This may be a new segment to my blog. As you know by now, I was raised as Jehovah's Witness (called a born-in). Only recently have I begun to deal with the fallout and mental breakthroughs of no longer being JW. Every now and then, I ponder on various parts of the doctrine. See, now that I'm out of the cult, I get to question the beliefs. You can't do that while you are still inside. From time to time, I will post thoughts on my new and unclouded understanding. Today's topic is dedication and baptism.
JWs are in the business of converting. If you are a non-JW or worldly, the goal is to study the Bible with you until you want to convert by dedication and baptism. If you are a born-in or the child of a convert, the goal is to push you to dedication and baptism. Dedication and baptism is like peanut butter and jelly - one is no good without the other. I was taught that baptism is the outward sign of your dedication. Dedication is private and between you and Jehovah.
I remember my dedication. I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing. Really, should a 17 yr old commit to something for the rest of her life without having access to all available options? Doesn't seem fair, does it? Yet, I dedicated myself anyway. Teen mom with a kid under 1, still in high school, still living with my mother, can't drink, can't sign legal contracts like a lease, but I was able to "sign" my spiritual life away. I don't remember the exact date or even what I said. But that's not important because according to JWs the most important day in your life is the day of your baptism; your wedding date is a distant 2nd.
My baptism took place at a circuit assembly in March 1992. Although this is day is supposedly important, I have no idea of the exact date. Perhaps it is on file at the WTBS? Anyway, I had this nagging feeling that I shouldn't be doing this. I did not feel any different after the "big dip". No, scratch that. First thought was what have I done???
Although I was a born-in I still had to study 2 books and answer some questions. The questions proved that I had a firm grasp of the JW doctrine. Before being scheduled for baptism, all of the questions must be answered before a couple of elders. They ask you if you dedicated your life to Jehovah. Of course, you must be active in field service (door-to-door converting) and present and participating at meetings (3x a week).
The day of the baptism, all baptismal candidates (that's what they call us) are to sit in a specific section. After the talk that's specifically directed to us, we are to stand and publically answer 2 questions. These questions has changed over the years. The ones I had to answer are
- On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
- Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization?
Questions that come to mind:
Why is baptism even necessary if the dedication between you and Jehovah is private?
Why does the dedication identify one as a JW? Assume that Jehovah is another name for God.
If D&B is something that will affect the rest of your life, why are minors allowed to make this decision?
Why is there such a great penalty (shunning) if one no longer wants to be identified as a JW?
For more info on JW baptism, see this link.