We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” - John 9:20-23
I talked earlier about the Fear mechanism used in the Watchtower against any dissention in the ranks. This could be for minor thought crimes against the Organization and its leadership, to outright brazen rebellion. Fear is a very effective tool for control. The weakness of this type of manipulation lies in the heart of those being conformed. Fear is effective at outward control, but it is generally not lasting, because it is not rooted in the hearts of those being controlled.
As you can see in the scripture I posted above. Jesus clearly did a miracle in the life of a blind man. The takeaway of this miracle was that before Jesus he was blind [physically and Spiritually] but after he was awake. Jesus told him not to tell anybody, but he couldn't help himself. He had to tell others about the EXPERIENCE he had with Jesus.
The Pharisees of course saw this as a threat because they had religious control over the minds of the people [not the hearts] They used FEAR as a way to manipulate people into conformity. The parents of this man were brought before a Judicial committee to comment on what had happened. Of course they knew full well what happened, but out of fear, they caved into pressure and lied because they did not want to be cast out of the Synagogue.
History of the Synagogue
This is an important factor to consider because during Jesus time, the Synagogue was central to the life of a Jew. In small communities you would find your entire family there. Not only for religious purposes, but the Synagogue was vastly important to business. Your family trade was tied into the social contacts forged at the Synagogue.
Needless to say, being kicked out of the Synagogue wasn't as easy as simply moving from one church to another. It meant a complete disconnect from family ties, relationships, economic bankruptcy, and social ostracism. In fact, many people who converted to Christianity would not only be kicked out, the family and community would hold a funeral service for them!
Jesus knew the implications of his message. He knew that this message was not meant to unite people, it was meant to divide. Because that is what truth does. For those who have ears to hear, for those who have eyes to see, they will follow Jesus. The rest despise it. There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus. You either faithfully follow him, or you hate Him.
Drawing the Parallel
In some respects, I feel for the parents of this man. I cant tell you how many times I have considered compromising what I believe for the comforts of the familiar. It would be so easy to just make everybody happy. All I have to do is attend meetings for a year, underline in my Watchtower, and sooner or later I will be reinstated!
My calling is a different path. I will not be governed by fear. I will live my life with confidence and Integrity.
I recall two different conversations I had with my father and my brother:
A few years ago I was talking with my dad who was imploring me to return. He made it sound so easy. Here was the problem.
I asked him: "Dad, I remember you telling me that Integrity was the best virtue we can have. I am trying my hardest to align myself with that value. that being said, you want me to return to the Watchtower, the only problem is...I don't believe it [For the reasons we discussed in the conversation] So would you advise that I return to the Watchtower, even though I don't believe it?"
His answer after much hesitation was...no.
I replied: "For this reason, there is no amount of shunning or fear that will manipulate me back into the Watchtower. Its not on the basis of fear that will motivate me, it will be on the basis of TRUTH!" Either the Watchtower is true or its not. If you want me to discuss those specific reasons for which I disagree I would be more then happy to go over that.
I had the same type of conversation with my brother.
I think the takeaway from this conversation was more respect for my position. They understand that social manipulation is not an effective means for controlling me. If they really want me to return, they will have to understand the depths of disagreements I have and responds to those.
I can only hope that someday they will