I recommend that you try to keep the focus of the discussion on the changeability of Watchtower “truth” rather than on the substance of the teachings themselves. However, Witnesses may insist on making scriptural arguments in support of the current Watchtower ban on blood transfusions, so you need to be prepared to respond. (pp. 275-278)

In order to challenge the Watchtower’s teachings about blood transfusions on scriptural grounds, first ask one of the Witnesses to read aloud and explain how Jesus’ own statement at Mark 7:15 applies to the issue: “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'”

They will not have a good answer to that question. What you are likely to get instead are standard Watchtower arguments justifying its blood transfusion ban. Here is what Witnesses will tell you and how I recommend you respond.

Eating blood forbidden (pp. 275-277)

The Watchtower cites four proof texts in support of its blood transfusion ban:

  • Genesis 9:3-4: “…you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”
  • Leviticus 7:26-27: “… you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal. If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people.”
  • Leviticus 17:10-12: “Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”
  • Acts 15:28-29: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

Tell the Witnesses you understand that the Old Testament prohibited the eating of animal blood, and that the New Testament advised believers to continue that prohibition in order not to offend Jews. Then tell them you are confused as to why they think that that prohibition applies to the use of human blood for medical purposes.

The Watchtower’s argument is that if a doctor told you that you must abstain from alcohol, you would be disobeying him if you had it put directly into your veins. If they say this ask, “Isn’t there a big difference between drinking blood for nourishment and taking donated blood to replace blood you have lost? Whether you take alcohol or a medication orally or intravenously, it serves exactly the same purpose. But while blood taken by mouth is broken down and used for nourishment just like any other food, blood taken intravenously acts completely differently. It is not food but rather a transport medium, moving oxygen, nutrients, and chemicals and cells to fight infection and heal wounds. That’s just fulfilling blood’s designed purpose, isn’t it?”

You can follow this up by asking, “How could the Bible have been referring to this lifesaving medical procedure of blood transfusion, given that it didn’t even become possible until thousands of years after the Bible was written?”

Sanctity of life (p. 277)

The Watchtower says, “Out of respect for the sanctity of life, godly people do not accept blood transfusions, even if others insist that such a procedure would be lifesaving.”

In reply, “How is the sanctity of life respected by letting a person die for lack of a transfusion? Is the symbol of life more important than life itself?”

Disrespect for the ransom (pp. 277-278)

The Watchtower has said, “… only sacrificial use of blood has ever been approved by God… disregard for the requirement that Christians ‘abstain from blood’ would be an evidence of gross disrespect for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

In response, ask Witnesses to show you in the Scriptures where it says that saving a life by means of a blood transfusion is grossly disrespectful of Christ’s sacrifice. It isn’t there.

In fact, it was Jesus himself who was distraught by the Pharisees’ legalistic view of Bible commandments. In Mark 3:4, he rhetorically asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

Ask, “Given Jesus’ question to the Pharisees concerning breaking the Sabbath, what would his attitude be toward religious authorities who require people to die to uphold the sanctity of life rather than allowing them to have a life-saving blood transfusion?”

Study Questions

        1.  If God explicitly said in the Bible that Christians should not take blood transfusions or allow our children to have one—even     if death results—would you obey him? (p. 265)

  1. Please read the following Watchtower anti-blood transfusion proof texts. How would you address them in talking with a Jehovah’s Witness? (pp. 275-276)
  • Genesis 9:3-4
  • Leviticus 7:26-27
  • Leviticus 17:10-12
  • Acts 15:28-29
  1. How might this statement of Jesus be helpful? Mark 7:15: “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’.” (p. 275)
  2. If you argue that taking a blood transfusion isn’t the same as eating blood, Jehovah’s Witnesses will ask that if a doctor told you to abstain from drinking alcohol, would you be obeying him if you took alcohol directly into your veins. How would you reply to that question? (pp. 276-277)
  1. How would you respond to these Watchtower arguments against taking blood transfusions?
  • “Out of respect for the sanctity of life, godly people do not accept blood transfusions, even if others insist that such a procedure would be lifesaving”? (p. 277)
  • Only sacrificial use of blood is authorized by Jehovah, so taking a blood transfusion shows gross disrespect for the blood sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. (pp. 277-278)