You've heard the story. A husband and wife team of Jehovah's Witnesses are out witnessing, bringing their little child with them. Then something goes horribly wrong: the child wanders out in the street, and a car hits it. The child is then rushed to the hospital, and needs a blood transfusion in order to survive. The parents refuse to allow it, and the child dies. (If you haven't heard that story, one like it---with a different ending---is available from Chick Publications, under the tract heading "The Crisis".)
I wish this story were fiction, but it's all too common. Several testimonials of such stories are available across the World Wide Web; and we are left to wonder how many other such stories there are, by parents who have been silenced by the Watchtower. Yet we are told---with brazenness and impunity--by the Watchtower Organization that the Bible, the Holy Word of God, would prohibit something that is absolutely vital to someone's life!
Shocking as that may sound, let's look at their reasoning. For the purposes of this article, let's refer to their document Blood-Vital for Life, available at the official Watchtower site. Since it's on the official Watchtower website, it can be taken to be representative of the Watchtower's stance on this issue.
This document appears to be very appealing. After all, doesn't it feature all sorts of different quotes from the Bible? Doesn't it have all of these knowledgeable people quoted in it? Yes, it does; but let's look at it harder. It can be shown that the Bible quotes are out of context, that their testimony by human "experts" is of little if any relevancy, and that their thinking is totally out of line with God's character. Let's examine each of these items in turn.
The Biblical quotes used in the Watchtower article are incorrectly used. Every one of the Old Testament statements---and even the New Testament verses referring to the custom of eating blood---were talking about the eating of ANIMAL blood. It involves the introduction of HUMAN blood into a patient who is low on his/her own. Also, the reference to 1 Samuel 14:31-35 is invalid---they surmise that because Saul reminded them that it was wrong to eat any animal with the blood in it, even in an emergency, it is therefore wrong for any of God's people to take in blood in any way in an emergency. (More will be said on this later.) Once again, we need to remember that in a blood transfusion, blood doesn't pass through the digestive tract at all. Really, does the Watchtower truly study the Bible? (This question will be explored more fully in a later article.) We can see that their Scriptural references here are not in context with the current discussion, though it can be conceded to them that the Bible teaches that blood is vital for life and thus deserves special respect. But what other errors have they made?
Their quotes by human experts are of little relevancy to the current discussion. In an effort to show that the ancient world knew about the use of blood as medicine, they quoted Tertullian, an Egyptian physician, and the book Flesh and Blood. They then made the statement that early Christians would not eat or drink blood, even as medicine. This is true, but so what? Again, it's back to the METHOD. And again, we know that blood transfusions DO NOT involve eating blood. We are also treated to quotes from Martin Luther and Alexander Pirie, regarding eating blood. Why does this matter what either of these men had to say on this topic? What is most important on this (or, for that matter, any topic) is what GOD says. Does He say it is wrong? No, and justification for that statement will be presented shortly.
Of special note is the quote from Dr. Bartholin. Please note that he was Professor of Anatomy at the University of Copenhagen in the 17th century. He was human, and therefore it is possible that he was incorrect. Does God's Word forbid transfusions? No, as will be explained shortly. Has human understanding of transfusions advanced since then? Yes. In fact, human understanding of the circulatory system in general has greatly advanced since then. So does Dr. Bartholin's quote apply here? No.
The Watchtower's biblical stance is incorrect. The Jehovah's Witnesses have picked out a handful of passages from throughout the Bible, taken them out of context, and applied them as commands in situations where they do not apply. Every one of those verses that they quoted which mentioned blood (as well as many of the non-Biblical quotes) deals with the eating of ANIMAL blood. As noted above, blood transfusions DO NOT involve eating animal blood, but rather the intake of HUMAN blood. So what DOES the Bible say about transfusions?
Regarding taking in something necessary for life, when the Law seems to prohibit it: In Mark 2:23-28, the disciples were walking through a corn field on the Sabbath. They got hungry, and plucked a few ears of corn and ate them (taking in food is necessary for life). The Pharisees got upset at this, saying it was a violation of God's law. Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." They could fulfill their need for life, and God's standard was not violated.
Regarding being healed in "violation" of God's law: In Mark 3:1-5, Jesus healed a man who had a withered hand on the Sabbath. Again the Pharisees got upset! So Jesus asked them, "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?" Is it OK to "violate" a command of the Law in order to do good, and save a life? God requires MERCY, and not sacrifice. This point is made even stronger in Matthew 12:10-14. "And He said unto them, What man is there among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much better then is a man than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath days.'" (verses 11-12). It is lawful to honor the intent of God's law. Therefore, if a blood transfusion will save someone's life, it is all right to give it.
Regarding whether we in fact are governed by God's law or not: We aren't. And the whole of Paul's letter to the Galatians deals with that fact. As Christians, we are bound only to love God, each other and the people of the world (John 14-15). The Law was given through Moses and intended for the Jews. It does not apply to us.
We have seen how the Watchtower Organization has demonstrated untrustworthiness regarding quoting the Scripture, quoting people and developing a doctrine. Consider this as you make your informed choice about whether or not to have a transfusion----and whether or not to trust that organization with your eternal life.