“But flesh with the life thereof, which Is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”—Ge 9:4
THIS and other similar texts of Scripture are being used by some In an effort to prove that donating blood to save another’s life, or receiving a transfusion of blood, Is forbidden by God and a sin So gross as to result In eternal death. Are we justified In placing such an interpretation upon the divine injunction against eating or drinking the blood of lower animals?
The science of transferring blood from one human being to another in order to save life was not known in ancient times. Obviously, then, there is no direct reference to it in the Word of God; So our conclusions as to whether or not it can properly be placed in the same category, from God’s standpoint, as the assimilation of the blood of beasts through the digestive organs must be based wholly upon the principles Involved rather than direct statements of the Bible.
What common factors are Involved in drinking the blood of lower animals and the medical science of blood transfusion? So far as we are able to see, there is only one, which is the word blood. Apart from this, the two practices have nothing whatsoever in common.
God forbade his ancient people to drink the blood of lower animals. It Is human blood that is used In the science of blood transfusion.
Drinking the blood of lower animals necessitates their death. Blood transfusions do not require the death of those who donate their blood.
The life- sustaining vitamins derived from drinking blood reach the system through the digestive organs, the remaining elements being eliminated from the body as waste; thus the blood, as such, is destroyed.
In transfusions the blood of the donor is channeled directly into the bloodstream of the patient.
Thus we see that there is no similarity at all between the ancient custom of drinking blood, which was forbidden by the Lord, and the modern science of blood transfusion. Therefore, only by being definitely misapplied can the Scriptures be construed to forbid deriving benefit from this very humane application of medical science. No one should permit such a flagrant misapplic ation of God’s commands to deter him from receiving the benefits of blood transfusion through fear of disobeying God and of being 8entenced to the “second death.”
THE BLOOD OF ATONEMENT
In Leviticus 17:10,11 we read: “And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The expression, “any manner of blood,” cannot be construed to include human blood, for human blood was not offered on altars by Israel.
The “atonement” made by the blood of animals was of a typical nature only and pointed forward to the atonement which would be made for Adam and his race by Jesus’ blood. “Almost all things are by the Law purged by blood,” we read, “and without shedding of blood is no remission, It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”—Heb 9:22,23 The “blood of bulls and goats” did not actually take away the sins of the Israelites, but God used those sacrifices to point forward to the shedding of Jesus’ blood; So he attached a great sacredness to animal blood, and for this reason did not want the Israelites to consider It common, or as ordinary food. This viewpoint of the typical blood is used by Paul to teach a lesson. Speaking of those who, having come to a knowledge of the truth and accepted the provisions of God’s grace through Christ, and willfully turn against the Lord, the apostle said, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing?”—Heb 10:29
Since Jehovah wants his people to consider the blood of Jesus as sacred and holy, It Is understandable why he limited the use of animal blood to picture the real blood of atonement. With the Israelites it was part of a school of experience designed to lead them to Christ. But this could not be construed in the remotest sense to be related to the modern medical science of blood transfusion.
Symbolically speaking, It is essential to “drink” the blood which was prefigured by those typical sacrifices, the blood, that Is, of Jesus. Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53) In non symbolic language this simply means that in order to have everlasting life, either by faith now, or actually In the age to come, it is essential to accept Christ and his sacrificial work on our behalf—to recognize that he died for our sins and for all mankind, including Adam. But this acceptance of Christ Is wholly unrelated to blood transfusion as now practiced In the medical world.
HEATHEN CUSTOMS BANNED
A problem was presented to Jewish Christians In the Early Church when Gentile converts began to associate with them. These Gentiles were sincere In their acceptance of Christ, but seemingly In many cases their Christian faIth was merely superimposed upon their forms of heathen worship, many of which were repugnant to Jewish believers, and some even licentious. Certain Jewish teachers in the church thought to discipline their Gentile brethren by insisting that they obey the ordinances of the Law, such as circumcision The apostles, and others more mature in the faith, met in conference at Jerusalem to decide what should be done about this problem. In view of the circumstances, they agreed on a minimum requirement of Gentile converts—they were to “abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.” (Acts 15:29) Fornication Is unequivocally condemned In the Scriptures.
The idolatrous worship of the heathen of that day included feasting on the meats which had been offered to Idols, and fornication. Partaking of blood could easily have been associated with these revelries. The immature Gentile Christian would see no wrong in these things, but to bring them into the church would have been disastrous; So the apostles wisely insisted that they abstain from them. However, these instructions to Gentile believers in the Early Church have no bearing whatever on the present- day medical science of blood transfusion.
The Watchtower, endeavors to prove that the divine injunction against drinking blood includes human blood. They cite the case of David, who refused to drink the water secured for him by three men at the risk of their lives. David said, “My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy?
Here David is speaking symbolically. Instead of drinking the water secured at the risk of life, he poured It “out to the Lord.” As David reasoned It, the water represented the blood of his benefactors, and this, he thought, should be offered to the Lord rather than to accept the sacrifice on his own behalf. There is no relationship here whatever to God’s command not to drink the blood of lower animals, and certainly It Is wholly unrelated to blood transfusion.
If you have an opportunity to donate your blood to save the life of a relative or friend, or a brother In Christ, do not hesitate thus to serve. Or If your doctor says that blood transfusion will save your life, or the life of your Child by all means take advantage of this modern blessing.
For with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it.”—1Ch 11:17- 19