In September of 2016, our doctor sent my wife to the hospital because she was anemic. It turned out that her blood count was dangerously low because she had been bleeding internally. They suspected a bleeding ulcer at the time, but before they could do anything, they had to stop the blood loss, otherwise, she would slip into a coma and die. Had she been still a believing Jehovah’s Witness, she would have refused—I know that for certain—and based on the rate of blood loss, she would likely not have survived the week. However, her belief in the No Blood doctrine had changed and so she accepted the transfusion. This gave the doctors the time they needed to run their tests and determine a prognosis. As things turned out, she had an incurable form of cancer, but due to her change in belief, she gave me an additional and very precious five extra months with her that otherwise, I would not have had.
I am sure that any of our former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ friends, upon hearing this, will say that she died out of God’s favor because she compromised her faith. They are so wrong. I know that when she fell asleep in death, it was as a child of God with the hope of the resurrection of the righteous firm in her mind. She did the right thing in God’s eyes by taking the blood transfusion and I’m going to show you why I can say that with such confidence.
Let us start with the fact that the process of waking up from lifelong indoctrination under the JW system of things can take years. Often, one of the last doctrines to fall is the stand against blood transfusions. That was so in our case, perhaps because the Bible stipulation against blood seems so clear and unambiguous. It simply says, “Abstain from blood.” Three words, very concise, very straightforward: “Abstain from blood.”
Back in the 1970s when I conducted dozens of Bible studies in Colombia, South America, I used to teach my Bible students that “abstaining” applied not only to eating blood, but also to taking it intravenously. I used the logic from the book, “The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life”, which reads:
“Examine the scriptures carefully and notice that they tell us to ‘keep free from blood’ and to ‘abstain from blood.’ (Acts 15:20, 29) What does this mean? If a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcohol, would that mean simply that you should not take it through your mouth but that you could transfuse it directly into your veins? Of course not! So, too, ‘abstaining from blood’ means not taking it into our bodies at all.” (tr chap. 19 pp. 167-168 par. 10 Godly Respect for Life and Blood)
That seems so logical, so self-evident, does it not? The problem is that that logic is based on a fallacy of false equivalency. Alcohol is food. Blood is not. The body can and will assimilate alcohol that is injected directly into the veins. It will not assimilate blood. Transfusing blood is equivalent to an organ transplant, because blood is a bodily organ in liquid form. The belief that blood is food is based on outdated medical beliefs that are centuries old. To this day, the organization continues to push this discredited medical teaching. In the current brochure, Blood—Vital for Life, they actually quote from a 17th century anatomist for support.
Thomas Bartholin (1616-80), professor of anatomy at the University of Copenhagen, objected: ‘Those who drag in the use of human blood for internal remedies of diseases appear to misuse it and to sin gravely. Cannibals are condemned. Why do we not abhor those who stain their gullet with human blood? Similar is the receiving of alien blood from a cut vein, either through the mouth or by instruments of transfusion. The authors of this operation are held in terror by the divine law, by which the eating of blood is prohibited.’
At that time, primitive medical science held that transfusing blood amounted to eating it. That has long since been proven false. However, even if it were the same—let me repeat, even if a transfusion were the same as eating blood—it would still be permissible under Bible law. If you give me 15 minutes of your time, I will prove that to you. If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, then you are dealing with a potential life-and-death scenario here. It could be sprung on you at any moment, coming right out of left field as it did for me and my late wife, so I don’t think 15 minutes is too much to ask.
We will start with the reasoning from the so-called Truth book. The chapter title is “Godly Respect for Life and Blood”. Why are “life” and “blood” linked? The reason is that the first occurrence of a mandate regarding blood was given to Noah. I’m going to read from Genesis 9:1-7, and by the way, I’m going to be using the New World Translation throughout this discussion. Since that is the Bible version Jehovah’s Witnesses respect most, and since the No Blood Transfusions doctrine is, to the best of my knowledge, unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses, it only seems appropriate to use their translation to show the error of the teaching. So here we go. Genesis 9:1-7 reads:
“God went on to bless Noah and his sons and to say to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth. A fear of you and a terror of you will continue upon every living creature of the earth and upon every flying creature of the heavens, upon everything that moves on the ground and upon all the fish of the sea. They are now given into your hand. Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. Just as I gave you the green vegetation, I give them all to you. Only flesh with its life—its blood—you must not eat. Besides that, I will demand an accounting for your lifeblood. I will demand an accounting from every living creature; and from each man I will demand an accounting for the life of his brother. Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image He made man. As for you, be fruitful and become many, and increase abundantly on the earth and multiply.” (Genesis 9:1-7)
Jehovah God had given a similar command to Adam and Eve—to be fruitful and become many—but he hadn’t included anything about blood, shedding blood, or taking human life. Why? Well, without sin, there would be no need, right? Even after they sinned, there is no record of God giving them any kind of law code. It appears that he just stood back and gave them free reign, much like a father would whose rebellious son demands to have his own way. The father, while still loving his son, lets him go. Essentially, he is saying, “Go! Do what you want. Learn the hard way how good you had it under my roof.” Of course, any good and loving father would entertain the hope that one day his son would come home, having learned his lesson. Isn’t that the core message in the parable of the Prodigal Son?
So, it appears that humans did things their own way for many hundreds of years, and eventually they went too far. We read:
“…the earth had become ruined in the sight of the true God, and the earth was filled with violence. Yes, God looked upon the earth, and it was ruined; all flesh had ruined its way on the earth. After that God said to Noah: “I have decided to put an end to all flesh, because the earth is full of violence on account of them, so I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth.” (Genesis 6:11-13)
So now, after the flood, with Mankind making a brand new start of things, God is laying down some ground rules. But only a few. Men can still do pretty much what they want, but within some boundaries. The inhabitants of Babel exceeded God’s boundaries and so suffered. Then there were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who also exceeded God’s boundaries and we all know what happened to them. Likewise, the residents of Canaan went too far and suffered divine retribution.
Jehovah God wasn’t issuing an injunction for the fun of it. He was giving Noah a way to educate his descendants so that throughout the generations they would remember this vital truth. Life belongs to God, and if you take it, God will make you pay. So, when you kill an animal for food, it is only because God has allowed you to do that, because the life of that animal is his, not yours. You acknowledge that truth every time you slaughter an animal for food by pouring the blood out on the ground. Since life belongs to God, life is sacred, because all things that are of God are sacred.
Leviticus 17:11 says: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have given it on the altar for you to make atonement for yourselves, because it is the blood that makes atonement by means of the life in it.”
From this it is clear that:
- Blood represents life.
- Life belongs to God.
- Life is sacred.
It isn’t your blood that is sacred in and of itself. It is your life that is sacred, and so any sacredness or holiness that might be attributed to blood comes from that sacred thing it represents, life. By eating blood, you are failing to acknowledge that recognition about the nature of life. The symbolism is that we are taking the life of the animal as if we owned it and had a right to it. We do not. God owns that life. By not eating the blood, we acknowledge that fact.
We now have the facts that should allow us to see the fundamental flaw in the logic of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you don’t see it, don’t be too hard on yourself. It took me a lifetime to see it myself.
Let me illustrate it this way. Blood represents life, like a flag represents a country. Here we have a picture of the flag of the United States, one of the most widely recognized flags in the world. Did you know that the flag is not supposed to touch the ground at any time? Did you know that there are special ways to dispose of a flag that has worn out? You are not supposed to simply throw it in the garbage or burn it. The flag is considered to be a sacred object. People will die for the flag because of what it represents. It is far more than a simple piece of cloth because of what it represents.
But is the flag more important than the country it represents? If you had to choose between destroying your flag or destroying your country, which would you choose? Would you choose to save the flag and sacrifice the country?
It’s not hard to see the parallel between blood and life. Jehovah God says that blood is the symbol of life, it represents the life of an animal and the life of a human. If it comes down to choosing between the reality and the symbol, would you think the symbol is more important than that which it represents? What kind of logic is that? Acting like the symbol outweighs the reality is the type of ultra-literal thinking that typified the wicked religious leaders of Jesus’ day.
Jesus told them: “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is under obligation.’ Fools and blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the gold or the temple that has sanctified the gold? Moreover, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is under obligation.’ Blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?” (Matthew 23:16-19)
In light of Jesus’ words, how do you think Jesus sees Jehovah’s Witnesses when he looks down on parents willing to sacrifice the life of their child rather than accept a blood transfusion? Their reasoning amounts to this: “My child cannot take blood because blood represents the sacredness of life. That is, the blood is now more sacred than the life it represents. Better to sacrifice the child’s life rather than sacrifice the blood.”
To paraphrase Jesus’ words: “Fools and blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the blood, or the life that it represents?”
Remember that that first law on blood included the statement that God would ask back the blood from any man who spilled it. Have Jehovah’s Witnesses become blood guilty? Is the Governing Body blood guilty for teaching this doctrine? Are individual Jehovah’s Witnesses blood guilty for perpetuating that teaching to their Bible students? Are elders blood guilty for intimidating Jehovah’s Witnesses into obeying this law under threat of being disfellowshipped?
If you really believe that God is so inflexible, then ask yourself why he permitted an Israelite to eat meat that had not been properly bled if he came upon it when he was away from home?
Let’s start with the initial injunction from Leviticus:
“‘And YOU must not eat any blood in any places where YOU dwell, whether that of fowl or that of beast. Any soul who eats any blood, that soul must be cut off from his people.’” (Leviticus 7:26, 27)
Notice, “in your dwelling places”. At home, there would be no reason not to properly de-sanguinate a slaughtered animal. It would be easy to pour out the blood as part of the slaughtering process, and it would require a conscious rejection of the law not to do so. In Israel, such disobedience would be brazen to say the least, given that failure to do so was punishable by death. However, when an Israelite was away from home hunting, things were not so clear. In another part of Leviticus, we read:
“If anyone, whether a native or a foreigner, eats an animal found dead or one torn by a wild animal, he must then wash his garments and bathe in water and be unclean until the evening; then he will be clean. But if he does not wash them and does not bathe himself, he will answer for his error.’” (Leviticus 17:15,16 New World Translation)
Why would eating flesh with its blood in this instance, not also be a capital offense? In this case, the Israelite only had to engage in a ritual cleansing ceremony. Failure to do so, would again be brazen disobedience and thus punishable by death, but complying with this law allowed the individual to consume blood without punishment.
This passage is problematic for Witnesses, because it provides an exception to the rule. According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is no situation where a blood transfusion is acceptable. Yet here, the law of Moses provides just such an exception. A person who is far from home, out hunting, must still eat to survive. If he has had no success in hunting prey, but comes across a food source, such as a recently dead animal, perhaps one killed by a predator, he is allowed to eat even though it is no longer possible to properly de-sanguinate the carcass. Under the law, his life is more important than a ceremonial ritual involving pouring out the blood. You see, he hasn’t taken the life himself, so the ritual of pouring out the blood is meaningless in this instance. The animal is already dead, and not by his hand.
There is a principle in Jewish law called “Pikuach Nefesh” (Pee-ku-ach ne-fesh) which says that “the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any other command in the Torah can be ignored. (Wikipedia “Pikuach nefesh”)
That principle was understood in Jesus’ day. For instance, Jews were prohibited from doing any work on the Sabbath, and disobedience to that law was a capital offense. You could be put to death for violating the Sabbath. Yet, Jesus appeals to their knowledge of exceptions to that rule.
Consider this account:
“. . .After departing from that place, he went into their synagogue, and look! there was a man with a withered hand! So they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them: “If you have one sheep and that sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, is there a man among you who will not grab hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do a fine thing on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored sound like the other hand. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him to kill him.” (Matthew 12:9-14)
Given that right within their own law an exception to the Sabbath could be made, why did they continue upset and wrathful with him when he applied the same exception to healing someone of infirmity? Why would they conspire to kill him? Because, they were wicked at heart. What mattered to them was their own personal interpretation of the law and their power to enforce it. Jesus took that away from them.
Regarding the Sabbath Jesus said: “The Sabbath came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the Sabbath. So the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, 28)
I believe it can be argued that the law on blood also came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the law on blood. In other words, a man’s life should not be sacrificed for the sake of the law on blood. Since that law comes from God, then Jesus also is the Lord of that law. That means the law of the Christ, the law of love, must govern how we apply the injunction against eating blood.
But there is still that nagging thing from Acts: “Abstain from blood.” To abstain from something is different from not eating it. It goes beyond that. It is interesting when issuing their ruling on blood, that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses likes to quote those three words but rarely focuses on the full context. Let’s read the account just to be safe so that we are not misled by easy logic.
“Therefore, my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood. For from ancient times Moses has had those who preach him in city after city, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.”” (Acts 15:19-21)
That reference to Moses seems like a non sequitur, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s intrinsic to the meaning. He is speaking to the nations, the gentiles, non-Jews, people who have been raised to worship idols and false gods. They are not taught that sexual immorality is wrong. They are not taught that idolatry is wrong. They are not taught it is wrong to eat blood. In fact, every week when they go to the pagan temple, they are taught to practice those very things. It is all part of their worship. They will go to the temple and sacrifice to their false gods, and then sit down at meals to eat meat that has been sacrificed, meat which was not bled according to the law given to Moses and Noah. They can also avail themselves of the temple prostitutes, both male and female. They will bow down before idols. All of these things were common and approved practices among the pagan nations. The Israelites do none of that because the law of Moses is preached to them every sabbath in the synagogues, and all such things were prohibited under that law.
An Israelite would never think of going to a pagan temple where banquets are held, where people sit and eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols and not bled properly, or people get up from the table and go into another chamber to have sex with a prostitute, or bow down to an idol. But all this was common practice for the Gentiles before they became Christians. So, the four things that the Gentiles are told to abstain from are all connected with pagan worship. The Christian law that was given to us to abstain from these four things was never intended to extend itself to a practice that had nothing to do with pagan worship and everything to do with the preservation of life. That is why the account goes on to add a few verses further on,
“For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!”” (Acts 15:28, 29)
How could the assurance, “You will prosper. Good health to you!” possibly apply if these words required us to deny ourselves or our children a medical procedure designed to help us prosper and restore us to good health?
A blood transfusion has nothing whatsoever to do with false worship of any kind. It is a life-saving medical procedure.
I continue to believe that eating blood is wrong. It is physically harmful to one’s health. But worse than that, it would be a violation of the law given to our forefather Noah which continues to apply to all mankind. But as we’ve already shown, the purpose of that was to show respect for life, life which belongs to God and which is sacred. However, transfusing blood into one’s veins is not eating it. The body does not consume the blood as it would food, but rather it utilizes the blood to perpetuate life. As we’ve already stated, transfusing blood is equivalent to an organ transplant, albeit a liquid one.
Witnesses are willing to sacrifice themselves and their children to obey the letter of the law that they believe applies in this instance. Perhaps the most powerful scripture of all is when Jesus rebukes the legalistic religious leaders of his day who would obey the letter of the law and violate the law of love. “However, if YOU had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice,’ YOU would not have condemned the guiltless ones.” (Matthew 12:7)
Thank you for your attention and your support.
Preguntas de los lectores — BIBLIOTECA EN LÍNEA Watchtower (jw.org)
Preguntas de los lectores — BIBLIOTECA EN LÍNEA Watchtower (jw.org)
Hermanos, primero consulten en la Biblioteca en línea. Año 2021, y este hombre sube ideas vacías.
Curious to hear your thoughts on this pattern of logic, as it would easily debunk the idea that consuming something is equivalent to injecting it for medical purposes.
Jehovah’s witnesses allow organ transplants (almost across the board).
Applying the same logic, would that not be cannibalism?
Initially, Witness leadership banned organ transplants claiming they amounted to cannibalism, but then after a period of time “new light” was revealed from God to indicate they were not.
So I suppose the real question would be, why we’re blood transfusions not given the a-ok when that new light came out?
Apparently we knew where to draw the line. Someone spoke up and said “hey, medically transplanting an organ isn’t the same as eating it”. Why that didn’t extend to blood transfusions, I have no idea. What does WT gain from hanging onto it? It’s not a sacred cow a la 1914 in that manner.
Follow the money. How many lawsuits would there be if they reversed the policy?
For years, I have always been conflicted with the JW’s teaching of blood, I refused the NO BLOOD Card over 15 years if not more, my understanding of what the bible states aligns with what Eric talked about. Thank you so much for fine tuning it up for me. Agape.
This is obviously an important subject and one that causes a lot of serious discussion/debate, as is evident by the number of comments here. Please forgive me if I am taking a simplistic approach, but I think there is an obvious distinction between animal blood used in worship and possible foodstuffs, and human blood used for transfusions. The scriptures cited throughout this thread all talk about animal blood and how it is/is not to be used, and then try to relate them to blood transfusions. I don’t know of any scriptures that directly relate to the consumption of human blood,… Read more »
You are right, this is not in regards to human blood; eating or transfusing it, we all know the stories of folks who have had no other food other than human carcasses and have eaten human flesh, nobody would do this ordinarily. However to sustain human life I see no problem in an exceptional case such as that. You wouldn’t defile yourself if you had to do this based on Mt 15:11. And I believe the same applies to transfusions, blood eaten or transfused is all broken down and is expelled. Our right standing before God is not based on… Read more »
This was excellent! I would just like to add a couple more thoughts regarding the issue. First, when David and his men arrived at the temple, they needed life-sustaining food, and Ahimelech the priest gave them the Showbread, which was sacred and unlawful to be eaten by anyone but the priests. But he made an exception, in order to preserve life, and they were not held guilty. (1 Sam 21:1-6). Jesus even referred to this incident (Matt 12:3-7) when exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Interestingly he called those that preserved life over obeying sacred mandates “the guiltless ones”. Also,… Read more »
Interesting, do you believe that David and his clan were dying of hunger?
I know you have used many of these lines of reasoning before, but this is all so well presented, and it is an important reminder for all those who have not read your earlier articles..
Life is more important than blood. Obvious isn’t it.? Sadly, it is another example of the rigidity of JW.Org. And they are proud of it !
Anyway, I thought it was absolutely fabulous !
I like Eric’s argument: you kill an animal to eat it, but by pouring blood from its body you show that you thank God for the right to kill a living animal that belonged to God because it was created by him. There are only exceptions that prove the rule. The most delicious black pudding is no exception. Blood is life. In the Mosaic law, the blood of animals was placed on the altar. This blood symbolized the blood of Jesus. We drink his blood symbolically to get real life.
Can you explain your comment “pouring blood from its body you show that you thank God for the right to kill a living animal” I am not familiar with this concept, and if the blood symbolized the blood of Jesus and that symbol has been fulfilled why would it be held sacred? Obviously, I’m speaking in regards to food, not ceremony.
Lorsque ses disciples ont ramassé des épis de blé le jour du sabbat ne respectant pas ainsi la loi de Dieu, Jésus dit « N’avez-vous pas lu ce que David a fait quand lui et ses hommes ont eu faim ? 4 Il est entré dans la maison de Dieu et ils ont mangé les pains de présentation. Pourtant, lui et les hommes qui étaient avec lui n’avaient pas le droit de les manger ; ils étaient réservés aux prêtres” (Mathieu 12 : 3) Ces hommes n’ont pas été condamnés par le prêtre ni par Christ. Pourtant ces pains étaient… Read more »
Fantastic work! Its amazing how simple and contextual scripture reading leads so many of us to the same conclusions. The Spirit truly is at work when we honestly seek our Father, and follow after His Son.
Hi Eric, Congratulations on an excellent article/video. However, I would have been more forceful on the subject; as this was a subject that has come up quite a few times in the congregation in my country of Wales in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. It’s not in regards to blood transfusions but in regards to eating a certain (what is thought to be) delicacy we have that is commonly eaten with breakfast, it’s known as “Black Sausage / Black pudding” it’s made of congealed cooked pigs blood and oats formed into a sausage sliced and fried with your bacon… Read more »
At 1 Cor 10:25, Paul isn’t saying that it is okay for a person with strong faith to knowingly eat food sacrificed to idols, or things strangled, or blood. What is he is addressing is that fact that it was not possible to know which meat you were buying was properly bled and which was not, so a person with weak faith wouldn’t eat any meat at all, while a person with strong faith would realize that he wasn’t knowingly disobeying God’s law by buying his meat there. To illustrate, in Canada when I was a boy one manufacturer of… Read more »
Really explained the scriptures so logically taking in the context is vital, this video is a must keep and share, also the reference to old belief that blood is food, thank you.
Tend not to agree with there Eric, a quick look at a commentary seems to suggest I’m on the right track. For a Christian who bought meat at a market with the intent of eating it at home, Paul recommended that selections be made without reservation. No one could contaminate what God had made clean (cf. Acts 10:15) since everything belongs to Him (Ps. 24:1). 10:27–30. For a Christian who accepted an invitation to another’s home Paul recommended eating from all the fare without scrupulous reservation. But if another Christian guest piped up (cf. 8:7–13) that the food had been… Read more »
I think that a Hebrew would have recognized pork as food, but would have considered it as prohibited food under the law. He would also have known that no prohibition was put on pork to Noah after the flood. So to Noah, the only thing they were not allowed to eat was blood. But under Moses, there were many prohibited foods. I think the context of Mark’s account refers to the dietary laws of Israel, not the Noahic covenant. But that is my understanding, and each one must determine for oneself what to do. If one’s life were in danger… Read more »
Yes, and that’s fair enough, but I will still hold to what Jesus said “nothing that goes into a man defiles him” as it says in the Greek it all goes down the toilet at the end of the day. and also Romans 14:14. 😉
I’m always wary of hyper-literal readings, however. I’m sure you wouldn’t apply Jesus’ words to ingesting cyanide, would you? So then where does one draw the line?
No, I wouldn’t be that literal, obviously, I would be thinking of things that are edible. The line would be that which is drawn by scripture, anything edible that your conscience allows (1 Cor 10), of course, If you came to Wales I wouldn’t eat Black sausage in front of you.
Incidentally, cyanide ingested wouldn’t make me spiritually un-clean but would give me a bad stomach!.
Go ahead and eat it. My conscience isn’t so weak that seeing you eat it would move me to violate my conscience. It would gross me out, however, so given that, perhaps I’d prefer not to watch you eat it. The same goes for haggis.
Perhaps that is why in heaven all the cooks are French and all the engineers are Scots, but in Hell, it’s the opposite.
It would gross me out as well, I hate the stuff.
Good point. That would make the willful eating of blood a moral issue given that God did not declare blood to be an unclean food to Noah, but a sacred substance symbolic of life. Rather than unclean like Pork, blood is holy. So eating it willfully would be to show a disregard for the sanctity of blood which represents the sanctity of life. Thus, Jesus declaring all foods to be clean would not release one from respecting the injunction against eating blood.
Thank you, Just Wondering, for giving us that insight.
Hi Eric, this is great, excellent article/video. I’d like to translate it and use it (with your permission) in my country as manual for solving the WT blood-transfusion issue (not under my name, but with link to BP).
But where is Just Wondering? I can’t see his comment.
I didn’t mean it officially with that manual, just for my own use.
How very odd!? I’m not sure what happened. It was a good comment, I thought. I managed to find the notification email about it, so here it is: “The moral issue is compounded under the Law, since blood wasn’t merely unclean to eat, but was an element of worship to God; that is, it was offered in sacrifice under specific conditions laid down in the Law. Thus, consuming blood would not be just unclean or disrespectful to God or to the sanctity of life, but it would amount to stealing from God something that didn’t belong to us, namely, blood… Read more »
Thank you Eric. Interesting comment and good response.
I was thinking, is it possible to eat meat without any blood? No matter how well-drained there’s always blood in the flesh, do you think that some of this prohibition could be down to eating meat that isn’t well cooked? I still think that Jesus is speaking of ingesting something that will make you ceremonially unclean, He said “nothing” that goes into a man defiles him, are you making the exception that Jesus didn’t make? If it was that important why didn’t He make that exception clear? Let’s not forget that Romans 14:14 was written to a gentile audience who… Read more »
We have to balance Jesus’ words with those inspired by the holy spirit at Acts 15:28, 29.
The problem is there is no balance, just a seeming contradiction; we have in 1 Cor 8:4-13. Paul clarifying the teaching on this subject. First, he says that eating meat offered to an idol is not immoral, because “an idol is nothing at all. So, what is going on? Who are the “weaker” brothers? The consensus is the weaker brothers are the Jews who have been steeped in Judaism and some Gentiles who are used to idol worship and are having a hard time coming to the liberty that there is in Christ. “Quote” “Some believers, especially those with a… Read more »
One of the four things denied Christians in Acts 15 is fornication. Would you view fornication as just a matter of conscience based on Romans 14:14
What is the context of Romans 14:14? Do the Scriptures teach fornication is a matter of conscience? 14:17 For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
You are creating a link between Romans 14:14 and all the verses in Scripture that relate to Blood based on the assumption that blood would be included in “food and drink”. To overcome the powerful injunction against eating blood given to the father of all humanity, Noah, I would need something more certain than an assumptive link between the “food and drink” listed in Romans and blood. When Jesus declared all foods as clean, the Jews would not have understood blood to be in that category. There were prohibited foods under the law, but blood wasn’t among them as it… Read more »
And the context of Romans 14 is “food” not sexual immorality, Why did Paul rescind the prohibition on meat sacrificed to idols? 1 Cor 8:8 “We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do” context = meat sacrificed to idols, or don’t you agree with this? So, there is no restriction on meat sacrificed to idols “if” your conscience can handle it and you’re not causing the weaker brother to sin. Maybe we have missed the point, all these “blood” restrictions are in regards to flowing blood used in a ceremonial way and bloody… Read more »
He didn’t rescind the prohibition on meat that came from strangled animals, or blood, or fornication. Meat was meat, whether it had been sacrificed to an animal or slaughtered in a butchery for food, it was still meat. But an animal that had been strangled produced meat that contained blood. That was outside of Paul’s exception, as was food made with blood as a principle component, as was fornication.
So, are you OK with eating meat that’s bled and has been sacrificed to idols? If I’ve read you right you’re ok with eating blood to save your life even though the examples of breaking the prohibition given were in relation to prohibited foods, as you say blood was never a food, what example do we have that it’s OK to eat blood to save one’s life? I’m not trying to make a case for JW’s as I believe there is no exception to the use of blood whether we take it intravenously or orally, it all ends up in… Read more »
I think you are engaging in a flawed premise. When you say O.T. law, I assume you are not referring to the law of Moses since you know that the law on blood predates that. But by stating O.T. law are you trying to discredit the law because it is “Old” and has been replaced with New Testament law? Agreed, fornication is not found in the context of Romans 14:14, but I put it to you that neither is blood found in that context. You believe it is, but that is a matter of personal interpretation. Frankie has provided a… Read more »
No, I am not discrediting the law, just the letter of the law, are we not to obey the spirit of the law (Mt 22:37-40). What about Peter’s vision? He began to realize just how different this new Christianity was from Judaism. While praying on a rooftop, feeling hungry, he had a vision. A sheet was lowered from heaven, containing many different types of animals. A voice encouraged him to eat. Peter balked, realizing that some of the animals in the sheet were forbidden under Jewish law. Three times the sheet lowered, and three times Peter refused. The vision had… Read more »
I’m not sure how eating blood sausage is obeying the spirit of the law?! “Again if blood is to be held sacred and is not used for nourishing the body how do you make the exception for blood transfusions? Do you have a precedent?” I explained that in the video. In fact, that was the point of the entire video. Blood transfusions do not nourish the body because putting blood into your veins is not equivalent to putting food into your veins. The body consumes alcohol fed into the veins, but it does not do the same for blood. It… Read more »
Given the context of Paul’s words about imposing our conscience on others, I don’t think it is advantageous to the spirituality of others for us to be voicing our opinions on what we would or would not eat. The principles are there for all to dwell upon. You ask: “If I’ve read you right you’re ok with eating blood to save your life even though the examples of breaking the prohibition given were in relation to prohibited foods, as you say blood was never a food, what example do we have that it’s OK to eat blood to save one’s… Read more »
I apologize if I seem argumentative, and I guess you’re right, we’ve flogged this horse enough. The main point is we both agree that blood transfusions are not a violation of God’s Law.
Every blessing in our Great God and saviour Jesus Christ.
Hi Eric, I would like to write you some thoughts on blood in relation to food and conscience. I’m sorry if I repeat some of your thoughts. Blood as food ——————– The commandments of blood have dietary meaning throughout the Bible. Animal blood should not be used to eat in any form because it is sacred (Genesis 9: 4-6). The animal’s blood was to be poured on the ground and covered with the ground (Leviticus 17: 13-14), it was to be poured out like water (Deuteronomy 12:16) and therefore had no other use, e.g. as a stuff for meals. This… Read more »
… Paul’s words were addressed to christian Jews and Christians …
Hi Frankie. I find this to be solid reasoning. The danger we face is hyper-literalism which is often used to justify a personal desire. For instance, if I want to sleep around with any woman I fancy, I could invoke Romans 14:14. As long as I don’t consider fornication to be unclean, then it is fine before God for me to engage in it. Essentially, I am making Romans 14:14 an excuse to ignore all of God’s laws and set up a law code of my own.
I agree. I also think Romans 14:14 must not be generalized. Therefore I emphasized that Paul said this because of a specific problem (food) in a particular situation, which is explained by verse 15. Using such out-of-context generalization of certain verses, I’m able to reason whatever. Therefore I consider overall context as extreme important. I often say that we should understand the meaning of the whole sentence and not to argue about individual letters. Also verses Romans 22-23 could be dangerous using such eisegetical method. These verses also relate only to food issue with regard to the conscience of others… Read more »
Hi Bamba64, I’m following your interesting “dietary” discussion with Eric and I’d like to present to you my opinion on Matt 15:11. I will use ESV. In verses Matt 15: 1-20, Jesus condemns the hypocrisy of the Pharisees – “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.“ (v. 6). The disciples were charged with being sinners for transgressing the tradition of the elders in eating with unwashed hands. Jesus answers: “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (v. 11). Jesus… Read more »
Hi Frankie, At the end of the day we are all in agreement as far as blood use versus a loss of life, we are just discussing a finer point as to whether eating blood-based food is still held as something that can make one ceremonially unclean or is it still prohibited. We have to remember that when Jesus spoke it was primarily to a Jewish audience still under the O.T. The book of Romans was probably written to a gentile audience; Acts 18:2 records how Rome’s ruler ordered all the Jews to leave Rome, This happened about 5 years… Read more »
Hi Bamba64. Thank you for your response. You’re forcing me to go deeper and deeper into the “eat blood” issue. OK, that’s fine. I hope I pulled the last nail out of the coffin with my previous comments regarding Matt 15:11 or Mark 7: 18-19 („nothing that goes into a man defiles him“). Yes, “we are all in agreement as far as blood use versus a loss of life” but still there are other “finer” things. Since you’ve written “each to his own,” I guess you are firmly convinced about this matter. But still, I’ll try to continue the fight… Read more »
Hi Frankie, thanks for your response, due to the weekend and our fellowship meeting, I’ll be a little slow in my reply. Take care and every blessing in our God and saviour Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13.
Hello Mark!!!!! my name is Zbigniew. I live in poland. I am 63 years old. I am following the discussion with Erik and Frankie with attention and interest. Your decisive and tough position has given rise to many arguments. I am very grateful to all of you. Black pudding is very popular in Poland. I am the 3rd generation brought up in the spirit of JW. The very thought of eating blood sausage shakes me a lot. But my mother, born in 1926, told me that she ate black pudding. Fortunately, you can buy black pudding in the markets. I… Read more »
I hope we will meet with Mark and you at your place in Poland or at me. You will buy black pudding and I will buy black sausages, all bloodless. I think Mark will like it. I wrote him not to forget that whiskey 🙂 .
Peace and love to you. Frankie
I wish I could be there with you all.
Dear Eric, you will be warmly welcome. If you come, you could bring some cake with maple syrup and Canadian wild blueberries for four 🙂 .
Take care and be safe so we could meet.
They’d never let me bring the blueberries across the border, but the Maple Syrup is a sure thing.
Nicely said, obviously we give thanks to God for all things, the reason I question your statement and your reply is because I don’t see a biblical precedent for it, that said is this just your (Polish) tradition? While the tradition may be unbiblical it’s not violating anything, so the tradition is neutral, just as Jesus observed Hannukah. As to observing the law that is a very slippery slope, as I have already stated circumcision was before the law, just take the time to read Galatians, listen to the harsh language Paul uses, we are to grow in the knowledge… Read more »
Correction. In point 1 should be:
” … the unity of Christian Jews and Gentiles in Jesus Christ …”
Hi Frankie, by the way, my name is Mark. 1. Letter to the Romans —————————— This letter was written to both Jews and Christians, but primarily to Jews. In Rome, Christians from both Jews and Gentiles were, as well as Jews under the Law. Much of the letter to the Romans is devoted to interpreting the mission of Jesus Christ with respect to the Mosaic Law. These extensive passages were irrelevant to Gentiles because they were not under Law and they did not know it. Practically entire chapters 2 through 7 and 9 through 11 are mainly devoted to explaining… Read more »
Hi Mark, I think I explained the connection between Genesis 9: 4-6 and Acts 15:29 (meat containing blood) sufficiently, using the 1 Cor 10:16,21 and showing that ” Strangled animals are not properly bled, so the blood remains in tissue of meat. In other words – “Don’t eat meat with blood””. This is not about Law; this is about principle given by God to our forefather Noah – it is forbidden to eat the blood of animals as a symbol of life. I read your arguments, but I have other counter-arguments. We can discuss endlessly and shoot arguments at each… Read more »
Hello dear brother Frankie !!!!! I was going to write tomorrow but I couldn’t stand it. I have great pleasure in addressing you. I feel closeness through brotherly unity in Christ and we are also neighbors. I have been to Slovakia a lot. I love skiing, and Tatranska Lomnica and Chopok are a little paradise in our region. I hope Eric will forgive me for a bit of privacy in this post. If you can, write something about yourself. I am impressed by the arguments compiled in Eric’s lecture and your comments so very accurate and consistent. I completely share… Read more »
Dear brother Zbygniew, thanks a lot for your kind words. When someone praises me, I always don’t know at all what to say. But one thing is certain – if there is something good in me, I got it from my heavenly Father. Every minute I live and everything I get from God is a precious gift. And thank to Jehovah’s Son, Jesus Christ, my King and my Savior and my beloved brother, I really live through faith in Him, because: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.… Read more »
Cheers Frankie, If you or Zbigniew are ever in my neighborhood (South Wales) look me up and we’ll have a drink together.
Every Blessing in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)
Thank you, Mark, it will be my (and certainly of Zbigniew) pleasure.
God bless you.
Hello Frankie !!!
I invite you, write me your story, something about yourself.
My address: email@example.com
Your brother in Christ Zbigniew
Hello Mark !!!
I invite you, write me your story, something about yourself.
My address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your brother in Christ Zbigniew