Questions From Readers
◼ If the child of a congregation elder is guilty of serious wrongdoing, does that automatically disqualify the father from being an elder?
A brother is not ‘automatically disqualified’ from serving as an elder if his minor son or daughter has some serious difficulty. All the factors involved need to be considered in determining whether he qualifies.
Titus 1:6 says that an elder should be “free from accusation,” “having believing children that were not under a charge of debauchery nor unruly.” (Compare 1 Timothy 3:4.) Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to that standard.
Accordingly, The Watchtower of September 1, 1983, made the point that an elder needs to put forth balanced effort to provide for the emotional and spiritual needs of his family, his wife and any children that they have. A man’s being negligent in this regard would likely have a detrimental effect on them. When a child’s spiritual and disciplinary needs are not cared for, he or she may fail to progress spiritually and may get involved in serious wrongdoing. This would disqualify the negligent father from serving the congregation as an appointed elder, for, as 1 Timothy 3:5 says: “If indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God’s congregation?”
A lengthier discussion of this is found on pages 31, 32 of The Watchtower of February 1, 1978. It showed why all the factors involved must be considered. For example, one elder regularly studied the Bible with his five children, shared in recreation, took them to Christian meetings and in other normal ways strove to fulfill his responsibilities as a Christian father. Four of the children did very well, but one son constantly was a problem, in time succumbing to sin. That would not necessarily disqualify the father from being an elder if he still had the congregation’s respect.
The congregation may know that a brother did all that reasonably might be expected of a Christian father in caring for his family, whether he had one child or many. So if a child went bad, they may not feel that this was the father’s fault. They may appreciate that the deflections of Judas Iscariot and the angel who became Satan are not to be blamed on Jesus or Jehovah. It is vital that a brother serving as an elder continue to have the high respect of the congregation so that all can accept his Bible-based counsel and, having observed how his general conduct turns out, can imitate his faith.—Hebrews 13:7.
◼ Could a Christian accept a bone-marrow transplant, since blood is made in the marrow?
Doctors perform most bone-marrow transplants by withdrawing some marrow from a donor (often a near relative) and then injecting or transfusing it into the sick patient. They hope that the marrow graft will reach the patient’s marrow cavities and later function normally. Usually this procedure is considered only in critical cases (such as aplastic anemia or acute leukemia) for there are acknowledged hazards in preparing a person for a marrow graft and in treating him afterward.
As the question itself notes, red blood cells are formed in the marrow of certain bones such as the ribs, sternum and pelvic bones. Hence, it is understandable why, in the light of the Bible’s prohibition on blood, the question arises whether a Christian could accept a graft of human bone marrow.
The Bible states clearly that God’s servants must ‘abstain from blood.’ (Acts 15:28, 29; Deuteronomy 12:15, 16) But, since red cells originate in the red bone marrow, do the Scriptures class marrow with blood? No. In fact, animal marrow is spoken of like any other flesh that could be eaten. Isaiah 25:6 says that God will prepare for his people a banquet that includes “well-oiled dishes filled with marrow.” Normal slaughtering and drainage procedures never drain all blood cells from the marrow. Yet once a carcass is drained, then any of the tissue may be eaten, including the marrow.
Of course, marrow used in human marrow transplants is from live donors, and the withdrawn marrow may have some blood with it. Hence, the Christian would have to resolve for himself whether—to him—the bone-marrow graft would amount to simple flesh or would be unbled tissue. Additionally, since a marrow graft is a form of transplant, the Scriptural aspects of human organ transplants should be considered. See “Questions From Readers” in our issue of March 15, 1980. Finally, writing in Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (Update I, 1981, page 138), Dr. D. E. Thomas observes that “virtually all marrow transplant recipients will require platelet transfusions” and many are given “packed red blood cells.” So the Christian should consider what additional issues he would have to face if he submitted to a marrow transplant.—Proverbs 22:3.
Though a personal decision has to be made on this matter, the Bible’s comments about blood and marrow should help the individual to decide.