“For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made”
Romans 1:20 (NWT, 2013 ed.)
In the scripture quoted above, the Bible informs us that the creator’s qualities are clearly seen from the “things made” (i.e. from the reality of the natural world around us.) In fact, this is a favorite quote for Jehovah’s Witnesses to cite when they encounter an atheist.
We’ll take this verse as our text, and see if the “things made” support the qualities that the Watchtower attributes to its god Jehovah.
We’ll start with the leech: a little critter that lives by sucking blood out of other animals. The leech, formerly used to remove “bad blood” when bloodletting was seen as a virtual panacea, is sill used in the medical field, on occasion, in microsurgery.
As you might suspect, the Watchtower has a law regarding this:
“…it would not be proper for a Christian to permit leeches to draw his blood.”
—Watchtower 1982 June 15 p.31
Why would it not be proper? The Watchtower’s reasoning is that their god Jehovah holds blood as sacred:
God stated… that the life, or soul, of all creatures is represented by the blood. That decree also establishes that Jehovah, the Source of life, will hold to account all humans who disrespect life and blood.
—God’s Love (WBTS, 2014) p. 75
Along these same lines, the Watchtower has declared that it would be wrong for us to allow our pets to eat blood:
Question: Would it be a violation of the Scriptures for a Christian to permit a veterinarian to give blood transfusions to a pet?
Answer: By all means, to do so would be a violation of the Scriptures…
Question: What, then, of animal food? May it be used if there is reason to believe there is blood in it?
Answer: As far as a Christian is concerned, the answer is No, on the basis of principles already mentioned.
—Watchtower 1964 February 15 p. 127 – Questions From Readers
Okay, but what about my pet leech? The poor little guy is going to starve to death without his blood meal! And when I feed my pet lion do I have to shoo him away from his meal when he starts lapping up the blood (as the Bible says he most certainly will: Nu. 23:24)? And what shall I do about my pet snake: he devours mice whole, without properly bleeding them first!
If the god Jehovah is responsible for the “things made,” what is “clearly seen” is that Jehovah is not only perfectly okay with animals eating blood, but has in fact created some of them in such a way that they can survive by no other means than by eating blood! These critters are known as being obligatory hematophagous, which simply means that they have to eat blood in order to live; it’s the way they were made.
Some obligatory hematophagous critters you may be familiar with include bedbugs and female mosquitoes.
Now, if Jehovah doesn’t want you to allow a leech to drink your blood, what about a mosquito? Surely, “on the basis of principles already mentioned” it would ‘not be proper for a Christian to permit mosquitoes to drink his blood.’ Therefore, in order not to be hypocritical regarding the sacredness of blood, I henceforth expect to see all Jehovah’s Witnesses clad in mosquito-netting at all times and places whenever there is the slightest chance that one of these blood-drinking mosquitoes might be in the neighborhood.
Also, since we are to have all of the animals “in subjection” according to Ge. 1:26, I guess it’s up to us to ensure that they show the proper respect for blood. We will need to shoo away all lions (not just pet lions) from their blood meals. We’ll have to detach the leeches, and chase away the lampreys,vampire bats, etc. And farmer Joe Witness had better go and drape some mosquito-netting over the cows grazing in his field. Sure, it’s a lot of work. But then, whoever said that the yoke for Christians was light and easy? (Mt. 11:30)
When an interpretation of a creator-god’s character is at such variance with his creation that we find ourselves fighting against nature to uphold that character, something is terribly wrong with that interpretation. Something that overlooks the obvious.
The biblical rules about blood were never about us. They were about them: the animals killed for our food. Pouring out the blood of a slaughtered animal was a ritualistic way of symbolically acknowledging that the animal’s life did not belong to us. That is what is meant when the Bible says “the life is [represented] in the blood.”
It is a ritual that has long since passed away. But it’s obvious that it never meant that the creator of the leech, mosquito, and bedbug was upset by any creature taking the blood of another in order to survive. If we believe there was a purposeful creator, then it’s obvious that he created many species to live by exactly this procedure. Evidently this creator even saw fit to equip such creatures with the ability to apply anti-coagulant and/or anesthetic to their victims prior to extracting their blood, to ensure they could drink their fill before being detected! So, we should have no qualms about receiving blood from another individual in order to sustain our lives.
To argue that “the Bible says blood transfusions are wrong” is to argue against what the Bible says in our text: that we can derive the creator’s qualities from the creation.
The advice James came up with about “abstaining from blood” (Acts 15:13-21) must therefore have been a temporary constraint imposed upon Christians in a certain time and within a certain set of circumstances peculiar to them. This is, in fact, how all other Christian denominations interpret the “abstain from blood” advice: they take the context into account.
Then they briefly summed up, not as Law, but as “necessary things,” the following:–
(1) Abstain from sacrifices to idols;
(2) And from blood;
(3) And from things strangled;
(4) And from harlotry.
..The things here recommended were necessary to a preservation of the fellowship of the “Body” composed of Jews and Gentiles of their different education and sentiments… the advice was that these be abstained from, because Jews certainly would consider the eating of such meats as participations in the heathen idolatry…
Nevertheless, it was advisable that the Gentile Christians abstain from the use of their liberty in this direction, out of deference to the weaker brethren, Jews and Gentiles, who could not so deeply philosophize and whose consciences might be injured.
A similar thought attaches to the prohibition of the use of blood. To the Jew it was forbidden, and under his covenant it was made a symbol of life–to partake of it would imply responsibility for the life taken… These prohibitions had never come to the Gentiles, because they had never been under the Law Covenant; but so deeply rooted were the Jewish ideas on this subject that it was necessary to the peace of the Church that the Gentiles should observe this matter also.
…If they did not wish to be contentious and cause divisions in the Church, the Gentile brethren would surely be willing to restrain or sacrifice their liberty respecting these matters.
The Watch Tower 1909 April 15, p. 117
Since there are no Jews today whose “consciences might be injured” by our accepting blood transfusions, the advice of James regarding blood is not applicable.
Straining the Gnat and Swallowing the Camel
In their false assumption that “abstain from blood” was a law for all Christians to observe for all time, the Watchtower has fallen into the same trap as that in which first century Pharisees found themselves. According to the Bible, Jesus accused the Pharisees of “straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.” (Mt. 23:24) In other words, they were expending their energy on making ever more ridiculous rules regarding ever smaller minutia of what they considered their god’s law to be. While, at the same time, by these very rules, they were violating the one and only law that mattered: the law of love.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In the Watchtower’s case, since it does not advocate vegetarianism (or even kosher products), it has rightly been said that they have strained the fraction and swallowed the steak. (Since meat always contains a small amount of blood.)
“Listen, Obey, and be Dead”
The loving bond between parent and child is one of the strongest forces in the universe. For a parent to willingly let their child die for want of a blood-transfusion indicates that their minds have been seriously messed with. When the Watchtower creates rules such as these, and parents follow them – in spite of it going against nature (including their own nature) – it clearly shows that they are the victims of a mind-controlling cult; nothing else could so subvert the love between parent and child.
Listen in at a recent Watchtower convention as Governing Body member Anthony Morris III praises a child who lost his life in obedience to the Watchtower’s erroneous blood policy. Then listen in utter amazement as the audience actually applauds this tragedy!
Unquestioning obedience is the lifeblood of the Watchtower cult. But a little leech – representing the facts of nature – drains the credibility of that organization dry. It leaves the ‘Tower in ruins, and allows us all to escape; never again to “sacrifice our liberty” to the whims of men.