Questions From Readers
● What Scriptural principles guide in the training of children in homes where one parent is a dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah and the other is not?—Based on many questions received.
According to the Scriptures the husband and father is the head of the home. If he is a dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah it is his responsibility to see that his family receives spiritual as well as material provisions. (1 Tim. 5:8) Even if his wife is an unbeliever, he must see to it that his children receive proper Christian education and training both at home and at the Kingdom Hall, and he should do all that he can to help his wife see the truth of God’s Word. At the same time he ought to grant his wife freedom to worship God her own way, and she may at times insist on taking the children to her place of worship. Granting her freedom of worship may even mean letting her have a Christmas tree in one room of the house during that season, although the believing husband would not let other rooms of the house or its outside be decorated. By thus extending freedom of worship to his wife he shows that he loves her as he loves himself.—Eph. 5:28, 29.
Likewise, the unbelieving father, since he is the head of the house, may dictate the religion of the children. However, in view of the fact that the mother is responsible for the conduct of the children in the absence of the father, she must inculcate in them right principles and may witness to them as opportunity affords. In cases where the husband is severely opposed, she may not be able to take them in the service or to the meetings, if he forbids it. But she can continue by various means to teach the children Bible principles and truths. If the children ask questions, she has the right to answer them.
Suppose such a father should make an issue of the flag salute. Since every Christian is instructed by God’s Word to make a defense of his belief and course of action, a dedicated mother has the right to make such a defense and to give an explanation, not only to her children but also to her husband, so that all in the family understand her faithfulness to Christian principles. (1 Pet. 3:15) Since the father in this case is opposed to the mother’s having the children take the Scriptural position with regard to flag saluting, then, aside from explaining to the children what the Scriptures have to say on the matter, the mother would have no right to insist that the children comply with the Scriptural principle in this respect, because the husband, as head of the house, requires the children to participate in the ceremony. The children would have to consider their father’s wishes, and the mother may not interfere by sending a note to the teachers asking that her children be excused when the ceremony is conducted in school. However, if after the children learn of their mother’s position and see that it is Scriptural and hence the will of God, and if out of their own conscience they take their stand in school and elsewhere and refuse to participate in such ceremonies, then, of course, such action is not due to insistence on the mother’s part but is of the children’s own accord, and the husband could not find fault with her. After all, it is the child’s responsibility to take his own stand according to his conscience, and if his father punishes him for conscientiously refraining from engaging in patriotic ceremonies, then the child is suffering for righteousness’ sake.—1 Pet. 2:19, 20.
In harmony with the counsel found at 1 Peter 3:1-6, the dedicated Christian wife of an unbeliever will be exemplary in conduct and will show deep respect for her husband and teach the same to their children. However, she will not fail to participate actively in true worship, and by her faithful conduct and the things about which she speaks she will exercise a powerful influence on both her husband and her children, so that they too may be saved.—1 Cor. 7:14, 16.
In the case of the child who shows appreciation for the Bible truths learned from the believing parent, Christian principles also govern the course he must take. The unbeliever may still insist that the child attend church, and the minor child, properly subject to his parent, would be obliged to do so; but at church he could not conscientiously participate in the idolatrous ceremonies, and when discussion periods give him opportunity to do so, he will defend the Word of his heavenly Father. When required by an unbelieving parent to do something that would directly violate the law of Jehovah God, the child would be guided by the counsel in the Bible: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” “He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me.” “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.”—Acts 5:29; Matt. 10:37; Eph. 6:1.
Thus in all situations dedicated members of divided households show proper evaluation of their circumstances. They recognize that their first responsibility is to God, and, consistent with this, they comply with the God-given instructions on recognition of headship within the household and show the love and deep respect that are due.
● Do Jehovah’s ministers perform marriage ceremonies between two persons who have not made a dedication?—L.S., U.S.A.
Whether a Christian minister of Jehovah performs a marriage ceremony between two undedicated persons or not is up to the discretion of the minister, depending upon the circumstances. He may well reason that a good witness could be given to the truth, that the high principles of the New World society could be made known, and that the two persons could be given proper Scriptural counsel on the seriousness and obligations of the wedded state.
However, before performing such a ceremony the Christian minister of Jehovah should first make certain that both parties are Scripturally free to marry. More than that, they should also be honorable persons, having a good report among people on the outside. But even when these conditions are met, it is up to the minister as to whether he chooses to perform the ceremony or not. He is not obligated to do so.
As for the use of the local Kingdom Hall on such an occasion, this would be up to the congregation committee to decide.