Love and the Watchtower
Jehovah’s Witnesses completely fail to follow the instruction of Jesus Christ “to love your neighbor as yourself.” How they can claim to be God’s chosen people when they do not follow the most basic of His commandments?
Jehovah’s Witnesses have always tried to promote the idea that their organization is the earthly representation of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Beginning in the early days of the Bible Students under Charles Taze Russell, they have called each other “brother” and “sister” as a representation of their special relationship that is not unlike that of a large family.
When a potential new convert is studying with an active Witness, he or she is smothered with love from not only the person who comes to their home – but from all of the other members of the local Kingdom Hall whenever they start attending meetings.
After they accept “The Truth” and submit to baptism, they realize that Witness “love” comes with a lot of conditions. They will soon find that the relationships they had when they were in the conversion stage will change after they become regular JWs.
The most striking thing about “Witness” (or should we say “Watchtower”?) love, is that it typically does not extend outside of the Kingdom Hall and the local Witness congregation. Witnesses will tend to avoid relationships with their geographic neighbors, even when people who live next door to them or across the street hold out their hands in friendship. They act very much the same with non-Witness coworkers and fellow tradesmen.
If a neighbor or co-worker suffers a death in the family, Witnesses will rarely attend the funeral, even when it is held in a mortuary chapel and not a church. If a neighbor is throwing a block party or other affair and invites all of the residents of a community, Witnesses will typically not participate – especially if the event coincides with a national or religious holiday.
If a non-Witness neighbor or other acquaintance is celebrating a wedding or anniversary, most JWs will typically turn down an invitation or simply not attend. Some Witnesses will even avoid going to achievement or retirement parties for their co-workers, even though there is absolutely no religious significance to the event. These are people they sit right next to at work every week day.
Witnesses look upon these actions on their part as avoiding anything “worldly.” They intentionally set themselves apart and reject any meaningful relationships with the rest of their local community. They explain that it is because the Watchtower teaches them to avoid “all worldly things.” For non-Witnesses, these JW actions and attitudes are often interpreted as being unfriendly, negative, and unloving. Let’s face it: they are absolutely right.
While most churches of almost every denomination, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, all have active groups and functions that serve not only their own members but the community as a whole, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no functions that are close to being in the category of “charitable works.” When there is a disaster in their local community, they will get up and move out, sometimes taking care of their own, but leaving the responsibility for assistance to other members of the community – in the hands of the local authorities, the Red Cross, Salvation Army or other sponsored charities.
One of my favorite Bible verses, and one that Witnesses often quote, is 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” In this scripture, the word “charity” is rarely used in modern Bible versions and is replaced by the word “love.” The fact that “charity” and “love” are often used interchangeably in English language biblical passages shows that they are related in our language – as they should be in our lifestyles. “Charity” was typically used to describe non-familial love – essentially “love” for ones neighbor or other non-related persons. The Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses miss that connection completely.
The sad fact is that the Witness culture does not recognize the very truths found in the written words of Jesus and the Apostle Paul as summed up in Galatians 5:13-15 (New International Version):
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not “called to be free,” but are trapped in a culture that follows unrealistic lifestyle rules not supported by the Bible or anything Jesus ever taught. They do not serve each other or anyone else with love, with the possible exception of their closest Witness friends.
Most importantly, they do not “love their neighbors as themselves,” but are instructed by the Watchtower to avoid mixing with their neighbors or anyone else that does not believe as they do.
They are also destroying their own fellow believers and close associates by “biting and devouring each other” through the use of arbitrary rules for publicly disassociating and disfellowshipping members who break the rules. They may deny it publicly, but they do shun their own family members, close friends and former fellow Witnesses who commit some offense, express honest doubts, or simply decide to move on with their lives and follow a different lifestyle.
The saddest part of this real truth is that most Jehovah’s Witnesses do not really know what “love” is. Love goes well beyond kissing your wife, giving your kids a hug, and calling your mother once a week. Real love is much deeper and broader than that.
Most JWs do not offer “love” or friendship to their neighbors, their co-workers, or even to their own family members who are not Witnesses. Their “love” tends to be conditional, is usually unforgiving, and as a rule is only offered to others who share their slave-like devotion to the Watchtower Society.