Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ExJW Therapy - Dedication and Baptism

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???

The Process
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

  1. On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will? 
  2. 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.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing that Janai. Very interesting as I don't know too much about JW other than when they used to come to my door and I told them I'm either Atheist or a Devil Worshipper. You never seen people run fast enough off my porch! :)

    Looking forward to reading more!