The May 15 issue of The Watchtower contains a discussion of the question: Would it be advisable for a true Christian to attend a funeral or a wedding in a church?
The tone of the WTS view is set in the very first line
Our taking part in any form of false religion is displeasing to Jehovah and must be avoidedNonetheless the last line of the article states
Whatever the situation, the Christian should make sure that the decision will not interfere with his preserving a good conscience before God and men.So apparently it's a personal decision for the JW as to whether he/she will attend a funeral in a church or not. And this is confirmed by this line in the last paragraph
Under certain circumstances he or she may conclude that no difficulties would arise from attending a church funeral or wedding as an observerHowever by the points made throughout the article it's obvious that the Dub who attends puts him/herself in the position of being one who is judged by the congregation. We well know that the words and phrases used in the article are, in fact, 'code' for the R&F telling them "You're not allowed!". We remember the pressure that would be brought to bear from elders and others, the comments, the references in the Kingdom Hall to an "immature publisher", the missing out on assignemnts and 'privileges'.
The article raises the question of whether a 'Christian' wife of an 'unbelieving husband' may be urged to attend. "Could she join him as a quiet observer?" asks the article. "Quiet observer"? Good grief!! We're talking about a funeral aren't we?
The article shows how to use pressure. It advises a 'Christian wife' in such a situation that
it would be to her advantage to explain to her husband that she could not conscientiously share in any religious ceremonies or join in singing of hymns or bow her head when prayer is offered. On the basis of her explanation, he may conclude that his wife's presence could give rise to a situation that might be unpleasant to him. He may choose to go alone out of love for his wife, respect for her beliefs, or a desire to avoid any embarrassment.Incredible! How can this recognise the validity of natural grief? How can it be said that the WTS doesn't split families when instructions like this are given to the R&F?
Lurkers on this board who may be in the process of studying with the JWs should be made aware that these types of scenarios will be 'part and parcel' of your everyday life as a Dub. Is that what you want for yourself and your loved ones?
Notice the discounting of normal human emotions. Notice the admonition to be "a quiet observer". How can one be anything else at a funeral, I wonder? ! Or are tears of sadness now taboo for "the true Christian"?
Feel sympathy for those like the sister mentioned in the article as an example. The article says of her "She definitely would want to be settled in her heart, having a clean conscience." If that isn't pressure, what is?
Yes, the R&F are being told that they are free to exercise their conscience in this matter. But WHOSE conscience?
"If our hopes for peace are placed in the hands of imperfect people, they are bound to evaporate."
- Ron Hutchcraft Surviving the Storms of Stress