I left the Watchtower in the Winter of 2008. My first year out was by far the most difficult. I had every intention of returning to the Watchtower for the very purpose of being able to speak with my friends and family. I had already concluded that the teachings were not the "truth" [after reading Crisis of Conscience] So coming back was more emotional then anything.
The longer I was away however, the easier it became to deal with the emotional trauma. Much of my coping was being able to talk to struggling Jehovah's Witnesses over the years. I have found that they have helped me more then I had helped them. Its for this reason I wanted to discuss a few of the reasons why I will not return to the Watchtower. I hope that this can help some lurkers on this board who are considering this as an option.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. "
I look back at my past experience in the Watchtower which was full of Legalism. I was really a slave to the tenants and regulations imposed upon me. I thought of myself as righteous, but in reality, I was living in a way to promote myself, advance myself and give glory to myself, not God. This is exactly what Paul was going through. He had much to boast about himself and his accomplishments as a Pharisee. But looking back, he considered it all garbage when compared to knowing Jesus.
I didn't pick the easiest path. [The Watchtower would have been easier, living by works, and having the social approval of friends and family to reinforce fallacious beliefs] I chose the path that was fulfilling. Because no longer am I about promoting myself, I live for God.
2- Life of Illusion
If you think about it. Being in the Watchtower is a lot like being an actor. Jesus actually condemned the Pharisees by calling them hypocrites. This word in greek means "a stage actor"
In ancient times a stage actor was really at the bottom of the social ladder [unlike today] they made their living pretending to be somebody they are not. This often times meant wearing a mask during a performance. People never really saw WHO the person was , only the person they were portraying.
Jesus was comparing the Pharisees to these stage actors who wore a religious mask. Who feigned righteousness and piety, but on the inside were wolves.
What a fitting description of the Watchtower mindset. The Organization itself prides itself on being "Clean" on the outside. But inside is decayed and spiritually dead. They feign righteousness by what they wear and how they act [in public] but the reality is quite different.
I had to ask myself.... If I return to the Watchtower, would I be comfortable returning to a life of a stage actor? Whats even worse, knowing full well the deceptive nature of the Watchtower, and its false teachings, would I feel comfortable living a life inconsistent with my beliefs?
IN a way I think that would be worse then the Rank and File JW, at least they live their life in blissful ignorance of the deception before them.
3- Fake Relationships
The Watchtower is masterful at using a mechanism of fear to control and manipulate people into conformity. They do this by social peer pressure. [Yes the very mechanism they preach against in other contexts] The result is a social standard in the JW community governed by fear, not freedom of expression.
This is all but guaranteed with the checks and balances within the authority structure itself. "Independent Thinking" is strongly discouraged and any thought not in conformity to the Organization will quickly be escalated to the elders. The result is relationships that are very shallow. The relationship's are effectively guided and manipulated by social standards that are not genuine. Sure your friends and family will be there for the good times, but what about those times of depression when you really need to be open and honest with them? You can kiss that hope goodbye. These psudo relationships are one of the reason why I did not want to return to the Watchtower.
In fact, I remember a conversation I had with my dad a few years back. One of the things he told me [intentional on encouraging me] was "Love is waiting for you"
I couldn't help but laugh at that statement. What he was really saying was that the natural love a parent has for a child is currently suspended, conditional upon my return to the Watchtower. That was evidence enough for me to rethink the value of the relationships found in the WT, even with family ties.
4- Broken Testimony
Think for a moment about the tidal wave of gossip that possibly surrounded in the Kingdom Hall the moment you left. Many people were left questioning "Why?"
The biggest testimony we have against the Watchtower is to be a shining example of success outside the Watchtower. Whether you realize it or not, people are always wondering how you are doing from time to time. They have to consciously suppress any negative emotion [cognitive dissonance] that may trail behind the reasons for you leaving the Watchtower.
What if you Returned? Well, there would be no reason for them to suppress those emotions anymore. Their testimony in the Watchtower would then be reinforced as a result of your return. All of that time you spent outside would have been wasted.
One of the things that scared me was what Jesus said at Matthew 10:33
"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33"But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
The thought of them making that announcement on the stage ____ Is now one of Jehovah's Witnesses.... would be tantamount of denying Jesus for the acceptance of men. No thank you