Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there should be more to life than simply study and work. Some exercise and recreation during school hours provide a needed break and refreshment. Yet you may have noticed that most Witness youths do not participate in extracurricular activities sponsored by the schools. A brief explanation can help you to understand our views on this matter.
Witness families already are pursuing a program of activities that centers around their worship. And parents are encouraged to include recreation in this family-oriented program. With parents arranging and overseeing the recreation and entertainment of their children, often participating right along with them, needed supervision is provided.
At times a few Witness families may get together to enjoy various types of entertainment. They also travel several times each year to attend larger gatherings called circuit assemblies and district conventions. These trips sometimes provide opportunities to visit museums, historic sites and other places of cultural interest. At these gatherings young Witnesses meet and enjoy the companionship of many other youths from other parts of the country who share the same goal they have of serving their God, Jehovah.
We consider it vital that our youths enjoy this wholesome association, particularly in view of the deteriorating moral standards of human society today. Jehovah’s Witnesses take seriously the Bible’s warning: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” And, as noted before, we try to comply with Christ’s statement to his followers: “You are no part of the world.” (1 Corinthians 15:33; John 15:19) These principles shape the view of Witness families toward the school’s extracurricular activities, including the following:
Sports: Bodily training, such as we get in sports, is good for us. But placing the matter in proper perspective, the Bible says: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things.” (1 Timothy 4:7, 8) In keeping with this advice, Jehovah’s Witnesses appreciate the value of physical education courses that are conducted during school hours.
At the same time, however, Witness parents feel that schools often overemphasize sports. Therefore in training their children, they try to moderate the emphasis on athletic achievement. They hope their young ones will want to pursue careers, not as athletes, but as ministers of God. So Witness parents encourage their children to use after-school hours principally to pursue spiritual interests, rather than to excel in some sport.
Participation in organized sports, we believe, would expose Witness youths to unwholesome associations. We also feel that the competitive spirit in modern sports—‘the winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing’ ideology—has harmful effects. So if Witness youths feel the need for extra recreation, their parents encourage them to seek such recreation with fellow believers, yes, “along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.”—2 Timothy 2:22.
Cheerleader and Homecoming Queen: At athletic events it is the responsibility of cheerleaders to orchestrate the crowd in frenzied cheering for a school. They also encourage the people into hero worship and lead them in standing for the school song. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider it inappropriate to do this. Similarly, we feel that for a Witness youth to serve as a homecoming or beauty queen would be in violation of Bible principles that show the impropriety of glorifying humans.—Romans 1:25; Acts 12:21-23.
School Dances: As with sports, dancing can also be a wholesome, healthful activity. It is evident that Jesus Christ approved of it, since he mentioned dancing as a part of a proper celebration in his illustration about the prodigal son. (Luke 15:25) However, you may have noted that Witness youths usually do not attend dances sponsored by the school, such as the junior and senior proms. Why?
This is principally because of the poor environment that often exists in connection with school dances. Commonly there is smoking, alcohol abuse, use of drugs, as well as scandalous sexual conduct. Thus a person who attends these dances almost unavoidably is thrown together with unwholesome associates. So, in keeping with the admonition to pursue activities “along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart,” it is the custom of Jehovah’s Witnesses to stay clear of school dances.
Dating: In recent times dating has become a common form of recreation in many places. Even youngsters in their early and mid teens commonly date. They may be seen around school holding hands, kissing, or even doing things beyond that. Witness parents do not believe that it is proper for their children who are still too young to get married to isolate themselves with a member of the opposite sex and engage in conduct generally associated with dating.
School Clubs: Students with similar interests may want to share these interests as members of school clubs. Often, however, these clubs serve mainly for social activities. And it has been noted that sharing such activities with certain groups of students often leads to immoral conduct. In view of this possibility, we feel that careful consideration should be given before joining a school club.
Important questions that Witness youths and their parents would consider are these: Are the club’s activities limited to school hours? Do they come under close school supervision? Will belonging to the club require time after school that would be better spent in family or congregational activities? In the final analysis, it is the responsibility of Witness parents to decide what clubs or school organizations, if any, they will permit their children to join.
School Plays: Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have any objection to acting in itself. Bible dramas are a featured part of our district convention programs. Yet Witness parents will consider a number of factors before deciding whether to permit their children to participate in a school play. For example, Is what is portrayed in the play in harmony with Bible principles? Witness youths would not participate in a play that condoned moral standards that the Bible condemns. Further, there is the time involved in practicing, and possible unwholesome associations. So in deciding whether Witness youths will participate in a play, their parents will consider these factors carefully.
Blood and Other Donations: From time to time students in many schools are asked to make donations to one cause or another. At times the request is for blood that is to be used in giving blood transfusions. However, it is our understanding of the Bible’s command to “abstain . . . from blood” that it should not be eaten or used in any other way. Therefore, as a matter of conscience, we do not give or accept blood.—Genesis 9:4-6; Leviticus 17:10-14; Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29.
For reasons discussed earlier in this brochure, if there is a request for money to further some political cause or in connection with some religious holiday or celebration, Jehovah’s Witnesses would not contribute. Nor would we take part in lotteries, games of chance or any such gambling activities. However, there are other areas in which a personal decision on whether to contribute can be made according to the circumstances. For example, if there is a schoolmate who has been injured or who is sick and there is a collection to purchase some flowers or other gift, they are glad to have a share in such giving as they have the means to do so.—Acts 20:35.
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“Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33