Then are we to conclude that Jehovah’s witnesses oppose the people’s
use of transfusions?
"Questions From Readers," The Watchtower, July 1, 1951, p. 416.
Copyright © 1951 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
That would be a wrong conclusion. Jehovah’s witnesses do not oppose the people’s use of transfusions, but allow
each one the right to decide for himself what he can conscientiously do. The Israelites felt bound to abide by
God’s law forbidding the eating of meat with the blood congealed in it, but still they had no objection whatever
to those outside God’s organization doing it, and even supplied unbled carcasses to outsiders who regularly ate
such things anyway. (Deut. 14:21) Each one decides for himself, and bears the responsibility for his course. Jehovah’s
witnesses consecrate their lives to God and feel bound by his Word, and with these things in view they individually
decide their personal course and bear their personal responsibility therefor before God. So, as Joshua once said
to the Israelites, “If it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; . . .
as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.”—Josh. 24:15, AS.
The same "Questions From Readers" on pages 414-6 included a number of other questions and answers
included below, the question and answer above appearing lastly.
What are the Scriptural grounds for objecting to blood transfusions?
Jehovah made a covenant with Noah following the Flood, and included therein was this command: “Flesh with the life
thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” (Gen. 9:4) The Law given through Moses contained these
restrictions: “Eat neither fat nor blood.” “Eat no manner of blood.” “Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel,
or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that
soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood:
and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh
an atonement for the soul. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore
I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh.” (Lev. 3:17; 7:26; 17:10, 11,
14; 19:26) And in the Greek Scriptures the instruction to Christians is: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have
favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep yourselves free from things sacrificed
to idols and from blood and from things killed without draining their blood and from fornication.”—Acts 15:19,
20, 28, 29; 21:25, NW.
Do not these prohibitions about blood apply only to animal blood,
and not to human blood?
Certainly Jehovah did not tell his people to drain human bodies of blood before eating them, since he was not authorizing
cannibalism. Hence while animal blood was the primary consideration in the foregoing scriptures, do not overlook
that the recorded prohibitions were against “any manner of blood”, that they were to eat “no manner of blood”,
the “blood of no manner of flesh”. That embraces human flesh. The animal blood was for “an atonement for your souls”.
Yet Paul showed that this blood of sacrificial animals made no real atonement, but only typified Jesus’ blood.
If the typical animal blood was sacred, how much more so the antitypical human blood! To prove the prohibition
included human blood, note what occurred when three men risked their lives to get water for the thirsty David:
“But David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD, and said, My God forbid it me, that I should do
this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of
their lives they brought it.” (1 Chron. 11:17-19) Because obtained at the risk of human life, David counted
the water as human blood, and he applied to it the divine law regarding all blood, namely, pouring it out upon
the ground. “Ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.”—Deut. 12:16, 23, 24.
Since the blood donor does not die and no life is lost, why do the
Scriptural prohibitions apply to transfusions?
We refer you back to the answer to the preceding question, and ask you, Did the three men who got the water for
David die? No. Then did David consider this an extenuating circumstance that allowed him to drink the water he
viewed as human blood? No. The death of the creature supplying the blood is immaterial. The prohibition was about
taking blood into the system, and this simple fact cannot be altered by ingenious reasonings and subtle worldly
Since Christians are not under the Law of Moses that emphasizes
these restrictions on blood, why be bound by such ordinances?
The restrictions on blood existed before the Mosaic Law, being given centuries earlier, as recorded at Genesis
9:4. They were carried over for Christian observance, even after the Mosaic Law was ended by being nailed to Christ’s
torture stake. The first answer in this group of questions and answers showed that this restriction on blood is
basic for Christians, for when instructions on the bare minimum requirements were sent out this position on blood
was included as one of “these necessary things”. So this principle regarding blood existed before and after the
Mosaic Law, yet was so vital that it was also therein incorporated and emphasized.
Leviticus 3:17 states: “Eat neither fat nor blood.” So why shun
blood while eating fat?
The Mosaic Law required that the fat of sacrificial animals be burned on the altar, as shown by the verses that
precede the one quoted in the question. The fat was specially suitable for this, since it would burn readily. However,
the point to be made here in answer to the question is that the prohibition regarding the fat is a feature of the
Mosaic Law. Whereas blood is forbidden in places other than the Law covenant, fat is not; hence when the Law was
abolished by its fulfillment the prohibition on fat ended, just as on eating pigs, rabbits, eels, etc.
Why do not Jehovah’s witnesses refuse to eat meat, inasmuch as some
blood remains therein even though the animal has been properly bled?
Some say that it is the intersticial fluids and not blood that runs out of meat. Any blood remaining in the body
would congeal after a time and after exposure to air, and so would not be fluid after purchase from a butcher shop.
However, a reputable book on physiology presents reasonable argument to the effect that some congealed blood is
left behind even in well-drained carcasses. In an endeavor to remove all blood strict Jews go to great extremes.
Code of Jewish Law, a compilation of Jewish laws and customs by a rabbi and published by a Hebrew publishing company
in New York city, details the great pains to be taken with meat. The meat is submerged in water for half an hour,
is then salted and put in position for draining for an hour as the salt draws out the blood, and is thereafter
thoroughly washed three times. However, Jehovah’s witnesses do not pursue such extremes, which seem typical of
the Pharisaical zeal that fussed over trivialities and “disregarded the weightier matters of the Law”. As Jesus
said to them, “Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!” (Matt. 23:23, 24, NW) The
point is this: Jehovah God gave the ordinance not to eat blood, when he said man could eat animal flesh. At that
time he instructed that his requirement would be met by allowing the slaughtered animal’s carcass to bleed, to
drain. It is his law we are seeking to comply with in this matter of blood, and after we have followed his requirement
to bleed the animal, and thus met his demands, is that not sufficient? We need not become absurd and quibble like
a Pharisee, piling on burdens beyond the requirements of divine law.—Matt. 23:4.
Many say receiving a transfusion is not like eating blood. Is this
A patient in the hospital may be fed through the mouth, through the nose, or through the veins. When sugar solutions
are given intravenously, it is called intravenous feeding. So the hospital’s own terminology recognizes as feeding
the process of putting nutrition into one’s system via the veins. Hence the attendant administering the transfusion
is feeding the patient blood through the veins, and the patient receiving it is eating it through his veins. After
all the artful contrivings and reasonings and quibblings are over, the bald fact remains that a goodly quantity
of one creature’s blood has been deliberately taken into the system of another. That is what is forbidden by God,
regardless of method.
If the transfusion does good, perhaps even saves a life, is it not
a Christlike service rendered? Did not Jesus say, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his
life for his friends”?
Jesus said that, as recorded at John 15:13. He also added: “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.”
(John 15:14, NW) He shed his blood for those who obey him, not shedding it transfusion-style, but on the
torture stake in sacrificial death, thereby presenting its life value on Jehovah’s antitypical altar for the redemption
of obedient mankind, as typified by the animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. Blood transfusion is not Christlike.
His blood was of a certain type, and for transfusion purposes would benefit only certain individuals with compatible
blood, and would be death-dealing for many others. Did not Christ die for all kinds of men, for any who proved
their friendship for him by obeying his commands? Also, only Christ Jesus’ blood has ransoming and sin-atoning
merit, so imperfect humans need not try to put themselves into his exclusive place by arguing that they lay down
their life for their friends, as Christ did for his. Moreover, the life opportunities opened by his shed blood
are for eternal life in a new world, not for a short extension of the present temporary existence. Any saving of
life accomplished by transfusions is short-lived.
And doing it in disobedience of God’s commands could cost one eternal life. No temporary good done could justify
this permanent great loss. The water brought to David when he was suffering physically from thirst would have done
good to his body and would have brought welcome relief; but such good he considered no justification for violating
the principle of Jehovah’s law regarding blood. (1 Chron. 11:17-19) Similarly, on one occasion the Israelites
were at the point of physical exhaustion and were famished, in sore need of food. They slaughtered animals and
in their haste to meet their dire physical needs ate the flesh without taking time to let the blood drain out.
The physical good this wrought for their systems did not justify their violation of God’s law on blood, nor prevent
their being rebuked as transgressors.—1 Sam. 14:31-34.
And let the transfusion enthusiasts with a savior-complex ponder the fact that on many occasions transfusions do
harm, spread disease, and frequently cause deaths, which, of course, are not publicized. Now, are you as willing
to take responsibility for bad results as you are to take credit for supposed good results? There is a possibility
that your blood may cause a man to die. Remember, God’s law permitted even the accidental slayer of a man to be
executed by the victim’s avenger, unless the slayer fled to and remained in specially provided cities of refuge.
(Num. 35:9-34) Christians are taught to be even more careful of human life than the natural Jews were. Again we
say, no good comes of violating God’s law, regardless of the array of worldly wisdom brought forward to justify
it before men.—Luke 16:15; 1 Cor. 3:19.
- How should a Christian view using blood as fertilizer, as animal food or in some
other way that does not involve his eating it? (The Watchtower, October 15, 1981, pp. 30-1)
- Does Deuteronomy 14:21 contradict Leviticus 11:40? (The Watchtower, July 1, 2005, p. 27)
- Might the Bible’s prohibition about blood apply only to blood from a victim killed
by man, not to unbled meat of an animal that died of itself or blood from a live animal or human?
(The Watchtower, May 15, 1983, pp. 30-1)
- How can we harmonize 1 Corinthians 10:25 with advice in The Watchtower?
(The Watchtower, November 1, 1961, pp. 669-70)
- Do Jehovah’s Witnesses oppose the people’s use of transfusions? (plus other questions) (The Watchtower, July 1, 1951, p. 416)
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