Visit From Elders

by laurelin 66 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Carmel

    Joy, One of my brothers died because the elders pressured my parents to bring him to an assembly in direct contradiction to the doctors advice. The dam fools had no reason to contradict the doctors nor is there any reason to pressure pitiful rank an file members to do something as foolish this. If you can't see how the abuse of power is rampant in the JWs not unlike other sects, ... oh never mind.

    sorry, I'm not usually so

  • AlanF

    Ok Sassy, I'll give you an outline of the proof. Later I'll give you a link to a full article.

    As a side point, in In Search of Christian Freedom Ray Franz makes some excellent points about the Society's misuse of various scriptures to enforce its blood ban.

    The Society bases its ban on transfusions essentially on three groups of scriptures, Acts 21, Leviticus 17 and Genesis 9:4. They claim that Acts 21:25 means that all Christians must not eat blood under any circumstances. Then they make the scripturally unsupported claim that a transfusion is the same as eating blood, concluding then that the Bible prohibits transfusions for Christians. They claim that Leviticus 17:10-14 and related OT passages give Christians a principle which reinforces the "blood ban" in Acts 21:25, namely, that the Jews were prohibited, on pain of death, from eating blood -- even the blood of animals that died of themselves or were killed by predators (the point being that such carcasses had not been properly bled). They finally claim that these prohibitions are based on Genesis 9:4, which states (NASB):

    "Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood."

    They claim that this statement amounts to a law for all humans to avoid eating blood, and that it's the basis for the explicit prohibition to eat blood by Jews and Christians. You'll see that this claim is specious.

    As usual, the Society misinterprets many things in this sequence of claims and ignores crucial points and scriptures.

    First, it's clear in context that Acts 21 is talking about what things gentile Christians ought to avoid so as to not offend their Jewish Christian fellows. This centered around the question of circumcision. The Jews had many cultural biases due to the Mosaic Law, some of which were so ingrained that they thought that even gentiles ought to observe them. Circumcision was again the prime example. The account describes how a group of elders in Jerusalem decided on a compromise -- the gentile Christians should observe some of the Jewish cultural bans: on eating blood, eating meat sacrificed to idols, eating things strangled, and fornication as defined by the Jews (fornication as defined by non-Jews could be rather different).Galatians 2:14 states: "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"" What is not clear from the account is whether this was meant to be just a temporary measure designed to avoid offending Jews until they got over their cultural biases, or was a permanent thing intended to be observed for all time by all Christians. This uncertainty is proved by 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, which specifically states that there is nothing inherenly wrong with a Christian eating meat sacrificed to idols, but that it's wrong only if it offends someone with a weak conscience who would view eating such meat as an act of worship. In view of this uncertainty, one cannot dogmatically claim that Acts 21 provides a basis for an absolute ban on eating blood. In reality the Society's only justification for its absolutism here is the claim to spiritual authority of those who claim to comprise "the faithful and discreet slave."

    Second, it's obvious that eating blood is completely different from being transfused. The Society's standard argument that transfusing is just bypassing the usual digestive process is easily defeated. When blood is eaten, it's broken down into its component amino acids and other chemicals. But when it's transfused, it just continues to act like blood. So a transfusion is really an organ transplant, and the blood is no more eaten than a kidney is eaten when it's transplanted. If a doctor told you to avoid eating meat because it was bad for your own health, and later he told you that you needed a kidney transplant, he'd think you were nuts if you complained that he was being inconsistent.

    Third, and most important for my line of argument here, is the fact that the Bible specifically told the Jews that, while they themselves couldn't eat the blood of an animal that died of itself, they could give such a carcasse to gentiles. Therefore, if the God that the JWs believe wrote the Bible is self-consistent and doesn't give explicit permission for a group of people to violate his sacred laws, the statement in Genesis 9:4 cannot be a law against eating blood by all people for all time.

    God gives permission for gentiles to eat blood the blood of dead carcasses in Deuteronomy 14:21:

    "You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the LORD your God."

    This, along with the context of Levitcus 10, shows what the intent of the Mosaic Law was regarding blood: it was to be used by the Jews only in the ceremony of atonement and in blood sacrifices. This was consistent with other capital offenses with respect to eating certain foods, such as fat. While the Law prohibited eating fat, on pain of death, it certainly doesn't apply to Christians.

    This, by the way, is yet another area in which JW leaders pick and choose the biblical passages they want to observe. They rightly teach that the Mosaic Law doesn't apply to Christians, but turn right around and use it (claiming that Christians must obey what they call "principles of the Law") as a law for Jehovah's Witnesses!

    Since Genesis 9:4 doesn't constitute a ban on eating blood per se, what does it mean? A careful consideration of everything the Bible says about blood leads to a simple conclusion: it means that when a person kills an animal for food he must give a token of respect to the Creator of life by pouring out the blood and not eating it. This is the only conclusion consistent with Deuteronomy 14:21 and with the obvious fact that nowhere does God give any laws in the Bible that require people to pour out the blood of animals when they kill them for purposes other than eating them (excepting of course the specific ceremonial requirements for Jews). So Genesis 9:4 is not essentially about blood, but about showing respect for life and its creator.

    This theme of showing respect for life is shown by a number of Bible passages, where people broke a specific prohibition in order to save life, and retained God's approval.

    As for whether it can be argued that it's good for Christians to give blood when it can save a life, Jesus stated in John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." It seems to me that if a person can properly sacrifice himself for another (which could be claimed to be suicide, which the Bible seems to prohibit), then sacrificing a bit of blood to save a life would be a fine thing -- especially since it's now clear that there are no biblical prohibitions against transfusions. And even if Acts 21 really does prohibit blood transfusions, Jesus argued strongly that it's ok to break certain laws in order to save life -- even the life of an animal (cf. Matthew 12:12). The point here is precisely what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for not understanding: "I desire compassion rather than sacrifice."


  • toreador

    Alan, that was a great article.

    Do you think what Gen 9:4 says about if we kill an animal for food we must drain its blood on the ground and not use it, still applies today?

  • Max Divergent
    Max Divergent

    Hi - I've had similar elder experiences, really it was only the existance of a few guys like that (1:50? 1:100? 1:1000?) that enabled me to stay for as long as I did (bastards :-). They are usually a minority on a circut and generally get picked on by the other less liberal elders.

    IMO, their righteous stubborness or kindness to the long suffering flock (or whatever) that allows them to put up with the rest of the elders also stops them from leaving the WTS.

    Incidently, most of those guys have been English, well educated, and born before about 1945.


  • AlanF

    For Sassy:

    Link to a full article on why the Bible doesn't ban blood transfusions:

    Toreador said:

    : Do you think what Gen 9:4 says about if we kill an animal for food we must drain its blood on the ground and not use it, still applies today?

    I think I was rather unclear about this. Gen. 9:4 doesn't say to drain the blood of animals killed for food onto the ground. That was what the Jews were ceremonially required to do by the Mosaic Law. I think that many of us have been so steeped in JW-think that we automatically speak in JW terms and retain some JW interpretations. Also, Gen. 9:4 doesn't even say not to eat blood. It says not to eat flesh and blood together. In view of Deut. 14:21 then, one can conclude at most that Gen. 9:4 was not a prohibition on eating blood, but only on eating flesh and blood together. When Genesis was written, the normal way to kill a food animal was to cut its throat, which automatically poured out the blood on the ground.

    Whether the language was meant to actually include a ban on eating blood itself is a matter for speculation. I don't have much argument with anyone who claims that Gen. 9:4 does or doesn't apply to people living today. Personally I don't accept the Bible as the Word of God, so for me the point is moot.


  • toreador
    Personally I don't accept the Bible as the Word of God, so for me the point is moot.


    I am kind of in the middle on that one Alan. Some of the strange things written esp in the old testament leaves me feeling kind of sick. When I read of the ways in which God ordered the non-israelites treated such as killing women and unborn children and even everything that breathed in some cases, it leaves me wondering what kind of God they worshipped and even whether he was simply made up just like apparently the neighboring nations Gods were made up. I wish I had something concrete to put my hat on one way or the other. I hate feeling this way. Thanks for elaborating for me and your input.


  • Rabbit

    I have to jump in here with my 2 cents worth:

    I was a loyal dub for 35 years. My then JW wife and I believed -- totally, what we were taught by the Org. about blood.

    This is not always a black & white issue. Are blood transfusions safe or dangerous...? YES !

    One of my children when born had a condition that the Doctors felt they needed to take frequent blood samples to check oxygen levels. After a while, they said, very soon our child would become anemic, BECAUSE of the loss of blood FROM the testing! They said, a blood transfusion would be required... No, we said, we're JW's, They threatened Court Orders. We had a fight on our hands.

    Meanwhile, another child with the exact condition was made anemic by the same testing, received a blood transfusion. And died 2 days later from renal shut-down...a rather common side-effect from too many dead blood cells overloading the kidneys.

    We demanded another way to test O2 levels to keep this from happening, we were ready to go to court or find a 'Witness friendly' Doctor to help us, when a foreign intern Doctor let us know about a NEW O2 test, he learned about in Med school. The crises was avoided.

    In retrospect, in our particular situation, because of our beliefs...I still think we saved our child's life.

    Years later -- my JW Mom has come down with Cancer (it was missed) a few days before she dies...from lack of O2...her own blood supply was not enough. Doctors say her heart, lungs, etc are strong, she's just not getting enough O2 and needs a blood transfusion... She had not been clear about all the 'blood fractions' which JW's are allowed by the Org.

    My siblings had a JW Hospital Liason Elder come to the hosp. to 'help'. They decided my Mom would want the 'strictest' interpretation...nothing. I went into a rage... THEY were making a decision behind my father's back and it wasn't right, I was going to tell our Dad about it. They convinced me to keep my mouth shut, because our Dad would 'not understand'.

    THAT is what was presented to our non-JW father, he, wanting to honor her wishes...went along with their advice. He knows NOTHING of the SECRET meeting of my bros./sisters, the elder and Dad could have allowed much more treatment, which may have saved my Mom's life.

    I believe her life would have been saved by a transfusion...

    To my undying shame...I let my siblings have their JW way...

    Now...I feel Guilty...this will follow me til I die.

    Recently, when I had my back surgery...I told my doctor, if blood was absolutely it.

    Later, one of my sisters asked (knowing I've been inactive a few years) "But, how was the Doctor about the Blood issue?" "Fine, says I, no problem at all."

    None was needed for me, My Mom is dead tho'...and with a JW conscience -- my siblings have 'guiltless' conscience about it.

    I know I'm guilty... What a great religion this is, eh?

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