Hey, everybody. I just want to thank everyone for not immediately opening fire on me. I've been hesitant to speak my mind thus far because I felt like what I had to say wouldn't be welcomed because of the seemingly ever present axe grinding against the Watchtower. I'm just glad we can all disagree calmly.
Let me try to explain some more about what I mean when I feel like a post like Marvin's - which prompted this discussion - is ultimately a distraction from the real issue and doesn't add any value.
Quandry, you said:
"The problem with "expressing their love for God by baptism" is that young children have no concept that their baptism means that everything they do will be scrutinized..."
And THAT'S the problem. It has nothing to do with age. Let me explain. Baptism should not mean that even as adults everything we do gets scrutizined. That is the Watchtower's twisting about what it means to be a Christian. That's what we need to focus on. It is just as wrong to trap someone as an adult in a situation where they're expected to hand over their ability to 'think independently' (I am paraphrasing the Watchtower here) to a small group of religious leaders. Some of us were adults when we got baptized. And honestly, I should've known better. But in my heart I wanted to do what was right, and the things I had doubts about I thought I would deal with and figure out later. But later came and I didn't have any answers, and even though I learned a lot from the Watchtower I never was taught how to have a real relationship with God. It's something I'm working on now.
"If someone is too young to have sex, get married, vote, drink alcohol, because they are under (insert legal age requirement for your country) then how can they be sufficiently mature to make an equally life changing decision such as getting baptised as a JW?"
Remove the words "...as a JW" and I think you'll see more where I'm coming from. I don't think baptizing minors is wrong. I don't believe we can use secular law as some sort of precedent or guideline in advance of what the Bible teaches or is silent upon. If a minor says to me that they love God and want to be baptized, who am I to say that they cannot do so? Everyone matures at their own pace and no one can make a hard and fast rule about that, it all depends on the person. And if the focus was about God and loving him, then I don't think anyone posting in this topic would have a problem with it at all.
But see, when you say "...as a JW", it's clear to me that you're reading into the premise the whole baggage that goes along with being a JW, which I also object to. So really, I think we end up agreeing with each other. I would just add that the abuses of the Watchtower leadership as it applies to adults, and children (I make no distinction between the two, as it doesn't matter to me in the slightest), is completely wrong.
sizemilk, you said:
"It's just pulling the other end of the same piece of rope . . .Spending your life adhering to the rules and doctrines of a high-control religion is a decision that should be made by an adult ...."
No, no, no, no, no. It shouldn't have to be made by ANYONE. That's the point! It's not the same piece of rope, it's not even in the same room.
Listen, I firmly and strongly believe that a "high-control" religion is not the one Jesus founded. Ironically, that's exactly what Jesus condemned when he was dealing with the Pharisees.
Let's take disfellowshipping as an example. If I can quote loosely from Rob Bell for a moment, it's clear to me that disfellowshipping was a last resort method, used after all other attempts to help that person was exhausted. It was saved for the worst of offenses, and only when a person stubbornly held on to their wrongdoing to the point that it was clear that there was NO OTHER WAY to convince them to stop, were they to be "handed over to Satan". In other words, what they were doing was so wrong and they were so attached to it, that the only way to get them to stop was to allow them to continue their path in the hope that they would eventually burn out on their own sin and realize that the best way of life was back with their fellow Christians.
Today, the Watchtower organization disfellowship people for practically anything, using wider and wider definitions of Biblical terms as justification. They care less and less about trying to help a person. By the time a judicial committee is created, the focus is no longer on establishing repentance but establishing guilt.
When I read about Jesus' example as a shepherd, in my mind a true elder would be with someone who pleads with a sinner, for hours, and days, and weeks in the hopes that what they say will get through to that person. A true elder would leave the 99 to find the lost sheep. He would have tears in his eyes while looking at you in the face trying to convince you how what you're doing will only end up hurting yourself. And only when you stubbornly push his loving arms away does he finally hang his head and recognize that you will need to explore that path on your own and learn the hard way. Then, and only then, should disfellowshipping be considered an option.
Nowadays, if you just read something and have questions about it, you can be disfellowshipped if you don't immediately agree to the status quo. You can make a mistake in the moment and have every aspect of the situation coldly analyzed to see if it fits in with a pre-written set of "principles", as a cheap way to try and read a person's heart condition.
And let's say you go through all that and want to come back. Now you have to come back to the Kingdom Hall for at least a year, maybe more, all the while not speaking to anyone and not having anyone speak to you. What happened to the prodigal son, who was yet far off when his father came and greeted him with open arms? What happened to love and mercy and forgiveness?
These are the things we should be focusing on and talking about. Not in an angry bitter way, but to resolve within ourselves to try and live up to those standards and to love everyone, including those who make themselves our enemies, as Jesus said we should. Why? Because love wins.
Marvin, you're right, I don't think your post was substantive. I don't agree with the premise upon which your rhetorical question was based on. And the sight of someone dedicating themselves to God and to love and serve him should bring us joy.
What should make us angry is, what you mentioned next, which is the blood policy, which is a mess. It needs to be abandoned and the Watchtower should stop making binding medical decisions upon on the flock. But that's true whether you're 8 or you're 18. Write another blog article on that, then I would be interested.
Also, please go back and explain this: http://marvinshilmer.blogspot.com/2011/06/eve-and-her-daughters-whats-wrong-with.html
It's been over a month now and you never answered your own question about what was wrong with the picture. After spending probably too much of my time reading one of your articles that has more pictures than it has words trying to figure it out, I would really like to know what the point was.