An ex-Jehovah’s Witness friend once shared with me a case of a JW woman who lost much blood while in labour. Since blood transfusion is forbidden by their religion, her family rushed to a fetish priest to stop her bleeding through occult powers. In spite of their efforts, she died. This is not an isolated case. According to a research work by Gupta et al. (2012), in the UK, there is a 65-fold increased risk of maternal death of JW women compared to the national rate. In the US, JW women are at an increased risk of maternal death due to blood loss. Similarly, in the Netherlands, there is a 130-fold increased risk of maternal death of JW women due to obstetric haemorrhage.
Yet JWs are taught “that God values human life and that people must value the lives of others.” (What Does the Bible Really Teach? p 127). But they state: “His principle is that his laws come ahead of suffering, even as in blood transfusion, God’s law takes precedence over the life of a creature” (The Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1961, 118).
If God truly values human life then, His laws are supposed to protect life, not destroy it. A law that constantly perpetuates the loss of human lives cannot be from the Creator who gave life as a gift. The cover of Awake! May 22, 1994 was graced with pictures of several young JWs who chose to die instead of accepting blood transfusion. Its pg. 2 says:
“In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue.”
What do they mean by the “former times?” Are they referring to the early Christian persecution? This Awake! edition contains the stories of 15 JW children who rejected blood transfusion based solely on Watchtower policy. An affidavit presented to the court by one of them says:
“The way that I feel is that if I’m given any blood that will be like raping me, molesting my body. I don’t want my body if that happens. I can’t live with that. I don’t want any treatment if blood is going to be used, even a possibility of it.”
This level of indoctrination can even make this boy lose the will to live if transfused. JWs are taught that anyone of them who unrepentantly accepts a blood transfusion does so at the peril of losing eternal life on paradise earth. So a faithful JW must accept death rather than break their religious laws which stipulates that: “[T]he receiver of a blood transfusion must be cut off from God’s people by excommunication or disfellowship” (The WT, Jan. 15, 1961, 63). The weight of being disfellowshipped alone crushes many of them.
Watchtower leaders not only brainwash and intimidate children and youths to vehemently reject blood transfusion so as not to lose eternal life, but also command parents to “hold practice sessions in which each youth faces questions that might be posed by a judge or a hospital official” (WT, Jun. 15, 1991, 15).
In Western nations, child welfare departments and lawyers wade into this issue, when transfusion is withheld, but the power that the Watchtower Society wields over the minds of JWs usually prevails. The physicians and lawyers are perceived as “persecutors;” JW parents standing against them or who succeed in smuggling their children out of the hospitals are seen as “heroes,” while those who die for refusing blood are presented as “martyrs,” like the early Christians who were thrown to the lions.
Three proof texts are offered by “the Society” to support their prohibition of blood transfusion.
a) Genesis 9:3, 4 “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you …. Only flesh with its soul [or, life] – its blood – you must not eat.”
This is prohibiting eating of animal blood, not medical transfusion of blood into the veins. It must also be pointed out that this was the same “proof text” used by the Watchtower Society to condemn organ transplant as “cannibalism” between 1967 to 1980. Either appeal is dubious and eisegetical.
b) Leviticus 17:13-14 “As for any man … who in hunting catches a wild beast or a fowl that may be eaten, he must in that case pour its blood out and cover it with dust … I said to the sons of Israel: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh.'”
The context of this passage is on animal sacrifices. God told the Israelites to pour animal blood out to the ground because life of the flesh is in the blood. Nothing here speaks of non-sacrificial, human blood transfusion which involves the replacement of blood in the human body with that of another human. The blood being “poured out” in Lev. 17:13 is of dead animals used in Jewish sacrifices, not living human donors and blood transfusion doesn’t render the donor to become a dead sacrifice to God.
It’s instructive to note that even today, Orthodox Jews who strictly hold to the Law of Moses do not reject blood transfusion since such an idea is not taught in the Torah. In fact, of all the religions that claim to adhere to the Bible, only Jehovah’s Witnesses equate eating of blood with blood transfusion – an awkward interpretation that defies both logic and science.
c). Acts 15:28, 29 “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 and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.”
The term “from things strangled” solely refers to animals not properly bled. Under the Law, when dead animals were completely bled, the Israelites were allowed to eat the meat. Therefore, the command here was still prohibiting eating the blood of animals (a rite observed in paganism). No connection exists whatsover between this Biblical command and blood transfusion. When blood is transfused into the veins, it doesn’t get “eaten” in the body, therefore it’s absolutely unwarranted (if not foolish) to suggest that the recipient is feeding on another human soul via transfusion.
Eating blood, not Blood transfusion
“Does the command to abstain from blood include transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we would not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins” (Bible Teach, 130).
There are several problems with this argument:
1. This interpretation directly contradicts what The Watchtower said in September 15, 1958, 575:
“Each time the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the scriptures it is in connection with taking it as food, and so it is as a nutrient that we are concerned with in its being forbidden.”
As shown earlier, this view was Biblically correct. Yet after some years, Watchtower leaders turned 360 degrees to ban blood transfusion by equating it with “eating blood” just as they smoothly rescinded their prohibition on vaccination and organ transplant. This blowing of hot and cold on critical issues proves that the Governing Body is not inspired by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself.
2. The paralleism used is false. There is a difference between blood and alcohol (or any nutritional substance) infused into the veins. Transfused blood retains its original composition and mixes with the rest of the body, whereas alcohol or nutritional substances get broken down and digested by the body. Transfused blood doesn’t get metabolised, since it is given to replenish the body’s blood supply lost through an injury, bleeding or surgical procedure. Hence, there’s a clear difference between blood orally ingested through the mouth which gets digested by the body, and blood transfused into the body which remains the same.
3. Transfused blood is not “food” or “nourishment” but helps in carrying nourishment to the tissues. Notably, transfused blood itself is not consumed as a food the way it would be if it were eaten or drunk through the mouth – which is then broken down like other foods through the digestion system. This is why a person starving to death cannot be saved by blood transfusion because it doesn’t provide any nourishment for his body. Such a person would need actual food or nourishment which the transfused blood carries to the body tissues.
4. It must be highlighted that Awake! August 22, 1999 says: “Blood is an organ of the body, and blood transfusion is nothing less than an organ transplant.” We are also told that “a transfusion is a tissue transplant” (How Can Blood Save Your Life? 1990, 8).
Based on these definitions, blood transfusion is not “eating blood” but an organ or tissue transplant. In such transplants, the organs are not “eaten” by the body – they don’t serve as food or nourishment. They simply continue their specific functions and purposes as God intended. The same applies to blood transfused into the veins. It is a ludicrous and fatally inconsistent position to endorse organ transplant while forbidding blood transfusion.
To cement their deception, Watchtower leaders wrote:
“Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said: ‘Whoever wants to save his soul [or, life] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life” (Bible Teach, 130-131).
Notice how they are deliberately conflating a life-sustaining medical procedure with eternal salvation to muddle up the issue. JWs need to realise that when they reject blood transfusion they are not “losing their souls for the sake of Jesus” but to uphold the ideas of the Governing Body in New York City. No part of God’s law condemns blood transfusion. In the Bible, when Jesus healed a man of dropsy, He did a work which was considered unlawful on a Sabbath day, so He asked the Pharisees: “Who of you, if his son or bull falls into a well will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5)
He set aside the Law to do the work of healing and save a life. This principle is called Pikauch Nefesh Rabbinic principle. It dictates that the Law be superceded if it would result in loss of life. This is why blood transfusion is not forbidden in Judaism because its purpose is to sustain life. Conversely, the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion dictates that people be sacrificed on the altar of a man-made doctrine dubiously touted as God’s law. Life is not really valuable to the cruel hoax they worship.
Interestingly, in the Jewish law, apart from pouring out animal blood, the people were also to “burn the fat as an aroma pleasing to the LORD” (Lev. 17:6), yet JWs never follow this command. Breaking the law at one point is breaking all of it. This only way out is this: Jesus has already shed His blood to redeem us, so the Levitical law and the animal sacrifices in it are no longer required to earn God’s approval or receive salvation.
In Awake! (Feb. 2007, 8) we read: “These churches taught ‘twisted things’ … they taught people to worship the State and to sacrifice their lives for it in warfare.” This argument can be turned back on them: Watchtower leaders teach twisted things, demand blind loyalty and teach JWs to sacrifice their lives for them by rejecting blood transfusion. This is their death trap. Just like the 900 followers of Jim Jones; the 83 victims of the Waco fire and the martyrs dying for Islam, the Jehovah’s Witness religion too has its sacrificial victims. Like the others, they are also made into trophies of a legalistic blood cult.