SHOULD I DIVORCE MY JEHOVAH’S WITNESS SPOUSE TO PROTECT MY KIDS?
“Hi. I am thinking about filing for divorce from my Jehovah’s Witness husband. We have two children, a 2 year old and a 10 month old. Originally, I was looking to do a legal separation since I don’t know if I have biblical justification for a divorce, but in my state, legal separation is not recognized. So, in order to protect my children and me, I am thinking about divorce.
I am afraid that if I leave him without taking care of legalities, he would just get a Watchtower lawyer and have grounds to take our kids from me. When we were married 3 1/2 years ago, we were both mainstream Christians, on fire for the Lord. A year and half ago, he quickly converted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses when they provided “evidence” for their “truth.” I never believed in what they were saying, and I am glad that I held my spiritual ground. We really ran into trouble when my husband decided last year that he would no longer allow me to bring our children to church. I was devastated that he would do this. The one time I tried to stand up to him and told him that I would bring our daughter anyway, he simply held her in his arms knowing that I would not physically fight him over it, especially not in front of our newborn son. I then proceeded to begin taking our newborn son to church with me, but when he was about 5 months old, and still breastfeeding, he told me I would no longer be allowed to bring him with me either.
I confronted my husband around the time he was baptized into the organization eight months ago as to whether we would be able to make a compromise by which both of us would take turns bringing the children with us to our churches. I even offered to go with him to the Kingdom Hall once a month, so we could go as a family if my compromise was granted. He adamantly refused and stated that we would have to be split up before I could bring them with me to my church. So, this is where we have ended up.
I have a job here but he is unemployed, partly because of the economy, but really because of Watchtower brainwashing. He could have a good job right now, but it would require him to work on the Air Force Base that, of course, bothers his Jehovah’s Witness conscience since he wouldn’t even think of being remotely associated with the military. All of this brings me to ask, if I file for divorce, what can I do to protect us if this gets dirty? I have seen the Jehovah’s Witness packet entitled, “Preparing for Child Custody Cases” and it disgusts me. I am thankful that my children are too small to be questioned. Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to offer.”
We feel for you in this situation. Indeed, not only do you have your husband’s spiritual deception to deal with but the difficulties of protecting your children from this deception as well. We would say that divorce would be the VERY LAST option you should consider, not only because the Scriptural grounds for a divorce are lacking in your case (1 Corinthians 7:10-16; Matthew 5:32), but because the devastation that a divorce would cause your kids would be great — especially when they are tossed back and forth between you and your ex-spouse.
Although in the best case scenario, you may be able to fight and win full custody of the children, you will be less able to prevent their exposure to the lies in the Jehovah’s Witness religion because your husband would still have visitation rights and he would be able to tell your kinds lies about you behind your back, saying things like the idea that you are influenced by Satan and that your church is under demonic control. (Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses DO this!) Also, unless there is physical abuse that the court would be able to use to block him from contact with your children, obtaining full custody would not prevent him from taking them to the Kingdom Hall during his visitation days, where not only will his lies about you be promoted, but your children will be brainwashed against everything you believe as a Christian. Then you will have to fight to convince your kids that their dad is deceived—not a good situation to be in at all!
I know he is acting controlling in the way that he has been unwilling to let you take the kids to your church, but you may not be aware that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a policy against what they call “interfaith.” This policy basically teaches that a baptized Jehovah’s Witness, such as your husband, is not allowed to participate in any other religion (interfaith), nor allow his children to participate in attending any activities sponsored by another religion. This is why the compromise you suggested where you asked your husband to allow you to bring the kids to your church while you go to his Kingdom Hall once a month was unacceptable to him.
The case would have been different if you were the husband and he were the wife because they require husbands to be the “spiritual leader” in the home, while a Jehovah’s Witness wife is not put under the same pressure to make the family comply with all of the Watchtower’s policies. So, if the situation were reversed, your compromise might have been accepted. All this is to say that your husband is under the mind control of the Jehovah’s Witness religion and although he appears to be controlling on this issue, it is likely the Watchtower brainwashing that is affecting his decisions. So, understanding this may give you a little insight into your situation. Again, we do not recommend a divorce at this point, but if you follow some of the guidelines we will give you below, likely you will get much further in influencing your husband and your kids.
So, instead of running to divorce as your first option, consider what you CAN do if you work within your marriage. Although your husband may be able to forcefully control whether you take the kids to your church, he can’t stop all exposure to your spiritual views—unless he wants to be home all the time to see that you don’t take them to any spiritual activities or teach them anything during the day (or when you are off work). Right now, he may be able to monitor what you do with them most of the time since he is out of work, this will not last forever as he will need to get a job sometime. But more importantly, since your children are so young right now, you don’t need to be too worried about him taking them to the Kingdom Hall, because they won’t know the difference at this point—except that they will find the Kingdom Hall VERY boring!
They will be forced to sit quietly with their dad all the time with no nursery for them to play in. So, knowing this, you can encourage your husband to take them while they are young like this and see if he gets tired of it as he will have to wrestle with their restlessness or have the Jehovah’s Witnesses stare at him if he doesn’t keep them quiet enough. Your kids will NOT like this! And your husband will get tired of this too. Most likely after a few weeks of this, especially with a crying baby that still needs to nurse, he will be more willing to let you take them to your church or be home with them some of the time when he is at the meetings.
As your kids grow older, he may still force them to attend the Kingdom Hall with him, but when he’s away at work during the day (or at some Jehovah’s Witness Convention during a weekend that he doesn’t force them to attend with him), you can take the Watchtower books and magazines they are indoctrinating them with and use them against the Jehovah’s Witness belief system. For example, they have a study guide that they use with kids and adults that they will want him to use with his children when they reach an age where he can “study” with them. You can study that guide and when he is away and when the time is right, show your kids where the Watchtower teaching is incorrect in these publications. Jehovah’s Witnesses may try to force baptism into the Jehovah’s Witness religion as young as 8 or 9 years old, but at this age, your kids will be old enough to understand the differences between your religion and their dad’s religion, and with your training, they can start challenging their dad and their Jehovah’s Witness peers at the Kingdom Hall with the inconsistencies in this religion. For example, you can train your children how to ask the questions given in the following article:
There are MANY more examples of questions you can train them with and we have even seen a case where a five-year old girl was able to challenge her Jehovah’s Witness friends at the Kingdom Hall after the meetings that her father forced her to attend. Her questions got the attention of the Jehovah’s Witness parents who started to get worried about her influence on their kids. Her Christian mom was doing a good job! Of course, as your husband sees his kids poking holes in the Watchtower doctrine during and after the meetings, he will eventually have to agree to discuss these differences with you so that his family can become united in faith. This will then give you the opportunity to do a “study” with him in his literature, using the questions given in the article above as well as the questions in other articles on our site that you will find listed at this link:
Right now, your husband is under Watchtower control that he tries to bring into your marriage, but that doesn’t have to stop you from being the godly Christian wife that will help win him back to Christ. Remember, your enemy is Satan—not your husband (Ephesians 6:12). Your husband has been trapped by Satan and is held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Your husband is under mind control and doesn’t realize how duped he has become. Pray for him, work with the marriage and witness by your life. Don’t let the enemy destroy your family. Remember, if you’re submitting to your husband in a godly way and praying for God’s protection on your children, training them when he’s not around, God will come through and the TRUTH will win out in your children’s lives, regardless of whether your husband comes around to see the Truth for himself.
So, we do not recommend that you seek a divorce. Rather, seek a qualified Christian marriage counselor or pastoral counselor to support you in this process, and wait and see what God will do in your marriage when you do things God’s way. If in the end, your husband files for divorce and you’ve done all you can do before God to keep your family together, God will be with you in that situation (1 Corinthians 7:15). To reach your husband and protect your family, here are a few articles we recommend that you read. The last one will give you an idea of what you are up against if you pursue a divorce:
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