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When Family members leave the JW Organization-Should they be Shunned?

“Although the Bible makes a clear distinction between true and false teachings, God allows each person the freedom to choose how he or she will respond. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family. Does study of the Bible lead to family breakup? No. In fact, the Bible encourages a husband and wife who practice different religions to remain together as a family.”—1 Cor. 7:12,13  (Awake 2007 pg 29)

“According to one estimate, there are more than 10,000 religions and sects in the world. In one country about 16 percent of the adult population have at some point switched from one religion to another. It is no wonder, then, that there are disagreements about religious beliefs among relatives and friends. Thus the question, How should Christians treat loved ones who do not share their faith?”

A Special Relationship: ” Consider, for instance what the Bible says about the special relationship between parents and their children. No time limit is implied in the command at Exodus 20:12 to “honor your father and your mother.”. In fact, in Jesus’ discussion of this command, recorded at Matthew 15:4-6, it is obvious that he was speaking of the honor that Adult children would render to their parents.”

“The Bible book of Proverbs cautions against showing disrespect toward one’s parents. Proverbs 23:22 advises that you should “not despise your mother just because she has grown old.” Pointedly, Proverbs 19:26 warns that one who “is maltreating a father [and] that chases a mother away is a son acting shamefully and disgracefully.”

“It is clear from the scriptures that we should not neglect our parents. The fact that our parents do not accept our religion does not cancel our relationship with them. These Bible principles apply similarly to other blood relationships and to one’s marriage mate. Clearly, Christians remain morally and scripturally obligated to love their relatives” (Awake 11/8/03)

“In most cases, however, Christians do not face severe opposition from their loved ones. Their relatives simply do not share the same understanding of Bible teachings. The Holy Scriptures encourage Christ’s followers to treat unbelievers “with mildness” and “deep respect.” (2 Timothy 2:25; 1 Peter 3:15) The Bible aptly counsels: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all.” (2 Timothy 2;24) The apostle Paul also counseled Christians “to speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward ALL men.” (bold added)- Titus 3:2.”

“Many who are not true Christians love their parents and other relatives and communicate regularly with them regardless of their religious affliation. Should Christians Witnesses do any less?” Many may live far away from their parents or loved ones. ” It may not be possible to visit as often as desired. But writing letters, calling on the telephone, or keeping in contact regularly in other ways will assure our loved ones of our affection.”

The unedited direct quotes and  references for all of the above are: Awake,  November 8, 2003;  Awake, September, 2007 page 29;   Watchtower, November 1, 2008.

So clearly if this is what is written in the Awake and Watchtower, it comes directly from the Governing Body, and applies to all. It is good sound reasoning from the scriptures.

Many family members have chosen to change their religion from a witness to the Bible Students. I have met  many at the conventions. There is no real conflict in teachings, for there is freedom and liberty in Christ to have differences in thought on scripture. That is why we encourage open discussions of the scripture without retaliation if one thought differs from another.

I recently called the education dept. at Patterson, New york. I explained the severe treatment many are receiving if they stop going to the Kingdom Hall. They sent me the articles by mail. I explained that one Mental Health professional says he has so many patients that are being treated so harshly with this shunning practice that it is creating emotional distress. So much so that one client suggested a class action to deal with this since it might be millions that have exited the organization of Jehovah Witnesses for various reasons.

Each individual has the right to choose not to associate with whomever they please. But, to blame God is wrong. To say this is what Jehovah and Jesus says to do is wrong.  And as you see the organization,  “in writing”, does not encourage it in the Awake or Watchtower. So where is this extreme attitude coming from if not from Jehovah, Jesus or the watchtower or awake magazines that are read by many?  Christians coming to this site are lovers of the Word of God. We are all Brothers in Christ.

As regards judging whether a person will die and go to Gehenna as some are saying; The Bible states “Stop judging and you will not be judged” Luke 6:37

For the judge of all is Jehovah and Jesus the Anointed. “Jesus is destined to judge the living and the dead by his manifestation in his kingdom”  2Tim. 4:1

Melchizedek, Priest and  King of Salem, was worshipping and approved by Jehovah at the same time that Abraham was chosen to produce the seed.( Gen. 14:18-20)

Elijah thought he was the only one worshipping Jehovah but at least 7,000 were approved and their worship was accepted by Jehovah during the same time period. (1 Kings 19:18)

The Acts of the Apostles have numerous instances of Holy Spirit leading different individuals in various ministries.  Paul was especially appointed by Jesus, and the Christians accepted him, although he was their persecutor.

Many of our Jehovah Witnesses relatives are doing what Moses did, he stepped in the place of Jehovah, by judging his people, as rebels. It is God’s place to judge and punish. We are all witnesses of Jesus to the glory of Jehovah.  He will judge all in Millenium, thru Christ.  (Num. 20:9-13)

In Jesus’ day, at Mark 9:38-40 We see a man preaching Jesus, but not traveling with them. Jesus said do not forbid him. If one recognizes Jesus and the value of his death, if one trusts in him for eternal life along with his King-Priest bride  and seek to follow in his steps, we are brothers. Many persons leaving the organization of Jehovah Witnesses do not denounce these teachings. Most object to worship of any but Jehovah and Jesus and wish to refrain from adding extra burdens not mentioned in scripture, ie, blood transfusion, condoning pedophiles etc. They simply have a conscience and must obey it. They don’t, however try to forbid witnesses from voting their conscience. Many like highly organized religion with set dogma. 1Sam. 8:19-22 The nation of Israel wanted a visible King. “No, but a king is what will come to be over us. And we must become, we also, like all the nations” ‘. A relative told me that to speak against the Governing Body is like speaking against the Catholic religion’s Pope. I looked at him  in disbelief, he saw his mistake immediately. But that was the truth. Jehovah still dealt with the nation of Israel when they rejected the freedom they had to deal directly with him. They however suffered under each of those kings. Each decade or so the Governing body changes policies also just like a new king or president. In the case of the blood issue some that died for refusal of certain parts of blood would live today, because now this regime says that taking certain parts of blood is okay. But like Israel, many of our brothers and sisters like having a visible governing body of men. It is between them and Jehovah, no need to shun them.

This is a  direct quote from  Awake mag. about Catholics and the no meat on Friday issue . Sort of like the blood issue  and organ transplants changing doctrine.
Changes that Disturb People.-“One of the reasons is that people are disturbed by what is happening in their churches. Yes, millions of persons have been shocked to learn that things they were taught as being vital for salvation are now considered by their church to be wrong. Have you, too, felt discouragement, or even despair, because of what is happening in your church?” Awake! April 22,1970, p8 Many former witnesses have and have chosen to study exactly what the Bible teaches without indoctrination from so many books, KM etc.

Healing and forgiveness  is needed in some households now.       1Peter 3:10-12 says For,”he that would love life and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from what is bad and his lips from speaking deception, 11  but let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; LET HIM SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.” Many family members have said a lot of ugly things to each other because someone told them they had to judge their brother. That loyalty to God is equilvalent to loyalty to an organization or to men.

Ephesians 4:32 says ” But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” This applies to all Christians, whether a Jehovah Witness or Bible Student or just a plain old Christian. (Acts 11:26) It would be better sometimes if some professed Christians didn’t take the name at all:( the way we treat each other.)  R5404:6  Forgiveness by all parties involved will make for a peaceful relationship. Stephen who asked that the sin not be charged against his stoners. (Acts7:60) A result he will see is that the chief stoner, Paul, became a Christian. Not forgiving, a person who shuns you, is unchristian, you should rather pray for them.( Jas.5:16) Paul also has the right attitude  in Philippians 3: 13 “Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, 14 I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. 15 Let us, then as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude, and if YOU ARE MENTALLY INCLINED OTHERWISE IN ANY RESPECT,  God will reveal the above [attitude] to you ” (NWT).  Other Christians may differ on understanding of a scripture at times but that is not a reason to shun them. There is liberty and freedom in Christ, just as in the 1st  century congregations after the ascension of Christ.

Napoleon used the phrase divide and conquer. He divided the enemies against each other and won. It is a control tactic. They have to divide the family, so they shun ones that have left. If you let it determine your life then they have won. Your family can’t be replaced;  but put in some substitutes. A spiritual brother can be closer than a blood brother. There are many here that can act as your fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. Remember, we all die, and go away. Think of your loved one as on a long faraway journey. You can at least send them a card or a letter. Do not treat them as they treat you. You will feel the peace of God in your heart.

No one can claim they are the only one on earth that God is using at any given time. There is no scriptural support for this teaching. While the Bible may mention one group it does not say there are not other worshippers of Jehovah in a different place. Many were not aware of the large group of Romania brothers, but that didn’t mean Jehovah wasn’t aware and accepting them. We simply can’t tie God’s hands, he is the Creator and his Son has been assigned to Judge. Our loyalty is only to Jehovah, Jesus and the Bible’s counsel. 
There are persons that may be dangerous to one’s spiritual well-being. A person might make a decision to protect himself, but wholesale shunning because a person decides to leave the organization of  the watchtower is not scriptural.
The Governing body requires individuals to suppress their inner sense of morality to accept the will of the group (in the name of God), engaging in “group think” practices which only reinforces the power of the group: “practice makes perfect”, so with each subsequent individual they shun, it only makes it easier the next time, and eventually shunning becomes an unthinking knee-jerk response that makes questioning the action increasingly immune from cognitive challenge (it shifts into the territory of habit, just the way it’s always been done).
The segregation movement of the south was exactly like this, moral people followed the crowd. The governing body uses prejudice the same way as the segregationist of the south and most watchtower witnesses humbly submit, even when they are aware of the pain they are inflicting. That their relatives are human and no threat to them in any way.
A child or parent can actually be in the hospital dying and some witnesses have refused to go see them.
The practice of blindly following the commands of a leader or authority figure was studied by social psychologist Stanley Milgram in his famous study at Yale in 1961. The following video depicts a recreation of Dr. Milgram’s study: simply replace the ‘authority of science’ with ‘authority of the elders and members of the congregation’ (adding the element of peer pressure into the mix), ‘delivering electrical shocks as punishment’ with ‘delivering emotional shocks of shunning as punishment’, and ‘subjects administering electrical shocks’ with ‘JWs who shun’, and you’ve got the exact same paradigm in action.

We cannot escape our history. Only forgiveness can release us from our Past.  Thank you for reading. Jacqueline

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