The Jehovah’s Witnesses are perhaps best known as people who won’t receive for themselves or their children blood transfusions. In fact, they will go so far as to allow a loved one to die rather than accept a transfusion. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that taking blood into the body through mouth or veins violates God’s laws. Here are some quotes from their publications:
“In view of the seriousness of taking blood into the human system by a transfusion, would violation of the Holy Scriptures in this regard subject the dedicated, baptized receiver of blood transfusion to being disfellowshiped from the Christian congregation?”
“The inspired Holy Scriptures answer yes.” (The Watchtower, January 15, 1961, p. 63)
“Similarly, God’s command to ‘abstain from blood’ rules out ingesting it by the mouth as well as through injections into the veins. Furthermore, the Bible makes it clear that the divine law was not to be ignored even during an emergency that could threaten life. (1 Sam. 14:31-35) Many of God’s approved servants have been willing to face dangers and even death rather than violate Scriptural principles and their integrity to Jehovah.” (The Watchtower, June 15, 1978, p.24)
“So their everlasting destiny is tied up in their faithfulness to Jehovah. This includes their being obedient to what he says about blood.” (The Watchtower, June 15, 1978, p.24)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses support this notion with these verses: “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Gen. 9:4). “You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood” (Lev. 17:14). “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity” (Acts 15:28, 29).
But there are several problems with interpreting these verses to mean that transfusions are forbidden, not the least of which is the fact that the context is referring to animal blood, not human.
Moreover, there is a great difference between the act of eating and the act of receiving a life-giving transfusion. Eating animals with blood was wrong because it was not healthy as it carried diseases. But for a person to willingly share his blood intravenously in order to share life with someone is a very godly thing to do. Hopefully, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will reconstruct their teaching regarding blood transfusions in the future.
In His service,
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