Real Life Experiences
Jehovah’s Witness Child BaptismsSubmitted by Andrew on May 10, 2012 - 1:07 pm 4 Comments
I have often told people, as I heard Richard Dawkins say, that there is no such thing as a Mormon child, a Catholic child or a Jehovah’s Witness child. There are only children of Mormon parents, Catholic parents, or Jehovah’s Witness parents. No one dreams of calling a young one a ‘conservative child’ or a ‘liberal democrat child’ because it’s pretty obvious that a child couldn’t possibly fully understand politics in order to form their own opinions about it. It’s the same thing with religion. This is an important subject to me as a parent of two toddlers, trying to raise them to be free thinking and skeptical and to make their own minds up about things.
The Watchtower November 1, 1985 page 18, seems to agree with me (a rare occurrence), when it says, “Why not honestly examine yourself, your likes and dislikes? Do you not see that your appreciation for life has been enhanced by the passage of time? Did you have the same values at 13 that you had at 5, or the same values at 20 that you had at 13? Has your understanding and appreciation for life grown or lessened as you have gained greater experience over the years?”
Sorry – my mistake. That article is discussing marriage, not baptism. It continues, “Is it not often true that the “only” boy in a girl’s life when she is 16 or 17 years old is long forgotten as she grows to womanhood and attaches greater importance to a man’s godly traits and personality?” The article is saying that young people shouldn’t rush into getting married because, well, people change as they grow – their values evolve and who they are as a person. Good advice.
I also find this quote from the Awake! January 22, 1998 page 19, very interesting, “the Bible sets no minimum age for marriage. But it does recommend that before marrying, one should be “past the bloom of youth. Why? Because such young people are just in the early stages of developing the emotional maturity, self-control, and spiritual qualities necessary to handle married life.”
So why is it that while on the one hand the Watchtower says that devoting your life to a marriage mate when you are young is to be avoided, on the other hand they say that you should get baptized at a very young age? The same principles apply, don’t they? If a person is likely to change their views and belief systems – they are currently too young, perhaps, to think critically about it – how could they possibly get baptized?
The Watchtower January 15, 1989 page 13 says that, “Baptizing an infant is wrong because a baby cannot understand, make a decision, and become a disciple.” Therefore infant baptisms don’t take place among Jehovah’s Witnesses, but apparently children from as young as 9 years old (as I have personally seen) are old enough to have overcome the “bloom of youth” when it comes to spiritual matters, having developed “emotional maturity” in order that they can get dunked and devote their lives to the Organisation. Oops. I mean Jehovah!
If you are skeptical that such young children get baptized, read this from the Watchtower March 15, 1988 page 14: “For example, the preteen son of an elder sincerely wanted to get baptized. So his father had three other elders discuss with the youngster the questions designed for those contemplating baptism. Their conclusion was that, though quite young, he qualified to be baptized as an ordained minister of Jehovah God. Why, attending the Pioneer Service School in the Bahamas recently was a ten-year-old baptized girl, the daughter of two full-time ministers!”
So it happens. Young children baptized before they can even, truly, understand what it is they are doing. A 10 year old child, I’d argue, doesn’t usually understand the concept of ‘the rest of their lives’ in order to devote it to god. I’d even say that most 10 year-olds don’t understand what god really is in the first place. They are probably parroting answers that they have been indoctrinated with.
There’s no escaping the hypocrisy here of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If it’s the true religion, why push the young ones to get baptized? Jesus himself was 30 years old when he got dipped. I was 13. Why not wait until they are old enough to think for themselves, to research what is taught and to pass the “bloom of youth”? It’s simply because the biggest way the Jehovah’s Witnesses increase their numbers is not from the ministry – it’s from children born into it.
And once you’re in, you’re trapped! If you are a child growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness then likely all your family are Jehovah’s Witnesses too – and all your friends. I certainly wasn’t allowed any friends when I grew up who weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses! If you leave the religion then, you lose everybody you know – your entire life unravels and you are left alone. Sadly, there are many stories of this happening within Jehovah’s Witness households, such as this true story of another family that was destroyed.
Well, not completely alone. There are places like JehovahsWitnessBlog.com which offers support. JWF (Jehovah’s Witness Forums) are currently being created where you’ll be able to make real friends and talk about your experiences and even ask for help and advice on what to do if you are trapped and have no one to talk to.
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