Why Did You Leave the Watchtower?
(the following were responses to the above question as asked by a member of the H2O message board)
Although I'm sure there was more than one reason, what would you say was the single biggest reason for your decision that you could no longer stay in the congregation? (what clicked?) What started the process for you? How long did it take? Just how hard was it?
They told me who I could and could not pray for.
My brother had been disfellowshiped. I would pray with my wife before going to bed. One of the people I would regularly pray for was my df'd brother.
One day, she presented me with a Watchtower article that instructed jw's not to pray for df'd people.
Shortly after that, he got married. I went to his wedding, then got hauled into the back room for that, and going to a go-go bar the day before his wedding. The elder patrol was not happy about going to the go-go bar, but the sin of going to my brother's wedding was far worse, according to them.
That was the last time I went to a meeting. About sept of 1995.
1. I felt something was wrong with what we were as JWs as an organization, but I could not seem to put my finger on it. It just seemed that life was moving on and the things promised were constantly eluding us.
2. I begin to constantly feel guilt because I felt I could never keep up with all that was required or 'exhorted' and found myself cutting corners. I found many others, Elders, MS, Pioneers, and COs doing the same.
3. I felt guilt because it seemed that my imperfect state (sinfulness) could never be assured of God's love and forgiveness. Everything seemed so 'conditional'. My salvation was a 'probably' depending on me.
4. As I served as an Elder, I witnessed a continuous pattern of harm done because of a simple-minded approach to serious and complex problems. I found a double standard. The organization allow many things for itself that are denied to rank and file member. For example, big building programs with many new Kingdom Halls and Circuit Assembly Halls, while the rank and file were exhorted to not be materialistic and build or buy new homes.
5. When I needed to deal with personal problems, I found the Watch Tower system cold, rigid, and not willing to understand what I was going through and my love for God.
6. I eventually read Crisis of Conscience and immediately recognized that the above mentioned patterns were not unique to me or my local situation. I saw obvious disconnects between reality and what was said to the rank and file members through the Watch Tower publications. An example of this hit when the Society eliminated charging for magazines at the door. They said it was to separate themselves further from Babylon the Great, when in fact I had already been following the Jimmy Swaggert court case. The Watch Tower move was out of necessity because of sale taxation issues.
7. As my children became teenagers, I saw how the organization was not healthy for them. I did not see this before because I did not have to deal directly with it. I saw how unreasoning and rigid the Watch Tower is with the normal and natural processes a teen will go through on their final approach to adulthood.
8. I went deeper into research of the organization and found that is it seriously lacking in truth and in love for its members. I came to the conclusion that an organization is nothing more than an unfeeling mechanical operation of human interaction. The Big-O did not die for me, but Jesus Christ did die for me. The issue became one of not 'where' I need to go, but the 'whom' I needed to go to.
9. As I quietly asserted some distance from the organization, I saw how quickly it judged me and my family. Condemnation was there long before any efforts were made to reach out to us. When those efforts were made, they were too little, too late. I later learned that there were no real intentions of keeping me, but only a thin veneer of concern was shown which veiled the real intent to get 'evidence' to condemn me.
10. No level of concern or appreciation was ever expressed or shown to account for my 25 years of faithful, devoted, and loyal service. What I experienced thereafter was a revelation in what the Watch Tower organization is really all about. I had asked God, in Jesus name, to make it clear to me what I was dealing with and lead me to a right decision. The Watch Tower wolves came out from under their sheep's clothing, and the rest is history.
The most important reason was
a) I found out that the bible is NOT God's word
b) even if it were WTS interpret it erroneously and dishonestly
c) WTS is a totalitarian org
I was one to ask a lot of questions as a child. At age 12 I was coerced into being baptized which was supposed to make me able to "understand" whereas before I was always told I was "too young". Well baptism did the trick, opened my eyes to the hypocrisy of it all. No flashes of insight or understanding, no ability of the CS or his minions to answer pretty simple questions about contradictions.
So I simply saw the Witnesses and their claims to be nothing different than others with a whole load of fear and guilt added on as a motivator. I just wasn't motivated by the "Armagedddon" tactic or the "Spiritual return of Jesus" perversion. Left at age 14/15 but would have left sooner if I could have. Mentally I was gone the week after I was dunked.
Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing as it gave me a mixed bag of dark and light. Ideals to aspire to, but the example of how words without deeds are worthless. All the talk in the world means nothing if you don't walk the talk.
The single biggest reason for my leaving was receiving a personal letter from WTS headquarters that contained a bald faced lie, with the rest of the letter's contents being evasive, obtuse, and disinterested in truth. I suddenly felt like an immense idiot for not seeing it sooner, given the vast amount of corroborative information I had already.
For me it was a combination of the blood issue, and realizing that the 607/1914 chronology was baseless speculation.
It was very difficult for me to leave, in fact i did not want to leave. I wasn't given a choice after my wife turned me in for being a supporter of AJWRB. I appealed, but that of course failed.
Right off, I'll tell you I am much happier out of the Society's influence than when I was in. Because there were so few J.W. children in my area and because my parents did not surrender all their parenting instincts to Watch Tower fanaticism, I was allowed to have some "worldly" childhood friends. I learned first-hand from these "worldly" friends what real friendship is all about. These friendships allowed me to see that the Society was lying about "worldly" people. My friends were very tolerant of my bizarre beliefs and J.W.-Know-It-All arrogance as I bombasted them with preaching "the good news", moral judgments, and the imminent (30 years ago) destruction of the world and them. They listened patiently until it was all out of my system and then we played and forgot about our differences. If I told them I was lusting after a girl I liked there was never a worry that they would turn me in to the Elders or my parents.
They are good people and I still love them after all these years. In sharp contrast to when I was a teenager and my J.W. friends dropped me the moment the Elders told them to mark me as a "bad association" because I was not baptized and had grown a short beard. I never did drugs, cussed, or went out on dates, so yes, really, people were "marked" for just having beards and not being baptized by age 16 or 17 years old. No pressure here, clearly not a cult or high control group cause members are allowed to make their own choices, right?
In any case, give yourself some time even if you're shy and socially retarded (almost a given if raised as a J.W.) because "worldly" folks are very tolerant of people who are different and have a divergent out look on life. They will like you for yourself and not because an Elder told them to or not to. Even without any friends, I am convinced that freedom from the Watch Tower lies would be well worth it but this has never been the case as honest persons seem to find one another even in this "wicked old system of things due to be destroyed at any moment now" for the last 2000 years in which good friends keep coming like the future that would never be.
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