Take My Silver and My Gold

I’ve been pondering many topics lately and have a good few posts in draft format that I’ve just not got around to finalising.  But today I need to discuss an issue that I’ve been pushing to one side.  Why have I been ignoring this?  I think it’s because some of the old indoctrination is clinging on.  It’s still an ongoing battle for me to break free and think objectively about certain topics.  This one of the reasons why I am specifically blogging about the doctrinal teachings of the Watchtower organisation, to help me better view things objectively and to break down that blinkered way of thinking that I was taught for the first 22 years of my life.

It’s also a subject that, as a British person, is always difficult to approach.  It’s not polite to talk about it.  Don’t ask about it.  What on earth could I mean?  Money.  Moolah.[1] Spondulicks.[2]  I was always brought up to view the subject as indelicate, impolite.  You don’t talk about what things cost and you don’t ask about money.  And, growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, the Watchtower organisation was keen to stress that they would never beg for money from their members or pass around collection plates as this was unchristian and something only done by Babylon the Great.  In fact they make a great deal of their claim to never “beg” or “petition” for donations.   Even in this more recent quote from the 2014 publication “Jehovah’s Will” they insist they don’t solicit donations:

“We do not tithe, charge dues, or take up collections. Although the costs of supporting our evangelizing work are high, we do not solicit money. Over a century ago, the second issue of the Watchtower magazine stated that we believe we have Jehovah as our backer and that we ‘will never beg nor petition men for support’ – and we never have!​” – Matthew 10:8. [3]

generosity
My reaction to seeing this article in the December 2015 Watchtower[12]
I always thought that this was true.  I heard of other religious organisations insisting on tithing arrangements or shaming people into giving by visibly passing around a collection plate at every gathering.  I had never experienced this at a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  However, during my “waking up” period over the past few months, I have avoided this issue.  There is still a part of me that is indoctrinated, I know.  I was hoping that those high up in the organisation, the Governing Body, their helpers, etc, were just well-meaning, but very deluded individuals.  That they stuck to their principles, even if these were wrong.  One of these principles being that they would never beg for money nor make members of their organisation feel pressured into giving.  It’s just another area in which I’ve been proven wrong.  It breaks my heart to know that many people including my family members and I have been duped for so many years.

I know that there are many Jehovah’s Witnesses and even ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who will say, “the Watchtower organisation is nothing like the churches and TV evangelists who demand money from their followers”.  Until recently, I thought this way too.  Perhaps you think that I’m just spouting unfounded claims?  I encourage you to do your own independent research and make your own decision.  In this post I shall detail a couple of examples that I have recently encountered which have disturbed me greatly as I have been waking up from my indoctrination.

My Prayer of Dedication

The Watchtower organisation has changed the words to at least one Kingdom Song to drive home the point about giving financially as part of “worship”.  In the 2009 version of Sing to Jehovah, song 58, “My Prayer of Dedication”, had the following lyrics:

song 58
Sing To Jehovah (2009)

“Take my feet and take my hands;
Let them serve your wise commands.
Take my voice and let it sing
Praises always to my King”[4]

But since 2016, in the new song book entitled “‘Sing Out Joyfully’ To Jehovah”, produced by the Watchtower organisation to replace the previous version, the song now listed as number 50 has had the words changed to:

“Take my feet and take my hands;
Let them serve your wise commands.
Take my silver and my gold
Nothing, Lord, would I withhold[5]

Song 50
“Sing Out Joyfully” To Jehovah (2016)

The message is clear, giving money is part of your worship as a Jehovah’s Witness and the fact that this is from the song entitled “My Prayer of Dedication” turns it from a mere contribution to the Watchtower organisation into a promise to God himself!  I’ll be honest with you, I find the arrogance of the Governing Body quite astonishing that they keep equating support for them as the direct equivalent of worshiping Jehovah.  There is something rather self-aggrandising about this behaviour that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

It was this change of wording for one of the Kingdom Songs that is often used for the baptism of newly dedicated Witnesses, that has actually shocked me.  It has cemented my belief that the Watchtower organisation isn’t interested in sticking to Bible teachings or even sticking to their own original teachings and principles.

The Bible verses that this song is supposedly based upon do not mention money, silver or gold, or any material possessions once in their words.  They say respectively:

“He said to him: ‘”You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.”’” Matthew 22:37 NWT

“To do your will, O my God, is my delight, And your law is deep within me.” Psalms 40:8 NWT

“‘And the One who sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.'” John 8:29 NWT

“For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” 2 Cor 10:5 NWT

I have searched the context of these scriptures and can find no reference to giving of “silver or gold” or anything material.  I have to say that one scripture immediately comes to mind when I see this revision:

“‘Do not go beyond the things that are written,’ so that you may not be puffed up with pride…” 1 Cor 4:6 NWT

The Governing Body of the Watchtower organisation appears to be more and more so obsessed with their being the equivalent of Jehovah.  Not so much “faithful and discreet”, but more “puffed up with pride” and even “proud in heart”.[6]

On top of this the organisation is overly bureaucratic and unwieldy so that they are needing more and more money to ensure its smooth running.  And I’m not even going to discuss the huge legal costs and court fines that have been imposed on the Watchtower over the recent years due to mishandling of child abuse allegations, that’s a whole topic in of itself.  Suffice to say the costs of the organisation are such these days that they are constantly needing to remind their members to keep donating.  The best way to ensure that those members do keep donating is to make them feel like they are donating directly to God, and make them feel guilty if they don’t donate.

A quote from the Stephen Lett in the May 2015 JW Broadcasting episode where the entire episode is one giant appeal for donations, makes it quite clear that they do like to pile on the guilt:

“Over the years, I have told various bible students that a person could attend our meetings for 20 years and never put a penny in the contribution box and we would not know it, Jehovah of course would know it, but we would not because the donations are anonymous but from the heart.”[7]

Yes, God himself would know if you don’t donate to the Watchtower organisation.  There is no other reason to put this wording in the statement other than to make members feel guilty if they don’t donate.

“Get them while they’re young”[8]

sophia composite
Oooh! Pocket money! What should I spend it on?[9]
The coercion to donate starts young too.  Who can forget the wonderfully coercive cartoon instructing children to “Be Generous”, which shows little Sophia dreaming of ice-cream, only to end up giving her pocket-money to the Watchtower organisation exactly because of cartoons like this.  The lesson is based on Proverbs 3:9 “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things,”[10] so even in this children’s cartoon they are equating the Watchtower organisation with God.

sophia donates
I know, I’ll pay for some more buildings for the Watchtower![9]
My current favourite is this puzzle created to drive home the lesson that a child’s pocket-money is theirs to do with as they wish as long as it’s donated to the Watchtower.  I have to say that when I was growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness the only thing I had to worry about was the mass genocide of Armageddon and having my every move spied upon by Satan and the demons.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, now Jehovah’s Witness children are being guilt-tripped out of their pocket money!

kids money maze2
Because the Watchtower is synonymous with God himself![11]
Once again this puzzle is entitled “Be Generous Toward Jehovah”, again equating the Watchtower with God himself.  Even if we leave the blatant coercion out of the equation, the arrogance and ego that it must take for eight men in New York to think that they are the equivalent to a deity who they believe is all-powerful and created the entire universe is frankly astonishing.

In conclusion, if you are a current Jehovah’s Witness and are questioning your beliefs, or an ex-Jehovah’s Witness who is beginning to doubt the claims made by the Watchtower  organisation, I urge you to do your own independent research.  My number one resource for the majority of my blogs are the Watchtower’s own publications and websites.  There are many other resources too available in the footnotes of this article and also on the LINKS page of my site.

Thank you very much for reading my blog.

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[1] Moolah (also moola) – noun (mass noun) informal
[2] Spondulicks (also spondulix) – plural noun British informal
[3] Jehovah’s Will (2014) – How Is Our Worldwide Work Financed?
[4] Sing to Jehovah – 2009 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
[5] “Sing Out Joyfully” To Jehovah – 2016 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
[6] “Everyone proud in heart is detestable to Jehovah.” – Proverbs 16:5 New World Translation
[7] JW Broadcasting May 2015 with Governing Body member Stephen Lett
[8] “Get them while they’re young and bend their minds.” – Spencer Dryden 1938-2005
[9] Children’s animated video from JW Broadcasting – Lesson 19 “Be Generous”
[10] Proverbs 3:9 New World Translation
[11] “Become Generous Toward Jehovah” – Activity – Become Jehovah’s Friend – Children JW Org
[12] The Watchtower – Study Edition (Simplified) – December 2015 – Show Appreciation for Jehovah’s Generosity

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