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Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Break Up Families or Build Them Up?

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Break Up Families or Build Them Up?

 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we work to build up families, both our own and those of our neighbors. We respect God as the Creator of the family arrangement. (Genesis 2:​21-​24; Ephesians 3:​14, 15) In the Bible, he teaches principles that have helped people around the world to have marriages that are strong and happy.

How Jehovah’s Witnesses Promote Strong Families

 We do our best to follow the Bible’s counsel, since this helps us become better husbands, wives, and parents. (Proverbs 31:10-​31; Ephesians 5:22–​6:4; 1 Timothy 5:8) The wisdom found in the Bible helps even mixed-belief families to succeed. (1 Peter 3:​1, 2) Consider these expressions from non-Witnesses whose mates became Jehovah’s Witnesses:

  •   “Our first six years together were filled with quarrels and frustration. After Ivete became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, though, she was more loving and patient. The changes that she made saved our marriage.”​—Clauir, from Brazil.

  •   “I objected when my husband, Chansa, began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, because I thought that they break up families. Since then, I have come to see that the Bible actually helped our marriage.”​—Agness, from Zambia.

 In our ministry, we show our neighbors how applying wisdom found in the Bible can help them to

Does conversion bring conflict in a marriage?

 Admittedly, sometimes it does. For example, a 1998 report by the research company Sofres found that 1 out of 20 marriages in which only one mate was a Witness had serious problems when that one converted.

 Jesus foretold that those who follow his teachings would at times suffer family strife. (Matthew 10:32-​36) Historian Will Durant notes that under the Roman Empire, “Christianity was charged with breaking up the home,” a and some of Jehovah’s Witnesses face the same charge today. Does this mean, though, that the Witness causes the discord?

European Court of Human Rights

 When ruling on the accusation that Jehovah’s Witnesses break up families, the European Court of Human Rights said that non-Witness family members often cause conflict by refusing “to accept and to respect their religious relative’s freedom to manifest and practise his or her religion.” The Court added: “This situation is common to all mixed-belief marriages and Jehovah’s Witnesses are no exception.” b Even when faced with religious intolerance, though, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to follow the Bible’s counsel: “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men.”​—Romans 12:17, 18.

Why Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they should marry only within their religion

 The Witnesses heed the Bible’s instruction to marry “only in the Lord,” that is, to marry a person who shares their faith. (1 Corinthians 7:​39) This command is both Biblical and practical. For example, a 2010 article in the Journal of Marriage and Family said that “couples in which partners share common religious affiliations, practices, and beliefs” tend to have higher quality relationships. c

 However, the Witnesses do not encourage those who belong to their faith to separate from a marriage mate who is not a Witness. The Bible says: “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.” (1 Corinthians 7:​12, 13) Jehovah’s Witnesses abide by this command.

a See Caesar and Christ, page 647.

b See the judgment rendered in the case Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow and Others v. Russia, pages 26-​27, paragraph 111.

c See the Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 72, Number 4, (August 2010), page 963.