I recently left the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wrote a letter disassociating myself, and therefore I expect to be shunned (ignored and avoided) by all other Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For those you may not know the difference between disassociating and disfellowshipping (excommunication), let me explain. To be disfellowshipped means you are expelled from the congregation by the elders. Disassociation means you leave of your own accord. Though the two actions are quite different, you are treated the same.
Why did I leave? Well those reasons are long and they built up over time. If I had to explain them all it would take many, many pages. For this article I will focus on the shunning practice.
When my son was born my whole life changed, I learnt for the first time what unconditional love is. I knew in my heart of hearts that no matter what happened nothing could stop how much I loved that little boy.
I grew up with a disfellowshipped mother, so I have experience on how that hurts and damages normal relationships with family. My mother was only reinstated (accepted back in) when I was 18 years old, around the time of my own baptism. During my life I knew very well that love was conditional. It was based on what you did – if you did well, you were loved. If you did not do well – no love at all.
I learnt from my son that you didn’t have to DO anything to be loved. Simply his existence was enough. He brought me joy just by being there. So my experience growing up was thrown into sharp contrast with the all-encompassing love I was feeling for my baby.
As a Jehovah’s Witness you are prepared to shun your friends and family if they are disfellowshipped. You know that your stand reflects your loyalty to God himself. Obviously you will choose God over anyone person on the earth. You are also told that you adhering to the shunning practise will compel the person to come back, thereby you will get back the relationship that you have lost.
This is not always the case, like in the case of my mother, she was disfellowshipped for decades before she returned.
In thinking about my son’s future, and wondering when he would get baptized – and what if he did something wrong that would lead to his disfellowshipping. Now obviously I wouldn’t want that to happen – but what if it did? Would I follow the rules and cut off my contact and affection for my son? If he was old enough to leave home, I would have to encourage him to leave in order to adhere to not associating with him. I knew deep down that there was no way on this earth I could do that. If he had done something so wrong, wouldn’t that mean he would need his parents love more than ever? Surely exiling him wouldn’t be the loving and kind thing to do?
Well that is the conclusion I came to. Even if my son wants nothing to do with religion what so ever, I will never stop loving him, cut off contact, or ignore him until he believes the same thing that I believe. God gave us free will and there is the control thing I mentioned right at the beginning. I was being controlled to do something that went against my natural human instincts to love my son no matter what. Added to this if I insisted on associating with him, while he was disfellowshipped, I would be risk being disfellowshipped myself.
Since my son is barely two years old, these kinds of thoughts are hardly positive, but they easily demonstrated how much I was in conflict with the teachings that I was supposed to hold dear.
Since leaving I have researched a great deal about mind control and how a person is indoctrinated. I read “Freedom of Mind” by Steven Hassan and I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone facing the dilemma of being controlled, or a friend or family member in that position.
I write this to say that shunning your friends and family is not natural. It goes against human nature, and why would God require you to do something that goes against how he created us?I know very well I have opened myself up to backlash – but I am okay with that. My conscience is clear and my relationship with Jehovah is unblemished. To a Jehovah Witness though, that would be impossible as I left the only organization that has God’s backing on earth. I beg to differ on that one