#1 How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Differ from Christianity?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, but also conduct their denomination with highly-distinct practices that differentiate them from the typical Protestant Christian.
Ten core differences between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christians are:
- History – Christianity is linked to the beginning of time with Christ and the Apostles, referenced in Acts 2. It is thought to have begun in 1st century A.D…. Jehovah’s Witnesses began their denomination officially in the late 1800s. The Watchtower, the JW publication and text of their faith, was first published in 1879, making this denomination much younger than the larger Christian faith.
- Titles – Christians refer to God as the Lord, often calling both the Father and the Son – God. Opposingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not see the Father and Son as equals, with the Father being the higher authority of power. The Father is also referred to as Jehovah or Yahweh in the Bible (yhwh); however, this terminology is not used in the general Christian referencing of God.
- The Holy Spirit – While many Christians venerate the holy trinity and the spirit of God, feeling overtaken by the Spirit when they are speaking tongues or worshiping – Jehovah’s Witnesses do not feel strongly about the Holy Spirit. Witnesses see the Spirit as an aspect of God’s larger entity, but not it’s own portion of a divided trinity.
- Salvation – Most Christians believe in an eternal soul; a soul that will move from earth to the final destination of either Heaven or Hell. Heaven is where you will join God and Jesus, while Hell is a purgatory within which your soul will be tortured in flames for eternity. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that the soul is eternal. Contrarily, they believe that a human dies on earth, along with their soul. Their hope for teaching on earth is that God will resurrect souls after Armageddon and create a new planet that will be seen as a ‘paradise on earth.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses are not taught to be focused on the salvation of reaching Heaven, as they believe the gates of Heaven closed to mankind centuries ago.
- Resurrection – Christians that celebrate Easter and reference the resurrection of Jesus Christ’s body, often believe that Jesus’s physical body was raised from the dead. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not prescribe to this belief, instead believing that God disposed of his body, “not allowing it to see corruption and thus preventing its becoming a stumbling block to faith,” (The Watchtower, November 15, 1991, page 31).
- Idolatry – Most Christians will wear a cross on their neck, have a cross in their homes, or revere the symbol of Jesus on the cross to some degree. To completely separate themselves from this foundational idea – Jehovah’s Witnesses find this to be a gruesome, cruel, and unnecessary way to remember Jesus Christ. Seeing it not only as a devastating symbol, they also feel it is wrong to venerate his moment of death more than his entire life. Not only this, but utilizing man-made items can be seen as idolatry, which distracts from authentic worship and genuine connection to God.
- Hell – Christians believe that a life of sin on earth can lead you to eternal damnation. Witnesses reject the notion of Hell, insisting instead that the soul does not exist beyond death. Annihilation of one’s form does not allow for eternal punishment or reward.
- Bibles – Christians have many bibles to choose from (The English Standard Version, The King James Bible, The New American Standard Bible, The New International Version, The New King James Version, etc.) Jehovah’s Witnesses only support the New World Translation, published in 1950.
- Structure – Jehovah’s Witnesses have no clergy class and do not place false confidence in humans that claim to be ‘channels to God;’ including the Pope, ministers, priests, or any other self-proclaimed prophet. This is not common as most Christian denominations are led by someone that will either guide meetings, hear confessions, or act as an intermediary between the congregation and God.
- Politics – Most Christians are quite involved in politics. Jehovah’s Witnesses refrain from divisive, corrupt, or authoritative entities that compete with the importance-level of God. Not wishing to disrupt political actions, Witnesses simply choose not to participate by remaining neutral.
There are many more-detailed beliefs that go beyond these larger basics. But hopefully, you can gather how unique each of these thought-processes are from one another.
- “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15
- The Difference: Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses – Dr. Marocco; Published November 15th, 2019.
#2 How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Get Married?
As a traditionally simple and honorable ceremony that unites two Witnesses in marriage, a wedding ceremony would be seen as a celebratory occasion of happiness and love. Just as with most Christian weddings, you may have scriptures read during the ceremony, followed by a reception or meal.
The process and attributes to be aware of Jehovah’s Witness Weddings include the following qualities:
- The wedding will include a speech delivered by a church leader or Brother within the congregation, usually lasting around 30 minutes. This duration is used to highlight how the Bible can influence a happy marriage that lasts.
- Certain countries require solemnization, which can be as simple as the couple reading vows to one another.
- Many Witnesses want their ceremony in the Kingdom Hall (their Church) if it is available.
- Weddings are typically open to members and non-members of the Church.
- The dress code would be modest and respectful.
- Rice or confetti will not be thrown, as these can be seen as superstitious practices.
- If there is music or dancing at the reception, it should be done in good taste.
- Anniversaries are not always celebrated; it is up to each couple to determine if they want to celebrate their day of wedlock or focus on their worship without honoring non-holy days.
- “Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.” – John 2:2.
- “And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, …” – Matthew 22:1-14.
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness Wedding; Published February 19th, 2015.
#3 How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Pray?
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray constantly.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses partake in specific traditions and methods for their prays, which may distinguish them from other Christian prayer-styles.
The techniques and thought-processes used by Jehovah’s Witnesses during prayer include:
- Probably the most important of all is to refer to the one and only God, and not conflate him with Jesus. Jesus will not be referred to as God or the Lord within a prayer. Jesus’s portion of the prayer will always be required at the end of the prayer, as a closing statement of ‘in Jesus’s name, amen.” This must be said every time to recognize Jesus’s importance, while still not addressing him before Jehovah.
- They do not have traditional prayers and do not follow scripted prayers, like Catholics. You will not hear a rosary, memorized incantations, or miracle-based wishes to God.
- They are encouraged to pray for persecuted Christians.
- A Jehovah’s Witness can pray in any location, home, or in the Kingdom Hall.
- What is important about prayer is that it is not done in a flashy way that cries for attention. If you are doing it publicly to make everyone look at you, create a show of it, or use performative actions to promote God, you are not praying in ‘good taste.’
- If you are leading the prayer of a group, you would generally close your eyes, look down, put your hands together, and pray in a calm-manner of respect, humility, unpretentiousness, and an overarching humbleness.
- They will not pray to a cross, prayer beads, or through any symbol of idolatry/prayer assistance. Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.”
It is said that God does not hear every prayer. Isiah 1:15 tells, “I am not listening; your hands are filled with blood.” There are things that can cause God to not listen to your prayers. You can read more about the Witness-style and procedure on their website – How to Pray to God.
- “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:3-6 .
- “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:14, (In Jesus’ Name).
- A Model Jehovah’s Witness Prayer – Watchtower Examination; Published June 27th 2015.
#4 How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Get Saved?
It is not believed that all Jehovah’s Witnesses will be deemed worthy of resurrection, or being saved, so being a Witness does not explicitly indicate that one will be saved.
Neptune’s Society describes:
“Members believe that only Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saved at the end of the world, and of those, only a limited number of the most faithful. Witnesses believe in Heaven, but do not believe in Hell.”
So one could argue yes and no to their premises behind being saved. It would depend on who you ask and how they feel about a Heaven on earth. Some may not consider this ‘being saved’ if your original soul does not live on.
In another context, JW.org responds to the question Jesus Saves – How?:
“Jesus saved faithful humans when he gave his life as a ransom sacrifice. (Matthew 20:28) Thus, the Bible calls Jesus the “Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14) It also states: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”—Acts 4:12.
Jesus ‘tasted death for everyone’ who exercises faith in him. (Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16) Thereafter, “God raised him up from the dead,” and Jesus returned to heaven as a spirit creature. (Acts 3:15) There, Jesus is able “to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.”—Hebrews 7:25.”
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
- “For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” – Revelation 16:14-16
#5 How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Worship?
The main pillars by which Jehovah’s Witnesses nurture their form of worship are:
- Jehovah is God.
- Jesus is not the highest power, only the secondary power, and a worldly prophet.
- The Holy Spirit is not a person, only God’s life-force.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses worship in Kingdom Halls, what they refer and use as Churches for communal worship.
- They believe the end-times are near and judgment day awaits after the end of the world
- Because they see themselves as the one true religion of accuracy, they place a strong emphasis on outreach and sharing the word of Jehovah with others.
- They utilize baptisms as do many Christian denominations.
- They utilize the Bible and the Watchtower as evidence-based texts.
- They do not encourage, honor, or participate in holidays. If they do participate in a holiday, it is likely one that honors God without incorporating pagan traditions.
- The general tone of most Kingdom Hall meetings, weddings, and funerals, is one of modesty, kindness, and respect for others. Assemblies are conducted in a calm manner and not meant to be a flashy-event. With traditional views and practices, they are not seen as a glam-and-glitz type of religion.
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
- And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” – Acts 2:38-39.
- “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
#6 How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Dress?
A Dutch newspaper described a hot day where most people wore casual clothing, then adding, “That is not the case at the convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . . Boys and men wear a jacket and tie, while the girls’ and women’s skirt length is… In good taste, yet modern.”
The phrases to describe one’s dress and attire should be:
- Not overly distracting, such as blue hair
- Nothing dysmorphic to one’s form such as facial piercings
- No gawdy jewelry or overpriced gems
A Jehovah’s Witness should avoid clothing that is:
- Too tight
- Too revealing
Skirts should be at the knee or lower, and no cleavage should be exposed on women.
Some compare the checklist to being akin to dressing for an interview or going to meet a public official.
Ultimately, the selections of garments, especially in the Kingdom Hall, should display a sense of honor to Jehovah. Although many Christian denominations allow jeans, tank tops, and casual options, this would be seen as disrespectful in a Kingdom Hall, and the person would likely be asked to leave or change outfits. These rules are not meant to be strict or overbearing, only conscious of what God would find appropriate or overtly offensive.
Eloquently asserted on the JW website in their piece, Does Your Style of Dress Glorify God?:
“We owe it to our holy God, to our spiritual brothers and sisters, as well as to the people in our territory to wear clothing that dignifies the message we bear and that brings glory to Jehovah. (Rom. 13:8-10) This is especially so when we are engaging in Christian activities, such as when we attend meetings or when we share in the preaching work. We should dress “in the way that is proper for [people] professing devotion to God.” (1 Tim. 2:10)
Of course, some clothing that is appropriate in one place may not be appropriate in another. Hence, Jehovah’s people throughout the world take local customs into account so as not to cause offense.”
- “Be dressed and ready, and have your lamps burning. “ Luke 12:35.
- “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” – 1 Timothy 2:9.
- “Not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,” – Ephesians 6:6.
- “And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” – Luke 12:22-23.
- The Proper Attire for a Woman Attending a Jehovah’s Witness Meeting; Published September 29th, 2017. “Mature Witness women run through a sort of mental checklist when deciding what to wear to their meetings. They might consider if they’d wear an attire to a job interview or before prominent officials; if their outfit remains modest when bending over, sitting down and crossing their legs; or when a bright lit hits them; and if they feel comfortable in the clothing. Also, Witness women do not wear pants to their meetings, but wear loose skirts or dresses. And, in general, they strive to wear skirts that are at least one or two inches below the knee.”
If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.