The Family Circle in These Last Days
“By means of your seed all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves.”—Gen. 28:14.
1. (a) To what depths do the old-world crises in society reach, and why? (b) Do the Scriptures offer any hope to families in these last days?
EARTH’S present three billion inhabitants find themselves living under a patchwork of varying social orders. Each of these differing forms of society depends on the human family for its growth and strength. Now that the current old world of peoples finds itself wandering in a labyrinth of troubles with no way out in sight, the varying social structures are experiencing crises, as these troubles have penetrated to the very basic family level. Such crises have brought thick gloom to the national groups. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah accurately foretold this coming into darkness and gloom for these last days: “Look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups.” (Isa. 60:2) Yes, this seems to be a reaping in of bad fruitage for ignoring the Great Sociologist, Jehovah God, the giver of name, status and purpose to the family arrangement. (Eph. 3:14, 15) Yet this same prophet in the identical prophecy utters hope. And what is that? That there will appear in the last days a seed or nucleus of a righteous new society whose light of truth, vision and divine favor will become so spectacular by contrast that families from all nations will seek to bless themselves by embracing its successful ways.—Isa. 60:3-5; Gen. 28:14; Mic. 4:1-4.
THE FAMILY ORIGINALLY IN BIBLE VIEW
2. Describe the Biblical origin and purpose of the family arrangement.
2 Originally what was the Bible view for the family arrangement over the course of time? The Former of the family unit was none other than the Creator of man himself. (Matt. 19:4-6) By means of family units this Creative Sociologist purposed to populate the whole earth with a righteous human society of perfect, mature individuals. (Gen. 1:28; Acts 17:26) Such a family circle of humans was lovingly designed to comprise essentially a father, a mother and children. Through marriage this status was brought about and was thus to be maintained. Family members, therefore, were to form a household, a small government, with the father as head and lawgiver responsible to God, and the mother as a subordinate manager over the children. (1 Cor. 11:3; Rom. 7:2; 1 Tim. 2:11-15; Prov. 6:20) So from Jehovah God’s yoking the first man and woman together, marriage has been the order for mankind. This has made possible the primary objective for the family unit, that of producing children who, in turn, were to become righteously trained as members of an expanding human society.
3, 4. (a) What was provided for juveniles, and what was the course of life set before them? (b) Answers to what questions are desired?
3 In this manner, over a long period of juvenile immaturity of nearly twenty years, the family arrangement provided an administration of training involving care, discipline, protection and education under the guidance of loving parents. (Prov. 4:1-9; 2 Cor. 12:14) Likewise this was to make possible, from generation to generation, the transmission of all man’s acquired attainments, knowledge and wisdom to an ever-enlarging stream of mankind. During childhood and adolescence the minors were to remain integrated or held together as parts of the family whole, sharing to the full in family activities, worship, work, joys and recreation. (Luke 2:51, 52) There was to be no shunting off into collective groups or a segregating of the youngsters to another’s care and propaganda influence. When adulthood was reached, such ones could then stand as prepared individuals to form new family units. Thus the one-time infants, likened to “slaves” under the wise control of their parents, were now emancipated or set free to become “men in charge” themselves of new family households.—Gal. 4:1, 2.
4 Due to man’s ancient rebellion in Eden against his Creator, to what extent today has there been a deviation from this original ideal for the human family? With all the information now available in the Bible, is there any group making an honest effort to return to the original Biblical standards of family life and purpose? What is this nucleus of a New World society? In answer let us now examine the family situation in various societies operating on earth today.
THE FAMILY IN SOVIET SOCIETY
5. Describe the family in Soviet society, and what about honoring parents?
5 In the society of Soviet Russia the family is considered a “collective body,” a communist cell. The parents’ authority over children is delegated to them by the State. The parents’ duty toward their children is actually a duty toward society. Children are even admired when they distrust their own mothers and seek to go their own way into collective service groups. A prominent Soviet educator, A. S. Makarenko, in his book, A Book for Parents, confirms all this when he writes: “Our [Soviet] family is . . . a natural collective body. The family becomes the natural primary cell of society. Our parents are not without authority either, but this authority is only a reflection of societal authority. The duty of a father in our country toward his children is a particular form of his duty toward society.” Later this same author relates a story of a boy who ran away from home after some differences with his mother and then comments: “I am a great admirer of optimism and I like very much young lads who have so much faith in the Soviet state that they are carried away and will not trust even their own mothers.”a All this stands contrary to God’s grant of authority to parents over their children.—Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-4.
6. (a) How does Soviet training lead to the development of the collective man? (b) How do these ways square up with the Bible?
6 The Biblically ordained way of integrated, united family-circle life is further weakened from early childhood in the Soviet type of society. Efforts are made to wean and entice Soviet children from infancy into the segregated or collective way of life. In many cases three-month-old babies are boarded out and older infants are kept in daytime nurseries for uniform, state-controlled upbringing while their mothers work out secularly. Youths are segregated into youth collectives to be subjected to specialized, government-inspired training. From the first schoolday children are taught to monitor the behavior of their schoolmates. Fear and trembling at men, so strongly warned against in the Scriptures, is thus engendered. (Prov. 29:25) During their schooldays they are taught to compete in groups, teams, collectives. Charts are used in the schoolrooms to emblazon “Who Is Best.” Rewards of special privileges are granted to the winning groups, collectives. This is contrary to the Bible, which condemns competitions. (Gal. 5:26) Stress is always placed upon helping other members of one’s collective group. Thus a sense of responsibility and loyalty to one’s collective is constantly built up in the minds of men and women. By these means the richly endowed individual with his God-granted dignity must fade into the background to merge in with the group. Honor must always be brought to the group, and through the collective group honor is brought to the Soviet state.b Directly opposite, the Bible’s way is for the full-grown, mature, individual man, not the collective man, to stand as a monument to the glory of God.—Ps. 8:4-9; 1 Cor. 11:7.
7. Compare Communist China’s commune arrangement with that of the Bible.
7 Communist China has gone one step farther in its sinister efforts to break up the ancient family unit. This the Chinese have tried to do by organizing their “communes.” Under this attempted arrangement, unified family life of individuals practically ceases. The community in this way becomes responsible for the life, breeding and activity of all people in its confines. Large groups of men and women are herded together to undertake specified work projects. The authority of the male over the woman has been terminated. Women are permitted to live free, independent lives, no longer subject to husbands as God arranged in the beginning. (Gen. 2:24) The power of the parents over their children has been broken. When children are born the babies are brought up by the State in large state-operated nurseries very much in the way that eggs are taken from hens and then incubated. In this manner the State or the community becomes the upbringer of the young. This usurps the divinely ordained places and offices of the father and the mother. All this is further contrary to nature, as only the natural parents can administer the genuine love, care and attention so vital for healthy development of offspring. Such violations of basic laws of God-designed nature can only lead to reapings of dire consequences.c—Gal. 6:7, 8.
THE FAMILY IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES
8. What is happening to family circles in the Western democracies?
8 In the democracies of the West, too, deviations have set in over the years, and these are breaking up family circles. In this type of society father comes home after working hours to eat quickly and dress and then to be out with his cronies for an evening of entertainment. Additionally, the husband has his meeting nights at the club, his bowling nights, his hunting expeditions, his brotherhood night at the church, and so on, which keep his calendar of activities full as a segregated individual away from his family. Mother, too, has her card clubs, her ladies’ aid night at the church, her special social friends, all of which keep her busy many nights of the week, going her segregated way. The teen-age children, too, have a full diary of events each week that keep them busy with their Scout groups, their Sunday-school youth meetings, school parties and going out with their neighborhood “gang.” All this disunites the family circle, contrary to Bible principles. No effective progressive family law and order are maintained. No joint family accomplishments are achieved through family enterprises and activities. No common recreation of the family is enjoyed, since each goes his separate way to compound the narrow sex or age views of his group.—Col. 3:18-21.
9. How is it that the machine man comes to the fore?
9 In the schools and in every walk of later life competition is present. Mass psychology molds the thinking of students and adults alike. Materialistic goals are continually set before every member of the family through press, radio, television and the cinema. Individual advantage is stressed, which is contrary to the Bible’s way of love and unselfish interest in others based on principle. Both men and women go out to work and become mere cogs in corporate machines. Success is measured in money and not in the finer values of life. In Western societies the dignity of the God-designed individual man is likewise receding into the background while the machine man comes to the fore.—1 Cor. 13:5; Phil. 2:4, 21.
A NEW WORLD SOCIETY AT HAND
10, 11. (a) What is remarkably happening by means of a New World society? (b) Briefly describe the history of the nucleus of this new society.
10 In fulfillment of Bible prophecy there is developing in the earth today a remarkable New World society. Through its nucleus of anointed ones under the established Kingdom of the Seed of Abraham, families from 185 lands are already seeking to bless themselves by such means. (Gen. 22:17, 18) This includes returning to the original Biblical standards of family life and purpose. What are the facts about this New World society at hand?
11 From the spring of 1919 forward the remaining thousands of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses on earth became restored in pureness of their worship and service of the Most High God. They had survived years of persecution, opposition and fiery testing. These now came forth as a proved, cleansed, devoted, loyal, integrity-keeping body of servants of Jehovah. Earlier, in 1914, the facts were abundant that Jehovah’s kingdom had been established in the heavens. So as a follow-through the time had also come for the laying of the foundation of a “new earth” society. (Isa. 51:16; 65:17) This proved to be the case in 1919. Thus this remnant of anointed ones became in fact the nucleus or center of a transformed society of mankind dedicated to the Christian way of life and in accord with Biblical standards.—Rom. 12:2.
12, 13. (a) What sort of persons have come to adhere to this clean nucleus? (b) Give the designation of this new society, and when was it so accepted? (c) What is its guiding charter? (d) What is declared by them in their 1953 resolution?
12 In the expansion of this society all who became associated with them were expected to make over their pattern of thinking, to build new personalities according to Bible principles and to seek peace by beating “their swords into plowshares.” (Col. 3:9, 10; Isa. 2:4) Like a firm core in a snowball, this clean nucleus attracted other lovers of righteousness to adhere to this developing organization. (Zech. 8:23) Thus since 1931 a “great crowd” of honest men and women have come into active association with this enlarged society. The leaven of righteousness of this God-approved nucleus of anointed ones has permeated to the far reaches of this new social spectacle on the world scene in 185 lands. (Matt. 13:33) At their 1950 Theocracy’s Increase Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses held at Yankee Stadium, New York city, July 30 to August 6, they accepted the designation for this visible organization of God, that of the New World Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Three years later at their second world assembly at Yankee Stadium the following resolution (quoted in part) was unanimously adopted, setting forth the Bible as their guiding charter:
13 “THEREFORE we, as witnesses of Jehovah and as members of his New World society, gathered in our scores of thousands from scores of lands in international assembly here at Yankee Stadium, New York city, N. Y., this 20th day of July, 1953, seize this as a most fitting occasion to adopt the following resolution: . . . THAT we publicly acknowledge our debt to Jehovah for the vision and hope he has given us of his promised new world of righteousness. . . . He has made us a New World society by his dealings with us according to his precious promises. This New World society thus derives its origin from no human source and it is dependent upon no earthly political states, applying to none of them for its incorporation as a body and for the chartering of its existence and activities. . . . THAT, as a New World society, we hold fast to the indissoluble ties that bind us. We are one people, without distinction according to race, color, language, tribe or nation. We have the one living and true God, Jehovah. We have one common Monarch under God, his Son and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. We have a law common to us all no matter where we live, Jehovah’s theocratic law set forth in the Holy Bible. We have been taken out of the nations and divided off from the doomed world. We have the one country to which we are unitedly moving, the new world of God’s creating.”—The Watchtower, 1953, pages 507, 508.
14, 15. (a) To what is the family circle likened? Explain. (b) What advantages are there for the family to be an integrated whole?
14 Within this new society the family circle in unity is considered to be like a wheel in balance. A wheel is made for transporting, carrying burdens or progressing along. When each family member is in his proper place, the parents at the hub and the children as the spokes, then each carries his due proportion and the family organization is able to move on smoothly. The family circle can roll along over rough terrain as well as smooth ground; it can roll uphill and downhill with equal control, provided the rim is maintained in perfect position with respect to the hub’s direction. However, if one of the spokes is too long or too short, or the hub itself splits or gets out of center, then there are noises and jars of thumps and bumps. Family unity is impaired. Progress is hindered and little satisfaction is gained by those traveling along.
15 In the New World society the family is an integrated whole working together. No “spokes” are segregated off or half the “hub” not present. Rather, all parts of the wheellike family work, worship, study, play and do things together. This brings about wholesome family contentment, peace and progress toward life goals. No one in the family is overburdened with daily tasks. In the theocratically directed Christian household the non-Biblical saying does not hold true, namely, “A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.” With all in the family sharing chores together, jobs are quickly performed and time is found to be spared for other desired activities.—Col. 4:5.
16. Describe unified family worship in the New World society.
16 As in ancient theocratic Israel, unified family worship is found essential to the New World society family of today. The father as head is conscious of the family’s spiritual needs. One or more times each week a family Bible study is regularly held. All members, young and old, have opportunities to participate. At the morning meal in many homes the entire family shares in considering the daily Bible text found in the Society’s Yearbook. At each mealtime a prayer of thanks is offered to Jehovah for the daily provision of life’s necessities. Then at the close of the day, all members in many homes unite in family prayer with the father expressing the verbal petitions, many kneeling on such occasion. During the week personal Bible study is encouraged for each family member at his private convenience. Five hours each week the entire family attends three meetings of their local congregation of the New World society. Since such a family is made up of God-fearing dedicated ministers, time is set aside every week for ministerial service from house to house and holding Bible studies with other interested people. In this manner sacrifices of praise are offered upon God’s altarlike arrangement for Christians today. Even little children go along with their parents to hear the public declarations of praise being announced in the house-to-house ministry. In time the little Davids or little Dinahs too desire to add their contribution to the witness being given to the householders of the world.—Matt. 5:3; Ex. 12:26, 27; Eph. 6:18; Heb. 10:25; 13:10, 15; Matt. 21:15, 16.
17. What are some of the things that make for a smooth-running family?
17 For a smooth-running family, love, cooperation and discipline are necessary. The father is the presiding head, takes the lead and sets policy for the family. The wife is submissive to her husband. As a helper to him, a fellow worker, the mother implements matters by managing the household and keeps order while her husband is away. Children from infancy are taught to respect and obey parents, to submit to direction. Parents show love toward each other and toward their children. Where necessary, the rod of correction is used to curb youthful foolishnesses. Christian parents fully appreciate that they are responsible for their children’s spiritual welfare. By their faithful Christian example in conduct and service, Christian parents convey an indirect sanctification upon their minor children, which means blessing and favor from Jehovah.—1 Tim. 3:4, 5; Eph. 5:22; Prov. 22:6; 1 Cor. 7:14.
18. Enumerate some of the benefits that come to a unified theocratic family.
18 A unified theocratic family enjoys many beneficial results. The household is one blessed with understanding and balance. Unity is achieved in all household duties and domestic relations. There is a rich blending of personalities and relationships that cultivates love, joy, peace, self-control and long-suffering. Money matters do not cause friction. Materialism is put in the background, since spiritual-mindedness is put to the fore. Family recreation is shared together, producing much happiness, genuine humor and an inner stability. Children become endowed with spiritual aspirations. Teen-agers gain a maturity, a poise, a confidence, an outlook for the future that is remarkable. Bible principles are discussed, understood and then applied to daily life. All this safeguards the spiritual health of each family member; wrong desires are dispelled. Integrated family life pays off in every respect.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
19, 20. (a) How may youthful interests be wisely channeled, and by whom? (b) In contrast, why is it that New World society youths are so different from their youthful equals in the old-world society? (c) What situation still requires to be studied, and when?
19 Children and youths are not segregated off into Sunday-school classes or left to form neighborhood “gangs” or to join youth movements of various sorts. Rather, teen-agers spend their after-school hours with other youths of the New World society. They busy themselves profitably. They examine the thrilling facts and beauty of nature in all its many fields from God’s intriguing “book of nature.” Or they may share at times in extra-ministerial activities, which are soul-stirring. Alert theocratic parents seek to channel the enthusiastic interests of their youthful family members. Such parents wisely join their youths in nature studies, taking of hikes out into the country to learn from things of nature. Others organize sightseeing expeditions en route to and from their theocratic assemblies. Still others take their teen-agers along with them on various secular jobs where such is practical. Teen-agers get greater satisfaction from the warm companionship of their parents in such exploits into worthwhile fields of interest than by attending social parties.
20 Already youths of the New World society are far ahead of their contemporaries in the old-world society where youths feel neglected, frustrated, become sex crazy, have the gambling spirit, take chances, are awkward, unbalanced, in fact, unprepared to meet later the responsibilities of mature adult life. On the other hand, theocratic youths have courage, are lively, know that they are wanted and loved, are enthusiastic and respectful, possess virtue and sex control that are enviable. All such are the mere beginning of fruitages of integrated family life. Divorces are avoided and marriages are made a success. The entire family is thus conducted with dignity, honor and joy that are a credit to their God, Jehovah. But one will say, That is all very wonderful where the entire family are Jehovah’s witnesses. Such will ask, How can a Christian conduct himself in a divided household and still maintain his membership in the New World society? The following article will consider this matter for us.
a New York Times Magazine, August 27, 1961, p. 21.
b New York Times Magazine, August 27, 1961, p. 78.
c New York Times Magazine, October 22, 1961, p. 81.