[From ws 12/18 p. 19 – February 18 – February 24]
“He Satisfies you with good things all your life.” — Psalm 103:5
The focus of this week’s article is the youth among the JW ranks. The Organisation sets out what it deems to be Jehovah’s view on how young people can attain happiness. With that in mind let us examine the counsel offered in this week’s article and see how it measures up to Scriptural scrutiny.
Paragraphs 1 opens with the remarks “IF YOU are a young person, you have likely received much advice about your future. Teachers, guidance counselors, or others may have encouraged you to pursue higher education and a lucrative career. Jehovah, however, advises you to take a different course. To be sure, he wants you to work hard while you are at school so that you are able to earn a living after you graduate”.
Most Witnesses would take the statement made in the opening remarks as true. Although many may feel grieved or unhappy about such statements, many Witnesses would not dare to challenge such statements in their own minds, not to mention in open discussions with others.
It appears that the organisation is encouraging young people to ignore any career guidance they receive from teachers or advisors who are not in the Organisation.
When analysing this week’s Watchtower, we should assess whether the Watchtower addresses the following questions:
What is the Bible’s stance on taking guidance or advice from teachers and guidance counsellors on the issues of a secular career or higher education?
Are there any Scriptural examples of we could refer to which could shed light on how Jehovah or Jesus would view education or a secular career?
What scriptural evidence is provided to support the assertion that Jehovah does not want young people to not pursue higher education?
Paragraph 2, on the face of it, appears to offer sound scriptural reasoning.
“THERE IS NO WISDOM . . . IN OPPOSITION TO JEHOVAH”
Paragraph 3 refers to Satan as a “self-appointed adviser”. Interestingly the term is never used to describe Satan in the Bible and particularly would not be used in the context of the conversation that took place between Eve and Satan in the Garden of Eden. The Oxford Dictionary refers to an adviser (also written as advisor) as “A person who gives advice in a particular field”, for example an Investment Advisor. For Satan to be an adviser would imply he had some knowledge or expertise in a particular field or aspect. Satan did not offer Eve advice or guidance, he deceived her or misled her and slandered Jehovah.
Why would the Organisation use the term “self-appointed adviser” when referring to Satan? Could it be that the organisation is drawing a comparison between the advice provided by counsellors and teachers at school to the “advice” offered by Satan to Adam and Eve?
JEHOVAH SATISFIES YOUR SPIRITUAL NEED
Paragraph 6 starts out with the scriptural thought that humans have a spiritual need that only our Creator can satisfy. However, the paragraph then claims that God satisfies our spiritual need through “the faithful and discreet slave”.
If one examines the context of Matthew 24:45, it becomes apparent that the parable refers to the slave (the noun) in the singular. In order to apply this scripture in a plural sense to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Organisation sometimes inserts the word “class” in some of its literature or public discourses.
Note that the explanation of who the “Faithful and Discreet Slave” was changed in the fourth article of the July 15, 2013 Watchtower. Note the points below which that watchtower introduced:
- The Apostles were not part of the Faithful and Discreet slave
- The slave was appointed to feed the domestics in 1919 (even though they did not realize it until 2013! ).
- The slave is comprised of prominent qualified men at headquarters when they act together as the Governing Body of Jehovah’s witnesses.
- The slave beaten with many strokes and the slave beaten with few are completely ignored
Point 4 above makes the conclusion that the Governing Body is the Faithful and Discreet Slave, incongruent with the account at Luke 12 particularly the points brought out in verses 46 – 48.
The explanation provided by the Organisation of the Faithful and Discreet slave is incomplete without the explanation of verse 46 – 48.
Paragraph 8 makes another bold assertion, citing Habakkuk Chapter 3 out of context “Soon, every part of Satan’s world will come crashing down, and Jehovah will be our only security. Indeed, the time may come when we will depend on him for our very next meal!” – This is called fear mongering. The aim is to win the minds of the audience over through fear and not through proper reasoning. Jesus said that no one knows “The Day” except the father (Matthew 24:36). As Christians, we need not be concerned about when the end will come. Our focus should be serving God in Spirit and truth. Our choices with regards to our career or what we do with our lives should be motivated by the Love of Jehovah and Love of neighbour (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus said if we based our decisions on those two commandments, we would have fulfilled the law.
JEHOVAH GIVES YOU THE VERY BEST KIND OF FRIENDS
Paragraph 9: “When you first meet someone who is not in the truth, what do you know about that person? Other than his name and physical appearance, probably very little. That is not the case when you first meet someone who knows and loves Jehovah. Even if that person is from a different background, country, tribe, or culture, you already know much about him—and he about you!”
The statement is logically flawed. To illustrate, imagine two people from different towns and different high schools begin to attend the same University. The two (John and Matthew) have been taught the same academic curriculum, used the same textbooks and have been taught the same methods of solving complex problems and suppose that even the religious education received by the two students is identical. Also, assume that the people who oversee the high school curriculum and approve the textbooks are the same people for both of the students.
When the students meet on the first day of University, it is likely that they may have a few things in common. They share the same principles, the same religious beliefs and may even follow the same approach in solving problems. Suppose that there is a third student (Luke) who grew up in the same neighbourhood and had similar childhood experiences as one of the other students (Matthew) but was taught a completely different curriculum and religion.
Could you say for sure that John would know more about Matthew than Luke would?
In some respects, yes, particularly in relation to Matthew’s education and religion. However, you would equally say that Luke would know more about Matthew’s childhood experiences and background than John would. Matthew and Luke may even like the same type of food or clothing.
Now, switch the high school curriculum and religious teachings of John and Matthew for JW Doctrine. Say that John and Matthew are both Jehovah’s Witnesses. Switch the people who oversee the curriculum with the Governing Body and assume Luke is a non-Witness.
Does the statement still make sense?
Simply being taught the same doctrine and approach to dealing with life’s complex issues does not mean you know more about a stranger than what someone else would know. It depends on the prevailing circumstances.
Note that there is very little scriptural support provided for the statements made by the writer in paragraph 9 – 11. This is an attempt by the Organisation to create a false sense of community among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
JEHOVAH GIVES YOU WORTHWHILE GOALS
The Goals mentioned in paragraphs 12 are fine goals for all of us as people who profess to be Christian to pursue. We need to make it our goal to read the Bible as often as possible.
There is even some truth in this statement made in paragraph 13 “a life marked by secular ambitions and pursuits—even if these seem very successful—is ultimately a life of futility”. If we make the pursuit of material things and a secular career the primary objective in our lives, to the exclusion of our spiritual and emotional needs, we may find life less fulfilling. In much the same way, we would feel less fulfilled if we only ate ice cream or dessert for breakfast, lunch, and supper every day. Jesus in Matthew 6:33 said we should “seek first the Kingdom of God”, he did not say seek only the Kingdom. Jesus knew that to have a truly fulfilling life a good balance was needed.
The Organisation wants Witnesses to believe that there are only two choices any Christian can make. The first choice, which they claim is acceptable to God, is to dedicate all your time in pursuit of Organisational objectives such as building Kingdom Halls, working at the various JW headquarters around the world or spending at least 70 hours or more preaching JW doctrine. The other choice is to choose to pursue higher education or a career in this world and eventually leads to an unfulfilling life that is disapproved by God. For many witnesses who have pursued higher education this has not proved to be true. One can pursue higher education and still pursue spiritual goals. Of course, much depends on whether we equate spirituality to Organisational objectives or to what the scriptures teach us about what it means to be a true Christian.
GOD GIVES YOU TRUE FREEDOM
Paragraph 16 “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom,” wrote Paul. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Yes, Jehovah loves freedom, and he put that love in your heart.” Considering the preceding paragraphs and the Organisation’s general approach to dictating what choices its members should make, it is ironic that the Organisation quotes Paul’s words. The context is completely ignored, and the verse is used to support the Organisational agenda. When you have time read all 18 verses in 2 Corinthians 3 to understand what the true meaning of the quoted words is. In reality, the Organisation has very little tolerance for those who do not unquestioningly follow its directive. If the Organisation was truly a place of freedom it would not sanction those who sought clarity on doctrinal issues which appear to be in contradiction to what the Bible teaches.
Now let us attempt to answer the questions that we raised at the beginning of this review.
What is the Bible’s stance on taking guidance or advice from teachers and guidance counsellors on the issues of a circular career or higher education?
The Bible does not explicitly state Jehovah’s view on taking advice from teachers or guidance counsellors. However, the following scriptures a useful in weighing up any form of advice:
Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.” – King James Bible
Proverbs 15:22 – “Get all the advice you can, and you will succeed; without it you will fail” – Good News Translation
Romans 14: 1 – “Welcome the man having weaknesses in his faith, but do not pass judgment on differing opinions.” – New World Translation
Romans 14: 4-5 – “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand. One man judges one day as above another; another judges one day the same as all others; let each one be fully convinced in his own mind” [bold ours] – New World Translation
Matthew 6:33 – “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you” – New World Translation
- From the scriptures above it appears there is wisdom in consulting widely when it comes to important matters such as career and education.
- Where there is no clear breach of scriptural requirements each Christian should make up their own mind with regards to personal decisions and not judge others for coming to different conclusions
- In all we do, we should always seek first God’s kingdom.
Are there any Scriptural examples of we could refer to which could shed light on how Jehovah or Jesus would view education or a circular career?
Acts 7:22-23 – “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. In fact, he was powerful in his words and deeds. “Now when he reached the age of 40, it came into his heart to make a visit on his brothers, the sons of Israel. When he caught sight of one of them being unjustly treated, he defended him and avenged the one being abused by striking down the Egyptian” – New World Translation
Daniel 1:3-5 – “Then the king ordered Ashʹpe·naz his chief court official to bring some of the Israelites, including those of royal and noble descent. They were to be youths without any defect, of good appearance, endowed with wisdom, knowledge, and discernment, and capable of serving in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the writing and the language of the Chal·deʹans. Furthermore, the king assigned to them a daily ration from the king’s delicacies and from the wine he drank. They were to be trained for three years, and at the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. Now among them were some from the tribe of Judah: Daniel, Han·a·niʹah, Mishʹa·el, and Az·a·riʹah” – New World Translation
Acts 22:3 – “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Ci·liʹcia, but educated in this city at the feet of Ga·maʹli·el, instructed according to the strictness of the ancestral Law, and zealous for God just as all of you are this day.” – New World Translation
Moses, Daniel, Han·a·niʹah, Mishʹa·el, Az·a·riʹah and Paul where all educated secularly.
Note the following:
- They were educated at different times in human history and under different human rulers and therefore the education they received would have been vastly different.
- Their education and secular careers did not prevent Jehovah or Jesus from using them to achieve his service.
- They were loyal servants or Jehovah until the end of their lives.
- Ultimately, it was not their education and careers that mattered to Jehovah, but their heart condition.
What scriptural evidence is provided to support the assertion that Jehovah does not young people to not pursue higher education?
The answer to this question is simple.
This article has failed to show young people how they can find true happiness in serving God.
In Matthew 5 Jesus provided us with a comprehensive list of principles, which would lead all his servants to living happy lives. An in-depth study of this chapter will provide young people with practical ways in which they can lead happy lives as young Christians and avoid the pitfalls of being taken captive by the philosophies of men.