An implied assumption of the Watchtower’s ban on blood transfusions is that Law takes precedence over Love.
Let’s take the example of a mother whose eight year-old daughter has been hit by a car and is suffering internal bleeding. The massive loss of blood needs to be immediately replaced by a whole-blood transfusion. The love of the mother for her daughter will not hesitate in demanding that everything be done that can be done to save her life.
But wait! This mother is a Jehovah’s Witness. Watchtower law demands that the whole-blood transfusion be rejected, even if her daughter will almost certainly bleed to death in consequence.
What to do? In emergency situations there is no time to stop and ponder one’s philosophy of life. This is why it is critical to understand — right here and now –whether Law trumps Love or Love trumps Law. The Watchtower claims the former: the rest of the planet opts for the latter.
Since the Watchtower claims that all of its doctrines are based on the Bible, let’s turn there first to see if we can find an answer.
…they said to him: “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of committing adultery. In the Law Moses prescribed for us to stone such sort of women. What, really, do you say?” …he straightened up and said to them: “Let the one of YOU that is sinless be the first to throw a stone at her.”
—John 8:4-7 (NWT, 1984 ed.)
Unfortunately, the Watchtower removed this passage (as being spurious) from their 2013 revision of the NWT. Yet, we will show that this attitude of love and forgiveness over law still exists in the 2013 version. Consider the following verse:
But this is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. During the time his mother Mary was promised in marriage to Joseph, she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit before they were united. However, because her husband Joseph was righteous and did not want to make her a public spectacle, he intended to divorce her secretly. But after he had thought these things over, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a dream, saying: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take your wife Mary home, for what has been conceived in her is by holy spirit.
— Matthew 1:18-20 (NWT, 2013 ed.)
What’s interesting about the above passage is that it ascribes righteousness to Joseph for keeping Mary’s pregnancy secret prior to his knowing of its supernatural origin.
Why was this “righteous”? Well, what was expected of Joseph in this circumstance according to the Law? The Law clearly stated that men in Joseph’s position were to make the matter public, and if the betrothed was found to have lost her virginity she was to be stoned to death! “So you must remove what is bad from your midst.” (Deut. 22:13-21)
So, Joseph ignored the Law out of his love for Mary. The writer of Matthew calls this act “righteous,” and so do I. Joseph put love above law — biblical Law — and the Bible commends him for it!
If you were to ask a member of the Governing Body the question: “what are the commandments I must follow to gain eternal life?” You would likely find “abstain from blood” among the multitude of rules he’d recite.
But when Jesus was asked a similar question he only listed two commandments:
One of the scribes who had come up and heard them disputing, knowing that he had answered them in a fine way, asked him: “Which commandment is first of all?”
Jesus answered: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’ The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him: “Teacher, you spoke well, in line with truth, ‘He is One, and there is no other besides him’; and to love him with one’s whole heart, with one’s whole understanding, and with one’s whole strength and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
At this Jesus, discerning that he had answered intelligently, said to him: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
Paul put it even more succinctly:
For the entire Law has been fulfilled in one commandment, namely: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Galatians 5:14
Do not owe anything to anyone except to love one another; for whoever loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. For the law code, “You must not commit adultery, you must not murder, you must not steal, you must not covet,” and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this saying: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore, love is the law’s fulfillment.
There you have it straight from the Bible. In contradistinction to the Watchtower’s rule book, the Bible has only one commandment that Christians must follow: the royal law of love.
Jesus disputed with the Scribes and Pharisees of his day over the issue of Love over Law. Were he alive today no doubt he’d continue this dispute with the modern-day equivalent of the Scribes and Pharisees: the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“Go, then, and learn what this means: ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.”
Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor or family member. It does not withhold a life-saving medical procedure from them and then sit by self-righteously and watch them die. No; love nurtures and protects and goes out of its way to put the loved one ahead of one’s own selfish interests. Such love is “worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices,” including sacrificing one’s children to the Watchtower’s erroneous blood ban.
Next: Sense over Nonsense.