Questions From Readers
▪ How advisable is it to have your child live with worldly relatives simply because they can offer the child material advantages?
The Scriptures show that parents have the privilege and responsibility of caring for their children, which includes providing needed spiritual care. It would be shortsighted for a Christian husband and wife to disregard that God-given assignment just so a child might gain material advantages by living with a non-Christian relative.
In some lands it is quite common to send a child to live with relatives for extended periods. Often this is done by parents living in remote areas where the educational facilities are limited. They send a child to relatives in a city (or to a boarding school) so that the child can get a better education or be exposed to a more advanced life-style. Usually the child is expected to do housework or in some other way repay the relatives for their accepting him into their home.
This arrangement is thought to have material advantages, but they may not be as great as they appear. Experience often has shown that there are bad effects on a child when he is uprooted from familiar surroundings and forced to live in his relatives’ household away from his parents. Frequently, instead of the child’s being treated as an equal to any other children in that home, he is considered like a house servant and is discriminated against. As you can imagine, frustration and resentment usually arise when a youth, with or without cause, feels that he is being treated unfairly. (Compare Genesis 27:30-41.) The resulting emotional upset and unhappiness can interfere with how much he learns, even though he is attending a good school. So is he really benefited? Delinquency is another common result when a child is deprived of regular discipline from loving parents.
The counsel of God’s Word helps to prevent such sad results. Basically the Bible urges parents to care for their own children. Of course, Jehovah God realized that some extreme situations would arise wherein some persons other than the parents would have to care for children.* Thus, he counseled his servants to assist fatherless children or those orphaned by the death of both parents. (Deuteronomy 14:28, 29; 16:9-14; 24:17-21; 26:12, 13; Psalm 10:14; James 1:27) But the primary emphasis in the Scriptures is for parents to care for their own children’s material, spiritual and emotional needs.—Compare 1 Timothy 5:8.
God counseled parents concerning his words: “You must also teach them to your sons, so as to speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18, 19) Could parents do that if they had voluntarily sent their children away to worldly relatives for extended periods? No, parents need to be with their children to offer regular correction and parental instruction, as well as the loving environment that young persons so need. (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 6:20) Clearly, a Christian child’s lasting (even everlasting) welfare would not be advanced if he were sent to live with worldly relatives for secular education, at the expense of spiritual instruction in his own home. Christians around the earth know that in this system of things bringing up a youth to serve Jehovah is a hard job, requiring constant parental supervision. Certainly the prospect of success would be lessened if a child were cut off from a Christian home just for material advantages.
In this regard reflect on the example of Jesus, who was brought up in the remote Galilean town of Nazareth. Obedient to God, Joseph and Mary had Jesus remain with them in Nazareth, where he ‘progressed in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men.’—Luke 2:41-52.
The present system of things emphasizes education and financial success. Worldly parents are heard to say things such as, ‘I don’t want my son to grow up to be a janitor.’ Even Christian parents can be infected with a similar viewpoint toward education and material advantages. But parents who trust in Jehovah’s wisdom will put first their children’s laying “a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Timothy 6:9, 19.
▪ Jesus told a man whom he had healed: “Do not sin anymore, in order that something worse does not happen to you.” Did he mean that we get sick because we have sinned?
No, each sickness is not necessarily a result of a specific sin.
John chapter five tells of Jesus’ healing a man who had been sick many years. Later Jesus saw the man in the temple area and said: “See, you have become sound in health. Do not sin anymore, in order that something worse does not happen to you.”—John 5:14.
All of us have inherited sin and imperfection from Adam. (Romans 5:12) One evidence is that we “naturally” get sick at times. Evidently the man whom Jesus healed was sick as a result of inherited imperfection. By God’s mercy the man was healed and shown the way of salvation through Christ. He should then follow the Savior. If, instead, the man turned to deliberate sin, something worse than sickness would befall him; he would be guilty of sinning against the spirit, meriting everlasting destruction.—Matthew 12:31, 32.
A rare and sad situation is that of a young girl who has a child resulting from rape. Those immediately involved, the girl and her parents, can decide what course is advisable in view of all the factors, including her physical and emotional state. In some cases like this the infant has been accepted and given a loving Christian upbringing in the girl’s family. In other cases another Christian couple wanting to care for a child, and being in a position to do so, have been allowed to adopt the baby.