Chicago Med – Raising Awareness of Watchtower on TV

A popular television show, Chicago Med, has recently made reference to Watchtowers doctrine on blood. You can find a brief clip and some further information regarding the episode here:

‘Chicago Med’: Dr. Rhodes Operates On Patient Refusing Surgery Due To Religion

If you are not a Jehovah’s Witness, or freshly joined, or even a veteran – you may be surprised to learn a bit more about the history of this doctrine and consider a few scriptures that indicate it may be wrong…

History

Until 1945, accepting whole blood was actually allowed. After this, it was disallowed and continues to be disallowed today. Most recently, Watchtower’s doctrine changed to allow minor blood fractions. More than this, there was a time they didn’t even allow organ transplants.

Sustaining one’s life by means of the body or part of the body of another human… would be cannibalism, a practice abhorrent to all civilized people. … It is not our place to decide whether such operations are advisable from a scientific or medical standpoint. … Christians who have been enlightened by God’s Word do not need to make these decisions based simply on the basis of personal whim or emotion. They can consider the divine principles and use these in making personal decisions as they look to God for direction, trusting him and putting their confidence in the future that he has in store for those who love him. – Watchtower 1967 November 15 pp.702-704

As odd as this reasoning may seem to you, they also used a very different and far more illogical reasoning than this.

A peculiar factor sometimes noted is a so-called ‘personality transplant.’ That is, the recipient in some cases has seemed to adopt certain personality factors of the person from whom the organ came. – Watchtower 1975 September 1 p.519

This is a brief history on this doctrine, now lets discuss how this is based on the bible and whether or not the bible agrees. Then we’ll put it all together, which should give us a solid reason to think critically about this doctrine.

Scripture

If you’re a Witness, or were, you likely already are familiar with what this is based on. For those readers who are not, let’s summarize how Watchtower arrives at this conclusion that God would not want you to accept a blood transfusion – even if your life was at stake.

I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. – Leviticus 17:10 NIV

But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. – Deuteronomy 12:23 NIV

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. – Acts 15:28, 29 NIV

These are the primary scriptures used to support this doctrine. You may be wondering how scripture that is about eating blood is being used to say that you should not accept a transfusion. All they say is that a transfusion is like eating it.

Is a transfusion really the same as eating blood?

In a hospital, when a patient cannot eat through his mouth, he is fed intravenously. Now, would a person who never put blood into his mouth but who accepted blood by transfusion really be obeying the command to “keep abstaining from . . . blood”? (Acts 15:29) To use a comparison, consider a man who is told by the doctor that he must abstain from alcohol. Would he be obedient if he quit drinking alcohol but had it put directly into his veins? – Reasoning From the Scriptures p. 70-76

Before we get into the science of this claim, lets consider the scripture as this heading promises to do.

Does the Bible say not to eat blood? Absolutely it does, blood was to be considered sacred because, as the scripture quoted above says, life is in the blood. There were strict laws governing the use of blood and it was to be poured out onto the ground. Indeed, misusing blood could have very well cost you your life.

However, it bears consideration that per Watchtower doctrine (and, I think, most other christian doctrines) we are no longer living under the Mosaic Law. Right? Watchtower teaches that Jesus came to “fulfill” the law (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus’ death on the torture stake was the basis for removing the Law, which had separated the Jews from the non-Jews. Therefore, by accepting the reconciliation made possible by Jesus’ death, both Jews and non-Jews could become “one body to God through the torture stake.” (Eph 2:11-16; Col 1:20; 2:13, 14) – Insight On the Scriptures Vol 2 p. 1116, 1117

This is extremely important to note, because the doctrine is that we are to be imitating Jesus example and doing as he taught. This is very interesting, because do you know what else brought the death penalty according to the Mosaic Law? Doing work on the sabbath.

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. – Exodus 35:2 NIV

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” – Matthew 12:9-12 NIV

Watchtower is right about one thing, the point of the laws regarding blood involved the sacredness of life, showing it respect. Does it show respect to life to let yourself or a loved on die when they could be saved? Consider these scriptures about the sabbath. Breaking the sabbath and doing work meant you would be put to death, the same penalty for breaking the law regarding blood. But what did Jesus show? He showed that allowing an animal to die rather than break the sabbath to save that animal was wrong. Life is sacred, and the law was to be broken to preserve it. He then asked, “How much more valuable is a person than a sheep?” Human life is not to be thrown away. Would Jesus not say the same today about blood transfusions? In the companion account of this same event recorded in Mark, Jesus goes so far as to say that choosing not to save life is “doing evil.”

Is This Medically Accurate?

Let’s take a moment to consider the science of this excerpt from the Reasoning book. This particular bit never made sense to me because when I was in highschool I had to take “Health” class. I think this is probably a pretty typical class to have to take, so I invite you to call back on all that you learned there. One of the things you likely learned was that when you consume alcohol your body does not metabolize it. Instead, alcohol goes directly into the blood stream and affects the brain pretty quickly. This is the reason why it doesn’t take very long for you to feel that wine or beer when you’re relaxing, because alcohol literally goes right to your head. How does this compare to consuming blood? If you eat blood, your body metabolizes it. So already there is a problem with this comparison. As far as consumption – alcohol and blood are not comparable. One your body does not eat (alcohol), the other it does (blood).

That brings up the question though, what if blood is transfused? Would your body treat it like food? No, it would not. Your body does not metabolize blood that is transfused into your veins. This point is made very well in this example:

…Consider the case where two patients are admitted to a hospital because they are not able to eat and thus sustain themselves. One patient is given a blood transfusion, whereas the other is given I.V. Dextrose or the equivalent. Which one will live? Obviously, it is the one given I.V. Dextrose which can actually be used by the body as food. The patient given the blood transfusion will die because blood is not food, but simply the vehicle used to transport it.

Is a Blood Transfusion a Meal?

Feel free to ask your doctor to verify this information.

Putting It All Together

This is a lot of information to take in, but with it all in mind do you still feel the same way about the blood doctrine? Think about how it’s changed over the years. At first they were allowed, but God does not change so he wouldn’t have approved then right? What happens to all those people who accepted transfusions before 1945? What about organ transplants, who should be held accountable for all the people who died because they refused new organs, only to have doctrine later change so they’re acceptable? The same could be asked of fractions, how many people died over the years that may have been saved by accepting minor blood fractions that were once disallowed?

Do you really want to put your life at risk for a doctrine that seems to change with an alarming frequency, and that isn’t even medically or logically sound?

-Rich

Further Reading:

Organ Transplants & Vaccinations

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions

Other Related Articles

9 comments

  • aworshiperofjehovah

    The next comment I am going to post is an answer someone gave on Yahoo Answers! The question was something like, “Why don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses accept blood transfusions?”

    Like

  • aworshiperofjehovah

    This question was just asked and answered. Why ask it again? I’ll answer again as hopefully, will others. 

    Humans want to live; life is a wondrous thing and barring very extreme circumstances (agonizing pain or deep depression), we want to hold on to it. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not refuse blood transfusions because they are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Catholics do not refuse to murder because they are Catholics do they? Witnesses refuse blood transfusions because we have aligned our perspective regarding the sanctity of blood and of life with God’s view. In essence, this is the same reason we do not murder – we have the view of the sanctity of life that God has taught. 

    Jehovah God elaborates respecting his view at Leviticus 17:11-12 and 14. In verse 11 God says “the life of the creature is in the blood and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves . . . it is the blood that makes atonement . . . that is why I have said to the Israelites, you must not eat the blood of any creature.” [New International Version] Here he outlined the only acceptable use for blood: This of course was pointing to the greater atonement that the shed blood of Christ would make. God is the Giver of life, blood is the symbol of life. Both must be respected; any use must be within the Lifegiver’s framework. Where in His framework is the allowance for the introduction of blood onto or into the body to sustain or extend life? Where in this framework can we find an exception for transfusions? 

    Moreover, we read the command at Acts 15:28-29 to “abstain from . . .blood . . . and from sexual immorality.” Notice the word “abstain.” The meaning in the original Greek is the same as in our English: to keep oneself from, to withhold oneself from. For instance, here we are also commanded to keep ourselves from sexual immorality. The scripture is not focusing on whatever form the sexual immorality takes (and there are many), nor is it focusing on the effect of the sexual immorality. The scriptural command is to abstain from it. And so it is with blood. Some may see a marked difference between “eating” blood and taking a transfusion. But its form of delivery and its effect is not addressed by the scripture. If I refuse to eat blood through my mouth, yet I take it into my veins, can I truthfully say that I am abstaining from blood? 

    It cannot be denied that those who want to help extend lives are exhibiting a loving attitude and such sincerity and concern is highly commendable. At John 10:34, Christ said that scripture cannot be nullified. This would include Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29 and Acts 21:25 which clearly command Christians to “abstain,” to “keep abstaining” and to “keep themselves” from blood. How can we be left with any other conclusion but that there is no way to accept a blood transfusion and at the same time, abstain from blood? 

    There are many attempts to sustain or preserve life, yes; but every attempt is not acceptable to God. To illustrate, my next-door neighbor who has been convicted of murders in the past, has repeatedly made serious threats on my life. There is every reason to believe that, given the opportunity, he will carry out this threat. When he tries to do so, I defend my life, killing him in the process. We know this as self-defense. Now in that same scenario, instead of waiting for his attempt, I kill him first. In both instances, I took measures to sustain my life. But in the second instance, I am in the wrong because while I have every right to defend my life, I have no right to do so by carrying out a preemptive attack. What point am I trying to make? That although God gives us the right to sustain and preserve our lives, any and every method to do so is not acceptable to God. Applying that rationale to blood transfusions, I have every right to sustain and preserve my life and I am extremely grateful to the medical community which helps me do that. There is no doubt that oftentimes, blood transfusions help; there is also no doubt that oftentimes they don’t, and sometimes they definitely harm. There is no need to doubt the medical professional’s sincere desire to sustain and preserve life and that’s what they are trained to do. But when such things as method, reasons, effect, and sincere desire to help are put aside, leaving only the fundamental act itself, we are left with the bald fact that basically, an attempt is being made to sustain or preserve life with blood. This is the key: attempting to sustain or preserve life with blood. There is nothing in scripture, explicit or implied, which would allow humans to sustain or preserve life with blood. 

    People can dance around Acts 15 all they want. And they can dance around the word abstain all they want. But people who want to practice sexual immorality because it feels good will do precisely that – despite the clear condemnation of it found at Acts 15:28, 29 in God’s word the Bible. They will find a way to justify it six ways from Sunday. And they do. Everyday. “We’re in love!” “Sex between people who love each other is not bad even if they’re not married!” “We’re engaged so it’s okay.” “God wants us to feel good!” And they do the same sort of justification when it comes to blood transfusions. “It’s just a dietary law”, “abstain just means don’t eat it,” “it’s okay to take it in but not eat it,” “it’s okay to take it in but not drink it,” “it’s okay to take it in but not take a bath in it,” “it’s okay to take it in but not cook with it,” “it just means animal blood, not human.” When all these artful dodges and contrivances are done – when you come back to the floor after all these gymnastics – it is quite clear that the Bible in its entirety does not allow for blood transfusions – the sustaining of life with the blood of humans. Oh yeah, when Jesus said to drink my blood and eat my flesh – it should be manifest to anyone thinking that he meant it metaphorically. How then can any reasoning person possibly point to His words and say ‘See! We can take blood transfusions!” More gymnastics. 

    Hannah J Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, I enjoyed reading it. I’d like to discuss it if you’re willing, and if not that’s okay too; but please be aware it’s not my intention at all to dissuade you from believing in God.

      The crux of your comment seems to be based on the reliability of the bible. So I’d like to ask you, can you show that the bible is a reliable document for discerning truth?

      Like

  • Hello! It’s nice to meet you. I don’t see any yahoo answers link, but I’d be happy to talk about it.

    Like

  • aworshiperofjehovah

    One of the main reasons I consider the Bible as a reliable document for discerning truth is because of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy recorded in Isaiah 44:27-45:4 (also how Bible prophecy pointed towards 1914, but that apparently is a controversial topic)

    Liked by 1 person

  • aworshiperofjehovah

    Also I didn’t write the answer on Yahoo Answers, so she was constantly trying to show that the Bible supported our belief about blood transfusions (because many try to say no). I would also like to commend you on your skill of writing; I wish I was skilled as you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you I appreciate that very much.

      I’m more than willing to talk about either of those two topics if you like, and I’m actually very interested in the topic of 1914. If you could summarize, how does the bible point toward 1914?

      Like

    • I wanted to let you know that I must turn in for the evening. I thought I’d do you the kindness of letting you know so that you don’t think I disappeared on you or wait for a response indefinitely. I will reply tomorrow if you wish to continue the discussion, and I look forward to it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s