If we take a close look at the various reasons why one can be disfellowshipped from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we find a long list of offenses, some which can find no direct connection to scriptural direction (such as smoking and the use of foul language). However, what has puzzled me for a long time is the issue of a parent, or parents, who fail to properly provide for their family. My parents divorced when I was very young, and my mother left the Witnesses at about the same time, (see my prior story “Conditional Love” for more on that). In the years after, my father encountered great difficulty in being able to care for his family. He was out of work on multiple occasions, at times receiving food stamps and Welfare payments to make ends meet. He soon married another woman within months of the finalization of his divorce from my mother, and they proceeded to have three more children together in fairly rapid succession. This posed a problem for my mother, who still had to care for my sister and me.
My mother had several issues of her own which made it difficult for her to work, but it certainly never helped that my father paid little or no child support after he married his second wife and they began having children. His new wife never worked, and with each new child of theirs that came into the world, that made the likelihood of that even more remote. My father was extremely critical of my mother while I was growing up, but never once did he apologize for failing to properly care for me and my sister. Not only did he not provide child support for most of my young life, but I never recall him purchasing clothes or shoes for us either, and he certainly never helped with school supplies. I am extremely grateful for the financial support that my mother’s parents provided along the way to help make ends meet.
I believe 1 Timothy 5:8 (English Standard Version) states that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” That seems crystal clear to me. Was my father ever counseled with regard to the biblical direction on caring for his family? I really don’t know. He occasionally held positions in the congregations, such as Ministerial Servant and Elder, so I am guessing he was not.
I’m certainly angry with my father on several levels, but this issue burns me the most. He remains in good standing with his congregation while I exist on the outside. I’m happy with my place, believe me, but I do not think for one moment that what he’s NOT done is not worse than anything I’ve done. It’s just one of the many reasons I do believe I am in the right place.