There are a number of questions that JW’s have asked me when I visit their kingdom halls, assemblies, and conventions. At first I thought the questions were innocent enough, but after being asked the same questions numerous times, I figured out that they were actually probing for specific information. I’m not saying the motivations are sinister, but I am saying it’s a little bit sneaky. So here are their questions, along with their actual meaning, and my “safe” answers, designed to satisfy the ask-er without giving any real substantial information to them.
“Did you enjoy the talk/meeting/assembly/convention?” Translation: “Are you a sincerely interested potential convert, or a skeptical potential opposer?” My answer: “I’m glad I came!” Which is true, but not for the reasons that they think. What I’m really thinking is that the talk was either excruciatingly boring, or annoying, or both. But I’m glad, even excited, to be there because of the opportunities for conversations with JW’s before and after the talk.
“How long have you been studying the Bible?” Translation: “HOW are you studying the Bible? On your own, or reading websites, or studying with a Jehovah’s Witness, or in one of the churches in the evil religious system, or not at all?” My answer: “I have been a student of the Bible for years. I love studying scripture. Can I share one of my favorite Bible verses with you?” Hopefully this will distract them from their probing, and gives an opportunity to share about how God has changed your life with his word. I like to go to First John 5:13 and talk about the assurance of salvation, something they don’t have.
“Who are you studying with?” Translation: “Are you studying JW materials with a JW?” My answer: “I have been studying on and off with my friend, Mark, who I have known since I was in high school. I have also been keeping up on all the magazines on jw.org. One recent article I read there sparked a question in my mind. Can I share my question with you?”
“Are you attending a Kingdom hall?” Translation: “Are you on your way to becoming hooked, or do you have other motives for being here? If the former, all I have to do is encourage you to keep attending. If the latter, I’m going to try to walk you over to one of the elders right now so they can probe you further.” My answer: “I have been attending pretty inconsistently, when I can. I have also attended 3 conventions and about as many assemblies. Recently I heard a talk on topic x, and it sparked a question in my mind. Maybe you can help with it. Can I share my question with you?”
And finally, concerning any topic at hand, “The truth is x, don’t you agree?” My answer when I don’t agree: “I understand that’s what Watchtower teaches. But here’s my concern. What do you do with this passage of scripture that would seem to indicate something different? Am I missing something here? Help me to understand.”
Concerning all my answers, I’m trying to be truthful. But in all honesty, I am withholding information as well. Am I being deceptive? I prefer to think of it as evasive. When I use any of these answers, I also pray that Jehovah will protect my relationship with them, so they don’t write me off as an opposer. My aim is always to keep their willingness to dialog with me open as long as possible.