Jehovah’s Witnesses will try to share a helpful scripture with you at your door from time to time on what the bible says about certain aspects of family life. In this aspect, they help to “build up their neighbors”. But make no mistake. Their chief goal is to get you and/or anyone else to convert. And to convert, you must be baptized in their faith. Once you are baptized in their faith, you must follow and obey all rules, teachings, dictates, doctrines and regulations. Private or different beliefs or opinions are not allowed. Dissent is met swiftly by disfellowshipping (excommunication) and shunning. Even your own immediate family will shun you. So……do they really work to build up their own families? Only if all family members conform and blindly obey leadership. If anyone steps out of line and willingly harbors their own ideas……or commits one of the dozens of sins that they have determined are punishable by disfellowshipping, the family “upbuilding” ceases. But as mentioned above……it doesn’t just cease. Through their shunning policy and thus treating their own family members as though they are dead……..the “upbuilding” is destroyed. In reality, the family bond is destroyed.
I find it highly ironic that they comment on how the bible even helps mixed-belief families to succeed. They follow this with quotes. Quotes from whom? From those that converted over to their faith. But why not quote those that converted AWAY from their faith? Well, one reason is that anyone who is no longer a JW is, as mentioned above, to be shunned. They would not be welcomed to share a quote. The other reason is that if a person used to be a JW but no longer is…….his family that is not living in the same house as him would shun him.. I would hardly consider that to be an action of “upbuilding”. The quote you see below is taken directly from one of their publications and clearly states how disfellowshipped individuals should be treated by their family members.
“Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else – including the family bond. … Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail.” Watchtower 2013 Jan 15 p.16
His family that IS living in the same house with him would cease any “spriritual” activities with him while finding other ways to let him know that he is now an outsider. This type of treatment usually applies to JW children that have been disfellowshipped but continue to live with their parents because they are minors. Consider the following article:
The Watchtower of April 15, 1991, in the footnote on page 22, states: “If in a Christian’s household there is a disfellowshipped relative, that one would still be part of the normal, day-to-day household dealings and activities.” Thus, it would be left up to members of the family to decide on the extent to which the disfellowshipped family member would be included when eating or engaging in other household activities. And yet, they would not want to give brothers with whom they associate the impression that everything is the same as it was before the disfellowshipping occurred
As you can see, even when a disfellowshipped person lives in the home of the family, the admonition is that SOMETHING should be done to show this person that things are NOT the same anymore. Perhaps this person is no longer allowed to eat with the family. Perhaps he/she will be excluded from family vacations. The paragraph is not specific. But it certainly does make it clear that the family member should be treated differently……somehow….someway. This is not a provision based on love. It should also be noted that once the child turns 18, he/she will be kicked out unless they are trying to get back into the good graces of the organization. I have seen it happen many times. Worse yet, I’ve even seen 16 and 17 year olds be kicked out of their parents homes. Admittedly this is not the norm, but in these cases, they were kicked out because they admitted that they had no intention of returning to the faith. At that point, the fact that the child was a minor did not matter to the JW parents. They needed to show that they were choosing Jehovah (the organization) first. In other words……that their child…..their very own flesh and blood came second. So…..if you plan to return to the faith, your parents MAY tolerate you continuing to live with them…..but if you have no intent of returning…….be prepared to live on your own. And be prepared to be cut off. Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses are all about helping mixed-belief families succeed. So long as that mixed family does not have any former Jehovah’s Witnesses in it. In that case…….the family bond will be destroyed. The hypocrisy is jaw dropping.
Their defense continues by saying that a report in 1998 shows that 1 in 20 marriages experienced significant discord after one of the mates converted. I have searched online and have found links referencing this study. Some of these links provide significant information about other aspects of the study. But I am yet to find any corroboration of this claim. I find it puzzling that they left no source material for independent researchers to trace this claim.
Next they allude to the scripture found at Matthew 10:32-36. This is the scripture where Jesus says that he has not come to bring peace, but rather, a sword…..and that a man’s enemies would be his own household. I find it highly disturbing that they pick and choose which scriptures should be taken literally and which should be allegorical or figurative. They like to say that the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is figurative (because it goes against their teaching that hell is not a literal place of torment). Yet in this case, they like to say that the story is literal……that Jesus really meant that he came to divide up families. They of course interpret it this way because doing so seemingly gives biblical approval for their divisive practices and destruction of families. This is wrong in two main areas:
1) If you read that entire chapter of the book of Matthew you can see that Jesus was talking about those that wanted to follow HIM. He was likely speaking to Jewish Christians whose families would of course not appreciate or readily welcome a family member ceasing to practice the Jewish religion that their forefathers had practiced for hundreds of years. Whether his words were meant to be literal to that degree or not can certainly be put up for debate. The fact of the matter is that Jesus was still talking about those that wanted to follow HIM. Not those that may convert to a religion that wouldn’t exist for another 1900 years. What is scary is that THIS is EXACTLY how cults operate. They cherry pick scripture, take it out of context, apply it to themselves only and say “See? Look! Jesus was talking about US! In order to be in line for salvation you need to choose US!”
2) Cherry picking this particular set of verses and saying that Jesus came to cause divisions and disruptions completely flies in the face of the message of the rest of the gospel accounts. The overwhelming message of the gospels is to spread peace and love. In this case, the Jehovah’s Witnesses choose to ignore that message, and instead focus on a dogmatic and literal interpretation taken out of context so they can justify their hurtful actions.
They end this FAQ section be talking about unbelieving mates and whether or not a practicing Jehovah’s Witness is urged to end the marriage with such a person. Yet again, they deploy a half truth. If the unbelieving mate does not, in any way, shape or form, pose a threat to the “spirituality” of the witness, then said witness is encouraged to stay with that unbelieving mate. The hope is that the unbelieving mate will someday convert. But what if the unbelieving mate challenges the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses? This constitutes “spiritual endangerment” and the JW spouse would then be encouraged to flee for his or her own “spriritual protection. I.E. – To keep him/her indoctrinated with no exposure to anything negative about the organization. Remember, JWs are not allowed to harbor any thoughts that aren’t in line with current teachings or listen to arguments that are critical of leadership.
ANY time a group or organization urges you to treat a family member as though they are dead, it is a cause for concern. ANY time a group or organization urges you to treat a child in your family differently than the rest you should be alarmed, and you can rest assured that such treatment would be much more harsh if federal and state laws didn’t prevent children from being neglected by their parents. ANY time church leadership dogmatically applies scripture taken out of context that comes across as unloving, you may rest assured, it is a sign of cultish control.