Is it blind faith, or tradition?

There is a long story to get to the point of this story.

My parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses. But not just any Jehovah’s Witnesses. My parents, as teenagers, were selected for parts in the biblical “dramas”, or plays, in the annual JW mega-convention. In fact, that is how they met. My dad went on to become an elder in 1985, and has been one ever since. My mom has been a full-time Bible teacher, called a “regular pioneer”, for as long as I can remember. They are hardcore.

And I had a very happy childhood! My parents were very loving and doting. We went to the five JW metings three times a week, we went preaching on Saturdays and most Sundays (which I never really liked but there’s no way around it), and when we weren’t doing religious things, I went to school, made things like drawings and shit, and played a lot with my sister. We also always had people from the congregation over for dinner, lunch, whatever. The JW community is very close.

Everything changed the day before my 30th birthday, when I got officially kicked out of the JW faith. It’s a long story about how that whole process goes, but the point of it is that when you get kicked out, or disfellowshipped, for being deemed “unrepentant” by a set of elders, you get cast away from the congregation and the JW community as a whole. Friends and family alike are required to shun you forever more, or until you go through a long process and get “reinstated”, and it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do in between.

Getting reinstated has been a tremendous challenge for me because, during the course of the 9 years I’ve been disfellowshipped, I actually opened my eyes to the world outside the JW bubble. I learned things that changed my beliefs. My entire belief system, in fact, is quite the opposite from what I was taught to believe most of my life. It has a been crazy 9 years, with ups and downs like everything else, but during which I’ve done a lot of growing up. Or at least I hope.

I still miss my parents terribly. We’re only 20 minutes apart- but we never see each other. They won’t come visit, have dinner with me or my husband, invite us over, nothing. They simply refuse to associate with me until I “come back to the truth”. The problem is… I have tried to go back, sit through their meetings, understand their doctrine and see if I can live that life again. I am just too far removed from all of that. I think it’s all a bunch of baloney. I have burning questions about their faith that simply cannot be asked (ps. JWs claim that you can ask them anything. This is somewhat true, but not entirely. You can ask a lot of things. You just can’t challenge their answers or you’ll be labeled as haughty and not worthy of “The Truth”).

Not too long ago, I decided to say “fuck it” and ask some of those burning questions anyway. I sent Dad an email outlining some of the things that just didn’t make sense to me. His answers weren’t horrible- in fact, some of them made sense- but by the third question, he shut down and told me to be humble (because at this point apparently, I was being haughty) and to look for the answers myself. Thanks, Dad.

Does he want me to have blind faith? Just believe because, in his mind, that is just the only way there is?

I began to think about people who are born into other extreme religions, like Catholics back in the day when heretics were burned at the stake. There are many others around the world who just have to keep the family tradition, in this day and age, no matter how they feel about it. How about me? Could I do that? Could I just shut up and go along with it, for the sake of tradition? After all, it is my family’s religion. Is it worth it?

Is it… worth it… to sit through all these meetings and conform my life to a set of more than 100 spoken and unspoken rules about how to dress, speak, think, who to associate with or not, etc etc etc, complete with a host of “brothers and sisters” who are only too eager to tell the elders about any transgression they see…. Is it… worth it though… to spend time with my parents before they are too old and die. They’ve already missed out on most of my son’s life. He’s already 13. He’ll be a man before we know it. And.. I just miss them. A lot.

One thing is perfectly clear to me: they are never going to change their minds. Dad shunned his own father for decades until he died. Will he shun me, too, until we both die?

Do I close my eyes, stop thinking, and have blind faith? Should I shut up and follow the tradition even with the pangs of cognitive dissonance? Or should I continue in my path of resistance, suffering through it until they’re gone, and then live with the guilt of knowing that all I had to was swallow my pride?


Author: Soulrebel

You say "feminist" like it's a bad thing.

10 thoughts on “Is it blind faith, or tradition?”

  1. You don’t have to go to Catholics back in the day when heretics were burned at the stake, because similar situations as you encountered many Catholics of the pre 1960ies generations had to go through as well. In Europe the World War II and boom children had to face a very conservative Catholic Church where women had to be head covered (for many now something very strange) and had to sit at the left side of the church and men to the right, except of certain privileged who sat in front of the church on their reserved seats.

    To marry with some one from an other faith or of no faith was forbidden and would you have expelled from the family. Still today in many Catholic countries many just have to keep the family tradition, in this day and age, no matter how they feel about it and even when they do not believe any more. Often when they do not keep to those traditions they are looked at by the whole society.

    You write “One thing is perfectly clear to me: they are never going to change their minds. Dad shunned his own father for decades until he died. Will he shun me, too, until we both die?”

    We do not know what made you leave the JW. We also do not know if you still love Jehovah. In case you are still worshipping Jehovah as the Only One True God there should be no problem. When you are still a non-trinitarian believer (what we sincerely hope) you could show your patience and now and then post a little card and perhaps even a letter talking about what you believe.

    When you stayed a bible student that should not be a problem. Many bible Students have very similar believes like the JW, which is normal, they all studying the same word of God. Though there may be some big differences as well and more importantly you’ll probably find the matter of the infallible Watchtower Society the biggest unacceptable matter for most Bible Students. But that matter you should not have to touch …. certainly not at the beginning. We do not know if that was your third question (!?) to your dad some years ago.

    Please try first to bring up the similarities in your faith and his faith.You having been a JW should be able to know those differences, and you’ll probably see matters which you can’t agree with. Leave them untouched for now.

    Be stronger than your regret or hate feelings and show your love to your parents. Show that it means a lot to you and that you would love to share that love for your parents as you also want to share the brotherly love of Christ with them.

    You should not shut up and follow the tradition even with the pangs of cognitive dissonance. Please do remember that God knows your heart and that you can not trick him though you may trick a whole generation of people or a whole congregation … but not Him, the Most Divine.

    For sure you shall have to swallow your pride, but that does not have to mean you have to fake a situation and have to do as if you believe everything your father believes. But try to come closer to him letting him to see all the similarities and connection you both have.

    We wish you patience and luck.

      1. I want to know more about what you believe. I requested a book from the International Bible Student’s website but haven’t received it yet. I don’t even know if that’s the same thing you are preaching…

  2. Dear Soulrebel we believe the Words of God like they are written down in the Holy Bible. As such when God says Jesus is His only begotten son we accept that Jesus is God His son and not God Himself who would have faked His temptation and His death and His standing up from the dead. In Scriptures is told that God is a, All-knowing God of order not telling lies, which does us to accept that What God says is the Truth and should be taken as something to follow and live by. From Scriptures we also do know that Jeshua or Jesus Christ is the sent one from God, the son of man, son of Adam, son of Abraham, who was created by God, implanted in the womb of the young (virgin) girl Miriam (Mary/Maria) and got authorised by god to act and speak in His Name. First being lower than angels Jesus was made higher and raised into heaven to become a high priest for god and a mediator between God and man.

    Convinced that the Bible is our Guide to life, we do try the prescriptions or ordinances given in that Book of books. We believe that it is God Who knows the heart and calls people. We can only offer ourselves as an instrument in God’s Hands. We believe that each individual is personally responsible for the choices he or she makes and that all people shall be judged by Jesus by his return to earth in the coming times, after World War III or Armageddon.

    Each individual is responsible for preparing himself or herself, but we should try to help each other on the path to the truth and to God, showing how Jesus is the Way to God and how we can come under the Grace of salvation, by keeping to God’s Commandments. so we do not think people should not follow any more any commandments and could do whatever they want. No, once a person has chosen for God and His son Christ, that person has to live according to his faith and has to show a lifestyle according to his or her faith.

    At our site you also can find an article telling what we believe and other articles telling how we try to make our faith in God a reality.

    Hopefully this short replay can answer your questions. But please do not hesitate to ask more if certain things are not clear or if you want to know what we think about certain matters.

  3. Dear Soulrebel, because the JW also being Bible students and trying to follow the Word of Gdo, having the same Book of books as the base of study and of living, you might find lots of similarities in our teaching and in the teaching of JWs. Let that not hinder you to come to know more about us and other bible students and other non-trinitarians.

    Main points of disagreement with JW are that we do not believe in a governing body or people from 144 000 who in this time period can decide what others have to believe and to follow. So no Governing Body, because we do believe that Jesus is the Cornerstone or head of the Body of Christ and that each believer is equal in the eyes of God and having to fulfil the tasks like God has given him or her qualities to serve God. Therefore no Watchtower magazine everybody should follow and should not dispute; Each believer in the congregation has the task to think for himself or herself and to question everything what is said or taught in the community.

    Because everybody is free to interpret that what we do not know it is possible you may encounter different opinions on certain matters, because we do believe that such things which are not made clear in the Bible shall become clear by the return of Christ and are a matter of personal interpretation which nobody can put unto an other person to believe exactly the same as him or her. As such many different ideas may be offered concerning the Book Revelation for example. Remember we consider it a big difference of having points of faith or matters to believe and to follow and matters which are for interpretation but can not be imposed to some one else. Matters for interpretation are free to take or to leave for each individual.

    From this you can imagine that we put a lot of attention on the free will. Each individual responsible for himself or herself. No other person to blame for own wrong doing. JW do not believe in hell but still believe in the devil or ‘Satan’, though they also know and preach, like we preach, that satan means adversary, and should be considered as such (like Peter was called satan by Christ). We accept the meaning of the Hebrew writings and as such believe satan to be a word representing a state of being and not being a personal name, but being a substantive or noun for an adversary or opponent or antagonist, like it is used in the first Book of Moses and having the serpent as a representation of the seduction or temptation, and also for the tempters or sseducers, like it is still used in Hebrew and several other languages (like ours in Belgium > Dutch: ‘satan’, ‘duivel’, ‘slang’ or ‘serpent’).

    Also different with JW is the matter of having a breaking of bread. As yearly major event we remember the installation of the New Covenant and Jesus offering himself as a Lamb for God, plus remembering the exodus of the chosen People of God, on 14-15 Nisan. 14 Nisan for us being the most important day of the year, where we share a meal in remembrance of the Last Supper. Throughout the year we also have breakings of the bread and drink wine in remembrance of that last supper, because we do believe Jesus asked us to remember that moment as often as we can, which mean that it can be done every day. We do not believe a service for God should take place on a specific day and as such we can gather on any day of the weak and share the bread and wine at such a gathering.

    We consider Bible reading and study as an integral part of service to God and as a way of building up a relationship with God. Therefore we expect from each believer that he or she would spend some time regularly to read the Word of God. But service for God should not be measured by others and is a private matter for each believer, who should be left free how to divide time for God.

  4. Concerning Bible Students, there are many different groups.

    In the United states of America you have the International Bible Students, which have the same roots as us, but developed further from the pupil of the beginner of our movement. Those International Bible Students where formed to take distance from the split group lead by Rutherford, which later became the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Our group came into being before and with Russell. Charles Taze Russell being a pupil of the English Dr. John Thomas, who we consider the founder of our movement. He created one of the many bible students in the New world in the 19th century and named them Christadelphians. From there on several Christadelphian groups evolved, a.o. our group, the Christadelphian Bible students.

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