The Russellites have a peculiar view in regard to transfusion of human blood. It behooves those of us who do represent our Lord to set the record straight.
Following the death of Judge Rutherford in January 1942, a new doctrine began to develop under the succeeding regime headed by Nathan Homer Knorr. The Judge, like the “Pastor” (who died October 31, 1916), gradually faded into Russellite shadows, and a new teaching foreign even to the Judge’s prolific pen crept into the Theocratic fold. By some method of reasoning, not connected with the processes of logical thought, the Watch Tower suddenly “discovered” that blood transfusions were Biblically forbidden!! Unhampered by the fact the Bible NEVER mentions the subject, the Watch Tower announced that it was a violation of Jehovah’s covenant to transfuse human blood, even if the life of the patient was at stake!! This “new” revelation caused no end of confusion from informed medical men who knew that human life was in jeopardy and that they were sworn to preserve it. Of course, we would agree with Homer on the issue involved IF it were based on Scriptural grounds, but in no sense can their argument be supported from the Bible. The “new” doctrine seems to be based on an odd interpretation of the Levitical priesthood ruling on the office of sacrificial blood.
In Awake magazine, May 22, 1951, page 3, Homer quoted Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 3:17, 7:27, and 17, 10,11,14, and maintained that these texts support their refusal to recognize human blood transfusions. Genesis 9:14 (as quoted from Awake) reads: “Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat”. Now, it is only fair to say that this verse does not have the remotest thing to do with human blood, much less transfusions. In the previous verse, Jehovah clearly tells Noah that He is speaking in reference to animals and their flesh and blood. God told Noah that animal flesh was for food with but one provision-that he eat not of the blood. “Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, SHALL YE NOT EAT”.
Homer and the boys cite many more passages against the eating of blood from the Old Testament. In the New Testament they continue in the same vein. Awake listed Acts 15:19, 20,28,29, and 21:15 to support their theory. It is difficult to discuss this subject with someone who does not know the difference between eating and transfusing blood. Homer insists that the transfusion of human blood through the veins is as much feeding the body as eating through the mouth. This might seem clever, but in view of the Scripture’s true teaching IT CANNOT STAND SCRUTINY.
In the Old Testament (which we do not live under anymore, by the way) eating the blood of animals was forbidden as unclean, and likewise the blood of man. Blood transfusion is in the technical medical sense of “feeding” of the body when disease or anemia lower the blood count and “starve” the vital organs. Transfusion does not involve the sacrifice of life, the impairment of another’s health, or the violation of a code of sacrificial laws as found in the Old Testament. IF IT DID, like physical circumcism, instrumental music in the worship, worshipping in Jerusalem, or keeping the Sabbath day, we do not live under that Law!! (I am sure Homer knows this but has just forgotten about it!!) When one gives a transfusion, IT IS NOT A SACRIFICE OF LIFE, and the eating of forbidden blood, but a transference of life from one person to another, a gift of strength offered in the spirit of mercy and love!!