Jehovah`s Witness/odd behavior
QUESTION: I have a nephew who married a jehovah witness girl years ago. My husband and I have graciously invited their family to many of our family gatherings only to be rejected every time. They will not permit their children to associate with their cousins on our side of the family. Frankly, we do not understand this avoidance of our family. They seem to prefer to spend a great deal of time with other witnesses. I do not appreciate this behavior. We have helped my nephew and his family a lot over the years, and yet they cannot find the time to visit or even call to see how anyone in the family is doing. Its rude. Its to the point now where there is pretty much no family connection with them. Is this what they want? If so, why? Is this what your religion teaches, to ignore family that are not witnesses? Thank you for any insight.
ANSWER: Good afternoon, Rita, and thank you for writing with your question. I hope you are doing well today.
Before addressing the main topic of your question, let me first address another question you asked, so as to clear up any misunderstanding right from the start.
You asked...."Is this what your religion teaches, to ignore family that are not witnesses?"
ANSWER: NO! MY religion does not teach this. You also should know that I am not a JW, but a born again Christian, answering questions about JW doctrine from a Christian and Biblical perspective.
There ARE JWs on this site that might like the opportunity to explain why it is, that this seems to be a recurring theme in the lives of people all over the world, as I myself have had many questions exactly like this one....Where a non-JW is hurt, and saddened, that their family member becomes a JW, and then all but completely cuts them off. JWs may try and tell you that they do not do this, but again, there are countless stories just like yours. I have received questions of this nature many, many times.
So, I will try and provide you an accurate answer, and a balanced one.
The JWs teach, as I myself was taught growing up as a JW in my childhood, that there are Witnesses, and there are "worldly" people, or as it was often said to me, "worldly associations". Basically, everyone who is not a JW, is "worldly".
Now, let's be balanced here. It is possible to get a JW to admit that there are some JWs who are "worldly", and that there might be some non-JWs with good morals. However, they believe this is the exception, and not the norm. They believe themselves to be morally superior to people of all beliefs, even Bible-believing Christians such as myself.
JWs base their view, largely on the Scripture found in 1 Corinthians 15:33....
"Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners."
Or, as their own JW "bible" puts it....
"Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits."
Now, there is no problem with the above verse. There definitely ARE certain people that Christians should avoid...no question about it. But the problem is in the way that JWs apply it to most ANYONE that isn't one of them, as if that person is automatically "worldly", and unfit association.
And as hard as it may be for you to hear and accept, yes, that is the mind-set that your nephew has gotten into, because it is what he is being taught to think.
Now let's also be fair, and say that some JWs take it further than others. There are varying degrees to which JWs ignore their non-JW families. I have had MANY heart-breaking stories written to me, from a parent who's JW child no longer associates with them, or a brother no longer associating with a sister, and yes, even a parent who has cut off their child.
Thankfully, I am not in that situation, as my JW family has not cut me off. My mother, who is as dedicated and devout a JW as there is ANYWHERE, still spends time with me and my family. That is because she knows my morals are as high as theirs are, and I am not bad association. However, I also realize that had I ever been baptized into the religion and then left it later on, then it would be a different story. There is a strong possibility that I would then be ignored, as well.
You wrote...."We have helped my nephew and his family a lot over the years, and yet they cannot find the time to visit or even call to see how anyone in the family is doing."
REPLY: Yeah, that's one thing I've noticed too, in your question, and also in identical questions from others who are going through the same thing....These same JWs that can't give their non-JW family the time of day, seem to believe that the money of "worldly" people, spends just fine. I have no idea how anyone can think its "Christian" to only acknowledge you when they need your help, but no other time. They may view their non-JW family as "worldly", but that "worldly" money/help sure does come in handy, doesn't it?
There's certainly nothing Christ-like about that.
You wrote...."I do not appreciate this behavior."
REPLY: I don't blame you...I wouldn't either. It would be tempting, the next time they ask you for help, to tell them to ask the people whom they speak to and associate with for the rest of the year, to supply the help also.
You wrote..."My husband and I have graciously invited their family to many of our family gatherings only to be rejected every time. They will not permit their children to associate with their cousins on our side of the family."
REPLY: Sadly, that is because they view you as "worldly" association. And no doubt, your nephew has been highly influenced by the woman he married. I am assuming your nephew converted to the religion, also?
You asked..."Is this what they want? If so, why? Is this what your religion teaches"
REPLY: I can't say its what they want deep down, but it is certainly what they're taught. Its what THEIR religion teaches....to limit contact with non-Witness family, to what is necessary.
Rita, I am truly sorry you and your family are being treated this way. Your story is like that of so many others, who have experienced the same thing. This religion has a tendency to try and shield its members from "outsiders", especially those who are born again Christians, like me. If you read this board often, you will see the lengths they go to, to discredit those whom are not of their group...often with lies and slander. Its sad...Christians don't act like that.
Take care, Rita. And if I can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to write.
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QUESTION: Everything you explained is spot on. Why can't they see how wrong this is? Are they that brainwashed? Do they fear being seen as less than "perfect" witnesses to other witnesses. Yes, my nephew converted. He is a sweet man but has never made good choices or wise decisions. His intelligence level falls short, and he has always been weak and gullible. The woman he married was older and I think recognized this in him. I read Jw men are suppose to be the head of the family, but in their case, she is. He does whatever she says. Always has. No wonder many view jw's as a cult. They do many things that resemble one. I feel sorry for all of them.
ANSWER: That's a good question, Rita, and one I have wondered myself, as to why they can't see how wrong their actions are. While they claim to be the only true Christians on earth, their actions many times are not becoming of a follower of Christ. I'm not saying they don't have morals....I'm referring mostly to the way they treat and view people.
You ask if they are that brainwashed? Unfortunately, yes they are. You have to understand that they are taught that their Organization is the only one capable of understanding and properly interpreting the Bible. The end result of that kind of thinking, is that the Organization is actually exalted to a position above the Scriptures. I know they would vehemently object to that comment, but I can prove it, if need be. They will use whatever means necessary to defend the Organization....even lying about non-Witnesses in this forum, regardless of what the Scriptures say about lying.
They will take the Organization's INTERPRETATION of a Scripture, over what the Scripture actually says, because again, the Organization is the only one capable of properly interpreting the Scripture (in their mind). No matter how plain the Scripture may be, the Organizational teaching is upheld, even if it contradicts what the Scripture actually says. Everything is about the Organization, because they truly believe that the Organization is the channel that God is using to communicate His truths today.
You are correct that they do resemble a cult. I will go a step further...they ARE a cult. Not that all of them are bad people...they aren't. But their beliefs are often extra-biblical, or go against the Scripture. And they exercise a great amount of control over their members. As you are probably aware, JWs are not allowed to celebrate holidays....even something as simple as their own child's birthday. This goes far beyond what the Scriptures teach.
I am really sorry about the situation with your nephew. It sounds like you are correct, that his wife probably recognized his vulnerability, and made the most of it. I hope and pray that he comes to his senses, and doesn't lose out on more time with his family.
Take care, and have a great day. And feel free to write if I can be of further help.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks for your answer. Its all so true. I have seen much hypocrisy from my nephew and his wife over the years. They accept birthday gifts and xmas gifts because "they don't want to offend anyone", but have no problem blowing you off for a gathering. The wife is a bit of a cheapskate,so if she sees a oppurunity to get a free gift she takes it." I think deep down on some level they know that a lot of what the organization teaches is way off, but they are weak and fearful to really say or do anything. The organization threatens them with excommunication from everyone they know. This is probably why they are told to "limit" associations with outsiders. No outside influence to prove that what the organization teaches is wrong, and no one to turn to if you leave. I agree with you, it is a cult. So happy to not be a part of anything like that. Take Care.
You know, I don't believe I have ever seen a JW turn down a gift given to them, either at Christmas, or their birthday. They just don't GIVE the gifts on those days....taking them seems to be a different matter altogether. Go figure.
Its also interesting that they claim that they take the gifts so as not to offend anyone, but then have nothing to do with the rest of their family for the remainder of the year....like THAT isn't offensive in and of itself?
You are correct about the Organization's control....the average JW is afraid to voice disagreement with the teachings, for fear of disfellowshipping and being shunned by family members and friends who are still "in". And have you read the board here on a regular basis? Its really interesting to see the FEAR being manifest, at the way they try to discredit and attack any non-Witnesses.
Well, gotta go for now. Leaving town in a few hrs, for the week end. Please feel free to follow up when I return. Rita, I hope you and your family have a blessed week!