The short answers is, it depends on the person to join or criticize JWs or any other institution. An important separation between the institution and the individual should always remain in the mind of the observer. The difference and the connection should be a constant, and an obvious fact.
For the person who has been actively involved in the affairs of the world, the involvement could be superficial and driven by personal interests. To find a sense of belonging and community can be a powerful reason, but it is a reason that will last only as long as the environment created by such fellowship is conducive. Within the community, a person could still seek to find those he better adjusts with.
Jehovah’s witnesses and other smaller groups seek to create a uniformity. When such unity is threatened, short-sighted individuals with extreme views act very strongly to preserve the image and function of the institution. The reasons can be too complex to be explained in a few words. Even more so, there is an attempt to create unity. There has to be a common denominator to establish such unity. At the very bottom of all reasons, if as the Bible itself says, Christ is not the foundation, then no foundation can last. Christ himself is connected with and subject to the Supreme One. Between humans and God, only Christ is the mediator. These things were thoroughly advocated by Paul in his writings to the Hebrews, Romans, and in the First letter to the Corinthians.
Coming back to Jehovah’s witnesses, I am simply surprised to see the kind of people who pretend to be one, or those who decided to join this small group of people. In the early days, they had some strange teachings; evidence of applying a strange mix of intellect and spiritualism to the Bible. To really believe in the teachings that were/are currently known at the time of joining the group, personal examination and corroborating with how it is evident among the members is absolutely the prime requirement. Among those requirements, one would use the same simple criteria that Christ determined supreme – love among the members.
What is love? It is the opposite of hypocrisy. Love is not only the opposite of hate, for hate is a very narrow feeling. Love is surely far wider, deeper, and higher. To understand love only as the opposite of hate is, very elementary and black-and-white. Love would be known by its genuineness over long periods of time. This is not something manufactured by reading books and magazines, and spending time over coffee and cake. Such love, if it binds a large group of people is elicited from within, seeing the evidence of reasons that are over and above what is merely human. The action of Holy Spirit would be just such a reason, for it is beyond the ability of a human to replicate, as it evidenced throughout the scriptures. This is true, not only of Jehovah’s witnesses, but of any denomination that claims to be rooted in Christ. In truth, individuals are rooted in Christ at a personal level; groups or organizations are using an established concept to give a reason and excuse for people to gather.
People lie, people pretend, and such are also to be found among Jehovah’s witnesses. They exhibit the same flaws, and worse in individuals who hide behind a veneer of holiness. The level of deceit can go extremely deep, but no level is so deep where the spirit of God cannot reach and extricate the truth of that individual. Jehovah’s witnesses or any other entire group never had the support of God’s Holy Spirit (the belief has been resurgent since the time of the last apostle, John) but individuals with the hearts that God seeks are to be found among and outside of Jehovah’s witnesses. For a group to claim divine backing, it would have to show the same kind of obviousness of divine backing as when, Israel was liberated from Egypt, or miraculous powers of the apostles. No surrounding nation could have argued with the parting of the Red Sea, or the pillar of fire and cloud, or someone born blind seeing again!
Criticizing entire institutions as has become common today, be it national, educational, financial, or religious has gone to the point beyond reason. A general distrust of the whole system, fueled by such revelations as coming out of Wikileaks has created an environment of disillusionment. People find themselves dazzled by lights they neither understand, nor their eyes can bear. Ordinary people have become statesmen and leaders in terms of rights, not responsibilities.
If someone is killed on a street in the corner of a city, people are ready to blame the city council or the chief minister, or the PM/President. In all this, the murderer has already run away with the $10 and cheap wristwatch he found on the dead man. The police are still trying to find him. If children are abused within an organization, instead of focusing on outdated policies, method of handling issues, and the capabilities of individuals working with the system, hurt individuals want the entire system to collapse and fall to the ground. No one is thinking, what happens after! Such is the level of frustration and empowerment, that have combined in a dangerous way in the age of individualism.
Isn’t it strange, we are ascribing to ordinary humans God-like powers and expecting what we ascribe…and no one is seeing the unreasonableness of this debacle!
Powers to criticize and challenge institutions have come into the hands of people who, cannot build or run or maintain those very institutions. There will remain no institution unchallenged as it is in the present situation, for there will be a ship with a missing nut or bolt, and the people standing on the shore would demand for the ship to be dismantled! After the ship is dismantled, people will have to swim individually across the oceans. Later we would find out, they never learnt how to swim. They could only venture as far as to where the water is ankle-deep, and ran back to the shore at the sight of the next big wave. Those who did not run back, drowned in their own wisdom.
The present frustration with institutions is legitimate, but to put one’s personal preferences/hurt over the entire operation of or collection of individuals is unreasonable. The same logic applies to the leaders. If a leader starts to abuse power, he should rightly be held accountable. We might be wiser to step back and consider: Are human beings like us – limited and ordinary – really capable of handling so much power? Without coming off as arrogant in the eyes of the observers, it is not possible.
And those who are subject to such powerful individuals are prone to petty feelings like jealousy and strife. They forget how powerful words and actions can be in the long run. A small mistake can start a chain of events that take down an establishment. Put it another way, a small spark lights up the whole powder keg. We are in an inflammable situation, and the impatience of people is not helping. There is real apprehension, and no one seems to have the answers to the simultaneous rising of too many questions.
Given the way things are going, as individuals challenging institutions and large institutions having dissent at every level, it is not likely that anything can remain standing for long. It is the need of an operation, its sustainability, and the justification for its existence that will permit anything to remain – banks, companies, governments, the Internet. When sustainability is not possible, or the institution has lost its legitimacy, what we see standing is only a beautiful shell that can crack open at its due time!