In our prior Dramas, The Announcement and The Awakening, we presented positive outcomes to the possibility that the Governing Body would do three things: (1) openly confess their major doctrinal error by admitting that there is only one living hope for all Christians – the heavenly hope; (2) relax their policies regarding shunning of disfellowshipped family members; and (3) allow the unimpeded development of a true Christian fellowship in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We demonstrated how implementing these changes could swiftly extricate the Governing Body from their past role as false prophets and confused teachers, and allow the congregations to begin anew without the heavy burden of Watchtower doctrinal errors, false expectations, and harmful policies.
But we must be fair. Not all will respond as positively as the characters in the drama. Many former and current Jehovah’s Witnesses will be upset. While they may believe the changes are necessary, some may view the changes as coming too late and having caused irreparable damage. Some may be seriously stumbled and may lose faith in God altogether. For many, no matter how sincere of a confession, it simply will not be enough.
So, we wondered, how can we help those brothers and sisters avoid or minimize potential unforeseen consequences to the changes we propose? What can we say that may serve to eliminate or alleviate some of their anticipated struggle? First, we thought, we would describe a few situations that might arise that would create a precipice moment, a real dilemma for many. And then show how faith and courage is the preemptive solution. So read along as we develop our next dramatic presentation, Fallout Dilemmas.
DILEMMA ONE: The scene opens at the home of Brother and Sister Faithful a few days after The Announcement! Brother and Sister Faithful are partakers who accept their sonship with God based on the plain and open teachings of Jesus. While they also partook for many years believing they were a part of an elite group of 144,000 super Christians, it was not until they understood that the heavenly hope was the only hope for mankind, that their relationship with the Father and their true ministry took flight.
Over the past several months, they had been openly speaking about the one true hope in their congregation and many had shown interest. A handful also accepted their sonship and had participated in private Memorial Suppers with the Faithfuls on several occasions over the past year. But the majority who showed an interest were too fearful to partake. Although they believed that there is only one hope for Christians, they were not ready to deal with any possible opposition from their body of Elders or others in the congregation. They simply had not generated enough courage to take that leap of faith.
But now that the Governing Body has made an open confession and announcement that ‘we are all, in fact, sons of God through our faith in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:26), Brother and Sister Faithful invited a few friends, including 12 previously fearful brothers and sisters, to their home for a private Memorial Supper.
After having great conversation and a meal, they all gathered together at the dining room table for the commemoration. On this occasion, each person had his or her own glass of wine and the bread was on the table ready to be passed. However, to Brother Faithful’s surprise, Brother Remorseful looked down, closed his eyes and shook his head as if to say “No.” Brother Faithful, who was sitting across from him said: “Brother Remorseful, is everything alright?”
“No,” said Brother Remorseful, still shaking his head. “This is not right. I can’t do this. This is not right!” Immediately his wife, Sister Remorseful, reached out and rubbed him gently on his back. “It’ll be alright, honey.”
“No!” said Brother Remorseful, rather forceful. “It will NOT be alright! How can I do this now? What kind of man AM I?!!” “What do you mean?” asked Brother Faithful.
[Brother Remorseful] “I’m here to openly confession union with Christ Jesus. To demonstrate my loyalty and determination to follow in his footsteps. But why? Why am I doing this NOW?! I’ve been afraid to do it all along. Why now? Because I love Christ? Because I love the Father? NO! Because the Governing Body said I could!!! What kind of man AM I?”
[Brother Faithful] “Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. That’s not true. I KNOW you have a great love for the Father AND for Christ Jesus. We’ve had many heartfelt and sincere conversations. I don’t doubt your sincerity at all.”
[Brother Remorseful] “Maybe you don’t. But I do. How can I say I’m doing this out of love for the Father and Christ Jesus? If that was the case, I would have done this earlier when I first realized that I, too, was invited to be a faith son of God and an heir to the heavenly kingdom. But no. I waited for men to tell me it’s okay. I didn’t have the courage to stand up in the face of opposition. Peter denied Christ three times, but I denied Christ every single Memorial and every single day that I refused to partake when I knew that I should. I chose to follow men and wait on the Governing Body. And now I’m here willing to openly partake because the Governing Body approves?! Don’t you see, brother, no matter what I do, I’m still just a follower of men!”
Everyone in the room was silent. The 7 persons present who openly partook when they first realized they were sons of God were overwhelmed with a sense of pity for Brother Remorseful. And the 11 present who, like Brother Remorseful, were too afraid to partake seemed to be overtaken by fear and dread. They all wondered “Why didn’t we see this before?” “Why didn’t we have the courage to pick up our torture stakes and follow Christ?” “How could we be so blind?” The 7 courageous brothers and sisters reached out and grabbed the hands of the 12 who had not partaken as a show of support.
Sister Remorseful started to cry. She remembered her conversations with her husband where they both agreed to wait for the Governing Body before partaking. They thought they were making the wisest choice under the circumstances, but they hadn’t realized the emotional toll it would take on them. It never occurred to them that waiting for the Governing Body to give their approval was still serving men!
Sister Faithful reached out to Sister Remorseful, “It’s okay,” she said. “Jehovah understands. He knows your heart.” Sister Remorseful, wiping away her tears and trying to re-gather her emotions, said “Well if that’s true, then he knows we chose to obey men over the Christ! No, Frank is right. There’s no way to fix this!” She started to cry again. Sister Faithful didn’t know what to say so she looked over to her husband for help.
[Brother Faithful] “There IS a way to fix this. Choose the Christ NOW! We are here to confess union with the Christ tonight. Hesitating is why you are so distressed. So no more hesitating.”
Brother Slow, who was one of the hesitating sons, interjected: “Yes, it’s unfortunate that we all didn’t partake earlier. But the important thing is that we’re all partaking NOW. We can’t undo what’s been done and we can’t do what hasn’t been done. But we can move forward in faith. Perhaps this can be the wake up call to all of us that from this point forward, we will follow the Lamb wherever he goes, no matter what men say. We can accept our baptism into Christ’s death and never again cower in fear of men.”
“Yes,” said Brother Faithful, “Remember, Peter did deny Christ three times, but he turned around and became a powerful son of God and a strong preacher of his message. Let this be a turning point for all of us to likewise be powerful sons of God and strong and effective preachers of the plain and open teachings of Jesus. Maybe the partaking tonight for some of us is not of our own initiative. But, regardless, this is the right thing to do. So let’s not hesitate any longer. Let’s offer prayer and begin our Memorial Supper.” All were in agreement, though Brother Remorseful continued shaking his head as tears rolled down his cheeks. He was not in disagreement. He was just so disappointed in himself.
After a heartfelt prayer, all 19 sons of the Kingdom participated in the symbolic Memorial Supper. This particular Memorial was different than previous ones which were lively, joyous occasions. This Memorial was solemn and serious. It was an occasion for not only open confession but also heartfelt repentance. Brother and Sister Remorseful, Brother and Sister Slow and the other 10 were living through the devastating internal upheaval that arises as a consequence of procrastination. And while it is true that the Father and Christ Jesus surely understand the difficult road they had to traverse to get to this Memorial Supper, these 12 hesitating brothers and sisters will carry this feeling of guilt, shame and personal disappointment for some time.
DILEMMA TWO: The scene opens near dusk on the front seat of a car parked in front of a small house in a moderate income suburban area of a major U.S. city. Earlier that morning, Brother and Sister Sorry had attended their Kingdom Hall where the 130th Annual General Meeting had been streaming. When they heard of the change in policy regarding disfellowshiped relatives, they both broke out in tears. Their daughter, Stacy, had been disfellowshiped for 8 years and, being obedient to ‘the Slave,’ Brother and Sister Sorry had cut off all communication with her.
Five years ago, they received a letter by mail from Stacy letting them know she had married and had given birth to a little girl. Brother and Sister Sorry wanted so much to reach out to their daughter, but they knew if they did, they, too, would likely be disfellowshipped. So, in obedience to ‘the Slave’, they stayed away and have never seen their granddaughter.
But after hearing The Announcement, they could hardly contain themselves. They thought about texting or emailing Stacy, but that wasn’t good enough. They had to see her. They desperately wanted to tell her face to face what happened and hopefully reunite with her and meet, for the first time, their little granddaughter. So after taking care of some necessary matters, they jumped in their car and made the long drive out to the suburbs where Stacy lives. And there they sat, not knowing what to expect, but hoping for the best. Sister Sorry spoke first: “Well, Bill, we’re here. What are we going to say?”
[Brother Sorry] “Just tell it like it is. Tell her what we heard, that the Governing Body has lifted the restriction on shunning disfellowshipped family members. It’s good news. It’s really amazing! My goodness, could you in all your life imagine this was going to happen?”
“Never, never, never,” replied Sister Sorry, “I mean the change from earthly life to heavenly life just blew me away. And it makes sense, even though it may be difficult to get used to at first. But when they made the announcement of the Jubilee for all disassociated and disfellowshiped family members, I felt like I had stopped breathing.” She shook her head in amazement as she glanced toward the house.
[Brother Sorry] “You know how I’ve felt about Stacy’s disfellowshipping. It seemed so unjust and unfair, especially since she repeatedly tried to get reinstated but the Elders just wouldn’t allow it.” As his agitation began to rise, he continued: “And the Governing Body’s strict rule against associating or even talking to her just seemed like overkill. But what could we do? We thought we were obeying Jehovah.”
Sister Sorry nodded slightly and said quietly, “I hope she understands. She was very hurt from all the gossip and the way the Elders treated her.”
[Brother Sorry] “Yes, but when she hears the whole story of the changes that the organization is making, I think she’ll be really happy to hear it. And I’m sure she’ll be happy to see us! Remember how often she reached out to us when she was first disfellowshipped. This will surely be good news to her. Come on, I don’t want to wait any longer to see her."
The couple excitedly exited their car and headed to the door. Sister Sorry arrived on the porch first and energetically knocked with a rhythmic tune, bursting with joy at the thought of seeing her daughter and granddaughter.
Almost immediately, the curtain to the window pulled back and there was Stacy staring out. Sister Sorry flashed a huge smile, but to her surprise, Stacy didn’t smile back. It seemed like almost two minutes passed before they could hear the door being unlocked. Finally it opened and there was Stacy standing with a look of almost disdain. And holding onto her leg was a beautiful little dimple-faced girl with a curious but fearful look on her face.
They could see into the small nicely furnished home. On the mantle were pictures of Stacy and her family. They all looked so happy. It never crossed their minds that their disfellowshipped daughter could actually be happy outside of ‘Jehovah’s organization.’ But it seems they were wrong.
Stacy stared at both of them straight in the eyes. Emotionless. “So what brings you here after 8 years?” she said. Sister Sorry was a little surprised. She thought Stacy would welcome them. “Honey, we came with good news. The Governing Body announced at the Annual Meeting today ...”
Stacy quickly interrupted her. “I know. I heard.” Then with a sarcastic tone said, “So, the Governing Body says you can talk to me, so you rush over here to see me, and I’m supposed to welcome you with open arms? Well let me be the first to tell you, you’re misled AGAIN! I’m not glad to see you. It’s too late. I tried to reach out to you several times, but you were a brick wall.” Brother and Sister Sorry both opened their mouths, speechless. “When I needed you most, at my wedding, and the birth of my child, you completely ignored me. You didn’t have the decency to even send me a note of congratulations. And so I’m supposed to be happy that your precious Governing Body has given you PERMISSION to speak to me?! Hardly! You showed that you are more loyal to an organization, than to your own flesh and blood. You don’t love me. In fact. You disgust me!”
Brother and Sister Sorry were in absolute shock. They were not at all prepared for this response. They stood there silent, not knowing what to say. Stacy continued: “So I had a hard time and got into some trouble. But that’s when I needed you the most! I needed my family to support me through those dark times. But you abandoned me! I was alone! Do you have any idea how that felt? No friends! No family! My own mother, the one who birthed me, the one who promised to take care of me, turned her back on me! And my father! My knight in shining armor! You let those men disrespect and humiliate me and you said NOTHING!! You both turned against me! Your own flesh and blood! And why? So you can be in good standing with an organization?!”
Sister Sorry was stunned. All she could think to do was reach out to Stacy, but Stacy leaned back. Then, turning to the little girl, she said “Go to your room, Jenny. I’ll be there in a minute.” Jenny looked at Brother and Sister Sorry with a frown on her face and turned and ran down a hall toward to back of the house.
[Brother Sorry] “Jenny? You named her Jenny? After your grandmother?”
[Stacy] “Yes I did. She was the only one who was kind to me. And she’s not even a Witness. But she showed more love than either of you or anyone in that congregation that’s supposed to be so loving,” she said with a sneer.
Again, Brother and Sister Sorry were stunned. Sister Sorry started to shake her head. “Honey, we were trying to please Jehovah. We thought we were doing the right thing.”
[Stacy] “So what then? Jehovah changed his mind? Again? Some God you serve!”
[Brother Sorry] “No, baby girl, Jehovah didn’t change his mind. The rule to shun family members was a POLICY decision by the Watchtower organization, not a law from God. We know that now. And after hearing you, we are so ashamed that we couldn’t see that sooner.”
[Stacy] “You should be! I’m ashamed of you, too. I spent a lot of time reading the Bible on my own and, you know what, I discovered a lot of things wrong with the teachings of your precious Governing Body.”
"We know, sweetie,” interrupted Brother Sorry. “We’ve learned a lot ourselves.”
“And we’re still learning” chimed in Sister Sorry as she leaned forward toward Stacy.
[Brother Sorry] “And we realize now that the Governing Body is just a group of men who were elected to run a religious organization. They weren’t appointed by God or Jesus. They are just men. And as it turns out, they are men who were wrong and were misleading the flock in many ways.”
[Sister Sorry] “And what was so surprising is that they apologized and said they were sorry for their errors in leadership and they want to start over with a new fellowship based only on the teachings in the Bible, not prophesy or polices and rules of men.”
[Stacy] “Well they should be sorry. But an apology is not good enough for me. I don’t want anything to do with them. So if you’ve come here to talk me into coming back to the organization, forget it! I’m not interested!”
“No, honey,” said Sister Sorry, “That’s not why we’re here. We just want to see you, talk to you, and tell you that we love you. We’re so sorry that we were not there for you when you needed us most. Hearing you now, I can’t even understand how we thought it was the right thing to do. There is so much we’re ashamed of, and so much re-learning we have to do as individuals. But we’re going to do our very best. We know we can’t change the past, but we can be here for you now.”
“That’s right, baby girl,” said Brother Sorry. “Can we come in and talk for a little bit?”
After a long pause, Stacy pulled her shoulders back and said, “No. I’m not interested in what you have to say. So, you can just get back into your car and go back to your little congregation. Me and my family are fine. We don’t need you or your religion! I’m shunning YOU now!”
Brother and Sister Sorry just stood there as Stacy closed the door. Sister Sorry started to cry, “Stacy! Stacy!” But there was silence. Stacy didn’t open the door or even look out the window.
After a couple of minutes, Brother Sorry said: “Come on honey, she’s right, you know. We weren’t there for her when she needed us most. I don’t blame her at all.”
“So we’re giving up?” asked Sister Sorry. “No, no,” said Brother Sorry, “We’re not giving up. We’re never going to give up again. This is just a first step. We’re going to keep coming back and keep telling her we love her and we’re sorry until she does want to see us. We have to earn her respect and prove that we are here for her and that we will never allow the opinions of others divide our family again.” Sister Sorry just nodded. She couldn’t stop crying. She could hardly speak.
As they walked to the car, Stacy peaked out the window. She, too, was crying. She wanted so badly to run after them and hug them both, but the pain and disappointment she felt was too strong. Although she was very angry at them, she also loved them very much. She had prayed for this day, but now that it was here, she wanted them to know and feel how hurt she was. She was not ready to forgive them ... yet. Although she knew in her heart that one day soon she would.
DILEMMA THREE: The scene opens at a convenience store. In walks Brother Joe Pioneer. He had a magazine route with the owner of the store who he hoped one day would accept a Bible study. But this day, Brother Pioneer didn’t have any magazines with him. Uncharacteristically, he walked straight to the coffee center, quietly made a cup of coffee and went to the counter to pay for it. The owner had a delightful look on his face. As he rung up the coffee, he said:
“Joe, I heard the news about Jehovah’s Witnesses changing their polices. You must be pretty excited!” Joe smiled slightly. “Yes, there are definitely changes afoot!” he said in reply looking down. “So, tell me about them. What’s going on? Is it explained in your magazines?”
“Ah ... not yet,” said Joe. “But I’m kind of in a hurry. How much is the coffee?” The owner, looking surprised since Joe has always been so talkative about his religion, said “$3 with tax.” Joe passed the owner the money and quickly exited. “Talk to you next time,” yelled the owner. Joe just nodded and got into this car.
The next scene opens a couple of hours later in the filing room of an office where Brother Pioneer works part-time as a file clerk. As Brother Pioneer was organizing some paperwork preparing to leave for the day, he noticed his co-workers in the corner talking and laughing. “Hey Joe!” said Matt, one of his co-workers who had always given him a hard time about being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “So I hear you guys are changing your tune. I heard your Head Pastors said that stuff about living forever on earth is a bunch of crock!” He laughed along with the other two guys standing with him. “I told you that religion was a misguided cult! Now maybe you’ll listen to me!”
Brother Pioneer just kept his head down trying to hurry and complete his work. “What’s the matter?” said Matt. “Cat got your tongue!” The men laughed again. Brother Pioneer took a deep breath, trying to decide whether to respond to the ridicule. “Oh, so NOW you can’t speak?” continued Matt. “Any other day, you’d be trying to shove your teachings down our throats.”
Brother Pioneer was starting to get a little angry. But he knew his anger was just covering up his embarrassment. Yes, he had been preaching to his co-workers at every opportunity, talking about the paradise earth and condemning the teachings of other religions, calling them Babylon the Great! Now he had to publicly face the fact that he was misled.
He had learned over the past few months that the two-hope teaching was wrong and he, along with many others he knew, were hoping the Governing Body would change the teaching to be in line with what Jesus taught. But he hadn’t expected the fallout. He hadn’t thought about what he would say to the dozens of people he had been preaching to. So, taking a deep breath, he said a silent prayer and then turned to Matt and said:
“Yes, its true. The teaching about the living forever on a paradise earth was wrong. In fact, many of the teachings are wrong. It was a hard thing for the Governing Body to admit. I think that’s a good thing to be able to change when you realize you are wrong.”
“So you didn’t realize you were wrong until your Governing Body told you? That’s pathetic!” said Matt. The other two men didn’t laugh with him that time. In fact, one of them said “Leave him alone, Matt. He’s a good guy.” Matt just laughed and walked away.
Brother Pioneer stood there with so many emotions going through him. As he completed his work for the day, he heaved a sigh, got his coat and quickly left without speaking to anyone else. While he was angry at Matt, he had to admit Matt was partially right. He thought to himself “Why did I have to wait for the Governing Body before I believed what the Bible clearly teaches? Why didn’t I have the courage to teach the truth when I saw it for myself. I wish I could go back in time and do it right. I wish I had taken the opportunity to tell them about my own scriptural understanding before the change was made. Maybe I could have somehow minimized or prevented the ridicule. And maybe I could have changed this into an opportunity to talk about the real hope.” But now, he would never know.
In each of these dilemmas, there is a running theme. The Twelve Hesitant Sons, the Mistakenly Loyal Couple, and the Silent Pioneer all waited on the Governing Body before doing what they knew to be right. And in each instance, they suffered a blow to their personal dignity, their faith and their reputation.
While each one joyfully accepted the changes as set forth in The Announcement, they had lacked the courage to do the Father’s will – the best and right thing under the circumstances – on their own. But what if they could do it all over? What if they had acted in faith from the moment they understood the true teachings? Would things have been different for them? We think so!
The Twelve Hesitant Sons would have no doubt about their faith. If they would have partaken when they first accepted the offer of sonship, they would have been vindicated when the Governing Body announced the change. They would have shown to all that they obeyed God as ruler rather than men. (Acts 5:29) And they would have participated in the post-announcement Memorial with joy of heart and a victorious faith!
The Mistakenly Loyal Couple would likely have the fellowship and loving association of their daughter if they had reached out to her out of their own initiative, and not wait for the approval of the Governing Body. That early effort may have been met with greater appreciation by their daughter and even though there would still be a lot to make up for and a lot of lost time, the daughter would have known that her parents’ love for her was greater than their love for an organization.
And the Silent Pioneer would have been able to show the Bible teachings of the true hope to the store owner and his co-workers in a way that demonstrated a living faith and a real interest in truth, rather than an after-the-fact admission that he was really serving men, not God.
In each of the above dilemmas, had they humbled themselves, they would have been exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
Of course, there is the real possibility that the Governing Body may never admit their error openly and never make the changes in policies as described in The Announcement. But that is all the more reason to act now. Any time lost waiting for stubborn men who are deeply invested in error is time taken away from the Father and Christ Jesus. Instead of building up the storehouses of men, that time could be used storing treasures for themselves in heaven as Jesus commanded.
“Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matthew 6:19-20
So, to all our readers, we ask: Where is your heart? Are you ready to face these dilemmas as a result of a lack of courage and humility? Or are you ready to pick up your torture stake and follow the Christ no matter the cost?
We hope, by way of these dramatic scenes, to provoke your senses, to stimulate your thinking abilities, to agitate your spirit, and to bring you face to face with spiritual realities. Whether the Governing Body makes needed changes or not, each Christian must decide for themselves what is the Father’s will, and then do it! As James wrote:
“Therefore, if someone knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.”
– James 4:17
And let us not forget Jesus’ words:
“Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.... And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.”
– Matthew 10:32-33, 38-39
This is your defining moment, your precipice event. Which course of action will you take? What will you do? Will you act? Or will you wait? We welcome your comments.