Jehovah’s Witnesses And The Blood Issue
Since their original interpretation of the doctrine of abstaining from blood the Watchtower has softened its view toward certain aspects of blood. For example, when this was first adopted, as a Jehovah’s Witness, you couldn’t have a vaccination because it had blood in it. You couldn’t take life saving Factor 8 as a hemophiliac because it was a blood product. You couldn’t have organ transplants because of the blood in the organs.
With the Watchtower’s understanding of “new light” they have been able to justify incremental changes to the blood issue over time. What used to be disfellowshipping offenses are now simply “matters of conscience”. Any Jehovah’s Witness can now get a vaccination, Factor 8, and even an organ transplant if they do so without a transfusion.
What of the actual issue of blood transfusions themselves? Obviously the life-saving capabilities of such a thing never existed in the days of the apostle Paul. However the practice of eating blood and of using it in food was prevalent among the gentiles of his day. This was a strong offense to both Jews as well as Jewish Christians at that time. Something else posed a major stumbling block to the Jews when they did consider conversion to Christianity. The drinking of “blood” and eating of “flesh” of Christ flew in the face of everything they had ever been taught about dietary law. Yet Christ chose to use this specific symbolism in His “last supper” and is now repeated more or less by every Christian church in the world.
We can all read into anything and make our preconceived notions fit the scriptures if we try hard enough. What of Paul’s exhortation here?
1 Corinthians 14:34
“Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says.”
If you’ve ever attended a Kingdom Hall meeting, the women are not silent at all. They are allowed to comment and give demonstrations and of course the #3 and #4 talks in the Kingdom Ministry School. They are also an integral part of the major assemblies where they give experiences of their lives as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
So what are we really doing here? Are we picking and choosing which “laws” to enforce and which can be looked at with a “knowing wink”?
Anyone can tell you that Jehovah’s Witness women make up the largest part of the preaching work. Much larger than the men. Many Jehovah’s Witness women are full-time pioneers. While the husband works to pay the bills they are out going door to door. Why would the Watchtower follow Paul’s exhortation to the nit with regard to blood and yet completely throw this exhortation out the window? Because to do so would limit their effectiveness (the army of sisters) in moving massive amounts of literature that is bought and paid for by thousands of congregations around the world!
The reason that I maintain that the blood issue will never change is simply this:
If they did come with “new light” and try to make blood transfusions “okay” or a matter of conscience, all those who have lost loved ones to this doctrinal mistake would scream “bloody murder”! If the Watchtower openly admitted that it had made a big mistake in making everyone follow this doctrine to the letter they would be considered by many to be ”bloodguilty”.
Why did they adopt this dogmatic view in the first place? Well I’ll give you my opinion and you can challenge that as you see fit.
The Watchtower has preached to its people over the past century a message of fear. Fear of the world, fear of other religions, fear of different bible translations and even fear of the Watchtower.
This promotes a group hysteria that results in everything not directly from the “faithful and discreet slave” being a conspiracy of sorts. For example the fact that all other bible translations, save one, translate John 1:1 a certain way is a conspiracy to promote “the trinity”.
Let’s be real here folks! Try getting two bible scholars to agree on anything, much less the thousands necessary to get that kind of collusion to happen!
One of the only other bibles in existence that translates it the same way as the New World Translation did so by means of a spirit medium. Yet the Kingdom Interlinear as well as other Watchtower publications quote that translation to bolster its mis-translation of that key scripture! Don’t believe me? Click here folks! If you want photocopies from those publications I can provide them as I have the originals!
The Watchtower translators were simply so desperate to justify their own mis-translation that they latched on to anything that would work regardless of its origin. They claim that they didn’t know this at the time the New World Translation was released but an article published by the Watchtower prior to the release talks about the same translator (Johannes Greber) and his demonic verses! (Watchtower of February 15, 1956.) Yet the New World Translation wasn’t released until 1961!
Interestingly enough Greber was mentioned in the following article on spiritism on Wikipedia:
Isn’t it interesting that the one translation that the Watchtower translators would pull from to justify their translation had demonic influence?
This fear and “conspiracy thinking” has been programmed in to each and every rank and file JW out there to a more or lesser degree depending upon their “strength” in the organization. That fear of reprisal from the organization is so strong that many would rather die than to lose their “approval”. Thus the decision by many to die instead of receiving a life-saving blood transfusion. What does this really do for the Watchtower?
It gives them martyrs!
Every great religion of any historical significance has martyrs in its history. These are people who chose death rather than to bend on their religious convictions in any way. The early church was filled with martyrs who died rather than to deny Christ. These people are set up on a pedestal as an example for all of us still remaining and in most cases this is a positive testament to the faith of the martyr!
The Watchtower promotes these stories of martyrs in the Nazi death camps, the victims of torture and abuse in Malawi, the sad stories of those who chose death rather than to receive a life-saving blood transfusion all to motivate the rank and file to do as they are told.
I can hear it now: “If those courageous Jehovah’s Witnesses gave their very lives for their belief then why aren’t you out in the ministry this fine Saturday morning?”
Bottom line: It is a huge motivator for the rank and file and the Watchtower leadership are masters at ”guilting” them into submission.
Would the leadership rather this issue just “go away”? Probably. It is highly controversial and in our modern world it just makes them look that much more antiquated. Their dogged attachment to this century old doctrine has placed them and their followers on the wrong side of the media on numerous occasions!
So will the Watchtower ever change their stance regarding this highly controversial subject? Not likely. At least not in our lifetime. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so. Better to let the rank and file die for the cause than to open themselves up to class action lawsuits!
Yours in Christ,