Today, cedars had a really good post on a Questions from Readers article in which the Watchtower instructs JWs to consult the Watchtower library index when they have questions on personal matters. The Watchtower article explained that the branch cannot answer all personal inquiries that come into their offices.
This post got me thinking about an area that I gave a lot of thought to prior to; and after leaving the organization. (I realize some of you don’t like lengthy posts. Since this forum is a virtual cafeteria of topics, I can only recommend you bypass this thread for another one)
I’m certain that Watchtower headquarters is feeling overwhelmed by all of the questions (many of them rather petty, I’m sure) that pour into the service department. I think that the Watchtower leaders fail to realize that this is a monster of their own making. What do I mean?
The source of this problem is probably the fact that Watchtower publications have become a modern day Talmud for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Ray Franz wrote about this extensively in both of his books. One of the aspects of the first century Jewish system that Jesus rebuked was its burdensome Talmud – whereby the Scribes created an elaborate and labyrinthine collection of do’s and don’ts. No matter or activity in life was too trivial for the Jewish leaders to stick their noses into in order to create some kind of rule. Watchtower publications routinely criticize rulings of the first century religious leaders such as the injunction against killing a flee on the Sabbath; as it constituted “hunting”. They have been criticized for the way they rebuked Jesus for picking some grain on the Sabbath because it constituted “harvesting” work.
Yet, how is this much different from the Watchtower’s assertions that a teenager having a poster of a rock musician hanging in their room is idolatrous? How does this vary from their teaching that using the swimming pool at a local YMCA constitutes having dealings with Babylon the Great?
The reason why the Watchtower service department gets bombarded with questions is that they have trained their members to distrust their own thinking capacitates and sense of judgment. Almost no aspect of a Witnesses’ life has been left untouched by the personal consciences and collective mindsets of traveling overseers and the men who write Watchtower publications.
Should I invest in the stocks of companies whose subsidiaries deal in weapons? If I own a business, should I allow my worldly employees to smoke on the property? Should my son or daughter accept a scholarship? What kind of sexual practices are acceptable between my spouse and I? Is playing Bingo acceptable for Christians? These are the kinds of matters that the Watchtower leaders have interjected their own judgments into the lives of JWs. These judgments are not to be viewed as merely someone’s opinions. These are to be viewed as the counsel from Jehovah’s mouth. Most JWs have bought into and accepted this view.
It’s no wonder now that the Watchtower gets bombarded with questions dealing with and endless array of matters of human life. This is a system of their own creation. They have trained their members that in order to have a “clean conscience” before Jehovah, and to be in an “approved standing” with the congregation, they must dutifully follow the conclusions and dictates made by a small group of men in New York.
Since men are always trying to make sure that they are in this “approved standing” in order to qualify as a Ministerial Servant or Elder, it is no wonder that they would be so scrupulous about seeking the judgment of men whom they are convinced operate as Jehovah’s proxies here on earth.
There are some parents who refuse to allow their child to learn certain lessons on their own, and attempt to mold all of their child’s thinking and opinions. What usually happens is that the child grows up physically, but remains childlike in many areas - overly dependent on their parent or other people due to never maturing mentally through the process making certain decisions on their own. These kinds of people often cannot deal with the ambiguities or “gray areas” of life, because they were often taught by their parents overbearing nature that no gray areas exist. And thus, their mental and emotional growth becomes stunted in many areas.
The Watchtower leadership has now created a mass of people who are overly dependent upon their viewpoints as to how to live, work, and raise their families. Very little is left to one’s thinking capacities, because members have been taught that gaining a “Bible trained conscience” is only possible through studying Watchtower publications. I realize that this is rather blunt, but I believe one could argue that the Watchtower leadership has created a bumper crop of intellectual and spiritual infants.