Thursday, November 29, 2007

Faith and Consequences (Jehovah's Witness Doctrine and Practice concerning Blood Transfusions)

Faith, whether true or false, has consequences. This is seen clearly in the death of a Jehovah's Witness teen who died after refusing a blood transfusion.

The belief and practice of Jehovah's Witnesses in refusing blood transfusions based on passages such as Acts 15:19-21 (where James refers to Gentiles abstaining "from blood"), (along with others such as Gen 9:4, etc.) fail to recognize (1) this passage's ultimate focus deals with the question and primacy of relationship between the Jews and Gentiles and the request of Gentiles to give up some liberties for the sake of the common fellowship; (2) this passage deals with the pagan practice of eating blood (or using blood as a food) not transfusing blood [i.e., to abstain from all blood would require giving up one's own blood]; and most importantly (3) the abstaining from eating blood was based on the principle of "LIFE" and of setting a HIGH VALUE on life since "life was in the blood" ... principles that current Jehovah's Witness teachings and practices do not reflect.

While the death of this young teen is to be mourned, perhaps other similar deaths can be avoided through better exegesis of the Scriptures. It's not always enough just to be sincere, for one can be sincerely wrong. (Even youths need to note this.) Truth has consequences, and sometimes those consequences can mean the difference between life and death.

I'm reminded of a coach recently who when blood was being kept from his Jehovah's Witness mother-in-law and the argument was made that Jehovah's Witness doctrine allowed for blood "substitutes" responded by saying: "I'm a coach, and on the basketball court I have both my starting five players along with my substitutes. I personally have a lot more confidence in my starters than I do in the substitutes. Give her the blood she needs." Fortunately, in her case, though blood was not given, she barely recovered, though she did. All may not come through as she did, and with options available, one's beliefs can make the difference.





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