|Posted on July 26, 2014 in memory of C.J. Maurer for Watchtower Victims Memorial Day|
Thirty-one years ago on March 14, 1970, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Along with 55 others at a circuit assembly in Lafayette, Indiana, I answered yes to the following questions:
Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him, the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ?
On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation, have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Jesus Christ and through the Bible under the enlightening power of the holy spirit?
I ceased from serving men or any man-made organization. It was a happy time in my life. I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a scriptural course. I had separated myself from the blood-guilty churches of Christendom. Or so I thought.
What follows is a self- examination on whether aspects of my life course over the past 30 years have been in harmony with my vows. Can I say, “I am clean from the blood of all men?"
Shortly after I was baptized, the brothers in Malawi started having trouble because they would not purchase a political party card. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS) had admonished them not to as it would break their Christian neutrality. The results were horrific; thousands died at the hands of maniacs, sisters were raped, young and old, and others were severely beaten. Almost all of our brothers lost their property and jobs.
I admired their Christian stand and was honored when the brothers asked me, a young pioneer, to help in contacting local officials to request that they write to the Malawian government to put an end to the persecution of my dear brothers. I carried out that assignment at the side of the pioneer sister who had studied the Bible with me.
I specifically bring up the matter of the brothers in Malawi because of the vacillating view of the WTBTS, regarding neutrality, the superior authorities, and civil service. Sufficient to say is that at the time our brothers were dying in Malawi, Mexican brothers were bribing officials at the sanction of the WTBTS to obtain an ‘Identity Cartilla for Military Service’. This put them in the first reserves of the Mexican army.
Four years after I was baptized, I met a brother and married. Although he did not share my “zeal” for the ministry, he was a good, kind person. Five years after we were married, we moved to the Bloomington, Indiana congregation. Jim knew the brothers there, having lived there for many years, and it was my hope that they would encourage him spiritually.
Although elders were counseled to make regular visits on the sheep, we lived in Bloomington for three years before such a visit took place. Two elders made arrangements to call on us, but they only wanted to talk to Jim. I took this as a good thing; they were going to help him as an individual.
When they left, he seemed rather upset. It seems that someone had seen him smoking and reported it to the elders. I was shocked that he would do such a thing, but he assured me he would try to quit. Two weeks later, he was disfellowshipped. I can’t remember if I was pregnant at the time, or had just given birth, but needless to say, it was a hard time for our family.
My view at the time was fashioned after comments from the WTBTS, such as the one that follows from the April 15, 1988 Watchtower: “Cutting off from the Christian congregation does not involve immediate death. Thus, a man who is disfellowshipped or who disassociates himself may still live at home with his Christian wife and faithful children. Respect for God’s judgments and the congregation’s action will move the wife and children to recognize that by his course, he altered the spiritual bond that existed between them.” Such comments would gradually destroy our family life.
Taking the WTBTS view on disfellowshipping quite seriously, I took a hard line against my husband, as did others in the congregation. Our marriage over the next five years deteriorated. I was angry at him for his weakness. We separated and divorced after another year and a half. By then, I had “scriptural” evidence of unfaithfulness. Approximately two years later, Jim committed suicide. The despair wrought by not being able to overcome his addictions, and the lack of compassion exhibited by those who would no longer speak to him, persons who had known him for years, took their toll.
I’m examining myself in this matter, remember, and I am one of those who lacked compassion. Jim is dead. His two children miss him. His family and friends miss him. I miss him. It feels good to admit that I miss him. But it’s too late…
Regarding the so-called blood issue: I have a terminal cancer. My illness (ovarian cancer) was diagnosed approximately the same time last year as the information the WTBTS published on accepting a variety of blood fractions. I did not examine the article at the time due to my being ill and refused a blood transfusion for my hysterectomy. My surgery was cut short because of my low blood count; a complete “debulking” could not be done in which more small cancer clusters are removed from tissue surrounding larger more obvious cancer masses, thus affecting my prognosis (I am a single parent with two young children). At the time, I was glad to take a “stand on the blood issue”. Now I have concluded that there is no such Biblical issue. Blood parts are blood. The command not to eat blood is just that, not an injunction against blood transfusions.
How many of our dear brothers and sisters (including children) have died because of a policy concerning blood transfusions which apparently is going the way of the dinosaur? Does this make the WTBTS blood-guilty? What about those, such as myself, who sincerely taught that transfusions were against the law of God? Blood-guilty?
I remember the 1975 debacle. Yet references are few in the WTBTS’s new indexes to articles that were preparing Jehovah’s Witnesses to view the end as coming in 1975. Why is that brothers? Could it be because Acts 1:7 plainly states that it “doesn’t belong to you to know the times and the seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction?" How are we to view predictions of such a nature? Deuteronomy 18: 20-22 states, "However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: “How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?” when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him." I am no longer frightened.
I have asked my Heavenly Father to forgive me on many counts including: (1) My part in contributing to the despair that led to the death of my first husband. We would have been married 28 years as of July 14 ; (2) I am the one who introduced my sister to the teachings of the WTB TS. When she decided to leave because of false accusations from a sister, she experienced great fear and anxiety because she thought she had damned her four children to eternal destruction. I am sorry for this. Incidentally, I no longer believe that our Creator is going to slaughter billions of human beings. The horror this scenario presents, which I have suppressed for three decades now, transcends the tortures of hell-fire that some churches present. I will love my neighbor as myself, not picture him or her as the victim of such cruelty); (3) My part in teaching now changed views of the WTBTS regarding blood and neutrality that resulted in decisions that caused mental and emotional anxiety to those who believed me. Am I blood-guilty? If so, may the ransom of Jesus cover my sins.
I am thankful for having known the few associated with the WTBTS who have developed true Christian qualities and continue to manifest the fruit of God’s spirit, especially kindness. I have a special place in my heart for many of Jehovah’s Witnesses and always will. I think that they know who they are.
I have not forsaken the vow I made on March 14, 1970. Those becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses now take this vow which I cannot agree with:
"On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?"
What happened to baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? My loyalty is to God, not a man-made organization.
Who will I go away to? I don’t need to go away to anyone. My previous vow is valid. Regarding Jesus, there is not another name under heaven by which we might get saved. And his yoke is kindly, the load light. If men make it unbearable, are they following him?
I hereby disassociate myself from any connection with the WTBTS. May our Father, with his Spirit, direct and protect those of honest hearts within the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For those who have carefully considered this letter, I thank you.
(Contributed by her daughter, Rebekah Dunham)