Another thing I can't respect is the blatant manipulation of Biblical text, which, of course, the JW's aren't the only Christians to do so. But one particular manipulation caught my eye recently. In the December 2011 issue of The Watchtower (OK, not that recently), there was an article on page 27 entitled "I Wanted to be Like Jephthah's Daughter." I was stunned!
For those of you not familiar with the story, you'll find it in Judges 11:28-40. It goes like this: Jephthah, with the "Spirit of the Lord" and about to do battle with the Ammonites, promised God that if He would grant him a victory in that battle, he would make a burnt offering sacrifice of the first thing that come out of his home to greet him upon his return. Jephthah won the battle. As he returned home, his only child, his virgin daughter, came dancing out to meet him. Jephthah was devastated to see her. He tore his clothes and wept because of that vow he made to God. His daughter told her father to fulfill his vow, but to give her two months to mourn the fact that she had never married. So he gave her those two months, and then "he did to her as he had vowed."
To me, Jephthah's daughter portrays a pious willingness to fulfill a vow made to God at any cost, even if that cost is your own life. I can understand a sense of the nobility of such an action, even if the act of Jephthah sacrificing his daughter itself represents the epitome of what is wrong with religion. But that's not the angle Joanna Soans, the author of that article, went with. She said:
"As you may have read in the Bible, Jephthah's daughter, when apparently only a teenager, agreed not to marry. This made it possible for her father to fulfill a vow he had made. So she served as a single woman at Jehovah's house, or tabernacle, for the rest of her life."This is such a bastardization of the Scripture, it boggles the mind. Check out Judges 11:31 in the lexicon, where Jephthah makes the promise of a burnt offering. It is the kind of human sacrifice permitted by God's Law in Leviticus 27:28-29.
The JW's aren't alone in this interpretation. Since around the 18th century, a minority of scholars have tried to argue the case being made by the JW's. Yet this just emphasizes the point. This is a relatively modern take, because the modern sensitivities found the idea of sacrificing a child to God as being unsavory to the point of needing to find an alternative interpretation for what stood unquestioned for centuries. This represents the religious scholars trying to adapt their faith to keep it relevant to their own perspectives.