Friday, March 16, 2007

Remaining Steadfast when Grandparents Shun

A Christian woman whom we will call Joy tried to raise her son to love Jehovah God. When he grew up to be a man and educated himself about religion and cults the son made a personal decision to no longer be associated with his parent’s faith. As is often the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Joy reacted as if it was a personal attack against the family, she stated, “It was the deepest hurt I had ever experienced, I felt betrayed, broken hearted and frustrated. I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts.” Even though her son assured Joy of his love and that he always want his parents to be part of his families life, his parents cut him off completely.

Perhaps you too have tried help your parents understand that a personal choice of faith is no reason to persecute and victimize an innocent family. This son whom we will call Rick recalls, “My mom stated that I was dead to her and due to the teaching of the cult she was involved in, that my children, her grandchildren would be struck dead by God at Armageddon due to my decisions.” She stated, “Your father and I just do not want to attach ourselves emotionally when we know you are all going to be killed by God at any moment.” You see the cult has informed them that God (Jehovah) will kill every man woman and child on the earth for not being Jehovah’s Witnesses. This destruction is so eminent that at any moment the sky could turn red and the slaughter could begin. The only way for anyone to survive this blood bath is to promote the distribution of literature produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society based on New York. The more Watchtower literature you distribute the less likely you will be to face execution by Jehovah.

As a result, “Joy” and her husband in their seventies feel it is more important to “pioneer” (a contract to spend 70 hours each month selling Watchtower literature) than to be any part of the lives of their grandchildren.

When a Son rebelled in the Bible

A famous story in the bible is of the “prodigal son”. (Luke 15:11-32) In that parable offered by Jesus the son did not just make a decision based on a difference in faith, but instead outright rejected his family and squandered his inheritance. The father in the story not only provided the son with money (his inheritance) but remained hopeful and supportive that son might someday return. Note the commentary offered in the scriptures when the son returned, verse 20,

“20 So he rose and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with pity, and he ran and fell upon his neck and tenderly kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened young bull, slaughter it and let us eat and enjoy ourselves, 24 because this my son was dead and came to life again; he was lost and was found.’”

As noted from the story that son asked for his father’s forgiveness not only for squandering the family inheritance but for not wishing to be his son. The father in his response not only showed that he remained his father throughout his son’s rebellion but that the son remained a member of the family on his return. The forgiving father ordered that a ring be put on the hand of the returning prodigal. (Lu 15:22) This act showed the favor and affection of the father as well as the dignity, honor, and status accorded this restored son.

In this story we see illustrated the essence of loyalty that a family should have for one another. This is further encapsulated in the definition of love offered a 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8, notice the eloquent way that real love is described:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding [piece of] brass or a clashing cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophesying and am acquainted with all the sacred secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to transplant mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body, that I may boast, but do not have love, I am not profited at all.
4 Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, 5 does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. 6 It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails,”

The thought carried forth is that when real love is present, especially when dealing with family there is nothing that could justify shunning or disowning a family member simply because of a choice of worship and even more importantly in the event they make poor life choices. When children make mistakes that is when they need the favor and direction of their parents more than ever. As the reader can see this is biblically based and of course a good principle to follow even if you do not accept biblical directives.

Prisoners of a Cult

What though of Joy and the reason that she would choose to in one sense be so distraught and on the other hand so cold hearted and disloyal to her family? Joy and her husband over a period of years were programmed by a cult. The so called religion uses a form of mind control perfected by the Germans in World War II. Each week Joy and her husband attend three meetings in which they answer questions out of prepared paragraphs. They are commended and told how much smarter they are than any other religion as they recycle the same information over and over again year after year. What was the information? Basically sell literature for the “Watchtower Corporation” or Jehovah will kill you at any minute when Armageddon happens. This is the topic of every meeting and every convention attended by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As a result Joy and her husband live in fear. They are terrorized into thinking if they do not obey this directive that Jehovah has a horrible death with fire coming out of heaven awaiting them. This in some ways is very similar to charismatic religions that teach the “hellfire” doctrine in which members must obey church directives or face eternity in a literal fire that roasts them forever. Jehovah’s Witnesses have simply repackaged this into a “God smashing you to bits” unless you obey our directives.

Directives that destroy families

Sadly those directives do not stop at “sell books for Watchtower or die” they continue with the way family members are treated that may choose to not be part of the cult. Note the commentary from an internal journal called “Kingdom Ministry” dated August 2002;

2 How to Treat Expelled Ones: God’s Word commands Christians not to keep company or fellowship with a person who has been expelled from the congregation: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. . . . Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Cor. 5:11, 13) Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 18:17 also bear on the matter: “Let [the expelled one] be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.” Jesus’ hearers well knew that the Jews of that day had no fraternization with Gentiles and that they shunned tax collectors as outcasts. Jesus was thus instructing his followers not to associate with expelled ones.—See The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, pages 18-20.
3 This means that loyal Christians do not have spiritual fellowship with anyone who has been expelled from the congregation. But more is involved. God’s Word states that we should ‘not even eat with such a man.’ (1 Cor. 5:11) Hence, we also avoid social fellowship with an expelled person. This would rule out joining him in a picnic, party, ball game, or trip to the mall or theater or sitting down to a meal with him either in the home or at a restaurant.

This is not talking about non-church members per se, but instead the article states,

“The bond between family members can be very strong. This brings a test upon a Christian when a marriage mate, a child, a parent, or another close relative is disfellowshipped or has disassociated himself from the congregation. (Matt. 10:37)”

This covers about every aspect of someone that might be a part of your family. Why would a religion be so harsh in dealing with family members? The reason can be found in preserving the mind control of the group. If member were allowed to have interaction with ex members that have come to terms with cult mind programming then it could cause a mass exodus from the group. So by isolating members from non-believing family they preserve the total commitment to literature distribution without interference by demonizing outside family. This is reinforced by direct quotes from this literature in describing family members that may discourage them from sales, note this comment from the March 15, 2003 Watchtower:

“The apostle John wrote: “We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Those words show a basic reason why Christians have to struggle to maintain their faith. When a Christian keeps his integrity, it is to a degree a defeat for Satan the Devil. Hence, Satan goes about like “a roaring lion” trying to intimidate and devour faithful Christians. (1 Peter 5:8) Indeed, he wages war on anointed Christians and their companions. (Revelation 12:17) In this warfare, he uses humans who knowingly or unknowingly serve his ends. It takes courage to stand firm against Satan and all his agents.”

So the thought offered is that anyone that does not promote book sales is basically an “agent of Satan”. That includes sons, daughters or any family members. The KM of August 2002 went on to give this example of how to treat a family member,

“13 After hearing a talk at a circuit assembly, a brother and his fleshly sister realized that they needed to make adjustments in the way they treated their mother, who lived elsewhere and who had been disfellowshipped for six years. Immediately after the assembly, the man called his mother, and after assuring her of their love, he explained that they could no longer talk to her unless there were important family matters requiring contact. Shortly thereafter, his mother began attending meetings and was eventually reinstated. Also, her unbelieving husband began studying and in time was baptized.”

So the “example” offered here is of a son and daughter cutting off their mother until she and her husband agreed to sell books for Watchtower. As can be seen cult mind control can have a very pervasive influence on victims of the programming. Many former members report anguish at being forced to pretend that they want to sell books for Watchtower to get “reinstated” and for their family to be allowed to talk to them again. Even so after “reinstatement” if the family member does not regularly sell books family members are directed to avoid close association with them.

Remain Steadfast to Protect your Children

How can a balanced parent today deal with grandparents suffering from cult mind programming and at the same time raise their children to be balanced members of society? In the scripture at 1Corinthians 13, notice the comment offered at verse eight, “Love never fails”. All children should treat their parents with love and respect after all they are the ones that brought them into this world to begin with. So in dealing with parents who are cult members it is important to not confront them in anger when they justify bad behavior. In most cases when you are completely cut off from your cult family remember to not allow this to affect your self esteem or self worth. They made a choice and you simply are trying to live a happy and full life. Occasionally due to age or bad health cult members will bend the rules and allow limited contact, if so remember to check in on them from time to time as to their well being, help them with emergencies and other necessary things that all families do. Whenever they berate you for not being a member simply say, “I respect your beliefs and ask that you respect mine.” In the event of an emergency or funeral with face to face contact, they may attempt to insult your beliefs or speak judgmentally, simply change the subject or if worse come to worse say, “Excuse me,” walk away for a few minutes to give them time to calm down.

With regard to your children it is important to help them understand that their grandparents are victims of a cult and they are not allowed to act as normal grandparents would. Helping them to understand that the reason they never see their grandparents is their choice not yours. Assist your children to understand that you have explained to their grandparents they have an open invitation to be part of your lives and they refuse. Educating your children that cult mind control destroys unconditional love and that is why you would never want to treat them in the same way your parents treat you. By doing this you can help inform your children on the destructiveness of cults as well as reassure them that you want to be like the father in the parable of the “prodigal son”, you will never stop being their parents. Often children that have this frank communication are helped to be well adjusted and protected from the influence of cults.

To assist further look around your neighborhood often there are retired people that would love to have a nice family to befriend. You might share your story with them about how your parents are lost to a cult and that you are looking for adoptive parents to befriend and interact with. There are often many volunteers to fill the void in your family and it helps open your family up to how to show love for others as well.

Take your stand against the Devil

Religions, particularly cults, often use entities to frighten members into compliance. In this instance Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Devil as a way to say that anything that impedes book sales is the Devil trying to control you. The sad reality is the Devil is not involved in trying to stop Watchtower book sales nor if he did exist would he want to involve himself in trying to impede the evil perpetrated by cults. Helping your children to understand this while living a full and happy life free of cult mind control, for many they have found this to be the best way of life. So when Grandparents due to cult mind programming try to influence your thinking to their twisted directives remember to “Remain Steadfast When Grandparents Shun.”


Anonymous said...

Well said. That is the very reason I left the cult after 20 years. As a mother of 2 I fought to do what was right for them according to the JW's teachings. When they became teens and started to rebel against me and found themselves in serious trouble, I did not disown them. I took responsibility as a parent and LISTENED to them. I learned so much about the world they live in as JW teens. There is alot of hypocrisy and double living going on, even among the goodie- goodies in the group(pioneers, ministerial servants, even elders and others of special use and brown nosers). The children in this religion can see what a disaster this group is but the parents do not listen to them because it is seen as worldly influence so they they tune their kids out and force more meetings and service down their throats. When my only son nearly died due to drug induced suicide, I saw the truth. It all came together for me. There was no concern for my emotional state or for my son's valuable life. NO SUPPORT from those that claim to represent our GOD. Long story short, I rejected the JW's and reclaimed being a parent who NEVER lost the natural inclination to unconditionaly love her children. Now, 6 years later my son is a well adjusted, fine young man. How can anybody reject their flesh and blood? Aren't the parents somewhat responsible for the troubles their kids are having, even as young adults? I used to tell my kids they should learn to "wait on Jehovah" to solve their problems, and he will take care of it in his time. Not a good line! They "endured" an awful lot of pain before I got out.

Sacchiel said...

Please keep your blog coming :)