*** w64 11/15 pp. 680-683 Employment and Your Conscience ***
KEEPING FREE FROM BLOOD
Christians are told to abstain from blood. (Acts 15:20, 28, 29) Just how far-reaching is that? What do the Scriptures require of a dedicated servant of God? If you are killing an animal or a bird, then, to comply with God’s law and to render that creature suitable for food, you must drain the blood. According to God’s law you must refrain from eating blood or taking it, as in a transfusion, to sustain life. Genesis 9:3, 4 and Deuteronomy 12:23, 24 contain Scriptural commands. Leviticus 17:10 points out that those in ancient Israel who willfully took in blood would be cut off by Jehovah. However, if an Israelite happened to eat the flesh of a clean animal that died of itself or was torn by a wild beast, he was declared unclean until the evening, provided he cleansed himself. (Lev. 17:15, 16) With Christians too, if someone partook of the meat of an animal that had not been properly drained of its blood when slaughtered, and it was not deliberate on his part and he repented when it later came to his attention, avoiding a recurrence of such wrongdoing, Jehovah would mercifully forgive him.
Various uses of blood today are objectionable from the Biblical standpoint. Blood could be used on the altar under certain circumstances in ancient Israel, and if it was not used in that manner it was to be disposed of. (Lev. 17:11-14) Not only is blood being used in connection with modern medical practices, but it is reported that blood is now being used in a variety of products, such as adhesives for making plywood, particle board, hardboard, bottle crowns, furniture and musical instruments. Blood is also being used in polymerization of rubber compounds, insecticidal binder, settling compound for industrial waste treatment, clear water purification (paper industry), uranium purification, foaming agent for lightweight cellular concrete, fire foaming agent, wine clarifying agent, paper coatings and binders, paper flocculants and sizes, replacement of casein in latex emulsions, emulsified asphalt, cork composition, photoengraving platemaking solutions, leather-finishing operations, water-resistant binder of pigments for print dyeing on cotton cloth, fertilizers, animal foods, and amino acid production, such as histidine and histamine, for example. Perhaps additional uses of blood will come to light in the future. In the world the uses of blood are numerous and none of these is in accord with the Biblical method of handling blood, which is to be spilled on the ground. However, the Christian is not responsible for the worldly misuse of blood, what other people do with it, and he cannot spend all his time undertaking detailed research regarding the various misuses of blood in the world of mankind, especially when it comes to nonedible products. If he did so, he would have less time left for preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. To some persons, it may be a hard decision to make as to where one should be employed. It resolves itself to a matter of conscience.
The Israelites were told: “You must not eat any body already dead. To the alien resident who is inside your gates you may give it, and he must eat it; or there may be a selling of it to a foreigner, because you are a holy people to Jehovah your God.” (Deut. 14:21) So whether a Christian who works in a store will dispose of blood goods, such as blood sausage, by selling such goods to persons of the world who are willing to pay for them is a matter of conscience. It is also a personal matter as to whether another Christian will sell blood items to worldly persons in a drugstore or will spread blood fertilizer on the field of a worldly employer at his request. Naturally, a Christian could not properly encourage persons to obtain blood goods rather than those free from blood and he could not advocate any misuse of blood. However, we must leave it up to the conscience of the individual Christian as to what he will do when it comes to matters of this nature in handling such products. One Christian should not criticize another Christian for the decision he makes, just as one Israelite could not reasonably criticize another Israelite for selling to a foreigner an animal that died of itself and hence had not been properly drained of its blood.
The use of blood in adhesives for manufacturing plywood and other commonly used materials has now come to the attention of Christians, and we use plywood as an example. Much plywood is made using blood glue, but some plywood is blood-free. A Christian purchaser or contractor may seek to obtain blood-free plywood if he can do so; however, if he decides to use all types of plywood, it must be left to his conscience. It is not always possible to determine just how the plywood has been made. Because blood may be used in some plywood, this does not mean that a Christian could not buy, sell or rent a home or purchase a trailer in which plywood is found. The extent to which he would check on such matters is for him to decide.
Also, if a Christian is working for a company that uses blood glue in some of its plywood or other products, he would not necessarily have to quit his job. He may work in the woods, cutting down the trees. Part of the lumber is used one way and part another. The employee is not responsible for what happens to the wood after he has done his job. Of course, if a Christian worked in a plywood plant and it was required that he prepare the blood glue or apply it to the plywood, he might feel he could not conscientiously do this. He might request that his employer give him some other kind of work not handling blood. But even this is a personal matter. By doing other work for the same company, such as working as a truck driver, salesman, and so forth, the individual may feel he is free from responsibility for any misuse of blood. Since blood is used in the manufacture of so many common products, it becomes almost impossible for the Christian to avoid all contact with them—leather goods, furniture, bottle tops, cotton cloth, and so forth. So just what the Christian will do is a matter of conscience, and others should not criticize him. Certainly it would not be fitting to disrupt the unity of a Christian congregation in a certain locality by becoming involved in detailed discussions and contentions over the personal decision in this respect on the part of some Christian associated with that congregation.—Ps. 133:1; Prov. 26:21; Jas. 3:16-18.
The Society does not endorse any of the modern medical uses of blood, such as the uses of blood in connection with inoculations. Inoculation is, however, a virtually unavoidable circumstance in some segments of society, and so we leave it up to the conscience of the individual to determine whether to submit to inoculation with a serum containing blood fractions for the purpose of building up antibodies to fight against disease. If a person did this, he may derive comfort under the circumstances from the fact that he is not directly eating blood, which is expressly forbidden in God’s Word. It is not used for food or to replace lost blood. Here the Christian must make his own decision based on conscience. Therefore, whether a Christian will submit to inoculation with a serum, or whether doctors or nurses who are Christians will administer such, is for personal decision. Christians in the medical profession are individually responsible for employment decisions. They must bear the consequences of decisions made, in keeping with the principle at Galatians 6:5. Some doctors who are Jehovah’s witnesses have administered blood transfusions to persons of the world upon request. However, they do not do so in the case of one of Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses. In harmony with Deuteronomy 14:21, the administering of blood upon request to worldly persons is left to the Christian doctor’s own conscience. This is similar to the situation facing a Christian butcher or grocer who must decide whether he can conscientiously sell blood sausage to a worldly person.