The End is Near… Children are a burden!

The End is near! We just learned that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been claiming the End was near since at least 1966 and even claimed it would end in 1975. News Flash: It didn’t… and 1966 wasn’t the beginning of the false prophecies.

As I discussed in my previous post, leading up to the year 1975 JWs discouraged members from getting married and having children. It would be too much of a “burden” to have young children when Armageddon comes and it is only “months” away! Why waste time with school or children in these final months of “this system” when you could instead spend full-time “in service” evangelizing from door to door?

In the late 1980s, my brother was considering having his first child, but The Society (short for The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the corporate name of Jehovah’s Witnesses) was still pushing the idea that Armageddon was right around the corner. He questioned, “Is this really a good time for this, considering the fact that we are so close to the time of the end?” He hoped there would be enough years left in “this system” for his children to grow and not to be a “burden” during the “time of the end” and they decided to have kids.

The word “burden” seemed to be everywhere when discussing kids during Armageddon and it wasn’t a coincidence… it was a talking point. A very old one.

Rutherford Faces the Facts

J. F. Rutherford was the second President of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and directly wrote many of the books published during his time. In 1938, he gave a sermon (which was also published as a tract) called Face the Facts about impending Armageddon:

“God fixed the time limit during which he would not interfere with the Devil’s efforts to prove his wicked challenge. … The World War came in 1914 in fulfillment of that prophecy, marking the time when God sent forth Jesus Christ to rule while the Devil is still operating. … World distress is now upon all the nations, and fear has seized hold upon all of them, and such is in fulfillment of the prophecy. These are the indisputable physical facts which have come to pass proving that Satan’s world has come to an end, and which facts cannot be ignored.” – J. F. Rutherford, 1938 

I mentioned in part 1 of this post that JWs have claimed “the End is Near” numerous times and when the End doesn’t arrive, they claim innocence and just blame the members of the Church for misunderstanding. For example, The Society has previously claimed that 1914 would be the start of Armageddon. When it didn’t happen, they blamed the brothers and sisters in the church. The book Jehovah’s Witnesses in The Divine Purpose was published in 1959 and regarding the 1914 claims it said: 

Jehovah's Witnesses in The Divine Purpose blaming members for misunderstanding“There is no doubt that many throughout this period were overzealous in their statements as to what could be expected. Some read into the Watchtower statements that were never intended, and while it was necessary for Russell [first President of JWs] to call attention to the certainty that a Great Change was due at the end of the Gentile Times, he still encouraged his readers to keep an open mind, especially as regards the time element.”

See? We didn’t say the End was near, that was just a misunderstanding on your part! It’s not our fault you misunderstood.. we’re just supposedly the embodiment of God’s Will on Earth which is being used to teach you about God and make sure you undestan– er, nevermind. Let’s see if Rutherford can clear this up for us:

“The time limit is up. God’s kingdom is here, and Armageddon is impending. Mark this, that Jehovah said just preceding Armageddon he would cause his name to be testified in all the earth.” – J. F. Rutherford, 1938

Does he really seem like he’s hedging his bets? The Society likes to dodge these claims, but the members who remain faithful to The Society just turn a blind eye. They convince themselves it never happened.

But what about the children? Won’t somebody please think of the children?!

“Would it be scripturally proper for them to now marry and begin to rear children? NO, is the answer, which is supported by the scriptures… it will be far better to be unhampered and without burdens, that they may do the Lord’s will now, as the Lord commands, and also be without hinderance during Armageddon.” – J. F. Rutherford, 1938 (emphasis his)

Listen to him say it himself!

There is that word. Burden. Should you have kids? No, it’s 1938 for goodness sake! Armageddon is right around the corner!

It wasn’t just this one sermon though, amazingly this has been a continuous state of affairs. Just a few years later, in 1941, The Society released a new book written by Rutherford called Children: Their Training and Their Hope. In the book, a fictitious couple is presented as a good example for others to follow. They are engaged, but decide to postpone their marriage:

“Our hope is that within a few years our marriage may be consummated and, by the Lord’s grace, we shall have sweet children that will be an honor to the Lord. We can well defer our marriage until lasting peace comes to the Earth. Now we must add nothing to our burdens, but be free and equipped to serve the Lord. When the theocracy is in full sway it will not be burdensome to have a family.”

If this couple was 20 years old in 1941, they would be 93 years old today IF they even lived that long and they’d be single and without children. But how could they really know it would take THAT long, right? 

If only there was a way to know how long he really meant…

Jimmy, roll 212.

Excerpt from The Watchtower 1941, claiming Armageddon was months away

This is an excerpt from The Watchtower magazine on Sept 15th, 1941. The “Lord’s provided instrument” is referring to the Children book. (Click image to see more of the text)

“the remaining months before Armageddon.”

Months. Were those JWs also wrong when they thought The Society was telling them the End was truly near and shouldn’t have children? 

It’s shocking to me that Jehovah’s Witnesses have survived this long while constantly telling their members NOT to have kids. Usually, having lots of children is the surest way to build a larger membership. So, at the very least, I have to give it to them that they appear to be sincere. After all, it’s really not in their best interests to lie about having children. It doesn’t benefit The Society so my guess is they say it because they really, truly believe the End is near.

Now we just need to figure out how the hell they can continue to sincerely believe that when they are constantly getting it wrong!

Stay tuned for part 3! Yes, that’s right. We’re not done here yet. This was only about having children! It’s time to go all the way back to 1893 before Jehovah’s Witnesses were even called Jehovah’s Witnesses!

(Originally Posted April 10th, 2014)