<Continued from “You Remember I am an Apostate, Right?”>
I hold her sudden quiet for a long heartbeat and then say, “If this is the Truth with a capital ‘T’ then it can stand up to any examination from any direction, at any time. Truth has nothing to fear from any sort of scrutiny of its evidence. That is the very definition of the word truth. Yet the Society’s rules say that scrutiny of outside evidence is forbidden. Questioning is a Disfellowshipping Offense. It is Apostasy.”
I meet her listening eyes for another long minute.
“Right?” I tilt my head towards her questioningly.
She nods but still says nothing.
I don’t know if I have ever seen her listen so carefully.
“Faithful Witnesses are required to Maintain Loyalty at all times. You are required to shun me because I Disassociated Myself. Because I do not agree with the Governing Body I am not allowed to care for you when you are old and need help.”
“Why is that?” My voice is softly insistent. She is still listening with quiet wide eyes.
“The Apostle Paul said not to take any man’s word as to what is true, not even his. Judge for Yourselves What is True. Right?”
She nods again. The Watchtower has told us this often.
“Yet it is a Disfellowshipping Offense for a Baptized Witness to have Persistent Doubts or to Question the Organization in any way. Right?” I ask for a third time.
She nods, still quiet and listening. There is no trace of tears or crying now.
“Paul was speaking to a Congregation of Baptized Christians when he said that. He wasn’t speaking to unbelievers, he was talking to the converted. They were not to blindly accept any man’s word, including his.”
Exhaling a long softening breath, I prepare myself to say the next part, the especially hard part. It is the part I am afraid she may hear as judgement of her choice to bring her family, children and grandchildren, into this Organization.
Plus my stomach is clinching with this reimmersion into Witness language. I have built a life far away from Witness vinacular. I work to keep this part of my pain from leak into my voice as I continue.
“As a child Born into the Faith, I couldn’t truly and neutrally examine the Organization’s claims and proofs ever. Whether or not I was baptized is irrelevant to the types of painful consequences I would have faced if I had expressed any sort of persistent Doubt of this Truth or persistent desire to examine the proofs with outside sources.”
She is still and quiet her face giving away nothing.
“I have a great appreciation for the reverence for deep spiritual matters in my upbringing. My father held a vision of me. A vision of a serious, devoted slave of God.” I manage to say these loaded words without choking or hesitating.
My skin crawls as I continue deliberately using this very specific language, the sound of my childhood. “A slave who lives to serve the Greatest Highest Good and the Community. One who walks a path few trod. One who stands, visibly different; whose light is shining on a lamp stand. A beacon for truth who is dedicated to bringing god’s message into the world; no matter the personal cost. These are Core Principles of my upbringing.”
“Of course,” she says, “yes, that is how you were raised.” She evidences no tension or hesitation with the language I am using.
“I was born to this family of patient teachers and powerful ministers. My parents shaped and molded me like master sculptures ‘finds and releases’ the statue within the block of marble. Right?”
She smiles a bit tremulously and nods.
“In the Bible there are multiple examples, from the Judges, and the Prophets, to Christ and the Apostles, of individuals instructed by God to call out the abuses of the religious and secular leaders. They stood up and shared God’s truth fearlessly with everyone. No matter the consequences; prison, beatings, thrown in a pit with lions, up to death, individuals spoke God’s truth.”
She nods again. These are well known facts to any Witness.
“The Governing Body has placed itself firmly between Witnesses and God. They require absolute Obedience. They make all decisions, life and death decisions for the Brothers and Sisters, in secret meetings. Where there is no public accountability, there is huge danger of private abuse of power. The Watchtower’s assertion is that such abuses cannot happen because God Keeps His Organization Clean.”
“Yet in the Bible, God many times is described as empowering individuals to call out abuse in the name of God.” I watch her carefully as I continue.
“When I look at the world I notice there is an enormous amount of diversity in the Universe and amongst humans. Yet amidst this fascinating complexity this Organization says there is only one right way for all humans to have God’s favor. One right way that will bring perfect happiness, joy and peace to the entire world.”
“They teach everyone else deserves to be slaughtered.” My voice goes flat as I say these last words.
She doesn’t flinch. She has been Faithfully Awaiting God’s Coming Destruction of This Old System of Things for over 50 years.
“The idea that the best solution God has to solve the world’s problems is to kill over 7 billion Worldly People does not resonate as Righteous Truth in my heart. I will not follow such a God.” My tone is implacable.
“The problem I have is I love you.” My voice softens, “I love my father and my mother. I love all of my family.”
“Of course you do.” She immediately affirms, sounding almost affronted by any suggestion I might not love my family.
“I spent many years terrified of the loss that leaving the Witnesses would require of me. My parents, my brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins would ‘shun’ me. They would not speak to me if they saw me in the street. They would not eat a meal with me.” And bringing it back to my main point…the reason we are having this conversation, I say, “I would not be able to take care of you when you need me. Like now.”
She nods slowly, eyes starting to shine again.
“It took me a long time to leave for those reasons. As a child I asked my father lots of questions over the years. I listened closely and I worked to understand this Truth of the Society. I was trying to find my agreement with it so I could keep you and my parents.”
“Now, I walk through the world, visibly different, a beacon for essential truths of God. I am speaking out about the abuses and pain I witnessed. I will not be silent. Therefore, they will not allow me to take care of you. I am so sad about that.” Tears fill my eyes at last.
“Oh honey,” Her tears start to flow again too, “I understand. You need to be true to your Principles. You must follow the voice of God in your heart. I will be fine.” She cups her cold trembling hands to my face again.
“No, you are not fine.” I come back instantly. “That is why we are having this conversation. I need to talk with my mother about how not fine you are. I know that the only power I have to get them to do something about your situation is for me to come in here and start to do it. They cannot allow that so they will have to do something to get you more care in here.”
“Ohhh!” Her frustration is clear, “None of them want to take care of me!!” She repeats, her mind going back to what is most real for her. “You want to take care of me, they don’t! How can they do this??”
“I know.” I say softly. “I know. I do want to take care of you. I have been doing it my whole life. It shreds me to know that I can’t do it now at the end of your life.”
“Your mother moved away and your uncles don’t take care of me.” She starts to cry, more in anger this time. “You are the one who wants to, none of the rest of them do.” The last words plaintively trail off.
I am, on principle, not allowed to take care of her.
“What about Worldly-Caregiver-Woman? How do you like her? She has been coming one day a week for a while now. Is that working for you?” I bring us back to the practical issue at hand. Who is going to take care of her?
According to Witness ideals, one of her Faithful children or grandchildren should arrange their lives to take care of her. She is the matriarch of this generational family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She has a lot of children and grandchildren in the Truth.
“She is fine.” She sounds mutinous again. “I don’t want a stranger here. It is my house. I don’t want a stranger in my house.”
“I know you don’t.” I nod softly and put a hand over hers where it is lying on the table. “I know, but in general, she takes good care of you?”
“Yes, she is fine.” She repeats unhappily.
She has such a miserable look on her face, it breaks my heart.
“I know sweet heart, I know.” I meet the hurt on her face with my own sad eyes. What about in the Congregation, is there someone In the Hall that you like? Someone that needs help and who could help you perhaps.”
“No!!” She is suddenly snarling through her tears. “In the Congregation? Agghh!” She makes a disgusted sound deep in her throat.
“Yeah, I know.” The sadness in my voice deepens. “According to the Watchtower a man of God must First be Found to be Taking Care of His Own Household. Right?” I raise a questioning eyebrow and my nod is sympathetic.
She nods, tears spilling down her cheeks again.
“His other Service to God is not acceptable if some member of his Household is found to be neglected. He could loss his Privileges.”
She nods again, eyes pouring sadness.
“It is only if a Member of the Congregation has no Believing family to care for them the Elders in their Congregation are to organize help from the Congregation.” I continue to meet her eyes. “So asking the Congregation for help when you have so many Believing family members is a shameful thing. I get that.”
“Right!” She bursts out through her tears.
“It is only a very last resort that Worldly help may be brought in for support. Bad Association Spoils Useful Habits. If you have a Worldly person here, according to Witness Principles, you are being put in danger.”
“Right!!” She says with even more intensity.
“According to the Society, your Believing children or grandchildren are supposed to take care of you. Yet, they are hiring a Worldly Person to take care of you. I know how much that hurts.”
Now, they are going to come in and tell her they will Disfellowship her if she lets me take care of her.
She is hurt and she is angry.
It was not supposed to be like this.
Privileges like Serving as an Elder, Pioneer, or Bethal Service can be removed if a Brother is Shown to be Not Taking Care of the Members of his Household.
 1 Cor. 15:33 is used regularly by the Organization to justify the injunction for Witnesses to Hold Yourselves Separate from the World. All Associations outside the Organization are defined as Bad Associations that Spoil Useful Habits.