Questions from Readers
● At what age is it proper for a boy or a girl to start going out on “dates” with one of the opposite sex?—M. Q., U.S.A.
With all the emphasis that is placed on this in the modern world, it is only natural that young folks are concerned about it. But it is not wise to let it become the matter of chief concern. Turn in your Bible to Ecclesiastes 12:1, and notice where it says youths should focus their interest. It reads: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: ‘I have no delight in them.’” Then see what Ec 12 verse 13 says: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” Yes, this is the whole purpose of living; everything else we do in life produces good results only if it is kept in its proper relation to our service to God.
When you are single you are free to move about and take up assignments in the service of God that married persons often cannot. There are marvelous blessings for those who take up the full-time ministry as Jehovah’s witnesses. You might serve at one of the Watch Tower Society’s Bethel homes or as a special pioneer or in the missionary work, possibly as a circuit servant, visiting and serving congregations. The years remaining before the end of this system of things are very few; the privileges now open will never be repeated; this is the time to take advantage of them.
In time, most young folks do get married, but why get yourselves so emotionally involved that you feel impelled to marry almost as soon as you complete your schooling, or perhaps even before that? Why not get a taste of life first and lay hold of the service opportunities that are open to you? Once you have set your course in life, you can intelligently plan other things around it. You will be much happier if you do. Then, when the time comes that you want to take on the responsibilities that go with marriage, you will be better equipped to handle them in a right way.
As to seeking close association with a person of the opposite sex, it is well to realize that this is not simply a form of recreation. The end to which it naturally leads is marriage. In some lands a young man and his bride-to-be never even visit together before their wedding; it is all arranged by their parents. In other places parents always chaperone their daughter until she is married, and it is not wise to offend the public sense of decency by ignoring that custom. However, in certain places a large number of parents do let their minor children keep company with one of the opposite sex unattended under certain circumstances. It is not up to the young persons to decide at what age this is to be permitted or if a chaperone will be required. That is the God-given responsibility of the father; and, if there is no living father in the home, the responsibility rests with the mother. Children who are seeking to do what is pleasing to the Lord will not try to take these matters into their own hands or pressure their parents to get their own way, but will wisely apply the counsel recorded at Colossians 3:20, namely: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.”
As for the parents, they must shoulder the responsibility and then be willing to face up to the consequences of their decisions. It is not for the Watch Tower Society to make rules for them to follow. But it is a loving and considerate parent who firmly protects his child against emotional involvement until his offspring reaches an age when he is in position to follow through by getting married.
It is not a kindness for parents to close their eyes to what is going on when their teen-age children begin to lavish affection on someone of the opposite sex, because this awakens desires in their bodies that cry out for satisfaction, and all too often they ruin their lives by getting involved in fornication. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10, 18) Nor does it show love on the part of Christian parents to allow their minor child to go out on “dates” and keep regular company alone with an unbeliever of the opposite sex, calling it recreation. It is heading their offspring into a life filled with heartache and grief and, in many cases, it will mean that they forsake the worship of Jehovah and lose out on life in the new system of things.—Deut. 7:3, 4; Neh. 13:26, 27.
There are no two ways about it: Keeping close company with a person of the opposite sex is not a game; it is not recreation; it is a definite step toward assuming lifelong responsibilities.
● In the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Habakkuk 1:12 reads in part: “O my God, my Holy One, you do not die.” However, other translations say “we shall not die.” (AS, AV) What accounts for this difference?—S. C., U.S.A.
In copying Biblical manuscripts, early Jewish scribes, or sopherim, endeavored to be scrupulously accurate. But later these copyists took certain liberties. For instance, they made eighteen emendations in the Hebrew text of the Scriptures. Such changes were assumed corrections. However, the Masoretes, scribal successors of the sopherim, noted these alterations, making a record of them in the margin of the Hebrew text. These notes are known as the Masorah. One of the Eighteen Emendations of the Sopherim, or tiqqunei sopherim, is to be found in Habakkuk 1:12.
Some translations, such as the King James Version, render Habakkuk 1:12 in accord with the Masoretic Hebrew text as changed by the sopherim. Thus, they read, “we shall not die.” But the New World Bible Translation Committee conscientiously restored the original reading, which states in address to Jehovah, “you do not die.” This rendition is also consistent with the rest of the verse.
According to the King James Version, Habakkuk 1:12 reads: “Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” Repeated reference is made to God, but with this fact the words “we shall not die,” a reference to the people, seem inconsistent. The rendering in the New World Translation poses no such problem, however. It presents a parallelism in phrases, reading: “Are you not from long ago, O Jehovah? O my God, my Holy One, you do not die. O Jehovah, for a judgment you have set it; and, O Rock, for a reproving you have founded it.”
Other translations of recent times agree with the New World Translation at Habakkuk 1:12. For instance, An American Translation says: “Art not thou from of old, O LORD, my holy God? Thou diest not!” The Emphasised Bible, by J. B. Rotherham, reads there: “Art not thou from of old, O Yahweh my God, my Holy One? Thou diest not!”
Scholar C. D. Ginsburg made the following significant comments regarding Habakkuk 1:12: “All the ancient records emphatically state that this exhibits the corrected text by the Sopherim and that the original reading was: ‘Art thou not from everlasting? O Lord my God, mine Holy One, thou diest not.’ The parallelism plainly shows that this is the correct reading. The address in both clauses is to the Lord who is described in the first clause as being from everlasting and in the second clause as never dying or enduring for ever. The introduction, therefore, of a new subject in the plural with the predicate ‘we shall not die’ thus ascribing immortality to the people is contrary to the scope of the passage . . . The reason for the alteration is not far to seek. It was considered offensive to predicate of the Lord ‘thou diest not.’ Hence ‘we shall not die’ was substituted.”—Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible, 1897, p. 358.
The Jewish sopherim evidently made their emendation in Habakkuk 1:12 because they thought it blasphemous to associate the idea of mortality with God in any way. However, it is by no means irreverent to say in addressing Jehovah God: “You do not die.” In fact, these words strike a Scriptural blow at the modern-day attitude that God is dead and they harmonize with Moses’ inspired psalm wherein it is said to Jehovah: “Even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God.”—Ps. 90:1, 2.