All or Nothing: The Slippery Slope of Watchtower Morality

by Londo111 11 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Londo111

    There is a common saying that “the crime should fit the punishment”. A minor violation should receive a minor correction; a major violation receives a major punishment.

    Take the example of a kid who accidently spills soda on the carpet. I’d have a low opinion of a parent that would go ballistic over such a mistake. Sometimes one can diffuse a situation by saying, “Spilling a soda on the carpet…that’s worse than Hitler!” Obviously when said aloud, it sounds quite silly.

    In the Watchtower’s fundamentalist mindset, things are not always the weighed that way. In their teaching, Hitler might come back in the resurrection, but if you did or did not [fill in the blank], you might get everlastingly destroyed at Armageddon. And that fill in the blank might be, not being regular enough in field service, not attending all the meetings, or perhaps a married couple did something in bed that Watchtower said is out of bounds. It’s either all or nothing. It’s either “faithful in what is least” or everlasting death.

    Could you do more? Sometimes the thought is: Pioneer or die! Can you do any less? So perhaps you could have pioneered if you really tried hard enough, but you didn’t. Perhaps you were pioneering, but could’ve tried for a special assignment where “the need is greater”. Perhaps you watched fantasy movies. Sometimes a JW might not know what act of non-compliance one has done that could make one birdfood at the Big A. To be safe, they might live a very strict life, or live in fear and doubt as far as their near future--sometimes both.

    You didn’t pioneer--that’s worse than Hitler! You watched Harry Potter--that’s worse than Hitler! Doesn’t that sound silly?

    This is reflected in Watchtower’s system of crime and punishment. Being disfellowshipped, in essence, is saying that a person is in line for everlasting death. Obviously, this is reinforced by shunning and the person becomes dead to their friends and family. It is a religious stoning.

    Volitions are not weighted. Did you murder someone? You can be disfellowshipped. Did you celebrate Christmas? You can be disfellowshipped. Did you go a little too far with someone you are dating? You can be disfellowshipped. Did a church hire you to do some maintenance? You can be disfellowshipped.

    Therefore, in that system of crime and punishment, something relatively minor in importance becomes equal to murder. That is even assuming the Governing Body’s interpretation of what is right and wrong is correct and overlooking how often it vacillated on issues like organ transplants, blood fractions, the YMCA, alternative service, and so forth.

    It is truly “a tenth of the mint and the dill and the cummin”, “straining out a gnat” but neglecting “weightier” matters. The Watchtower morality does not have its priorities straight.

    To a person who has bought into this belief, it doesn’t take much for someone to feel bad, evil, doomed, even criminal. If a minor matter is equivalent to something major, then how easy it is to think, “In for a penny, in for a pound. I might as well.” If a person becomes convinced they are evil, then sometimes, that might be how they act.

    It’s a slippery slope of morality.

    Take the Watchtower’s gradient of porn. A man viewing lesbian porn could be a disfellowshipping matter, but so is looking at child porn. Clearly the two are not equivalent! But under Watchtower both actions can receive the same punishment.

    Take another matter. Two people are dating and they go “too far”, perhaps a single man getting to “second base” with his girlfriend. Doing this one time might merit a slap on the wrist, as this would be viewed as “minor uncleanness”. But then Watchtower viewed Jonathan Kendrick’s doing the same toward his underage stepdaughter as “minor uncleanness” and got a similar slap on the wrist. But even though Watchtower weighted these situations the same, clearly the two matters were not equivalent!

    Of course, there are people who are of a predatory or sociopathic nature, to whom no system of punishment would deter, and they would not be swayed any by fear, guilt, or obligation. And not everyone under Watchtower morality goes down that slippery slope.

    I believe people naturally have an innate sense of right and wrong, as well as common sense. In general, many people do not even need a law or rule enforced by an external agency to do the right thing and to avoid the bad. But Watchtower morality can warp this, skewing perspective and priorities.

    During the Australian Royal Commission, it was brought up that certain repressive environments produce “perfect storms” that lead to things such as higher rates of child abuse. Of course, the Watchtower organization is not the only group where such perfect storms exist, but nonetheless it is recognized by experts that the conditions in Watchtower are rife for such things to occur.

  • konceptual99

    Stories like Moses not getting into the Promised Land for his one mistake, the fellow getting fried for trying to stop the Ark of the Covenant falling off the cart and bears eating groups of kids simply for being silly kids are used to justify draconian punishments when elders jump to knee jerk reactions when a little time, reasonableness and mercy would bring a far better long term situation.

  • Lieu

    Can you pioneer more?

    No. Unlike the GB, I pay my own way in life.

    Also too, the preaching responsibility was given to the faithful slave, not me. So, those fellas better get out there and beat the pavement themselves.

  • Vidiot

    The authoritarian mindset is overwhelmingly punitive.

    Is it any wonder that a high-control group like the WTS - known for it's authoritarianism - favors punitive actions highly disproportionate to their corresponding "offenses".

  • Tazemanian-devil

    Londo, I love your articles, they're always spot on and so insightful. I also really, really enjoyed your videos on 1914 / 607 / last days.

    Just thought you should know that.

  • Londo111

    Thank you, Tazemanian-devil! :)

  • steve2
    With its patriarchal, ancient mindset, the Bible lacks a sense of proportion. Therefore groups that cite the Bible as their one true source are hardly likely to have teachings that are anything but lacking in proportion.
  • Vidiot

    sir82 - "...its patriarchal, ancient mindset..."

    I said this recently in another thread, but I'll repeat it here...

    ...with the amount of stuff that the OT labels as a capital offense, I'm f**king amazed sometimes that the ancient Hebrews didn't go extinct.

  • Lieu


    One problem when it comes to JWs is they have been led to believe salvation (surviving the big A) comes through works; while the Bible says it comes through faith .... and you can do nothing to earn' salvation. It's a gift.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 NET

    For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; [9] it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

    "Do more, do more, do more, or else you won't make it". Well, it doesn't work like that. Stop burdening and mentally torturing people with your unscriptual duties rules and insanity.

  • millie210
    Londo, I love your articles, they're always spot on and so insightful. I also really, really enjoyed your videos on 1914 / 607 / last days.
    Just thought you should know that

    I completely agree!

    Great articulate reasoning Lonzo. This is the kind of thread that helps so much when trying to pull ones thoughts together to reason with family and friends that still have ties to the Org.

    Thanks for the help.

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