Monday, 25-Jan-2015New World Translation Ezr 10:3 Now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all the wives and those born from them, in harmony with the direction of Jehovah and of those who have reverence for the commandment of our God. Let us act according to the Law.
w06 1/15 p. 20 par. 2 Highlights From the Book of Ezra 10:3, 44—Why were the children put away along with the wives? If the children had stayed behind, the likelihood that the dismissed wives would return on account of them would have increased. Moreover, little children generally require the care of their mother.
I thought this was interesting, as I find it relates to an issue that assists at times with our bible students who, while living an immoral life, have a child or children, or perhaps are me merely pregnant, and are of the belief that they need to ‘do the right thing’ and, for example, marry this man, or this woman, instead of moving out away from this person they’re living with or with whom they fathered a child with.
In the world there is a belief that when a boy (and that’s what they are as they’re still living at home under their parents roof), gets a girl pregnant, this boy must do the ‘right and proper thing and marry this girl and become a father to this child. Love doesn’t play a role as it’s assumed that love is what lead to the child, illustrating how little love is understood by people in the world. It is unusual for this boy and girl to have been dating and instead of teaching both girl and boy about the purpose of dating, they are encouraged not to do anything stupid – translation: don’t get pregnant. Yet in time, as the boy and girl are allowed to spend time alone, they have sex. And if nothing ‘bad’ happens they’ll have sex again, and again, until something ‘stupid’ happens. The girl naturally leans of this first and is faced with the enormous pressure of what to do and how to handle this situation. Due to the lack of experience she, and the boy, have, the pressure is enormous and what often happens is she turns to her girlfriends (in part the media – books, magazines, TV and movies – promote this idea of turning to and relying on the advise of your peers). The young pregnant girl is struggling with an array of emotions coupled with the knowledge that what has happened isn’t really what should have happened. She has feelings of guilt because even though her parents failed to prevent her from engaging in premarital sex, she probably would have anyway, since she ‘d never received any real guidelines other then to be ‘a good girl’ – which can be taken in a number of ways and is somewhat subjective and relative. She’s told to have an abortion by one or two of her friends. She’s asked if she’s told the boy, who she has been ignoring of late. Her parents may or may not have noticed a change in their daughter, who has become more emotional and secretive, or wondered by the boy hasn’t been around. “Have you two broken up?” They may ask, which brings a response that indicates that yes, the boy is out of the picture. And yet, wait a minute, that’s not it is it?
Meanwhile the boy is one ring whats happened as they were inseparable and now she isn’t even returning his calls. Depending on his level of maturity he may be deeply hurt, jealous, insecure or angry and he too becomes a ticking time bomb – how will he react?
What’s interesting is the difference these two young people act as opposed to an older couple who have waited until after marriage to have sex and have discussed their goals in life and so on. While a pregnancy may not have been planned, they have established a patterned of discussing matters together and trust one another and are determined to make things work. The difference isn’t really a matter of age but of maturity, being emotionally ready for life as an adult, not just physically.
In any event, at some point very body finds out, and everybody has an opinion. The world would say that it’s the girls choice whether or not to have the child, while there are some that would insist that the boy who fathered the child has a say in the matter. ‘Do the right thing’ is thrown about, implying that the right thing is what that person tells you to do – have the child; have an abortion; marry this boy. But everything is based on people’s personal view, their individual perspective. Although some may cite the churches stand, even quoting (misquoting) scripture, where were these insightful suggestions when the girl and boy we’re seeing one another?
A major concern is the baby and who will take care of the baby, although it is almost always assumed that the girl decides. The boy has little say in the matter but is pressured by his peers and parents, although not all the time, to do the right thing and marry the girl. He has now seen other sides of this girl and it isn’t uncommon for him to now have no interest in the girl. But with the development of his child there is a vested interest. What will he do?
Generally by the time we come into contact with such ones, they are two or three or more children down the road. The girl is living with her third or forth boyfriend, and they aren’t married. She’s become a bit cynical and the thought of raising these kids alone I would imagine is a bit overwhelming, although this may not be the case. As for the man she’s living with – I’ve never interviewed one so I have little or no idea what their story is, though I can use my imagination.
If you’re studying with one, or the other, or both, at some point you’ll be asked what they should do about their living together situation. To begin with we shouldn’t offer our viewpoint but everything we share should come from God’s word. While we’d want to share with them God’s view of marriage and might explain what Jehovah finds displeasing about their situation, we’d want to be careful about giving the impression that we are standing in judgement, or judging them. That I’d not why we’re there nor what we do. Our purpose is to reveal bible truths so that they can make an informed decision, whether or not to serve God. We would never say that they ‘need to do the right thing’ as ‘the right thing’ is relative, depending on whose point of view one shares. What their parents, their peers and friends and others say is the ‘right thing’ will not coincide with what Jehovah says is the ‘right thing’. And it isn’t our place to tell them what to do but rather to show them what God’s word says on the matter and allow them to make up their own mind. When we tell someone what to do, and in any way they feel obligated to follow our advice or suggestion, we force that person to follow us, instead of God.
Taking another look at the scripture for today, I thought of the man who must send his wife or wives away. The scripture added that they were to send their children away as well. Does this apply today?
In reviewing this scripture and the WT comments, it would appear that this pertained to the very unique situation that existed at that time. The terrible spiritual condition of the nation was a result, in part, of their disobedience and aligning themselves with pagan wives.
But think for a moment of Naomi, who accompanied her husband to a foreign land and witnessed her two sone marry pagan women, of whom Ruth was one. While this went counter to God’s law, no mention is made of God’s displeasure and there were no recorded side effects from this. They were fortunate that Ruth came to love Jehovah, but had she bore Naomi children would she and the child have been sent away had her husband lived and wanted to return to Jerusalem with his family and mother in tow? What we know is that the sad condition of the nation of Israel was, in part, a result of their taking pagan wives and Jehovah acted accordingly.
So what is the ‘right thing’ today? Would it be ‘right’ for a man who is studying the bible and wants to please God, upon learning that the woman he’d been sleeping with is pregnant, to force her to 1) keep the child, 2) marry him since he is the father of this child, 3) expect her to convert and become a witness? Or if he’s married and had been having an affair, should he divorce his wife to marry the pregnant mistress? Or should he demand the pregnant woman get a pregnancy test done to determine whose child it is? Should he kick her out of his home, if they’re living together without being married, or should he move out and leave the house to her and the kids? Seriously, where do the questions start and end?
Jehovah want us to serve him with a sound mind, in accordance with his righteous principals and in a reasonable manner. This means that we can’t be rash in our decisions, nor procrastinate. But instead Jehovah expects us to research the matter, make it a matter of prayer, along with deep reflective thought, and come to a conclusion based on what we’ve read and considered playfully. This means that while there may be multiple choices, there are choices that are in accordance with righteous principles and choices that aren’t. It also implies that there may be choices that might effect the consciences of others and we’d need to take that into consideration.
I’m of the thought that when a person says ‘do the right thing’ what they actually mean is do what feels right, follow your heart or go with your gut instinct. If this is the case, it displays a very fleshly view, especially since the scriptures make it plain that humans have neither the ability nor the right to make their own decisions. This fact, in of itself is thought provoking for it implies that every single decision we make in life must we weighed with what Jehovah tells us. Does this mean that when I’m offered a choice, say what would I like to eat or what clothes will I wear, I must first consult Jehovah in prayer? Well no, although there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. However, even these simple choices, which ultimately are matters of personal preference, still fall within the realm of bible principles. For example, in selecting my wardrobe I must consider if what I wear might offend someone in addition to what I like or feel comfortable wearing, and what’s appropriate for the occasion. True, there’s always the possibility that you will wear something that someone will take issue with, but 1) do we take measures to keep this to the minimum and 2) the person offended – are they being reasonable. This isn’t for us to determine but it’s worth noting. If we are continually offending others with our dress or grooming, what steps have we taken to address and correct the matter? Or do we feel we have a right to dress and groom ourselves however we like? The same goes for the example of selecting what we’ll eat. While we have been given permission from Jehovah to eat whatever we want, with the exception of blood, do we show respect for life by eating a healthy diet? Or do we fill ourselves with foods that we know will cause problems down the road?
In both these cases we face a decision that on our own we are unable to make without taking into consideration scriptural principles. But just think about more serious decisions, choices we face that can have a lasting and profound effect on our lives and the lives of others. How vital that we consider Jehovah in every decision we face.
Doing the right thing should mean doing what would please Jehovah. The question: what would Jesus do would apply.