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Anna

Is there a contradiction with regard to freedom to change one's religion?

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I have posted this issue before, but it was during the time of the hot topic of the persecution in Russia and maybe got overshadowed by it. A poster brought it up again in one of the threads so I thought I will try again to post it as a topic. My goal is not to sow doubts, nor to promote some false ideas, but rather to get to the bottom of this as I feel it is a valid question. The summary of the problem can be seen in the quotes below:

Referring to people leaving their religion to join Jehovah's Witnesses:

"No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family".  Awake 7/09 page 29

AND

Regarding those disfellowshipped from Jehovah's Witnesses:

"Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above anything else - including the family bond.....Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through email" p.16, paragraph 19, Study WT Jan / 2013

In the above situation we are assuming that the reason for disfellowshipping was because of changing one's religion and/or apostasy (not because of immorality etc.)

 

 

 

 

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Jehovah doesn’t coerce anyone, neither do we as JWs coerce anyone to stay as JWS. We are free to leave at any time. In the end all will make an accounting to God individually. If someone comes to reject  some of the organization's teachings and cannot in good conscience continue to support a religion they have come to believe is false, they must in good conscience leave.  However, in doing so, they may have to sacrifice their relationship with their family as well (if they get disfellowshipped for it). This leaves the individual in a very difficult situation, to either stay in the faith hypocritically, in order not to lose their loved ones, or to sacrifice their relationship with loved ones in order to satisfy their conscience and be free of hypocrisy. Neither of these situations is ideal for the individual nor their loved ones.  Do the scriptures give a solution to this problem?

This hypothetical situation assumes the individual does not promote their opinion, nor do they cause any disruption in the congregation, it is merely their conscience that is at odds with them.

 

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One cannot claim that the organization doesn't coerce people into remaining members when the are literally being blackmailed with the threat of family estrangement if they leave.

To add context this is the elders letter instructing them to disfellowshipped someone who has apostate beliefs.  Mind you this says nothing as to whether or not they are promoting their beliefs just that they have believed that differ from what this aside he says they need to accept.

however even if they were what's wrong with that? Don't JWs apostasize from their religious all the time? Why is it ok for  individuals to leave their respective religions, join the WT organization,  and speak out against their former religion but if someone who was previously a witness did this very thing then they deserve to be punished?

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I usually try not to focus on the fact that JW's baptize young children because I believe that it's wrong to threaten someone of any age into remaining a member of a religion that they no longer believe in.  That being said one of the final straws for me was sitting in an elders/ms meeting  and listening to the circuit overseer her encourage the elders to allow young children to get baptized and insisting that they set the example by getting their children baptized. 

" we don't want to teach the friends that  waiting to get baptized is a good idea" 

" we want to capitalize on young ones interest in the truth" 

 Now I'm certain that he wasn't being malicious in the statements because he likely believed that getting them to join the religion was the right thing to do.  Nevertheless JW's are continually being encouraged to baptize their children at a young ages.  In some instances the society has even implied that if a child is in baptized by the time they're able to drive a car and they asked to get a license the parent should make it clear to the child that if they are at an age when they can drive then they should be at an age to dedicate their life to the organization. The most recent yearbook mentions an eight-year-old getting baptized. It's clear to me that Jehovah's Witnesses are desperately trying to bolster their numbers to counteract the flood of defectors.  It's also clear that their primary goal is to get children trapped in the religion as early as possible.  The sooner they can get them baptized the sooner they can start threatening them with family estrangement if they try and leave. And as I said before at the very least the society hopes that the threat of disfellowshipping will  keep those who do try to fade silent. 

 

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4 hours ago, Albert Michelson said:

 It's clear to me that Jehovah's Witnesses are desperately trying to bolster their numbers to counteract the flood of defectors.  It's also clear that their primary goal is to get children trapped in the religion as early as possible.  The sooner they can get them baptized the sooner they can start threatening them with family estrangement if they try and leave. And as I said before at the very least the society hopes that the threat of disfellowshipping will  keep those who do try to fade silent. 

I think your reasoning on this is wrong on several levels.  The JW religion is not about how many numbers it has. If that were the case, then we could more efficiently and easily bolster our numbers by doing what religions of Christendom have done; water down the scriptures and tell the people what they want to hear and what is comfortable for them. We could allow smoking, turn a blind eye to adultery, fornication and homosexuality, support patriotism, celebrate all the holidays and Birthdays, have blood transfusions......you get the drift. 

The objective of the JW organization is not about numbers but to keep it morally and spiritually clean. It's about quality not quantity. And as @JW Insider remarked on the other thread, which puts it in a nutshell "We are counting on Jehovah's spirit to help us find the ministry that feels the most like what we would expect if we saw the first-century Christians trying to fit into the twenty-first century"

 

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6 minutes ago, Anna said:

If that were the case, then we could more efficiently and easily bolster our numbers by doing what religions of Christendom have done; water down the scriptures and tell the people what they want to hear and what is comfortable for them.

That's not how cults thrive, they thrive by convincing their members that they have a unique form of worship. 

And you may be right perhaps the bolstering of numbers isn't the primary goal. But you can't deny that witnesses love talking about the growth and how jehovah is "blessing the work"

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3 minutes ago, Anna said:

limit the amount of images which say basically the same thing, as these tend to clog up the thread.

Sorry, you guys are pretty reasonable as fare as admitting simple facts go. For some witnesses unless I show them 10,000 pictures of young JW kids getting baptized then it doesn't happen and I'm a liar. 

Same goes for almost everything else i say. They act like they've never been to a meeting or convention. 

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2 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

Sorry, you guys are pretty reasonable as fare as admitting simple facts go. For some witnesses unless it showed them 10,000 pictures of young JW kids getting baptized then it doesn't happen and I'm a liar.

Well, there's at least one pre-teen that gets baptized at most conventions and assemblies, so it's nothing new, and visible to all.

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13 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

That's not how cults thrive, they thrive by convincing their members that they have a unique form of worship. 

We would have to define first what a Cult is, and how it operates, in order to have a conversation about this. But this would be off topic on this thread. I am sure there is a topic on this subject somewhere on this forum though.

16 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

witnesses love talking about the growth and how jehovah is "blessing the work"

Well duh! 9_9

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By bolstering numbers  I wasn't suggesting that  their goal is to get as many members as possible.  What I was saying is that the goal is to counteract the steady flow of defectors by increasing their attention on the young ones who are already associated.

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4 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

He repetedly lies about disassociation being  an action an individual takes or that it is their choice to go through this process

Actually, this is perfectly true, disassociation is an action that an individual takes to leave an organization.

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2 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

By bolstering numbers  I wasn't suggesting that  their goal is to get as many members as possible.  What I was saying is that the goal is to counteract the steady flow of defectors by increasing their attention on the young ones who are already associated.

Still about numbers though.

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"Making known a firm decision to be known no longer as one ofJehovah's Witnesses. If the individual is agreeable, the committee should first try to speak with him and provide spiritual assistance. (GaL 6:1) Does he really desire to disassociate hjmself, or does he simply no longer want to associate actively with the congregation? Is the desire to disassociate prompted by doubts or discouragement? Is he is adamant in his position, he should be encouraged to put his request in writing and sign it. If he does not, then the witnesses to his request should prepare a statement for the confidential

files and sign it. 

 

Joining another religious organization and making known his intention to remain with it. If it is learned that a person has taken up association with another religious organization and thus is identified with it, a committee (not judicial) should be selected to investigate matters and endeavor to provide spiritual assistance. If the individual has joined another religious organization and intends to remain with it, he has disassociated himself. 

 

.. Willingly and unrepentantly taking blood. (it goes on to talk about what to do if the person is repentant from the point of view of the investigating elders)

On the other hand, if the elders on the committee determine that he is unrepentant, they should announce his disassociation. 

 

Taking a course contrary to the neutral position of the Christian congregation. (lsa. 2:4; John 15:17-19; w99 11/1 pp. 28-29) If he joins a non-neutral organization, he has disassociated himself. If his employment makes him a clear accomplice in non-neutral activities, he should generally be allowed a period of time up to six months to make an adjustment. If he does not, he has disassociated himself.-km 9/76 pp.3-6."

 

Simply having a different set of religious beliefs and making it clear that one intends to stick with those religious beliefs is grounds for automatic disassociation. This overlaps with apostasy which is filed as a disfellowshipping offense. 

 

The problem is out of the four criteria listed that result in disassociation only one is an action taken by the individual and even that is contestable. For example a written letter of disassociation as in the first example is not necessary, all that is necessary is for the individual to state that they no longer want to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses to two or more other Jehovah's Witnesses. If the individual then refuses to talk to the elders and does not write a letter of disassociation the elders will then take the testimony of those two witnesses as proof and automatically disassociate the individual without their permission and without them taking steps to show that that is what they want.  

 

The other examples given fall into the same category, they all involve actions taken by the elders without the permission of the individual and without considering whether or not they truly want it to happen. For example someone may join another religion, take a job that would classify as non-neutral or receive a blood transfusion. They may feel that there is nothing wrong with these things and also feel as though they do not wish to disassociate themselves. In the case of a blood transfusion the individual may not feel that such a transfusion is against Bible teachings and they may even still wish to remain part of the congregation or perhaps wish to be inactive. However because they don't believe it's wrong they are by default unrepentant and would automatically be classified as disassociated. 

 

An investigation into an action that classifies someone as disassociated is taken independently of their request. Their feelings and their wishes are irrelevant and the elders if they find these accusations to be true will automatically and without permission of the individual classify them as disassociated. 

It is for that reason that it cannot be said that disassociation is always an act taken by the individual nor can it ever be said that the individual by being disassociated is choosing to shun the congregation.

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2 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

Yes just not in the way you implied.

I was only going by what I thought you were implying. But now that you've clarified what you meant, we can say it's not about numbers either way.

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4 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

"Making known a firm decision to be known no longer as one ofJehovah's Witnesses

Dissasociation

4 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

If the individual has joined another religious organization and intends to remain with it, he has disassociated himself. 

Well that's logical isn't it?

 

8 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

they all involve actions taken by the elders without the permission of the individual and without considering whether or not they truly want it to happen. For example someone may join another religion, take a job that would classify as non-neutral or receive a blood transfusion. They may feel that there is nothing wrong with these things and also feel as though they do not wish to disassociate themselves

Simply put, and in a nutshell, you cannot be one of Jehovah's Witnesses if you disagree with any of the fundamental teachings and make it an issue in the congregation.  It's logical. Unlike Christendom, where it's a free for all, Jehovah's Witnesses for the most part, believe all their core teachings. If there is something they feel very strongly about, and no longer believe it is true, to the point of not being able to remain one of Jehovah's Witnesses in good conscience, then they dissasociate themselves. This is a choice they make willingly. Conversely, it's impossible to be called a Witnesses if you willingly and unrepentantly  do the things you mention either.  If you join a club, you've got to abide by the club's rules, or you will have your membership revoked. Or if you no longer like the club's rules, you cease being a member (dissasociate yourself)

The question though is, and this leads it back on topic, should someone who wants to quit being one of Jehovah's Witnesses be made to chose between his beliefs and the family.

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18 minutes ago, Anna said:

Unlike Christendom, where it's a free for all,

I wouldn't call having the freedom to leave without being shunned "a free for all"

 Most people in other religions are part of a specific group because they personally agree with the teachings.  In that sense one could say that many of these groups are just as "unified" ( The members all agree with the central doctrines) as Jehovah's Witnesses the difference being that these groups don't have to blackmail their members into  agreeing with them.  The way you phrased this makes it seem like the witness method of coercion and blackmail is superior to Christendom's method ( granted this wasn't always the case they too used to use threats and persecution to get what they wanted as well) of allowing people to vote with their feet  and to make a decision based on one's conscience. As you said before the core issue is 

18 minutes ago, Anna said:

should someone who wants to quit being one of Jehovah's Witnesses be made to chose between his beliefs and the family

 My answer is a definite no. 

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38 minutes ago, Anna said:
1 hour ago, Albert Michelson said:

"Making known a firm decision to be known no longer as one ofJehovah's Witnesses

Dissasociation

The problem of course is what I mentioned earlier.  Geoffrey Jackson  out right lied when he said that you could tell anyone you wanted you're no longer a Jehovah's Witness without repercussions. In reality if you were to say this to other Jehovah's Witnesses it would be enough for the judicial committee to conclude that you could be disassociated.  I have had many friends who didn't even  have that much evidence against them and they were still disfellowshipped.

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12 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

I wouldn't call having the freedom to leave without being shunned "a free for all"

That's not what I meant. I meant the freedom to believe what one wants, and for the most part do what one wants. Most don't care, as long as they get your "membership" and your money.

16 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

 Most people in other religions are part of a specific group because they personally agree with the teachings

I would go even further than that. I would say they shop around to see which teachings agree with them. I had this discussion with my cousin, who is a baptized Catholic, but has not set foot inside a church for years until his wedding to the woman he was living with for several years (who is also Catholic) and has not set foot inside it since. As a side point they has a son out of wedlock who was 5 by the time they tied the knot, and one of the criterion for the wedding in the church was that they got their son baptized as a Catholic. Anyway, he also believes a host of other things; bits and pieces of shamanism, Buddhism etc..in fact, he really doesn't believe much of Catholicism. Anyway, back on track, our conversation was about humans picking and choosing the ideologies which suit them. I said that is how people choose their religion, they choose the one that suits them most. He agreed and said "you did too". So that's where he was wrong. I am not saying such beliefs as living forever on paradise earth and seeing loved ones being brought back to life are not attractive and do not play a role,  but it's far more than that. Most Witnesses will be who they are because of an unselfish love for God and and desire to please him, not themselves.

40 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

 The way you phrased this makes it seem like the witness method of coercion and blackmail is superior to Christendom's method ( granted this wasn't always the case they too used to use threats and persecution to get what they wanted as well

I like how you sneaked this one in. In actuality there is no comparison of course. Christendom forced people to convert under threats if they didn't. Joining JWs is a completely free exercise of one's will, free of any threats, including shunning. In fact joining JWs under duress or blackmail would be a completely pointless exercise for everyone involved.

49 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

My answer is a definite no

Well I know that 9_9

The point of this topic is to explore what seem to be contradictory quotes as pointed out in the introduction of this thread. I shouldn't have phrased what I said the way I did.

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37 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

out right lied when he said that you could tell anyone you wanted you're no longer a Jehovah's Witness without repercussions

I don't think that is quite how he put it.

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16 minutes ago, Anna said:

Most Witnesses will be who they are because of an unselfish love for God and and desire to please him, not themselves.

I have a very different opinion but we don't need to argue about the conduct of witnesses and their personal motivations. I will say however that it's hard to know what their true feelings are when they're not allowed to express them.

 

19 minutes ago, Anna said:

Joining JWs is a completely free exercise of one's will, free of any threats, including shunning.

That is not true many children are threatened with being thrown out if they don't get baptized. And I know many who were never baptized but still get shunned because the have spoken out. 

 

22 minutes ago, Anna said:

In fact joining JWs under duress or blackmail would be a completely pointless exercise for everyone involved

I agree which is why child baptizm shouldn't be allowed.

23 minutes ago, Anna said:

I don't think that is quite how he put it.

That's his exact words.

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2 hours ago, Albert Michelson said:

The problem of course is what I mentioned earlier.  Geoffrey Jackson  out right lied when he said that you could tell anyone you wanted you're no longer a Jehovah's Witness without repercussions.

 

59 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

That's his exact words.

Is this the part you are referring to:

     Q.  " If someone no longer wants to be known as one of

           Jehovah's Witnesses, they must then disassociate; is that right?

     A.   Again, please, if they want to take the action of

        doing that.  But, of course, they have total freedom.  If

        they don't want to apply to officially be removed as one of

        Jehovah's Witnesses, they can tell anyone they want that

        they are no longer a Jehovah's Witness".

I do not see anything about no repercussions. In fact in context of the rest of the dialogue, Jackson makes it clear that there MAY be repercussions, depending on the circumstances:

Q.   "Leaving that to one side, the point is, for example,

 if the elders visited and found the person to be living in  sin in the eyes of the Jehovah's Witnesses, then the elders

  would, following the process and procedures, discipline

  that person under the rules of the organisation - not so?

 A.   Yes, like, in a situation where it was found that

someone who claimed to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses was

living in sin, then the elders would try to ascertain,

well, what needs to be done?  We obviously want to help the

person, so the first step would be to ascertain, do they

want to come back, are they willing to change what they are

doing?  And if, ultimately, the person is willing to talk

to us, then, yes, that would be involved with the judicial

process.

              

Q.   But if they are not, then either they must disassociate or they will be disfellowshipped?

 A.   That would be in that particular case, but I can think of many scenarios where it wouldn't be".

 

I can think of many scenarios where it wouldn't be either. In fact I KNOW of many scenarios personally where someone is no longer a JW (is living in sin, celebrates Birthdays and Christmas etc.) but has not dissasociated and has not been disfellowshipped. So he is not lying, and not making this up.







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1 hour ago, Albert Michelson said:

That is not true many children are threatened with being thrown out if they don't get baptized. And I know many who were never baptized but still get shunned because the have spoken out. 

That may be true, but it is an exclusively personal thing, nothing that's taught by the org.

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7 minutes ago, Anna said:

I can think of many scenarios where it wouldn't be either. In fact I KNOW of many scenarios personally where someone is no longer a JW (is living in sin, celebrates Birthdays and Christmas etc.) but has not dissasociated and has not been disfellowshipped. So he is not lying, and not making this up.

He's fortunate, one of my friends was out for 5 years and then found out that the elders disfellowshiped her. She still has no idea why she only found out because her mom told her. She wasn't doing anything that even qualified as wrong in the eyes of the organization. For every example you can put forward I can  guarantee I have another. 

The fact is that according to the organizations policy's you cannot tell anyone you want your no longer a witness. 

12 minutes ago, Anna said:

        doing that.  But, of course, they have total freedom.  If

 

 

        they don't want to apply to officially be removed as one of

 

 

        Jehovah's Witnesses, they can tell anyone they want that

 

 

        they are no longer a Jehovah's Witness".

I refuse to believe you're this dishonest. Don't start resorting to double speak now. The implication of this statement is that if they don't apply to be disassociated then they can tell anyone they want they're not witnesses without getting disassociated or disfellowshiped which is false.

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5 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

The implication of this statement is that if they don't apply to be disassociated then they can tell anyone they want they're not witnesses without getting disassociated or disfellowshiped which is false.

The apparent implication of this statement was clarified in the dialogue that followed, (immediately after that statement - so there cannot be any confusion as to what exactly was meant) as I have already indicated above.

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I would say that he was called out and that Angus Stewart demonstrated that his claim was false. But we don't need to argue about that. Ether way we're back where we started. With people getting punished for leaving. I can think of examples of some making it out without being shunned and many others where they couldn't. The point is that the organization is punishing people for disagreeing with them or in some cases simply stating that they don't want to be a witness. 

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22 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

I would say that he was called out and that Angus Stewart demonstrated that his claim was false. But we don't need to argue about that. Ether way we're back where we started. With people getting punished for leaving. I can think of examples of some making it out without being shunned and many others where they couldn't. The point is that the organization is punishing people for disagreeing with them or in some cases simply stating that they don't want to be a witness. 

The point is - whether he was called out or not (and I won't argue about that) - the truth of the matter is that disfellowshipping for leaving JW is not automatic, and there are circumstances where ones have left and never got disfellowshipped.  But as you say, regardless, we do want to address the issue of disfellowshipping for leaving under the circumstances that officially warrant disfellowshipping. Maybe we are getting to the core of the issue now.

I have to get back to some work now, so I may be gone for a while. Hopefully someone else will chime in as well in the meantime...

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25 minutes ago, Anna said:

But as you say, regardless, we do want to address the issue of disfellowshipping for leaving under the circumstances that officially warrant disfellowshipping. Maybe we are getting to the core of the issue now.

Yes we could talk about the people who slip through the cracks but if the policies were applied as they are written in all cases then leaving without being shunned would be even more difficult than it already is and that is the central issue. The policies make it virtually impossible to exercise your conscience without tremendous loss.

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On 8/28/2017 at 5:33 PM, Albert Michelson said:

Yes we could talk about the people who slip through the cracks but if the policies were applied as they are written in all cases then leaving without being shunned would be even more difficult than it already is and that is the central issue. The policies make it virtually impossible to exercise your conscience without tremendous loss.

It's not really a case of slipping through the cracks. And what policies in particular are you talking about? The purpose of disfellowshipping is twofold, and has been mentioned on another thread recently. Whether you agree or not, it is primarily to protect the congregation and keep it clean morally. You don't want members who are known to be practicing something which is condemned in the Bible to be freely associating with the congregation as if it was OK. I'm sure you can understand that. You also don't want members publicly speaking out against what JWs teach and cause a disturbance to members. Believe me, not everyone wants to discuss Malawi/Mexico and why 1914 could be wrong, even if they suspect it could be wrong. And that needs to be respected. Nothing likely would happen unless a number of members started complaining about this particular individual. You read in the letters yourself, no one gets dissfellowshipped automatically just for sharing some "controversial" information, but to try and hammer "TTATT"  (which by the way is subjective anyway) at every opportunity is obviously not going to go down very well. But if you call that exercising your conscience, then you might also need to reflect on the conscience of others too.

So, in a nutshell, the elders are not so interested in making life hard for someone who no longer wants to be a JW as you wish to believe. They have other things to do, most have families they'd like to spend time with. If the individual is not causing any trouble, then I can guarantee they'd much rather leave things alone. I don't know what kind of experiences you've had, and your friends, they either had Nazi elders, or must have been causing a disturbance among the friends. Somehow I think it's more likely to be the latter.

 

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But the question remains, should someone who changes their religion from JW to something else and does not advertise this, and is not known in the community to be one of JWS be disfellowshipped. Probably they would not be disfellowshipped. However, what if the individual gets disfellowshipped for another reason, immorality etc. and while out, decides they no longer want to be one of JWs. They get married, and no longer live in sin. To all intents and purposes they are no longer practicing what they were disfellowshipped for. But they will remain disfellowshipped unless they "come back". But of course they are no longer interested in that. That's a catch 22.

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Guest J.R. Ewing

Then, this shows the children with spiritual growth into spiritual maturity, then an apostate chastising them for their baptism.

So, that says more about the opposition than the faithful. ̬

Hebrews 6:1-4English Standard Version (ESV)

6 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings,[

    Hello guest!
] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,

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On 8/27/2017 at 8:09 PM, Anna said:

Referring to people leaving their religion to join Jehovah's Witnesses:

"No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family".  Awake 7/09 page 29

AND

Regarding those disfellowshipped from Jehovah's Witnesses:

"Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above anything else - including the family bond.....Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through email" p.16, paragraph 19, Study WT Jan / 2013

In the above situation we are assuming that the reason for disfellowshipping was because of changing one's religion and/or apostasy (not because of immorality etc.)

So I guess no one wants to have a go at solving this apparent discrepancy? Anyone?? @JW Insider, @Gone Fishing, @TrueTomHarley, or even @Allen Smith  

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1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Write them. Ask them to explain it, unless the context of the article does.

 

Good point about the context, that’s always important of course. The context in both articles is that they assume that JWs  are the true religion. But that should not be the deciding factor. As the first article goes on to say: “Although the Bible makes a clear distinction between true and false teachings, God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family”

So if we have previously responded favorably, but now have changed our mind, does that change the dynamics of that statement? Besides “choosing death instead of life”, as per Deuteronomy, is there any reason why the person should be shunned as per the second article? I guess, to answer my own question it all depends if the person is disfellowshipped or not. So the second question would be “should a person be disfellowshiped for changing their belief” which goes back to the topic “Should JW's punish, disfellowship, or shun members who disagree with certain teachings” and I have no idea what the conclusion on that topic was as I got lost in the amount of postings (8 pages in 6 days) besides some quality input from JWInsider and you, all I know is that it ran off poor Bruce and that JTR had his fare share of input with cartoons, and that it digressed to the Walsh Trial, and a list of teachings JWs have wrong, then some backward and forward with Nanna and Albert etc. but has there been any conclusive ….umm… conclusion regarding the actual question?

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Is there a contradiction with regard to freedom to change one's religion?

YESInstitutional disfellowshipping as it is done todayis taking families as hostages ... and threatening EVERYBODY( actually, only Jehovah's Witnesses ) with the same tyranny.That is why, as an institution,  we got thrown out of Russia.THEY have lived through that before, under Soviet rule. 

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4 hours ago, Anna said:

and I have no idea what the conclusion on that topic was as I got lost in the amount of postings (8 pages in 6 days) besides some quality input from JWInsider and you, all I know is that it ran off poor Bruce and that JTR had his fare share of input with cartoons, and that it digressed to the Walsh Trial, and a list of teachings JWs have wrong, then some backward and forward with Nanna and Albert etc. but has there been any conclusive ….umm… conclusion regarding the actual question?

No, there was not a conclusion to the matter, and don't think there will be by switching to another thread. It is a fallacy to think that when you put persons in a room and let them loose, even if they deem themselves thinking persons, they are going to arrive at a conclusion that will not be summarily rejected by the person who didn't think it in the first place. It is classic human self-rule. 

JTR's comment is just above mine. Do you think he is ever going to come around to a consensus view? I don't think so. He has said what he has just said for 10,000 posts. And was there a consensus view over 1914? Or did JWI eventually wear everyone down with posts as long as the phone book?

When I was a kid squabbling in the car back seat with my siblings and whining 'are we there yet?' my dad - everyone's dad that I know of - would eventually whirl around and yell: 'if you kids don't stop crying back there, I'll give you something to cry about!' It's undignified to think we have not outgrown that model, and we all hate to be undignified. But that does not mean we have outgrown it. 

All this incessant sniping at the GB is little more than the back-seat kids of yesteryear responding to dad's rebuke: "do YOU like dad?' 'No, I don't like dad at all -he's mean. If only dad would go jump in a lake. Then we could be like Howie Hoodlimm next door and Willie Watever down the street - their dads let them do whatever they want.

 

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3 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

 

JTR's comment is just above mine. Do you think he is ever going to come around to a consensus view? I don't think so. He has said what he has just said for 10,000 posts. And was there a consensus view over 1914? Or did JWI eventually wear everyone down with posts as long as the phone book?

When I was a kid squabbling in the car back seat with my siblings and whining 'are we there yet?' my dad - everyone's dad that I know of - would eventually whirl around and yell: 'if you kids don't stop crying back there, I'll give you something to cry about!' It's undignified to think we have not outgrown that model, and we all hate to be undignified. But that does not mean we have outgrown it. 

 

TTH:

Never in the history of the world has the majority EVER been right ... the most they can hope for is consensus.

YOU CAN VOTE TO KEEP THE PEACE, AND HAVE "ORDER" .... BUT YOU  CAN NOT VOTE ON TRUTH.

...and JWI's posts DID wear me down ... but to the best I could tell, every word was true. 

The fault was MINE .. not his, that I do not have the patience anymore to be a scholar. 

To more or less quote Alex Guiness playing Dr. Zhivago's policeman brother as he was in the snow watching Dr. Zhivago tear apart someone's fence for firewood "My brother is a much better man than I am, but that does not bother me ... I have killed much better men than I am, with a small pistol.".  If you do not get the philosophy behind that statement .. it means some things are not important ... and some things ARE.

And as far as kids squabbling in the car back seat with  siblings and whining 'are we there yet? ... we are adults with legitimate concerns ...legitimate real world problems .... Hurricane Harvey immediately comes to mind ... and we are told if we do not shut up, Big "Brother" Dad is going to stop the car and throw us outside ... and anyone else with legitimate concerns and complaints that dares disagree with his authority will also have the same fate.

That is an excellent way to keep order, but it is by extortion ... when the siblings  recognize  there is NO process  for the redress of legitimate grievances that exists ... none whatsoever.

Big "Brother" Dad, as always, knows what is best ... to maintain his position.

So ... one adult is treated like a child, and expelled from the car, the other adult siblings are also treated like children, with nothing of value to say ...   and are threatened to be ALSO expelled if we do say it, and some are for that reason! ..... and the grievances  go unanswered.

And the roadside becomes littered with the bodies of legitimate complainers. Dad does stop to paint with a broad brush in white, on both sides of the car "Celestial Chariot", as he grew up in the 50's when men named their cars.

And besides ... he can always get MORE children. He knows that so very well.

In Russian State Orphanages they bind babies in cloth so they cannot move their arms, and when they cry they are ignored. After awhile... they stop crying, because no one ever comes to show them tenderness and love .... and their "Big Brother" sees this as a good thing, because when they grow up, they will make excellent, totally obedient citizens and soldiers. 

It will never occur to them that they are anything else but machines to serve the State.

Sound Familiar?

Here is the quote:

" I told myself it was beneath my dignity to arrest a man for pilfering firewood.

But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man.

And the Party was right: one man desperate for a bit of fuel is pathetic; five million people desperate for fuel will destroy a city.  That was the first time I ever saw my brother.

But I knew him.

And I knew I would disobey the Party.

Perhaps it was the tie of blood between us, but I doubt it; we were only half-tied anyway, and brothers will betray a brother.

Indeed, as a policeman I would say get hold of a man's brother and you're half-way home.

Nor was it admiration for a better man than me.

I did admire him; but I didn't think he was a better man. Besides, I've executed better men than me with a small pistol. "

                            But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man.

                                       But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man.

                                                      But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man.

                                                                             But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man.

                                                                                          *

3 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

It's undignified to think we have not outgrown that model, and we all hate to be undignified. But that does not mean we have outgrown it. 

... and therein is where the crime lies.

.

 

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3 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

It's undignified to think we have not outgrown that model, and we all hate to be undignified. But that does not mean we have outgrown it. 

... and therein is where the crime lies.

We are thinking adults ... not children .

The response is for children.

.

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2 hours ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

In Russian State Orphanages they bind babies in cloth so they cannot move their arms, and when they cry they are ignored. After awhile... they stop crying, because no one ever comes to show them tenderness and love .... and their "Big Brother" sees this as a good thing, because when they grow up, they will make excellent, totally obedient citizens and soldiers. 

Careful. You have up till now suggested that from Putin on down, Russians all watch 'Leave it to Beaver' - that family ties mean EVERYTHING to them, and this is why they positively lose it - and rightly so - when they hear that a Witness family has been disrupted by a disfellowshipping. Are you now painting them as cold and uncaring? Putin knows where you live, you know, as PeterR reminded me - you provided him your address 'details' when you wrote in about the ban. Even if the purpose of your letter was to say 'attaboy!' he still has your address.

Did you also cheer on the Jewish pogroms in Russia? If I recall my 'Fiddler on the Roof,' Tavye's Jewish religion made he and his family shun the third daughter for marrying a Gentile soldier. It's outrageous!! Even Jehovah's Witnesses would not do that! What choice did the Czar have but to beat up every last Jew in sight and to leave it to another tyrant later on to take care of the ones he could not get to?

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1 hour ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

... and therein is where the crime lies.

We are thinking adults ... not children .

The response is for children.

If you would maintain that we are not children and advocate challenging everything and everyone under the sun, especially within the theocratic realm, then you must take ownership of the world such thinking has collectively produced. Look around you. Are you proud of what your thinking leads to? Unfortunately, though you revel in independence, you will find not everyone likewise reveling agrees with you - and the situation inevitably deteriorates to the one you love to describe ad nauseum - to one where MEN struggle for GLORY AND GUTS AND HONOR, feeling the HOT BREATH OF DEATH and they stare eyeball to eyeball with one another, locked into BATTLE, and ....well, you can complete the rest.

The 'dad' in the car is not just the GB, or even primarily so. It is God and Christ, who both make clear they grant authority to men. For every verse (NONE actually come to mind) that recommends overturning authority, there are twenty that say we ought to acquiesce to it. Even villainous secular authority we are advised to submit to, for the king paves the roads and it is 'not without purpose that he bears the sword.'

The Hillary-Trump turmoil, unabated months after the election, is a godsend for American Witnesses. Not that we take part in it, but we can point out that it demonstrates how people froth and lose their minds over something having nothing to do with religion - I've even heard cautions of looming civil war - therefore perhaps they can appreciate how some might get worked up over God, who offers more than any human king does.

In fact, Russian officials (and Chinese) must shake their heads in astonishment, that their old Communist predictions are coming absolutely true, and that the West is succumbing to its own decadence and celebration of speech without restraint. They offer an alternative model and there are many persons who prefer a level of security even at the expense of some freedoms. Of course, they do not merely offer it - they OFFER!! it and they will off you if you complain about it too much. Don't think I am advocating for it. I'm just observing that the Western alternative is not exactly nirvana either.

Railing on endlessly about disfellowshipping the way you do is to maintain, as you have, that our personal happiness is the issue before all creation. It is the approach of the churches who say it is all about us - about our own personal salvation and relationship with Jesus. That's where you belong, for that is your thinking. Does God want a clean people, since a soiled one - physically, morally, or spiritually - is a reflection on him and makes him 'fake news?' FUGETABOUTIT! You would have us believe that it is primarily about not stepping on the toes - EVER - of any individual.

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9 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

All this incessant sniping at the GB is little more than the back-seat kids of yesteryear responding to dad's rebuke: "do YOU like dad?' 'No, I don't like dad at all -he's mean. If only dad would go jump in a lake. Then we could be like Howie Hoodlimm next door and Willie Watever down the street - their dads let them do whatever they want.

Well this is not what I had in mind when I raised the question. I genuinely would like to know if I have missed something, or misunderstood something. So I thought someone might be able to explain it. When the article in the Awake first came out, I wondered about it then. Here is the whole article for reference if someone wants to read it:

Quote

The Bible’s Viewpoint
Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?

When Avtar began studying the Bible, her Sikh family was upset. “In my homeland,” she says, “changing your religion cuts you off from the community. Even our names have religious meaning. To change your religion is viewed as rejecting your identity and disrespecting your family.”
AVTAR eventually became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Was she wrong to change her religion? Perhaps you identify with her family. You may feel that your religion is inextricably linked with family history and culture and should not be changed.
Honoring one’s family is important. The Bible says: “Listen to your father who caused your birth.” (Proverbs 23:22) But it is more important to seek to know the truth about our Creator and his purposes. (Isaiah 55:6) Is such a search possible? If so, how important is this search to you?
Searching for Religious Truth
The world’s religions teach conflicting ideas. Logically, those teachings cannot all be true. As a result, there must be many people who, as the Bible says, “have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge.” (Romans 10:2) Yet, as recorded at 1 Timothy 2:4, the apostle Paul says that it is God’s will that “all sorts of men . . . come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” How can such accurate knowledge be found?
Consider reasons for examining the Bible. Paul, who was an inspired Bible writer, stated: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” (2 Timothy 3:16) As part of your search for truth, examine the evidence that the Bible’s claim is true. Investigate for yourself its unparalleled wisdom, historical accuracy, and fulfilled prophecy.
Instead of presenting all religions as equal approaches to God, the Bible tells its readers not to believe everything they hear but to “test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) For example, any teaching that truly originates with God must be in harmony with his personality, including his dominant quality of love.—1 John 4:8.
The Bible assures us that God wants us to “really find him.” (Acts 17:26, 27) Since our Creator wants us to search for truth, it cannot be wrong to act on the evidence that we find—even if this means changing our religion. But what about the problems that this may bring?
Balancing Family Loyalty
When people change their beliefs, they may decide that they will no longer share in certain religious rituals or holidays. Understandably, this can result in strong feelings within the family. Jesus acknowledged this. He told his followers: “I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law.” (Matthew 10:35) Did Jesus mean that Bible teachings were designed to be an unavoidable cause of contention? No. He simply foresaw what could happen when family members react negatively to one who takes a firm stand for beliefs different from theirs.
Should family conflict be avoided at all costs? The Bible teaches that children should be obedient to parents and that wives should be in subjection to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22; 6:1) However, it instructs those who love God to “obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Thus, at times, loyalty to God may result in your making a decision that is unpopular with some family members.
Although the Bible makes a clear distinction between true and false teachings, God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family. Does study of the Bible lead to family breakup? No. In fact, the Bible encourages a husband and wife who practice different religions to remain together as a family.—1 Corinthians 7:12, 13.
Overcoming Fears
You may fear how the community will react if you study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mariamma says: “My family was worried that I would not be able to find a suitable husband who could provide for me. So they opposed my Bible study.” Mariamma put her trust in Jehovah God and continued studying. (Psalm 37:3, 4) You can do the same. Rather than fear the results, consider the benefits. The Bible’s message changes lives and personalities for the better. People learn to show unselfish love for their family. Bad habits, such as verbal and physical violence and abuse of alcohol and drugs, can be overcome. (2 Corinthians 7:1) The Bible promotes such wholesome traits as loyalty, honesty, and industriousness. (Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 4:24, 28) Why not study the Bible and see the benefits of applying its teachings in your life?

Awake 7/09

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19 minutes ago, Anna said:

Well this is not what I had in mind when I raised the question. I genuinely would like to know if I have missed something, or misunderstood something. So I thought someone might be able to explain it. When the article in the Awake first came out, I wondered about it then. Here is the whole article for reference if someone wants to read it:

Perhaps I should take the time to read it but I won't. Probably the assumption that JWs have the truth is all one needs to know. 

For 5-10 years now, the word 'disfellowship' has not been heard in public announcements. Instead, you will hear that so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Surely if you have joined the Mormons, you are no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

What if someone drifted from Witnesses and five years later joined the Mormons. Would that trigger the announcement? Frankly, I don't know. The purpose of disfellowshipping is to separate an (in this case spiritually - not that I have anything against the Mormons per se) unwholesome influence from the congregation, but if the person does it himself, nobody chases him down. The reason I don't know is that it seldom happens. If people leave Jehovah's Witnesses, rarely do they go in for another denomination of churches. I'm sure it happens but I know first hand of no case. Oh wait - I do. It is a typical case of one who was disfellowshipped and over time came to think a religious connection good for the family, so drifted into a church less demanding than Witnesses, having lost appreciation for the things we consider spiritual gems.

My point is: it doesn't matter if there is an announcement or not. Joining another faith is, from our point of view, an apostasy, and no one in the Witness community would thereafter associate with the person - it's not that their arm has to be twisted by the GB - they know it from the scriptures. Far from being an extreme stand, it is the stand that any faith ought to take about their own members leaving for another religion. They don't do this usually, but scripturally they should.

Few people take religion seriously. They can't imagine making too much of a fuss over God, though they will go for the jugular when it comes to politics. Some churches would not erect such a barrier because they realize there is little that makes them unique and if you want to switch from one to another it is little more than swapping a Ford for a Chevy. When my dad, years ago when they were more serious about such things, wanted to marry my mom, the Catholic church said she would have to convert to Catholicism first. 'Forget that,' my dad said and they never saw him again. Having little unique to offer in a world not too spiritual in the first place, most churches won't maintain obstacles to retaining members. However, the Witness faith is absolutely unique - the combination of beneficial teachings are found no where else - and they take firm action to be separate from a world that has willfully strayed from Christianity.

So to answer your question: if they don't do it - avoid their apostates - it indicates that they have little to apostasize from. It indicates that they are sound asleep spiritually and they have acquiesced to the prevailing view that "all roads lead to heaven."

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This might be seen as splitting hairs but...

15 hours ago, Anna said:

God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond.

That is not to say there might not be consequences to a choice.

15 hours ago, Anna said:

No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family”

That's not exactly the point you raised. The person departing does not have to choose to leave his/her family. The family, however, might choose to no longer associate with him. They likely will - if they value what makes the truth the truth.

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On 8/27/2017 at 8:09 PM, Anna said:

"Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above anything else - including the family bond.....Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through email"

This builds off the Witness assumption, held by few others,  that not all roads lead to heaven and that, if one would survive into the new order, one must serve God according to his standards and his truths. Therefore the ultimate goal in avoiding a family member who departs for different beliefs is to help him see he must 'straighten out and fly right' spiritually, thus re-uniting the family forever spiritually and otherwise. 

Absent this outcome, it is a lose-lose for both parties - the departing one merely moves up the hour of separation which will occur anyway at cut-off for this system. 

Some of what throws a wrench into this discipline for ultimately a good cause is that, in many cases, the departing one no longer worries about living forever - on earth or anywhere else. He or she has gone atheistic and have thought the remaining few decades a cool bargain, with no sense of being cheated from all eternity. When the world embraces atheism, all sorts of paradigms shift.

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On 8/28/2017 at 0:39 PM, Anna said:

Well, there's at least one pre-teen that gets baptized at most conventions and assemblies, so it's nothing new, and visible to all.

I know. I have seen her and it is getting embarrassing. Someone should tell her that one time is enough.

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When it comes down to the grass roots, it’s all a numbers game. What would kings be without subjects? Governments have been overthrown and changed by the sheer power of numbers. If there is no support for a cause or idea, it dies out. No matter how ingenious. The only being that doesn’t need numbers is God. He needs nobody’s support to exist or to be the rightful sovereign. He needs nothing at all. He is the arbiter of right and wrong, he is the ultimate lawmaker.

On the other hand the GB need  numbers because without numbers it would be just them sitting in their office and Jehovah would have to have the stones cry out instead. If NO one cooperated with a policy, then this policy would fall flat, it would just be on paper. If EVERY member of JWs decided they would no longer cooperate with certain policies, where would those policies be? Of course this is not likely ever to happen, but the point I am trying to make is that many policies exist only because of the support they get. (and I am obviously not talking about what’s black and white in the Bible). So the GB are by no means unaffected by numbers. I dare to go as far as giving an example with the shaking up with regards to child sexual abuse. The society is and has changed the policies BECAUSE of numbers. The item at the convention about protecting our children was in response to the shake up. Had no one ever said anything, there would likely be no talk. Some have tried for this change decades before, but it took a government, (and one that made all the hearings transparent and available on line for anyone to reference), to make change happen. We are only human, the GB are only human, they need US to make anything “work”. The recent CO we had made an interesting remark, which when he said it made me remember something JWInsider said on here once. When I commended him for something he (the CO) said, he replied that “he just put it out there, to see if it will stick”. This is similar to saying if it gets support, we will go with it. This was in a small scale apparently what the GB do. Sometimes it is merely trial and error. If we get too strict here…we might alienate our friends… If we are too lax here we might lose them to sin….

Br. Jackson, during the inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse, conceded that yes, there are some things in our (at that time current policy), that can be changed if they don’t go against our understanding of scripture, or their principles. Why didn’t these things get changed before? Because they were never brought up, at least not by an entity that mattered.

Why, numbers matter in a congregational setting too. If everyone complains about brother so and so, you can bet something will be done, rather than if no one says anything. It’s part of one of our policies too, judicial cases are set up when they meet certain criteria, and one of these criteria is how wide spread is the case regarding the accused known, do many people know about it, or have many people complained about it….

So the point I am trying to make is that some things have and can change depending on the “notoriety” these thing get. And JWs as an organization are not immune to this. I’m still waiting for when families of disfellowshipped ones will not be “made” to shun their loved ones, but it will be left up to them whether they do so or not.

 

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"This builds off the Witness assumption, held by few others,  that not all roads lead to heaven and that, if one would survive into the new order, one must serve God according to his standards and his truths. Therefore the ultimate goal in avoiding a family member who departs for different beliefs is to help him see he must 'straighten out and fly right' spiritually, thus re-uniting the family forever spiritually and otherwise"

Yes, I know that!.

It's the "wrench" that is what my concern is:

 

1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Some of what throws a wrench into this discipline for ultimately a good cause  [bold mine] is that, in many cases, the departing one no longer worries about living forever - on earth or anywhere else. He or she has gone atheistic and have thought the remaining few decades a cool bargain, with no sense of being cheated from all eternity. When the world embraces atheism, all sorts of paradigms shift.

Exactly

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1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family

 

1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

The person departing does not have to choose to leave his/her family. The family, however, might choose to no longer associate with him. They likely will - if they value what makes the truth the truth.

If we are going to be honest about this though, those who do wish to depart are very often at a dilemma because they know that if they do, the family will- if they value what makes the truth the truth - no longer speak with him. This dilemma has caused many to try and get around it by purposefully slowly drifting, without getting disfellowshipped, or, if already disfellowshipped, plan to make a show of coming back, get re-instated, and then become inactive.  I know of both scenarios personally.  And it is becoming more and more the norm now, as people are "wising up". Now what is the point of that? 

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9 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

My point is: it doesn't matter if there is an announcement or not. Joining another faith is, from our point of view, an apostasy, and no one in the Witness community would thereafter associate with the person - it's not that their arm has to be twisted by the GB - they know it from the scriptures

That is true to a point, and especially with regard to the JW community in general. However, with family it IS different, if we are going to be honest about it. If there was  an option whereby a family was able to associate with an apostate loved one and it was deemed OK, I am sure there would be many families who would. I can give you examples of quite a few, whose family members were raised as JW but picked another religion (my step son became a Mormon) and the other JW family members freely associate with them, some more, some less. Why, because they never chose to get baptized as JW. But really, they knew the truth, just didn't appeal to them for whatever reason. But if one gets baptized, and later on the truth loses it's appeal and they "apostatize" then that's a whole different story as we know. But really, the only difference is a vow that they broke between themselves and Jehovah. The vow wasn't made between themselves and the family, it is exclusively between them and God, so why should family loyalty/disloyalty play a part in that equation at all?

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As the C.O. said, we will have to see what sticks.

4 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

not that I have anything against the Mormons per se)

 

2 hours ago, Anna said:

my step son became a Mormon

Yikes!

I've got a thing for Mormons and an entire Mormon category on my blog, which I do not have for any other religion.

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8 hours ago, Anna said:

That is true to a point, and especially with regard to the JW community in general. However, with family it IS different, if we are going to be honest about it. If there was  an option whereby a family was able to associate with an apostate loved one and it was deemed OK, I am sure there would be many families who would. I can give you examples of quite a few, whose family members were raised as JW but picked another religion (my step son became a Mormon) and the other JW family members freely associate with them, some more, some less. Why, because they never chose to get baptized as JW. But really, they knew the truth, just didn't appeal to them for whatever reason. But if one gets baptized, and later on the truth loses it's appeal and they "apostatize" then that's a whole different story as we know. But really, the only difference is a vow that they broke between themselves and Jehovah. The vow wasn't made between themselves and the family, it is exclusively between them and God, so why should family loyalty/disloyalty play a part in that equation at all?

Ezequiel 44:25

2Sam 24:14

 

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On 8/28/2017 at 6:33 PM, Anna said:

should someone who wants to quit being one of Jehovah's Witnesses be made to chose between his beliefs and the family.

One of those "cat among the pigeons" questions as the responses indicate.

Genesis chapters 2 and 3 provide a basic lesson here.

Whilst it is true to say that humans have been gifted with the ability to choose when it comes to moral obligations, they have not been given a right to excercise their choice wrongly by chosing to rebel against Jehovah. That fact is illustrated in the restriction on eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad and the sanction for disobeying that command.

At that time, Eve became disenamoured with her religion, and, fully believing that her former religion was wrong, made a choice that that impacted on her family relationships. Adam was later faced with the dilemna you have described above. In his case, it was not a matter of conscience in that he believed his religion to be wrong. (He was not deceived, 1Tim.2:14). Regardless of the technical detail, he was free to choose and that choice was excercised wrongly on that occasion, with the dire consequences we have all personally experienced.

So is anyone  "forced" to choose between religion and family in the matter of fulfilling one's dedication to Jehovah? Indeed is anyone forced to choose to accept Jehovah's direction? I suppose one could argue for this in the light of 2Cor.5:14, but really, is it not the case that the evidence and encouragement Jehovah provides to enable us to make the right decision in excercising our freedom to choose His direction is just so overwhelming that we are "compelled"? That's why the statement at Rom1:20 is indisputable.

So despite the fact that one "chooses" to make such a dedication, and may feel one should be able to abrogate later, in actual fact no one has the right to reject Jehovah's Sovereignty regardless of having the right to choose it.

Satan is expert at creating moral dilemna to put pressure on those who stray from the safety of the secret place. Ps.91:1. He tried desperatly with Jesus who hadn't strayed at all (Luke 4:9-12). Falling prey, the state of moral dilemna, tension, and conflict experienced by those who find themselves in this sad position becomes a state of partly their own creation in that, for whatever reason, they no longer wish to serve the true God on the terms they originally accepted. And yet, there is no need for this. All is not lost because, whatever their problem, they can still still make it a matter of prayer. For those who truly love Jehovah there is "no stumbling block" Ps.119:165, and, with His help, they can walk in a "roomy place" Ps.118:5.

 

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18 hours ago, Anna said:

I genuinely would like to know if I have missed something, or misunderstood something. So I thought someone might be able to explain it.

I'm certainly not going to claim I can explain it. But I think that TTH is accurate. He says that:

17 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Probably the assumption that JWs have the truth is all one needs to know. 

This means that yes, absolutely, we have two sets of scales on this one, but only because we are sure we deserve a different set of scales. I don't think there is any other way to see it either. It's OK for others to change their religion, because that is obviously the point of the Greek Scriptures about conversion and baptism. But it's not OK for any of us to change our religion, because it's akin to:

  • (Hebrews 6:4-6) 4 For as regards those who were once enlightened and who have tasted the heavenly free gift and who have become partakers of holy spirit 5 and who have tasted the fine word of God and powers of the coming system of things, 6 but have fallen away, it is impossible to revive them again to repentance, because they nail the Son of God to the stake again for themselves and expose him to public shame.
  • (2 Peter 2:20-22) 20 Certainly if after escaping from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, their final state has become worse for them than the first. 21 It would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it to turn away from the holy commandment they had received. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.”

So, scripturally, there appears to be no problem with the belief itself that this is only a one-way street. Of course, this does not mean it is ethical to imply that it would be as easy to leave the JWs as it is to become one. We do make it difficult, and we do use emotional blackmail, but we believe we are justified. We believe that the "tough love" of shunning will shame people into coming back and that if we win back a brother through shaming that we have thus protected their prospect for eternal life. But should we tell people this before they are baptized, and perhaps show them a video presentation about the worst-case scenario? Should we justify it with the fact that many other people also shun others whether for feelings of religious superiority or sometimes just feelings of cultural or supposed moral superiority -- or sometimes just purely for emotional blackmail based on rationalizing juvenile behavior? 

In my view, the answer is yes, absolutely. We should show new converts how we shame people. We should be PROUD of everything we do with respect to our preaching and practice. If we think anything we do or teach should remain in the dark, then that can only mean we are ashamed of it. We would be hypocritical not to show it and explain it. We can tell people we think that the "love" behind shunning is worth it in the long run.

  • (Hebrews 12:11) True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful; yet afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

If we are not proud enough of a practice to explain it up front as part of the conversion process, and explained by an elder prior to baptism, then, of course, we should change the practice.

Also, you are probably aware that I don't think we handle shunning in a completely biblical way. And another way to look at the verses above (about returning to vomit, re-nailing the Son of God), is that they are not about any specific religious organization, but about a specific type of personal relationship with Jehovah that is rejected.

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I'll go along with much of what you've said, but draw the line at some scenarios that your yourself declared unlikely:

17 hours ago, Anna said:

If EVERY member of JWs decided they would no longer cooperate with certain policies, where would those policies be? Of course this is not likely ever to happen, but the point I am trying to make is that many policies exist only because of the support they get

I'd be very hesitant to engage in civil disobedience to theocratic headship. If history is any guide, maybe the earth would open up.

Instead, I've chosen the role to defend whatever the GB does. It doesn't mean I don't acknowledge it might be done differently or that they can't make mistakes - they've acknowledges that themselves; I just don't feel its my role to push for changes. If they decide to do things differently, I'll spin positively that new policy too. It's the role I have chosen.

There's a lot of urging here that the GB should do this or the GB should do that. Is that permissible? Who knows? All I know is that I am uncomfortable taking part in it, so I will not. I see no biblical precedent for it and much biblical precedent that would discourage (if not forbid) it. It is 'leadership by the people' instead of being 'taught by Jehovah.' It is the Western model of journalism - 'exposing' errors that it assumes no responsibility to fix and no responsibility to deal with the consequences of stirring up discontent among persons not previously discontent.

Do they arbitrarily decide things at Bethel without input from 'the people?' I wouldn't say that. Each week every circuit overseer in the world sends in a report from the congregation he has served. Okay, okay, one could say many are 'yes men' and all are loyal, but it is not a given that an organization send out its agitators to represent it. The COs, especially the more experienced ones, can be trusted to give input about whatever is affecting the congregations, including PR matters. It's for them to do it, not me, and if I was to do it, it wouldn't be in a public forum. Again, it is 'taught by Jehovah,' and not 'leadership of the people' because leadership of the people does not always lead to fine ends. It is largely an article of faith in today's world that it does, but a perusal of history shows that it only occasionally does.

The truth faith is the true faith. It is a challenge piloting it in an increasingly irreligious world in which the very notion of keeping the congregation clean is spun as a negative, as a scheme to 'control' people. The world pushes hard for the viewpoint that, if you must have religion, make it bland and let it not interfere with serious things of life. The GB has its hands full coping and they are overall doing well in catering to God and not just the individual. I won't tell them where they are going wrong. How do I know? For every line of information I have, they have one hundred.

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5 hours ago, Gone Fishing said:

You mean...you don't?

The most recent persons I studied with who symbolized their dedication through baptism were the father and mother of two children, a pre-teen boy and a much younger girl. We absolutely discussed what baptism means in terms of their association and the potential for disfellowshipping. In fact, we spent hours on the subject, because the mother was a smoker, who needed a lot of moral support to help her quit, and she was (and still is) allowed to call the house any time day or night getting through the tough time she had in giving up the addiction. In fact, they put off baptism for at least an extra 6 months to be sure she was completely over it. But our studies also included a discussion of what can happen to children, too, and the pressure we can end up unknowingly putting on children and the emotional pain that could result if the decision of a child is not really his (or her) own decision, but primarily a way for the child to please their parents.

So up to a point, I do, but I have probably over-used or even misused this verse:

  • (Matthew 10:33-37) 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens. 34 Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.

I'm wondering if this is really all that applicable to the variations of choices people make today. If their children grow up and become atheists, for example, are the parents really required to initiate that division? I read the verse carefully, now, and realize that we are not the ones creating this division and creating enemies. We are the ones who continue to love our enemies, the same way Jehovah continues to make it rain on both the righteous and unrighteous.

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3 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

I'd be very hesitant to engage in civil disobedience to theocratic headship. If history is any guide, maybe the earth would open up.

I came late to this discussion, knowing that my viewpoint on this particular subject is based on what might seem a bit radical to some. So I apologize in advance for the opinions to follow:

I wouldn't suggest "civil disobedience" either, but to your point, the earth didn't open up when Rutherford successfully attempted his own hostile takeover of the Watch Tower Society from 1916 to 1919 (technically, until 1931). After all, he went directly against the leadership of Russell and illegally went against the leadership of the majority, physically shutting that majority out, until he could put his own majority in place. But this is another one of those potential contradictions of a similar nature to the contradiction that forms the basis for this topic. We forgive him for bending the law and for several ethics violations because we are sure that, in the long run, he had the "truer" religion compared to those he outmaneuvered.

Yet, this also suggests that the 'guide from history' has more to do with how we respond to the true Leader, the greater Moses, Jesus Christ. Thinking of men as effectively taking the place of Jesus as head is merely an expedience for modern organizational purposes, and is not related to theocracy, which is rule by God. If a doctrine shows up differently in God's Word from the way it shows up from the GB, then we surely have nothing to fear from merely obeying God as ruler rather than men. That's the true definition of theocracy.

But we don't initiate discord, either. That's for the exact same reason we accept and respect the GB in the first place. We appreciate that the role they take on is for keeping order and for efficiently carrying out our ministry in an organized manner. So we gladly subject ourselves to the decisions of an organizational Governing Body. I don't see why anyone would object to that. Besides, it's working; the worldwide ministry is becoming increasingly more organized and efficient through this arrangement.

These men also maintain "doctrinal order" by taking on the role of "guardians of the doctrine." This can be a very good thing. Teaching materials, presentation materials, publication content, dramas, videos, convention talks are coordinated and this produces less confusion. When a change is made it is often highlighted and even if not, there are usually efficient ways for us to discover and explain the change. We appreciate that the work done to find the support for these doctrines scripturally is taken very seriously and we have no major doctrines without some Biblical reason for it, even if that reason (for a former doctrine) was based on an admitted misunderstanding. 

I won't use this topic as a place to show the kind of trouble that can happen if the "guarding" part is taken more seriously than fixing any misunderstandings, but I think that should be obvious, from our own history. But the point is that it should not be difficult for any of us to rattle off anywhere from 10 to 20 doctrinal changes and changes in procedures that came about through "public pressure" even though this public pressure was not well-known to most of us, nor was it any kind of civil disobedience.

I can think of a couple cases where it really was something like civil disobedience from the rank-and-file Bethelites, for example, but I am referring primarily to the public exposure of certain embarrassing doctrines by ex-JWs, or the pressure of civil courts and tax courts (US, UK, Belgium, Australia) and scrutiny of doctrine by psychologists, surgeons and law enforcement. Add to this an unknown number of letters that came in from Witnesses whose questions and objections really have been taken seriously over the years. It must be a lot more than some Witnesses and others here would believe.

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5 hours ago, JW Insider said:

We forgive him for bending the law and for several ethics violations because we are sure that, in the long run, he had the "truer" religion compared to those he outmaneuvered.

Had he lost maybe we would all be wearing beards and the ones shaving like you and me would have heard about it. 

It's before my time. Rutherford to Knorr went smoothly enough. And I don't think there was turmoil from Knorr to a GB, though Witness growls that she was cheated.

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On 9/1/2017 at 9:53 PM, Anna said:

So I guess no one wants to have a go at solving this apparent discrepancy? Anyone?? @JW Insider, @Gone Fishing, @TrueTomHarley

Thank you all for your responses! Glad to see you're back from fishing @Gone Fishing, I thought you might have drowned!  I have just been so busy lately and although I have read everyones comments I have not had the chance to reply. I need to read them again, properly and carefully, before I respond,  and right now I have just too much going on. Looking forward to it though :). Thanks again!

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On 9/3/2017 at 4:09 AM, Gone Fishing said:

At that time, Eve became disenamoured with her religion, and, fully believing that her former religion was wrong, made a choice that that impacted on her family relationships. Adam was later faced with the dilemna you have described above.

That is a good parallel and I know what you are trying to say. Basically that we need to show loyalty to God by rejecting individuals who have broken their vow of loyalty. But I can't hep but attempt to punch a few holes in this. Well, probably just one: Does it mean that if Adam wanted to keep loyal, he would have not only rejected the fruit but also Eve? 

As we know, after they had both sinned they lived together for centuries thereafter and had a number of children. This could be likened to what happens if one of the marriage partners is disfellowshipped, this does not dissolve the marriage, and indeed things should go along as normal. (I wonder,  if Adam had rejected the fruit, would Jehovah have allowed Eve to live out her imperfect life as she did originally?) Also if a minor still living in the household is disfellowshipped, the child is not shunned. But as we know, like the turn of a switch, the relationship changes dramatically once the child leaves home. I just cannot wrap my head around this seemingly superficial handling of something that can be very traumatic, mainly for the innocent party. Most of all, that the choice of treatment of disfellowshipped individuals is not left up to the innocent party, but that the innocent party is told (many times over and over) not to have ANY contact with the disfellowshipped family member regardless if the family member has ceased sinning but just does not want to be JW anymore.  So...in line with the question "should someone who wants to quit being one of Jehovah's Witnesses be made to chose between his beliefs and the family" the answer is NO,  but the  reality is different, if they want to resume their relationship with the family they have to get re-instated, or if they have changed their beliefs they better keep it a secret to avoid getting disfellowshipped and thus shunned. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

I noticed something in our FAQ that could be very misleading to someone who didn't know any better: "What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue". 

    Hello guest!

The funny thing is, in reality most Witnesses will keep their association with family who are  living a dubious life style but are not disfellowshipped to a minimum anyway, without needing any prompts from the Slave. There is a couple in our hall who have drifted and no longer go to meetings. They smoke pot and celebrate their kid's birthdays. Their parents are not buddy buddy with them at all and keep association to a minimum, but they DO communicate normally (which they wouldn't/couldn't if they were dfd.) and they have the grand children over whenever, and take that opportunity to tell them about Jehovah and take them to the meetings. That couple is as good as disfellowshipped, and so they are held at arms length without having anyone tell them how to act.

This is not all I wanted to write really and it's rather haphazard as I am still really strapped for time but I wanted to at least say something....

 

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On 9/7/2017 at 4:09 PM, Anna said:

Thank you all for your responses! Glad to see you're back from fishing @Gone Fishing, I thought you might have drowned

Sell a man a fish ... and you feed him for a day.

TEACH a man to fish .. and you lose a steady customer.

Isn't there a scripture about " ... and no one will say "Know Jehovah", because everyone WILL know Jehovah ..." (paraphrased)?

... then people will have to get REAL jobs.

( merely a random rant ... it IS Friday ... time to punish more innocent people for what their relatives and friends have done...)

1 hour ago, Anna said:

But as we know, like the turn of a switch, the relationship changes dramatically once the child leaves home. I just cannot wrap my head around this seemingly superficial handling of something that can be very traumatic, mainly for the innocent party.

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.

The thought just occurred to me .... under the current "rules", if my name was James Stalin, or James Hitler ... there would be no congregational sanctions against me going to a family reunion with my older brother Josef Stalin, or Adolph Hitler .... or even  spending the weekend at their Dachas or Fortresses.

I am 70 years old .... but I am expected to treat my real (theoretical) sister who was baptized in the 2nd grade, at 8 years old,  like dirt, and WORSE .... completely shunning her ...  when she turns 50 and decides she made a mistake getting baptized so young, or makes other mistakes common to  humans.

If I don't ... well ... uh .... you know ....... (makes throat cutting gesture with finger).

It is more cruel than even Ah can stomach.

(Blood is thicker than water .... but apparently not as thick as wielding and consolidating political power ... )

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13 hours ago, Anna said:

Does it mean that if Adam wanted to keep loyal, he would have not only rejected the fruit but also Eve? 

We can only speculate on scenarios here. What is clear however, is that Adam could have rejected Eve's wrong course and let the "Judge of all the earth" decide on the outcome. We just cannot imagine how Jehovah would have solved this problem, but we can be sure His solution would have been just as amazing and beyond human imagination as the real solution He has devised for the real situation. He even provided for the rebels and that included hope for their offspring which they could have imparted to their children. Even today, parents in dire straits may get some consolation in knowing their children will be OK.

 I have noticed today that even when people are disfellowshipped, they can still be instrumental in Jehovah's work. I personally know a few who have become witnesses with assistance from disfellowshipped ones. And that is outside the family arrangement where it is clear that disfellowshipped parents are still seen as having responsibility for their minor children's spiritual welfare. So they weren't rejected by Jehovah completely either.

Disfellowshipping is a scripturally based disciplinary arrangement. Imperfect humans get it round their neck like so many other things. Some, even though not actually experiencing the situation, act like the Sadducees (comp Matt.22:23-33) and create all manner of "what if" scenarios, "testing the limits" as it were, trying to break the fence. But breaking a fence doesn't change a boundary does it? It might show  up a weakness of course, requiring repair, so adjustments in the process of disfellowshippng can and have be made, but the bottom line of the matter is that unrepentant, serious sinners are disfellowshipped. And rightly so.

As for those who decide "I don't want to serve Jehovah on His terms. I renounce my dedication and  I don't want anyone to try and get me back". They in effect place themselves in the same yard as those disfellowshipped for unrepentance as their heart attitude is basically the same. Some may even arrogantly delude themselves into thinking they have disfellowshipped the congregation or have some how out-manoeuvred the judicial arrangements, but at the end of the day, they are all just taking the devil's carrot, "you will be like God, knowing good and bad."

All manner of tear-jerking scenarios both real and imagined are brought to the table in these kind of discussions. Unfortunately, the reality is that Jehovah's will is not always what Jehovah's people do, so as Jesus said “It is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come" Luke 17:1. We have to deal with them, and wait on Jehovah to correct matters, be it an actual practice, or our thinking.

Abraham said it is is "unthinkable" that Jehovah would ever act unjustly, so we just have to stick to that awareness, even as far as Job did. It is best practice to stay middle of the road even if it is narrow. Certainly "kicking against the goads" will result in damage, even if we stay on the right path.

 

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5 hours ago, Anna said:

I noticed something in our FAQ that could be very misleading to someone who didn't know any better: "What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue". 

Does it? It does.

3 hours ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

I am 70 years old .... but I am expected to treat my real sister who was baptized in the 2nd grade, at 8 years old,  like dirt, and WORSE .... completely shunning her ...  when she turns 50 and decides she made a mistake getting baptized so young, or makes other mistakes common to  humans.

Cut out the FAQ question and answer, put it in your wallet by your driver's licence and be done with it. Sometimes I think you would not do so for fear that you would lose bitching privileges here.

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10 hours ago, Gone Fishing said:

We just cannot imagine how Jehovah would have solved this problem, but we can be sure His solution would have been just as amazing and beyond human imagination as the real solution He has devised for the real situation.

Agree

10 hours ago, Gone Fishing said:

have noticed today that even when people are disfellowshipped, they can still be instrumental in Jehovah's work. I personally know a few who have become witnesses with assistance from disfellowshipped ones.

Good observation, and I have noticed that too.

10 hours ago, Gone Fishing said:

but the bottom line of the matter is that unrepentant, serious sinners are disfellowshipped. And rightly so.

I agree with this completely. And of course as well as it being a protective arrangement AND a restorative arrangement as well. Personally I have known quite a number of those who were disfellowshipped and have come back. Those ones are usually those who have committed some sort of sin pertaining to a "weakness of the flesh" but still believe we have the Truth. As soon as they put their fleshly side in order they are soon reinstated.  But "my" problem is with the minority of cases where although having put their fleshly side in order, they no longer desire to preach to others or go to meetings twice a week (for whatever reason...losing faith etc.. etc.) These ones have no chance of being reinstated because one of the prerequisites is meeting attendance.  Maybe one day they do wake up. My sister in law was gone for 20 years! She was disfellowshipped for having sex with her boyfriend (who later became her husband). But her being gone for so long was mainly circumstantial because she had moved to a country where Witnesses are banned and her husband was strongly opposed. Then her husband died and she moved back to the USA and was able to take steps for re-instatement.  Interestingly, my mother in law never cut ties with her and even went to see her in the other country several times when she was still disfellowshipped. So when my sister in law applied for reinstatement it wasn't so she could associate with her mother, because she was already doing that,  but it was because she genuinely wanted to return to the Christian congregation, and to Jehovah (although she said she had never lost her relationship with Jehovah). Now if my mother in law had followed the Slave's instructions as per the

    Hello guest!
where the daughter returns after 15 years,  she would have not spoken to her daughter for 20 years, nor seen her grandchildren.  I cannot put my finger on it, but something tells me this is not right, it goes against natural human affection and decency that we were created with. I cannot help but wonder if it's right for US to judge the situation by the standard of Aaron's sons who were directly put to death by Jehovah, and the Israelites who were to stone their own children to death for dissidency. Things are different now. Isn't Jehovah going to punish individuals himself at Armageddon? As you know, I have nothing at all against the congregation being kept clean, what I have an issue with is the family being told how to act. I feel it should be at the discretion of the family how they handle the transgressions of a loved one.

10 hours ago, Gone Fishing said:

All manner of tear-jerking scenarios both real and imagined are brought to the table in these kind of discussions. Unfortunately, the reality is that Jehovah's will is not always what Jehovah's people do, so as Jesus said “It is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come" Luke 17:1. We have to deal with them, and wait on Jehovah to correct matters, be it an actual practice, or our thinking.

Abraham said it is is "unthinkable" that Jehovah would ever act unjustly, so we just have to stick to that awareness, even as far as Job did. It is best practice to stay middle of the road even if it is narrow. Certainly "kicking against the goads" will result in damage, even if we stay on the right path.

 

I like that

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I am glad your sister-in-law has been reinstated. I see no reason why your mother-in-law should have rejected her grandchildren on the strength of your sister in-law's foolishness, regardless of any narrow-minded interpretation that some might apply to her actions. She of course would have to endure any consequences, even unjust ones, should they come as a result of her conscientous (hopefully) decision. But really it only goes to show why Jehovah has standards, and why the penalty for violation can seem severe. Look at the trouble caused for your mother-in-law. Same with Eve. Death penalty for "scrumping"? Bit Victorian isn't it? Huh, just look at the consequences for everyone else! 

28 minutes ago, Anna said:

it goes against natural human affection and decency that we were created with.

It is difficult for us to know what the boundaries on these natural feelings are/should be. We are imperfect, and even if we were not, Jeremiah's words would still be valid: "I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." Jer.10:23.

Wasn't Abraham asked to go against against natural human affection and decency that we were created with? (Gen.22:2). But his faith in Jehovah moved him to obey what must have seemed more absurd than what his wife had been presented with many years earlier (Gen.18:12).Jehovah resolved the problem for him, but Abraham had no idea of the outcome until the matter was resolved. (Gen.22:8; 12). The important thing was that his faith prompted his obedience and gained him Jehovah's favour in a very special way. That opportunity is open to us all (James 3:22-23).

We can all point to examples where making our own decisions when faced with an unpleasant choice leads to a seemingly successful outcome. A typical example of this is the injunction to marry "only in the lord". Any number of experiences can be cited where brothers and sisters have flouted this counsel, and lo! The "unbeliever" has started a bible study and has become one of Jehovah's Witnesses! As if this vindicates a course of disobedience to Jehovah.

Does this show the "only in the lord" injunction to be faulty? As faulty as some would claim the way in which the disfellowshipping injunction is applied? I think it more indicates the mercy of our God Jehovah who "has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has he repaid us what our errors deserve" Ps.103:10. Also, his impartial and forgiving nature in that he does not withold his blessing even from those who are seemingly gained by the actions of those who have ignored his counsel.

What is often overlooked in these matters is the calamity that can befall others when the results of these self-willed decisions do not turn out so well. Or what about the fact that "because  sentence against a bad deed [by one person] has not been executed speedily, the heart of [other] men [or women] becomes emboldened to do bad" (Ecc.8:11)? Then Jesus words at Luke 17:1-2 become more significant do they not?

But then of course we all need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Ph.2:12) do we not?  And accept the consequences of our choices (Gal.6:7). Sometimes this can be a lonely place (Pro.14:17), but then a stand on principle is not always easy (Luke 9:23). One thing for sure, "it will turn out well for those who fear the true God, because they fear him". Ecc.8:12.

 

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On 9/15/2017 at 8:02 PM, Gone Fishing said:

I am glad your sister-in-law has been reinstated. I see no reason why your mother-in-law should have rejected her grandchildren on the strength of your sister in-law's foolishness, regardless of any narrow-minded interpretation that some might apply to her actions. She of course would have to endure any consequences, even unjust ones, should they come as a result of her conscientous (hopefully) decision. But really it only goes to show why Jehovah has standards, and why the penalty for violation can seem severe. Look at the trouble caused for your mother-in-law. Same with Eve. Death penalty for "scrumping"? Bit Victorian isn't it? Huh, just look at the consequences for everyone else! 

It is difficult for us to know what the boundaries on these natural feelings are/should be. We are imperfect, and even if we were not, Jeremiah's words would still be valid: "I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." Jer.10:23.

Wasn't Abraham asked to go against against natural human affection and decency that we were created with? (Gen.22:2). But his faith in Jehovah moved him to obey what must have seemed more absurd than what his wife had been presented with many years earlier (Gen.18:12).Jehovah resolved the problem for him, but Abraham had no idea of the outcome until the matter was resolved. (Gen.22:8; 12). The important thing was that his faith prompted his obedience and gained him Jehovah's favour in a very special way. That opportunity is open to us all (James 3:22-23).

We can all point to examples where making our own decisions when faced with an unpleasant choice leads to a seemingly successful outcome. A typical example of this is the injunction to marry "only in the lord". Any number of experiences can be cited where brothers and sisters have flouted this counsel, and lo! The "unbeliever" has started a bible study and has become one of Jehovah's Witnesses! As if this vindicates a course of disobedience to Jehovah.

Does this show the "only in the lord" injunction to be faulty? As faulty as some would claim the way in which the disfellowshipping injunction is applied? I think it more indicates the mercy of our God Jehovah who "has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has he repaid us what our errors deserve" Ps.103:10. Also, his impartial and forgiving nature in that he does not withold his blessing even from those who are seemingly gained by the actions of those who have ignored his counsel.

What is often overlooked in these matters is the calamity that can befall others when the results of these self-willed decisions do not turn out so well. Or what about the fact that "because  sentence against a bad deed [by one person] has not been executed speedily, the heart of [other] men [or women] becomes emboldened to do bad" (Ecc.8:11)? Then Jesus words at Luke 17:1-2 become more significant do they not?

But then of course we all need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Ph.2:12) do we not?  And accept the consequences of our choices (Gal.6:7). Sometimes this can be a lonely place (Pro.14:17), but then a stand on principle is not always easy (Luke 9:23). One thing for sure, "it will turn out well for those who fear the true God, because they fear him". Ecc.8:12.

 

I agree with the sentiments of most of what you are saying, based the scriptures you cited etc. It is a difficult situation, and with so many variables, no one solution can fit all perfectly obviously. To sum it all up, and I think I have mentioned it before, what I have difficulty with is the way family members are basically told to shun their loved ones. In the video (we will all see at our midweek meeting this week) the mother has not had any contact with her daughter for 15 years, and has not seen her grandchildren probably ever (although this is not mentioned, we are evidently led to assume it). I really feel that no man has the right to order others what to do in this regard, and as for the interpretation that it is Jehovah's will, well I guess I have a difficulty with that too.

The WT 74/8/1 "Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones" was the best article regarding this subject. I wasn't ever aware of it at the time of its publication, as I was too young, but I came across it in the WT CD library when I was researching this topic. Evidently our view has changed and become a lot more extreme. I hasten to think this was due to the shake up in 79 with GB member Ray Franz etc. He was eventually disfellowshipped because of associating with a disfellowshipped person (not because of apostasy). It seems because they had made an example of Ray, they also had to carry it through with the rest of us. I think @JW Insidermay have some thoughts on this as he was in Bethel at the time. You can see what I mean when you read the 74 article compared with what came after 79 to the present. Here is an extract from it:

Par. 21 As to disfellowshiped family members (not minor sons or daughters) living outside the home, each family must decide to what extent they will have association with such ones. This is not something that the congregational elders can decide for them. What the elders are concerned with is that “leaven” is not reintroduced into the congregation through spiritual fellowshiping with those who had to be removed as such “leaven.” Thus, if a disfellowshiped parent goes to visit a son or daughter or to see grandchildren and is allowed to enter the Christian home, this is not the concern of the elders. Such a one has a natural right to visit his blood relatives and his offspring. Similarly, when sons or daughters render honor to a parent, though disfellowshiped, by calling to see how such a one’s physical health is or what needs he or she may have, this act in itself is not a spiritual fellowshiping.

Now that's what I'm talking about. It makes so much more sense, and I hate to think that this extreme clamp down we have now could have something to do with "politics" rather than spirituality. There are always reasons for change that we may not be aware of, and sometimes they may actually have little to do with the Bible.

 

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On 9/2/2017 at 8:00 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

Yikes!

I've got a thing for Mormons and an entire Mormon category on my blog, which I do not have for any other religion.

I did a lot of extensive research on the Mormons because I didn't want to speak in ignorance. I also went directly to their website as I wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth, much to the chagrin of one sister who chastised me for it, saying she only looks to our publications on any topic. I have no idea where she thinks our publications get their info from. In any case, if I were to become a Mormon because of looking at their website I would deserve to become a Mormon! It is a crazy religion, not crazy in the sense of weird practices so much, but rather crazy what people will believe with that kind of a foundation. It is so obviously fake, the charlatan that Joseph Smith was. And yet it goes to show that people are willing to believe anything. I could start my own religion of the  pink flying slippers and get a following. Even with a name like that. Angel Moroni, give me a break.

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You want to tick off a Morman ... in the nicest way ... ask him how Joseph Smith received the Bible ... then comment "Well, that's not a religion you could just "pull outta a hat!".

I did this.

VERY hard to keep a straight face.

I suspect the "Angel Moroni" was a Joseph Smith inside joke, between him and the church treasurer.

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7 hours ago, Anna said:

And yet it goes to show that people are willing to believe anything. I could start my own religion of the  pink flying slippers and get a following. Even with a name like that. Angel Moroni, give me a break.

You would have to add polygamy or unlimited sexual partners to the sales pitch... THEN you "gots a winnah!"

10% tithing would be cheaper than dating, and alimony!

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4 hours ago, Anna said:

Now that's what I'm talking about. It makes so much more sense, and I hate to think that this extreme clamp down we have now could have something to do with "politics" rather than spirituality. There are always reasons for change that we may not be aware of, and sometimes they may actually have little to do with the Bible.

I don't think anything of significance has changed since the 74 article. There is a bit of counsel designed so that persons do not get overly casual with disfellowshipping just because it is a relative, but there is nothing fundamentally different. And it is just counsel, albeit strong counsel. But it is nothing more. Having said that, I have never been there. But the things Franz speaks of today would not get one in hot water. Certainly not The Boot.

Could it cost one privileges in the congregation? Dunno. But if it does, it does. Life goes on without privileges.

And the advise I gave our very own Rocket Man is actually good counsel. If anyone is paranoid, take a screen shot of the FAQ and carry it around with you. And then carry on in accord with it.

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9 hours ago, Anna said:

Now that's what I'm talking about. It makes so much more sense, and I hate to think that this extreme clamp down we have now could have something to do with "politics" rather than spirituality.

Of course it's all politics ... and the current policy is also cruel, and unscriptural.

That is how control is maintained ... fear through arbitrary punishment that makes no sense, for something someone else did, for fear you will be NEXT.

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