Ask a Former JW: New JW Girlfriend

Ask a Former JW: New JW Girlfriend

“I have a new g/f who is getting into the biblestudy and meetings with JW because her friend got her into it. She has such a high regard for her friend because she is kind etc etc.. that she did this and now she is beginning to like what she is learning. I am not myself a religious person but out of all religion’s I view JW as a distasteful one. Though new to a relationship with this girl I’ve made it clear to her and this last little bit I have shown her various websites of ex JW and trying to persuade her not to continue with this. I do care for her and do not want her lead atray. But I am also afraid that by pushing so hard on this subject I will lose her since we are still a very very young couple. How can I “compete” (I don’t like that word but can’t think of any other word to use) with a friend she holds in such high regards (who seems to be very ill now and in a diff country) when I am such a new person to her life? I don’t know what else to do.. all I can think is to keep giving her information that I find and let her see for herself and I guess take the hit of separating from this wonderful girl. Even with discussion where I try to bring to light why something is she is now always saying how wonderful the pple are there and how everything makes good sense etc etc.. I’m not disputing the pple are nice, it’s the content of the religion but she seems only to be blinded by the good and caring nature presented to her. I am saddened by this, as I felt she could be somebody I could build my life with. She does not see that I fought with her because I care for her.. only that I fought because I dislike that religion. I tried and tried to explain why it is..but to no avail. I await her reply to me, she talked to me on the phone the other day and said she didn’t know what to do.. choose between me or JW. It isn’t a choice between me and JW.. it is a choice between freedom and blind servitude.” D

Response:

That is a very difficult situation because ultimately all you can do is present to her the possible harmful qualities of this religion. Her spiritual decisions are, of course, hers and hers alone. I would ask what she is looking for and see if you can provide an alternative to this route – is it a community, support network, praise from her friend? Perhaps another kind of group altogether would be more constructive – help build houses for the poor, volunteer at an animal shelter, or to spend time with older folks or as a “big sister.”

The people in the congregations are very friendly – especially at first – and actually most Witnesses are very nice people. As with any group, there are wonderful people and scary people – most of my problems with the organization have to do with policies coming from the top, not with the “sheep” of the organization who are simply misled. You might point out that women are very much second-class citizens in this organization. They have and are protecting pedophiles, for example. More widespread is the problem of mental health issues. They seem both to attract people who are a bit unstable as well as to create significant psychological problems in a greater percentage of their followers than what exists in the general population. This is especially true in the US, where all you have to do is check one of the Watchtower “watch” sites to read an endless barage of narratives about JWs losing it in increasingly violent ways. Many of these have been kicked out of the organization – they have nothing else and they have lost the ability to make decisions about themselves and others.

Less known is the actual process of what happens, whether “fairly” or not, when someone makes a mistake – such as giving oral sex to their spouse (no, I’m not kidding). If your girlfriend got involved with the JWs, she would have two choices eventually – either break things off with you, or bring you in. If in the meanwhile you happened to do more than kiss, she would either have to tell on herself or one of the congregation spies would tell on her. If she were “disfellowshipped” – punished by shunning until she repents – then the insulated society would collectively turn their backs on her. She would get no spiritual guidance other than platitudes from untrained uneducated refrigerator repairmen and sellers of home vinyl siding who don’t care about her and only parrot bits of the bible they don’t understand in an out-of-context way. While the JWs are not alone in this, she should realize that there is no personal confessional process, no spiritual building or growth process, just an endless series of meetings and studies of Watchtower literature. They don’t even really read the bible on its own. She would be discouraged from reading outside sources, attending movies with higher than a PG rating – and of course all holidays of a pagan or national source would not be celebrated anymore (that’s all of them, by the way). Tell her to look beyond the nice people – she can check out virtually any religious organizaton and find nice people.

And if after being presented with all the sacrifices this religion requires – including cutting herself off from all non-JWS, even her family, and she still wants to go through with it and live each day in the expectation that the end of this system of things is approaching fast and her duty is to bring as many people as possible into the “truth” – well, then, I’m afraid there isn’t much you could do about it, and it would be self-destructive of you to try anymore. At that point, you can either break things off, join the religion yourself, or wait for her to break things off herself – which she will. It’s only a matter of time.

I sympathize with your position – but things are very early yet, and she should at least put together a list for herself of all the changes this religion requires and ask herself if making a few new friends will be worth it. Ultimately, if she really has a deep spiritual interest, she should do more meditation and prayer on the matter rather than getting indoctrinated or love-bombed. God is about love, not manipulation.

I would be happy to write or speak with her about my experiences and the experiences of people who regularly write to me if that would be at all helpful. I wish you both all blessings, and I hope that you will find a way to meet the needs and desires and spiritual/relationship thriving that will be beneficial for both of you, not just one of you.

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