I attended the funeral of one of my JW friends, whom I’ll call Nate. At the reception I talked with two of the local elders from the kingdom hall. I knew I had to tread carefully. According to everything I had read online, elders tend to see non-JW’s in only two categories, either interested seekers, or antagonistic scoffers. Once they figure out that you’re not in the first category, they are quick to place you in the second, and forbid your JW friends from meeting with you. At least, that’s what I read online. And I believe it; I honestly think that’s the normal practice. But in my case, they seem to be ok with keeping me somewhere in between those two categories. I have made it clear to my friend Mark that I have no intention of becoming a JW, and that I strongly disagree with much JW doctrine. But I also keep telling him that I am highly interested in studying the Bible with him, and want to learn about what the Watchtower teaches, so that I can have a clear understanding and represent them accurately to others.
As for the elders at the funeral reception, I would ask them questions about their beliefs and about particular Bible verses, all the while trying to sound interested in learning the truth, not attacking their beliefs. I would even go so far as to ask them to explain what I called “apparent contradictions” in their literature, giving them the opportunity of defending their position. I would also ask them for clarifications of what they believed about certain subjects, such as whether Jesus was the mediator for all believers or only 144,000. It would get them to vocalize a teaching they don’t normally address with their common members.
So, thus far I either haven’t been categorized as antagonistic. Whether they still see me as a potential convert, I don’t know. Whatever the case, God has protected my presence there.
Mark stopped by my workplace yesterday while running other errands. We talked about meeting together soon, either with just us two, or possibly with one of the elders, to discuss the book Mark gave me, “Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecies.” If we get to meet with the elder, I’ll go through the book with them, asking about things I have highlighted (“apparent contradictions”), and again treading lightly so that we can continue to meet. I am aware that the proverbial shoe could fall at any moment, and I can be cut off from my relationship with Mark and others. I keep praying for the Lord’s protection of the relationships.