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Questions From Readers

Questions From Readers

What can be done to assist brothers and sisters who suffer from adverse reactions to fragrances?

Any who are sensitive to fragrances face a difficult challenge. Very likely, they have little control over their exposure to fragrances in day-to-day interactions with strangers. Yet, some have inquired whether it would be possible to request that the brothers and sisters refrain from using perfumes and colognes at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions.

Certainly, no Christian would knowingly want to make it difficult for another person to attend Christian gatherings. All of us need the encouragement that our meetings provide. (Heb. 10:24, 25) Consequently, any who suffer from fragrance sensitivity that is so severe that it hinders their meeting attendance may wish to discuss the matter with the elders. While it would not be Scriptural or appropriate to make rules about the use of fragrances by those attending meetings, the elders may be able to provide information to help congregation members understand the issues that others face. Depending on the circumstances, the elders may decide to consider previously published information in a local needs part during the Service Meeting, or they may choose to make a tactful announcement on the subject. * However, the elders cannot constantly be making announcements of this kind. At our meetings, there will always be newly interested people and visitors who are unaware of the problem, and we want such ones to feel welcome. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable because of his or her moderate use of fragrances.

Where the problem exists and local circumstances allow, it might be possible for the body of elders to arrange for those who are sensitive to fragrances to sit in a somewhat isolated area in the Kingdom Hall. For example, there may be a conference room equipped with sound where they could sit in order to benefit from the meetings. If the matter cannot be resolved reasonably and some are still suffering severely, the congregation may be in a position to record the meetings for these ones or to arrange for a telephone hookup to their home, as has been done for others who are confined to their homes.

In recent years, Our Kingdom Ministry has encouraged brothers and sisters to show special consideration in this matter while attending regional conventions. In view of the fact that most conventions are held in enclosed areas with mechanical ventilation, attendees have been asked to limit their use of strong fragrances at these events. Special consideration has been urged particularly in regard to regional conventions, since it is generally not possible to provide fragrance-free areas at the venues used. However, it was never intended that this direction become a general rule for congregation meetings, and it should not be interpreted as such.

While we live in this system of things, all of us suffer the consequences of inherited imperfection. How we appreciate the efforts of others to alleviate our suffering! It may represent a sacrifice for some to refrain from using perfume or cologne in order to make it easier for a brother or a sister to attend Christian meetings. Yet, love may prompt us to choose to do so.

 Do secular sources support the existence of Pontius Pilate?

This stone slab was inscribed with Pilate’s name in Latin

Pontius Pilate is known to Bible readers because of his role in Jesus’ trial and execution. (Matt. 27:1, 2, 24-26) However, his name also appears a number of times in other contemporary historical records. According to The Anchor Bible Dictionary, the dossier of secular historical references to him is “larger and more detailed than that of any other Roman governor of Judea.”

Pilate’s name appears most frequently in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, who chronicled three specific incidents relating to the difficulties Pilate experienced while governing Judea. A fourth incident was added by the Jewish historian Philo. The Roman writer Tacitus, who recorded the history of Rome’s emperors, confirmed that Pontius Pilate ordered Jesus’ execution during the reign of Tiberius.

In 1961, archaeologists working in the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea, Israel, found that a reused stone slab clearly bore Pilate’s name in Latin. The inscription (shown here) is fragmentary but is thought originally to have read: “To the honorable gods (this) Tiberieum Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judaea, had dedicated.” The building referred to was likely a temple honoring the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

Does a female Kingdom publisher need to wear a head covering if she conducts a Bible study in the presence of a male publisher?

In a “Questions From Readers” item published in The Watchtower of July 15, 2002, it was stated that a sister should cover her head if she conducts a Bible study in the presence of a male publisher, whether he is baptized or not. Further consideration of the matter suggests that a modification to this direction is appropriate.

If the male publisher who accompanies the sister while she conducts an established Bible study is baptized, the sister would certainly want to wear a head covering. She thus shows respect for Jehovah’s arrangement of headship within the Christian congregation because she is fulfilling a role that would normally be the responsibility of the brother. (1 Cor. 11:5, 6, 10) Alternatively, she could ask the brother to conduct the study if he is qualified and able to do so.

On the other hand, if a sister is accompanied on an established Bible study by an unbaptized male publisher who is not her husband, she would not Scripturally be required to wear a head covering. Nevertheless, the conscience of some sisters may move them to wear a head covering even in such circumstances.

^ par. 4 For a review of this topic, see “Helping Those With MCS,” in Awake! of August 8, 2000, pages 8-10.