I have recently been thinking about the good changes that some have made when they become Witnesses. That may be another reason why some continue to have a positive view of them – and the term ‘new personality’ is thrown about to show that they are now better people. I was interested in this term as found in the New World Translation Ephesians 4:22-24 and wondered if other translations used it too. I checked all the following translations compared to the NWT:
New International Version (NIV) New King James Version (NKJ) New American Standard Bible (NASB) Common English Bible (CEB) English Standard Version (ESV) New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
So after all that I feel safe enough to say that only the NWT uses the term ‘new personality’. Why is that? I found in my experience that there is a conflict between this ‘new personality’ and the way I really am. Now I’m not talking about the universal conflict inside every person between bad and good – that is a whole other story that I won’t even attempt to write about! What I’m talking about is from the perspective of changing yourself to fit in with the Witnesses. Conforming to their way of living and behaving (I’m using the term living here loosely).
I decided to try and find a reference to this in the Witnesses’ online library, and I found the perfect reference! Every where they expound the benefits of changing your personality when it relates to stopping heavy drinking, taking drugs, getting into fights, but what about all the stuff I remember being counselled about from the platform? What music I listened to, books I read, movies I watched, and on and on. Every small thing in your life that was even slightly off the Witness track had to be eliminated.
Here is the reference: — (The Italics are my own) A full-grown Christian is also loyal. As we read at Ephesians 4:24, the apostle Paul exhorts Christians: “Put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” In the Greek Scriptures, the original-language word for “loyalty” carries the thought of holiness, righteousness, reverence. A loyal person is devout, pious; he carefully observes all his duties toward God.
What are some ways in which you might develop such loyalty? One would be by cooperating with your local congregation elders. (Hebrews 13:17) Recognizing that Christ is the appointed Head of the Christian congregation, mature Christians are loyal to those appointed “to shepherd the congregation of God.” (Acts 20:28) How inappropriate it would be to challenge or undermine the authority of appointed elders! You should also feel a sense of loyalty to “the faithful and discreet slave” and the agencies that are used to disseminate spiritual “food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45) Be quick to read and apply the information found in The Watchtower and its companion publications. w00 8/15 pp. 26-29 Are you a full grown Christian? —
Well there it is, anything that comes from the publications and the platform or personal counsel from elders means you have to listen to it and apply it, doing otherwise means you are NOT a full grown Christian and are DISLOYAL.
A friend mentioned something to me in regard to this scripture and I had to insert it into this post. Witnesses are taught that almost everything in the Christian Greek Scriptures/New Testament is for the anointed. Therefore Paul is apparently only talking to the anointed in Ephesians 1-3, then all of a sudden in Ephesians 4 he is speaking to the ‘great crowd’ too. How can that be? Paul either wrote to the anointed only, or he didn’t. Which is it? If everything from Chapter 1 of Ephesians is only for the anointed, how does the Governing Body know when he stops talking to them and the ‘great crowd’ must listen to the instruction too? This scripture is used extensively in the publications to reach out to those in the field who are ‘living bad lives’ and must change, are all those ‘householders’ potential anointed?
I remember destroying my mix tapes because that Sunday morning I had listened to a talk about not listening to inappropriate music. If you know me, my idea of inappropriate back then was mild stuff. I have been educated since then so I know that what I was listening to was really okay, but I was made to feel guilty about it because I really enjoyed that music. It depressed me thinking that I wouldn’t be able to listen to this music anymore in Paradise, it would literally no longer exist. For those who are asking, what was I listening to, it was Linkin Park, the first song I ever heard of theirs was Numb, and it totally lit my mind up. I swear sparks flew it was the most wonderful thing and having to give it up was painful, and here is the point I stumbled on. It was painful – why? I was denying a part of myself, I was putting this so called ‘new personality’ ahead of who I genuinely was.
There’s the kicker, changing to become a better person – that makes you feel good, makes you feel strong. Denying you who are in order to conform to a set of behaviour dictated by men, that is what makes it painful. The cult identity is formed over your genuine identity to make you accept and conform to the group mentality. If other Witnesses were refusing to watch a certain movie, there was an undercurrent of expectation that all Witnesses would also refuse. Anytime you try to suppress your genuine self there will be consequences, some mild, some very serious, but all bad.
In one instance I didn’t listen to the elders and I suppose now I can see that as my genuine identity asserting itself. I wanted to do a Creative Writing course, I had saved up the money and out of habit I ran this by my favourite elder. He was immediately negative, he completely shut me down. Why on earth do I want to spend my time doing a writing course? I was really hurt by his words, but in that moment I disregarded what he said because for once I knew it was rubbish. I did that course, and I passed it with flying colours. It is an accomplishment that I hold dear and makes me smile, that I stood up for myself.
The Witnesses idea of the ‘new personality’ is horribly flawed. You do not need to become a perfect Witness clone to be loyal to God. Far from it – We were created with individuality, we are ALL different, so why change that? Our differences in our tastes, in our passions is something to be celebrated, not suppressed.
Oh by the way – I know there are some Linkin Park songs with swear words, I skip those… I’m a total prude and I still hate profanity so you see – their music has not corrupted me. 🙂