Hi everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster here finally looking to get some things off my chest. I've always been a very curious person with tons of questions about everything, and I also care deeply particularly about societal issues like social injustice, racism, and homophobia. That, coupled with how boneheaded all the elders in my congregation are (except for one), led me to ask even more questions that led me to find TTATT.
I opened the door to some witnesses when I was 5 (some decades ago), and unknowingly opened the door to what became the biggest deception of my entire life. They asked for my father, I dutifully called him, and long story short, here I am all these years later trying to figure out what the hell to do.
I was baptized as a young teenager, and although I was always viewed as a great example in the congregation, my closest friends and I were leading what would be labeled as "double lives" by the borg. Drinking, partying, having "worldly" girlfriends at school. Not to say I didn't feel terribly guilty about this. Every time "double life" was brought up at conventions, I knew that's exactly what I was guilty of, but I never had the courage nor the guts to "confess".
I was terribly afraid to disappoint my parents. I love them too much, and they care so much about their reputation in the congregation, that I knew that I would be hurting them immensely if I was ever disfellowshipped. They're very uneducated and the religion seems to give them exactly what they need (status, a good reputation, social events). My father is an elder and it seemed like my mom held this over my head every single time I did something that might besmirch his reputation (things as trivial as coming home late, going to PROM etc).
After high school, I pioneered for a bit and made a concerted effort to get better spiritually. I prepared for meetings, went out to service constantly, became a ministerial servant at a very young age and made my parents proud!
Fast forward to today. I married the most wonderful person in the world recently and I couldn't be happier. To an outsider, she fits the typical JW mold for what a good wife should be ("spiritual", a long time pioneer, modest, and “mature"), but she's also simply an amazing person. She's incredibly funny and witty, very intelligent, hard working, diligent, and persistent. Not at all your typical "submissive" type that feels she is to submit to her "headship" (oh wait, that's me). And I love her so much for that.
From a very young age, I've always had some lingering questions about the truth, and how a lot of it just doesn't make sense. My very first question during my dad's book study (he let me sit in. I was very curious) was "won't we get bored living forever?". Mom was quick to reprehend me for making such a disrespectful question in front of the brother who was conducting the study, and I promised never to ask such questions again. I had to be content with the teaching that God will dispense the answers to these questions in due time, or that the answers are not for us to know.
Despite all the questions, I was 100% convinced that we had the truth growing up. There was no other organization in the world like ours, I rationalized (the only other religion I was familiar with was Catholicism and my religion seemed like a godsend by comparison). My parents viewed first hand many of the atrocities committed by the Catholic church in their home country, and this reinforced their faith in a godly organization that didn't get "mixed-up" in the world's affairs, doesn't go to war, and doesn't make collections. They also found solace in the answers the bible seems to provide to life's questions (something the Catholic church wasn't able to do in their opinion).
My foray into TTATT came rather innocently as I was reading a Wikipedia article (I'm a voracious reader) that linked to the page about the Jehovah's Witnesses. I clicked on the link, not sure exactly what I was getting myself into and what I found scared me enough to close the page and delete my browsing history!!! "It had to be apostates!" I thought (those pesky apostates). Satan had to be using Wikipedia to tarnish the organization's reputation and seed doubt in me.
Some moths later I couldn’t help delving further and what I found was eye opening to say the least (pyramids? 1914? Millerites? Possible links to freemasonry? Beth Sarim??? Rutherford’s crazy rants and antics????? Double –standards to how we’re separate from the world??? Vaccinations and organ transplants??????) What makes us different than the Mormons, the religion we always derided as Batshit Crazy? The bronze era way we handle pedophilia cases??????? Seriously????????
Looking back, I thank god for the internet (yes, I said god… I’m still on the fence about that one).
Now I cringe every time I'm out in service and a poor middle aged single sister picks out a house on the hills for her to inhabit when the new system is here. I cringe every time a bone headed elder makes reference to how disgusting gay people are, how gay designers are the reason for fitted pants being fashionable now, or when they dismiss caring about the environment as foolish. I cringe every time the brother on stage asserts that we have the truth, and that we must obey EVERYTHING that comes from the Faithful and Discreet slave without question and without the application of logic (god himself did many things that would ‘Seem” illogical in the bible, and the Israelites just went along with it after all right?).
I read 1984 as a high school kid and even prided myself as a fan of this masterpiece. Why did it never occur to me? The irony of it all. I prided myself as someone who understood the psychology behind innocent and well-meaning everyday Germans supporting the Nazi party during WWII, regular North Koreans worshipping Kim Yong Un, Muslim extremists blowing themselves up and causing great suffering in the name of their god, and slave owners in the antebellum South rationalizing slavery using the bible. I understood it, and even talked about it at length to anyone that I could engage… but never did it occur to me I was in the exact same position… doing the exact same thing. Believing an organization that claims it is the ONLY path to salvation. Everyone else will be destroyed. That’s what it says in our literature, that’s what we’re supposed to believe! But then we dodge the question or say that only God knows who he’ll spare on the day of judgment if anyone asks. In a disturbing way, we have essentially the same message the Westboro Baptist church has. The only difference is they say it to your face BEFORE they recruit you. We slip it in AFTER using much nicer, and less antagonizing language once it’s already too late, and once you’ve been conditioned to accept the Borg’s word as gospel. (oh the humanity).
My only question now is what to do??? My wife is a long time pioneer and heavily emotionally invested in the org. I love her to death and I don’t want her to be hurt. But I just had to tell her about my finds. I did, and she cried. I felt horrible. She expressed her need for this organization. Its all she’s ever known and to hear about these things (failed prophesies, changes in doctrine) might have been too much for me to share at once. We have this conversation on hold. It’s not a conversation she wants to have now and I totally respect that. I’m just happy knowing that she’s open to these ideas and didn’t report me outright like she’s “supposed to”. She’s open to the possibility that the GB isn’t god’s mouthpiece, she’s open to the idea that perhaps we should be able to interpret the bible ourselves (why would god make it so that humans need an organization to interpret it for them???). She said she would leave it in my hands if we ever have a child and that child needs a blood transfusion to save his/her life (thank goodness!!!).
If you’ve gotten this far, I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don’t expect anyone to finish since it’s so long, but I just wanted to have it up there in case there’s anyone going through the same thing. I know I sure enjoyed reading countless posts from many of you that came to the same realization I did. I have such a positive outlook on life now.
Writing this feels SO liberating! I JUST gave my first birthday hug in my ENTIRE adult life to a co-worker who’s birthday they’re celebrating in the office. And you know what??? This time around, I’ll be saying YES to cake!!! (what’s up with no birthday’s anyway? I had a graduation party and everyone was in attendance… isn’t that considered honoring a person?)
On another note… apostates (is that what we call ourselves? It still carries a really negative sting, I don’t like it) of the early to mid-nineties really needed to change their strategy. Looking like haggard, bitter, and angry conspiracy theorists outside of the stadium didn’t really help them disseminate their message, and the thought of being like them surely turned away many would-be doubters. My mom would dismiss them as crazy on our way home from convention and little twelve year old me agreed. Again, thank god for the internet.