I wanted my next project in the process of undoing Watchtower doctrine to be their history of statements/rulings on medical treatments. I found out just how little I really knew once I checked out ajwrb.org's scriptural discussion of the blood issue. The logic was excellent.
As I thought about it, even as a young person I wondered, in some unknowable corner of my mind, why there was only one scripture in the entire New Testament that dealt with blood if it was such a serious matter. The apostles' writings and Jesus' words mention certain specific sins as being particularly heinous or serious. Fornication, adultery, stealing, murder, lying, idolatry, drunkenness--these are things mentioned repeatedly and condemned as things that would result in a person 'not inheriting God's kingdom'. But Paul, Peter, John, and Jesus NEVER say that someone who eats blood will not inherit God's kingdom, nor do they prescribe any kind of sanction or punishment for it. Paul, who seems to write a lot about Christian conduct, points out that even eating food sacrificed to idols--something explicitly warned against in Acts 15:28, 29--was really no big deal unless it stumbled someone. So even the actual eating of blood probably wasn't something the apostles lost sleep over. If it had been, I'm sure Paul would've mentioned it, like he did fornication and so many other wrongs.
Under the Law of Moses, eating blood was a capital offense. But so were a lot of things, like breaking the Sabbath; yet Jesus said it was okay to break Sabbath to save a life. So why not in this case? Also, if we're going to reinstate the Law's penalty, in a roundabout way, without any New Testament justification for it, you know, like reinstating rules about getting a tattoo or making up rules about shaving your beard, then we're in a position where we're living by law and not by faith. And Paul said that living by law alienates people from Christ, and that if you live by law, you've got another side effect--if you break one law, you've broken them all, and you're stuck in a sinful state. To make these rules is to ultimately deny Christ's power to remove law and make forgiveness possible. Spiritual implications for that one abound...Christ is pretty much out of the equation, which means it's just a modified form of Judaism, really.
And of course, we're talking about EATING blood here, not a blood transfusion. Eating blood cannot restore blood volume, so it's not relevant to the issue. The infamous alcohol analogy in the Reasoning book doesn't hold either, as alcohol and blood are two very different substances that will have very different impacts if taken through the veins.
I had heard a lot about the organ transplant issue, which was, what, 1967 or so? That was called 'taking in human flesh to sustain oneself' and 'cannibalism' back then. With the typical protect-our-assets statement that it's a 'personal decision'. Right. Cannibalism is about as much a personal decision for a JW as murder, I should think. In 1980, they made it a choice for which no judicial action should be taken, given the possibility of a variety of opinions on it. The bizarre thing is that the very same logic they use to say organ transplants may be okay could be used to justify blood transfusions.
The other factor is the symbolism of blood. In ancient times, the pouring out of blood was because life was taken. The animal sacrifices were killed, not just given a little cut or something. In a blood transfusion, the human donor is not killed to provide the blood, the blood itself is in fact still living. So pouring it out on the ground, really, would be kind of DISrespectful to life, when you think about it, as that's life that could be medically useful.
The other question this raised in my mind was, if blood absolutely HAS to be poured out on the ground to show respect for life, then where does that logic end? Doesn't that mean we shouldn't wear Band-Aids or try to stop our own bleeding if we cut ourselves? After all, that blood is leaving the body so it HAS to be poured out. Otherwise, blood that went out of the body might very well find its way back in if we put pressure on the wound! Forgive me if that last part sounds foolish or ignorant; I'm just throwing it out there because, well, it was in my head.
The other thing I didn't know--shows you my complete lack of medical knowledge--was that breast milk contains white blood cells for the first six weeks after an infant is born. This can be verified by any basic search on the subject. Given that white blood cells are forbidden components for JWs, doesn't that mean breastfeeding should be outlawed? The transmission of blood cells from one being to another is clearly a natural (ie. God-given, uh oh!) process. This reality places the Watchtower Society in the position of implying that God himself is wrong for allowing breastfeeding--which is, in part, feeding on another's blood cells in a most literal way. Because it's the same thing, just a different format.
I was pretty ignorant on this subject and would have found myself uncertain were I faced with a blood transfusion. Not because I care about the Society's rules anymore, just because I had no other standard or concept to compare them to. The other factor is, well, I'm still married to a JW, and my wife might be in a situation where this could come up. There's also a kid or two in the mix, so...that involves them as well. I would feel like a criminal if I let any of them die because of a rule that isn't scripturally sound. (Even if it were, I'd still feel responsible.) The irony is that I learned quite recently that my wife had blood administered to her as a baby, as she was born prematurely. So she knows firsthand that it can save a life without major problems being the end result. Go figure.
Personally, I'd rather store my own blood for future use if possible. At least I know where it's been, you know? And while I know they screen it for diseases and all, I'm not convinced that that process is an absolute guarantee of anything. Probably, it's pretty safe with some possible risks. I get that the risks were grossly overemphasized by the Society. So if it came down to it, I'd only want someone else's blood as a last possible resort.
I'm just saddened that I accepted this teaching with so little genuine reason to do so. But there you have it. Entry is too long. Thanks for reading it, if you bothered.