Chapter 12, part 3:

Christian Family Organization

Jehovah is the Creator of all living things. Looking at creation, we see a variety of living arrangements and gender relationships. Many in the world feel moved to try some of these animal behaviors, using nice-sounding euphemisms such as "free love" or "playing the field". Did our Creator give us any guidance as to what is proper for humans?

In Eden Jehovah decided it was time for Adam to have his mate, as the other creatures had. Did he create a harem for him? Did Adam get 70 virgins in paradise like the Moslems teach? No. He made him one woman, to be "a helper for him, as a complement of him." Then he presented her to Adam and "married" them, and Adam composed some poetry for the occasion. Then the writer of Genesis comments: "That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must continue with his wife and they will become one flesh." —Gen 2:18, 21-24.

The word "complement" means something that completes, or makes whole. Eve was all Adam needed to fulfill his assignment of filling the earth with humankind. She had the complementary qualities needed for the well-balanced upbringing of children. From this very early scene we see established the relationship that in time became more clearly delineated in God's law: loyal fidelity of one husband to one wife, acting as a single unit in serving God. As Jesus put it, “the One who created them made them male and female and said, ‘a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.” —Matt 19:4-6.

Because they are "one flesh", “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself, for no man hates his own body, but he feeds and cherishes it, just as Christ does his congregation. . . . On the other hand, a wife should have deep respect for her husband. . . let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the congregation. . . as the congregation is in subjection to Christ, wives should also be to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:28-30, then vss 22-24.)

In everything? Surely not! It is easy to see how we could submit to God in everything, because his wisdom is infinite; he is never wrong. Men can only imagine that they are so wonderful. So seriously, what does "in everything" mean? It is actually the same as a Christian's submission to the congregation. We are humble, we cooperate with organizational direction, we do not seek our own selfish advantage, we "pursue the things making for peace." As discussed above, that does not forbid us from asking questions, requesting clarification, and offering pertinent information (including a personal viewpoint) that may affect a decision. And if a directive is clearly wrong, against God, we may rightly refuse it. A husband and wife, of course, have a more personal relationship, which gives her more opportunities to "ask questions and offer information," even voice her disagreement. Respectfully disagreeing is not a sin; being disagreeable is. There is never any justification for "screaming and abusive speech." (Eph 4:26, 29, 31) When the husband is like Christ as he should be, he will accept her difference of viewpoint graciously and consider it seriously. Mind you, that does not mean he has to agree with her. But just as Christ gave his life for his congregation, he may go to pains to honor her wishes. If he decides that is not the appropriate thing to do in this case, she will yield, knowing that his love is sure.

What if the husband bears no resemblance to Christ at all, and often acts selfishly and irresponsibly? That does not free her to divorce him; the marriage is a covenant, a sworn oath before Jehovah. He sets the conditions whereby it may be dissolved, and he states clearly that only infidelity breaks the bond. (Matt 19:9) But God does not require a wife to submit to grievous injury. Prolonged and intolerable physical or psychological abuse, including severe neglect, may compel her to find other living arrangements, that is, to separate. Even so, the marriage remains in force until he is unfaithful (which in such a case is rather likely). Separation by itself does not free her to seek another relationship.

Most husbands are not that bad, but neither are they as sweet as a wife could wish for. Christian love patiently bears many offenses. It does not become bitter about the imperfections of a mate, but focuses on what is good. "Love endures all things, hopes all things." (1 Cor 13:4-7) Perhaps a husband is not a Christian in deed. Peter gives this inspired advice: “Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, so that if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through your behavior, because of seeing your chaste conduct and deep respect.” (1 Pet 3:1,2) Paul encourages: ‘Do not leave your unbelieving husband, if he is willing to stay with you. You may in time save him.’ (1 Cor 7:10-16.) Yes, you can hope to change him. Yes, miracles can still happen! If he has that seed of humility and appreciation, he will improve. Your patient endurance may yield wonderful results.

Being "head" of the family does not require that the husband micromanage everything. Proverbs 31:10, 11 says ‘a capable wife is worth far more than corals. Her owner trusts her from his heart, and he lacks nothing of value.’ (In those days a husband was said to "own" his wife, but that did not mean she was to be regarded as a servant. It was a legal relationship that could work for her protection.) The rest of the chapter describes a woman with considerable freedom to conduct business on her own initiative, even buying property. Her well-directed works make her husband an honored man "in the city gates," that is, among the assembled counselors. Or as they say, "behind every great man is a strong woman." And he recognizes that: "he rises up and praises her," says verse 28. The poem ends, "Give her the reward for her work, and let her accomplishments praise her in the city gates."

From this we can see that a husband may choose to delegate much of the day-to-day financial management of the household to his wife, if she is willing and able. He cannot, however, hand over headship. He is still responsible, as head, to make (or finalize after reasonable discussion) many decisions that affect the family, so he must remain connected and aware of the family's financial situation. Some husbands are happy to relax into the role of a child, bringing home the paycheck and then rushing out to play, letting his wife run the household on her own. If he is inept, she may prefer this arrangement, but it is not a healthy relationship and it is not the organization God ordains. A husband must learn to be a true husband and proper head for his family. A wife can make this possible, or nearly impossible. As the proverb above noted, "she rewards him with good, not bad, all the days of her life." Or as Proverbs 14:1 says, "the truly wise woman builds up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands." Or with her tongue, see Proverbs 27:15, 16.

Children’s Place in the Christian Family

Children are not little adults. The Bible says, "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a boy." Parents can vouch for that. Little girls have their moments too. And then they become teenagers. . . . Need we say more? So Jehovah wisely requires parents to be responsible and have full authority over their children. No parent who knows God will abuse that authority. —Prov 22:15.

Children naturally look for boundaries, and test them. They do not really want reasonable boundaries to collapse when they push. They actually find security in knowing where the walls are. Discernment based on experience and God's word gives Christian parents wisdom to set proper limits for their children, appropriate to their age. These should always be communicated in a kindly, loving way. However, parents should never beg or bargain for obedience. The proverb quoted above continues, "the rod of discipline will remove [the foolishness] far from him." And everyone knows the saying, "spare the rod and spoil the child." (Not in the Bible, but a similar point is made at Prov 23:13, 14.)

The literal rod (or belt) has been badly misused by multitudes of parents, and such cruelty tends to get passed down through generations. But discipline actually means discipling, that is, teaching. There are many ways to teach, and a loving parent will always try to reach the heart though the child's eyes first, by being an example; through his ears second, by patiently explaining; and a gentle touch can reinforce words. But God knows that it is necessary at times to use a stronger "touch", even a measured bit of pain: sometimes by withholding a privilege, sometimes directly to the skin. When you are serious, your child needs to know it. Never in rage, always reluctantly, but because the lesson must be learned. “A child left unrestrained will cause his mother shame,” says Proverbs 29:15. “My son, do not reject the discipline of Jehovah,” pleads the father at Proverbs 3:11. “Do not hate his reproof, for the one whom Jehovah loves, he reproves, just as a father does a son in whom he delights.” “What sort of son is left without discipline?” Paul asks at Hebrews 12:7. “Really, if you are not disciplined, you are illegitimate children, and not sons.” True, discipline can sting, especially if we resist, but if we accept the training, it produces peaceful results: righteousness, which means life. (see verses 5-11.) So our heavenly Father tells fathers*: "do not be irritating your children [such as by being unreasonable, inconsistent, overbearing, or absent], but bring them up in the discipline and guidance of Jehovah." With a skilled hand try to instill a love for truth. Jehovah will bless your efforts. —Eph 6:4; see also Prov 13:24.

Parents, do not succumb to the temptation to let your authority go to your head. You should not be a tyrant. Do not make rules "just to show who's boss." If your child objects to an instruction, do not slap him down as impertinent. You may have to assert a denial of something they desire simply on your authority, without elaborate explanation; but more often you should be able to explain why something is not permitted. Just because children are small does not make them worth less in the eyes of God. They are as precious as you are, possibly more so, for God treasures their eagerness to learn and to please. He wishes you were like that! Jesus said: “If you do not become as little children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” Remember that. If you accord them the respect of listening to their viewpoint, they will tend to respect you in return. If you habitually brush aside their view as if worthless, they will eventually find a way to ignore you, to get what they want (no matter how foolish) without your knowing. This can be deadly to them and heartbreaking to you. So value two-way communication. It is essential for teaching. —Matt 18:3.

To the children, God says directly: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous. ‘Honor your father and mother’ is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may remain a long time on the earth.’” (Eph 6:1-3) What if your parents are not "in union with the Lord"? Just like the wife of an unbeliever discussed above, you as a minor child are not free to disregard their authority, even if their instruction is somewhat damaged by being out of alignment with God's wisdom. Only if they press you to disregard God may you steadfastly resist. Most parents, even unbelievers, will let you explain something that is important to you. Peter tells us all, ‘Do not be afraid or disturbed. In your heart be confident that Christ is Lord, and be always ready to defend the reason for your hope before anyone who demands it of you, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.’ —1 Peter 3:14, 15.

Returning to our greater subject of Christian organization, new disciples may resemble children in some ways, but most of them are not children and should not be treated as children. Along with the established members of the congregation, they should be accorded the dignity and respect appropriate for independent adults, while considerately keeping their spiritual immaturity in mind.

Same-Sex Relationships?

The modern world is trying to force upon everyone the view that men can "marry" men and women "marry" women. This is far beyond mere friendships; this means carnal relationships involving sexual intercourse, of course not in the natural manner that a man and woman fit together according to the evident design of the equipment involved, resulting in children. Clergy try to back up this 'new morality' by picking out Bible verses about love and not being judgmental, and they sweep aside all the verses that directly and strongly condemn such behavior as disgusting perversions, declaring those who penned those words to be ungodly bigots.

Really, the only way to accept such "marriages" is to discard both reason and a substantial part of inspired scripture. Reason, in that the designed physical purpose of sex is procreation, and homosexual intercourse cannot achieve that; all it achieves is a form of "satisfaction," which the world calls "love." True love is not centered on one's own satisfaction; it does not use another person merely to pleasure oneself. Of course homosexuals may say they aim for "mutual" satisfaction, but the unstable nature of many such relationships belie that claim. They point at the unstable nature of many heterosexual relationships in today's world, gleefully crowing that they are no better, ignoring the fact that anyone can be selfish, not just homosexuals. By pornography the world heavily promotes unhealthy heterosexual "relationships" just as much as it tries to paint homosexual "relationships" as healthy. In every way it is trying to discredit the Designer's instructions.

This is a last-ditch effort to ruin society before the end comes, just as God said would happen. Not that earlier generations were very godly; perversion began early in man's history, even before Sodom and Gomorrah. But today's bold brazenness worldwide is unprecedented, and it is now being given legal force: increasingly those who disagree can be stripped of their assets, dismissed from honored positions, and hounded into the wilderness. This is yet one more fulfillment of prophecy: those who refuse the "mark of the beast" (sex, sex, sex) are not permitted to buy or sell. (As explained in chapter 8, the mark is primarily political, but really, it is fulfilled in any legal coercion by the world to conform to ungodliness as the end nears.)

Obviously, sex is not for procreation only; it is clearly designed to be pleasurable. The scientist says this is merely a way to induce brute beasts to do their duty to propagate their species, and there is no reason for humans not to enjoy it to the extreme in any imaginative way possible. This ignores the fact that this biological equipment is clearly designed. Those who acknowledge that reasonably ask, "has the Designer provided any instruction for us as to the proper use of this gift?"

Of course He has. Animals are instructed by their instincts, but our human instincts are somewhat unreliable due to the original decision to follow God's Enemy. Further, the story of Adam and Eve makes it clear that God intended to continue to educate humankind by communication, something the animals do not receive. So we cannot assume that instinct, or what "feels right" to us, is sufficient guidance in morality. We are too complex for that. The first couple decided they could figure it all out themselves, which produces the humanist "paradise" we enjoy today. If you are satisfied with that, read no further. If like so many millions more you yearn for something better, then let God instruct you. (Micah 4:1-4)

The next chapter, Wisdom of God to Guide Your Life, discusses normal marital relationships to an extent. Here we will only present a few references on what God says about homosexuality. In His Law to Israel he was crystal clear: sexual intercourse with any close relative, anyone married to another person, to anyone of the same gender, or to an animal, was strictly forbidden. (Leviticus 18) Jesus was faithful to that Law, saying, “I came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one stroke of a letter to pass away from the Law until it is all fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17, 18) The Law was from his Father, Jehovah, whom he loved. He would never have declared it to be wrong in any way. So those who teach that Jesus would be more understanding and accepting of homosexuals do not understand him at all. Jesus taught forgiveness, not acceptance. And forgiveness is contingent on repentance. At John 3:19-21 Jesus is very clear about that.

So when Paul wrote, “Men who practice homosexuality will not inherit God's Kingdom,” he was not a bigoted misanthrope who didn't get the Christian message, he was saying what God had said from the beginning. Evidently Paul saw the Greek acceptance of homosexuality and had to be very frank about how that stood with God: “The males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full penalty, which was due for their error. . . Although these know full well the righteous decree of God—that those practicing such things are deserving of death—they not only keep on doing them but also approve of those practicing them.” (Romans 1:27, 32) And no, a closeted homosexual who tries to cover himself by criticizing homosexuality is not fooling God: “Do you suppose, O man, that while you judge those who practice such things and yet you do them, you will escape the judgment of God?” —Romans 2:3.

“But this is who I am, I was born this way, I can't help it,” some will say. And it may be true that the tendency to have perverted desires could be caused by flawed genes or exposure to some pollutants or hormone-mimicking chemicals while developing in the womb. Scientists are still researching that, and we have to be compassionate toward those who have a harder struggle to do what is pure. In a similar way, some have more volatile personalities and struggle with anger. Whatever our burden, God will help us IF we really want Him to. We may even slip and have to be forgiven, but remember, forgiveness is dependent on repentance, and repentance is not mere words or wishes, it is effort. No one else can do this for us. They can encourage and support, but in the end, if we do not truly want it, we will fail. That is true regardless of the goal. Olympic athletes put their all into winning, and that for just an hour of glory; is not eternal life in glorious happiness worth even more effort? Of course, to be fully motivated, we must keep the prize bright and close in our heart. So visualize what a Paradise Earth would mean for you (and leave the 70 virgins out of it, that is NOT in the Bible). And also visualize what friendship with God would be like. Perhaps you were never close to your parents (or worse, they abused you in some way) so imagining a loving Father may be harder for you. Perhaps there could be someone in the Christian congregation who could be a friend and model for the first time for you what a spiritually clean friendship is. And study the Bible specifically for God's personality. He is not the hypervigilant schoolmaster with the ready rod as some depict him. Nor is he the distant Almighty Force that others describe. He cares about you, and yes, he will correct you, but always for your good.

A helpful scriptural principle is found at Proverbs 6:27: “Can a man rake fire to his chest and not burn his garments?” Or in modern terms, “Don't pour gasoline on a campfire. You will not enjoy the experience.” What does that have to do with morals? This: to succeed at godliness, beware of things that fuel the fire of improper passion. Stay away from people who jeer at scriptural morality, and from situations that weaken your resolve. “The one walking with the wise will become wise, but the one who has dealings with the stupid will fare badly,” says Proverbs 13:20. By “stupid” it means anyone who disrespects God's wisdom. Such a person is dull-witted as to godliness, even though they may be sharp of wit indeed at ridiculing spiritual things. —see also Proverbs 12:15 and 3:5-8.

What if flawed genes or development caused you to be born with ambiguous reproductive equipment? Scientists say that the brain also has either a male or female leaning, so, if the external components aren't enough clue, hopefully no one with a knife will make that decision for you before you have a chance to weigh in on it later. In such a case you have the right to declare what you are, and surgery can assist, although it may not make you reproductively capable. But having made that decision, you are obligated to stick with it. What if your genitalia came fully functional one way or the other, but you "feel" you are the other gender? In that case you should accept that you are what you are able to do reproductively, despite your feelings. Being a somewhat effeminate man, or masculine female, is not that unusual in this imperfect world. The only thing God says about that is to forbid one gender from presenting themselves as the other, such as by crossdressing. See Deuteronomy 22:5. You can live a fairly normal and clean life with that burden, until all our defects are repaired under God's Kingdom.

Should Women Be Preachers?

“The women telling the good news are a large army,” the Bible proudly proclaims. The female gender has a honored record of bold and faithful service to God. Paul recognized Euodia and Syntyche as women who “have striven side by side with me for the Good News.” Priscilla is favorably mentioned as an able teacher. —Psalm 68:11, Philippians 4:2, 3, Acts 18:24-26, Romans 16:3-5.

Nevertheless, unlike the trend in modern churches, Jesus did not authorize the appointment of women as overseers. Paul explains why at 1 Corinthians 11.2-16, 14.33-35, 40, and 1 Timothy 2.12, 13. Here he cites God's original arrangement of family headship, and applies it to authority to lead within the congregation. He makes a comment that seems outrageous: "let the women keep silent in the congregation, for it is not permitted for them to speak. If they want to learn something, let them question their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the congregation." Pity the poor woman who has no husband! And what if her husband is an unbeliever? What answer is he likely to give her spiritual questions? Obviously, what Paul said calls for some reasonable explanation.

To "speak in the congregation" means to rise up and teach, to address the group as a leader would. Or in the case of "wanting to learn something", to raise a question before the congregation, requiring the assembled group to address it. Perhaps the questioner feels that it is a matter important to the congregation as a whole, or it could even involve challenging a teaching or a decision. In such things, Paul teaches, based on the gender relationship established in earlier scripture, women should be especially discreet and modest. Really, it would not be proper for anyone, woman or man, to rise up in the assembly and ask a challenging question, disrupting the meeting. "Let all things take place decently and by arrangement," Paul says. So if there is a matter that concerns us, we are welcome to seek answers privately, in a way that does not attempt to divide or offend the congregation. If the mature appointed men then feel the matter needs to be considered in assembly, they will arrange for that. If a woman has no qualified husband to query, the scriptures (at Titus 2:3, 4) tell the older (mature) women to instruct younger ones. Hence it is quite acceptable for the "sisters" to help one another in spiritual matters. And of course Paul is not forbidding sisters from asking any other qualified mature man, if other avenues prove inadequate. Finally, all of us have to accept that some questions just cannot yet be fully resolved, and some decisions are best proven unsatisfactory by trying them.

As shown in the discussion at Acts 15:6-22, when there is a meeting to discuss the pros and cons of a decision, the "older men" would stand to speak in turn to have their say. If women were present, evidently Paul’s comment means that they would not take the floor as equals. But does it mean they were to be regarded as of inferior intellect? As having only foolish opinions not worthy of being heard? Of course not. First, a woman may readily be invited to offer her thoughts to the congregation (compare John 20:17, 18.) The point here is that she would not presume to speak out without permission, and even with permission would guard her manner of address, maintaining respectful deference to the headship of the elders. Also, privately, away from the forum of a congregation meeting, women often are able to share their feminine insight with men (especially their husbands) when they need that help.* Although inspired organizational instructions do limit the forum and method women are allowed to express their wisdom, godly women who humbly work within these limits are still able to accomplish much good.

Review Questions  |   Back to top  |   Next Chapter

Valid XHTML 1.0!    Valid CSS!

Gen 2:18, 21-24
Then Jehovah God said: “It is not good for the man to continue to be alone. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” . . 21 So Jehovah God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and then closed up the flesh over its place. And Jehovah God built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman, and he brought her to the man. Then the man said: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, Because from man she was taken.” That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Ephesians 5:28-30
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself, for no man hates his own body, but he feeds and cherishes it, just as the Christ does the congregation, because we are members of his body.
22-24 Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife just as the Christ is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, wives should also be to their husbands in everything.

Eph 4:26, 29, 31
Be wrathful, but do not sin; do not let the sun set while you are still angry; . . . 29 Never allow a putrid [rotted, foul, corrupt] utterance go out of your mouth, but only what is good for building up as the need may be, to impart what is beneficial to the hearers. . . 31 Put away from yourselves every kind of malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech, as well as everything injurious.

Matt 19:9
I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual infidelity, and marries another commits adultery.

The word rendered "infidelity" above is porneia, meaning any kind of voluntary carnal joining of the genitals with another being other than one's mate; it can also apply to forcing even one's own mate into doing forbidden unnatural/perverted sexual behavior. An innocent mate may also view an established habit of using video or live porn to pleasure oneself to be actionable infidelity, based on Jesus' words at Matthew 5:28: ‘He that continues to look at a woman [not his mate] so as to lust for her is committing adultery with her in his heart.’ Not that a passing arousal toward another person is enough to justify divorce, but persistent deviant action could.

1 Cor 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Cor 7:10-16
To the married people I give instructions, not I but the Lord, that a wife should not separate from her husband. But if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled with her husband; and a husband should not leave his wife. But to the others I say, yes, I, not the Lord: If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is agreeable to staying with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is agreeable to staying with her, let her not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbelieving one chooses to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not bound under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace. For wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

Proverbs 31:10-31
Who can find a capable wife? Her value is far more than that of corals. Her husband trusts her from his heart, and he lacks nothing of value. She rewards him with good, not bad, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and linen; she delights to work with her hands. She is like the ships of a merchant, bringing her food in from afar. She also rises while it is still night, providing food for her household and portions for her female servants. She sets her mind on a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard from her own labors. She prepares herself for hard work, and she strengthens her arms. She sees that her trading is profitable; her lamp does not go out at night. Her hands seize the distaff, and her hands take hold of the spindle. She extends her palm to the lowly one, and she opens her hands to the poor. She does not worry about her household because of the snow, for her whole household is clothed in warm garments. She makes her own bed covers. Her clothing is of linen and purple wool. Her husband is well-known in the city gates, where he sits among the elders of the land. She makes and sells linen garments and supplies belts to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and splendor, and she looks to the future with confidence. She opens her mouth in wisdom; the law of kindness is on her tongue. She watches over the activity of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat. Her children rise up and declare her happy; her husband rises up and praises her. There are many capable women, but youyou surpass them all. Charm may be false, and beauty may be fleeting, but the woman who fears Jehovah will be praised. Give her the reward for what she does, and let her works praise her in the city gates.

Micah 4:1-4
In the final part of the days, the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will be raised up above the hills, and to it peoples will stream. And many nations will go and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For law will go out of Zion, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. He will render judgment among many peoples and set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore. They will sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken.

Accepting instruction from God will prepare us for his Kingdom (here symbolized by "Zion" and "Jerusalem") which will produce an Earth where steel will be used for farming, not fighting, and all other relationships will be stable and happy. Satan has no interest in leading us that way, so his relationship advice produces only sorrow in the end.

Leviticus 18
I am Jehovah your God. You must not behave as they do in the land of Egypt, where you were dwelling, and you must not do what they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. You must not walk in their statutes. You should carry out my judicial decisions, and you should keep my statutes and walk in them. I am Jehovah your God. You must keep my statutes and my judicial decisions; anyone who does so will live by means of them. I am Jehovah.
No man among you should approach any of his close relatives to have sexual relations. I am Jehovah. You must not have sexual relations with your father, and you must not have sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother, and you must not have sexual relations with her. You must not have sexual relations with your father's wife. It is exposing your father to shame. You must not have sexual relations with your sister, either the daughter of your father or the daughter of your mother, whether she is born in the same household or born outside of it. You must not have sexual relations with the daughter of your son or the daughter of your daughter, because they are your own nakedness. You must not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father's wife, the offspring of your father, because she is your sister. You must not have sexual relations with your father's sister. She is your father's blood relative. You must not have sexual relations with your mother's sister, because she is your mother's blood relative. You must not expose your father's brother to shame by having sexual relations with his wife. She is your aunt. You must not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son's wife, and you must not have relations with her. You must not have sexual relations with your brother's wife, because it is exposing your brother to shame. You must not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. You must not take the daughter of her son and the daughter of her daughter in order to have relations. They are her close relatives; it is an obscene act. You must not take a woman in addition to her sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while her sister is alive. You must not approach a woman during her menstrual impurity to have sexual relations with her. You must not have sexual intercourse with the wife of your fellow man, making yourself unclean. You must not allow any of your offspring to be offered to Molech. You must not profane the name of your God in that way. I am Jehovah. You must not lie down with a male in the same way that you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable act. A man must not have sexual intercourse with an animal to become unclean by it; nor should a woman offer herself to an animal to have intercourse with it. It is a violation of what is natural.
Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for it is by all these things that the nations that I am driving out from before you have made themselves unclean. Therefore, the land is unclean, and I will bring punishment on it for its error, and the land will vomit its inhabitants out. But you yourselves must keep my statutes and my judicial decisions, and you must not do any of these detestable things, whether a native or a foreigner who is residing among you. For all these detestable things were done by the men who lived in the land before you, and now the land is unclean. Then the land will not have to vomit you out for defiling it in the same way that it will vomit out the nations that were before you. If anyone does any of these detestable things, all those doing them must be cut off from among their people. You must keep your obligation to me by not practicing any of the detestable customs that were carried on before you, so that you do not make yourselves unclean by them. I am Jehovah your God.

John 3:19-21
Now this is the basis for judgment: that the light has come into the world, but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For whoever practices vile [disgusting] things hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be reproved. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that his works may be made manifest as having been done in harmony with God.

Proverbs 12:15
The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but the wise one accepts advice.

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own way of thinking. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad. It will be a healing to your body and refreshment for your bones.

Deuteronomy 22:5
A woman must not put on the clothing of a man, nor should a man wear the clothing of a woman. For anyone doing so is detestable to Jehovah your God.

Even in those days, some articles of clothing were not very gender-specific, or the differences might be somewhat subtle. So we do not use this to forbid a woman from wearing pants, although ideally they should be cut for her shape. The point was that neither should choose dress that clearly crosses the line, that causes the wrong impression in reasonable persons. A normal man has no need of a bra. Or earrings. And no one needs perforations all over their face... such are the mark of mental disturbance, not beauty.

Proverbs 27:15, 16
A quarrelsome wife is like a constantly leaking roof on a rainy day. Whoever can restrain her can restrain the wind and can grip oil with his right hand.

Prov 22:15
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a boy, but the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

Prov 23:13, 14
Do not hold back discipline from a boy. If you strike him with the rod, he will not die. With the rod you should strike him, in order to save him from the Grave.

[This is NOT counseling violent whipping; as little as a single smack may be required to get a stubborn child's attention. Whatever the degree, its purpose is to ensure he is keenly aware that the matter at issue is very serious. As the verse says, you could be saving his very life. Whatever pain you must inflict will certainly be much less than he would get into if allowed to run free. Your motive must be entirely love, not anger or hate.]

Hebrews 12:5-11
You have entirely forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not belittle the discipline from Jehovah, nor give up when you are corrected by him; for those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, in fact, he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son.” You need to endure as part of your discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? But if you have not all shared in receiving this discipline, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. Furthermore, our human fathers used to discipline us, and we gave them respect. Should we not more readily submit ourselves to the Father of our spiritual life and live? For they disciplined us for a short time according to what seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit so that we may partake of his holiness. True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful; yet afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Prov 13:24
Whoever holds back his rod [does not give needed discipline] hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him conscientiously.

Proverbs 1:8
Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.
Observe, my son, the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.
The eye that holds a father in derision and despises obedience to a mother—the ravens of the valley will peck it out and the young eagles will eat it up.
The words of Lemuel the king, the weighty message his mother gave to instruct him—

Matt 18:3
Truly I say to you, Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.

Philippians 4:2, 3
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I request you also, as a true fellow worker, to keep assisting these women who have striven side by side with me for the good news, along with Clement as well as the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Acts 18:24-26
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus; he was an eloquent man who was well-versed in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of Jehovah, and aglow with the spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things about Jesus, but he was acquainted only with the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, and when Priscilla and Aquila* heard him, they took him into their company and explained the way of God more accurately to him.
Romans 16:3-5
Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila,* my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their own necks for me and to whom not only I but also all the congregations of the nations give thanks. Also greet the congregation that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is a firstfruits of Asia for Christ.

*pronounced "ACK-will-ah." Almost everyone mispronounces it "ah-KWILL-uh" due to English spelling conventions.

1 Samuel 25:2-38
Now there was a man in Maon whose work was in Carmel. The man was very wealthy; he had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and he was then shearing his sheep at Carmel. 3 The man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. The wife was discerning and beautiful, but the husband, a Calebite, was harsh, and he behaved badly. David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men to him, and David told the young men: “Go up to Carmel, and when you come to Nabal, ask him in my name about his welfare. Then say, ‘May you live long and may you be well and may your household be well and may all that you have be well. Now I hear that you are doing your shearing. When your shepherds were with us, we did not harm them, and they found nothing missing the whole time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. May my young men find favor in your eyes, because we have come at a joyous time. Please give to your servants and to your son David whatever you can spare.’” So David’s young men went and told all of this to Nabal in David’s name. When they finished, Nabal answered David’s servants: “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? Nowadays many servants are breaking away from their masters. Do I have to take my bread and my water and the meat that I butchered for my shearers and give it to men who come from who knows where?” At that David’s young men returned and reported all these words to him. David immediately said to his men: “Everyone strap on your sword!” So they all strapped on their swords, and David also strapped on his own sword, and about 400 men went up with David, while 200 men stayed with the baggage. Meanwhile, one of the servants reported to Abigail, Nabal’s wife: “Look! David sent messengers from the wilderness to wish our master well, but he screamed insults at them. Those men were very good to us. They never harmed us, and we did not miss a single thing the whole time we were together with them in the fields. They were like a protective wall around us, both by night and by day, the whole time we were with them shepherding the flock. Now decide what you are going to do, for disaster has been determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.” So Abigail quickly took 200 loaves of bread, two large jars of wine, five dressed sheep, five seah measures of roasted grain, 100 cakes of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs and put all of it on the donkeys. Then she said to her servants: “Go on ahead of me; I will follow you.” But she said nothing to her husband Nabal. While she was riding on the donkey and going down under cover of the mountain, just then David and his men were coming down toward her, and she met them. Now David had been saying: “It was for nothing that I guarded everything that belongs to this fellow in the wilderness. Not a single thing belonging to him went missing, and yet he repays me evil for good. May God do the same and more to the enemies of David if I allow a single male of his to survive until the morning.” When Abigail caught sight of David, she hurried down off the donkey and threw herself facedown before David, bowing to the ground. She then fell at his feet and said: “My lord, let the blame be on me; let your servant girl speak to you, and listen to the words of your servant girl. Please, do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless Nabal, for he is just like his name. Nabal is his name, and senselessness is with him. [Nabal means 'stupid idiot' in Hebrew. Not likely given by his parents.] But I, your servant girl, did not see my lord’s young men whom you sent. And now, my lord, as surely as Jehovah is living and as you are living, it is Jehovah who has held you back from incurring bloodguilt and from taking revenge with your own hand. May your enemies and those seeking injury to my lord become like Nabal. Now let this gift that your servant girl has brought to my lord be given to the young men who are following my lord. Pardon, please, the transgression of your servant girl, for Jehovah will without fail make for my lord a lasting house, because my lord is fighting the wars of Jehovah, and no evil has been found in you all your days. When someone rises up to pursue you and seeks your life, the life of my lord will be wrapped securely in the bag of life with Jehovah your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away like stones from a sling. And when Jehovah has done for my lord all the good things he has promised and he appoints you as leader over Israel, you will have no remorse or regret in your heart for shedding blood without cause and for letting the hand of my lord take revenge. When Jehovah confers good upon my lord, remember your servant girl.” At this David said to Abigail: “Praise Jehovah the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed be your good sense! May you be blessed for restraining me this day from incurring bloodguilt and from taking revenge with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as Jehovah the God of Israel who held me back from harming you is living, if you had not come quickly to meet me, by morning there would not have remained a single male belonging to Nabal.” With that David accepted from her what she had brought him and said to her: “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have listened to you, and I will grant your request.” Abigail later went back to Nabal, who was feasting like a king in his house, and Nabal was in a good mood and was as drunk as could be. She did not tell him a single thing until the morning light. In the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him these things. And his heart became like a dead man’s, and he lay paralyzed like a stone. About ten days later, Jehovah struck Nabal, and he died.

Titus 2:3, 4
Likewise, let the older women be reverent in behavior, not slanderous, not enslaved to a lot of wine, teachers of what is good, so that they may advise the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children.

Acts 15:6-22
The apostles and the elders gathered together to look into this matter [a controversy over circumcision]. After much disputing had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: “Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe; and God, who knows the heart, bore witness by giving them the holy spirit*. . .” At that the entire group became silent, and they began to listen to Barnabas and Paul relate the many signs and wonders that God had done through them among the nations. After they finished speaking, James replied: “Men, brothers, hear me. Symeon [Peter] has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations . . . Therefore my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from meat with its blood not drained out, and from blood itself.” . . . Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole congregation, decided to send chosen men from among them to Antioch along with Paul and Barnabas; they sent Judas who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, who were leading men among the brothers.

*speeches edited for length, as the point here is the manner of discussion. The entire passage is linked earlier in this chapter.

John 20:17, 18
Jesus said to her: “Stop clinging to me. For I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and brought the news to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” and she told them what he had said to her.

Review for Chapter 12

Why are Christians organized?

Why are Christians united?

Describe the organization of Israel.

What is a congregation?

As Christianity spread, what kept them united?

How did the governing body function?

How were the congregations governed locally?

How were the local leaders chosen?

What kind of men were these elders?

Why are the elders called "shepherds"?

What did Christ look for as the last days began?

How did he identify the faithful slave?

What is the responsibility of the faithful slave?

How is the faithful slave rewarded?

Who today fulfill the obligations of the faithful slave?

How can you be a faithful slave?

Describe the various positions of service in the congregation.

Part 2
Why did Peter have to be corrected?

Why did the governing body give Paul flawed advice?

Why did Paul accept it?

How do elders differ from clergymen?

When leaders fail, should we follow?

Why are apostates not to be greeted?

How must unrepentant wrongdoers be disciplined?

How may repentant ex-Christians be shown mercy?

Part 3
What position does a husband hold in the family?

What limits the submission of the wife?

Why should a wife endure an imperfect husband?

What is discipline, and what authority do parents have?

What is Jesus' view of "gay marriage"?

How can a person with homosexual desires be a Christian?

How may women minister in the congregation?

Restore Scripture View

Mothers also have full authority over all minors within the home (although stepfamilies do present complicating issues we will not discuss here). Note Proverbs 1:8, 6:20, 30:17, and 31:1.
For example, sensible Abigail was able to prevent David from committing a seriously excessive act of anger against Nabal's household. See 1 Samuel 25:2-38. Note that she had to act without her foolish husband's permission.