There’s a phrase known as Poe’s Law.
If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an adage used to describe a situation where a person or organisation has become so absurd in thier actions or words that they have become indistinguishable from a satirical parody of that person or organisation.
Watchtower has apparently chosen to start 2018 by becoming a walking talking example of Poe’s Law, with the November 2017 study article, which all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses studied last weekend. In an article discussing the use of song during worship, the following comment is made in paragraph 17:
The change of the title “Guard Your Heart” to “We Guard Our Hearts” was most considerate. Why? In the audience at our meetings, assemblies, and conventions are many new ones, interested ones, young ones, and sisters who by singing the words would be put in the awkward position of telling others what to do. So the title and the lyrics were modified.
Now, this came to my attention when I saw it on the exjw reddit forums, which is an online community for many exJW’s to come together, support each other, and discuss issues related to JW and exJW life.
My honest reaction when I first read it was; “Oh that’s a funny piece of parody by someone poking fun at the kind of silly sexist gibberish the Governing Body might put into the Watchtower if they were just a little bit crazier than they actually are. Ha ha ha! Good one guys!”
Then I looked again.
And realised it actually was from a real life Watchtower study article, that was being studied in real life, by real life Jehovah’s Witnesses, because the real life Watchtower organisation had both written the article and changed the song.
And my jaw dropped.
The dangers of women singing instructions at men
Why is this Watchtower article crazy?
Well, where to even start?
There are a whole host of issues one could go into, everything from the insane inconsistency in how this rule appears to have been applied, to the lunacy of thinking that singing song lyrics amounts to any kind of conflict of authority, to the deeply ingrained sexist, demeaning and controlling attitude towards women that such a statement belies.
JW Survey founder Lloyd Evans does a deep dive here that explores these issues in more depth.
But I’ll be honest, the overwhelming response ricocheting around my astonished brain was this:
Who on earth lies awake at night worrying that Sisters might be singing instructions at Brothers, and then decides it’s wise to expend time and effort to rewrite entire songs in order to avoid such a terrible disaster from happening? How insecure and feeble must a Brother be to feel that his precious “scriptural authority” is somehow threatened because a woman is singing song lyrics that state “guard your heart?”
I mean, it’s not as if Watchtower doesn’t actually have real problems to worry about. Rampant child sex abuse scandals, large numbers of deaths from refusal of blood transfusions, growth grinding to a halt across the globe and even reversing in many countries, an increasingly under-educated and impoverished Witness population with a significant amount of depression and mental illness. Surely those issues are more important?
The pressing issue here is that the sensitive, fragile egos of Witness males might be damaged by the shocking, horrifying spectre of a woman singing lyrics. That is apparently an urgent issue that requires an investment of time and resources to put right, and then an additional Watchtower study on-top of that to ensure that everyone is aware of the reasons for the change.
You know what? I’ll bet 90% of Witness males, despite being indoctrinated into Watchtower’s rather sexist view of female subjection and headship, have never even for one moment been offended by the fact that Sisters were singing the old lyrics. Genuinely. Even when viewed through the eyes of a believing JW, this is simply not a problem that needed solving. Rather, it has the feel of something that has come out of the crazy lunatic fringe of Watchtower thinking, presumably from the same bizarre mindset that spawned the infamous banning of tight pants and the creation of Sparlock the Warrior Wizard.
Whatever the origin of this craziness, I draw some comfort from the fact many otherwise believing Witnesses will probably also think that this whole thing is a bit daft, because I know I would have, and I know many of my JW friends would have as well. Its often the steady drip-drip-drip of this senseless and unreasonable behaviour from Watchtower leaders who are supposed to know better that gradually erodes the faith of more reasonable minds, and causes people to start asking questions of Watchtower to which Watchtower has no answers.
In the meantime, perhaps I could suggest that Watchtower scrap “We Guard Our Hearts” in its entirety and replace it with a song more suitable for delicate Governing Body sensitivities? Something like this?
- Huge thank you to the exJW reddit member theforce17 for catching this lunacy and who created the original post. You can find it here.
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