THE HAPPY FAMILY
"The Happy Family"
Summer time offers so many things that traditionally can unite families: Weddings, graduations, reunions, vacations, home improvement projects, canning vegetables, rummage sales, etc. But for many who have left the Mormons or the Watchtower, connections to family who remain in those religions has been lost.
It might appear that any hope of reconciliation and "a happy family life" then rests on the shoulders of those who removed themselves from the religion. That's a heavy burden to bear and a significant power tool these group use to capitalize on the loneliness incurred by disfellowshipped members. Often times people return to their religion not because they believe it is the truth or have a desire to serve God under its mandates but because they miss their families so much!
A basic human desire is for a happy family life and religions like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Watchtower promote this ideal in their literature and yet, people come out of groups like these with broken and dysfunctional families. The lack of family is why many support groups like our Meetups exist for ex-Jehovah's Witnesses and ex-Mormons. It is one way to receive new mothers, brothers and children just as Jesus promised.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
One person's decision affects the next generation within their family. Some of us, drawn in by those lovely portraits of happy families depicted in tracts and magazines, were the first to join the Watchtower or the Mormons and introduce its influence into our own families.
Among other things, the Watchtower and the Latter Day Saints use the "happy family life" to lure in new converts based on this basic human desire to have close-knit, loving families. The Mormons promise that families will be together eternally, but Matthew 22:28-30 indicates that we do not understand the Scriptures nor the power of God if we think the marriage arrangement continues in heaven. Furthermore, I see nothing in Jesus’ ministry that promoted the family as the primary reason to follow him. In fact, I see quite the opposite in his teachings.
The early Christians were called to follow Christ, not a religious organization. And in following Christ, they were admonished to keep their focus on him and not on picturing their family together with them at some panda bear picnic in paradise or a celestial kingdom.
People in the religions of the Watchtower and the Latter Day Saints can enjoy a happy family life just as two unbelievers can have a happy marriage and family life also, but when a person comes to Christ, they have a totally different focus. We should not be surprised at the divide because when someone becomes a Christian they’re a new creation (2 Co 5:17). Even if they were a basically “good person” beforehand, they now belong to Christ and are being conformed into his image not the image a religion or what a family wishes to instill in them. An unbelieving mate may not have bargained for this change thinking that the person they married is longer there in a sense, but there are changes along the way in all relationships, not just in the case of one becoming a Christian. Someone could lose a limb and the partner would have to compensate, perhaps even move to accommodate wheelchair accessible features. They could look back and remember how easy it was before the accident, but isn’t it better to press on? In the same sense, one could look back and remember how easy it was before Jesus Christ came with a sword into the family also. The Israelites left Egypt to pursue freedom in worshiping God, yet the freedom caused them to long for things left behind, even though they existed as slaves in their former life.
We see admonition for families in the Bible, but I don’t see the pretty pictures of “happy families” there. I see singular workers on a mission. Abraham didn’t even know where he was going, but the family followed. I wonder what Peter’s wife thought of him? Jeremiah was told not to even marry because of the work God had planned for him. The confusion comes by thinking we’re supposed to run back and make it look like we’re still the same family. But if putting our family relationships becomes a higher priority than God, it’s called idolatry. We were bought with a price, our vessels belongs to Him. That is heavy because at the same time, we do belong to our families. We’re still in the world and have to make a living and have responsibilities to care for them, but what does the word say? Abraham knew he was a STRANGER on this earth. His true citizenship was in heaven. The early Christians understood this world was passing away AND SO IS IT’S DESIRE. Our desires change. When we died with Christ, so did our old desires. We are continually being fashioned into the person God wants, the one created in Christ. Whatever is not part of that falls away as refuse.
There is no doubt that what happened on the cross divided families in the first century and continues to do so today, and yet, God can not be held responsible for such division for his intent is to put to death hostility and be our peace. Yes, he brings a sword that divides, but he seeks to destroy the barrier and make two into one. How will this happen unless the division first becomes obvious?
When a person "sits on the fence" in leaving the Latter Day Saints or the Watchtower, they may know Christ but sense a lack of growth toward their spiritual calling. Their family remains in the organization and even though they know it's not the truth, they don't completely break from it in order to be part of their family’s life. It's awful that anyone has to make this decision in order to “keep the peace”, and yet, doesn't Christ himself say he came to bring a sword?
When a person finally writes that letter of disassociation or digs into the research once and for all and makes that break, growth happens. Until then, they live in fear of the sword that they never allow to separate them on to the side of Christ. How will their family ever come out until they see the separation?
In the case of the apostle Paul, he was raised in a religious family who likely was quite proud of how he went about persecuting those who left Judaism to follow Christ. Yet, he did not stay in Judaism for the sake of his happy relatives. He was separated out not just on the road to Damascus, but from birth to be a follower of Christ! God ALLOWED him to be born into a Jewish family and go through his time of being a Pharisee until that day it PLEASED GOD to REVEAL Christ in him.
15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, (Gal 1:15-16)
It was pleasing to God to separate Paul from his heritage when the time came. Paul’s time as a Pharisee was well spent and used to mold him into a preacher not only to his own brethren, the Israelites, but to preach among the Gentiles as well. Christ was there waiting in Paul to simply accept him as his savior. He's waiting in the hearts of many to just remove all those stumbling blocks that keep them from simply being able to accept his enormous love and calling in their lives to do the work he prepared in advance. Oddly enough, for some, those blocks are their own families.
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie
They are all there for me!
“I had Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting for six years. … The sad thing is now I have their beliefs in my head. So I put myself into God’s hands and asked for direction. …Well, the feeling of freedom is amazing. I am like a child, learning again for the first time. The reason I had to write to you was the Karen and Cindy conversations. Instead of me asking for help, one question at a time, they are all there for me!! It seems as if ‘Karen’ could read my mind.It’s so lovely for things to fall into place, mainly that ‘What happens when we die?’ This was a very big issue for me. I was scared while I did not understand even the tiny bit I do now. It’s such a joy. Instead of feeling unworthy(were all sinners I know) and feeling I would never be saved or go to Heaven. So, please thank God and Jesus with me for such help.”
I have to tell you how your website saved my life.
“I have been a baptized Witness since 1995, and I have to tell you how you have saved my life. Every couple of years I get this gnawing sense that this is not quite right, that I am not 100% vested in what the Watchtower Society says. …Lately, I have stopped attending meetings and my daughter, 13, has begged me not to make her go back. So I have been praying and chatting with friends outside the organization……I can’t tell you my sense of relief when I stumbled upon your site and started to read the articles. I want to cry, but I’m at work. I can’t wait to get home because I am so excited I can barely stand it! Please, please, how can I meet others who feel this way? I sure could use the fellowship. Again, thanks for the work you do.”
God bless you for the difference you are making.
“My brother and I were raised by a Jehovah's Witness mother. I am 52 years old now and still haven't been able to shake the stigma of the experience. My brother wasn't as lucky as me and ended up taking his own life at 17. I have been through everything ... I can't express how much I appreciate what you are doing... God bless for the difference you are making.”
I do not feel so alone!
“Thank you for creating this website. After reading stories of former Jehovah's Witnesses, I do not feel so alone. My resolve to stay out of that religion has also strengthened. I have also come to realize that my depression, anxiety, and many other emotional scars inflicted by the organization and those in the ‘truth’ will take time to heal. But your website has also come to help me ... Thank you.”
Just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website.
“Hi…I am an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness from South Africa. ...I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses not because I did not agree with their beliefs, but because my wife could not handle it with me being a Jehovah’s Witness and she not. I became an anti-religious person. Then, just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website… Today, I prayed to Jesus for salvation after I read your article on your website…”
I’m so glad that I have run across this site.
“After reading the article that David Reed wrote on your site, I’ve looked at things in ‘a new light’ so-to-speak. ...I’m so glad that I have run across this site. I’m sure that it was the Holy Spirit that directed me to all of you!”
Your website is a great source for truth
“Your website is a great source for those seriously seeking the truth.… The Jehovah’s Witness elders shun me. I’ve known these guys for 30 years... Well, when I walk into the Hall they turn their backs to me. I have not seen my Jehovah’s Witness ex-wife, or daughter for two years. ...They hide my family from me. When I go to their homes, they smile with arms folded and say nothing.
The stories I read at your website were loud and clear - conditional love by the ‘brothers’! I have learned more in the Christian Church about unconditional love than 30 years as a Witness. When I accepted Christ, who He really is, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see both sides clearly. ...Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to know the real TRUTH! Keep up your good work.”