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Is it appropriate for minors to get baptized?


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That's because the discussion wasn't about a minor prioritizing working toward dedication over seeking a driving permit. The discussion was about a JW father withholding his child's driving permit to

I can see that.  You agree that getting married has lesser gravity in the great universal scheme of things than baptism, right? What if you overheard this conversation between a father and h

Actually, Watchtower no 3 for 2016 has two study articles which set out Jehovah's Witnesses view on this matter quite clearly. https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/watchtower-study-march-

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 On the other thread on 4/28/2016 at 9:50 AM, Eoin Joyce said:

"For me, there is a wider issue here around baptism of minors."

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I replied with:

Absolutely. Particularly in the JW faith, a baptism is a lifelong contract - not only with God, but with a religious organization. With contract law, generally speaking, a minor can void a contract without legal repercussions.

http://contracts.uslegal.com/contract-by-a-minor/

There are also protections in law to prevent those lacking capacity to enter into long-term binding contracts, e.g. being able to marry. JWs have likened baptism to a kind of marriage and being far more important than the day of one's wedding. If dedication and baptism have this level of gravity, does a 12 year old, say, have the capacity and maturity to make so binding and irrevocable a commitment as this? The minor cannot void this contract without serious and traumatizing repercussions. Is that fair?

Another consideration is that when one is disfellowshipped, the relationship with a religious organization is broken. The relationship with extended family and friends is a separate thing, no? 

To illustrate:

Andre works at his local Walmart. His whole family shop there all the time and have done so for years. One day Sophia, his niece, is caught shoplifting. She's been going through a bad patch but this is her first offence. Nevertheless, Walmart press charges and she gets convicted of a misdemeanor. Walmart also bans her from the store for a year. For Sophia this is a wake-up call. She has grown up a lot and been acting responsibly. She shops at Target now.

Andre and his family stop all contact with Sophia. They don't respond to her emails and texts other than that one time when they reminded her she is banned from Walmart and has a misdemeanor conviction so they are not supposed to communicate with her. When Andre and his wife had their wedding anniversary, they invited the whole family round to celebrate - except Sophia. Andre even invited some of Sophia's long-time friends. When Sophia asked why she wasn't invited, they said that, until the Walmart ban is lifted and she regularly shops there again, they cannot in good conscience associate with her.

Have Sophia's family and friends acted reasonably?

Then we got sidetracked on semantics.

 

 

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On 5/2/2016 at 19:03, Ann O'Maly said:

Particularly in the JW faith, a baptism is a lifelong contract

I am having trouble understanding how baptism could be viewed as a contract in a secular legal sense in that elements could be regulated and possibly enforceable by the state.

Baptism has been around a long time in the US, (to which state your linked contract definition page refers). Although there are wide differences in the recommended appropriate age, and also in understanding of what baptism therefore represents, surely this issue should have long been settled if secular law and definition applied?

Examples of the variety of views for appropriate Baptism age.

The United Methodist Church strongly advocates the baptism of infants
Grace Community Church: our general practice is to wait until a professing child has reached the age of twelve.
Bethlehem Baptist Church: It is our practice to wait until a child is at least age eleven before considering him for baptism.
Roman Catholic Church: Parents are responsible for bringing their child to the Sacrament of Baptism as soon after birth as possible
Latter Day Saints: And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old.
First Lutheran Church: When infants are baptized, parents make promises for their child until the child is old enough to affirm these promises for themselves (typically around age 14).

Of course there are others, including Jehovah's Witnesses, who view this matter as requiring a level of understanding on the part of the one getting baptized and thus do not mandate a minimum age limit.
 

As stated, the most recent article on the subject of baptism of youths is linked here:

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/watchtower-study-march-2016/young-ones-ready-baptism/

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On 5/4/2016 at 11:46 AM, Eoin Joyce said:

I am having trouble understanding how baptism could be viewed as a contract in a secular legal sense in that elements could be regulated and possibly enforceable by the state.

I am making a comparison. 

-If secular law puts restrictions in place to protect minors from making unalterable decisions, 

-If dedication to God and baptism as a JW is the most weighty decision and vow a person can make - even more serious than getting married or signing up for a mortgage, 

-If the consequences from changing one's mind, contravening a scriptural law or doing something that the org disapproves of can result in the child being an outcast and shunned by extended JW family and friends, 

-Then the ethics of baptizing JW children is highly questionable. 

I understand that other religions baptize their young but, as you noted, the meaning of baptism, allowed ages and church discipline varies widely. The main concern is what happens to a baptized child member if he sins.

E.g. the LDS church baptizes children of 8 years old and they also excommunicate minors, unfortunately. In contrast with both the JWs and the LDS church, while the Catholic church baptizes infants (and later confirmation is permitted from about age 7), there is no excommunication for minors. This is the Church's position on a minor committing one of the worst sins a Catholic can make:

Objectively, procuring an abortion remains an intrinsically evil act and a very serious sin.  Yet with regards to subjective guilt as well as canonical penalties, these are reduced if an excusing or diminishing factor presents itself.

In the case of this seventeen-year old girl, the most obvious diminishing factor is that of age. The Church doesn’t feel that a minor should be subjected to severe canonical penalties.  Thus canon 1324, §1, 4° states: “The perpetrator of a violation is not exempted from penalty, but the penalty prescribed in the law or precept must be diminished, or a penance substituted in its place, if the offense was committed by: […] a minor who has completed the sixteenth year of age.”  In other words, someone between the ages of sixteen and eighteen who procures an abortion can’t be excommunicated, either for abortion or for any other offense, but rather some lesser penalty or a penance must be substituted in its place.  For anybody under the age of eighteen is exempt from latae sententiae penalties, and in keeping with canon 1323, 1°, anybody under the age of sixteen is exempt from any canonical penalty whatsoever.

http://www.catholic-legate.com/articles/canon_law_101.html

 

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3 hours ago, Ann O'Maly said:

Then the ethics of baptizing JW children is highly questionable. 

A view of many who are not Jehovah's Witnesses presumably. 

Young people who sincerely dedicate their lives to Jehovah do not plan to fail in fulfilling their promise. For many, the home and congregational environment they enjoy is geared to support them in fulfilling their dedication. Young people who apply themselves to being spiritually focused in this way do not miss out on anything wholesome in their lives. The many photos shown on this jw-archive of young people enjoying theocratic activity seem to bear this out. Certainly in my own experience, many young people I know, baptized at an early age, are living happy, productive, well balanced, and successful lives, quite convinced that their early decision has led them to the "best life ever".

 

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15 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

A view of many who are not Jehovah's Witnesses presumably. 

A view of many who are JWs too. I guess that is why the GB has responded by promoting child baptisms* and addressing the misgivings parents and their children have. See http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2011441 - box on p. 6, 'Should My Child Put Off Baptism?'

15 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Young people who sincerely dedicate their lives to Jehovah do not plan to fail in fulfilling their promise.

Of course they don't. Just as a teen who gets married does not plan for their marriage to fail. But [bleep] happens.

15 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

The many photos shown on this jw-archive of young people enjoying theocratic activity seem to bear this out.

Do you think they would post photos on a JW board of themselves looking miserable? Lol.

15 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Certainly in my own experience, many young people I know, baptized at an early age, are living happy, productive, well balanced, and successful lives, quite convinced that their early decision has led them to the "best life ever".

Maybe so. There are also lots of young people who wear a painted-on smile when at the meetings and in service but are secretly unhappy with the so-called 'best life ever.' They often end up on ex-jw forums relating how trapped and scared they feel, and asking for advice on how to leave without getting kicked out or losing their family and friends. I've seen countless examples during my online life.

--------

* Even advocating blackmailing them into baptism. See excerpt: Anthony Morris III, Sunday final talk, 2015 Convention - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MreJ8tLYIso -

 

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29 minutes ago, Ann O'Maly said:

A view of many who are JWs too

I am sure responsible Jehovah's Witness parents are concerned that their children make an acceptable dedication and any reassurance they can get on how to discern and support that would always be appreciated. However, I would not go as far as to say that many of them feel the way you stated below. 

21 hours ago, Ann O'Maly said:

the ethics of baptizing JW children is highly questionable

 

29 minutes ago, Ann O'Maly said:

a teen who gets married does not plan for their marriage to fail

Quite true, but are you referring to marriage in a general sense or amongst Jehovah's Witnesses?

I would venture that the level of support and encouragement provided to young people who are sincerely seeking to maintain their dedication to Jehovah greatly exceeds the encouragement to make a success of marriage in today's moral climate outside of Jehovah's Witnesses society.

29 minutes ago, Ann O'Maly said:

Do you think they would post photos on a JW board of themselves looking miserable?

Well, can't say. There are some fairly discontented postings appearing from time to time, but miserable pictures I haven't seen apart from the occasional mugshot of Witnesses guilty of crimes (Although they were unlikely to be selfies of course).

However, many of the usual archive pics have pretty positive comments as well, so I have no reason to suspect hypocrisy.

43 minutes ago, Ann O'Maly said:

There are also lots of young people who wear a painted-on smile when at the meetings

Not lots in my experience, but on a worldwide scale I am sure there are many. Regardless of the numbers, this is a sad experience for any one, and there are older ones who try to live a double life as well.

Hypocrisy is an extremely stressful course to pursue, worse when acted out with family and friends whom the individual still loves and wants to be with if it wasn't for the spiritual aspects of life.  It must cause a lot of mental anguish for those who follow this path, especially younger ones who may still be materially dependent  as well.

Over the years, I have known  young ones who experienced a faith crisis. However, some of them, even after leaving Jehovah's Witnesses (and their families) to pursue something they felt deprived of, come back, some years later, and embrace the way of life fully.

But then, we don't expect everyone to stay as one of Jehovah's Witnesses or all children to embrace the faith of their families. Matt.10:35 (comp.1John 2:19).

I think it is worth noting that this trauma is not just an experience that Jehovah's Witnesses go through when deciding to reject the religion of their families. It can also be experienced by those who leave a strong religious background to become Jehovah's Witnesses. I have seen some pretty difficult times experienced, for example, by Jewish, Muslim, Hindu  as well as Roman Catholic youths who have decided to become Jehovah's Witnesses independent of their families.

1 hour ago, Ann O'Maly said:

Even advocating blackmailing them into baptism

I would need to hear the whole talk to evaluate that assessment. Baubles for Baptism? I thought that strategy failed with Christendom centuries ago!! 

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3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

However, I would not go as far as to say that many of them feel the way you stated below.

Well, let's say it was enough of an issue among the JW ranks to warrant it being officially addressed.

3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Quite true, but are you referring to marriage in a general sense or amongst Jehovah's Witnesses?

Both. That's why teen marriages are discouraged among JWs as well as generally in western society.

3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

However, many of the usual archive pics have pretty positive comments as well, so I have no reason to suspect hypocrisy.

Do you think JWs would post negative comments about their photographed theocratic activities on a JW board? ;)

3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Hypocrisy is an extremely stressful course to pursue

Indeed it is for those with a conscience and those who are forced by circumstance to maintain the facade until they are in a position to escape. The stress can, at times, be so intense that it even leads a young one to consider (or actually commit) suicide.

3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

I think it is worth noting that this trauma is not just an experience that Jehovah's Witnesses go through when deciding to reject the religion of their families. It can also be experienced by those who leave a strong religious background to become Jehovah's Witnesses. I have seen some pretty difficult times experienced, for example, by Jewish, Muslim, Hindu  as well as Roman Catholic youths who have decided to become Jehovah's Witnesses independent of their families.

Absolutely. I think other religions' negative attitudes toward JWs is partly due to the perception that JWs are a high control group that distances its members from the wider community (unless it's to evangelize). Additionally, any religious belief system that views itself as the only true path to God is going to react badly if a family member defects to another religion. But as the Awake! once said:

"No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family." - http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102009251

This also holds true for those wishing to leave the JW religion, and yet this is the agonizing choice many young JWs are faced with.

2 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

I would need to hear the whole talk to evaluate that assessment.

Be my guest. https://youtu.be/dEJ9BGDpHOw?t=3h57m28s

 

It makes no difference to his suggestion that parents blackmail their child into baptism by withholding permission for him/her to get a driving permit.

He said it before in a previous talk: https://youtu.be/AKVMFGfh0uc?t=58s. Apparently he used this tactic on one of his own sons.

 

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Just now, Ann O'Maly said:

Do you think JWs would post negative comments about their photographed theocratic activities on a JW board? ;)

Not the happy ones, but I would have thought some of the troubled ones might have had a pop? 

2 minutes ago, Ann O'Maly said:

JWs are a high control group that distances its members from the wider community (unless it's to evangelize)

Do you know, I read this stuff and I feel sad for the people that do it. I just never had that experience. I don't know why people don't associate with their families when they become witnesses. I was never encouraged to behave like that although I hear plenty of tales of those who do on these forums. I have never allowed tobacco smoking or other harmful practices under my roof so that has put a damper on some of my non witness family visiting me, but it never stopped my going to them. There are sometimes issues over political and religious festivals and other customs, but as I don't participate in those things I just get left out. That doesn't bother me at all. As for the evangelizing, I know where they stand on issues so it isn't a topic. We have plenty of other things to talk about.

Wow! I must live in a different world from these highly controlled people and their controllers (thankfully!) The strange thing for me is that I only seem to come in contact with this weirdo world on the internet.

18 minutes ago, Ann O'Maly said:

"No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family."

Well I certainly agree with that. Certainly parents holding that view generally would make easier for many youths who become Jehovah's Witnesses as well.

Thanks for the links. I'll check that stuff out when I have time.

 

 

 

 

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On 5/7/2016 at 9:47 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

Not the happy ones, but I would have thought some of the troubled ones might have had a pop?

Along with their photos? Only if they had a death wish! Lolol.

On 5/7/2016 at 9:47 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

Do you know, I read this stuff and I feel sad for the people that do it. I just never had that experience. I don't know why people don't associate with their families when they become witnesses. I was never encouraged to behave like that although I hear plenty of tales of those who do on these forums. ...

As Rodney King famously said: "Can we all get along?" I'm so glad to hear you are not one of those that alienates your family over a mere difference in belief. :)

On 5/7/2016 at 9:47 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

Thanks for the links. I'll check that stuff out when I have time.

So did you check them out? Food for thought, hey? 

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1 hour ago, Ann O'Maly said:

Along with their photos? Only if they had a death wish!

Maybe they have?:/

Anyway, I meant by commenting  :ph34r:

 

1 hour ago, Ann O'Maly said:

So did you check them out?

Will be soon 

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