Blood - "Sanctity of Life" or "Ownership of Life"?


This is the third in a series of articles. In order to make sense of what is written here you should first read my original article on the “no blood” doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, and Meleti's response.
The reader should note that the subject of whether a “no blood” doctrine should be imposed on Christians is no longer under discussion here. Meleti and I are both agreed that it should not. However, following Meleti's response there remained the issue of what blood truly symbolizes in the Bible. The answer to this question might affect the way a Christian would exercise his or her God given conscience in any given situation. Certainly it is still something that I would like to get to the bottom of, since to me, the subject matters, the premise matters, and the conclusions matter.
Whilst I have laid out my arguments in this further response in a very positional way the reader needs to understand that I am doing this much in the manner of a debate style in order to encourage further discussion by any who are interested. I do believe that Meleti made many fine and thought-provoking points in his response, and as always argues them well. But since he has allowed me the latitude in this forum to present my scriptural research in as direct a way as I can, I intend to use that.
If you are not specifically interested in the finer principles of this subject under discussion, I don't even encourage you to spend time reading this article. If you managed to get through my first one then you've paid your dues in my view. It was a bit of a monster, and really all of the major points have been covered there. However if you are interested in exploring a little deeper then I appreciate your readership and hope you will weigh in on the discussion in a balanced and polite way in the comments area.
[Since writing this article Meleti has posted a follow-up article to qualify some of his points. Yesterday, we agreed that he would post his follow-up before I posted this one. It should be noted that I didn't make any subsequent amendments to this article, and so it doesn't take into consideration any of Meleti's further comments. However, I do not think it substantially impacts any of the points herein.]

Sanctity or Ownership?

When writing my original article I was aware that there was no strict definition in scripture as to what blood symbolizes. It is necessary to infer such a definition if we are to appreciate the deeper principles that an examination of this topic brings to the surface.
Meleti and I are agreed that the definition must include “life”. We might even stop there and simply say that “blood symbolizes life”. All of the scriptural points in my article would stand up to such a definition and the conclusions would be the same. However, as Meleti rightly points out, the starting premise can have a bearing on matters beyond the question as to whether it is scripturally acceptable to enforce a “no blood” policy on fellow Christians. It is to that end that I wish to further explore the primary difference that remains between our reasoning on this matter - that is to say whether it is appropriate to extend the definition of “blood symbolizes life” to add “in view of God's ownership of it”, or “in view of its sanctity in God's sight”, or a combination of the two as I initially allowed for in my article.
Meleti believes that “sanctity” should be disallowed from the definition. His claim is that “ownership” of life by God is the key to understanding the principle.
In the same way that Meleti acknowledged that life is sacred in the sense that all things from God are sacred, I already have acknowledged that life is owned by God in the sense that all things are owned by God. Therefore, it must be reiterated that this is not the difference between us. It comes entirely down to which of these, if either, is associated with the symbolic nature of blood.
Now I must confess that in my first article I did somewhat consider it a given that the way we are to treat life is in accord with the concept that “life is sacred”. JW theology states this (a few recent examples include w06 11/15 p. 23 par. 12, w10 4/15 p. 3, w11 11/1 p. 6) and general Judeo-Christian theology generally reflects this idea.
Nevertheless when it comes to the specific symbolic meaning of blood, I will take Meleti's point that we cannot take it for granted that this factors into the equation. If our conclusions hinge on it, then we must ensure that our premise is truly established in scripture.
Firstly what do I mean by sanctity? It's easy to focus on a word and yet be speaking at cross purposes if we do not share the same definition.
Here is a Merriam Webster dictionary definition: the quality or state of being holy, very important, or valuable.
If we focus on the first of the these - “the quality or state of being holy” - then I have to agree that this may not be at the heart of how blood represents life, although it is certainly involved as we will see. It is really the third option that better encapsulates what I mean when extending the definition of the symbolism of blood beyond just life in and of itself, and attaching an underlying reason as to why blood in representation of life is so special.
From God's standpoint, life has a high value. Therefore we, as beings made in his image, must also share his valuation of life. That's it. It doesn't get more complicated than that. I do not see evidence that Jehovah uses blood to primarily impress upon a believer that he is the owner of life.
Therefore the key questions I wish to explore in response to Meleti's article are:

1) Is there anything scriptural to link blood as a symbol with “ownership of life”?

2) Is there anything scriptural to link blood as a symbol with “value of life”?

Meleti's first appeal to scripture is as follows:

That blood represents the right of ownership of life can be seen from the first mention of it at Genesis 4:10: At this he said: “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.”

To say that it “can be seen” from this passage that “blood represents the right of ownership of life” is unsubstantiated in my view. I can just as easily assert that Gen 4:10 supports the premise that blood is precious or sacred (in the “valuable” sense) in God's sight.
Meleti continues by providing an illustration or analogy of stolen goods, and uses it as support for the premise. However, as Meleti well knows, we cannot use illustrations to prove anything. The illustration would be a reasonable one if the premise had already been established, but it had not.
The follow-on scriptures that Meleti uses to show that life and soul belongs to God (Eccl 12:7; Eze 18:4) do not mention blood at all. So any definition of the symbolism of blood linked with these scriptures can only be an assertion.
On the other hand Psalm 72:14 uses the phrase “their blood will be precious in his eyes.” The Hebrew word here translated “precious” is entirely to do with value, not ownership.
The same word is used in Ps 139:17 “So, to me how precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to.” Clearly the thoughts in this case are God's (owned by him if you like), but they are of value to the Psalmist. So this word is not intrinsically linked with the value of something because you own it. It is simply describing how one person holds something else as of high value, whether owned by him or not.
In other words it is possible to establish a firm scriptural basis for blood being linked with the value of life, but not with the ownership of it.
Next Meleti reasons on the following situation involving Adam:

If Adam had not sinned, but instead been struck down by Satan in a fit of frustrated anger at his failure to successfully turn him, Jehovah would have simply resurrected Adam. Why? Because Jehovah gave him a life that had been unlawfully taken from him and God’s supreme justice would require that the law be applied; that the life be restored.

This premise is then used to further support the idea that “the blood representing [Abel's] life wasn’t crying out metaphorically because it was sacred, but because it was taken unlawfully.”
If this is strictly true then it begs the question as to why Jehovah did not immediately resurrect Abel. The answer is that Abel did not have a “right to life” due to the fact that he had inherited sin from his father. Romans 6:23 applies to Abel just as much as any man. Regardless of how he died – whether of old age or at the hand of his brother – he was destined for death. What was required was not was simply a “return of stolen goods”, but rather redemption based upon the undeserved kindness of God. The blood of Abel was “precious in his eyes”. Precious enough to send his Son to give the value of his own blood to redeem his life.
Moving on, Meleti says that the Noachian covenant gave the “right to kill animals, but not men”.
Do we truly have a right to kill animals? Or do we have permission to kill animals? I do not believe that the passage paints the distinction between animals and men in quite the way Meleti presented. In both cases life is precious, in neither case do we have the right to take it, however in the case of animals “permission” is granted, just as later Jehovah would command humans to take other human lives – an extended form of permission. But at no point is this presented as a “right”. Now when a command is given there is clearly no need for a ritual of recognition that a life has been taken. The permission to take the life or lives is restricted to that situation (e.g. a battle or punishment under the law), but when blanket permission was given in the taking of animal lives for food, an act of recognition was stipulated. Why is that? I propose that it is not simply a ritual that reflects God's ownership, but is a practical measure in order to maintain the value of life in the mind of the one who will eat the flesh, in order that life not be devalued over time.
The only way for the reader to decide the true sense of the Noachian covenant is to carefully read the entire passage once through with “ownership” in mind, and a second time with the “value of life” in mind. You can do this exercise the other way around if you like.
To me the ownership model just doesn't fit, and here's why.

“Just as I gave you the green vegetation, I give them all to you.” (Gen 9:3b)

Now, it would be intellectually dishonest of me not to point out that the Hebrew word nathan translated “give” here can also mean to “entrust” according to Strong's concordance. However, the overwhelming majority of times the word is used in Genesis it has the sense of truly “giving”, and almost every Bible translation renders it this way. If Jehovah was truly trying to impress a point about his retention of ownership would he not have put it differently? Or at least made an explicit distinction about what exactly belongs to humans now and what still belongs to God. But in stating the prohibition on blood there is nothing to say that it is because God still “owns” the life.
Again let's be clear that nobody is saying that God does not still own the life in the truest sense. We are only trying to ascertain what was signified by the blood prohibition in this passage. In other words what central point was God really trying to impress upon Noah and the rest of mankind?
Jehovah goes on to say that he will demand an “accounting” for the way we treat life (Gen 9:5 RNWT). It is very interesting to see how this has been updated in the Revised NWT. Previously it was worded as God asking it back. But “accounting” is again closely related to the value of something. If we read the text as placing a safeguard on how man would treat this new gift in order that the precious value of life not be devalued, then it makes sense.
Note this extract from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshippers in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood.

Many Bible commentators make similar points about how this passage is about setting boundaries for man in his imperfect state. I was unable to find a single one that has inferred that the core issue at stake was one of ownership. Of course this in itself does not prove Meleti wrong, but it does make clear that such a concept appears to be unique. I suggest that whenever someone proposes a unique doctrinal theory, then that person ought to bear the burden of proof, and that it is right to demand very direct scriptural support if we are to accept it. I am simply not finding that direct scriptural support for Meleti's premise.
When it came to a consideration of the ransom sacrifice I was a little uncertain on how Meleti's explanation was supposed to support the premise. I don't want to get sidetracked onto a detailed examination of how the ransom works, but it seemed to me that everything that was put forward led us to consider the blood of Jesus in terms of its “value” rather than anything pertaining to “ownership”.
Meleti wrote “The value attached to Jesus’ blood, that is, the value attached to his life represented by his blood, was not based on its sanctity”.
I outright disagree with this statement. Even if we go with the stricter definition of sanctity as “being holy” as opposed to simply “being valuable”, there still appears to be ample scriptural evidence to be able to link the ransom sacrifice with precisely this. The idea of holiness was closely associated with animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. Holiness means religious cleanness or purity, and the original Hebrew qo′dhesh conveys the thought of separateness, exclusiveness, or sanctification to God (it-1 p. 1127).

“He must also spatter some of the blood upon it with his finger seven times and cleanse it and sanctify it from the uncleannesses of the sons of Israel.” (Lev 16:19)

This is one example of numerous scriptures under the law that relate blood to “sanctity”. My question would be – why would blood be used to sanctify something, if the focus was not on blood itself being sacred? In turn how can it be sacred and yet “sanctity” not factor into the definition of what it symbolizes from God's point of view?
Let's not be diverted by the fact that Meleti acknowledged that life and blood is sacred. We are specifically trying to establish whether that is the focus of why blood is the symbol for life, or whether that focus primarily pertains to “ownership”. I contest that the scriptures focus upon the element of “sanctity”.
It is of note that when Jehovah described how the blood was to be used as atonement he said: “I myself have given it on the altar for you to make atonement for yourselves” (Lev 17:11, RNWT). The same Hebrew word nathan is being used here and translated “given”. This would seem to be very significant. When blood was used for atonement we again see that this is not a matter of God marking his ownership of something, but rather a giving of it to humans for this purpose. This would of course ultimately reflect the most valuable gift through the ransom.
Since the life and blood of Jesus was pure and sanctified in the perfect sense, it had the value to atone for an indefinite number of imperfect lives, not simply balancing the scales for the one that Adam lost. Certainly Jesus had the right to life and gave it up voluntarily, but the means by which this enables us to have life is not one of simple substitution.

“It is not the same with the free gift as with the way things worked through the one man who had sinned” (Rom 5:16)

It is precisely because Jesus' shed blood is sufficiently valuable in its sinless, pure and, yes, “holy” state, that we can be declared righteous by means of our faith in it.
Jesus' blood “cleanses us from all sin (John 1:7). If the value of the blood is only based upon Jesus' right to life and not due to its holiness or sanctity, then what it is that cleanses us from sin and makes us holy or righteous?

“Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.” (Heb 13:12)

We can certainly have a fuller discussion of the ransom sacrifice as a topic on its own. Suffice to say that I believe that the value attached to Jesus' blood was very much based on its sanctity, and in this Meleti and I seem to differ.
With all this talk of blood being holy and set apart in the context of atonement, you might begin to wonder if I am not helping to validate the JW “no blood” policy. In that case I would simply have to direct you back to carefully read my original article, especially the sections on the Mosaic Law and the ransom sacrifice in order to put this in proper perspective.

Addressing the Implications of Both Premises

Meleti fears “that including the element of 'the sanctity of life' in the equation confuses the issue and may lead to unintended consequences”.
I can understand why he feels this, and yet feel that such fear is unwarranted.
The “unintended consequences” that Meleti fears are all to do with whether we are obliged to preserve life when in fact there might be good reason not to do so. In the present system “quality of life” factors into certain medical decisions. That is why I believe that God's regulations are still based on principles and not absolutes. By saying “life is sacred” in principal, I feel no obligation to preserve a life which clearly has no hope of ever recovering from a state of severe suffering in this system of things.
The showbread in the tabernacle was considered sacred or holy. And yet clearly the laws pertaining to this were not absolute. I already used this principle to support a different point in the opening article. Jesus showed that the principle of love overrides the letter of the law (Matt 12:3-7). Just as the scriptures clearly show that God's laws on blood cannot be absolute to the point of withholding something potentially beneficial, the principle that “life is sacred” from God's standpoint is not absolute to the point that life must be preserved at all costs.
Here I will quote an extract from a 1961 Watchtower article. It is noteworthy that the article in ts entirety repeatedly makes reference to the principle that “life is sacred”.

w61 2/15 p. 118 Euthanasia and God’s Law
All this, however, does not mean that where a person is suffering greatly from a disease and death is only a matter of time the physician must continue to take extraordinary, complicated, distressing and costly measures to keep the patient alive. There is a great difference between extending the life of a patient and stretching out the dying process. In such cases it would not be violating God’s law regarding the sanctity of life to mercifully let the dying process take its due course. The medical profession generally acts in harmony with this principle.

Similarly, when it comes to acts of saving people at the risk of our own lives there may be no clear cut answers. Either way life is at risk, and we would have to weigh up any situation based upon our own understanding of God's moral principles. In turn we know we will be held accountable for all our decisions, and so we would not treat them lightly when they involve life and death.
The other side of the coin is to consider where Meleti's version of the premise might lead us. If we switch to the “life belongs to God” definition combined with an attitude of “it doesn't matter too much because Jehovah will resurrect us and/or other people”, then I believe the danger is that we may unwittingly devalue life by treating medical decisions relating to the preservation of life with less seriousness than they merit. In fact the whole “no-blood” doctrine highlights this danger to the fullest degree, because it is here that we encounter situations that may not just involve extending a suffering life, but situations where a person might have the chance to be brought back to a reasonable level of health and continue to fulfill his or her God-given role in this present system of things. If a life can reasonably be preserved, and there is no conflict with God's law, and no other extenuating circumstances, then I must insist that there is a clear-cut duty to try to do so.
The whole section that Meleti wrote on death being sleep is very comforting to be sure, but I do not see how this can be used to essentially downgrade the value of life. The fact is the scriptures liken death to sleep in order to help us to see the big picture, not to make us lose sight of what life and death really is. Death is fundamentally not the same as sleep. Did Jesus become grieved and weep whenever one of his friends took a nap? Is sleep described as an enemy? No, loss of life is a serious matter precisely because it has high value in God's sight and should have the same in ours. If we cut the “sanctity” or “value” of life out of the equation then I fear that we may leave ourselves open to some poor decision making.
Once we accept that the full set of principles and laws in God's Word would not preclude a particular course of medical treatment then we can make a conscientious decision with “love” as the guiding force, just as Meleti's wrote. If we do that while still keeping God's view of the value of life firmly in view, then we will make the right decision.
That might lead me to a different decision from Meleti's in some cases, due to the additional weight that I would likely apply to what I see as the sanctity and value of life defined in scripture. However, I do wish to be clear that any decision I make would not be based upon “fear of death”. I agree with Meleti that our Christian hope removes that fear. But a life or death decision I make would certainly factor in a fear of falling short of God's view of the value of life, and indeed the aversion to dying unnecessarily.


I opened my first article by outlining the deep power of indoctrination that has had its effect on all of us who have been JW's for many years. Even when we see error in doctrine it can be a very difficult thing to view things clearly without any residual effect from those synaptic pathways that have formed. Perhaps especially if a topic is not a key concern to us are those neural networks less likely to change their patterns. I see in many of the comments that were posted on my first article that, although there was no disagreement with a single point of scriptural reasoning, there was still an undercurrent of personal inherent aversion to the medical use of blood. No doubt if the ban on organ transplants had remained in force until today, many would feel the same way about those also. Some who may have otherwise felt that way have thankfully had their lives preserved by receiving such treatment.
Yes, death in one sense is like sleep. The resurrection hope is a glorious one that frees us from morbid fear. And yet, when a person dies, people suffer. Children suffer by losing parents, parents suffer by losing children, spouses suffer by losing mates, sometimes to the degree that they die themselves of a broken heart.
Never are we asked by God to face an unnecessary death. Either he has banned us from a certain medical practice or he has not. There is no middle ground.
I maintain that the scriptures show no reason why we should be placing potentially life-preserving treatment involving blood in a category any different whatsoever from any other potentially life-preserving treatment. I also maintain that provision is made in scripture explicitly to prevent conflict between God's laws on blood and his view of the value of life. There is no reason for our heavenly Father to make such provisions if these decisions are simply non-issues due to the resurrection hope.
As a final thought, I do not advocate that you should base your decisions simply on the fact that we should view life as sacred. The bottom line is to understand how Jehovah God views life, and then act in accord with that. Meleti concluded his article by asking the question that I included at the core of my first article – what would Jesus do? It is the definitive question for a Christian, and in this I am, as always, in full unity with Meleti.

Archived Comments

We have moved to the Disqus commenting system. To post a new comment, go to the bottom of this page.

  • Comment by Jude on 2013-10-23 03:01:24

    I'm personally inclined to believe that blood is sacred because of the high value of life which it represents.
    This fact is made evident by blood's usage in animal sacrifices. When one sins he incurs a very expensive debt - arguably the most valuable possession a person has, his life. The sacrificial system was a way for the sinner to pay off that invaluable debt with a life other than his own. In the sacrificial system, blood is used as an emblem representing the very precious comodity of the life of the victim which is being equated (if only symbolically) with the life of the sinner.
    Blood's value as life is extrinsic in NATURE, not unlike the NATURE of the value that currency authorities ascribe to bank notes. (Interestingly, the bible implicitly uses money as a metaphor for blood when it says Jesus "bought" persons for God with his blood). What I'm saying is that blood in and of itself is not as valuable as life, but Jehovah has declared that it stand for such value and requires that we humans also accept that valuation for the purpose of sacrificial transactions. And herein lies the reason for forbidding the eating of blood. Because its value is extrinsic, our attitude towards it would determine whether or not we, from our standpoint, are truly giving something we value as equal to life or something we value as common food.
    If the sinner eats blood then on his side of the transaction he makes it a common thing which is not precious enough to buy back his soul on the altar. It would be like a man offering to God a worthless sacrifice as a sin offering. Because the value of blood is extrinsic our attitude toward it determines the value we ascribe to it and hence whether or not God will accept it as atonement for our sin. I believe this is the point implicit in Leviticus 17:11,12. In order for this system to work, the sinner has to show genuine appreciation for the value of the blood being offered on the altar.
    But note that the use of blood in our veins to sustain life does not devalue it for it is being used to sustain that which it represents in value - life. And this is, after all, the purpose for which it was created. I therefore do not believe that a transfusion to sustain life amounts to devaluing blood.

  • Comment by Chris on 2013-10-23 15:41:58

    Although it's a hard subject to get our heads around after years of having our neural pathways trained to not 'eat' blood, my conscience is comfortable with a blood transfusion to potentially save a life, especially given that the blood donor doesn't die. However this does raise the another aspect of transfusions, would I donate blood? I still have this voice in my head saying it constitutes a misuse of blood if it passes out of my body and not to the ground. I know it's not a sacrifice in the real sense so the scripture probably doesn't have relevance but it got me thinking.

    • Reply by Jude on 2013-10-23 19:23:42

      With regard to scriptures that speak of the blood having to be poured out on the ground and covered over, I think that this requirement could be related to the fact that the animal involved had died and should ordinarily return to the dust. Because the animal flesh is being eaten, the part that is not to be eaten - the blood - is returned to the dust.

    • Reply by apollos0fAlexandria on 2013-10-24 13:27:48

      Hi Chris
      I know exactly what you mean. The question is what exactly that voice in our heads is in this case. Is it our conscience or years of indoctrination speaking? I have learned through this exercise that it is not for me to say on behalf of someone else. Nevertheless, for myself I have only found a personal answer by doing what i have done, i.e. looking into the scriptures deeply enough to be convinced of the truth of the matter.
      I agree with Jude's comment about the context of "pouring out the blood". But beyond that it becomes obvious that the current doctrine employs a double-standard in this regard anyway. It is supposedly a conscience matter to use certain blood fractions, but those blood fractions are only available because somebody gave blood. In other words it might be okay to take, but it's certainly not okay to give. Does that sound like a Christian principle?
      Some of the products which are now being made available as "synthetic" blood that might be acceptable to JW's according to some reports (e.g. hemopure), contain components of animal blood, which presumably were actually sacrificed to make the product. If so, a life is actually being lost, and yet the blood is not being poured out. Whereas in the human case no life is lost. How topsy-turvy is that situation when you consider the principles?
      As I said at the beginning of my first article, the thinking of JW's that has been instilled goes beyond regular indoctrination such as takes place for matters like the FADS and 1914. It involves the very powerful concept of "taboo", and that is much more difficult to shake.

  • Comment by kev c on 2013-10-24 19:10:08

    The whole blood issue has become extremely complex. I thank you brothers for your views which are helping others to come to an informed scriptural opinion. I think there are some important scriptural principles to be found at romans 2 v 12 to 16. We all have to try and folllow the leadings of our bible trained conscience the importance of which i think has been played down. See verse 16. I think and have always thought that especially in serious life and death matters. The individual who faces the choice must make the decision one way or another. Wether right or wrong. If wrong then they must bear the consequeces. One of the sad things ive seen is that people havent been allowed to have a choice. Thats the problem when setting up too many rules with penalties for the disobedient. All our lives are in gods hands no one elses.

    • Reply by GodsWordisTruth on 2013-10-25 08:50:30

      Your comments are exactly the point. I have always thought that the issue of Blood for many of the reasons that were explained in this article was a deeply personal decision. It appears to me even if the "slave" believes that they have a convincing argument regarding the Blood issue that because of the personal nature of medical decisions, that they would conclude that since each Christian has to render an account to God it is a matter of each individual’s conscience and relationship with God. Unlike the "1st century Governing Body” that the GB often refers to as their example of why they should take the lead .... That "Body" led people to Christ and besides the circumcision issue, I cannot find one instance in the NT where they took a hard line on any issue involving Christian's lives ( for ex. Paul's discussion on eating things sacrificed to Idols was a very balanced discussion that ultimately left it up to the Christian to decide.) It is my belief that these Jews were coming out of a "religion" with endless rules and they were trying to stress the matter of Christian conscience and that Christ was our Mediator not a group of men (Pharisees, Sadducees, Laity, and Governing Body). The congregation was organized to preach the Gospel of Christ.

      • Reply by anderestimme on 2013-10-25 13:52:52

        Even the decision regarding the circumcision issue was mainly the suspension of a rule, rather than the imposing of one.

        • Reply by GodsWordisTruth on 2013-10-29 16:40:50

          I agree!

          • Reply by GodsWordisTruth on 2013-10-30 10:29:52

            After reading Titus 1:11,12 ( NIV ) today ... I think that Paul did take a hard line against those held to the circumcision law. His words were pretty harsh against them. He said that they were Rebellious, full of meaningless talk and deception and in verse 11 he said they should be silenced because they were teaching things they ought not to teach….

            • Reply by kev c on 2013-10-30 17:31:01

              Yes he did take a hard seems these brothers were drifting back to the belief of salvation by works of law. Instead of the only true way to gain salvation by faith in jesus. And not content with that were trying to put pressure on others to join them. This was not a personal matter. But a very dangerous teaching indeed see galatians.

            • Reply by anderestimme on 2013-11-05 11:17:33

              Paul took a hard line, not on circumcision itself, but on the imposing of a mandatory circumcision rule on Christians. If this really is the only 'hard line' Paul took, it is significant that what he was vehemently opposed to was a rule that limited the exercise of conscience.

    • Reply by MARILYN NEMETH on 2019-09-18 17:55:06

      It's much harder to live than to die. So whether we live or die we belong to Jehovah.

  • Comment by anderestimme on 2013-11-05 13:34:43

    I do not mean this to be a categorical defense of the official policy, but here are a few tangential items I'd like to add to the mix for good measure:
    While the question of how many JWs have died because of our official stand on blood is often asked, few bother to ask the counter-question: How many JWs - and others - have been saved by their stand on blood? What I mean is, is the percentage of people who die from complications related to transfusions higher than that of JWs who undergo surgery and die - putatively - as a result of refusing transfusions? I can't produce a study that authoritatively answers that question, but we all know that, all things being equal, transfusion-free surgery is the way to go. (All things, of course, are not equal, but we can hardly calculate the difference.) So, if our policy has run roughshod over the individual conscience, I guess we can take consolation in the fact that at least we have something to show for it. Something that, when averaged out, would appear to have served the interests of the sanctity of human life after all.
    I also believe that most JWs who took their stand on this issue did so, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love of their Creator and obedience to their own conscience. Whether or not their conscience was properly trained to discern the true will of the Creator is another matter. But their courage in the face of death - their own as well as the lives of their loved ones - has made a significant, positive impact on the quality of life-saving medical practice available now to all.
    Finally, based on a couple of cases I had some contact with, I also know that some doctors have manifested an obstinacy so fanatical and hostile that it seemed to border on demonic blood-lust. The JW policy may well have served to punish them like Nebuchadnezzar punished the wayward Israelites.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2013-11-05 14:15:04

      This is a reasonable point of view, anderestimme. I know of instances where brothers on the HLC assigned to provide educational seminars to medical personal have at times felt like "father confessors" when they experienced nurses in tears recounting how a patient died as a direct result of a blood transfusion they had administered. This is, of course, beside the point when we are discussing the scriptural position and doesn't excuse our pharasaical approach to the issue. Nevertheless, it shows that it is not quite as cut-and-dried as those on either extreme might have us believe. Blood transfusions have preserved lives and they have ended lives.

    • Reply by apollos0fAlexandria on 2013-11-05 15:15:05

      Hi Anderestimme
      Thanks for contributing to the discussion.
      I have made this comment before but it is worth reiterating. I would not take blood unless it was absolutely necessary. Also I would not have a heart transplant unless it was absolutely necessary. I would not have a skin graft unless it was absolutely necessary. I would not even take cold and flu medication unless it was absolutely necessary.
      In my first article I deliberately tried to stay clear of anecdotal evidence as to whether the policy was costing lives, and if so how many. I also acknowledge that medical advances have been made by the stand that Witnesses have taken.
      To be more objective we could consider the following. Take any medical treatment that has potential side-effects. (They pretty well all do.) Choose one that is often applied in critical situations. Is it not almost certain that the medical and pharmaceutical community is working at improving or replacing the treatment with something more advanced, and with fewer side-effects? The biggest problem must be trials of new products, especially when you get to the stage of trialing on humans. The ethical and practical obstacles must be huge, especially when they are to be applied in critical situations. It can never be done without willing volunteers, and these would have to have an exceptional reason to become guinea-pigs if a long established proven alternative is available – even if it does carry its own risks.
      But what if a demographic subset with sufficient numbers decides that they will not take the existing products and will willingly accept any alternative? It seems obvious that one of the key obstacles to progressing the alternative is removed. And if the alternative is successful it will presumably always be an improvement of some sort. Thus medical science has advanced in a faster way than would normally be possible.
      And yet what does any of that have to do with God's Word? A serendipitous side effect for the world at large does not give evidence one way or another for a particular medical practice being endorsed or condemned by God. Only his Word can tell us that.
      Take MMR vaccinations. Back in the 30's Rutherford condemned all vaccinations as from the devil. Today a large contingent of people have come to believe that MMR vaccines cause autism. Consider these articles to see two opposing views:
      What is the truth of the matter? If Rutherford's views had survived until today where would we stand?
      It's quite probable that due to the current controversy and for other reasons there are pharmaceutical companies right now working on alternatives. But what does that prove?
      That is why my first article was almost exclusively an exhaustive examination of scripture. If someone would like to come back on the subject and point out scripturally where the weight of my argument is lacking then I would love to have that conversation. As yet, nobody has done so.
      It makes no sense to me to use anecdotal information as evidence. The matter is way too complex for that. If God is truly blessing the stand by Jehovah's Witnesses then why is the current doctrine on blood fractions so blatantly inconsistent and contradictory? Not one person has explained this. Is Jehovah himself the source of contradictory information?
      I can understand why some doctors fail to hide their frustration in certain situations. If you saw someone drowning and you threw them a lifebuoy, and they shouted back “I want to be saved, but I will only accept any method other than the lifebuoy” you might feel somewhat frustrated too. Sure, some might be callous enough just to say that the person deserves to drown, but most people would still want to save the person, and likely will feel a measure of anger that he won't take the buoy.
      To their credit many doctors will respect patients' wishes without letting their own emotions get involved, but I expect that many are still frustrated on the inside in these situations. For this to result in some cases in what might appear to be fanatical and hostile obstinacy is not surprising in my view. I agree that those doctors are wrong to take this attitude, since every patient should have his own right to choose, but I have to say that the use of the term “border on demonic blood-lust” is really the kind of rhetoric that swings too far the other way. It is the kind of emotive and inflammatory expression that has been used to condition people's minds to the doctrine, just as we have used equivalencies with “rape” and “cannibalism”. Personally I find this means of persuasion to be rather distasteful.
      If we turn to experiential information to support the doctrine, rather than wholly rely on the solid principles in God's Word, then we can never have a firm foundation. We must accept that, especially from a Witness perspective, we are dealing with loaded dice. If a person dies when refusing a transfusion then all that is stressed is their unwavering loyalty to God. If the person survives, and in all likelihood makes a faster recovery because of not suffering the side-effects of blood, then it is heralded as a triumph for the doctrine.
      Well I can't argue with that. To me it's just the same mindset that some have whereby everything good that happens to them (including finding $5 on the street, or even locating their lost car keys before a meeting) is evidence of God's blessing, and everything bad (including loss of a job, or not finding one's car keys before the meeting) is evidence of Satan's vicious attacks.
      How does one argue with that?
      I respect your view Anderestimme, but may I ask whether you actually examined all of the scriptural reasoning in my first article? I am aware that it was a long one, and I have the feeling that some people have replied based on their own prevailing views without reading the article. I'm not accusing you of doing that, but I feel sure that the one thing we can agree on is that God's Word (in its entirety) must act as the lamp to our foot and a light for our path.
      Your brother,

      • Reply by anderestimme on 2013-11-05 17:01:39

        Hi Apollos,
        Like many long-time Witnesses, I'm grappling with this issue and its implications. Much of the grappling involves trying to sort out what's relevant and what's not, and how much of my own feelings on the blood issue is the product of indoctrination. As I mentioned at the outset of my comment, I didn't think the things I mentioned were quite to the point, but they are things that are quite at the heart of how many of us have justified official policy over the decades. What are they ultimately worth in evaluating this highly charged issue? That's what I hoped to clarify by putting it out there and subjecting it to the scrutiny of my peers. I have not been disappointed by the quality of the scrutiny.
        As far as the demonic blood-lust of the doctors in question, I may well have exceeded my normal melodrama limits, but I can assure you that, whatever their motivation, it went far beyond frustration. There was a fanatical insistence on administering blood that conjured up the idea of some odd, medical blood-lust. Those were my own, subjective impressions. They do little to prove anything except that there might be some pretty twisted doctors out there, or that my tendency toward drama needs to be reined in.

        • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2013-11-05 17:17:17

          I have had personal experience with the attitude of doctors you refer to. We had a sister die due to hemorrhaging from a miscarriage. The doctors refused to do anything unless a blood transfusion was agreed to. There were alternatives, but they refused to administer them. Perhaps this is just a CYA reaction. If they do nothing because the patient refused treatment it does not go on their record. If they use an alternative, and the patient dies, it does. In this case, the attitude of the doctors was egregious enough to expose them to a law suit.
          The fact is, it doesn't matter why the patient refused a treatment. If there is an acceptable alternative, the doctors have an obligation to do what they can. The fact is that even leaving this issue entirely in the hands of the individual doesn't erase the problem. If someone chooses not to take blood on medical grounds, or because of a personal religious belief, the doctors are servants, not gods, and must do what they can to help.

          • Reply by apollos0fAlexandria on 2013-11-05 17:31:21

            Hi Meleti
            Nobody can argue with your personal experience. But of course it has little or nothing to do with the core topic. I know you didn't claim that it did, but for some readers I think this can be confusing. It's almost a form of "ad hominem" attack when the doctors are demonized over the blood issue.
            If every doctor acted this way, or not a single doctor acted this way, it would have no bearing on whether the treatment was scripturally acceptable or not.

            • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2013-11-05 17:35:12

              Agreed, but I wasn't arguing that point.

      • Reply by anderestimme on 2013-11-05 17:17:07

        BTW, I didn't quite get through your original, kilometrically thorough article. I agreed with it as far as I got though, and my comment above, vampire-in-white-smock imagery and all, was not meant to refute it. It was just what was on my mind when I woke up this morning.

        • Reply by maxwellsmartjw on 2014-06-25 05:54:07

          We hear it said within the organization that our stance on blood has advanced medical science, and that the medical community has benefited from following Jehovah's command on blood. Some even attribute Jehovah's blessing to the success of a given bloodless procedure.
          Our blood doctrine certainly has a silver lining for the medical community and research. It has provided an exclusive patient group, often in life threatening circumstance, willing and eager to participate in volunteering for a clinical trial, without any remuneration. In advance, we insist on indemnifying the surgeon and his team from any liability due to complications, even our death. Furthermore, we direct (both orally and by written document) that we will hold himself and his team liable should they intervene during the trial and administer blood as a last resort to save our life.
          Progressive surgeons have welcomed the opportunity to "practice" and develop bloodless surgical techniques on our brothers and sisters without legal liability. They don't have to pay us a dime, their fee can be greater than they would charge for a traditional surgery, and they are completely off the hook for liability from malpractice due to complications or death.
          What about a clinical trial involving a certain new drug, one that is known to have serious side effects on laboratory rats? How many of our brothers would be willing to step up and volunteer if they were paid handsomely for it? How many would volunteer for free?
          On any given day over the past 60 years, critically ill patients have entered the surgery theater as unwitting guinea pigs. If a patient dies, the team learns from its mistakes, and changes the protocol.
          Yes, medical professionals may complain about loss of life. But JW's willingness to participate, at the risk of death, in trial surgery is win/win for the medical community.

    • Reply by MARILYN NEMETH on 2019-09-18 17:49:54

      I have had family members (2) die from Hepititus contacted by blood transfusion. Both deaths could had been prevented if they didn't have blood transfusion.

  • Comment by Andres on 2017-06-12 08:57:12

    Tengo que decir que he leído este bloc con gran interés y he llorado por las cosas que he aprendido de jehova y su hijo Jesucristo. A pesar que no los conozco, los amo desde la distancia. Llevo un par de años alejado de "la organización" y estoy de acuerdo con muchos hermanos aquí cuando dicen que ya no se aprende nada nuevo de ellos.(galatas 2:6). Después de enterarme de el punto de vista de la "organización"sobre el abuso de menores entre en un estado de absoluta decepción y depresión. No podía creerlo! Llegue al punto de decir que no creia en Dios. Me sentí utilizado, embaucado(Jeremías 20:7). Pero un hermano en especial hizo volver mi fe y esperanza en jehova. Él también escribe un Blog, el hermano Robert king. Estoy muy agradecido con él por haber hecho que vuelva a confiar en jehova y su hijo. Pero mi sed de la verdad ha hecho que cuestione todo lo que aprendí dentro de la sociedad watchtower. Y esto me llevo a el blog de meleti vivlon. Ha sido muy refrescante!! aunque hay cosas difíciles de digerir, la verdad golpea a diario en este blog. Todo esto es para decir que amo con todo mi corazón al hermano Robert king, y amo al hermano meleti(olvidé tu nombre,lo siento), y amo a apolos. Todos han contribuido a aumentar más y más mi amor y fe .sólo que esto no se convierta en "yo sigo a apolos....y yo a Pablo. ...y yo a meleti. ...y yo a Robert" .... Que sea nuestro amor a Dios y su hijo Jesucristo lo que nos motive a seguir buscando la verdad. Siempre estaré agradecido a todos por su contribución para fortalecer la fe del pueblo de Dios. Que jehova los siga bendiciendo

  • Comment by MARILYN NEMETH on 2019-09-18 17:42:39

    The Original Hebrew; it originally read Abel Bloods (plural) cried out in Genesis. It involved life of Abel and what could had been his descendents. Loss of anyone's life involves more than one individual.
    Christ Jesus was perfect and he died (killed) shedding his blood. He could and did die even though he was perfect.
    Blood has been used to clean, purify, and pollute (unlawful shedding), which brought a curse. Read book of Galations.
    Life is in the Blood. So since all life rightly belongs to it's Creator. Our life rightly belongs to Jehovah, and even though we are tainted by sin. Christ Jesus has interceded in our behalf by his blood, not blood type.
    No one can tell another how to medicate oneself. But our creator does have the right. Even though we have free will. But Christian's are more focused on life threw Christ.
    But can you see around the word "obstain" from blood. As was told to early Christian's.
    It's been said blood preserves life, and tainted blood takes life. But in reality it's all about obedience. What does God ask back from man (Ecclesiastes last chapter in Bible) Obedience to the true God.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2019-09-18 18:10:54

      Welcome Marilyn,
      Interesting thought concerning "Abel's Bloods". Why make the Jews responsible for Abel's blood? The nation of Israel wouldn't come into existence for thousands of years when Abel was murdered. It seems it was due to the fact that he was the first man killed for his faithfulness to God. It marks the start of the war between the two seeds. Gen. 3:15.

Recent content

Hello everyone. This is the second to last video in this series on shunning. Thank you for your patience as it has taken a while to get to this point. For those of you who haven’t seen the previous videos on shunning as…

Hello, everyone. I have something truly bizarre to share with you this time. It comes from a rather innocuous place, the July 2024 letter from the Governing Body to all the elders in North America and, I assume, around…

Statement by Brother Joss Goodall To My Brother and Sisters, I am writing to you to bring to your attention some very serious concerns that have been troubling me since August of last year when I listened to a morning worship video by Kenneth…

Jesus said that “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him.” (John 4:23 BSB) Are you one of the people that God is seeking to worship Him? Maybe you’re thinking, “I…

In this video we will continue our analysis of the gaslighting methods used by the Governing Body to induce a hypnotic grip on the hearts and minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This time we’ll be covering a talk delivered by Gage Fleegle on called…

[This contributed letter does not necessarily reflect all the views of our community. We post it here as a service to those who seek to worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:20-24)] AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNING BODY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES…