In Jonas's highly organized, regulated society, citizens have few personal freedoms, and the ruling Committee of Elders makes every significant decision in each citizen's life. For example, the Committee of Elders sets the birth rate, matches spouses, creates family units, determines each citizen's occupation, and completely controls the natural environment of the community. In regards to personal relationships, a citizen is required to apply for a spouse and must undergo a serious review, which can take multiple months to complete in order for the committee to match them with a proper spouse who fits with their specific character traits.
Each couple is then monitored for three years by the committee before they can apply for children. Once a couple applies for a child and is given permission by the Committee of Elders to start a family, they receive a newchild during the annual December Ceremony. In Jonas's community, only Birthmothers can have children. Certain women are selected to be Birthmothers and enjoy three years of relatively carefree, easy living while they give birth to three children. Once their third child is born, the Birthmothers become Laborers. The fact that citizens must apply for spouses and children emphasizes the highly structured, restrictive nature of Jonas's community.