(This video is aimed specifically at Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I will be using the New World Translation all the time unless otherwise stated.)
The term PIMO is of recent origin and was coined by Jehovah’s Witnesses who find themselves being forced to hide their disagreements with JW doctrine and Governing Body policies from the elders (and those who would inform on them) for the sake of avoiding shunning in order to preserve their family relationships. PIMO is an acronym for Physically In, Mentally Out. It describes the state of those who are compelled to attend meetings and pretend to follow the Governing Body directives so that they will not be shunned, which means being treated as those who are spiritually dead. Of course, Jesus never shunned anyone. He ate with sinners and tax collectors, didn’t he? He also told us to love our enemies.
Mentally, and probably spiritually and emotionally too, PIMOs are no longer part of the Organization, but to some degree, outside observers will still view them as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They probably can’t tell the difference, unless they too know what it is like to be a PIMO.
I know of one PIMO who is serving today as a congregation elder, yet who is now an atheist. Isn’t that remarkable?! This video is not for a man like that nor for just anyone who would classify themselves as a PIMO. For example, there are those who remain in the Organization to some degree, but who have lost all faith in God and have turned agnostic or atheist. Again, this video is not directed to them. They have left the faith. There are others too who want to leave the organization and live life any way they wish, free of any restrictions from God or men, but who still wish to preserve their relationship with family and friends. This video is not meant for them either. The PIMOs I’m making this video for are those who continue to worship Jehovah as their Heavenly father and who view Jesus as their savior and leader. These PIMOs recognize Jesus, and not men, as the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6
Is there a way for such ones to leave JW.org without suffering the loss of family and friends?
Let’s be brutally honest here. The only way to preserve your relationship with all your family and friends when you no longer believe the doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses is to lead a double life. You have to pretend to be fully in, like the atheist elder I just mentioned. But living a lie is wrong on so many levels. There is real danger to your mental and emotional health. That kind of duplicity is bound to corrupt the soul and the stress of it could even make you physically sick. Most of all is the damage you will do to your relationship with Jehovah God. For instance, how can you continue to engage in the preaching work knowing that you are selling faith in a religion based on lies? How can you encourage people to join a religion you earnestly wish to leave? Wouldn’t that make you a hypocrite? What harm will you be doing to your hope of salvation? The Bible is pretty clear on this:
“But as for the cowards and those without faith…and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This means the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
“Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone liking and carrying on a lie.’” (Revelation 22:15)
The religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses has become a mind-controlling cult. It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when there was no official policy to disfellowship someone even for gross sin. When I was a young man, we could openly disagree with policies and even some Bible understandings without fear that the “thought police” would descend upon us with threats of excommunication. Even when disfellowshipping was introduced in 1952, it didn’t result in the total shunning that is now a requirement of the process. Things have definitely changed. Nowadays, you don’t even have to be officially disfellowshipped to be shunned.
There is now what has been termed, “soft shunning.” This is the quiet, unofficial process of distancing oneself from anyone suspected of “not being fully in”; that is, not fully committed to the Organization. In any mind-controlling cult, it is not enough to refrain from criticizing the leadership. A member has to demonstrate overt support at every opportunity. You need look no further than the content of congregation prayers for evidence of this. When I was growing up in the Organization, I don’t ever recall hearing prayers where the brother praised the Governing Body and thanked Jehovah God for their presence and guidance. Yikes! But now it is common to hear such prayers.
In a field service car group, if anything positive is said about the Organization, you have to speak up and agree, adding your own praise. To remain silent is to condemn. Your fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses have been conditioned to sense something is wrong, and they will react by quickly distancing themselves from you and talking behind your back to spread the word that something is wrong with you. They will inform on you at the first opportunity.
Sure, you may think you are still in, but you are definitely being handed your hat.
Breaking free is no easy thing. The process of waking up to the reality of the Organization can take months and even years. Our Heavenly Father is tolerant, knowing that we are flesh and need time to process things, to work things out so as to make an informed and wise decision. But at some point, a decision has to be made. What can we learn from Scripture to guide us to the best course of action for our individual circumstances?
Perhaps we could start by taking a look at one who was arguably the very first PIMO within the Christian community:
“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.” (John 19:38)
The apostle John, writing decades after the destruction of Jerusalem and surely long after Joseph of Arimathea had died, spoke only of that man’s role in preparing Christ’s body for burial. Rather than praising him, he focused on the fact he was a secret disciple who kept his belief in Jesus as the Messiah hidden because he was afraid of the Jewish Governing Body.
The other three gospel writers who wrote prior to the destruction of Jerusalem make no mention of this. Instead, they highly praise Joseph. Matthew says he was a rich man “who had also become a disciple of Jesus.” (Matthew 27:57) Mark says he was “a reputable member of the Council, who also himself was waiting for the Kingdom of God” and that he “took courage and went in before Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.” (Mark 15:43) Luke tells us that he “was a member of the Council, who was a good and righteous man”, one who had “not voted in support of their scheme and action.” (Luke 23:50-52)
In contrast with the other three gospel writers, John doesn’t heap any praise on Joseph of Arimathea. He doesn’t speak of his courage, nor his goodness and righteousness, but only of his fear of the Jews and the fact that he kept his discipleship hidden. In the next verse, John speaks of another man who believed in Jesus, but also kept it hidden. “He [Joseph of Arimathea] was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes , about seventy-five pounds.” (John 19:39)
Nicodemus’ gift of myrrh and aloes was generous, but then again, he was also a rich man. Though mentioning the gift, Luke pointedly tells us that Nicodemus came at night. Back then there were no street lights, so nighttime was a great time to travel if you wanted to keep your activities secret.
Only John names Nicodemus, though it is possible that he was the unnamed “rich young ruler” who asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit everlasting life. You can find the account at Matthew 19:16-26 as well as Luke 18:18-30. That ruler left Jesus saddened because he had many possessions and was unwilling to give them up to become a full-time follower of Jesus.
Now both Joseph and Nicodemus did a service to Jesus by wrapping his body according to Jewish custom and preparing it for burial with an abundance of expensive aromatic spices, but John seems more inclined to focus on the fact that neither man chose to reveal his faith openly. Both these men were rich and had a privileged station in life, and both were loathe to lose that status. Apparently, that type of attitude didn’t sit well with John, the last of the Apostles. Remember that John and his brother James were bold and fearless. Jesus called them “Sons of Thunder.” It was they who wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven upon a village of Samaritans who had not received Jesus hospitably. (Luke 9:54)
Was John being too harsh on these two men? Was he expecting more than it was reasonable for them to give? After all, had they openly declared their faith in Jesus, they would have been thrown out of the ruling council and expelled (disfellowshipped) from the synagogue, and had to endure the ostracism that went with being one of Jesus’ disciples. They would likely have lost their wealth. In other words, they were unwilling to give up what was precious to them, holding on to it rather than openly confessing Jesus as the Christ.
Many PIMOs today find themselves in a similar situation.
It all boils down to a simple question: What do you want most? This is an either/or situation. Do you want to preserve your lifestyle? Do you want to avoid the loss of family above all else? Perhaps you’re afraid of losing your spouse who has threated to leave you if you continue on your course.
That is on the one hand, the “either” side. On the other hand, the “or”, will you put faith in God, faith that He will keep the promise made to us through his son? I refer to this one:
“Peter began to say to him: “Look! We have left all things and followed you.” Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, no one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get 100 times more now in this period of time—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the coming system of things, everlasting life.”” (Mark 10:28-30)
“Then Peter said in reply: “Look! We have left all things and followed you; what, then, will there be for us?” Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you, in the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:27-29)
“But Peter said: “Look! We have left what was ours and followed you.” He said to them: “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God who will not get many times more in this period of time, and in the coming system of things, everlasting life.”” (Luke 18:28-30)
So there you have the promise given to you by three separate witnesses. If you are willing to suffer the loss of all you hold to be precious, you will assure yourselves of far more than you have lost in this system of things, and while you will also suffer persecution, you will attain to the prize of everlasting life. I can attest to the truth of this. I lost everything. All my friends, many going back decades—40 and 50 years. They pretty much all abandoned me. My late wife stuck with me, though. She was a true child of God, but I know that is more the exception than the rule. I lost my status, my reputation within the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many people I thought were my friends. On the other hand, I have found real friends, people who were willing to give up everything to hold on to truth. Those are the kind of people I know I can count on in a crisis. Truly, I have found a wealth of friends on whom I know I can count in times of trouble. Jesus words have come true.
Again, what is it we truly want? A comfortable life within a community we’ve known for decades, perhaps since birth as was my case? That comfort is an illusion, one that is wearing thinner and thinner as time passes. Or do we want to secure a place in the Kingdom of God?
Jesus tells us:
“Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens. Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:32-39)
Jesus didn’t come to bring us a comfortable, peaceful life. He came to cause division. He tells us that if we want him to stand up for us before God, we have to acknowledge him before men. Our Lord Jesus does not make this requirement of us because he is egotistical. This is a loving requirement. How can something that brings division and persecution be considered as a loving provision?
In fact, it is just that, and in three different ways.
First, this requirement to openly confess Jesus as Lord benefits you personally. By openly acknowledging Jesus Christ before your friends and family, you are exercising your faith. This is the case because you know you’re going to suffer tribulation and persecution as a result, yet you fearlessly do it anyways.
“For though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing weight and is everlasting; while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18)
Who would not want such everlasting glory? But fear can keep us from reaching out for that glory. In some ways, fear is the opposite of love.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts fear out, because fear restrains us. Indeed, the one who is fearful has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
When we face our fear and proclaim our faith before men, specifically before family and friends, we overcome our fear by replacing it with love. This results in true freedom.
The purpose of organized religion is to exercise control over people, to rule over the flock. When men mislead people with lies, they depend on the gullibility of their flock to naïvely accept what they are told without checking the facts. When they begin to investigate and question, these false leaders become afraid and use another tool to maintain their control: fear of punishment. In this, the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses excels among modern Christian churches. Through years of carefully contrived indoctrination, they have managed to convince the entire flock to cooperate in punishing anyone who speaks out. The flock collaborates because its members have been conditioned to believe they are engaging in a loving provision of Jehovah God to shun any dissenter. Fear of being shunned exercises a restraint and keeps the Governing Body in power. By giving in to this fear, by being afraid to suffer the consequences of being shunned, many PIMOs remain silent and so the Governing Body wins, at least in the short term.
There is a second way in which the requirement to confess Jesus publicly proves to be a loving provision. It allows us to show our love for our fellow Christians, both family and friends.
I began to wake up about 10 years ago. I only wish that 20 or 30 years ago someone had come to me with the scriptural evidence I now possess proving that the core doctrines of my former religion were false, or are false, and completely unscriptural. Imagine, if someone were to come to me today, a former friend from long ago, and reveal to me that he knew all these things back 20 or 30 years ago but was afraid to tell me about them. I can assure you that I would be very upset and disappointed that he hadn’t had enough love for me to give me that warning back then. Whether or not I would have accepted it, I cannot say. I’d like to think I would have, but even if I hadn’t and had shunned that friend, that would be on me. I would not be able to find fault with him now, because he had demonstrated the courage to risk his own well-being to warn me.
I think it’s very safe to say that if you start to speak out about the truths you have learned, the vast majority of your friends and family will shun you. But two things are possible. One of those friends or family members, maybe more, may respond and you will have gained them. Think on this verse:
“My brothers, if anyone among YOU is misled from the truth and another turns him back, know that he who turns a sinner back from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19, 20)
But even if no one listens to you, you will have protected yourself. Because at some point in the future, all the misdeeds of the Organization will be revealed along with the sins of all the other churches.
“I tell you that men will render an account on Judgment Day for every unprofitable saying that they speak; for by your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned.”” (Matthew 12:36, 37)
When that day comes, do you want your spouse, your children, your father or mother, or your close friends to turn to you and say, “You knew! Why didn’t you warn us about this?” I don’t think so.
Some will find reason not to openly declare their faith in Jesus. They might claim that speaking out will destroy their family. They might even believe that elderly parents might die because of having a weak heart. Each one must make his or her own decision, but the guiding principle is love. We are not primarily concerned with life now, but with ensuring the eternal life and welfare of all our family and friends and everyone else for that matter. On one occasion, one of Jesus’ disciples expressed concern for family. Notice how Jesus replied:
“Then another of the disciples said to him: “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him: “Keep following me, and let the dead bury their dead.”” (Matthew 8:21, 22)
To one without faith, that may seem harsh, even cruel, but faith tells us that the loving thing is to reach out for eternal life, not just for oneself, but for all.
The third way in which fulfilling the requirement to preach and confess the Lord is loving in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that it may encourage others to do the same thing and help those still sleeping in indoctrination to wake up. There are many Jehovah’s Witnesses who are troubled by the changes in the Organization, especially regarding the emphasis on obedience to men. Others are aware of the child sexual abuse scandal which seems to be growing steadily and will not go away. Some have become aware of the doctrinal failings of the Organization, while others are being greatly troubled by the abuse they’ve experienced at the hands of self-important elders.
Despite all this, many are caught in a kind of mental inertia, afraid to take the leap because they see no alternative. However, were all those who consider themselves to be PIMO to stand up and be counted, it might create a groundswell which cannot be ignored. It might give courage to others to take similar steps. The power of the Organization over people is the fear of being shunned, and if that fear is taken away because the rank-and-file refuses to cooperate, then the power of the Governing Body to control the lives of others evaporates.
I’m not suggesting that this is an easy course of action. Quite the contrary. It may be the most difficult test you will ever face in your life. Our Lord Jesus made it very clear that a requirement of all those who will follow him is to face the same type of shame and tribulation that he faced. Recall that he went through all that so that he could learn obedience and be made perfect.
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. And after he had been made perfect, he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him, because he has been designated by God a high priest in the manner of Mel·chizʹe·dek.” (Hebrews 5:8-10)
The same goes for us. If it is our desire to serve with Jesus as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God, can we expect anything less for ourselves than our Lord suffered on our behalf? He told us:
“And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:32-39)
The New World Translation uses torture stake while most of the other Bible translations refer to it as a cross. The instrument of torture and death is not really relevant. What is relevant is what it represented in those days. Anyone who died nailed to a cross or stake, first suffered complete public humiliation and the loss of everything. Friends and family would disown that person shunning them publicly. The person was stripped of all his wealth and even his outer garments. Finally, he was forced to parade before all onlookers in a shameful procession carrying the instrument of his execution. What a horrible, shameful, and painful way to die. By referring to “his torture stake” or “his cross”, Jesus is telling us that if we are not prepared to suffer shame for his name sake, then we are not worthy of his name.
Opposers will heap shame, reproach, and lying gossip upon you. You need to take it all in as if mattered to you not at all. Do you care about yesterday’s garbage that you left on the roadside for collection? You should care about the slander of others even less. Indeed, you look forward with joy to the prize our Father is holding out to us. We are told by God:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)
If you are a PIMO, please know that I am not telling you what you must do. I’m sharing the words of our Lord, but the decision is yours since you must live with the consequences. It all boils down to what you want. If you seek the approval of our leader, Christ Jesus, you must make your decision based on love. Your love of God is your first love, but intertwined with that, is your love for your family and friends. What course of action best serves to benefit them eternally?
Some have decided to talk with their family and friends to discuss the things they have learned with the hope of convincing them of the truth. That will inevitably lead to the elders contacting you with charges of apostasy.
Others have chosen to write a letter to renounce their membership in the Organization. If you do that, you might want to consider first sending letters or emails to all your relatives and friends explaining in detail your decision so that you have one last chance to reach them before the steel door of shunning slams down.
Others choose not to write a letter at all, and refuse to meet with the elders, viewing either action as an acknowledgement that those men still hold some authority over them, which they do not.
Still others choose a waiting game and a slow fadeaway in hopes of preserving family relationships.
You have the facts before you and you know your own situation. The direction from Scripture is clear, but it is up to each one to implement it as best fits his or her own situation, being guided as always by the overriding principle of love of God and of one’s fellow human, particularly those called to be children of God by their faith in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:26).
I hope this video has been helpful. Please know that there is a growing community of faithful Christians going through the same tests and tribulations you are facing, but who also recognize what it means to be in Christ as the only means to be reconciled to Jehovah God.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 BSB)
If you would like to join us online, remember that our meeting schedule is available at this link, [https://beroeans.net/events/] which I will also put in the description of this video. Our meetings are simple bible studies where we read from Scripture, then invite all to comment freely.
Thank you all for your support.