Reprint from The Witchtower, 09/2010
“They did not leave children behind, but died.” – Luke 20:31.
Even back in Biblical times, women bore children. (Genesis 4:1, 17, 18, 20; 5:3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 19, 21, 25, 28, 32) But only because something is widespread, it must not necessarily be right. What does the Bible say about the question whether women should bear children? And if someone has children, how should he bring them up?
Evidence suggests bearing children is acceptable to God. After all, he himself instructed Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and become many.” (Genesis 1:28) This is a divine commandment. Some Christians even believe that everyone who is capable is obliged to follow this instruction, even if he is not married.
Who Are Qualified as Mothers?
Granted, “fornication can … result in an unwanted pregnancy.” (The Watchtower, October 1, 1971, page 594) But considering the command from Genesis 1:28, it would indeed be a sin not to want pregnancy. According to a Xinhua report from 1997, “most youths use contraceptives.” Such “fornicators … will [not] inherit God’s kingdom.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
The apostle Paul who warned about this form of fornication knew that increase is important for the congregation’s existence. That’s why he wrote: “Therefore I desire the younger widows … to bear children.” (1 Timothy 5:14) To the present day, the lion’s share of the worldwide increase is produced in this way.
Family Life That Tires the Heart
God instructed Abraham: “Take, please, your son … and make a trip to the land of Moriah and there offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the mountains.” (Genesis 22:2) Of course, Christians today do not offer their children “as a burnt offering” but rather as “a sacrifice of praise.” (Hebrews 13:15) Instead of going into the ministry themselves, they report the Bible Study with their children and send these into the house-to-house ministry. –Our Kingdom Ministry, September 2008, page 3.
Certainly Jehovah’s Witnesses do not offer their children “on [any]one of the mountains” but on “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 33:15) They withhold from them “education beyond what is required by law.” (The Watchtower, December 1, 1996, page 19) That their children walk “upon the mountains … bringing good news” is important to them, not that they get reasonable vocational training. – Isaiah 52:7.
The sociologist spacedrummer wrote in a comment to the TV programPanorama: “What do you think how many people get children only for the child benefit?” Even though this shouldn’t be the major reason for Christian women to bear children, God’s word clearly says that “money is for a protection.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) Indeed, generous donations can help a Christian to gain the elders’ approval, for example when he is heading for a judicial committee.
Father, Mother and Child – Are They Part of a Trinity?
Wise King Solomon mentioned another reason why it is good to have children: “Two are better than one … If two lie down together, they also will certainly get warm; but how can just one keep warm? … And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two. Better is a needy but wise child than an old but stupid” husband. – Ecclesiastes 4:9, 11-13.
In fact, “a threefold cord” – a family with a child – “cannot quickly be torn in two.” The Awake! issue of December 8, 1997 describes the experience of many Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Unhappily married parents usually stayed together for the sake of the children.” (page 3) And even if a couple gets separated, they usually continue to have some contact with each other because of the children.
According to The Times, “women always feel colder than men.” (November 8, 2008) But in most cases, a child stays with its mother after a divorce, and so the two “will certainly get warm.” Likely that was the reason why a person in Jesus’ parable said: “My young children are with me in bed.” – Luke 11:7.
Pregnancy – Proper and Improper
There are, however, few passages in God’s word that discourage from getting pregnant. Jesus said, for example: “Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby!” (Matthew 24:19) But did he really want to say that pregnancy is something bad? He also said: “Woe to you who are rich … Woe to you who are well fed … Woe to you who laugh!” (Luke 6:24, 25, NIV) And it is not bad to be rich, well fed or laughing, is it?
The Prophet Jeremiah commented similarly on the issue of childbearing when he mentioned the following persons in the same breath: “The blind and the lame, the pregnant woman and the one giving birth, all together.” (Jeremiah 31:8) And the psalmist mentioned someone “that is pregnant with what is hurtful.” (Psalm 7:14) In fact, children are hurtful; the expert Haribo wrote in the publication Simsforum: “Children break everything.”
Some Christians argue that Children are linked to pagan ceremonies. Moses wrote regarding the Canaanites: “Their sons and their daughters they regularly burn in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:31) Hence child-bearing is closely connected to demon worship.
The psalmist brought up another detail that is sometimes mentioned to show that Christian women should not have children: “Like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of youth.” (Psalm 127:7) Arrows are arms, and “true Christians … do not arm themselves.” (Awake!, September 22, 1995, page 14) Admittedly, children are not literal arms made of metal but “weapons” of flesh and blood. However, “true Christians are no part of the world; therefore, they do not resort to carnal weapons.” – Our Kingdom Ministry, December 1994, page 6.
Do You Share God’s View of Mate Selection?
If a Christian woman decides to have a child, she needs a mate. It is true, 1941 J. F. Rutherford directed a speech especially to children and youths from 5 to 18 years of age. He told them to wait until Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be resurrected, since these faithful men could help them find an appropriate mate.
As we know today, though, these men will only rise after Armageddon. But then “neither … outcry nor pain [will] be anymore” – so there will be no births anymore. (Revelation 21:4) Does that mean that a Christian woman should look for a partner by herself?
No. The reference work Your Youth – Getting the Best out of It advises young people: “If you live where dating and courtship are accepted as normal, the absence of these customs in certain lands may seem hard to understand. But people living in those lands may be equally puzzled by the customs where you live. They may view dating and courtship as unwise, or even somewhat offensive. A girl from India explained to a well-known Western marriage counselor: ‘How would we be able to judge the character of a boy we met and got friendly with? We are young and inexperienced … It’s so important that the man I marry should be the right one. I could so easily make a mistake if I had to find him for myself.’”
Since Abraham and the other faithful of old are not available, we could ask our parents, our grandparents, an elder or the mayor to choose an appropriate partner for us. If you live in a country where it is forbidden to have someone else select a mate for you, you’ll have to do it by yourself, if you want or not. But in that case you should heed the advice from the book Young People Bask in Their Success: “We should always be aware of the fact that it comes down to appearance. In ancient Israel, it was only required to bring the mandatory sacrifices; the attitude did not matter. Likewise, characteristics only play a minor role in a relationship. Rather, appearance, bodily charms and appropriate dress are really important.” – page 6, see also box on page 10.
Do You Have the Evangelizing Smell?
Though the Bible is no guidebook for mate selection, it gives some precious hints what worshippers of God should watch out for when looking for a mate. For example, it says of most faithful men of old that they had large flocks of sheep, goats, and cattle. Also in that time there was no shower and no antiperspirant. We surely can imagine that one could recognize such faithful men from afar by their smell. Likewise Christian women of our day should select a partner that can be smelled from a distance.
Something that has destroyed many relationships is “the desire of the eyes.” (1 John 2:16) We can prevent this danger by choosing a mate with poor eyesight. A Christian woman should ask for an attestation by the ophthalmologist to make sure that her potential mate is immune against “the desire of the eyes.”
Wise Solomon warned: “A report that is good makes the bones fat.” (Proverbs 15:30) And a fat man is not suitable if you want to have children. According to Dr. Kamau Kinyenje, “being overweight can cause hormonal changes that lead to male infertility.” (Sunday Nation, July 20, 2010) So be careful not to choose a man with a good field service report.
Children – From What Source?
According to Awake! magazine, “some youths seemingly do not grasp the connection between sex and pregnancy.” (October 8, 2004, page 5) Indeed, some women think that when they want to have a child, they only have to live together with a man, attend the congregation meetings and have a share in the preaching work.
But a Christian woman who wants to become pregnant should by all means heed the counsel given in the March 2007Awake! issue: “Sex is no casual matter to Jehovah God; neither should it be to you.” (page 29) A couple in Germany that was raised in a Christian fundamentalist organization wanted to have children, but they did not get any for a long time. Finally in 2004, after eight years, they contacted a doctor who suggested giving sex a try. Shortly thereafter, the woman became pregnant.
Happy Though Pregnant – How Can It Be?
When a Christian woman is pregnant, she must watch out for certain dangers and avoid them. The prophet Isaiah provides a hint regarding what could cause harm to the child. He reports of someone who “came into the house of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 37:1) What were the consequences? “This day is a day of distress … and there is no power to give birth.” (Isaiah 37:3) Hence pregnant woman should give “the house of Jehovah” – depicting the modern Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s witnesses – a wide berth.
The mother’s diet is also of great importance for the well-being of the unborn child. Jehovah says to women worshipping him: “You will certainly become pregnant … And now watch yourself, please, and do not drink wine or intoxicating liquor, and do not eat anything unclean.” (Judges 13:3, 4) We must consider though that the Mosaic Law has been nailed to the torture stake together with Jesus. (Colossians 2:14) The command “do not drink wine” has been replaced by “the law of the Christ” that makes winedrinking the obligation of every Christian. – Galatians 6:2; 1 Timothy 6:23; John 15:1.
Maintain Your Confidence Firm to the Birth
The instruction ‘not to eat anything unclean’ is still valid, however, since Paul wrote: “God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) The animals that Christians may not eat under any circumstances include “the pig … It is unclean for you. You [pregnant ones] must not eat any of their flesh.” – Leviticus 11:7, 8.
The women are not the only ones who must be on the guard against unclean animals. Their mates too must heed the following advice: “And the hare … she is unclean unto you.” (Leviticus 11:6, ASV) Interestingly “the hare” is called a “she,” so the statement must refer to a symbolic ‘hare’ or a so-called “bunny” – according to The Urban Dictionary “a likeable female who is cute and sort of dumb,” often pictured in men’s magazines. If a man would be concerned with such material, he would be at risk of leaving his mate even before the birth of his child.
Birth – A Time of Fear or Hope?
In fact, a man has the right to leave his mate, but only after the birth of his child. The psalmist wrote: “Sons are an inheritance.” (Psalm 127:3) And “within six weeks after gaining knowledge of the inheritance, the heir can relinquish the inheritance.” (Wikipedia, German edition) Within this time, the father can decide to leave his son to the mother and go his own way. If he chooses to relinquish his inheritance, it is said regarding the children: “They are not his children.” – Deuteronomy 32:5.
But usually the fathers decide to stay with their sons. That’s why an angel said regarding a woman giving birth to a son: “You will have joy and great gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth.” (Lukas 1:14) However, even back in Biblical times it could happen that someone “proved to have, not sons, but daughters.” (Joshua 17:3) In such a case, how much time does the father have to decide whether he wants to stay with his daughter and the mother?
The Bible doesn’t say that directly, but it provides an important hint: “When a woman gives birth to a boy, she will be unclean for seven days … Then she must stay at home for 33 days … When a woman gives birth to a girl, she will be unclean … for two weeks. Then she must stay at home for 66 days.” (Leviticus 12:1-5, GWT) The uncleanness after a son’s birth lasted 40 days – almost six weeks. Shortly after that period, the father had to make his decision. We can conclude that the same applied to the birth of a daughter; that means that in such a case the father has twelve weeks to decide.
Besides, in ancient Israel no unclean person was allowed to “come into the congregation of Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 23:1, 2) Hence parents are not allowed to enter a Kingdom Hall within six resp. twelve weeks after a birth.
Parents – Are You Feeding With the Right Materials?
The apostle Paul told his spiritual children: “I fed you milk, not something to eat.” (1 Corinthians 3:2) Accordingly parents have the obligation to feed their children milk. They have to be careful though, for God said to a child of god-fearing parents: “You will drink milk from other nations.” – Isaiah 60:16, GWT.
Due to international food labeling regulations it is relatively easy to recognize and avoid domestic milk when shopping. Only foreign dairy goods are suitable for children of Jehovah’s worshippers.
Children’s Screaming – When Will It End?
According to Awake! magazine, “babies cry for more reasons than being hungry.” (April 8, 1976, page 5) One of this “reasons” was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah: “There is an outcry … for lack of wine.” (Isaiah 24:11, ESV) As already mentioned, every Christian – regardless of his age – is obliged to drink wine. (1 Timothy 5:23) That’s why Jehovah instructs parents: “Buy wine and milk!” (Isaiah 55:1) The Shulammite’s boyfriend remembered his carefree childhood and related: “I have drunk my wine along with my milk.” – Song of Solomon 5:1.
The book Sing Praises to Jehovah says regarding children: “They are gifts from God; he says: ‘Use the rod.’” (song 164) When should a Christian “use the rod?” A report, not appearing in The Buffalo News, demonstrated that the presence of magazines with even mild religious content in the home could lower the thinking ability of children and endanger them. Such laxity would run counter to thinking for oneself. Parents should instruct their children to stay clear of anyone who offers to show them religious magazines and to report these incidents to them promptly.” (compare The Watchtower, September 15, 1984, page 21) Thus parents should immediately use “the rod of discipline” if their children secretly start to read the Watchtower. – Proverbs 22:15.
An Uneducated Congregation Under the “Faithful and Discreet Slave’s” Leadership
After some years, Christian parents will wonder what kind of education would be suitable for their child. According to the February 1, 2006 Watchtower, “a balanced education” has four objectives: “(1) to read well, (2) to write clearly, (3) to develop mentally and morally, and (4) to acquire the practical training needed for day-to-day living.” – page 10.
If your child can fluently read a Watchtower paragraph and can clearly fill in the field service report slip, you don’t have to worry about the first two items. Besides, the congregation meetings are the best place to “develop mentally and morally.” In actual fact, many a child can say: “I have more understanding than the elders.” (Psalm 119:100, NIV) But what about “practical training needed for day-to-day living?”
According to the October 1, 1998 Watchtower “the normal theocratic routine” of a Christian is “sharing in the ministry, attending the meetings … [and] studying the Bible.” (page 30) Hence the only school that is suitable for children of true Christians is the Theocratic Ministry School. With good reason Our Kingdom Ministry said that Christians “are receiving the best training available” in their meetings. – August 1996, page 2.
If you live in a country where the law requires attending a secular school, you must limit your child’s “secular education … [to] what is required by law.” (The Watchtower, December 1, 1996, page 19) Though “not everyone who goes to university loses his Christian faith or dies of a drug overdose,” such education “can become a valueless thing.” – The Watchtower, July 15, 1982, page 14; April 15, 2008, page 4.
Many parents think that they would have to explain the facts of life to their children. But according to the book The Secret of Family Happiness, as Christian parents you should “not review with your son or daughter the section ‘Sex and Morals’ in the book Questions Young People Ask – Answers That Work.” (page 68) The brochureSchool and Jehovah’s Witnesses rather points out that “many schools are … providing explicit education in sexual matters.” (page 27) This may cause disconcertment to you as a loving father or mother, but remember that you must “not be the one to decide just when you want your child to learn about sex, pregnancy and abortion.” (Awake!, March 22, 1978, page 20)
Upbringing a child is a lengthy project. When it is finalized – that is, when the child leaves either the Christian congregation or the parents’ home or both – God will speak regarding the parents: “Let them rest from their labors.” (Revelation 14:13) Then they can ‘enter into God’s rest’ and “get a firm hold on the real life.” – Hebrews 4:10; 1 Timothy 6:19.