“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men.”—LUKE 2:52
[Study 44 from ws 10/20 p.26 December 28 – January 03, 2021]
This is actually an important question for all parents. All Christians want their children to grow up with a belief in God and faith in Jesus Christ. It is also a serious subject and should be treated as such.
Why then, does the study article at the start of paragraph 5 say, “Note that Jehovah did not choose wealthy parents for Jesus.”? Of what relevance is this statement to the subject of the article? Or are the Organization trying to imply that having “wealthy parents” or parents who are not poor, will be less successful or less capable of bringing up their children to serve God?
The study article then indulges in supposition and speculation to emphasize that Joseph and Mary were poor. True, we know they were poor at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:24). They cite this scripture. But then they go on to say, “Joseph may have had a small shop next to his home in Nazareth” (Bold added). If he was so poor all his life as they seem to want to implicate, maybe he did not have a small shop as he could not afford to build one! The article then claims, “Their family must have been simple, especially as the family grew in size to include at least seven children”. At least here the Organization is making a reasonable assumption, but the reality is, we really do not know. Hence, and note this is an assumption based on typical life, if Joseph was in his early 20’s when he married Mary and Jesus was born, he would likely not have been an established carpenter. As he grew older, he could have become well known and highly skilled and highly sought after, with a good income, which actually enabled him to support a family of 7. In fact, we could reason or conjecture further, that if Joseph was a good father, would he have brought 7 children into the world that he could not support properly? The fact of the matter is we simply do not know, and in particular, the speculation in the study article is poorly thought out, which makes one wonder about what the Organization’s intentions are in making that statement. Could it be to suggest that being Jehovah’s Witnesses you should accept and will likely be poor?
Paragraph 6 indulges in more speculation, again, nothing to do with helping children or Jesus grow up to serve God. It says about the loss of his father Joseph “Such a loss may have meant that Jesus, the oldest son, had to take over the family business.” (bold ours) citing Mark 6:3 in support of this. All that Mark 6:3 tells us is that Jesus was a carpenter, nothing else.
Paragraph 7 at least contains good food for thought:
“If you are a married couple and would like to have children, ask yourselves: ‘Are we the kind of humble, spiritually-minded people whom Jehovah would choose to care for a precious new life?’ (Ps. 127:3, 4) If you are already a parent, ask yourself: ‘Am I teaching my children the value of hard work?’ (Eccl. 3:12, 13) ‘Do I do my best to protect my children from the physical and moral dangers that they may encounter in Satan’s world?’ (Prov. 22:3) You cannot shield your children from all the challenges they may face. That is an impossible task. But you can progressively and lovingly prepare them for the realities of life by teaching them how to turn to God’s Word for advice. (Read Proverbs 2:1-6.) For example, if a relative chooses to reject true worship, help your children to learn from God’s Word why it is so important to remain loyal to Jehovah. (Ps. 31:23) Or if death claims a loved one, show your children how to use God’s Word to cope with grief and to find peace. 2 Cor. 1:3, 4; 2 Tim. 3:16.”
In relation to the question “Do I do my best to protect my children from the physical and moral dangers that they may encounter in Satan’s world?’” you should also ask the question, Do I teach my children how to reject any attempts to molest them, whether from a parent, stepparent, or anyone they know in the congregation, even if an elder or other appointed person, or at school? In fact, if your child has two loving, God-fearing parents, and both parents love one another, the associations where it will face the biggest risk of exposure to a pedophile will be within the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why? Because of the secrecy that is put around such accusations, and the time spent within the company of fellow congregants, and the opportunities certain activities provide for pedophiles to groom your child, such as working alone with your child in field service. Sadly, it is the case these days, that you should never allow your child to be alone with a congregation member where they are out of your sight and potentially out of your hearing. Otherwise, they could be groomed without your knowledge. Just because the person is an elder, ministerial servant, pioneer, or circuit overseer, and thought to be spiritually minded is no guarantee as many over the years have found out to the detriment of themselves and their children.
The suppositions about Jesus’ childhood continue in paragraph 9. It claims, “Joseph and Mary chose to maintain a good spiritual routine as a family.” While we certainly hope so, and Jesus clearly had been taught the scriptures well, we have no evidence for or against that claim, nor for that matter the claim that follows, which conjectures, “No doubt, they attended weekly meetings at the synagogue in Nazareth, …“. In fact, the knowledge of how synagogues functioned back in the first century AD is patchy and incomplete, and often speculation.[i] Did they meet weekly and what was the format of those gatherings? We simply cannot be sure.
Is the reason for that speculation to keep up psychological pressure on the brothers and sisters at a time when attendance is dropping? You might be tempted to think that is the case!
Paragraph 10 then tells its readers that “one of the most valuable lessons that you can teach them is how to keep a good spiritual routine of study, prayer, meetings and participation in the ministry.” That is based on a number of big suppositions, such as:
- that one studies the Bible, rather than man-made publications,
- that the material presented at the meetings do not teach falsehoods and twist what the Bible teaches and
- that as a result one is able to teach and preach truth to others.
Probably the most valuable lesson you can teach yourself and your children is the example of the Beroeans, contained in the following scripture Acts 17:11 which tells us, “Now the latter [Jews in the Beroean Synagogue] were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.” The Apostle Paul was not offended by these Beroean Jews, but rather he commended them for being diligent in testing if what he preached to them was in fact true. How unlike the Governing Body and elders of today, who are more likely to shun you, or accuse you of apostasy, and lacking faith in God’s appointment of them and the Organization.
Yet again, no allowance is made for the Covid-19 global pandemic in the article which was well underway by the time the Watchtower article was likely written. (Even if it was written before the pandemic, it should have been revised to ensure it was still relevant). Paragraph 11 suggests visiting a Bethel home together as a family, supporting theocratic construction projects, preaching in a seldom-worked territory. It follows up by stating that “Families who choose these activities must make financial sacrifices, and they likely will face some challenges.”. In these times of the pandemic, many have lost or are losing their jobs. Yet here, they are being asked to make financial sacrifices above and beyond those they are already facing due to the pandemic.
The sad fact is that the vast majority of Witnesses are in the lower-paid service jobs that are the first casualty of any economic downturn, whether window cleaning, office cleaning, shop work, or part-time work. They will also typically, therefore, have little or no savings put away to help them through these difficult times. When jobs do become available, because they have little or no qualifications, likewise they will fail to get re-employed or be unemployed for far longer. Do not all those suggestions bear the hallmarks of an uncaring, unloving Organization, only promoting its own interests, under the guise of being God’s interests. At such times they should be reducing the burdens on the brothers and sisters. Yet in the December 2020 monthly broadcast does Anthony Morris III look as if he is sharing their suffering? The only thing he seems to be suffering is carrying around a considerable amount of extra weight.
Paragraph 17 uses Jesus’ example to suggest that under the heading “Decide whom you will serve”, that “Then you will be able to make the most important decision of your life, the decision to serve Jehovah. (Read Joshua 24:15; Ecclesiastes 12:1)”. True, Jesus served Jehovah and carried out his purpose and will for him. The Israelites and Jews served Jehovah (some of the time), because as a nation they had dedicated themselves to Jehovah, but this was not the case with the Christians. The Christians were to be witnesses of Jesus and that he was the means of salvation. The Jews served Jehovah, but most did not accept Christ. Are you as a Witness being put in a similar position without you realizing it? Why did the paragraph not say, “the decision to serve Jehovah and Jesus Christ”? While the study article refers to Jesus as an example, it is only in the context of being a hard worker, caring for family responsibilities, and obeying God. It says nothing about having faith in Jesus and his provision of salvation for mankind through his death and resurrection.
Finally, paragraph 18 gives another slanted interpretation of a scripture, this time 1 Timothy 6:9-10. They claim, “In truth, those who focus on material goals stab themselves ‘all over with many pains’”. Paul wrote to Timothy “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare … For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things … and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” There is a world of difference between those who might temporarily focus on material goals to ensure that for example, they can support their current or future family, and those determined to be rich and who love money. But insidiously the Organization suggests that any concentration on material goals is painful and dangerous when it is far from the case.
Rather the Bible gives a balanced attitude in Proverbs 30:8 when it says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” How much better is the wisdom of Proverbs than the suggestions of the Organization which lead all those heeding the Organization into or close to poverty.
[i] Smith, J. A. “The Ancient Synagogue, the Early Church and Singing.” Music & Letters, vol. 65, no. 1, 1984, page 1. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/736333. Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.