Jehovah’s Witnesses go door to door preaching a message that most of them truly believe to be life-saving. The vast majority of the ones who do this work no doubt believe that they do so out of love for their neighbor. After all, this is what they are taught multiple times per week when they go to their meetings, engage in personal study of Watchtower literature, or engage in family study of Watchtower literature. When I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I certainly believed that preaching was a demonstration of my love for everyone who was not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Is the message that the Watchtower preaches genuinely loving though? To answer that question, you need to understand what it is that the Watchtower really teaches. I will attempt to briefly sum up their beliefs and discuss some of the ramifications of what they teach.
Everybody Has to Die … Sort Of
The basic message the Watchtower Corporation teaches is as follows; Bible prophecy points to 1914 as the year that Jesus Christ returned and took kingdom power. After an inspection that lasted a few years, in 1919 he (Jesus) appointed the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, known as Bible Students at the time, as the “faithful and discrete slave,” to provide spiritual food to his sheep.
Under this system of beliefs, it is necessary to basically follow the faithful and discrete slave in order to survive Armageddon, which is coming any day now. No really, any day. It has been coming “any day” for over 100 years, so really, it must be any day now. Trust the faithful and discrete slave on this, or don’t you have faith in God?
Since the world is such a mess, and since God loves everybody, the obvious solution to the problem is for him to slaughter everybody at the above-mentioned Armageddon, including men, women, and children – babies too – that do not become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so that he can show his great love to the world. When parents love their children, they obviously demonstrate that by killing 99.99 percent of them, right? Get rid of the evil ones to save the good ones. Simple.
However, for some strange reason, even if you are a mass murderer or serial child rapist who happens to die 0.01 seconds before Armageddon begins, you can be resurrected and have a second chance. But, if you are the equivalent of a saint and die during Armageddon, you get no second chance. Does that seem odd to anyone but me? It isn’t odd to the Watchtower; it is what they teach.
The Watchtower encourages people to live a morally upright and honest life. In fact, if you are not morally upright, meaning that you have engaged, for example, in some minor sexual infraction, they seek to save your soul by forcing everyone that you know to shun you. This emotional torture serves the purpose of beating you into submission until you come crawling back to them so you can have your ticket to paradise. Since Jehovah hates sin, and will soon demonstrate the abundance of his love as mentioned above, this is obviously a loving provision from the Watchtower.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are also very concerned about whom you associate with since bad association spoils useful habits, as said in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Nobody wants their useful habits spoiled, do they? So the Watchtower teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses to think that all worldly people (meaning everyone who isn’t one of Jehovah’s Witnesses) are bad, and you should only associate with other Jehovah’s Witnesses. But, not even all Jehovah’s Witnesses are acceptable association. Some are bad and don’t go to all the meetings, or don’t get out in service (their preaching work) for enough hours per month. They may not even comment at the meetings! Imagine someone who is so wicked that they refuse to regurgitate the printed material in front of the whole congregation. The horror! Definitely bad association. Stay away or you will be corrupted. (See this post for more information on shunning fellow congregation members.)
To grasp the totality of the situation, it must be explained that, to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the term “worldly person” has roughly the same connotations as a racial slur. When someone is worldly, it means they must be living a debauched life. No doubt they are doing drugs, sleeping with their neighbor’s mates, not paying their taxes, and stealing whatever they can. Keep in mind, this term “worldly person” applies to anyone who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So, in the mind of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, even “good” worldly people are bad people. Since this term is, in truth, a hate term, I refuse to use it other than to describe what it means.
In reality, the whole ideology of believing that non-Jehovah’s Witnesses are “worldly people” is roughly the same as any group that preaches that they are better than other groups. The difference is that, for the Watchtower, the distinction is not about skin color, ethnicity or social status. It is about being in their group. If you are in their group, you just might be good enough if you work hard to advance the Watchtower. If you are not in their group, they only way they demonstrate love for you is by knocking on your door to let you know that Jehovah is just about to kill you and your family if you don’t become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They even describe individuals who respond favorably to their cheery message as being “right-hearted,” indicating that all others are wrong-hearted – or inherently bad.
Do You Feel the Love Yet?
The love advocated by the Watchtower is so powerful that it makes Jehovah’s Witnesses constantly judge each other and everyone else in the world. Let’s be honest, being judgmental is the essence of being loving, right? Conditional, judgmental love is what we all really want and need deep down, isn’t it? Which one of us doesn’t just blossom and flourish when we are always being judged by everyone we know, and having love withdrawn for our minor flaws?
So how is it that when we see Jehovah’s Witnesses, they always appear to be happy and smiling? Well, unless you ask them the wrong question, then they say mean things to you; otherwise, why do they seem to be so happy?
The answer is that they are usually fooling themselves, and you, and putting on an act. That lovely family that just knocked on your door could very well have gone home and had quite the fight that afternoon. Their happiness is all a show, as much to themselves as to everyone else. The key to understanding the behavior of Jehovah’s Witnesses is understanding that they have been well-trained to deceive themselves. They would vehemently deny this, but anyone who fools themselves is good at denying it, otherwise they wouldn’t be fooling themselves. If you doubt that, ask them some questions they can’t answer, such as where the backing is in the scriptures for an overlapping generation, or why tens of thousands of clay tablets from the Neo-Babylonian period demonstrate beyond question that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BCE, not 607 BCE as they believe, and on which their doctrine of Jesus returning in 1914 strongly rests. You’ll see the façade of happiness drop like a rock as you place them in a situation where they are facing their own cognitive dissonance.
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses loving? As individuals, no doubt many are truly decent people that have the best motives. However, when you worship the Watchtower version of God that is about to mercilessly and violently commit the greatest act of mass murder in history, how loving can the actions you take on behalf of this God be? We can all be thankful that apparently his alarm clock is broken, and he doesn’t realize he was supposed to have done that over 100 years ago. Somehow the Watchtower Jehovah seems to be the polar opposite of the Jesus Christ described in the Bible.
To sum it up, the Watchtower version of being “loving” is as follows: Worldly people (non-Jehovah’s Witnesses) are bad people who are to be avoided and looked down on. Jehovah’s Witnesses who do not work hard enough for the Watchtower are bad association and to be avoided until they start working harder.
If you think that is loving, then Jehovah’s Witnesses are the religion for you. However, I have a simple description for the love advocated by the Watchtower: Watchtower love is conditional love plus hate.
I refuse to hate the way I was taught to hate by the Watchtower. In my opinion, the Watchtower organization is a hate group masquerading as a religion. It is all in their own literature. I love Jehovah’s Witnesses as individuals, and I hope they wake up to reality sooner than later and enjoy the freedom to live their life as they see fit. I want to see an end to the hate preached by the Watchtower.
“Spike Raynor” is the pen name of a former elder of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Visit his own YouTube page here for more insights on the Watchtower practices and policies.
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