DOCTRINE ON BLOOD
A SUMMARY OF HOW THE DOCTRINE DEVELOPED
In Acts chapter 15 of the Bible the Apostles listed four "necessary things" that Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians had to abstain from:–
- Sacrifices to idols
- Things strangled
- Unchastity (fornication).
Christian commentaries show that abstaining from these "necessary things" was necessary to maintain peace between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. If Gentile Christians were to eat blood with their food it would offend Jewish Christians.
In 1892 the first president of the JWs, C T Russell, agreed with this Christian interpretation. (Zion's Watch Tower 1892, November 15)
In 1909 Russell
that the four prohibitions
were part of the Law of Moses, didn't really apply to Gentiles, but
necessary for peace. He wrote:
Russell's view of Acts 15 was unaffected by the discovery in 1901 of the ABO blood groups. Nor did Russell's followers object when transfusions saved soldiers' lives in World War I or when in the 1920s U.S. hospitals compiled lists of blood donors.
The first hint against blood came in The Watchtower of 1927, December 15 when a 7-page article about killing and murder included this brief comment:
In 1939 the
president of the JWs,
J F Rutherford, wrote:
At this time, around 1940, JWs still accepted blood transfusions. They saw no connection between "eating" and transfusion. The Watchtower statements concerned animal blood anyway and not human blood.
In 1943 December
article in Consolation
Awake!) discussed an experiment using horse blood.
The article also attacked vaccination. Then page 23 says:
1944 December 1
In the article "Immovable For The Right Worship" The Watchtower (1945 July) again connected transfusion with eating blood and linked avoidance of both with "right worship".
There was, however, still no outright prohibition on blood transfusions for JWs.
Things became more definite in 1948:
By this time
starting to avoid
transfusions. The mention of "health hazards" revealed that the JW
were going to use similar arguments to what they had used against
In 1951 the JW parents of a 6-year old girl refused a blood transfusion for her. The girl had a rare condition in which her red blood cells were being destroyed. The court in Chicago charged the parents with neglect, took the child from their custody, and ordered a transfusion which saved her life.
"command" were ostracised
but not disfellowshipped (excommunicated). A letter from the Watchtower
Bible And Tract Society Of New York, dated October 10, 1957, to a Mrs.
William Eason of Lexington, Kentucky, said in part:
Disfellowshipping - total shunning and rejection - for taking a transfusion began in 1961.
Transfusions are not always of whole blood but rather of blood components:
transfusions are administered primarily to supply red blood cells and
restore the volume of blood. When whole blood is not required, plasma
plasma substitutes, synthetic substances usually composed of proteins
other large organic molecules in a saline solution, are administered.
or plasma substitutes may also be given when whole blood is not
available. Many blood transfusions consist of only specific components,
or parts, of the blood, such as red blood cells, platelets, or certain
portions of the plasma. In this way, each patient receives only the
components he needs, and the blood obtained from one donor can be used
to help several patients.
(Students Encyclopedia 1977 Vol 3 p.234)
blood "fractions" was
amended in 1978:
This change was a blessing to JW hemophiliacs who may require up to 40 infusions of Factor VIII per year. A single infusion of Factor VIII may contain proteins from several thousand donors – a case of JWs accepting a gift that they say it's wrong to give!
Awake! 1987 (June 22) had an article by a JW hemophiliac who survived since 1970 without transfusion. Since all articles must be approved by the JW leaders in Brooklyn before publication this article by the hemophiliac was doubtless a strong hint that blood fractions might be against God's law again.
Autologous transfusions - removing some of the patient's own blood, storing it, and transfusing it back into him when needed - is supposedly against the Bible also. (The Watchtower 1978 June 15 pp.29-30)
Blood transfusions to pets is also "a violation of the Scriptures". (The Watchtower 1964 February 15 p.127) So is giving of pet food to pets when the pet food includes blood products. (Ibid)
published in QUESTIONS
FOR JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES (1983 B & J Cetnar);
Santa Ana, California
You would like to know if it would be a violation of God's law to give a blood transfusion to a pet you have. In considering the Scriptures, it is noted that, unless blood was under certain circumstances used on the altar, it was to be poured out on the ground and covered over with dust. (Lev. 17:13, 14) To use blood for transfusion purposes, even in the case of an animal, would not be proper. The Scriptures are clear in showing that blood should not be eaten. (Gen. 9:3, 4; Acts 15:28, 29) That would apply in the case of a human, naturally, but it would also apply to this question of giving a blood transfusion to a pet that is under the jurisdiction of a Christian. It would not be Scripturally proper to do so.
What about using
blood as fertilizer
Haemorrhoids respond to treatment with leeches. The leech used is called Hirudo medicinalis. It has three small jaws that cut into the skin. This leech has been used in tens of thousands of cases to treat swelling after plastic surgery and graft operations. Until 1985 microsurgeons often failed when sewing severed ears, fingers and other body parts back on. Leeches are now regularly used in such cases to keep the blood oozing into the sewn-on tissue until the blood vessels can heal.
require that their
followers avoid treatment with leeches because it would: "conflict with
what the Bible says." Also:
For the present a Jehovah's Witness who requires treatment with leeches would just have to lose his finger, or foot, or ear, or whatever.
INVESTIGATOR Magazine (1989 September) had an article that suggested that the JW anti-blood doctrine is a spin-off from their anti-vaccination doctrine:
prepared from blood
serum and in that way they are "animal matter". Obviously if a
prepared from blood, is an "injection of animal matter" then a blood
can also be viewed as an "injection of animal matter".
This may have been the original link in the minds of the JW leaders leading to their prejudice against blood. The link was then ignored and Bible passages against eating blood employed instead. When "the law of Jehovah God" against vaccination was cancelled in 1952 the "law" against blood transfusion remained.
The objection to "animal matter" may also be the origin of the JW leaders' ban on tissue transplants. They compared transplants to cannibalism and called it the "Scriptural Aspect". (Awake! 1968 June 8 p.21; The Watchtower 1967 Nov. 15 p.702)
This applied to
transplants too. David
In 1980 the "scriptural aspect" was changed and transplants became a matter for individual conscience. (The Watchtower 1980 March 15)
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