Parents, Safeguard Your Child’s Life with Accurate Knowledge
1. What questions should parents and children ask themselves at this time, and why?
PARENTS of the New World society now stand with their children at the portals of God’s new world of promise, but they have yet to enter. Satan and his demons and a terribly corrupt and wicked world would, if possible, prevent them from entering. What can parents do to safeguard themselves and their children from being sucked into this world’s depravity and destruction? What can children do to avoid contamination with this old world, thus protecting themselves from being destroyed with it at Armageddon? What must be done by both parents and children should be of interest to all desiring life.
2. To survive this world’s end, what must parents and children do?
2 Jehovah God through his inspired Word informs us what to do to survive this world’s end. “Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding,” is the wise counsel. “Do not forget and do not turn aside from the sayings of my mouth. Do not leave it and it will keep you. Love it and it will safeguard you.” “For wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” Therefore, if parents are to survive this time of trouble with their children and enter the promised new world, they must search out the wisdom of Jehovah, be taught of his ways and live according to them. The accurate knowledge of Jehovah’s Word will become a protective shield about them in this hour of temptation and crisis.—Prov. 4:5, 6; Eccl. 7:12.
3. (a) When should children begin to be taught, and how? (b) What responsibility rests on parents regarding children and their aim in life? (c) To prevent children from going astray, what else must children be taught, and in what way is this best done?
3 Early in life children must be taught the wisdom of Jehovah, the principles of Christian living. As soon as the child is old enough to ask questions about life, it is old enough to receive forthright answers. It is not necessary to explain things in detail for a child, just answer the questions briefly, plainly and happily. There is no reason why we should hedge. Jehovah is plain speaking in the Bible and parents can be just as plain when speaking to their children. It is the responsibility of the parents to give a child a goal in life. Christian parents will want to make the new world with its blessings and life that goal for their child. To that end they will inculcate now in their child the principles of new-world living. This should include instruction on the facts of life, the child’s biological make-up, its basic emotions and desires. At no time should parents feel it necessary to weave in fairy-tale stories about “storks carrying babies” when explaining the origin of life. The miracle of birth is nothing to be ashamed of. Satisfy the little curious minds with the “whys” and “wherefores” of life, because if you do not tell them, someone else will, but what children may learn from others may not always be the truth. Children should also be taught the need for self-control, that the driving force in them toward procreation has power to attract, to embarrass, divide and destroy a happy relationship if misused. Children must be taught that there are rights and wrongs and must learn to distinguish between them. (Heb. 5:14) They must grow to appreciate that many wrongs do not make a right, that widespread immorality among men does not justify one’s becoming immoral, that Jehovah’s laws must be regarded above all else if one is to gain life. Because “the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up,” and because “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy,” it may be necessary to restrain, discipline and even punish the child to keep him from going astray. (Gen. 8:21; Prov. 22:15) A child learns best by loving parental example. A child properly trained will be able to say as the psalmist did: “From every bad path I have restrained my feet, in order that I may keep your word.” Yes, the Word of Jehovah will be a safeguard in this wayward world.—Ps. 119:101-105.
4. (a) What Bible warning do we have about the dangers of sex? (b) What is the unhealthy moral state of the world, and with what consequence to youth?
4 Perhaps the most dangerous of all corruptions to youth is the modern attitude toward sex. It was so with the children of Israel just before they entered the Promised Land. For forty years many of them persevered; then on the plains of Moab, just before receiving the realization of their dream, thousands of them fell victim to immoral practices with the daughters of Moab. Twenty-four thousand of them perished in one day! (Num. 25:1-9) We today stand in a similar position. Before us is the new world of promise, but around us is a “sex crazy” world. As a Harvard professor said: We live under the “continuous pressure of a gigantic army of omnipresent sex stimuli.” Books and films that excite suggestiveness are most popular. Rape, homosexuality, illegitimacy and venereal disease abound. Stories of the debauched lives of celebrated Hollywood notables flood the newspapers, but seldom, if ever, does one read of the lives of decent, moral people who have reared healthy children for the good of the community. This moral breakdown was foretold to take place “in the last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1-7) It is bringing forth its fruitage: “For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) Everywhere can be seen an open revolt against morals and conventions, with a devastating effect on youth especially. Polls taken in several colleges revealed that 79 percent of the students approved of sex relations before marriage. Some 36 percent of the boys questioned said that they were determined to go as far as they could when out with girls within three dated engagements. Lovely boys and girls are known to have lost complete control of themselves morally, finally ending up confused, frightened, depressed and on the verge of suicide. Parents of the New World society, know that these conditions also face your children who are forced by circumstance to rub elbows with the children of the world. So watch over your children, because their lives are involved.
5. To safeguard children from old-world debauchery, what training must children receive?
5 We want our children to grow up to be decent, God-fearing men and women who understand and appreciate their role in life. But simply desiring this will not make it so. We must be ready to inculcate righteous principles that will mold them into desirable companions. Great emphasis must be placed in youth on Jehovah’s demand for right conduct between the sexes, the desirability of cleanliness and the rewards of maintaining integrity. The conscience of the child must be trained to know that singleness has its place, but that it must never encroach upon the prerogatives belonging solely to married persons; that to treat lightly or abuse one’s trained conscience is to suffer shipwreck concerning one’s faith. It means the loss of life in the new world. (1 Tim. 1:19) Such training must begin early in youth for best results.—2 Tim. 3:15-17.
6. What instruction can parents give their children about the facts of life and about marriage and its responsibilities, and how will this aid children?
6 When the child asks mother or father, “Where do babies come from?” or, “Why are boys and girls made different?” it is time to begin instructing the child about its role in life. Explain to the child that girls were made by God to have babies, that is why they are different. Tell them how a child is born, how babies are fed and kept warm inside the mother until they are ready to eat and breathe on their own; and that these are Jehovah’s ways and that they must be respected. The child will then come to love Jehovah and it will want to harmonize its life with his principles. During moments of temptation its trained conscience will prove a force for good and will restrain the child from wrongdoing. In later years the child will look upon sex relations, not as something “terrible” or “dirty,” but proper and clean in its place—marriage. Parents can also do much to prepare children for obligations that go with marriage, such as housekeeping, child care and having a right attitude toward marriage and its responsibilities. Marital adjustment will then be much easier and happier.—Gen. 1:28.
THE DANGERS OF YOUTH
7. What are some of the dangers of courting unchaperoned, and how do studies bear this out?
7 In some lands inside and outside of Christendom it is an accepted custom today for a boy and a girl to go out together alone. Wrongly this is looked upon as the first step toward adult man-woman relationship. However, such a period of getting acquainted is fraught with many dangers. The fact that a large number of parents allow their children to go out alone with the opposite sex even before their fourteenth birthday shows that such parents do not realize the psychological and moral implications of early courtship by those of the opposite sex. Children allowed to take this course are exposing themselves to obvious moral and social dangers that arise from early sex stimulation that cannot culminate in a rightful expression for years to come, namely, marriage. In a study of 517 college students it was found that those who started to go out alone with the opposite sex in the primary grade school or secondary junior high school were emotionally maladjusted. The overpowering sex impulse had driven many to the point of no return—into sin. As a result, in the past fifteen years illegitimate births among teen-age girls has more than doubled. The growth of early marriages has skyrocketed and so has the divorce rate among this group. Many high schools report that they have one marriage to every twenty single students. In the case of religious circles a large number of boys and girls have been put on probation, or even been disfellowshiped from the Christian congregation because of serious immoralities, thus procuring for themselves a blot on their record and disqualifying themselves from honorable religious service privileges for many years. The reason for much of this can be traced right back to permitting boys and girls to go out together alone at an early age before or right after reaching the age of puberty.
8. What can parents do to safeguard their children from the dangers of making engagements with the opposite sex alone?
8 What can parents do to help their children see the dangers of early courting one of the opposite sex without having a chaperon along? By the time the child is old enough to have the sexual urge to go out alone with a young person his father and his mother should have had a long talk with him about the power of passion, about the danger of petting and about what constitutes proper conduct between boy and girl when alone. The apostle Paul advised youthful Timothy to “flee from the desires incidental to youth.” (2 Tim. 2:22) Fleeing from such dangerous desires means fleeing from persons and places that might stir up these desires. Hence Christian girls should not allow themselves to be taken by boys down lonely roads or into secluded spots where passion might take free rein unobserved. Parents who let themselves be induced to allow their children to have companionship with those of the opposite sex unattended ought to safeguard their children by setting a time when these should be home at night. Hours after dark are when the body tires rapidly, when resistance is low and when the ability to make right decisions in moral directions is greatly reduced. The barriers go down. Passion is easily aroused and a young man doing the courting may not be so easily convinced that it is decent and advisable to go home. Girls, or daughters, should be made to realize that boys are very susceptible to sexual temptation. In turn boys should know that girls are likewise susceptible. Accordingly it would be very indecent on the part of girls and boys to excite one another by improper dress or action or self-display. Parents can show that they are interested in the welfare of their child by telling their son or daughter the facts about life and the part that sex plays in one’s life. Parents should tell the children of the dangers of petting. A good rule for parents is never to let their boy or girl go courting with anyone that they would not want their child to marry, because all too frequently such courting ends up in marriage that is vexatious. For his child’s sake a Christian parent should forbid the child’s making private engagements with one of the young opposite sex not of the immediate family in order to go out together unattended for amusement and pleasure-seeking. A father who is an overseer or ministerial servant of a Christian congregation is in fact under obligation to forbid such improperly or untimely early sex engagements by his children.—1 Tim. 3:4, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9.
9, 10. (a) Why is heavy petting inadvisable? (b) Why do liquor and courting alone not mix?
9 In many parts of the earth heavy petting by unmarried worldly persons is being indulged in commonly. Not affection, but sexual gratification is the motive for heavy petting. Marriage is not the end toward which such petting builds. Couples that allow themselves to neck and pet heavily show a running wild of their sexual emotions. They display a need for self-discipline as well as display their ignorance of accepted social practices and the consequences of these. When 159 women were asked about necking, about 25 percent of them admitted it made them nervous. Some heavy petters cried uncontrollably before going to bed and they did not know why. Doctors consulted advised that they be less intimate with their boy friends. When their intimacy with male petters was reduced their crying stopped too. The absence of necking was found to relate to good adjustment after marriage. Often couples feel safe to neck when they are out with a group. They say there is safety in numbers. But what happens when the petters sneak away to be alone? Or what if the whole group necks and works itself into going farther than mere necking and petting? Hardly anything else than immorality. So remember the apostle Paul’s warning: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
10 One’s behavior when one is out with the opposite sex alone for mere companionship is a joint responsibility. No boy or girl has the right to take full control of the situation and inject sexual awareness. Furthermore, drinking intoxicating liquors and courtship do not mix healthfully at all. Girls especially should know this inasmuch as some men designedly introduce liquor in order to relax a girl and to reduce her resistance and make her resign to sexual advances. Liquor excites passion. Liquor weakens will power. Thus it exposes its victims to disaster. God’s Word warns: “Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by it is not wise.”—Prov. 20:1.
11. Why is introducing a courted companion to one’s parents good sense, and when should courtship be broken?
11 When courtship becomes permissible to Christian children, then their introducing the boy friend or the girl friend to the parents is a wise thing for them to do. It helps the interested youth to judge his companion of the opposite sex through the parents’ viewpoint. Their eyes are not blurred with romance. For instance, when Abraham’s servant found Rebekah at the well, what did Rebekah do? The Genesis account says: “The young woman went running and telling the household of her mother.” So the servant was invited into the house, where he told the household of his master Abraham’s proposal of marriage for his son Isaac. Rebekah’s parents and brother listened attentively and then they asked Rebekah if she would go to marry Isaac. Rebekah’s reply was: “I am willing to go.” Rebekah was chaperoned all the way to Isaac by women. At her meeting with him finally Isaac took Rebekah and she became his wife and he fell in love with her. Thus these two married with parental approval. So when Christian children have been given the needed instruction and training to make them mature regarding matters of sex so that courtship may be safely allowed to them, then it is good sense on the part of parents (and they should make it their business) to meet the person or persons with whom their child is going out. If after going out a number of times the young man or woman finds that mutual interest or religious agreement does not exist, then it is best not to allow such growing friendship to blossom into courtship. It would not be in the best interests of either party to allow such a relationship to continue.—Gen. 24:15-67.
12. What problems arise in courtship, and how can one be reasonably sure of having the right companion?
12 In lands where courting is allowed it is generally viewed as a means of helping the youth to select the type of person that one would someday like to marry. Usually courtship leads to marriage. Courtship introduces one to many problems, and moral dangers are encountered that may be greatly enhanced by the deeper attraction between the two by the frequency of their meeting together alone. To determine upon enduring compatibility both parties to the courtship should size each other up. If they are thinking about marriage they should see each other in all sorts of conditions and situations. The girl should see her boy companion in his work clothes and in his various moods and reactions. The man should see his girl in her everyday wear in her own home and become acquainted with her likes and dislikes and temperament. If in course of time couples are able to enjoy the quiet presence of each other in nearness, if they like to do things together and for each other, if they long for each other and they are concerned about each other’s health and pray for each other’s success and the overcoming of each other’s problems, if a word by one’s companion brings one inner joy, if his voice thrills one, if what he says builds one up and promotes respect, then there is a good likelihood that one’s love will last and that both will delight in each other through the years after marriage.—1 Cor. 13:4-8.
13, 14. (a) Why should willful consent to sexual arousal be kept remote in courtship? (b) How long should courtship continue, and what are the dangers of extended courtships where there is not the spirit of God?
13 Where courtship apart from a chaperon is permitted, both parties should at all times keep the danger of willful consent to sexual arousal remote, or at a distance. There is a surer outlook for happiness if courtship remains unsullied by immorality. Sullied courtships usually have one end, namely, strife and mutual contempt by the couple toward each other. Let those in the courtship keep their relationship clean before Jehovah.—Lev. 19:2.
14 Where courtship is the custom, how long should it last? If one is serious about it and goes about it in the right way, it should continue until one solemnly says before witnesses, “This is my companion for life.” Then even after that through married life courtship should continue. In a wide poll of many women 85 percent thought that a girl should not marry “unless she had gone with her prospective partner for six months to two years.” However, these worldly women were generally agreed that any two persons could probably become sufficiently acquainted in a year. They observed that the longer the courtship continued the greater becomes the physical attraction between the sexes and the greater the danger of immorality, that is, for worldly men and women. In one study of 576 engaged couples it was noted that, “while not quite 40 percent of those engaged eight months or less had indulged in physical intimacy, close to half (48.4 percent) of those engaged 28 or more months had done so. In fact, the same study indicated the presence of strong physical attraction for almost two-thirds in less than six months’ time.” This information from worldly sources only proves that in the case of men and women who are not dedicated to God and who do not have God’s spirit courtships that are extended unduly long for no legitimate reasons are not only meaningless but hazardous. If a person is miserable and discontented during courtship, it would be better not to enter into an engagement to marry. A person should never build a marriage on the shifting sands of uncertainty. It should be observed that in Bible times the parents usually espoused their children for a year in order to provide a minimum of time to train their children for marriage responsibilities. In many cases this year of espousal was entirely without any courtship between the espoused couple. The desirability of the marriage was determined upon by the parents or guardians of the intended married couple.
ENGAGEMENT AND MARRIAGE
15. What questions should be discussed during the engagement period, and how long should engagements be?
15 Inside Christendom engagement is a serious promise to marry. During this period couples talk about the important issues that come up after marriage, such as children, finances, religion, in-laws, and so forth. Couples reveal their health condition, whether one has a disease that would endanger the health of the other; and if one is in debt, this also is made known. This finding out takes time. Persons who have had fairly long engagements have been found happier in marriage. But how long should an engagement be? There are no hard and fast rules. Much depends on the couple, how long they have known each other and the courting period. A day is not long enough and ten years may be too long. However long the engagement, it still is not marriage and therefore they have no right to sex relations. When the two decide to marry, a wedding with friends present is commendable, whereas elopement has proved extremely hazardous. Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana stamps his approval on such an arrangement.—John 2:1-11.
16. In what way do studies show the need for youth to face reality when considering marriage; and when looking for a marriage companion what should youth look for?
16 Marriage is for mature, grown-up people. It is not for children. A recent survey of 15,000 teen-agers revealed that 96 percent expected to have more than two bathrooms in their future homes. Another survey made among marriageable 20-year-old women in twelve cities disclosed that their ideal husband prototypes were movie stars. This shows an unrealistic, childish attitude toward marriage, which explains the high divorce rate in the United States. It shows a need to face reality as far as marriage is concerned. Consider your prospective partner not through the superficial, unrealistic eyes of Hollywood, but through the eyes of God’s infallible Word. A woman should consider her companion in the terms of what she wants: a husband, provider, father; a man properly wants a wife, cook, housekeeper and a mother for his children. Before marrying, one should have sense enough to know that the marriage contract is for life. “A wife is bound during all the time her husband is alive.”—1 Cor. 7:39.
SINGLENESS FOR WHOM?
17. Why is singleness especially appropriate to consider at this time, and what reason does Paul advance for choosing singleness?
17 Standing now at the threshold of Jehovah’s new world, many youths may want to postpone marriage until after Armageddon, when selection of a wife will be made under righteous conditions and when marriage responsibilities will be carried out with none of the distractions that now plague mankind. Wise King Solomon advised youths: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days proceed to come.” (Eccl. 12:1) With the rapid approach of Armageddon, youths of the New World society should want to seize hold of the grand privilege that is theirs, that is, to give their all for the sake of the Kingdom, thus safeguarding their position at this time of the end. The single state offers greater freedom and fewer distractions, as the apostle said: “The single man is anxious for the things of the Lord, how he may gain the Lord’s approval. But the married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife, and he is divided. Further, the single woman, and the virgin, is anxious for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in her body and in her spirit. However, the married woman is anxious for the things of the world, how she may gain the approval of her husband. But this I am saying for your personal advantage, not that I may cast a noose upon you, but to move you to that which is becoming and that which means constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction.” (1 Cor. 7:32-35) So for a more undistracted life, Paul encouraged singleness, not marriage.
18. When should a single person seriously consider marriage?
18 Singleness is a gift bestowed on some as a reward for the victory of the spirit over the flesh. Often it is a solitary life, but a joyous one. A single person may be lonely but free. His life, which is not so weighted down with common material considerations, can soar the higher. However, whether one lives a married or a single life, the life he leads must be clean. If a single person should find himself distracted, that is, hard pressed because of passion, rather than for him to be constantly tempted with fornication or other abuses, it would be wiser for him to seek a mate and marry. Marriage is honorable in God’s sight; fornication is not. Those, however, who are able to make room for singleness should. Paul says such ones “do better” than those who marry.—1 Cor. 7:38; Matt. 19:12.
19, 20. (a) What problem faces many single Christian women today, and how should they view this matter? (b) With Armageddon so near at hand, what should all Christians want to be, and why?
19 There are many dedicated Christian girls who would like to marry this side of Armageddon, but there appears to be a scarcity of good, clean eligible mates. What should these do? Should they reach out beyond the congregation of God to get themselves a companion not dedicated to the doing of Jehovah’s will? Some have done so to their sorrow. The Scriptural injunction is: Marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39) True, the single state may impose a great test of faith on many, but enduring trials for righteousness’ sake brings God’s blessing. One who seeks the company of outsiders may end up marrying out of the truth. Trials arising out of such mixed marriages come as a result of ignoring God’s counsel. Such trials often cause some to become spiritually sick and leave the truth; thus they lose out on life. Peter stated: “It is better to suffer because you are doing good, if the will of God wishes it, than because you are doing evil.” (1 Pet. 3:17) Endure under trial; a blessing from Jehovah awaits you.
20 With Armageddon so close at hand, with the new world of promise within reach, “keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah,” so that he may preserve you alive on into his new world of promise, for you to serve him there forevermore in righteousness. May that be your happy lot.—Isa. 52:11.