In the April 15, 2014, study edition of the Watchtower magazine, in the article “No One Can Slave for Two Masters,” Jehovah’s Witnesses provide counsel for those considering leaving their families behind to work abroad. The story of “James” and “Marilyn” is told, with Marilyn leaving her husband and their son Jimmy to work overseas. The article admonishes those contemplating such a move, noting how raising children is the job of parents and not grandparents or extended relatives, and that there are unintended consequences to leaving. The article stated:
“Marilyn began to realize that she could not raise her son by ‘teleparenting’ through letters, telephone calls, or video chats. She explains, ‘You cannot hug your child or kiss him good-night over the Internet.'”
This is all well and good, except that just one month before, in the March 15, 2014, study edition of the Watchtower, when talking about, “A sudden deterioration in a parent’s health, perhaps as a result of a fall, a broken bone, or some other crisis,” the magazine said that:
“Those serving as Bethelites [working at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses], missionaries, and traveling overseers … would be wise to consider prayerfully whether [leaving their assignments] is what the parents really need or desire … No one should hastily give up service privileges, and it may not always be necessary. Could the health issue be temporary, one with which some in the parents’ congregation would be happy to help?”
So, apparently working overseas and leaving your family behind is bad when it benefits your family, but it’s good when it benefits the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
In all fairness, the information found in both articles had practical counsel and some very good points. The article about a married woman leaving to work overseas talked about how her child withdrew from her and felt that she had abandoned him, and was no longer “entitled” to his affection or obedience. I’m sure this can actually happen quite often when a parent is away for extended periods of time.
The article about aging parents did talk about how children were obligated to care for them and how difficult it can be to fulfill this obligation when they live far apart. However, the hypocrisy and double standards here are appalling and obvious. It’s an obligation for Christians to care for their aging parents; the article itself brings this out by noting how Jesus condemned those who failed to do that, and how the apostle Paul said that believers should provide for those in their own households.
This obvious suggestion, however, that some should think twice about going home when they’re needed simply because they’re offering volunteer services to the religion itself is outright appalling! What makes it even more obscene is the idea that a person should think twice about leaving this volunteer service, which benefits no one but strangers, even when a parent has suffered a “crisis,” which is their word, not mine.
Adult children are not beholden to their parents; I understand that completely. They should not, and need not, drop everything they’re doing and wrap their lives around the whims and wishes of their parents, and sometimes families live far apart through no fault of their own.
However, we’re not talking about a grandma who decided to move to a retirement community in the tropics while the adult children remain where they grew up, and we’re not talking about staying at home when grandma has a “crisis” because leaving would mean losing your job, or because you simply cannot afford a plane ticket. We’re talking about ignoring your own mother or father after a “fall” or “broken bone,” or other serious issue, simply because your religion wants you to continue your slave labor for them.
What I also find appalling about this article is that it explains how other members of the congregation can look after these aging parents during this time. Number one, this is not their primary job. Yes, it’s nice when other congregation members and friends visit elderly ones and lend a hand, but the care of these ones is the responsibility of their children. Number two, these aging parents no doubt want more than just a visiting nursemaid; they want the emotional comfort of having their children near them during a “crisis.”
When a Crisis Becomes Even More Serious
It’s also worth noting that, for older ones, a “sudden deterioration” in health, as well as a fall or broken bone or any such “crisis,” can easily escalate into something much more serious, and unfortunately can even lead to their death. Older ones cannot fight off infections very easily and may not be strong enough to recover from conditions like pneumonia, or even from minor surgery. How would an adult child feel if their parent were to die from such a “crisis,” with the child knowing in advance that they were sick, but refusing to visit them because they don’t want to leave the headquarters of their religion or their missionary service? How could they explain that to others?
Such advice is absolutely obscene and, according to the scriptures quoted in their own magazine, not supported by bible teaching. It’s also grossly hypocritical when you compare it to the counsel given to those who are considering working overseas simply to feed their families. Shame on “Marilyn” for working to put food on the table for her son, but think twice about going home during a “crisis” if you’re working to recruit new members for your religion or are working in the kitchen of its headquarters.
Yet again the message of the religion is that if something benefits you, it’s sinful and bad and you’re neglecting your family responsibilities, but if it benefits the religion, it’s righteous and good and brings praise to Jehovah and, in that case, the neglect of your family may be perfectly fine. This victimizes everyone in the religion, including those families who suffer financially because they’re afraid of going away to work, and of course the older family members who need to suffer a “crisis” on their own because food at the JW headquarters needs to be cooked or strangers in a foreign country need someone to preach the JW message to them. Shameful and disgusting all around.
This hypocrisy was originally pointed out by Facebook user Israel Ricky Gonzales in a closed group. My thanks to Gonzales for noticing this and posting the information.
Please share with others via social media.