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Why the name "Spiritual Hostages"?

Spiritual Hostages are what we were.

Spiritual Hostages are what my son, husband and I were.  Being one of Jehovah's Witnesses I was taught to marry only in the Lord.  And, to Jehovah's Witnesses that means marrying a fellow Jehovah's Witness. For years I prayed for a Jehovah's Witness husband, but God never answered my prayers. It was during my last bad experience as a practicing Jehovah's Witness when a ministerial servant's wife called me bad association that I decided I probably would not find a Jehovah's Witness husband, nor would I ever be accepted as good association in my congregation.  I made a decision to stop attending the meetings. 

At this time, I changed my prayer for a Jehovah's Witness husband to praying for a Christian husband.  I prayed daily, multiple times a day for God to bring me a Christian husband.  My prayers were answered rather quickly.  In less than one year I was married to my husband who had been raised Lutheran.  He was not attending church and it did not seem to bother him that I was a non-practicing Jehovah's Witness.  My husband is a wonderful Christian man. Despite most of my Jehovah's Witness family being against this marriage (some very outspokenly about it), he was still loving and gracious enough to overlook their judgments and learn about the Jehovah's Witness religion.  He kept an open mind, attended some of the meetings with me and he even considered converting.

Then we were blessed with a son.  We both wanted to raise our son to be a Christian, but to do so, we needed spiritual food.  Yes, we studied the Bible at home and prayed.  We lived our lives as best we could according to the Bible, but we knew we wanted more.  I would always say to my husband, "I believe the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses, but I don't believe in their harsh judgments and dogma."  My husband would say that we needed to find a non-denominational bible church if we weren't going to raise our son in the Jehovah's Witness religion.  I would reply with what I had been taught, that all other churches and religions are false religion.  It left us not going anywhere. 

As time went on, I reluctantly agreed to enroll our son in a Lutheran pre-school.  I figured at least he would get some more exposure to the Bible this way.  Still, as more time passed, it became more and more necessary to get spiritual food. 

It was at the end of 2010, and at the time unknowingly to me, that my husband made a decision to consider converting to being one of Jehovah's Witnesses, but first he wanted to find out the history of how the religion started. Unaware of this decision he had made, life continued on as usual. 

One day driving to work, I had a lengthy phone conversation with my sister (a strong practicer in the religion).  I asked her, "Why do Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are the only ones who will receive salvation?"  (See November 15, 1981 Watchtower; February 15, 1983 Watchtower and September 1, 1989 Watchtower) I explained to her that I knew some wonderful Christian people who I thought would not be doomed.  This conversation became an instant debate with her.  And, she began to quote the seven things that identify the one true religion.

That evening when my husband and I got home from work, I informed him of the conversation my sister and I had and how it bothered me that they are so judgmental.  I once again told him how I believed their doctrines, but could not bring myself to practicing the religion again.  He then revealed to me how he had been doing his own research to convert, because he felt like a "spiritual hostage".  When he said, "spritual hostage" I immediately connected to that term and was interested in what he had found out.  He said that he had found out some alarming things about the religion.  I wanted to know what he had found out and that was the beginning of our journey to spiritual freedom.

Other Spiritual Hostages exist

Like myself, many of us have lived in fear and guilt since we stopped practicing our religion, stopped going to meetings, and have become inactive.  We think we will not be saved, yet at some level we know what we have been taught just does not add up. 

We may think we believe the doctrines, but cannot agree with the harsh dogma and unloving criticism of our Jehovah's Witness associates, friends and even family.  We additionally find it difficult to go to another church for spiritual food we long for, because it has been engrained in us that all other religions are "false religions" and Jehovah's Witnesses is the one true religion (See February 15, 1983 Watchtower; November 15, 1981 Watchtower; and September 1, 1989 Watchtower). 

We are trapped.  We are Siritual Hostages.  My story as a Spiritual Hostage, like so many others, is one that many former Jehovah's Witnesses have gone through, or may be going through now.  Publishing this website was inspired by my own grief and fear that I overcame, and my compassion to help others in this situation.

Thoughts from a Spiritual Hostage

When I was practicing, I struggled with understanding the religion's rules and regulations, judging, and as I got older some of the teachings.  I battled negative feelings about myself that I was not measuring up to the works that the religion strongly suggests for its members.  All the do's and don'ts of the religion give one a perception that they have to be as close to perfect as possible - only setting one up for more feelings of failure.

When I was not practicing, I struggled that I was sinning against the religion's expectations.  Since I was failing at that and was not part of the organization, I expected that I would not gain salvation as taught by the religion.

I failed at practicing the religion. I failed when I was not practicing.  In either case, I was consumed with the thought that if the end came, I would not be saved.

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The Opposite of Love is Fear

Having been raised in a fear-based culture, I now know that being coerced to practice a religion out of fear, is not loving.  1 John 4:18 (NWT), "There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint.  Indeed, he that is under fear has not been made perfect in love."