporting your son, and he is getting good advice from his counselor.
It is hard to watch one's children, even adult children, get hurt.
Hang in there.
Welcome buddhaisbetter! I won't repeat what everyone else has said here (which is very true). I am currently in this organization, and I have to warn you. You have plenty of reason to be worried.
Even though this woman seems to be rebelling from the Jehovah's Witnesses, her statement that she IS a Jehovah's Witness is very telling. I have known many people that have been disfellowshiped (aka excommunicated) that are still captives of this religion. So although she is doing something wrong by being with another man other than her husband, her beliefs are still largely JW.
No doubt she has been "witnessing" to your son. Even if your son does not fall for this cult there are dangers. I am married to a VERY active Jehovah's Witness. The fact that we have very different beliefs has been extremely damaging to our relationship. Your son will only have trouble if he stays with this girl.
You may want to think about trying to get him into a different counselor. Most psychiatrists/psychologists know about Jehovah's Witnesses. They are a mind control group that, while they seem to have good intentions, tend to cause extreme problems in the family life of non-believers.
While it may sound like an easy fix to go to this womans elders, I do not see this as having any good results. She will get disfellowshiped without a doubt. But that will not free her from her captivity to this cult. It may, in fact, have the opposite effect. She could try to "come back" and try and get your son to support her in doing this. They would have no association at the kingdom hall, but once she got reinstated into the organization they tend to "love bomb" people. It will seem to your son as if the congregation has a huge amount of love. And this could cause him to be fooled as well.
The best thing to do is to try and show him the origins of this organization and show him that it is similar to many other dangerous cults that have proven to be deadly in the past. Maybe then he can either distance himself from this woman, or even perhaps show her where she has been mislead.
JWs prey on people with low self-esteem. The group will love bomb him, and he'll have instant acceptance....as long as he keeps playing their game of Bible Studies, meeting attendence, etc. But, if he stops or begins to question the religion . .. they will likely write him off after a few months of trying to reconvince him. If he were to continue quesitoning, then the group will turn cold towards him.
But if he continues to getting baptised...., they will quickly give him social status, likely trying to give him some somewhat esteemed positions within the Kingdom Hall as he progresses past baptism. The religion is hungry for young men to fill the dying elder's shoes. The kids who were raised as JWs generally leave at 18, and the church is having a very tough time getting newer, younger members....because the WHOLE INTERNET has too much information which exposes the religion as a CULT.
She may have confessed to the elders but she probably played the relationship down if she did. She may have said she felt sorry for him. Everyone is right, no way any elder would tell her to carrry on with your son as long as her husband knows - unless she has painted your son a pathetic person that she is trying to help into the truth. Wonder if she is counting her time?
Wow, at 23 our kids do what they want. The best you can do is show him what jws are ( a cult) , maybe encourage him to join some social support group or atend a church of his own choosing. He might actually meet a real person ( in the flesh) there.
I don't balme you for worrying about him and I'm a proactive mom too and would be having all the same feelings you are.