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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does a substantial health danger justify having an abortion?

"If at the time of childbirth a choice must be made between the life of the mother and that of the child, it is up to the individuals directly involved to make that choice. However, advances in medical procedures in many lands have made this situation very rare." - AWAKE! 6/09 p. 8 Why We Did Not Have an Abortion

While this is a problem involving very deep human feelings and concerns, the perfect counsel of God shows that a potential risk to mother or child does not justify inducing an abortion.

Human views on this question are varied and often conflicting. But fundamental to the Bible view is life and respect for it. Human life has both a divine origin and a divine purpose. (Gen. 1:27; Job 33:4; Ps. 100:3-5) Throughout the Bible we see reflected God’s deep respect for life. He lovingly urged humans to treasure their lives and to respect as sacred the lives of others. One who, without regard for divine law, took the life of another human, even a babe in the womb, was both guilty and accountable.—Gen. 9:5, 6; Ex. 21:14, 22-25.

It cannot be denied that sometimes a pregnant woman faces a considerable danger. A health problem, such as diabetes, hypertension or other cardio-vascular diseases, may lead sincerely concerned doctors to conclude that her life is in jeopardy. She may be told, ‘Either have an abortion, or you will die.’ Or abortion may be recommended when it seems that the child may be born blind or deformed, such as when the mother contracts rubella (measles) during the pregnancy. Some might reason in such cases that having an abortion is actually showing respect for life. Though in no way minimizing the seriousness of such problems or the sincerity of those recommending the abortion, one should have in mind the life of both the mother and the child.

There is no such thing today as a perfect pregnancy, for all humans are imperfect. (Rom. 5:12) Thus every pregnant woman faces a certain risk; the sad fact is that some women, even healthy women, die during pregnancy and childbirth. (Gen. 35:16-19) Is every pregnancy to be aborted just because a risk to the mother’s life or health exists? Obviously not. True, in some instances the danger is greater than normal because of the woman’s age or health. Still, do not most women, including many who face unusual risks, survive childbirth? And it must be admitted that however well meant it is, a medical diagnosis can be wrong. So how could one who accepts God’s view of the sacredness of life conclude that a potential danger would justify an abortion? Is the developing child’s life to be cut off simply because of what might occur?

Similarly, with every pregnancy there is the possibility that the child will be born with a defect or deformity. “About one in 14 babies is born with a genetic disorder; the afflicted range from the diabetic . . . to the hopeless cripple who may live only a few days.” (New York Times Magazine, Sept. 8, 1974, p. 100) Should this potential risk lead to the conclusion that all pregnancies should be ended by abortion? Not at all.

Here too in some instances the risk of the child’s having a defect may be above normal. This seems to be so, for example, when the woman is over forty years of age or in cases where she took certain potent medicines or contracted a potentially damaging disease in the early stages of pregnancy. About 10 to 15 percent of infants born to mothers infected with rubella during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy have some harmful effects of the disease that are recognizable in the first year of life. (Of course, this also means that 85 to 90 percent of such children are not thus affected.) But how can one having deep respect for life say that a mere potential risk of damage to a child justifies ending the developing child’s life?

Illustrating that such dangers must be viewed as still only possibilities is the case of a woman in South Africa. Before she was aware of her pregnancy she received an injection for a kidney ailment. Later her doctor said that, as a result, her child would be either an imbecile or horribly deformed; he urged her to have an abortion. When she learned from Jehovah’s witnesses what the Bible says about respect for life, she declined the abortion. She realized that, even if her child was damaged, Jehovah could undo the damage in the coming New Order. (Compare Isaiah 35:5, 6; Revelation 21:4.) What was the outcome? She gave birth to a healthy baby girl. But even if her daughter had been affected and needed extra care and treatment, would that change the rightness of deciding to let the girl live, with the prospect of eternal life?

Consequently, a woman who has been urged to have a therapeutic abortion because of a danger to her health or life, or to her child, needs to fix in mind the Bible’s view. A possible or potential danger, even a grave one, does not justify taking matters into one’s own hands and deliberately cutting off the life of the child in the womb. Deciding according to the Scriptural view will take real faith and courage, but it assuredly will be the proper decision, and one that Jehovah will approve of forever.

Tubal Pregnancy

Sometimes the treatment of a diseased condition, such as cancer of the cervix, causes the death of the developing embryo. But this may be an unavoidable side effect of the treatment; abortion is neither the treatment itself nor the objective. Similarly, in some cases a fertilized ovum implants and begins to grow in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Such a tubal ectopic pregnancy cannot develop fully in this small tube; in time it will terminate with the rupture of the tube and the death of the embryo. If this condition is detected in advance, doctors usually treat it by removing the affected fallopian tube before it ruptures. A Christian woman with a tubal pregnancy can decide whether to accept this operation. Normally she undoubtedly would be willing to face any risks of pregnancy so that her child could live. But with a tubal pregnancy she faces a grave risk while there is no possibility that the embryo can continue to live and a child be born. -3/15/75 Watchtower; Questions From Readers

For more, see the category:


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gen. 19:24 ("Jehovah rained down fire ... from Jehovah")

"Then the LORD rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven." - KJV.

This trinitarian 'proof'-text seems too ridiculous to even bother with, but some trinitarians appear to be serious about it.  It goes this way: when we read Gen. 19:24, we find there are two different persons who have the only personal name of God, "Jehovah," (or "LORD" in some mistranslations).  Therefore these two different persons with God's personal name show the "plural personality" of that one God.
Even if we assume this to be a correct translation, it seems obvious that it can be honestly interpreted as a simple repetition of the same person's name.  That is, the very same person who produced the brimstone and fire, Jehovah, is also the one who rained it down upon these cities.
The explanatory note by trinitarian Dr. Young in Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, for this verse states: "JEHOVAH...JEHOVAH, i.e. from Himself."
If that is the correct explanation, then this scripture might provide a somewhat parallel example: "And King Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon." - 1 Kings 10:13, RSV.  (Cf. KJV.)  Even though this is a very literal translation of the original manuscripts and the one personal name of King Solomon is actually used twice, we surely don't believe there were two different persons making up the one King Solomon!  Wouldn't we interpret this as Dr. Young (and others) have done with "Jehovah" above?   That is obviously how the Living Bible, NIV, MLB, NASB, etc. have interpreted it.   ("King Solomon gave her everything she asked him for, besides the presents he had already planned." - LB.)
Another honest explanation for Gen. 19:24 given by trinitarian scholars themselves is that the use of the phrase in question ("from the LORD out of heaven") is in doubt.  The very trinitarian New American Bible, 1970 ed. (Catholic) encloses the last part of Gen. 19:24 in brackets: "the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah [from the LORD out of heaven]."  And the preface to the NAB tells us: "Doubtful readings ... appear within brackets." - p. 45, St. Joseph Edition.
That is why these trinitarian Bible translations have actually omitted that doubtful portion: NEB, REB, AT, Mo, LB, and GNB.  (E.g. "then the LORD rained down fire and brimstone from the skies on Sodom and Gomorrah." - New English Bible.)  And others, like the NJB, have rendered it "[Jehovah] rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire of his own sending."  Certainly no trinitarian Bible translation would do this if it could possibly be used as honest trinitarian evidence!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Luke 16:19-31 - A Parable That Does NOT Teach a Literal Torment in Hell

Luke 16:19-31 is one of the primary proof texts used by those who believe in literal torment in Hell, because it is the only Scripture which links Hades with "torment." But, there are many problems with interpreting this account as literal.

First, many Scholars list this as a parable. Parables are fictitious stories meant to teach us a point. We are not being given a literal account of what happens after death here. One edition of the NAB states: "Parable: A short fictitious narrative from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn. Keep in mind that the point of the parable (not the details) is God's message to believers."

A strong indication that this must be a parable is because Christ already said that he would not talk to the crowds "without an illustration" (Mt.13:34).

Then the context dictates that this be a parable since we have a continuous series of parables all directed at the Pharisees and the spiritual states of two classes.

The Pharisees' self-righteous complaint about Jesus teaching the common people is recorded in 15:2. Introducing the series of parables, 15:3 states "He told them this parable...". Five connected parables follow, all contrasting God's view of sinners as opposed to the attitude of the religious leaders. The last two condemn the Pharisees pride and covetousness and teach that we should be diligent in using all our assets to find favor with God.

Another evidence that this is a parable is because so many details have to be symbolic and not literal. Where does Jesus ever say that Dives was "bad"? Where does it say that Lazarus was good"? Are people rewarded just because they are poor and suffer? If we were to take this account as literal we would all have to give away our goods to avoid burning in hell. Was Lazarus literally in the "bosom of Abraham"? Would a literal drop of water really bring any comfort in a literal hell? Is there a literal "chasm" separating hell and heaven over which the good and bad can hold conversations? No, all these features are obviously symbolic.

It would be ridiculous to take the details of this parable literally. Therefore, since every one of these details are figurative, then Abraham, Lazarus, Dives, their "dying," as well as the "fire" and "torment" must be symbolic features of an allegorical story.

In parables you must interpret what the various details "mean." J. Patching put it succinctly:

"If this parable is describing actual conditions of the future then those in heaven will be able to hold conversations with those in Hell. People will be able to look across the impassable gulf and see their loved ones in indescribable torment. Fathers will see daughters, mothers will see their sons, husbands and wives see relatives all uttering ceaseless pleadings for cool water to assuage their thirst and anguish of soul. Continual torment as such being witnessed by loved ones, seeing and hearing such screaming and hopeless despair would hardly give one in heaven a sense of bless! Such a harrowing situation in no way would grant peace to heaven's occupants!"

Death pictured an unexpected change of circumstances. The "bosom position" is a common symbol in Scripture for a favored position (John 1:18; 13:23-25). Lazarus was now in a position of favor with God. Thus the common people, pictured by "Lazarus", now had God's blessings of spiritual discernment (Rom. 2:29; cf. Gal.3:7-9).

Regarding a bosom position, the ISBE says: "In a figurative sense it denotes intimacy and unrestrained intercourse (Gen. 16:5; 2 Sam. 12:8); tender care and watchfulness (Isa. 40:11); closest intimacy and most perfect knowledge (John. 1:18)."

Logically, just as Abraham's bosom is a symbol of a favored state, Hades is here a symbol of an unfavorable state. But we must answer the question, "Why would Jesus even use Sheol/Hades and associate it with "torment?" The reason is quite simple when we recognize that in the Bible Sheol/Hades is a very common symbol. It is regularly used in the Scriptures as a symbol of a despicable state. Several times David thanked God for delivering him from HADES (Ps.30:3; 86:13, LXX). When Jonah was in the belly of the fish he said he was in HADES. Was David or Jonah literally in HADES? No. But they were in a despicable condition and wanted to be released. Likewise, in parabolic language "HADES" here in Luke is not literally the place where dead souls are. It is the figurative Sheol/Hades as used by David, Jonah and many others.

Many Bible scholars recognize this figurative use HADES:

S.T. Bloomfield in his Notes on the N.T. says HADES is a "hyperbolical expression, figuratively representing the depth of adversity."

Adam Clarke: "The word 'hell', used in the common translation, conveys now an improper meaning of the original word;...Here it means a state of the utmost woe, and ruin, and desolation."

Likewise, the Greek word for "torment" (BASANOS) means "to go to the bottom" and was used figuratively for the touchstone by which gold was tested for their quality. So, "torment" is a fitting symbol for testing a person's worth in God's sight.

The rich man dwelling in Hades represents the spiritual degradation now experienced by the Pharisees. They now "thirst" for even a drop of the spiritual waters they had previously (Amos 8:11). The fiery torment experienced by the rich man represented Jesus' messages of fiery judgment proclaimed by Jesus' disciples that tormented these religious leaders day and night (Acts 4:1,2; 5:17, 18; 7:54).

Interpreting this account to be teaching a literal hellfire of torment would rip the parable out of it's context, which is not teaching anything about what happens after death. Rather, it is clearly an illustration depicting the difference in the *spiritual* conditions of the "rich" Pharisees and the "poor" common people (Luke 15:1,2; 16:1,14). This is easy to see since the context is in response to scoffing by the Pharisees, who were "money lovers" and setting themselves in an exalted position (16:14,15). Yet, the common people "kept drawing near to him to hear him" (Luke 15:1,2).

So the parable depicts a change of circumstances from God's standpoint. The Rich man represented the Jewish religious leaders, who were favored with spiritual privileges and opportunities, whereas Lazarus represented the common people to whom the religious leaders denied spiritual food.

And most important, interpreting the "torment in HADES" as literal would cause a contradiction in the Scriptures. It would be a highly irresponsible way of interpreting Scripture to cite this parabolic Scripture as evidence of the dead continuing to exist and ignore the scores of Scriptures which explicitly teach us that the condition of the dead is a return to the dust and unconsciousness. The rules of hermeneutics require any interpretation of symbols to agree with clear Scriptures which do not need any interpretation.

The entire testimony of the rest of the Bible, clearly states that those who are dead in SHEOL/HADES (hell) do not know anything, their "thoughts perish" and they are "dust" (Gen.3:19; Eccl.3:20; 9:5,10; Ps.6:5; 115:17; 146:4; Isa.38:18,19; 63:16; Job 14:21; Ezek.18:4; etc.) The Bible clearly shows that everyone, good and bad, go to the same place; "Hell" (HADES/SHEOL) (Job 14:13; Gen.37:35; Ps.16:10; Acts 2:27, 31).

Other biblical accounts are also contradicted if we construe this parable literally. Isa. 38:18, 19 says that the dead do not praise Jehovah (Ps. 6:5; 115:17). Those in SHEOL are ignorant of others (Job 14:21; Isa.63:16). If these scriptures are true then Lazarus cannot be literally in the bosom of Abraham whether in heaven or a "compartment" of HADES.

So, the question is, do we choose one doubtful interpretation of a highly symbolic scripture over the clear, explicit teaching of God's word? Will we make the Bible and Christ himself contradict themselves, simply because we want to hold onto a patently pagan and morbid doctrine?

The Bible is very clear on the condition of the dead. It uses clear and explicit statements. God does not hide true doctrine in parables and visions. He explicitly states the truth.

Source: This is the Best Answer given by Bar_Anerges to a question from Yahoo! Answers.

Also see:

For Jesus’ illustration of the rich man and Lazarus, did he draw on rabbinic beliefs concerning the dead? (Insight-2 pp. 225-226; Watchtower Online Library)

The Biblical Hell  (JW United; Luke 16:19-31 is addressed halfway down the page)

Hell (Search For Bible Truths Category)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Is it Scripturally Acceptable for a Christian to Eat Animal Bone Marrow? Bone Marrow Transplants?

Throughout human history, God consistently made it clear for humans to abstain from blood. God began with commanding Noah and his family to abstain from blood. (Gen. 9:4) He repeated this through the Mosaic law (Lev. 7:26,27; 17:10, 11, 13, 14) and He continued to remind us through the pages of the New Testament. (Acts 15:28, 29; Acts 15:19, 20) (For much more concerning Christians and the proper use of blood, see the Blood Category.)

Because red marrow plays an important role in the formation of blood, this has brought up the questions, "Should Christians eat animal bone marrow?" and "Should Christians accept bone marrow transplants?"

Is it Scripturally Acceptable for a Christian to Eat Animal Bone Marrow?

There are two kinds of marrow, yellow and red. Yellow, or inactive marrow is composed mainly of fat where the red marrow plays an important role in the formation of blood. Animal bone marrow was apparently used for food by the Israelites. (Compare Micah 3:2, 3.) And Isa. 25:6 says that God Himself "will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of [wine kept on] the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow." So animal marrow is spoken of like any other flesh that could be eaten.

What About Bone Marrow Transplants?

There is good information concerning whether Christians should accept a bone-marrow transplant in the 'Questions From Readers' in the 5-15-84 Watchtower. A small excerpt:

"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."

For more, see:

MARROW - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

MARROW (Insight-2 pp. 344-345; Watchtower Online Library)

Your Body’s Microscopic “Trucks” - Where Blood Cells Come From (g01 11/22 pp. 26-27; Watchtower Online Library)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What could make a person's prayers unacceptable to God?

What could make a person's prayers unacceptable to God?

Matt. 6:5: "When you pray, you must not be as the hypocrites; because they like to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the broad ways to be visible to men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full." (Also Luke 18:9-14)

Matt. 6:7: "When praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words."

Prov. 28:9: "He that is turning his ear away from hearing the law [of God]—even his prayer is something detestable."

Mic. 3:4: "At that time they will call to Jehovah for aid, but he will not answer them. And he will conceal his face from them in that time, according as they committed badness in their dealings."

Jas. 4:3: "You do ask, and yet you do not receive, because you are asking for a wrong purpose, that you may expend it upon your cravings for sensual pleasure."

Isa. 42:8, Dy; Matt. 4:10, JB: "I, the Lord ["Yahweh," JB; "Jehovah," NW]: this is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to graven things." "You must worship the Lord your God ["Jehovah your God," NW], and serve him alone." (Also Psalm 115:4-8, or 113:4-8 second set of numbers in Dy) (Prayer is a form of worship. If you pray before graven things, or images, is that going to please God?)

Isa. 8:19: "In case they should say to you people: `Apply to the spiritistic mediums or to those having a spirit of prediction who are chirping and making utterances in low tones,' is it not to its God that any people should apply? Should there be application to dead persons in behalf of living persons?"

Jas. 1:6, 7: "Let him keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah."

Also see:

Prayer (Search For Bible Truths)

The Power of Prayer (Specifically the second heading, "Not All Requests Are Granted"; w00 3/1 pp. 3-4; Watchtower Online Library)

How Should We Pray to God? (g 2/12 pp. 12-13; Watchtower Online Library)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Did Jehovah's Witnesses Really Believe That God's Throne Dwelled in the Alcyone Star System in the Pleiades Group?

On occasion, opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses have on offered this eons-old quote to try and discredit them:

"Alcyone, the central one of the renowned Pleiadic Stars... Alcyone, then, as far as science has been able to perceive, would seem to be the 'midnight throne' in which the whole system of gravitation has its seat, and from which the Almighty governs his universe..." - Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. III, 1891, p 327 and Reconciliation, 1928, p. 14

Some astronomers of that time long ago (1891) calculated that the Pleiades group of which Alcyone is the brightest was the center of our universe and the source of all gravitational attraction. Astronomers felt that the Pleiades were veiled by an unusual amount of "nebulous matter, a cosmical fog." The Bible uses the direction "north" often in referring to God and His actions. The Bible Students at that time and theologians from other religions assumed that all this gave evidence that God's throne or dwelling was in this system.

Note that even armed with the best astronomical data at the time, the quote above still does not make absolute statements (i.e. " far as science has been able to perceive", and "...would seem to be".)

Just like all other religions of the time, the early Bible Students were simply using the scientific knowledge of their day and trying to relate it to what the Bible says regarding God and His heavenly dwelling.

Just one example: All religions used to believe that the Earth and heavenly bodies were held up by an invisible "fluid" called "ether." But now everyone has changed this view as more accurate scientific information has become available.
So is it really fair to go back more than a hundred years to a religion's roots and point out everything that was wrong, especially if it has corrected it's understandings? These claims against Jehovah's Witnesses are hypocritical because they fail to tell others that EVERY religion has changed it's beliefs and practices over the same time period.

The very fact that critics of Witnesses constantly resort to such ridiculous arguments only proves that they realize that they have no real evidence against their beliefs now.

Additionally, is it really fair to say that this disproves what Jehovah's Witnesses believe now?

Jehovah's Witnesses have always been willing to change any belief in order to harmonize better with increased knowledge of Scriptural teaching. On the other hand, most other religions have proved that they will not change MAJOR doctrines such as the Trinity, the immortal soul, and hell fire even though their own scholars admit these beliefs are not taught in Scripture.

While Witnesses still adjust minor understandings of prophecy and periphery beliefs, major doctrines will not be changed. This is because the doctrinal knowledge has increased tremendously, so any recent changes have not been to doctrine but simple refinements in knowledge.

For those who wish to learn more about Jehovah's Witnesses, instead of relying on unreliable sources, you may wish to visit THE source at the Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses:

What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe? (JW.ORG)

About Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW.ORG)

Frequently Asked Questions About Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW.ORG)

Questions Often Asked by Interested People (JW.ORG)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Do Jehovah's Witnesses consider it idolatry to raise or display a national flag?

A flag is an image made by Man; it is a representation of the State. Flags often contain representations of things in the heavens, such as stars, as well as things on earth. So to dedicated Christians, kneeling before or saluting a flag would be a violation of the Second Commandment and of the Christian command to “flee from idolatry.” (Ex. 20:4, 5; 1 Cor. 10:14)

What about merely holding it, either in a parade or in a classroom, so that others can salute? Well, rather than ‘fleeing from idolatry’, that action would place the person at the very center of the idolatrous ceremony.

Some may wonder whether the act of standing would make someone an idolater. This action does not make one an idolater because merely standing quietly out of respect while others salute shows that you are only a respectful observer; the act of idolatry would be the saluting, not the mere standing in a normal manner.

Recommended Related Article:

“You Must Not Bow Down to Them” (w02 9/15 pp. 21-25; Watchtower Online Library)

Why Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Not Use Images in Their Worship? (w09 2/1 pp. 30-31; Watchtower Online Library)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Does the Bible Say About Cursing, Profanity, Cussing, Abusive Speech and Obscene Language?

When the Bible cautioned Christians to avoid outbursts of anger, it also mentioned avoiding the use of obscene language that often accompanies it:

“Put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)

In a different manner, sometimes obscene language is often used in a casual way including being used to humor others. The Bible also addresses this subject known as "obscene (or coarse) jesting". The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:

“Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming.” (Ephesians 5:3, 4) Clearly, obscene language, regardless of its intent, is offensive to God.

It is true that even though we all sin with our tongue, especially in the environment of sarcasm and backbiting that we live in (James 3:2), true Christians understand from scriptural counsel not to adopt a casual attitude toward abusive speech since God clearly disapproves of all speech that injures.

The Bible counsels us: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Ways to Avoid Obscene Speech

Avoiding obscene speech begins with learning to control the emotions and actions that lead up to it. The Bible identifies these:

“Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you.” (Ephesians 4:31)

The Bible commands for us to not allow anger to cause us to use obscene language: “Let nothing go forth unrestrained from your mouth.” (1 Samuel 2:3)

By filling your mind with proper thoughts, you will be building up right desires of the heart. This will affect your speech. Jesus stated: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)

By our own vigilance to control our tongue, coupled with God’s backing, we will be able to avoid the snare of profanity. The psalmist prayed: “Do set a guard, O Jehovah, for my mouth; do set a watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)

For more, see:

Abusive Speech; Obscene Talk (Search Results From the Watchtower Online Library)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Not Celebrate Birthdays?

There are many wholesome occasions that Jehovah's Witnesses participate in or celebrate. But some may wonder why Jehovah's Witnesses do not participate in birthday observances. "What is wrong with birthdays?" they may ask. "After all, there is no specific command in the Bible that condemns birthdays, is there?" Some have even pointed to Job 1:4 as evidence for celebrating birthdays noting that the Scripture seems to show Job’s children celebrating their birthdays. (Yet, upon closer examination of this Scripture, the Hebrew text shows that this does not apply to birthdays. Job himself apparently did not attend and at Job 1:5 Job even prayed for his children saying that they may have "sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.")  

To provide a basis in understanding why Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays, it is important to consider that Jehovah's Witnesses place the highest priority on basing their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible. So then, there needs to be an honest examination to Bible references and principles regarding birthdays.
What the Bible Does and Does Not Say About Birthdays

It is significant that the only two direct references in the Bible to birthday celebrations (Pharaoh of Egypt and Herod Antipas) were remembered for executions and painted in a negative light. (Gen. 40:18-22; 41:13; Mt. 14:6-11; Mark 6:21-28)

"Origen [a writer of the third century C.E.] . . . insists that `of all the holy people in the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod) who make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born into this world below.'" -The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913, Vol. X, p. 709

It is also significant that the Bible never mentioned that Jesus - the greatest man who ever lived and all Christian's exemplar - ever celebrated his birth, nor did the early Christians. In fact, the attitude was quite the opposite:

Historian Augustus Neander writes: "The notion of a birthday festival was far from the ideas of the Christians of this period." (The History of the Christian Religion and Church, During the Three First Centuries, translated by H. J. Rose, 1848, p. 190)

Birthday Celebrations Were Viewed as Having Pagan Origins

The Bible's direct references to birthdays are helpful in how true Christians should view them. Jehovah's Witnesses also do not celebrate birthdays because popular customs associated with birthday celebrations birthday celebrations were viewed as having pagan origins:

The Jews "regarded birthday celebrations as parts of idolatrous worship . . . , and this probably on account of the idolatrous rites with which they were observed in honor of those who were regarded as the patron gods of the day on which the party was born."-M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia (1882, Vol. I, p. 817)

"The later Hebrews looked on the celebration of birthdays as a part of idolatrous worship, a view which would be abundantly confirmed by what they saw of the common observances associated with these days."—The Imperial Bible-Dictionary (London, 1874), edited by Patrick Fairbairn, Vol. I, p. 225

“Early Christians [from time of Christ until the 4th century] frowned on [celebrating anyone’s birthday], which was too closely linked with pagan customs to be given the approval of the church.” - How It Started, Garrison, copyright 1972 by Abingdon Press, p. 213

The Christian Book of Why, by Dr. John C. McCollister (Lutheran minister and university professor, graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary), Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1983, tells us on p. 205:

"Christians of the first century did not celebrate the festival honoring the birth of Jesus - for the same reason they honored no other birthday anniversary. It was the feeling at that time by ALL Christians that the celebration of all birthdays (even the Lordâs) was a custom of the PAGANS. In an effort to divorce themselves from ALL pagan practices, the early Christians refused to set aside a date marking Jesus' birth. As a result, the first celebration of Christmas by Christians did not take place until the fourth century."

The Jews themselves never celebrated birthdays until long after the death of Jesus. They considered it a purely pagan custom and detestable to the God they worshiped. Jesus and his Apostles continued this belief and so did their followers for centuries.

Likewise, just as the early Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses today view these things seriously because they are aware that Jehovah God views these things very seriously. (Lev. 19:2) God Himself said: "You must not have any other gods against my face. Because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion." (Ex. 20:1-5) NWT

If pagan ceremonies, customs, god names, etc. are really mixed in with ceremonies, customs, etc. that we use today, they are not merely unacceptable - - - they are detestable to God. We must completely get away from these unclean things and not even "touch" them:

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." - 2 Cor. 6:17.

Notice how exclusive the worship of God must be: "Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips." - Exodus 23:13, NIVSB.

Why Jehovah's Witnesses Celebrate Wedding Anniversaries but not Birthday Anniversaries

Considering the above also explains a common question as to why Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate wedding anniversaries but not birthday anniversaries. This is because there are no pagan origins connected to marriage or wedding rings. Marriage was divinely instituted by the "one true God"...Jehovah. (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4-6; John 17:3)

And unlike the mentioned examples of birthday celebrations, the Bible does not put marriage in a bad light. Jesus himself both attended a marriage celebration and contributed to the pleasure of the occasion.—John 2:1-11.

To those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses, please remember that if you are looking for the authoritative information on Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs and practices you should look to the source at

For more information concerning birthdays found at the Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses, see:

Beware of Customs That Displease God

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How Should a Christian View April Fools' Day?

Numerous explanations have been given for the origin of April Fools' Day and it's true origin remains uncertain. But after examining numerous ancient pagan celebrations concerning the month of April and the treatment of the 'fool' on April Fools' Day, some have concluded that April Fools’ Day does have it's roots in the ancient pagan customs of this world. (See the 22 March Awake! of 1947, p. 28.

Even though the Bible does not contain any direct command against observing the traditions of April Fools’ Day, one can examine certain Biblical principles to know that God does not approve of tricks (even if innocent and physically harmless) that are designed to embarrass or humiliate others.

When it comes to having fun or playing practical jokes at another's expense, it may prove to be beneficial for Christians to remember the principle that Jesus Christ set forth: "Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them." (Luke 6:31) The spirit behind April Fools’ Day is exactly opposite to the Christian way of life.

Pranks played on April Fools’ Day (in the name of harmless fun) are usually set in motion through lies, often leading to misunderstanding and confusion thus violating one of God’s Ten Commandments: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20)

Before playing a practical joke on someone, ask yourself, “How would I like to be the object of the joke?” The Bible counsels that we should never receive pleasure at the expense of someone else’s embarrassment or hurt:

"Just like someone mad that is shooting fiery missiles, arrows and death, so is the man that has tricked his fellow man and has said: `Was I not having fun?'" (Prov. 26:18, 19)

For more, see:

Holidays (Search For Bible Truths)