Do I Disassociate or Not?

by Paralipomenon

 
Brace yourself, this may make you gag.

Holidays were spent in service.
Some friends were having a BBQ that we were invited to, I went down and asked to see if there were by-products in the wieners.
I was baptized at 15.
I asked to be baptized at 12 and to humor me they let me take the test.  To their surprise I actually aced it but the elder convinced my parents that I was still too young.
I would run lemonade stands in the summer time and donate the proceeds to the hall
I would routinely give my allowance to the hall for donations
I would informally Witness to anyone and everyone.
I was twice used as an example at district conventions and twice took part in the experiences of ďYoung Christian MinistersĒ
At my baptismal I got the CO to sign a program that I framed and hung in my room.
I commented at least 5-6 times each meeting had my hand up for almost every question.
I have a picture from grade one of what I want to be when I grow up.  Any guesses?  An elder at Bethel.
I could name all the books of the bible from memory at the age of 8
I was on the fast track to becoming a Ministerial Servant.

Despite all this I did like to have a fun time and would go hang out with everyone.  Even though personally I didnít do anything wrong I didnít really snitch on others.  My thought was that god was judge, not me so why bother ratting others outÖ theyíd get what was coming to them.

My dad was a very charismatic elder when I was younger.  He was looked up to and frequently asked to give talks in our hall and others.  He was the down to earth elder that would weave humor into his talks that people appreciated.  When I was about 10 my dad stepped down from being an elder and I was mortified.  That was the best service that a brother could give, that was, leading the flock. 

It wasnít until much later that I learned that my parents were having major marital problems.  I never really learned much more about it and still donít care to know.

I would study and research constantly to bring up new points in my talks.  The older sisters in the hall just loved when I would give a talk because I would try to approach it from a different angle.

The biggest turning point for me was when I was in service discussing relief after natural disasters.  Witnesses are so proud of the humanitarian aid they provide to disaster relief that it was the feature on the cover of the magazine.

One door I knocked on cornered me on the issue that the relief is handed out to Witnesses first and to others after if there was anything left over.  I hadnít really thought about that.  Yes we hear of rebuilding homes of Witnesses and getting the hall back up, but what about everyone else?  I asked the elder I was with why we didnít help everyone equally and he used the illustration of family members caught in a fire with worldly people, who would I save first?

I replied that I would save the worldly people first since my family had the resurrection hope.

That was not the answer he was looking for and brushed off the conversation.  So I was minorly stumbled over this perceived selfishness and wanted to do some more research.  It was our belief that we would be the only survivors of Armageddon and the rest of the world was wicked.  This just didnít sit well with me as I had been taught God is love.  Asking my mother she said that if anyone had true good heart, the angels would direct us to them.

I just couldnít reconcile this in my head.  An elderly woman that is taught as a Catholic and goes to church every Sunday and lives a good life may reject Witnesses because she feels that sheís doing Godís will already.  Was she really deserving of death?  Was being a good and honest person really not enough?  All my questions and research led me to believe that yes, that person is still wicked.

That just didnít sit right with me.  Questioning the GB is akin to apostasy so I really didnít have much to do but just sit there at the meetings feeling discouraged.  While at one time a champion of the truth, I didnít feel right knocking on peopleís doors and preach something that I was questioning myself.

I had asked my parents, I had asked my elders and I had researched the publications.  My faith which had at one point been rock solid was now starting to waver.  I remembered the scripture paraphrased ďA man with blind faith is worse than a man without faithĒ  I needed a good boost to my faith so I decided to put it to the test.

If Jesus could allow the devil himself to tempt him to test his faith, I could start to look at my religious choices and only find myself strengthened, right?

 
So, what to do.  I researched the Society's publications for inconsistencies.  I gave them a very wide berth.  I wasn't looking for a reason to leave so mistranslating "Man" as "Sir" wasn't going to send me packing.  There were a few other issues, but they all seemed to be reasonably explained.  Yes, you're laughing, but remember I was still very active and this was supposed to help build my faith.  I was mainly using the CD archive and was very perplexed as to why they didn't include all the volumes of books and magazines back to the start.  Surely it would be easy to find someone that had them.  Why was the date cut off there?

I had been to Bethel and seen pictures of the Governing Body celebrating Christmas.  If you think you are going to convince someone to leave by bringing up things like that you'll find that the elders will readily admit to it as well as permitting smoking and voting and other things.

Okay that answered my question.  In older publications the Society's grasp of what's expected of a Christian was still being formed.  We were coming out of thousands of years of darkness and the light was still getting brighter.

Good explanation, makes sense but something didn't sit right with this.  Okay, so the organization made some mistakes, why cover them up? 

Didn't David have a man killed so he could cover up his adultery with his wife?

Didn't Peter deny Jesus three times on the night of his death?

Didn't Paul stone and persecute the Jews until his conversion?

The Bible was full of examples of being... well imperfect.  Okay so the lesson is, we suck.  But why would God's new organization be so intent on hiding these imperfections?  I am still in pro-JW mode here so I let it pass a small infraction.

So I went on the internet to see if I could find these older books, I was naturally curious as to what they contained.  At the time the internet was still pretty murky so I checked out the newsgroups.  I was appalled to find exactly what the society warned us about.  Apostates.

Seriously, there was a group of extremely bitter, vengeful angry people.  They were just like those that had been cast out God's light.  I read their posts and laughed at their ignorance.  I took their posts and pointed out their flaws in my mind.  They made it easy to do with petty attacking posts.  I knew not to get involved in posting because they were the ones outside weeping and gnashing their teeth.  I was better than that.  My faith was getting the boost it needed.

People that were angry they couldn't have premarital sex.
People that were angry they their deception was discovered.

The reasons given were weak at best.

They don't believe Jesus is God, boo hoo.
They don't take blood transfusions, read the Bible fool.
They don't celebrate holidays, cry me a river.
They once taught that aluminum was evil, how absurd.

Aluminum?

That caught my attention and I read more.  This poster wasn't a raving lunatic.  He was neither bitter or angry.  He seemed to derive humor in some of the older teachings.

This is when the scales fell off my eyes to coin a Bible saying.  Aluminum?  You've got to be kidding me.  I researched it more and found it to be true.  With the acceptance of such an absurd belief I was now open to taking a closer look at the lives of C.T.R and Rutherford and the drama.  I was floored.  Russellís wife actually divorced him over his relationship with a younger sister living with them.  While infidelity was never proven, it's a major insinuation to make, especially considering the women weren't treated with much respect back then.

I started to look at Russellís predictions for the end.  Several failed dates, and the resurrection of the dead on earth.  His court case when challenged about the authenticity of the Bible and he claimed to have done the translation himself.  The prosecutor produced a passage of text in ancient Greek and asked him to read from it and he was unable.

Floored, my shaky foundation of faith was now shattered.  It was a very substantial blow to have dedicated your life to a lie.  I was at first very bitter for the lies but that didn't last.

I had used to have major religious arguments with schoolmates using BBS's (old school internet)  I would preach and witness to people and even asked if our CO if I could count the time.  He said no and to be careful with this online association.  If only he knew what the internet would become.  But one example that one of my classmates used to describe religion has stuck with me to this day.

Nobody wants to die.

If you trap a wild animal, it will fight to it's dying breath to escape.  There is a primal urge to keep living and guess what, humans aren't exempt from this.  The key difference is what triggers this instinct is the knowledge of imminent death. 

Being self aware, we, as humans are also aware that we will one day die.  Uh oh, we don't want to die.  What keeps this primal urge from making us go insane?

Ding!  Religion.

You don't die, you are reincarnated.
You don't die, you go to heaven.
You don't die, you will be resurrected to a paradise earth.

Ahhhh, so much better.  I can continue my life knowing that I am not going to die.  So in actuality, all religion is, is finding what type of afterlife is acceptable to you for you to believe.  That's why it's so hard to shake someone's believe in their religion.  If you succeed in shattering their faith, you convince them (subconsciously) that they are going to die.  The primal urge kicks in and they cling to their faith even harder.

Personally, I don't know what will happen to me when I die.  I will credit the creation book in presenting that the universe is very complex and may have had a designer.  But I refuse to follow the same trap as everyone else and try to guess as to something I have no basis for.  If there is an afterlife, bonus.  If there isn't, I won't know about it.  Personally I am fine with my life as it is and will focus it on being a good individual and enjoying what life has to offer.  I don't need elders to judge me.  I don't need flashes of light to guess what I should believe.  I just needed myself to be comfortable with who I am.

I came to this realization over 10 years ago and no longer needed to be a Witness.  Being able to step back and look at the organization in a curious and inquisitive manner yielded many more insights that only created a new foundation that the JWs were not what they presented.

I'll get to those later, I had a more serious issue.  I had fallen in love.  I was on the verge of disassociating myself, I had reconciled that my family would turn their backs on and had a letter drafted up to formally disassociate myself. 

But if I've learned one thing, it is fate has a sick sense of humor as I realized that I had fallen in love with a Witness girl.
 

 
I was just about ready to disassociate myself when a girl I had loved in a previous congregation came back into my life. She had been engaged but her finance cheated on her and the wedding was called off. She went to her grandmother's place which happened to be where I was currently living. We hooked up and I played the part of a faithful Witness and we rekindled our friendship. I had grown up quite a bit since I had left my parents and also my religion. I was more confident in me. Finished college and got a degree. While in the organization I had miserable self esteem, I didn't initiate any relationships because I didn't feel I was good marriage material. When I was approached about "reaching out" for MS and elder responsibilities I was started to have my doubts.

The organization still controlled my mind so that I punished myself for lacking faith. But now was completely different. I was confident, started a career and independent. I knew it wouldn't work out long term but being perfectly honest here, I thought I'd hook up, have some fun and then move on to a more worldly girl. Okay, sorry women here, yes I agree that was a very bastardly thing to think. The problem was that we were really soul mates. We had been really good friends for a long time but never expressed any romantic feelings for each other. The more we talked, the more I felt bad for just wanting to use her. We dated for over 8 months and could talk forever.

The talks weren't goody two shoes Witness conversations, we would discuss and debate hot topics and have philosophical discussions. The longer we dated the more I realized that I wasn't going to find a worldly girl that I enjoyed the company with more. On the other side I couldn't go back to the organization that I could now see as a headless monster.

Late one night I called her up and confessed my issues with the organization. I poured my heart out and figured that she could make the decision herself. While disappointed, she felt the same way I did about her and knew that she would never find a more compatible mate within the organization. We agreed to disagree and started planning our wedding. We went through the whole wholesome pre-marriage talk and lied a little bit about our dating practices. While we didn't have sex before we were married we did everything but. She was perfectly willing to start having sex before our wedding date, but I felt that the guilt after we got married would eat away at her. For the record, it's very, very, very difficult to say no to a woman you love throwing herself at you.

We got married and I attended meetings with her. I would do work for either the office or home finances while I was there. This went on for a few months then we got hit with the biggest shock of my life. She was pregnant. You know how the pill is 99% effective? Meet our son, I call him "one percent". This completely threw me for a bender. I was young, still new in my career, newly married and about to be a father. On one side it inspired me to climb the corporate ladder so I could afford to pay for my new family and was able to double my already decent salary within 3 years. We decided to bite the bullet and officially start our family and had two more children. In this time I just didn't have time or patience to put up with JWs anymore. I attended less and less meetings and hadn't been in service at all. We moved a lot as I changed jobs and eventually our records got lost.

Slowly, without me driving us to attend my wife started to attend less and less. This was really great. We kept up the illusion with our parents (both sets are JWs) that we were regular and everything was fine. Over the past two years our children started attending school. Now I hadn't been to a meeting in forever, my wife had been to one or two and since our kids aren't used to sitting still for a boring talk they are very difficult to handle at the meetings. This was more or less ideal for me. We had faded and my parents, while strongly suspecting so (we are now assigned to their hall) will turn a blind eye to our lack of attendance because they know if they shun me, there is no way in hell I'm letting them keep a relationship with their grandkids.

So this is perfect huh? Not quite. Now that our children are attending school my wife starts getting involved. She shows up at school and announces that we are Witnesses and our children will not be participating in any holiday activities.

Remember when I mentioned my motivation for posting my story? This is why. I consider myself a good father. I look after them and am very involved in their life. A father only wants what's best for his kids. So now my children are about to get all the ridicule from being a JW, but are not actually attending meetings.

I thought that the perfect decision would be for me to disassociate myself and have her stay in. I could really care less about being shunned, we could let our kids do the holidays and she could keep a good relationship with her family. At this point we have many "worldly" friends that aren't emotionally draining on my wife. My kids are enjoying playing at schools with their friends while the Witness kids shun them. Eventually they will see our hypocrisy and wonder why they couldn't enjoy themselves as children if we weren't really Witnesses.

I was writing my story out for my wife and wanted to point her to it here to understand a bit more of my feelings. She is a very smart woman and I thought she might read through some other people's experiences and start to understand the organization for what it is. We had a few conversations over the years, but usually they ended with "you have your beliefs, I have mine."

So after posting my story here I confronted her on it.

It did not go good. In the blink of an eye, I lost my confident, composed, intelligent wife and it was replaced with a die-hard dub. Holidays are pagan, it says so in the Bible. I want to return to the meetings, I want to take the kids. Jehovah is the most important figure in my life.

I asked if it was more important than our children and our marriage, she said yes. We started to discuss how we would get divorced and I cried for the first time in 23 years.

I have my integrity and want to lead my children by example. She wants to retain membership in this cult to please her parents.

We don't attend meetings
We don't go in field service
We have a very healthy, non-scriptural sex life
We have worldly friends
She buys our kids toy soldiers and toys with guns
They watch what they want on TV (within reason)
The kids have worldly friends
We actually enjoying playing an online game together that is very much frowned on by the Society.

We are not Witnesses. So why should we let our children experience the torment and ridicule that we experienced in school? So I am at a crossroad. I said we'd talk about it later and we dropped the issue. Since then she went to a meeting, but left early. So now I'm at a complete loss.

I love my wife dearly, we have one of the best marriages I know of. We are genuinely happy, but as the kids get older it will be harder and harder to maintain the lie. We will need to bite the bullet at some point. If I do disassociate myself, her parents will do nothing by try to drive a wedge between us. I don't want our kids to grow up and ask me why I didn't protect them from the abuse they took in school. I'm torn between being a good dad and a good husband.

This is where my story ends. It comes with more of a question and looking for advice from people that may have gone through this already.

Thanks for reading.

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