The post about ‘manipulating’—who does it, to what degree, and whose is the most serious, brought out some predictable comments on the ‘never is heard a discouraging word’ website. ‘Unity of belief means brainwashing?’ one woman said. She thought not. She suggested that convincing followers to drink poisoned Kool Aid so they could all go to heaven was brainwashing. She suggested that flying your hijacked airplane into the Twin Towers so as to achieve the same goal was also brainwashing. She thought withdrawing from society to live in communes was brainwashing, as well. But she thought that if you live, school, and work in the general community, plus directly visit members of that community one-on-one to discuss your hope with them, plainly making connections in the Book that everyone has (or did) but almost nobody understands, that is not brainwashing.
How bad can the ‘manipulation’ be, someone else observed, if it results it results in people unselfish, with good family values, respectful of laws, honest, peaceable, and so forth? Why—if people were manipulated to be like that, you wouldn’t have to fear going out at night, you could lighten up on carrying keys for everything under the sun, and in general enjoy much less stress. The old trite saying even came out that ‘given the state of our brains, they can use a good washing.’ It may be trite, but that does not mean that it is untrue. Witnesses have been nothing but benefited by choosing adherence to God’s direction.
Jehovah’s Witnesses make a mistake should they take to heart the cry of their opposers about ‘manipulation.’ Essentially, the cry is no more than the accusation that Witnesses march to the beat of a different drum, which none of them would deny. The manipulation that is detrimental is in just the opposition direction. “We know that we originate with God,” says John, “but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Must “the whole world” not be ‘controlled’ or ‘manipulated’ for that to be the case? “The Devil is misleading the entire inhabited earth,” states Revelation 12:9.
So when the cry is made that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are manipulated!” simply translate it as “Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible” and you will be fine—the two statements are equivalent. Witnesses are no more than the modern counterpart of Joshua, famous for his Declaration of Dependence: “Now if it seems bad to you to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve...but as for me and my household, we will serve Jehovah.” (Joshua 24:15)
Furthermore, stick it right back to those who favor independence from God to produce the fine world that their independence has brought them. Don’t settle for shallow answers such as pointing to clever gadgets like the iPad that I am putting to excellent use right now. Don’t settle for the admission that things may be getting worse right now, but the world is about to make a brilliant turnaround. Were that to happen, would it not be akin to a cry of ‘peace and security’ that I have read about somewhere? Learn to apprise the world’s offerings as did the Joker in the art gallery, flipping through paintings and rendering instant judgement: “crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.” In doing so, you will not be far from the Bible’s own conclusion—that there is a generation pure in its own eyes that has not been washed from its own filth. (Proverbs 30:12)
Don’t walk around all glum as though there is no joy to be had in the present life, for that is plainly not so and JWs do not carry on as though it were. But don’t be ashamed to proclaim the real life of 1 Timothy 6:19, and don’t let modern opponents manipulate you into thinking that this life is the real one. No. This one is the irretrievably broken one set to be replaced when God’s kingdom comes.
Tell your critics to produce evidence of the child sexual abuse and human trafficking epidemic that they have stopped dead in its tracks. Ask them even to show how they have reached their laudable goal of no longer objectifying women—perhaps they will point to the Super Bowl halftime show (2020) as Exhibit A. How about the drug abuse problem that they have vanquished, or the homeless problem? “Why is it you Jehovah’s Witnesses always have to insist that things are getting worse?” one brother was asked by a detractor. “What does that view do for you?” He replied that it helped him to explain why the Doomsday Clock was set at 90 seconds to midnight (the latest revision) and not 10:30 AM.