Dating and Singles Sites for Jehovah's Witnesses:
The Next Generation
by Randall Watters
In the last few years since the popular advent of the internet, the Watchtower has warned its members on several occasions not to spend (i.e., waste) time on the internet, for several reasons:
1. the time is better spent pursuing "Kingdom interests"
2. Web sites can be deceiving without being cleared by the "mother" organization
3. You can actually come across information on the net that can lead you into apostasy
In spite of the warnings, many Witnesses developed their own websites and discussion boards in good faith, believing (correctly) that the worldwide body of Witnesses needs help in communicating within their own private community. The most friendship and romantic association most Witnesses get with other people is limited often to those within their own kingdom halls. Feeling this too restrictive, and by nature of the fact that most people in Western countries have accessed the internet at least once for information or help, the average Witness feels it does no harm to "surf the net," as long as one steers clear of sites that cause them to doubt their faith, or avoid those that are "pornographic."
At least one psychologist has written on the need for this, saying,
"According to Dr. Andres Madrigal, who lent his expertise as a psychologist and behavioral scientist to this project; The desire to retain spiritual correctness and Religious conviction has prevented many Jehovah's Witnesses, from choosing marriage partners outside their Faith. There also exists the assignment of responsibility for both parents to bring up children who are educated in the teachings of the Bible, and this particular Religion." from the article: Private Sector Company Provides Marriage Introductions Exclusively for Jehovah's Witness Members and Assists Them in Keeping the Faith
On a casual search on the internet, I found five such sites as follows:
in the Truth (fee-based for full access)
JW Connections.com (100% free for a time)
dating sites and jehovah's witness (portal to general non-specific religion dating site)
JW-connect (100% free)
JWMatch.com (fee-based for full access)
No doubt there are several others already. As of this writing (Feb. 2004) I am not aware of any articles in the Watchtower magazine or on their website that condemns such activity, but it would not surprise me to see this very soon. Why? For the following reasons:
1. It makes keeping track of the individual members of the "flock" much harder if they do not contain their fellowship within their own or nearby congregations,
2. Elders may become suspicious that "singles" or even those who are already married may be fornicating behind closed doors , yet the elders are not nearby to "chaperone" or to watch them,
3. Those who head such websites may not be in good standing, or may not even be Witnesses,
4. Disfellowshipped persons may be posing as Witnesses in good standing and "enslave" those who are in the "truth" to fornication or at least "bad association."
What They Offer
At least one (JWConnections.com) of the sites offers: Anonymous email, Multiple photo postings, Unlimited searching, and Live chat, all for free. Warnings and user guidelines are typical to protect the innocent, and searchers are encouraged to keep their anonymity for safety's sake (not to speak of keeping out the eyes of prying elders and "elderettes." Interestingly, some sites may make no statements about posting information that could be considered "apostate leanings" or critical of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, indicating that any "policing" or monitoring of the site may be for purely legal reasons, i.e., to discourage hacking or the posting of false or multiple identities.
Others, such as the link above "dating sites and jehovah's witnesses" are simply portals advertised to JWs but really lead into a general dating site that does not appear to censor non-JWs (or even gay and lesbians for that matter). Most Witnesses in good standing would likely be wary of such sites, though I am sure some Witnesses would not care.
Another, JW-connect, does not seem to concerned about policing any immorality, even allowing "male to male" searches or "female to female" searches (just for "friendship?") but still requires the following:
"Please enter the first song number of the service meeting as listed in the December 2003 Kingdom Ministry for the week of the 29th:" -- from http://www.jw-connect.com/protected/
Such a caution supposedly assures the browser that others on the site are all Jehovah's Witnesses, though experience with bulletin boards and chat sites run by Witnesses has proved that ex-Witnesses and others can easily "hack" their way into the site, posing as a JW in good standing.
PartnersintheTruth.com was erratic in loading, but I finally got it to come up. It first offers a screening process, so that you have to answer a question that indicates you are one of Jehovah's Witnesses, such as "What does P.O. stand for?" Anyone with any education in JW lingo could figure that one out. They then go on to say,
"Are the employess (sic) and
consultants of Partners In The Truth Witnesses?
"Yes, some are. All employees are required to have fundamental knowledge of beliefs and practices of the Jehovah's Witness Organization in order to more effectively work in the interest of all members." (source)
"Some are" does not even indicate a majority, which should raise a red flag in the Witness' mind, and the $25.95 per month fee for full access (less if you sign up for longer periods) is a bit steep in my opinion! Especially since the others are free at this time. They did, however, offer this note of JW "safety":
"Partners In The Truth is the first and largest service of this kind in North America. We support the principles established thru Christian doctrine and defined by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society." (source)
How that is enforced is impossible to tell, although as I mentioned in the first part of this article, it is easy for predators to "deceive" the registrants by common internet tricks.
"jwmatch.com employs and co-operates with Witnesses and Non-Witnesses."
In other words, although in order to get in you have to possess certain information from the latest Kingdom Ministry (an in-house publication for Witnesses only printed by the Watchtower), they fall short of insisting you have to be an active Witness, saying only "please do not join if you are not yet baptized or if you are not yet legally divorced and free to be remarried."
JWMatch.com appears to have quite a following as they state:
...more than 25 000 members have
registered worldwide, almost purely by word-of-mouth recommendation. On the more
technical side, jwmatch.com reach more than 1,3 mio pageviews a month.
jwmatch.com does not actively advertise in newsletters, magazines, or on other
websites. It's hard to find this site by search engines without entering exact
What To Expect in the Future
Although one might think that the best solution for Jehovah's Witnesses is to have online dating and singles interaction supervised by elders in good standing, my guess is that that will never happen. When you understand that Witnesses are ENCOURAGED to turn each other in for various sins, including unchaperoned dating by younger ones, one-night stands and pedophile activity, most Witnesses are aware that the elders would be VERY nosey about all that is going on. Most people who join online dating services presumably would want the most privacy possible, while appearing to the outsider to be in "good standing." There are MANY horror stories where elders have hid in the bushes looking for evidence in the yard of one of their members, or tapping phones, peeping, private investigations, and so forth. Likely, most Witnesses who join such services are playing on the outer edge of their faith, perhaps inviting "trouble" with their local congregation. However, given the current state of affairs in the Watchtower organization (low meeting attendance and declining numbers in many Western countries), such services are likely to grow. Since they are not actually operated by Witnesses under any supervision of the Watchtower, they are not accountable to the elders. This, for many Witnesses, may very well be the greatest attraction to such sites.
Related News Items:
Faith in love
Kansas City Star, MO -
... are the same. Now years ago, when I tried to go out with a Jehovah�s Witness, it was a totally different story. Were your beliefs ...
Q.Under what circumstances would you date someone of another faith?
The Bible tells us not to be yoked together with nonbelievers, so if it�s someone that doesn�t have the same faith that you have � they don�t have to have the same denomination. I�m Baptist, but I would go out with a Methodist because the basic principles are the same. Now years ago, when I tried to go out with a Jehovah�s Witness, it was a totally different story.
Q.Were your beliefs so different that you couldn�t make it work?
He didn�t share the same spiritual holidays that I did, and his concept of who Christ is was totally different from mine. So often we would go from romance to these debates. That�s why it ended. He�s probably one of the most lovely people I�ve ever met, even to this day. I find the same sincerity in Muslim men or Nation of Islam men. But I know I can�t date them, because they�re not going to convert me and I can�t convert them because they�re strong in their convictions. Which is good.
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