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You Almost Wish There Would be Some Kickback—Part 2

I don’t follow any Twitter villain as a matter of routine—once in a while I peek—because if I do so I am tempted to respond and if I do that he is nothing but taunting and contemptuous. It is not as though I cannot hold my own & even make inroads but there is hardly any point to it. It is a been there/done that. Besides, I told the elders that I will not do that anymore (not regarding him specifically) and if they ask me again I don’t want to be tempted to lie. Should I cave a time or two, I will readily forgive myself—not to worry on that score—but I would rather not cave by putting the temptation before myself constantly. “Some people just needs killin” says you-know-who, but that doesn’t mean you ought to appoint yourself the one to do it. It has a way of sucking out large chunks of time that can better be used elsewhere.

Today detractors charge what they do before a worldwide audience—the very people whom we are trying to reach, and they at least can be expected to mull it over because there is nothing to counter it. Granted, there are so many other horrific things to monitor in the world that it is hard for anti-JW activists to put their ‘good news’ on the front burner, but it would be silly to say that it has no effect. It wouldn’t take much to counter it. Even a talk parallel to what Bro Losch just gave at the annual meeting regarding dates that failed to come true might do the trick. Once a matter is spoken or written about, you can keep referring back to it. 

The idea is not to silence opposers, for that cannot be done. The idea is to give some who may be swayed by them, even some of our own, something to offset their charges. The organization may choose to do that someday. Or maybe not—time will tell. It certainly is not the ‘whatever is righteous, whatever is chaste, true, lovable,’ etc where we like to remain, so that is good reason to avoid it. But there may be some who feel some sort of defense would come in handy.

Opposers will always have limits to their efforts because they have nothing to replace what they would take away—most people became Witnesses in the first place because they felt exploring the world that is yourself only goes so far as a guide to life.  Still, I have seen people gleefully saw off the branch on which they are sitting and laugh uproariously as they crashed to the ground, like the Dr. Strangelove cowboy who rides the nuke down to destruction, whooping and waving his hat as he drops—some people’s heads would laugh at you from the wheelbarrow carting them away from the guillotine—so some generalized pushback might be in order to prevent that whenever possible. Nasty people usually overplay their hand and in so doing torpedo their own case—never before their followers, of course, but before anyone of sense, it happens. But, still...

I’m not suggesting anyone get into a play-by-play scenario with the ‘good news‘ of those who oppose. I was struck by how, after the first Montana verdict, there were persons who wanted to rub my nose line by line into that first verdict so as to point out how the courts ruled JWs violated law! and then after reversal of that verdict, they said, ‘well, what do you expect? Witnesses follow the law—it’s the law that is not written right.’ People like to follow play-by-play in ongoing court trials these days to the extent that I almost say, ”Well, send the jury home, then—they don’t want to be there anyway. Put it all on social media and decide the matter by ‘likes’”. I never weigh in on developing matters—it is nothing more that common sense modesty to realize that since you can see but 1% of what the judge or jury sees, it is a fool’s mission to go there.

I’m not speaking of anything detailed as a defense, because details will not be constant from one situation to another. They represent non-repeatable human idiosyncrasies, and I have no problem accepting that people can and do say wrong or dumb things. No. Just something like the generalized facts I outlined in the post, so that if anyone wants to research our stand on matters, they will have more to research than a statement that we “abhor child sexual abuse.”

I am usually shouted down when I bring up one sister’s example—the kumbaya site practically chased me out with pitchforks (though not everyone)—but her example strikes me as a very sensible one—to familiarize herself with “apostate” ideas, so that, in the event her teenage son stumbles across them one fine day and is unsettled, she is able to help him. It is only icing on the cake that the kid is now an adult, has apparently never wobbled, and wonders why is mom is spending so much time with those crazies on the internet. If there were a few resident experts at each Kingdom Hall, people who knew how to keep tabs on what is bad and knew that doing so you does not require you to watch every Jerry Springer episode on the topic—you don’t want to do that because if you immerse yourself in what is sordid in any subject it affects your well-being—you know, balanced people—that it would be a good thing, not a bad thing, because then you might be able to help ones stumbled.

You don’t want to encourage people to go there, just like you don’t want to encourage people to go anywhere that toxic people hang out. These days, pop psychologists win approval by telling you do dump friends and even family members who are “toxic” in favor or those who are not. But to all but forbid people to go produces a strange effect of fleeing from the apostate as one would flee from the bogeyman. You have scenarios like that played out in the drama where the Russian brother inquires of his old friend only to hear that the old friend succumbed to reading literature critical of the organization and is no longer serving Jehovah—as though that’s all it takes to derail decades of service to God!—read a few brochures and you are toast. It’s ridiculous. Better to say, in my view, ‘go there if you must and be on the lookout for the unforgiving slave, for Demas, for the ones who went out because they are not of our sort, for the one fixated on the straws in others’ eyes, for the slave that buried the talent because his master was harsh, effectively saying ”You want disciples? Go out and make them yourself! I’ve got things to do!” Any drama is better, easier to follow, and easier to appreciate, when there are bad guys in the plot.

But won’t some go there and decide the ‘bad guys’ are actually the good guys? Probably. But I suspect no more than when we counsel so strongly not to even glance in a certain direction, and by so doing we appear exactly like a cult to people brought up in its modern definition. Drop down a notch to ‘investigate with caution if you must’ and the perception disappears. Amber Scorah has “her eyes opened” only when she goes into missionary work in China and begins correspondence with an “apostate” for whom it appears that she later dumped her husband in order to run off with? She should have had “her eyes opened” a long time ago, and if she had, that ridiculous phrase would have disappeared from the vocabulary by now. She herself would not be saying that she had her eyes opened—she would be saying that she went off because, like Demas, she prefers the world that JWs have fled—that JWs allowed her to see both plainly, and she chose the pathway that they did not.

The reason that this change of tactics will happen only by small degrees, if it happens at all, is due to what the scriptures say about those taking the lead. They are like the loyal shepherd who sees the wolf climbing the fence and holds the sheep out of harm’s way. They are like the farmer who knows that when you look behind, your plowing goes awry and the rows get all funny. They are like the strategist who says that they will slam you no matter what you do, so ignore them and press the pedal to the metal. They are like the doctor who says to keep away from what will raise your blood pressure and knot your stomach in favor of what is soothing to the soul. They are like the pop psychologist who says you should dump those toxic relationships. They are like the nursing mother who treats the flock tenderly and with protectiveness. They are not like the mom who says, “Alright, lean on that hot stove—see if I care! HA! Burned yourself, ya little snot? That’ll teach ya!” And they certainly are not like the brainwasher who says don’t go there, —‘all the better for me to control you, my dear, hehehe:))))))’ even though that is the only way opposers, and to an increasingly strong degree, the overall world sees it. Why play into their hands? Why go out of our way to prove Jesus’ words that the sons of this system know which way the secular wind blows but the sons of the light wouldn’t even know how to tie the laces of a secular shoe if you gave them one?

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I Almost Wish There Would Be More Public Response

This is the present pinned post. The former pinned post (regarding Russia) is here.

If there has been kickback on ‘manipulation’ and ‘control’ charges, and if there has been kickback on ‘flip-flopping’ charges, then I would like to see kickback on charges that Witnesses ‘cover up’ child sexual abuse. A good place to start is by pointing out that leaving reporting up to the involved parties is not the same as ‘covering up.’

Instead, the Witness organization states that it “abhors child sexual abuse,” which, in combination with its reluctance to go there otherwise, is spun by determined enemies as though they love the stuff. Not all will do what reporter Elizabeth Chuck did and attribute it to a “penchant for privacy.

Why do they not respond in more detail? It may be that the sheer wickedness of the charge takes their breath away and makes them look like deer caught in the headlights. Yes, they know well the verse, “every sort of wicked thing will be lyingly said about you” but this—this is the wickedest thing of all! And the proactive arrangement started with such good intentions. Not so many years ago the notion of a religion “policing its own” was lauded as the ultimate in practicing what one preached.

It wouldn’t be hard to do—to provide a brief defense of criticisms leveled at them. It might start with points such as:

  1. “Covering up” is not the same as leaving it to the digression of ones affected to report.
  2. There wouldn’t be anything to be accused of covering up had not the Witness organization practiced what almost nobody else did—policing its own. Countless persons are arrested with regard to child sexual abuse. Unless they are clergy, their religious affiliation or lack of is never reported. The reason that it is so with rank and file Witnesses is that they tried to do something about with regard to their own.
  3. Unlike virtually anywhere else, where the leaders of an organization are themselves the abusers, the leaders of the Witness community are accused of botching the handling of instances—bad, perhaps—history will judge—but nowhere near as bad as being the ones who commit it.

That’s a few for starters. More could be added, such as

  1. The current “gold standard” of child sexual abuse to “go beyond the law” will inevitably cause you problems with those who, not surprisingly, expect you to abide by law.
  2. Child sexual abuse would appear to be the primary gross planetary product—30 years into all-out war against CSA and barely a dent has been made. Therefore efforts to prevent it ought to be given at least as much creedence as efforts to secure the barn door after the cows have fled. Nobody, but nobody, has done what the Witness organization has done, gathering every member in the world to consider detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, can be vigilant. This was done as part of the program of the 2017 Regional conventions.
  3. The reason that the greater world will never make inroads with regard to child sexual abuse it that it feeds with one hand what it is trying to punish with another. Many portion of social media are a pedophile’s dream come true. Though it is parallel and thus not exactly the same thing, the 2020 NFL halftime show demonstrates that objectifying woman is the force that makes the world go round—the MeToo movement is doomed from the start.

The matter of CSA in the greater world does not go away. It is not being solved. Rather, each month brings some new revelation of how the very elements of this world keep it firmly entrenched as a societal ill. It’s intricate involvement with the Child Protective Service agencies recently was reviewed in a story I must have missed. “We have set up a system to sex traffic American children” said Newsweek in January 2018:

And the latest scandal—pediatricians! “Sheds light on a problem that could rival priest scandals,” states an article extrapolating from a notorious case just how many there might be. And to think I got into a squabble once with someone determined to put down the Caleb and Sophia video “Protect Your Children,” while she heralded one that specifically said that it was okay for a doctor to touch you in private areas. “Ask the young women of the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic team which video they think would have offered them more protection,” I told her.

Just a few basic tenets of defense for those who would like to have some response to when workmates, schoolmates, or neighbors hit them over the head with what they just saw on TV. It doesn’t cover every tiny thing—just the general outline. The nature of critics everywhere is that they would like their complaints on center stage, to the exclusion of whatever else used to be there. Maybe its not a good idea to indulge them so. Maybe it’s enough to correct matters that need it, such as making it crystal clear to members that there is no reproach in reporting child sexual abuse to police, since the abuser has already brought about the reproach. Maybe it is enough to focus on creating an atmosphere where CSA is less likely to happen.

Maybe. But sometimes you do wish there was more (or any) of a public response.

I did like the WT attorney’s words at the reversal of the Montana verdict. “There are no winners in a case involving child abuse. No child should ever be subjected to such a debased crime....Tragically, it happens, and when it does Jehovah's Witnesses follow the law. This is what the Montana Supreme Court has established.”

.... There was, however, one of my own side who took issue with me:

“What puzzles me, Tom, is you want people to show you their false representation of facts, yet even you have never submitted the following from the Watchtower:

In rare instances, one Christian might commit a serious crime against another—such as rape, assault, murder, or major theft. In such cases, it would not be unchristian to report the matter to the authorities, even though doing so might result in a court case or a criminal trial.

Why is that? Does this mean the phrase “child sexual abuse” needed to be included in order for this statement to be of value?”

Tom: It’s a valid point. Thank you for making it. Certainly it is concise enough and to the point. In my ‘defense,’ if that statement is in the Shepherd the Flock book not meant for general distribution, then I would not quote from it even if I had read it. It is a little silly, I know, to avoid what others have already put out there, and I don’t criticize anyone doing it with good motive. But I am still old fashioned that way and inclined to respect ‘confidential talk.’ It is a educational guide put out for elders.

I’m not a stickler in that regard. There is an example or two of the contrary in ‘Dear Mr. Putin’ But in general I stay away from what has not been made public. For all I carry on about wishing there was more access to what is critical, I am sparing in how much I go there myself. I don’t chow down on the stuff. For the most part, I agree with the expression, “You are what you eat.”

I don’t have the book. I could easily obtain it, but I haven’t. I once served as an elder, but that was 20 years ago. I know precious few in Bethel and I keep up with nobody there.

An advantage to all this is that I can come across as a regular person. Another reason that I have been slow to leave open forums is that I don’t like to be just singing to the choir. I like the challenge of discussing mature Witness topics, such as submission to authority, before people who find the notion very strange because it does not reflect the way the world is today.

Many Witnesses are not much good at speaking with non-Witnesses without going into ‘preaching mode.’ I even had someone shush me upon spotting the RING internet doorbell. “What! Do you think I’m telling dirty jokes here?” I said. “I hope they do hear me talking about regular things because then they will know that I am a regular person.”

See Part 2

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A Report Goes Awry—I Showed SIX Videos—not SEX videos!

OH NO! I just texted the congregation secretary that I had so many hours in the ministry during January, so many return visits, and I had shown sex videos.

It was supposed to be SIX videos! Curse that auto-correct! May its inventor rot in hello!

SIX videos I played. SIX! All wholesome as the day is long! Nothing else! SIX! One of them was even a Caleb and Sophia video!

Am I in trouble? “Yep,” Rocco said.

But surely my friends will support me:

“Well... Auto-correct does use the words that you use most often,” Richard cheerfully pointed out. I told him that I had never said that 3-letter word in my life!

“You obviously have never given the #13 Public Talk (The Godly View of Sex and Marriage),” his buddy responded. “The title and most sections of the talk use this word and many others that are in related categories.” I told him how I used to start on that talk but when I got to the S-word I began to blush and stammer and ultimately would have to get down from the platform, leaving 25 minutes up for grabs.

”You are in so much trouble,” MimZ said, who isn’t even a Witness! What does she care?

They were all of them wholesome videos that I showed! Six of them! They were so wholesome that even Mr. Rogers would be asking for something more racy! Six, all pure and innocent! Surely those elders will understand! Look, I am even shocked at the joke that single sisters go to the convention for fellowshopping and not just fellowshipping! SIX videos I showed, not sex videos!

MimZ could barely control her indignation. “You showed SIX sex videos?! O you vile vile man!

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Even the Trite Saying Came Out About How Our Brains Can Use a Good Washing

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.



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If You’re Going to Bewail Manipulation, Bewail it Where it Counts

The speaker’s wife gave one of the first comments at the Watchtower Study—on the very first paragraph. It sort of fit, since the theme was on making wise decisions and following through. Still, she ‘shoehorned’ it in a bit—it wasn’t a perfect fit. She said how she had not been manipulated to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—it had been her own choice and one that she did not regret.

Well, who said that she had been manipulated?—that’s why the comment had an artificial flavor to it—the paragraph itself contained no hint of it. Furthermore, pushing the limits of the 30-second goal for comments, put in place so that no one loquacious person steals the show, she found it the stupidest notion in the world for anyone to suggest that. Manipulation? How ridiculous.

Plainly, someone had thrust that idea at her recently, maybe some sorehead that she had run across at work or among the neighbors—that it is no more than manipulation with Jehovah’s Witnesses—that’s why they believe and act as they do. It is the classic technique of the mainstream bully—to assert that one couldn’t possibly depart from the ordinary unless they had been manipulated to do so, and “unfairly” manipulated at that—had the “manipulation” been in that bully’s direction, there would be no problem with it.

You can apply this to anything. The reason you bought a Chevy is that you were manipulated by their ads. The reason you cheered for the 49ers is that you were manipulated by San Francisco. The reason you went to college is that you were manipulated by the guidance counselor. The reason that you died for your country is that you were manipulated by that country to think the cause noble—nobody of any other country thought so.

Really, Jehovah’s Witnesses least fit the accusation of manipulation, because they, unlike the above examples, represent persons who were actively searching—they were anything but moldable pieces of dough. They were dissatisfied with the status quo, dissatisfied with where life was heading, dissatisfied with the goals society set before them, and they took upwards of a year looking over a new model, weighing and trying it on for size, before committing to it. All this was done in familiar surroundings without leaving trusted routine—as opposed to the above examples of college and military, in which one is immersed 24/7 in unfamiliar settings, a classic tool of manipulators.

Well, if you are going to talk manipulation, talk it with something that counts. That’s why I liked Mark Sanderson kicking back at the petty application of manipulation with a major one. In his annual meeting talk about not being fearful, he quoted Hebrews 2:15, that “through [Jesus’] death [God] might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil, and that he might set free all those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.”

Sanderson cited the Nuremberg trials, in which various Nazis who had committed unspeakable atrocities were asked the simple question, “How could you do those terrible things?” “What did they say?” he asked, and then related the answer they had given: “We had no choice. If we didn’t obey they would put us to death.”

“Those people could be manipulated,” Sanderson said. “They could be controlled. They could be made to do the most wicked things because they were afraid.” Exactly! If you are going to bandy about words as “manipulate” and “control,” don’t trivialize the terms—do it with an example that matters! Don’t do it with an example of choosing this life course or that life course, neither of which will extend beyond 80 years. Do it with the example of control and manipulation that will gain you the reputation of a mass murderer to last throughout all time. Maybe that’s why the resurrection of the dead was one of the first Christian teachings to come under attack, even during the time of the apostles; the teaching thwarted the goal to keep people afraid so that you can make them do what you want.

Was it coincidence for Sanderson to speak as he did or did it represent kicking back at these petty people who put all their stock in the here and now, equating acting by faith as “control” and “manipulation?” I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.

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The Most Stubborn Kodak Man to Ever Walk the Planet—But Not During Lunch

Supper time was sacrosanct when I was a child. Everybody had supper at more of less the same time. You did not interrupt it. Want to play with a friend? You did not dream of calling until after supper.

On becoming a Witness, I respected that family hour and would not think of calling during that time. It took me a long while to realize that it is not that way anymore. Typical is for family members to come and go, eat whenever, and not necessarily together. Not that a traditional supper hour is dead, by any means, but it ceased to be the rule long ago.

Now I will go in service sometimes through what used to be that sacrosanct time and it raises no fuss at all. Should I find I have interrupted someone’s supper, I apologize profusely, say that with people have such varied schedules I didn’t know, and I move on. It doesn’t happen all that often.

And to think that when I was new as a Witness there was Sam, old as the hills, who not only would not call during the supper hour (something no Witness would do) but he wouldn’t even call during the LUNCH hour that he imagined people still kept.

This is the same Sam would would pound you into mush—lecturing you with the utmost seriousness if you stepped on the grass, something you were NEVER to because, “we are not the mailman.” Throughout, he would point his finger at you. Ernie said, “Don’t point that thing at me Sam, there’s a nail in it!”

Attend the book study at his home during the summer months, and it was held outside beneath the delicious grapevine laden trellis—this reminiscent of the old country that he hailed from. His modest city lot, the back yard, was in its entirety a tomato patch, and that’s where he would be for an hour or two each day after work. People had never seen tomatoes so big as were commonplace in his yard. Trying to break free from a past of uncouth language, he began calling people ‘tomatoes’—his ultimate insult, and the practice caught on. Beat him at a hand of cards, and earn the epithet—“You big tomato!”

For reasons I forget, I found myself part of a car group with Sam and two others—Ernie was one of them—cruising behind Kodak Park, back when the company was a going concern. Entire blocks had been purchased, the houses razed, and the land converted to parking. Here and there, however, there were a few who had not sold their homes, which then stood as the sole structures on the block, surrounded by blacktop.

”Those people are so stubborn!” muttered Sam, a Kodak retiree. “Kodak needs that land! I’M stubborn—but those people are MORE stubborn!”

”No! Sam! YOU, stubborn?” Ernie led the charge. “How could you say that?! Sam! Stubborn? No, Sam—not YOU!”

Sam was probably the most stubborn man to ever walk the planet.

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Counsel to Avoid Malcontents—the Downside

One could wish that young people were better prepared for whenever they might stumble across sites derogatory of Witnesses—does any group have more anti-sites?—almost like a vaccinated person is better prepared for the plague once they encounter it. In an increasingly informational age, it becomes more and more likely that they will. 

Should they hang out there? Obviously not. The one common feature of these sites is that they feature people hypercritical to the nth degree, relentlessly carrying on about complaints great and small. They are among the most unforgiving people on earth. Some will be foul, or even blasphemous, in addition. Not a place to hang your hat. Even counselors in the general world speak of the advisability of cutting off “toxic relationships.” ‘Rocks submerged beneath the surface ready to rip the bottom out of your faith,’ is how the Bible writer puts it.

But to think it absolutely taboo to go there may not serve young people very well either. In the event that they succumb to the most basic force of human nature—doing something because they have been advised not to—and are stumbled, there are barely any in the congregation who can help them because they don’t know what is there themselves. All they can say is: “Don’t go there!” Make no mistake, opposers are very skilled in turning that advice on its head. “Of course they don’t want you to go there!” they say, “they want to keep you in blinders!”

It is all very well to say it is like the bad devil with bad motive, quoting Genesis 3:5—“for God knows in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened!” but it is a tough sell. It is very easy to explain why ones ought to keep away from porn, from graphic violence, or from demonism. But from apostasy? “Are they wrong there?” some will say. “I’ll just go there to see what they are wrong about, and then I will set them straight.” Not all will reason this way. Not even most. But some will. After all, here they are advised to be bold with the Word at the door—for it is the all-powerful sword—but just the opposite than bold when it comes to ones who have rebelled and from there launch attacks on faith. 

Getting a measured glimpse of these apostates for any so inclined, when there are ones who can talk them through whatever they may find,  might almost be likened to lab class in school. See how some of the Bible themes play out—not just why people come into the faith—we surely know that—but why some leave. Let youngsters see, if they ask, how “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things.” Let them see how some have left “because they were not of our sort.” Let them see what happens when people do not take the rafter out of their own eye but focus on the straws of others. Let them see that mistakes can be made by old and young alike—it was certainly true in the first century—why should it not be true today? The trick is not to sanitize the present—it is to desanitize the past.

Will that happen anytime soon? Or at all? And should it? Who can say? It doesn’t seem likely. Counsel to avoid apostates is well-supported scripturally—Matthew 11, for starters. The ones overseeing take on the role of the fine shepherd—they see the wolf coming and they beat it off, holding the sheep out of harm’s way as they do so. 

Still, in view of the poor track record with significant numbers of the young—granted that the young everywhere are less enamored with faith than prior generations—maybe they will someday reassess to consider it a matter of degree. Surely, as ones who had “received the Law but have not kept it,” the Pharisees could be described as apostate. Could Jesus’ own manner of dealing with them be looked to as an example? He certainly didn’t seek them out. Nor did he argue with them when they approached to trap or attack. He wasn’t especially nice to them, really, though he always left open a way of return for any wanting to take it. 

I’d just as soon the young never run across the malcontents at all. But they do. And being totally unprepared and unfortified—something that could be effectively addressed but so far has not been—some stumble and there barely anyone able to help.


A bad boy turns over a new leaf.


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