Jehovah`s Witness/People who leave "the truth"
I read in your bio that you have spent time speaking with Jehovah's Witnesses who have left the organization. What are the main reasons that they leave? How do they deal with being disfellowshipped?
Thanks for the question. It is true that I have spoken with many current and former JW's concerning their feelings about the Watchtower. Each person really has a different background as well as many different moments of "awakening", so it's hard to generalize. I will focus on the things that tend to apply to most.
Most people that I speak to were baptized when they were young, many of them born into "the truth". Their immediate and extended families are/were JW's, so they didn't really know much of any other way. They were indoctrinated as a JW and didn't really investigate their beliefs beyond what the Watchtower told them. Somewhere along the line, they realized that something wasn't quite right and decided to look into it a bit further. These questions led to more and more questions which eventually led to more and more answers.
Once they discovered that some things did not live up to their original expectations, they had to make a choice. Some people decided to leave the organization. This is a VERY difficult decision for them as it will necessarily mean that they are shunned by their JW family and friends. There is a lot of emotional distress involved, but the people who left felt that it was more important to stand up for their Christian freedom. Some people have decided to remain in the organization. Most of them simply do not want the emotional heartbreak that comes with leaving or feel that they would have a better chance of reaching their loved ones from the inside. This decision is not much easier than the alternative because they must carefully watch what they say and to whom they say it for fear of facing a judicial committee.
As far as how the ones who have left deal with being disassociated or disfellowshipped, it's much the same as dealing with the loss of a loved one. In addition to actually losing their loved ones, they must now deal with filtering the plethora of information that they once thought of as truth. It is true that some leave and turn toward evil ways, but those who really love God more than the Watchtower usually delve into prayer and Bible study without the distraction of Watchtower goggles. It is then that many come to understand real Christian freedom.
Those who have truly come to know Christ after being inside the organization speak very freely about the impact of their new-found relationship. I frequently hear from them about the fact that the Watchtower de-emphasizes the need for Christ and re-emphasizes the need for their own organization. Their simple belief in the ransom sacrifice does not compare with having a true relationship with Jesus.
John 12:42-43 shows why some are afraid to confess Christ within the organization. It says, "Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God." They know that if they do, they will "be put out of the synagogue".
JW's tell me all the time that everything they believe is based on Scripture, yet they do not speak of coming to Christ.
John 5:39 - "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life."
1 Tim. 1:6-7 "For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions."
My personal feelings are similar to Paul's in Romans 10:1-4. "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I bear witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
It is dangerous to worship and/or serve any organization (created by man) more than our Creator. Rom. 1:21-15 says, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man...For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature [i.e. organization] rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
Please feel free to follow up.