Lurker trying to gain clarity

by questioningmyfaith 75 Replies latest jw friends

  • GodZoo
    But I haven't read a single thing that makes me believe that there is a single malevolent motive. And even if there was, what would that change, especially for me personally? I can tell you one thing, I still wouldn't spend another minute wasting my time on any internet thread or forum. Because quite frankly, even if the GB are a bunch of narcissistic wannabe powerful guys, imho, the worse thing they have done is wake up people on saturday mornings.

    Oh really? You say you're trying to gain clarity but your comments show you to be closed minded and willfully ignorant. My sympathy just evaporated.

  • OneEyedJoe

    I don't know if you've read anti-JW info or not, because you didn't say. A lot of JWs succumb to the phobia indoctrination and are quite fearful at the idea of reading apostate sites. Obviously you've broken through some of that by posting here, but I don't know how much.

    I think perhaps I misunderstood what you meant when you said you loved the organization. I agree that JWs trapped in this organization are mostly deserving of our compassion. They're in a tough spot to be sure. We're in agreement there. My point also was not to convince you of anything, just to illustrate the point of why so many are justifiably angry at the organization, in hopes that you (and perhaps other lurkers like you were) might cut some people some slack and not immediately dismiss everything that's said just because it betrays obvious anger at the watchtower society. That anger also can have a tendency to linger since as you correctly point out, individual JWs are mostly just trying their best and there is therefore nowhere to really direct one's anger upon waking up to the fact that they've been systematically lied to for their entire lives.

    To your specific points - I don't blame the WTS for the actions of the vile men in Malawi, but the leadership was aware of the problem and made no attempt to compromise or even make purchasing a party card a "conscience matter." Instead they insisted that anyone who submit to the superior authorities in this way (which involved no more a declaration of loyalty to a government than what the GB members themselves signed when they got their passports) should be disfellowshipped and shunned. In this case, it seems likely to me that many who would otherwise have been enabled by their conscience to escape the vile treatment they were subjected to chose instead to submit to the watchtower's rules as the thought of trying to live without their family and friends and all whom they ever loved would be too much to bear.

    I don't think there have been numbers put to the suicides due to shunning, but it has definitely happened many times. It is obviously not literally "countless" as there is certainly a number to it, but I think even one suicide is too many if it could have been prevented had someone's parent's natural affection been allowed. You're correct in that there are varying degrees of adherence to the shunning dictate, but that doesn't make it right and because of the undue influence that JWs have been subjected to, they are not entirely to blame here.

    You're also quite correct that families break up all the time. But does that mean that adding additional sources of marital distress is just fine to do? Marriages break up all the time, so there'd be nothing wrong with me creating false evidence of an affair and presenting it to a friend's wife? One extra broken marriage due to the indoctrination of the watchtower is too many. Especially when it's yours.

    There may not be malevolent motives (though we'll have to agree to disagree there - it seems impossible to me that everything comes from benevolence) but that doesn't make the actions any less angering. There may not be malevolent motives when a company fails to enforce safety compliance, but they're still held accountable for a death and they still are (justifiably in my opinion) the target of a great deal of anger. They may not be actively setting out to cause deaths, but they are causing them and they know it. Their negligence in this regard has left them with blood on their hands even if there was no bad motive. The bible itself affirms this principle.

    On the topic of blood - I wholeheartedly believe that bloodless surgery would've come about without the Jehovah's Witness blood ban. It may not have gone exactly as it has, but I think it's obvious that preventing blood loss during surgery is better than just transfusing a ton of someone else's blood. Furthermore, I'm perfectly ok with it if someone chooses to sacrifice their life in order to further medical science. However, what I'm not OK with is someone who might, based on their own interpretation of scripture, see no reason why they should refuse blood from a living donor but faced with the loss of everyone that they've ever known and loved choose to risk death rather than live on with that loss. I'm also not OK with children being allowed to die due to the religious beliefs of their parents. In spite of what the watchtower propaganda might state, it is my belief that minor children are not of sufficiently sound mind to make this choice. These people did not choose to sacrifice their lives in order to further medicine, they chose death as a result of having been systematically lied to.

    Again, I'm not trying to convince you of the truth of any of the watchtower society's crimes. All I'm suggesting is that you might benefit from looking at things from another perspective to see if maybe some of the anger that's out could possibly be justified. Maybe it's somewhat misplaced in that most JWs really do have the best of intentions, but it's only natural to be angered by life's injustices and by the injuries inflicted upon you personally. If there's no where to direct that anger, maybe it doesn't always come out in a helpful way, but it's still justified anger that should not be invalidated.

    Lastly, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts on my post, as I'm not certain I would've done so in your position. I'm truly sorry if you felt I was insulting your intelligence or if you took offense in any way. That was certainly not my intent. I was once in your position, and I look back on those times with regret over the amount of time I was trapped with the "bitter apostates" indoctrination keeping me from looking at objective information. It took me a while to think my way out. Since I see myself as being in a much freer state now, and I'm very happy to have gotten here, I simply wanted to make a suggestion that might've helped me once.

  • defender of truth
    defender of truth
    So none of those things I mentioned prove gods existence.

    None of them have any relevance whatsoever to whether a God exists or not.

    That was basically an unedited rant about the problems you see in the world.

    If you are still a JW, what are you going to personally do to try to benefit the human race? Stand in front of a trolley/cart and pass magazines out? It's the easiest thing in the world to sit there reading sensationalist tripe in newspapers and praying to a god to save us from doom..

    If I were you, I would try to decide first what I wanted to DO with my life, rather than waste peoples time on a message board expecting them to suggest a different way that I should view the world and mankind.

    Get out there, LIVE your life fully rather than just waiting for an answer from a God or men, and then decide what you want to believe, once you have experience.

    As long as you surround yourself with Witnesses and Watchtower literature, your thought processes will be restricted and there is little point in discussing views on mankind, God, or the suffering that this organisation has allowed.

    You won't read Crisis of Conscience by Raymond Franz to see what you personally feel about it, because your mind has been programmed not to read any books by former members of the organisation. You will shut out any views that you don't want to hear.

    If you really want clarity regarding your beliefs, 'widen out' by socialising with different kinds of people with different beliefs, even those who do not believe in a God. Have a good argument/debate.

    Be critical of beliefs, and compare them to all the available evidence.

    Once you have formed your OWN opinions, and starting from scratch is usually needed to do this, clarity will follow. But it will take time.

    You know by now that the Watchtower doesn't have the answers (otherwise you wouldn't be here).. Neither does anyone on this board have answers for you.

    They are points that I look at and ask myself 2 questions.. I would be curious what some of your thoughts are.

    Why do you really want to know what our thoughts are? You sound like you are fighting an internal battle, but nobody here can give you an immediate answer.

    Start off by asking yourself:

    Why do I believe there is a God?

    Biology and 'design'?.. So study evolution and science. Some people here can recommend books to start you off.

    The Bible?.. So study history. Read the works of scholars and critics alike. We can even point you in the direction of information regarding the Bible and it's history and context, if you like.

    But trying to answer your two narrow questions is, in my view, a waste of time. I am an atheist, because I see no reason to hold a theistic belief.. How does that help you?.. It doesn't.

    Ask yourself questions. Study for yourself, think for yourself.

    Don't rely on anyone else.

  • FayeDunaway
    I once felt the way you do too. I thought the org was mostly good, but I questioned the existence of God. Somehow over the years I came around to having the exact opposite belief. While I think individual people in the org are mostly good, the org itself is mostly just a high control corporation, bent on protecting itself and its assets without caring about its people, and I fully believe in God. I still love so many people who are Jw's. They're good people being manipulated and taken advantage of, strung along by their own high hopes. It was only when I went through an experience personally that my eyes started to be opened towards the organization behind them. Then I started actually reading the bible, too, which is when I found Christ. I suspect you haven't been personally hurt by the policies of the org. You sound unsympathetic to others, and rather crass. Some people need to feel it themselves to feel sympathy to others. I hope your loss of faith does not cause you to lose your family, as my change in faith caused me to lose mine. Does that seem just to you? That if I found a different faith than my birth family, I would lose them all? This particular religion we've been brought up in mandates that I can not change my religion and keep my family. It's pretty rare in the world today. Only extreme Muslims feel the same way, as far as I know. And some cults.
  • DesirousOfChange

    I was still a bit of an apologist when I first arrived to this site. I didn't think the Organization was all bad. I thought it just needed some serious "change" (hence the ID). At one time, I thought the change could be made "from within" and I hoped I would be able to encourage some change. I came to realize that we are all just peons in the system. No one from "above" in their Ivory Tower really gives a shit what we think, regardless of how supportive of an argument is made. (Consider the case of Carl Olof Jonsson.) Their decisions are based on other goals and motives.

    What I suspect you will find is that everything said here will light a fire in your belly. As you dive in (if your do) to resolve some of the issues presented, you'll find out that you don't like the answers you will find. (That's cognitive dissonance.) You'll set it aside for a while, but you'll have to come back (if I've judged your personality correctly). There are some brilliant people who participate here. They've already spent much of their time peering into the questions that are eating away at you. That's why they left the WT Organization.

    Best wishes to you in your quest for answers.


  • questioningmyfaith

    First off to freemindfade... I did recently come out to a couple of elders about ALL of my doubts. They were nothing but kind. And one of them I use to always feel had it out for me. They even recommended to me that I continue to serve as an elder.

    And to everyone else like lost generation. I truly don't care about the anti-wt stuff. I just don't. There isn't a single thing that could convince me that GB is personally responsible for any single death. If someone told me that if I don't give them all of my money that they'll kill themselves and I refused, I wouldn't be guilty of murder. People are responsible for their personal decisions. If someone has full faith in god and they make the decision to turn down a blood transfusion for their god I just don't see the crime there. People in America are praised constantly that died for their country. I personally question god. If I needed a transfusion I would consider it. But I would have an anti blood stance for as long as possible. I even read a 3part New Yorker article that definitely wasn't bashing witnesses for their stance. Imo, a bloodless surgery would be preferable but not necessarily the only option. But if I had the firm faith in god I once had then I would die before accepting blood. Maybe you say that it is in vain if god does not exist. That is fine, but I go back to all of the soldiers that have died for america. How could you materialize what they died for? Many say freedom? I am pretty sure americans would be free with or without the Iraq war and the Vietnam war. So didn't they truly die in vain? But they're lauded as heroes. And I personally feel that it would take courage to die for ANY cause.

    I didn't want this thread to turn this way. I truly could care less about the "cult" behaviors of the wt. I have been one my entire life. I have experienced more in life than most of any other person that I know that isn't a witness. I believe the advice on what type of person you are supposed to be and how to treat others has made me a better person and more likable. I don't have a single negative feeling towards a single witness or the organization as a whole. So if my path does go where I expect it to (atheism/agnosticism) then I'll have started a new chapter of my life without one very poisonous ingredient, bitterness. I have come to terms that I'll lose my witness friends and families. But again, I just don't care. I know why they are going to make the decisions that they make. And I hope in the end that I am wrong and they are right. Because a paradise earth would be awesome. If that is the carrot that they need to get through life then they can make the personal decision to accept the stick.

    If it helps to see my perspective, I have had a family member that has been an ardent apostate (which they embrace) for years now. When I was lurking on another website, I found their posts and saw that their story was a lot different than the truth. The truth is never black and white though. However, our memories always shade in the gray areas to make us believe it can be. Along with that, our goal posts that we use to gauge what is truthful or not always move with personal prejudices. Sometimes they shrink and sometimes they enlarge because we want to believe that what we're hearing has to be the truth.

  • questioningmyfaith
    I just want to mention too that my lack of disdain towards the WT will never change. If I were a democrat and I believed that the party should be anti-gay, anti-spending, small government, etc. I wouldn't try to change the party from within. I would just become a republican.
  • freemindfade

    I agree with DOC, part of it too that you may experience that may have been part of it for me too, was a certain kind of pride, that hey I am too smart to ever be a part of something as bad as it is portrayed, yea I may disagree and walk away, but if I think it was as bad as reality, that means I, me, was duped! Well, I was raised in and as long as I went along with it for 3 decades, I was duped. I was wrong. Its bad and its a high control cult.

    One day I asked myself, if I wasn't born in and the witnesses came to me at my door would I give them a second of my time? the answer was nope. From that day I completely stopped identifying with them as you are describing. Its just another harmful religion. One of many.

    And again you say you don't have disdain? you are censored, you cannot share your thoughts and truths with them, once you do, even in the slightest, it will turn on you and you will learn to hate the religion. When you see loved ones acting out of emotion and CD and not rationality to you're and their harm. you will change.

  • StephaneLaliberte

    Hello questioningmyfaith. Religion, and in particular, Jehovah's Witnesses put a great deal of emphasis on their theology to such an extend that they are missing the most important commandment of all: LOVE. For instance, questioning teachings could set someone on a path where he will be "handed over to Satan" (dissfellowshiped).

    Who lacks the love? The one who questions a teaching that may be subject to new light or the one that enforces authority over the conscience of his brothers and sisters in such a forceful way?

    Is the GB inspired? No. Can they baptise with spirit? No. Do they perform miracles? No. And yet, they claim "True Religion" as theirs, condemning everyone else on the planet for not believing exactly what they teach.

    For instance, yesterday, on a forum, someone said: It is easy to identify the JW as the true religion, they are the only ones not to celebrate pagan holidays. This was my answer:

    So tell me what is worse: Someone who is showing love to his family with hospitality, gifts and even giving to charity on Christmas, or the other who starts shunning his own parents or kids who do such things?

    Honestly, would a God driven by love kill loving and kind person, along with his kids, simply for celebrating Christmas? When JW shun people for simple things like that, it is exactly what they are doing.

    Besides, if Christmas was a deal breaker, then the JW were not selected as the "true" religion in 1919 since they celebrated that holiday up to 1928!

    Please ask an elder in your congregation why it's not so bad that the JW celebrated this holiday until 1928 and than ask yourself: Why would all the arguments provided not apply to any other individuals today?

  • freemindfade
    First off to freemindfade... I did recently come out to a couple of elders about ALL of my doubts. They were nothing but kind. And one of them I use to always feel had it out for me. They even recommended to me that I continue to serve as an elder.

    hold it right there. First of all you started this by saying you are "questioning your faith in god". This is a very safe delivery of that idea. I know if you said this in front of elders they will love bomb you just short of s-cking your d-cik. I've been there too. With elder and the CO. I told them the same thing and they were soooooo cool. so helpful so sweet on and on. I promise you if you told them you don't believe in god. you don't think the FDS is god's channel for truth. or any other more direct things, their tone would have been less sweet and more "now just hold it right there". Doubts is an open door, that you are just weak and need help. I used that word for a few years and everyone is very sympathetic and sweet. Get into a factual debate about a TRUTH they don't accept, ie 607 bce, as soon as CD kicks in the sweet kindness goes out the f-ckin' window. You still want to believe in god, you still want to believe in this religion. You haven't become intellectually honest with yourself yet, and probably because it is a very uncomfortable metamorphosis and deep down you know that.

    Don't feel like you are being attacked here. We all have differences of opinions here. On atheism. Christianity. Judaism. Muslim. All kinds of differences we don't agree with. However, when it comes to denial about the witnesses we all see the pattern that is familiar in ourselves or others we've known or know.

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