Questions From Readers
■ Childbirth is a natural process, so would it be wrong for a Christian to practice as a midwife, despite not meeting the state’s license or certification requirements?
True, childbirth is a natural process, a marvel for which our Life-Giver Jehovah can be credited. (Genesis 1:27, 28; 49:25) And from early times experienced midwives have assisted many deliveries. (Exodus 1:15-20) WHO (World Health Organization) reports that traditional birth attendants or midwives help with 60-80 percent of deliveries in Third World countries. (Medical Tribune, January 26, 1983) Even in some advanced lands there is growing acceptance of routine deliveries being handled at birthing centers or at home with trained nurse-midwives providing primary care.
Bible history shows, however, that complications at birth can occur, even bringing death to the mother, the child or both. (Genesis 3:16; 35:16-19) WHO reports that “some 500,000 women die annually from complications of childbearing.” Thus many health authorities have encouraged deliveries in hospitals or where a doctor is present. They also have offered programs for training midwives and then certifying or licensing those who qualify.
Of course, there are conflicting preferences, claims and methods: Is home birth to be preferred where no complications are foreseen; which delivery position is easiest on the mother; will a baby do better if born in a soothing environment, even under water; should anesthesia normally be used; when should the umbilical cord be cut?
The Christian congregation takes no official position on such matters, for they are personal. Nor does it urge women to use an obstetrician rather than a nurse-midwife, or vice versa. That, too, is for personal decision. But husband and wife should be interested in what they feel is best for the mother and the child, desiring that both of them live to serve Jehovah in good health.
The WHO report said that “training [of midwives] stresses methods of safe delivery and cleanliness.” Programs for registering, certifying or licensing persons to assist with childbirth are evidently designed to see that mother and child have available qualified care, rather than relying on unqualified practitioners. The law of the land may even rule that only persons who are licensed or certified may practice assisting deliveries. A person who disregarded known laws on this matter could be in danger of prosecution as a lawbreaker and could incur bloodguilt if a death resulted through carelessness or incompetence.—Romans 13:1-4.
When it comes to seeking or providing health care, whether regarding childbirth or other forms of treatment, Christians should bear in mind Jesus’ statement: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.”—Matthew 22:21.
■ Should one speak of “chapters” regarding the sections of the Bible book of Psalms?
The Bible is customarily divided into 66 books, Psalms being one of these. A chapter is a main division of any book, whether a history book, a novel or even a book of the Bible. Thus we commonly speak of Genesis chapter 1, chapter 2, and so on. From this standpoint the standard 150 main divisions of the book of Psalms might also be referred to as chapters.
However, the English title “Psalms” is derived from the Greek Septuagint, which calls the book Psalmoi. That Greek title refers to songs sung with musical accompaniment. Evidently the various poetic writings making up our book of Psalms originally were sung, perhaps accompanied by a harp. In fact, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “psalm” as “a sacred song or poem used in worship; esp : one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms.”
Hence, while it would not be wrong or improper to speak of “Psalms chapter 100,” for instance, it is more accurate and descriptive to speak of “Psalm 100” or “the 100th psalm.” That is, in fact, the manner the disciple Luke used in writing Acts, for he mentions one statement as being “written in the second psalm.”—Acts 13:33.