There has been a story circulating around the internet regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses and their level of obedience to their religion’s leaders, a story that is very disturbing and downright frightening. It shows just how far many of them would go when it comes to the instructions they’re given, whether or not those instructions originate in the bible or include doing something dangerous and even deadly.
The Parallel of Micah’s Prophecy
This story begins in the November 15, 2013, study edition of the Watchtower magazine. The article drew on the story of Micah, a prophet in the bible, and applied it to our time. Note, Jehovah’s Witnesses love to draw parallels between stories in the bible and our modern times, often coming to odd and sometimes downright confusing conclusions as to how those stories from thousands of years ago actually represent Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Micah prophesied about a time when the Jews would be under attack by Assyrian forces, and talked about “seven shepherds and eight dukes” who would rise up and protect the people.
Somehow, someway, the Watchtower magazine decided that these shepherds and dukes represent the elders of the congregations today. The magazine offers no explanation for this interpretation, other than to cite 1 Peter 5:2, which tells elders to “shepherd the flock of god under your care.” Apparently because the word shepherd is used in both scriptures, this is enough to decide that these shepherds and dukes in Micah’s time are today’s elders. Of course, Jesus and Jehovah are both called shepherds in the bible, but for whatever reason, the word is applied to the elders in this case.
The Frightening Instructions
Apparently in Micah’s time, those shepherds and dukes were able to protect the Jews from the Assyrians. The Watchtower then talked about how the elders would protect today’s congregations from attacks it may suffer from Satan or any other source. Their frightening instructions included the following (bold added for emphasis):
When “the Assyrian” attacks, the elders must be absolutely convinced that Jehovah will deliver us. At that time, the lifesaving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.
There are two things to take away from this; one, you may be told to do something that may not appear sound, and two, you must be absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do, that the instructions are from Jehovah himself.
The Facebook Responses
If the above statements on their own are not chilling enough, a Facebook group for Jehovah’s Witnesses posed a hypothetical question to its followers. Below is a screen capture of the question and a sampling of the responses:
Now, in all fairness, a few people responding to a Facebook question do not represent the entire organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, and some who responded said that they would not take some unknown pill. However, no matter how many of their followers said no, even if just one said yes, that they would take an unknown pill if given to them by their governing body, this is one too many.
The level of absolute trust these ones show for their governing body is especially disturbing when you see that two of those who responded actually mention the chance of dying! They openly acknowledge that a pill given to them by their overseers may be the literal equivalent of poisoned Kool-Aid, but they’re happy to take it anyway, no questions asked.
The last respondent even expressed a trust in the elders as “husbands, fathers,” etc., but these are the same elders who hide pedophiles in the congregation and allow young children to be in danger of sexual assault, who commit and endorse domestic violence, and who shun rape victims for “fornication” if she did not resist enough to satisfy their questioning. Jehovah’s Witnesses also encourage women to stay with violent and abusive husbands with little regard for her safety or the safety of the children in that home. In other words, these are not men with a good track record of showing care and concern for the health, safety, well-being, or even the lives of the ones they’re supposedly “shepherding.” Yet, they’re trusted implicitly by congregation members.
The Lust for Power
If you want my personal opinion as someone who spent some 35 years in and around Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am 90% certain they would never hand out poisoned Kool-Aid or otherwise try to outright physically harm their members. Note however that I said 90%, not 100%, and that’s a problem.
In the past few years I’ve seen the governing body (a small group of men who make up the ultimate authority of Jehovah’s Witnesses) become more and more power-hungry, mentioning themselves personally in many reports about congregation activity more often than they mention Jesus himself, despite the fact that the bible says that Jesus is the head of the congregation, not the governing body. This happened in the latest Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a book that reviews the past year’s activity worldwide, where Jesus was mentioned 21 times, but “governing body” or its members individually were mentioned 31 times.
In their new translation of the bible released just a few months ago, they use the specific term “governing body” in an introduction to the book of Acts, saying that the question of circumcision was posed to the “governing body” for a decision, when there actually was no such body of men in the early Christian congregation. The scriptures actually say that “older men” were gathered together just this once, to address this one specific question. The governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses repeat this belief about a “governing body” existing in the early Christian congregation in later Watchtower articles.
It is also their long-standing belief that there is a “faithful and discreet slave,” a term taken from an illustration Jesus used, that is caring for, and that has authority over, all Witnesses today. In the past, they interpreted this “slave” as being a small number of persons who would go to heaven and rule with Jesus (everyone else who is faithful would stay on a paradise earth forever), totaling 144,000. If that belief is confounding enough, they have since changed that to say that they, the governing body alone, are this “slave,” not the entire number of 144,000 who hope to rule in heaven. They have also recently said that ones who claim to have this hope of going to heaven may be “mentally imbalanced.” In other words, if you believe that you’re part of this small group of people who should share this authority over others, the governing body reserves the right to call you crazy.
This elevation in status they have given themselves was accompanied by an elevation of privilege and authority, according to the July 15, 2013, Watchtower. The same illustration Jesus used about the slave said that the “master” (Jesus) would appoint this “faithful and discreet slave” over all his “belongings.” In times past, this was interpreted to mean that the entire group of 144,000 in heaven would be helping Jesus in guiding and directing everything and everyone on the earth. However, this new understanding of theirs is that the “belongings” mentioned would include everything in Christ’s kingdom, including everything in heaven. In other words, the governing body believes they will be equal to Christ, ruling over both heaven and earth, rather than simply assisting him, with the rest of the 144,000, in ruling over the earthly people.
Follow all that?
The problem with being power hungry in any way is that this is a hunger that is never satisfied, and in my personal opinion, I see this happening with the governing body. Most of their assertions regarding their role in the kingdom of Jesus, and their explanations and assumptions regarding this “faithful and discreet slave,” are based on nothing more than their own statements and opinions. When you pick apart these assertions, you see that they are not supported by other scriptures, and you can see this growing level of power, privilege, and authority they assign themselves. Once these beliefs are accepted by the majority of Witnesses, however, the assertions and special positions for themselves just keep on coming.
While I’m 90% sure that this governing body would never cross the line into some type of mass suicide directive, I’m 100% sure that the blind obedience some give to them is frightening enough. This is especially so when you consider how they have slowly and insidiously worked their way up from lowly men to co-rulers with 144,000 others, to a special class that will be over anything and everything in heaven and on earth.
I must ask Jehovah’s Witnesses if they don’t see this long, slow grab for power as something dangerous, and why you don’t see the danger of being so blindly obedient to mere men. Does it not frighten you that they would even make these types of statements? As someone with family who are still Jehovah’s Witnesses, I know this information frightens me.
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