Tag Archive | drinking

Eating blood is a sin, but a blood transfusion is not – Jehovah’s Witnesses

blod 1Eating/drinking blood is one thing, and injecting blood something else

I have RH0 Negative blood, which is rather rare – with only about 6-7% of the European population (see possible traits here). I would therefore benefit greatly if other people with this particular blood type would donate blood, in case someone like me needed it. Would it hypothetically be a sin for me to withdraw blood from myself and inject it later on, despite that it is the very same blood which ran through my veins moments ago? Or would it only be a sin if I inject someone else’s blood?

We can share blood with each other if we only belong to the same blood group. Our blood can be traced back to Adam and Eve, and they were created very good.

Jehovah’s witnesses are known for making a parallel between blood transfusions and eating blood, and they view both alternatives as a sin. The Bible clearly prohibits us from eating blood (Acts 15:28-29), but the JW’s wrongly assume that it is therefore also wrong to donate blood and receive blood transfusions, despite that the latter does not entail eating or drinking. We already have blood in our bodies, and that is not a sin. Why would it be a sin to add more blood into our veins, particularly if our blood runs low? In a blood transfusion the blood is lead directly into the cardiovascular system (the circulatory system), which means that it is never led through the digestive system the way food does. The prohibition of blood intake is in relation to food and drink in the Bible!

But there is some light:

”A blood transfusion is no more eating blood than a skin graft is cannibalism” (James D. BalesJehovah’s Witnesses, p. 30).

In the past, also vaccinations were prohibited among Jehovah’s Witnesses (up until the 1970’s) as well as organ transplants (up until the 1980’s). It would be better for the witnesses to avoid certain vaccinations (which indeed could be harmful), rather than blood which can literally save lives.

Below we can see that ”abstaining from blood” concerns food situations.

Apg. 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. .28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Acts 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

The Bible encourages us to save lives (Mark 2.23–28), and the story shows that the law was never meant to hinder us from taking logical actions – like saving innocent lives if we have this opportunity.

Mark. 2:23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Also Luke 13.10–17; 14.1–6, and Matt. 12.9–14 show that God does not prohibit us from saving lives even on a Sabbath, but that he rather expects us to. We should not add to Scriptures by suggesting that God would prohibit us also from blood transfusions if such thing was known during Biblical times. It is a huge leap to believe that God would not like if we saved people’s lives through blood transfusions. It makes sense to have blood in our veins and we cannot live without it, but we can definitely live without eating blood and getting blood into our digestive system.

Unborn children have once been nourished and stayed alive through their pregnant mothers’ blood system through the cord, so why would it be a sin if the same children hypothetically would get blood transfusions from their mothers when they are born? Blood will circulate in our veins even if we abstain from eating blood.

Sinning is transgressing the commandments of God, but there are no laws in the Bible prohibiting us from giving or receiving blood transfusions. God knows that we know that blood transfusions can save lives, and that we would therefore be motivated to do it (and there are no Biblical laws against it). It would be unreasonable to think that we would risk losing our souls based on a misunderstanding.

The Old Testament about eating blood blood

The Old Testament does not say anything else but that we should not eat (or drink) blood from either animals or human beings. The reason for this is that the life is in the blood – which of course is a factor also today (the fact has not changed). This could explain why blood indeed runs in our veins as long as we are alive. When we die, blood no longer runs in our veins. The blood certainly makes the difference between life and death. Eating something/someone with the blood would be comparable with eating someone’s life, which would be an abomination before the Lord.

Gen. 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 

Lev. 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you,– and will cut him off from among his people.11 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.12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.14 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: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

Deut. 12:16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.—  22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. 

1 Chron. 11:18 And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord.19 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. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest.

1 Sam. 14: 32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.33 Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the Lord in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.