When @Brian J’s “Bullet in the Head” thread went live (https://www.jehovahs-witness.com/topic/4747450574176256/session-8-bullet-head) those written shots echoed in my mind.
A week later while overhearing a Bible Study, the conductor was asked if God really has given us “free will”. The illustration was put to her that, suppose she was held hostage with a gun and her kidnapper said, “you are free to disobey me. But if you do, I’ll shoot you in the head. Could you honestly say you had free will in that situation?” The analogy fell on conditioned ears. The conductor stared blankly for a moment and blinked a few times before responding, “No. But if someone ever put a gun to my head and asked me to renounce my faith as a Jehovah’s Witness, I would die.”
Most people would pull a hamstring trying to find a conversational segway like the one above. But this study conductor did it with such fluidity and with what I can only describe as a Pavlovion reflex. The words “gun to your head” was enough neural stimuli to trigger the sister’s proclamation of WT martyrdom in a picosecond.
Do you remember thinking this as a fully-fledged Witness? I do. In fact, I have a memory of being just ten years old and randomly asking my 15 year old sister what ever would she do if a swarm of “army police men” were to kick down the front door and ask her if she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (perfectly normal pre-pubescent angst to have, by the way, right up there with “who stole my Lip Smacker?”). My sister paused before answering: “I’d say no. But my sister is.” She never really liked me.
All of this seemed like such normal behavior. Of course, it’s a whole different story once you’ve woken up and seen the value of your own life. And how our heart’s ache when loved ones demonstrate how cheap their lives are when they unflinchingly subject themselves to WT’s demands for blood to be shed. It’s as though the next best thing after leaving literature behind with people, is for individuals to leave behind a corpse as a “witness” to their executioners.
The reason I bring this up in a thread today is for this sudden realization I had: theocratic warfare and “untruths” (à la Rahab) are perfectly acceptable when the fate of your brothers is at stake. To preserve the lives of fellow Witnesses, brothers can lie to officials. But when death stares our brothers in the eye and they’re asked if they will renounce their faith, theocratic warfare suddenly cowers in the trenches of semantics. The brother asked to renounce his faith on paper can know full well in his heart what his faith is. After all, Jehovah is more interested in reading hearts than Governmental slips of paper, no? Why is the brother’s own life not shielded by the theocratic warfare strategy?
On an unrelated matter, and in typical WT folklore pageantry, Gerrit Lösh has infamously regaled audiences with the “true story” of a young man who suffered a debilitating mental disorder. To end the suffering, he put a rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger to end his suffering. By freak chance, the bullet perforated the part of his brain that was responsible for his compulsive disorder. “He survived and managed to live a normal life,” Lösch concluded. It is my utmost hope for any future brother or sister facing execution that the same stroke of luck befalls them. May the shot fired completely dislodge the mental ailment known as undue influence so that the Witness in question may go on to live a normal, happy life.