Here are questions we get asked all the time:
- Can a Jehovah's Witness be friends with people of other faiths?
- Can Jehovah's Witnesses be friends with non-believers?
- Can a Jehovah's Witness be friends with me if I don't go to their church?
To answer these questions, we need more information from you. What is the background and situation of the Jehovah's Witness you're referring to? Find out if you don't already know. Here are some possibilities.
Some claim to be Jehovah's Witnesses but they are not. They may not have attended a meeting in years but in order to maintain friendships with people inside the organization, they claim to be a member and believe in all the rules.
Still others are said to be 'spiritually weak'. That means they go to meetings once in a while. They claim to be loyal to the organization but they are not heavily involved in the religion.
Other Jehovah's Witnesses are extremely loyal to the organization. They attend every meeting. They go door to door several hours every month and do everything that's required.
Interestingly many disfellowshipped, disassociated, and excommunicated members support the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses. Some hope to return to the organization some day. Others will never return but they believe the Watchtower is the best religion out of all of them. These people are actively looking for friendship with non believers because Jehovah's Witnesses shun and avoid them.
Jehovah's Witnesses are liked because they are friendly and likeable. There are always exceptions to the rule of course. But generally speaking, Jehovah's Witnesses are known for being friendly, peaceful, and respectful.
Most outsiders don't understand why Jehovah's Witnesses are so friendly with non believers. Here's why.
- It's required by Jesus to love your neighbor
- They are constantly looking to recruit outsiders into their faith
- They are required to report time 'witnessing' to non believers
Spiritually strong Jehovah's Witnesses are expected to recruit new members (or at least try). So there is a need to be friendly and outgoing with people outside their religion. Some outsiders mistake this friendliness as an attempt to make friends.
Zealous Jehovah's Witnesses always seek out close friends with other Jehovah's Witnesses. They don't have much in common with people outside their religion.
Also they generally don't have the time to hang out with people outside their faith. In addition to working for a living, Jehovah's Witnesses are required to attend five meetings a week, prepare for them, read all their literature, and go door to door preaching the good news.
Friendship With Co-Workers.
The Watchtower says, 'there is a clear difference between being friendly toward a workmate and being that one’s close companion. Here is where another Scriptural principle enters the picture. The apostle Paul warned Christians: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.”, WT, May 1, 2007, Article: 'Let God’s Word Guide Your Steps', par 9
Friendship With Non Believers.
It is believed that friendship with non believers can lead to apostasy. In other words if a Jehovah's Witness associates with non believers their faith may be compromised. They may start to question what the Watchtower teaches. They may be tempted to do things they believe are wrong. This may weaken their faith.
That's one reason why they choose close friends within the organization instead of people who go to other churches.
I Can't Be Your Friend.
The religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, discourages them from associating with anyone outside their religion. Here's why.
Their religion is referred to as 'God's organization'. They refer to each other as being 'in the truth'. Everyone else is referred to as being 'out of the truth'.
Jehovah's Witnesses are 'no part of this world'. Jesus said, 'If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.' John 15:19 NIV
Everyone outside their organization belongs 'to the world'. All non believers are said to be 'worldly persons'. It doesn't matter if you believe in Jesus or not.
Are you a Christian? Do you go to church? Jehovah's Witnesses believe that all religions, whether they are Christian or not, are 'false religions'. God's only organization and channel of communication is thought to be their religion.
If you don't agree with everything the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses tells you is 'the truth' and you're not a Jehovah's Witness, you are labeled a 'worldly person'.
Jehovah's Witnesses are separate from the world. They believe the entire world outside of their organization is 'dominated' by Satan the Devil. Watchtower Sept 1989
Yes Jehovah's Witnesses admit that Satan tempts them all the time as well, but it is thought that Jehovah God guides their organization and Satan guides everyone else. With such a belief system, most Jehovah's Witnesses are afraid of having close friends with non believers.
That being said, some Jehovah's Witnesses are not that strong in their beliefs. They may not agree with many teachings of their religion, yet publicly they will not disagree. They may not even tell loved ones about their doubts, out of fear that someone could turn them in.
Some Jehovah's Witnesses who rarely go to meetings, may prefer to associate with non believers, rather than fellow Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course they need to be cautious. They could get disfellowshipped (excommunicated) and shunned if they speak out against the organization or get caught breaking the rules.
There are millions of people who claim to be JW's but they are not active. So the question to ask is, 'are you an active JW?' If they're not active they might be open to having close friends outside of their religion. Inactive JW's never go door to door and some may not attend regular congregation meetings. e.g. In 2011, throughout the world, 19,374,737 persons attended their big annual Memorial Celebration, but there are were only 7,395,672 active JW's. See Watchtower Facts
Remember. Being 'friendly' is not the same thing as wanting to be your friend. If a Jehovah's Witness goes to all meetings and preaches door to door, they are being friendly. They do not seek out close friends with non believers.
Active Jehovah's Witnesses in good standing with their religion must associate only with believers. The Watchtower says, 'What does this account teach us? That we simply cannot socialize with unbelievers and hope to suffer no ill consequences. The Scriptures state that “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) On the other hand, association with people who share your beliefs, your high moral standards, and your love for Jehovah is a safeguard. Such good association will encourage you to act wisely.—Prov. 13:20.' Watchtower magazine, June 15, 2010, Article: 'Finding Security Among God's People', par 15
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Aug 9, 2011. Excellent article, Thank You..... has answered so many questions for me, \"being friendly is not the same thing as wanting to be friends\" a hard lesson learned with some tears along the way... Again Thank You
Here is a personal story of friendship with a Jehovah's Witness