My sister got baptized at 17 or 18 years old in 1983. She was ripe for the JW picking as she was shy, quiet, naive and with low self-esteem even though she was tall and beautiful and she attended one of the best high schools in Philadelphia.
She wasn't outgoing and she only went out on a couple of dates prior to her baptism. She worked at a day care center. She loved children and animals.
About three years later, around 1986, a young man just a couple of years younger than her happened to walk past her job. He, the son of a pastor, tall, kind of dorky and every bit as shy as my sister. The two were literally made for each other. They fell in love pretty quick.
She simply found her happiness: true love. She didn't fade or worry about what would happen if she left the JWs. She literally just walked away. She soon got engaged to this man she had met.
All was normal in our relationship as a family. In 1987, I was 17 and began attending meetings again after 3 years of being inactive. My brother, 4 years older than me and one year younger than my sister, was becoming a hardcore JW, on the fast track of becoming a servant and then elder.
By 1989, my zealous brother and I (I wasn't zealous at all...I was just trying to make it through Armageddon) were active JWs. My sister hadn't been to a meeting in about 3 years. She was just living a happy life. She was getting married that year and my brother and I asked the elders if it would be wrong to attend her wedding in a church.
Let that sink in: We had to ask another person how we should think and what we should do.
It was for a wedding. A wedding. A wedding for two people in love. One of the participants was my flesh and blood. Even though she no longer was an active JW and had never uttered a negative word about the organization, my brother and I had to ask someone to be our consciences, all because she was baptized.
The elder told us we could attend the reception but not the actual service because it was in a church, even though the reception, too, was in the church.
Now, here's the twist: Very soon after her wedding vowels, we were attending a Thursday night meeting (Theocratic Ministry School back then). Right before the closing prayer, they made an announcement: Leslie XXXXXXX has been disassociated....
No warning. No heads up. Just a cold announcement of disassociation.
I asked an elder, 'Why? Did she disassociate herself?'. He told me, "She was disassociated by her actions".
Is that love? Eternal shunning because someone made a decision at 17 and simply changed her mind? Her crime: Not for marrying a worldy man. Her crime was getting married in a church. Had she married at the Justice of Peace, no announcement would have been made.
It ruined my relationship with my sister beyond repair. I eventually woke up 17 years later and we have a good relationship now, but I lost 17 years of bonding with my sister because a school bus driver and a factory worker (the professions of two of the elders) decided that my sister should be punished in the worst possible means with a label second only to apostacy.
Is this love?
Meanwhile, accused child rapists are free to prey on our children. I guess getting married in a church as an inactive JW is way worse than abusing kids.
Oh, wait. I guess at least two people witnessed my sister's wedding so they had to take action, all in the name of keeping the organization's name pure. Unfortunately, predators don't often allow for two witnesses.
Please, lurkers and those with doubts, ask yourself if this religion is one of love, or is it one of keeping up appearances?