Sunday, September 6
The Law has a shadow of the good things to come. —Heb. 10:1.
The Law specifically protected those who could not protect themselves, such as orphans, widows, and foreign residents. The judges in Israel were told: “You must not pervert the judgment of the foreign resident or of the fatherless child, and you must not seize the garment of a widow as security for a loan.” (Deut. 24:17) Jehovah showed tender personal interest in the most vulnerable in the community. And he held those who mistreated them to account. (Ex. 22:22-24) Jehovah wants those he places in positions of responsibility to take a loving interest in all whom they oversee. He hates sex crimes and wants to ensure that all, especially the most vulnerable, receive protection and justice. (Lev. 18:6-30) When we are convinced that Jehovah is treating us justly, our love for him grows. And when we love God and love his righteous standards, we feel impelled to love others and treat them justly. w19.02 24-25 ¶22-26
Gaslighting is a term that has come into vogue in recent years. It is derived from a British stage play and later adapted to become a popular Hollywood movie called Gaslight. Here is how Psychology Today defines the term:
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.
The reason it is called gaslighting is because the manipulator gradually dimmed the lighting of gas lamps in their home while making his wife imagine it was all in her mind.
With the above in mind the question is, is the Watchtower gaslighting Jehovah’s Witnesses? Let us consider what Psychology Today lists as 11 warning signs of gaslighting.
1. They tell blatant lies.
You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.
Stephen Lett is a master gaslighter. (See YouTube clip) He would have you believe that “apostates” have concocted false stories and fed lies to the press. He would have you believe there is no problem. He would have you believe that the victims are liars. He would have you believe that the millions of dollars the WT has been forced to payout to victims is all media lies. In truth, several tens of thousands of children of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been sexually abused over the past few decades. Are they all liars? More and more law enforcement agencies around the world are becoming aware that the Watchtower has a huge pedophile problem that has been covered up.
2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.
Numerous examples could be cited. Here is one. The Watchtower claims that it never prevented Jehovah’s Witnesses from reporting sex abuse to the police. That is a lie. As an elder years ago, I was personally involved with two abuse cases where the Watchtower’s lawyers issued strict orders that the crime was not to be reported. In one instance I requested a meeting with the visiting circuit and district overseers to protest and was told by the C.O. that their hands were tied. You can multiply that by thousands. The very fact that Bethel’s legal department has only recently adjusted their policy to allow reporting is proof that they have been guilty of coercing JW’s not to report crimes committed against children in the past.
The Watchtower is not new to gaslighting. Back after the 1975 fiasco and hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were stumbled, an article came out in the March 15, 1980, WT acknowledging the whole mess. However, instead of taking responsibility, the WT laid the blame on those who bought into the hype. Quoting from an earlier publication here is what is stated in the 6th paragraph:
“If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” In saying “anyone,” The Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah’s Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date.
“His own understanding”? No, it wasn’t the Bible or God, and it surely wasn’t the Watchtower that deceived you. It was your own understanding based on a wrong premise. Where did the wrong premise come from? It was persons having to do with the publication of the information. They were innocent bystanders and were deeply disappointed just like you. Essentially, the Governing Body was not at fault. It was all those who believed what they were taught who should have adjusted their thinking. This should be submitted to Psychology Today as a classic gaslighting example.
3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.
Books could be written about how the Watchtower manipulates the flock. In fact, many ex JW’s have written books. There is a lot of resentment, stemming from the fact that the WT has discouraged higher education, child-bearing, and having a career. Most of all, though, the WT uses our relationship with Jehovah to gaslight us. For example, in the video, Stephen Lett claimed nobody protects children like “Jehovah’s organization.” The Daily Text uses the same gaslighting technique, where it says: “When we are convinced that Jehovah is treating us justly, our love for him grows. And when we love God and love his righteous standards, we feel impelled to love others and treat them justly.”
The implication is, you cannot be treated unjustly by the elders or by Bethel’s princes because it is Jehovah’s organization. If you have a problem with the organization then the fault is yours. You simply do not love God or accept his righteous standards.
In this instance, the gaslighting can easily be nullified by reasoning on the scriptures. It is true, God required the Israelite judges not to oppress the widows or fatherless boy —“the most vulnerable” —as the WT acknowledges. However, did the Israelites strictly follow God’s law? No. That should be obvious. In the first chapter of Isaiah, the Judge said of them: “Your princes are stubborn and partners with thieves. Every one of them loves a bribe and chases after gifts. They do not grant justice to the fatherless, and the legal case of the widow never reaches them.”
Just because the Watchtower claims to know Jehovah and lays claim to being appointed to oversee the flock does not mean that they apply God’s law justly. They condemn themselves by implying that the Israelites faithfully obeyed the Law given them.
4. They wear you down over time.
This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.
How very true, the Watchtower wears people down over time. No wonder hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, have left or faded out. So many examples could be given here. I will offer a few. As all of Jehovah’s Witnesses know 1914 is the foundation cornerstone. Over the decades the WT has slowly discarded previously held beliefs attached to 1914 without disavowing the doctrine. For example, the WT used to claim that the great tribulation began during WWI but God cut it short. That belief was maintained up until 1970 and then it was scrapped. Another: The WT used to claim that the nations were in anguish not knowing the way out and that men were faint with fear, as Jesus foretold. Not any more. That hasn’t been fulfilled yet. Still, the WT claims that all the things Jesus foretold are in evidence. The WT used to claim that the sheep and the goats were being separated now. 25 years ago that belief was dropped.
Jesus said this generation will not pass away until all the things he foretold have been fulfilled. Since the generation that was alive in 1914 has long-since passed away, instead of junking the whole 1914 thing the Governing Body came out with the most absurd explanation ever —the fable of the overlapping generation. (See YouTube video) The implication is, you are not qualified to determine what Jesus meant by a generation. JW’s are made to question their own common sense and intellect.
5. Their actions do not match their words.
When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.
I could write a book on the hypocrisy of the Watchtower. As a matter of fact, I did. (See Jehovah Has Become King) Here is an example. The Watchtower has disfellowshipped JW’s for merely belonging to the YMCA, since it is a “Christian” organization. In spite of that harsh policy, the WT entered into a long-term political partnership with the United Nations that required it to propagandize on behalf of the very organization it teaches is the scarlet-colored beast of Revelation. And if you dare to call them out for their rank hypocrisy and treachery you will be punished and branded as an apostate. Talk about gaslighting!
6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.
Since the rollout of JW Broadcast a few years ago the Watchtower frequently uses that medium to reassure the dear brothers how much they are loved by everyone at Bethel —but especially by the Governing body. You would think they might apply the apostle’s counsel neither to love in word or with the tongue but by action. Not so. While claiming to dearly love the brothers the Watchtower is robbing entire congregations by selling their kingdom halls out from under them and evicting the dear brothers who built and paid for their facilities. You don’t like it? You are not in-step with Jehovah’s forward-marching, theocratic organization.
7. They know confusion weakens people.
Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.
The COVID pandemic has given the Watchtower the perfect opportunity to dim the gaslamp while claiming the light is getting brighter. The WT was quick to claim the pandemic is merely a continuation of what began in 1918 with the Spanish Flu. In effect they are saying, ‘See, we were right. Just keep trusting us to dispense life-saving directions.’
The lockdown, originally presented as a three-week program to slow the spread, has gone on for months now. The Watchtower was more than happy to comply with authorities by closing kingdom halls and shutting down the public ministry. Now, though, after five months the state-mandated lockdowns have been eased.
Given the fact that it has been inculcated into Jehovah’s Witnesses that preaching is an all-important, life-saving work, a direct command from the Lord of heaven and earth, we ought to expect that the worldwide work would be resumed, especially since millions of people are at home now who would ordinarily not be. None of that matters. The Governing Body claims it is just too risky. This in spite of the fact that the CDC recently reported that less than 10% of fatalities were because of COVID. By far most deaths have been among the very elderly and those with multiple pre-existing health problems. It turns out COVID is not nearly as deadly as we have been led to believe.
Whereas the Watchtower has always taught that preaching the good news and teaching people the Bible was a demonstration of love, now Jehovah’s Witnesses are being gaslighted into believing that not preaching is an act of love and is life-saving! If Jehovah’s Witnesses are not confused by the 180-degree turnaround they are not paying attention.
8. They project.
They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.
There is not really enough time in the day or room on this brief commentary to delve into this, but suffice to say that the Governing Body has carefully crafted a protective wall around themselves so that any JW who decries their brazen hypocrisy is immediately punished, either with shunning or public rebuke or loss of privileges in the congregation. Anyone who dares to expose them is an apostate. Whereas, in reality, apostasy comes from the top.
9. They try to align people against you.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.
A religion like Jehovah’s Witnesses is ready-made for gaslighters to do their work. After all, the Bible says we should be no part of the world. Bad association is everywhere. Satan is out there on the prowl like a roaring lion. Jehovah’s organization is a spiritual paradise. It is the only place of spiritual security. And no, you cannot understand the Bible on your own. Only the faithful slave can really know anything. No apostate-run website, like e-watchman, is trustworthy.
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.
This doesn’t really apply, although, as stated above, the WT certainly implies that if you do not explicitly trust them then you might be a mentally-diseased apostate.
11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.
By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.
Stephen Lett said it best. It’s all apostate-driven lies.
Of course, Jehovah cannot be gaslighted. He cannot be bamboozled or deceived. He sees all. That is why long ago God denounced the gaslighters, saying to them: “Woe to those who say that good is bad and bad is good, those who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, those who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those wise in their own eyes (faithful) and discreet in their own sight!” — Isaiah 5:20-21