"Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me.”
– Matthew 10:37-38
I have been reading these words of the Master for the better part of 50 years. Having grown up as a Jehovah's Witness and having most of my immediate family members, including my wife, as a part of this brotherhood, I never thought I would come squarely face to face with this issue of loyalty and worthiness before the Christ.
The reason I am submitting this article for consideration is to hopefully assist many of our brothers, in particular, who are reluctant to publicly acknowledge their sonship by partaking of the body of Christ at the annual Memorial Supper. I know there are many of our dear brothers who are ready to take the step of doing what they know to be right, but are reluctant to do so because their wives will not support them in this declaration of faith. I understand there are many wives who have even threatened separation if their husbands make public declaration of their faith by becoming partakers of the Christ so as to “keep proclaiming the death of our Lord until he arrives.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) These wives feel they will become ‘oddballs’ in the eyes of the congregation. So in an effort to maintain family peace, these brothers abstain from proclaiming their sonship and partaking of the body of Christ at the Memorial Supper.
To all of my brothers out there who are facing this dilemma, I understand your struggle!
While serving as an Elder in the congregation for a number of years, I partook of the Memorial emblems in private, totally unbeknownst to my wife and the congregation. I feared she would not accept me or view me as an adopted son of the Father primarily due to the mystical characterization of the ‘anointing’ that is fostered by the Watchtower Society. So I carefully kept these matters hidden from practically everyone.
I began partaking of the Memorial emblems even before the AnointedJW website was published because I discerned it was the right thing to do. However, approximately two years ago, I read an article on this website that changed the course of events for me. In that article, Proving Ourselves Worthy of the Christ, it cited these words of our Lord:
“Everyone then, who acknowledges me before men, I will 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.”
– Matthew 10:32-33
That one statement hit me like a ton of bricks! By fearfully hiding my sonship because of what my wife and the members of the congregation might think, I was putting myself in the position to be disowned by Christ Jesus! All of my work and effort over the years would have amounted to nothing! I stood in jeopardy of losing everything of spiritual and temporal value. I could not bear the thought of this happening to me!
So I finally summoned the courage to explain the whole situation to my wife and inform her that I would be partaking at the upcoming Memorial. At first, my comments were met with cold silence. She was completely unprepared to hear something like that from me. Because she has had the Two-Hope Doctrine burned into her psyche, it was like we were now from two different planets. I actually felt her pain and bewilderment and my powerlessness to assuage her discomfort. However, over the past two years, things have changed dramatically.
Due to my firm and uncompromising stand on the sonship issue, my wife is closer than I ever thought she would be of accepting her own anointing. One of the reasons, among many, that I think she has developed to this degree is because I told her the decision of her becoming a partaker of the Christ is going to have to be her own decision. I expressed to her that whether she becomes a partaker of the body of Christ or not, I will always love her as deeply and as dearly as I always have. And know this brothers, I do indeed love my wife! She has been, and continues to be, a wonderful blessing in my life. But she has also come to appreciate that there is no human relationship that will ever again come between me and my loyalty to the Father and His Son who was sent to earth to reveal the sacred secret of salvation for all. And she has the assurance that I will not presume to interfere in her relationship with the Father either. She is coming to understands that no human relationship can compare nor ever will supplant our divine relationships, certainly not in my life, and soon, I suspect, in her life as well.
My wife would not have made the spiritual progress she has made if I had remained a fearful child of our Father. Neither would I have the dignity and possession of courageous integrity if I had remained in hiding.
Dear brothers, there is something I have learned that only came to me through actual faith experience. One, is that fear is a master intellectual fraud practiced on our growing spiritual natures. And it is a false master, an unreality! Many Jehovah’s Witnesses appear to be all too willing to die for Christ, but few, it seems, are willing to live for Christ. The psalmist said that ‘the dead have no power to praise God.’ (Psalms 115:17) But us, the living, have a unique opportunity to do something in our lives that we will never be able to do in death, and that is be a living testimony to the power of our heavenly Father and His Christ.
It is becoming clear that in the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, there are real men among us who are willing to risk all in behalf of the Christ, even if it means losing the respect and association of their congregations and their families. In my personal experience, I have discovered when one pushes fear aside and presses forward in faith, even with those knots in the stomach, Christ supplies you with the additional strength that is beyond what is normal. But this power only comes after you are willing to put yourself out there. And brothers, isn't that really what faith is all about! Not waiting for Christ to supply us with courage first so we can act courageously, but to feel the fear and do it anyway! When we do that, we have given our Lord something to work with, and, brothers, I have experienced him giving me a courage that even surprises me!
Fortunately, I personally have not heard of one brother who has taken a stand for Christ as a son of God who lost any member of his family. Quite the opposite! The families of these courageous brothers are likewise taking up sonship and leaving the domination of mere men behind them. They have freed themselves of the shackles and burdens they did not know they were under until taking a stand for Christ. And finally, they are really experiencing what it feel likes to fill their lungs with the oxygen of true freedom!
I told my wife not too very long ago. “Baby, I will love you with all my heart until the end of my earth days, but after that, I'm out of here! I would love nothing better than for you to come on this eternal journey with me, but if you choose not to, it won't be because I did not try to do everything in my power to get you to come on this journey with me.”
She is almost there, brothers. But it's only because I took an uncompromising stand. May I encourage all of you men who are feeling uncertainty to not let the unreality of fear dominate and become a master over your life. Become courageous men now! Your wives will eventually bask in the security of your manly courage because she sees you manifesting what Pontius Pilate was moved to observe about our Lord when he said: “Look! The Man.” (John 19:5)
May the spirit of our Father fill all of our brothers with such confidence!
Associate Writers of www.AnointedJW.org