The facts are clear. Being a Jehovah’s Witness is not fun. The Watchtower offers nothing to its members. There is no joy in their Kingdom Halls. Preaching door to door has become passe, not to mention being nerve-wracking drudgery.
There really isn’t anything for young JWs to do and their pool of friends is often quite small. They can not look forward to birthdays or holidays, engaging in school sports, clubs, or other after school activities. Instead of getting a college education, they need to learn to become janitors and window washers. Having “wordly friends” like kids at school or in those living their neighborhood is discouraged – and by some JW parents, strictly forbidden.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are always on the lookout for “bad influences” – constantly on guard against anyone who might be “an apostate” or an expelled JW that must be “shunned.” Witnesses can not have deep theological discussions even between themselves, because they might venture into “apostasy” or generate self-doubt about their beliefs as they actually do honest research.
They have to shun others, even their closest friends and family members who have been identified by the elders as “apostates,” “unworthy,” or “sinful persons.” They have to shun even those who committed no sin, but may have asked too many questions, or expressed doubt about certain Watchtower doctrines or policy. They have to be wary of being too honest about their feelings, or questioning the elders about confusing Bible passages and outdated teachings in the organization’s literature – or else they could find themselves shunned and ignored – forced to be separated from family and friends.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are alway seen as “being different.” You have to wear a suit and tie when you go to the Kingdom Hall or field service – even on the hottest and most uncomfortable days. In the winter, sisters are not allowed to wear long slacks and many feel they must wear “heels” even in the worst weather. The brothers are expected to wear long sleeves and ties to conventions being held in sports arenas and ballparks. Somehow skirts for women, and ties for men, are thought to make the public think JWs are “more Christian,” and “setting a good example to glorify Jehovah.”
Really? The public, for the most part, just thinks JWs are nuts – wackos dressing like that when temperatures are extreme in either direction.
JW “dating” is a farce. To find a spouse you are limited to just those from the opposite sex (even if you are gay) who are Jehovah’s Witnesses (or about to be baptized). Right off – your options and choices are limited. It is considered bad form to travel and attend other Kingdom Halls just to find someone to date. If the only teenagers in your hall are all under 16, you are doomed. Dating a non-JW could find you called before a Judicial Committee for a stern talking to and warning. If you are planning on engaging in some heavy “necking” and maybe eventually get your hand near a breast or a crotch, you’d better be ready to get married. Some young JWs can not even date without adult chaperones. What? That went out of style in the 19th Century! Dating as a JW is always about finding a marriage mate, not just for fun and recreation. You better be prepared to plan your wedding day the first time you stick your tongue in someone’s mouth.
Let me repeat my opening statement: Being a Jehovah’s Witness is not fun!
You’re expected to attend two meetings a week and go in “field service” for at least two to three hours on Saturday mornings. You may “qualify” to watch over a literature stand set up in front of a Wal-Mart store, a train station, or a busy intersection. On the other hand, you may spend your afternoon sitting in the sun, watching over a folding card table covered with Watchtower and Awake! magazines while watching Little Leaguers play nearby in an organized baseball game – something you were not allowed to do.
How fun!?! The fact that no one is interested or bothers to come and take your literature is not important – you are still engaged in “the worldwide preaching work.” (And you get to count your hours!)
Oh, and your summer vacations? You don’t have to worry about making plans – they’ve been made for you: You are going to a distant large city to attend a district, regional or “International” convention. You get to stay in discounted hotel rooms (they’d be nicer and cheaper through Orbitz or Travelocity), take sack lunches to the stadium or convention hall, and then sit through 6 to 8 hours of mind-numbing talks and pre-recorded stage plays with talentless JW actors wearing awful costumes and fake beards. But after all, you’ve been told that Jehovah will be pleased that you made it – even if you are bored or miserable the whole time you are there.
Recently a former JW elder contacted me and shared his personal experiences and opinions. During our conversation he estimated, based on his knowledge of several congregations in his area, that fully 25% of the Jehovah’s Witnesses he knew “would leave it all behind immediately” if the Watchtower’s shunning policy was eliminated.
“If that 25% was to leave, and could do so without repercussions to their families, then another 25% would soon join them. You’d see Kingdom Halls populated by mostly older JWs who stay only because they feel that they’ve been in the organization too long to ever leave. There would be a few that would stay because they enjoy the power and prestige of being elders or ministerial servants – but even most current elders would get out as soon as they could. Being an elder is not easy – or fun. But, I’m sorry to admit, there are a number of JWs who are clearly ‘true believers,’ simply too stupid to see that 90% of what the Watchtower teaches is made up bullshit – a combination of fairy tales, man-made rules and regulations, and lesson materials full of historic and scientific errors – and yes, even outright lies. Let’s face it – most Kingdom Halls would be almost empty if the Watchtower ever changed its shunning policies – and they know it.”
So I have to ask you to be honest and answer the following questions:
- Do you really want to sit through two nights of mind-numbing meetings going over material you’ve already read and studied on your own?
- Do you really want to go knocking on strangers’ doors, or spend your morning driving around in circles so you don’t have to actually “knock on strangers’ doors”?
- Do you really want to spend your holiday weekends sitting in a sports arena or hot stadium listening to a bunch of self-important brothers reading prepared talks in the same boring cadence, one right after the other, for 3 to 4 hours at a time?
- If you are single, wouldn’t you want to romance your own dates, and get to know them better on your own terms, before committing to marriage?
- Do you really want to commit your family to a monthly “tithe” to support “the world-wide preaching work” – when actually that money will go to a tax-free corporation that has millions, if not billions of dollars stashed away, even more millions invested in hedge funds, and spending more millions to buy more properties world-wide?
- Don’t you have a better use of your time and money?
And here is the ringer – and I really want you to consider your answer carefully:
- Do you really believe that the Watchtower and the Governing Body truly speak to and for Jehovah? Really? Be honest. Really?
- Or do you think the Watchtower is just a huge and historic scam?
If you are now a Jehovah’s Witness, are you one of those first 25% that would walk tomorrow if they could? Or are you part of the second 25% that the elder that I quoted earlier in this article estimated would leave soon thereafter, given the chance, and seeing the backsides of the first 25% going out the door?
There will always be a certain percentage of both current – and yes, even former JWs that will act as apologists for the Watchtower Society – no matter what they do or how ridiculous they might be. That’s fine. Leave them behind. Let them suffer on – but really, you don’t have to stay.
There really is “life after the Watchtower.” I know it, and thousands of other former Jehovah’s Witnesses know it as well. Don’t be afraid to join the coming stampede of thousands that are now, and soon will be, leaving the Watchtower.
So – Why are you still a Jehovah’s Witness?