QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
♦ Visitor objects to Society’s coloring pages for children.
On February 28, 2013, we received following comment and inquiries:
“Have you seen the coloring pages and connect the dots that are meant for children to print out on jw.org. Not to mention that it is encouraged to act out these scenes. I am not into child phycology but it sure seems like we would send the wrong message if I allowed my child to entertain themselves with violent scenes. Especially with the baby and the knife.
“So it is wrong for my teenager to watch or play violent movies and games but it is ok for my 4 year old to color pictures of a baby about to be slaughtered and a woman turned into salt with a horrible expression of fear and pain. Or Jesus beating animals with a think stick? How is this upbuilding?
“I cant think anywhere where this would be acceptable. When I pick up an activity book with Disney characters I see happy princesses and heroic deeds and animals.
“I am really angry at this. The "My book of Bible Stories" contains enough violent photos as it is. I hardly ever referred to that book in my studies with my daughter. I plan on writing the society about it but as you may know they somehow feel the need to contact the local elders.
“Please, any advise would be helpful or if you plan on addressing it maybe thats enough. I am so mad, I just needed to talk this out."
To the author, thank you for your email. We have not seen the coloring pages you refer to, but if they are as you say, we certainly understand your concern. As for us, our ministry is currently focused on the matter of sonship with God. Therefore, we are not inclined to interject ourselves into the matter of their coloring books.
But it seems the solution is simple, as you have already discovered. Those who find the pages disturbing would choose not to have their children play with them. Keep in mind, too, that you are the caretaker for your children. The Father will look to you, not the Governing Body, as to how you raise them.
Nevertheless, we see no reason why concerned parents cannot voice their concern as long as it is tactful and to the point. That way, if such a letter were to find its way to your local elders, there should not be any grounds for discipline.
We hope our reluctance to get involved in this matter does not discourage or offend you. We will, however, post your comment and our response to the site as a way of making other parents aware of this matter.
♦ What do I teach my young children ages 1 to 3?
On April 26, 2013, we received the following comment:
“I have a question. I want to do some "family study" a little every night and I wonder....would you have any suggestions on reading and engaging in study with my children? My oldest is 3 and will get the most out of it, but my youngest is 1. I don't really want to use the Bible Story book or the Great Teacher because I'm afraid there are many organizational biases in the literature. Any thoughts?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We intend to publish something this year with regard to our young people. However, your inquiry allows us to share a few brief comments that form the basis of our view of teaching children.
First, do not underestimate the spiritual capacities of even your very young ones. Jesus said the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them, too.
“Now people began bringing him young children for him to touch these; but the disciples reprimanded them. At seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to them: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones. Truly I say to you, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a young child will by no means enter into it.” And he took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.”– Mark 10:13-16
Up until the age of about 5, the most important lesson you can teach your children is the value of a healthy parent/child relationship. That will lay the foundation for their growing understanding of a Heavenly Father. Let them know that you are their earthly father, but they have a Heavenly Father, too. Teach them about the God that Jesus revealed, and refrain from teaching them the old Jewish concepts of an angry, jealous, wrathful God.
Encourage them to use their imaginations to envision what heaven is like, and what God and Jesus are like. Make heaven live in the minds of your children. Teach them the beauty and goodness of our world – in music, art, and culture. And refrain from inculcating separatism, superiority, intolerance, condemnation, or fear of a cataclysmic end. They should be taught that the Father will faithfully carry us through whatever befalls us.
And above all, make sure you as a father properly represent the Heavenly Father. This will have a more profound and lasting effect than any teaching.
As you can tell, the counsel we have for teaching children is much the same as we have for adults. That is because the purity and innocence of children is what adults should strive for as Jesus said in the above scripture.
We also are reminded of Paul’s counsel:
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things upon the earth. For you died, and your life has been hidden with the Christ in union with God. When the Christ, our life, is made manifest, then you also will be made manifest with him in glory.”– Colossians 3:1-4
And his words to the Philippians:
“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”– Philippians 4:8
We should all focus on love of the Father and Jesus Christ, and the beauty and goodness in our world and in the heavenly kingdom in our future. This is the path to life.
These are our thoughts. We wish you the very best.
♦ When celebrating the Memorial at home, what kind of bread and wine should we use and can our children participate?
On February 7, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“After more than 7 months I am compelled to write to you today. Please know that I check your website for updates everyday and I deeply appreciate the spiritually uplifting effect of your articles. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into them. I hope and pray that more, in fact all, Jehovah's Witnesses are awakened to the plain, open and authentic teachings of Jesus. I hope it is a sign of spiritual growth that my reaction to your John 6:53-56 quote today was "this is so obvious...how did I not see this in times gone by!"
“However, having spent many weeks and months working up the courage to partake at the forthcoming Memorial (and I'm not saying that I have all the courage I need yet), I can't pretend that I wasn't a little disappointed at the suggestion to not take a stand in front of other Witnesses on April 14th. Of course, I agree with you that our current celebration bears little resemblance to the one Jesus instituted but it seemed to me that this was the one thing that might precipitate change in an organization that I believe has tremendous potential for good.
“Surely the Governing Body would not continue to ignore an increase in partakers that called the current understanding into serious doubt? If that is so, would it not be better for Sons of God that are still in 'good standing' to express their conviction in larger numbers so we expose this error for what it is? Rest assured, I do not seek the limelight... in fact I've been thinking about how best slip under the radar but still be counted.
“I anticipate your response might be that they have already ignored a significant increase, but was it truly large enough for them not to take notice? If we could get 1% of the baptized publishers to partake I suspect a change (of some kind) would be unavoidable... don't you think?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are very glad that you are turning to the Christ and the true Christian hope. We have full confidence that you will garner the courage to step up and do what you know to be right.
And we certainly understand your arguments in support of participating in the 2014 Memorial with the Watchtower organization, and we agree that the organization has tremendous potential for good. However, the Governing Body is squandering this ‘talent’ given them, and there is currently no sign that they will properly ‘do business’ with that talent. (Matthew 25:14-30) While we have given up our direct communications with them, we believe the recent call to commemorate the Memorial Supper at private gatherings will provide another opportunity and a wake up call to the Governing Body that might inspire them to make needed changes. Let us explain.
You suggested: Surely the Governing Body would not continue to ignore an increase in partakers that called the current understanding into serious doubt? If that is so, would it not be better for Sons of God that are still in 'good standing' to express their conviction in larger numbers so we expose this error for what it is? . . . I anticipate your response might be that they have already ignored a significant increase, but was it truly large enough for them not to take notice? If we could get 1% of the baptized publishers to partake I suspect a change (of some kind) would be unavoidable... don't you think?
Dear brother, we believe a large enough number did partake at the 2013 Memorials hosted by the Watchtower organization. Although they reported only 600 new partakers in the 2014 Yearbook, our reports indicate the number of new, first time partakers reported by the congregations worldwide was almost 20 times that amount. Surely, that is enough new partakers to get their attention. Instead, of publicly acknowledging these developments, the Governing Body hid this information and scrambled to do ‘damage control.’
They sent letters to certain congregations where there was a significant increase in partakers, and they even sent out emissaries to some congregations to speak with these new partakers first hand with the intent to discourage them and convince them that they could not be anointed. This latter tactic backfired, as we explained in the article Defending Our Living Hope. Instead of discouraging these new ones, the emissaries themselves were profoundly affected. We understand that at least 3 of the brothers who were sent out on these missions were so impressed by the new partakers that they no longer serve at Bethel. Their experience was similar to what occurred when the chief priests and Pharisees sent out officers to entrap and arrest Jesus:
“The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things about him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees dispatched officers to get hold of him. . . . Therefore the officers went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, and the latter said to them: ‘Why is it you did not bring him in?’ The officers replied: ‘Never has [another] man spoken like this.’”– John 7:32, 45-46
It may appear to many that the Governing Body is worried that an increase in the number of partakers challenges their teaching that the number would decrease as a sign of the end. However, their biggest concern is that the growing number of partakers casts a shadow on their “new light” as to the meaning of ‘this generation’ as explained in the January 15, 2014 Watchtower, page 31, paragraphs 15-16:
“15. In his detailed prophecy about the conclusion of this system of things, Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.” (Read Matthew 24:33-35.) We understand that in mentioning “this generation,” Jesus was referring to two groups of anointed Christians. The first group was on hand in 1914, and they readily discerned the sign of Christ’s presence in that year. Those who made up this group were not merely alive in 1914, but they were spirit-anointed as sons of God in or before that year. — Rom. 8:14-17.
“16. The second group included in “this generation” are anointed contemporaries of the first group. They were not simply alive during the lifetime of those in the first group, but they were anointed with holy spirit during the time that those of the first group were still on earth. Thus, not every anointed person today is included in “this generation” of whom Jesus spoke. Today, those in this second group are themselves advancing in years. Yet, Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:34 give us confidence that at least some of “this generation will by no means pass away” before seeing the start of the great tribulation. This should add to our conviction that little time remains before the King of God’s Kingdom acts to destroy the wicked and usher in a righteous new world.— 2 Pet. 3:13.”
This blatant perversion of the plain and simple word “this” has created a whole new doctrine for them. So as a guise and a ruse for achieving their intent to not report the actual number of partakers, they advised certain bodies of elders where the number of partakes was unusually high to exclude from their reports those who could not have been a part of the so-called ‘second group of anointed’ based on their convoluted explanation of ‘this generation.’ This automatically excluded the teenagers, the young adults, and all the adults under a certain age, perhaps under 50. And they can play this game every year so that no matter how many brothers step up and partake, they will not be counted.
So we thought of another way to get their attention. The Governing Body is clearly not interested in reporting the true number of partakers, but they are certainly concerned about reporting a high number of attendees. Thus, if the number of attendees drops significantly, they will surely take note.
Based on their proclamations that a sign of ‘Babylon the Great’ is the drying up of her waters – meaning a drop in the number of people attending their churches – they will surely be shamed if their own ‘waters’ dry up. For that reason, we believe, or at least hope, that if the number of Memorial attendees drops from 19 million to even 18 million, they will take note. Though we strongly hope the number drops significantly more than that. And of course, with a drop in the number of attendees, that will result in a corresponding drop in contributions. That will get their notice!
But do not misconstrue our words as an attack on the Governing Body or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our goal is not just to move the Governing Body to action. Our primary goal is to honor the Christ and currently that cannot be done at the Memorials hosted by the Watchtower organization. Moving the Governing Body to act is an additional benefit, motivated by brotherly love, that, if successful, can result in the salvation of nearly 20 million people.
We hope our brothers and sisters have the love and the courage to turn away from the Watchtower Memorials for the good of their sleeping brothers and sisters, the Governing Body, and the entire Christian community that takes note. And we hope that they choose to commemorate a true Memorial Supper among their true brothers in Christ in private gatherings.
At this late date, only Jehovah’s Witnesses can save Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any outside influence or pressure will be ignored or labeled as persecution. But what can the Governing Body say when its adherents simply turn to serving Christ and shake the dust off their feet? The most painful act that can be inflicted on a narcissist is for the public to simply ignore them. This may be the last opportunity for the narcissist body of men who lead Jehovah’s Witnesses to be moved to change.
If you, or any of our visitors have comments about this matter, please do not hesitate to write us.
♦ Should we discourage young ones from getting baptized until they reach an age of maturity?
On March 4, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“Dear Brothers, I noticed in the past District Conventions, younger ones, as early as the age of 9 years old, getting baptized. In our congregation, a close friend of my son with the age of 10 years old became an unbaptized publisher last year. After reading The Golden Age June 6, 1934 p.571 from the article "What is Real Baptism?" and Luke Chapter 2, it was clear Christ was not baptized as a babe nor a child. He was around 12 years old when found in the temple reasoning out with the teachers of the Law. He got baptized when he reached the age of 30, the legal majority age then observed by the Jews. It was also the perfect time for dedicating his time and effort to fulfill the prophecy for His Father.
“Given these Scriptures, while we are not to follow strictly Jewish customs with reference to age, would it not be more Christian to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect to the baptismal age? This means that the Society should not allow infants, as well as children under the majority age of today, to be baptized. More than the age is the spiritual maturity which I think should be way past teenage years, e.g. 20-25 years old and above. Looking forward to your comments. Thanks.”
To the author, thank you for your email. To directly answer your question, no, we do not think it is necessary for young ones to wait until they are 20 or 30 years old to make a personal dedication to doing the Father’s will and getting baptized into Christ. One does not have to reach 30 in order to know whether he wants to worship God and follow the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Think about it. Children as young as 5 years old make decisions about who they will imitate. Some choose ‘superheroes.’ Some choose entertainers or athletes. Some choose their parents or other close family or friends. Why should they not be able to decide that they want to imitate Jesus?
This is not a tough decision to make either. Jesus said his “yoke is kindly and his load is light.” (Matthew 11:30) And he counseled his apostles to stop preventing the children from coming to him because they, too, are heirs to the heavenly kingdom:
“Then young children were brought to him for him to place his hands on them and offer prayer, but the disciples reprimanded them. Jesus, however, said: “Let the young children alone, and do not try to stop them from coming to me, for the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to such ones.’”– Matthew 19:13-14
The only reason one might think it is necessary for a person to reach an age of maturity before getting baptized is when man has burdened the concept of baptism with their own rules and laws. For example, getting baptized with the Watchtower organization is more than just a simple dedication to the Father and public acknowledgment that one has chosen to live a Christ-like life. It is also a kind of contract. The individual is not only subjecting him or herself to the will of the Father, but they are subjecting themselves to an organization and the rules of men. As part of the Watchtower baptism, one of the questions is: “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization?” This is far beyond what the Father and Christ Jesus require!
We think young ones are wholly incapable of understanding the ramifications of such a statement and contractual relationship. For that reason, our opinion is that baptism with the Watchtower organization should be held off until a person reaches the age of maturity, at least 18 or 21 years, and is fully aware of the potential negative impact.
This is an issue that has been raised by many people over the years, but more so in recent years as the Governing Body asserts its grip of authority more aggressively over the congregations. Once a person has been baptized in connection with the Watchtower organization, that person cannot voluntarily leave without suffering severe repercussions. If the reason for leaving is a disagreement with the teachings, such a person will be disfellowshiped as an apostate. If the reason for leaving is a decision not to follow the rules, they will be disfellowshiped as a gross sinner. In either case, the entire congregation is commanded to shun all disfellowshiped persons. And not just the congregation, even intimate family members are obligated to do so. And if those family and friends do not strictly shun the person who has been disfellowshiped, the friends and family may also be disfellowshiped and shunned! It is estimated that the fear of being shunned is what is keeping about a third of Jehovah’s Witnesses from leaving the organization.
When one makes a dedication to the Father and is baptized into Christ Jesus, there are no penalties associated with it. The gift of freewill allows a person to decide to worship God and then later to decide not to worship God. Freewill is free. It has no strings attached. Though everyone, young and old, will always be subject to the basic law of reaping what one has sown (Galatians 6:7) that is quite a different matter than being punished for exercising free will.
We can illustrate it this way: If a person drives a car recklessly, he may get into an accident. If he does, he is reaping what he has sown. But if the reckless driver also gets a ticket and has to pay a fine, that is a punishment for driving recklessly. Accordingly, when a person decides they no longer want to associate with the Watchtower organization, they will no longer be viewed as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That is reaping what one has sown. But the Watchtower Society goes further. They punish those who no longer want to be Jehovah’s Witnesses by demanding that even their family members shun them, not even saying a greeting to one’s own flesh and blood! This is a punishment that far exceeds the “crime” of exercising freedom of religion.
This is why baptism of very young people becomes problematic. A 9-year-old child is not sufficiently equipped, mentally or emotionally, to make an informed decision on whether to subject themselves to these ramifications. Their innocence and inexperience prevents them from discerning the potential harm and isolation that will result from a decision to leave the Watchtower organization.
Many secular governments recognize the incapacity of young ones to enter into contracts that have detrimental consequences. While they allow minors to enter into such contracts, the law does not hold the minor accountable if they decide they no longer want to be bound by the contract terms. In fact, if a minor enters into a contract, years later when they are adults they can void the contract because they were minors when they agreed to the terms. If the Watchtower Society honored the innocence and inexperience of the young ones in their midst, and only applied their disfellowshiping procedures to those who were baptized (and contracted with the Watchtower organization) as adults, a great deal of sorrow and misery would be avoided. And so would the question of whether it is wise for young ones to get baptized.
The way we see it, the Governing Body encourages young ones to be baptized so that the number of active Jehovah’s Witnesses will increase. And a threat of disfellowshiping will keep them from leaving in the future. However, if a 9-year-old, or even an adult, wanted to be baptized so that they could be with Christ in heaven, we strongly doubt that the overseers would allow it without aggressively seeking to change their minds. The official opinion is that those who want to be with Christ in heaven are probably “mentally or emotionally unbalanced.” (August 15, 2011 Watchtower, page 22) Only if they change their hope will their baptism be approved!
Because of the seriousness of getting baptized with the Watchtower organization, we would strongly discourage any children from getting baptized with them. Instead, we would encourage private baptisms in the presence of those who love them and who are looking out for their best interests. We would encourage them to undergo what we call “free agent baptism” that allows them freedom of worship without the encumbrances of the rules and laws of men. Their baptisms can be small private events with close family and friends. They can be performed practically anywhere there is a body of water – a pool, a lake, an ocean, etc. They do not need to be sanctioned by men or priests. Doing it in the presence of the Father and Christ Jesus is all that is required. See the article, What Prevents Me? for examples of how these types of baptisms have been performed.
Practically every Christians religion, other than Jehovah’s Witnesses, acknowledges “free agent baptisms.” When you arrive at a church and tell them you have already been baptized into Christ, they accept that and welcome you as a member of their church. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses (as far as we know) require re-baptisms so that the newly baptized one would be subject to the Watchtower rules of conduct and discipline and would be beholding to the oversight of the Governing Body. To them, it is not just a baptism; it is a contract of allegiance to men.
So, in summary, we would never discourage a young one from being baptized into the Christ. But we would surely discourage a young one from being baptized into any organization, the Watchtower organization or any other one. An organization is not your mediator, not your true leader, not your redeemer, cannot transfer you from death to life, and is not the judge over your eternal existence, your destiny or your hope. Children simply are not capable of making an informed decision to dedicate their lives to such fallible organizations and men. But they are absolutely safe and secure if their baptism only subjects them to the Father and Christ Jesus.
We hope that answers your question.