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How to Die at the Order of the Watchtower Society

My previous posts have sketched a picture of a strange religion with some odd doctrines.  The oddest and most controversial is The Blood Issue.  I don’t have the space here to go into great detail about this doctrine, so I’ll boil it down for you. (Read more here.)

JWs will not accept a blood transfusion, even if their life depends upon it.  Even if their child’s life depends upon it, which is where things can get tricky with the court system.  But, I digress.

The reason for this extraordinary stand can be found in the Old Testament as far back as Genesis 9:4 where God tells Noah (after the flood) that he and his descendants can now eat meat, but not blood.  Okay, so you slaughter an animal and drain the blood from it before you eat it.  Makes sense.  We do that today.

In the Law given to Moses, this prohibition is mentioned again in Leviticus 17:14 where it says basically the same thing that Noah was told.  Okay, we got it the first time.  Drain a slaughtered animal.

Christianity replaced Judaism as the approved form of worship, and the old law given to Moses was abolished, so Christians are not under obligation to observe its tenets.  You would think that the prohibition on blood would be part of the abolished law, but according to the JW interpretation Paul restated that law as applicable for Christians.  Acts 15:28, 29 where Paul said to “keep abstaining from …blood.”

Okay, got it.  Drain your slaughtered animals – same ol’ same ol’.

Not so fast.  Of course, blood transfusions didn’t exist as a common medical treatment until the 20th century, something the writers of the Bible could not have foreseen.  Prior to 1945, JWs accepted blood transfusions.

Somewhere along the line, however, bigwigs at the World HQ decided that taking a blood transfusion constituted “eating blood.”  (The Governing Body did not exist at that time, so the decision would have been made by the President of the Society, Nathan Knorr, and his cronies.) From then on, it was forbidden for JWs to accept blood transfusions.  Period.  They can’t even bank their own blood to be used later as an autologous transfusion.  Once the blood leaves the body it is to be poured into the dust (this was the ancient custom) or disposed of.

But, wait.  Didn’t Noah, the ancient Israelites, and the first-century Christians understand this command to mean not to eat blood, like, dine upon it, put it into your mouth and swallow?  Blood transfusions are administered intravenously, not orally.  I can’t remember any occasion where I ate a cheeseburger through an IV line.  How do you justify such a jump in logic?

The reasoning behind this odd interpretation of Paul’s words is summed up in this illustration, which JWs have heard about 10 million times:  “If your doctor told you to abstain from drinking alcohol but you decided to get around his order by taking it intravenously, would you be obeying his order?”

Um, well, no, I guess not.  OMG! Such unassailable logic!  Taking a substance by mouth is no different than taking it intravenously.  You’re still taking it into your body.

Of course, any scientific mind, any logical mind, could shoot dozens of holes in the Society’s argument without even breaking a sweat.  However, JWs are not allowed to consider another viewpoint as it would be a treasonous act to do so.  They’re stuck with whatever the Society chooses to tell them.

A loyal JW who is dying for want of a blood transfusion or who is watching his beloved child going the same way is left with an agonizing decision.  Take the blood and live for short time before you are destroyed at Armageddon for your rebellion, or loyally refuse the blood and fall asleep in death for a short time before your resurrection as a faithful servant of God and then live forever in paradise on earth.

If you are a fully indoctrinated JW, you might shed a few tears, but your decision will be to refuse the transfusion.  Many JWs have died this way thinking they were pleasing God and assuring their resurrection by refusing blood.  Many families have lost a mother or father or beloved child because of this doctrine.  The Society even published an issue of their Awake magazine (May 22, 1994) which lionized children who had willingly faced death or given up their lives for this doctrine.

Cover of Awake 5/22/94

At first, the ban on blood was comprehensive, any blood product was forbidden.  In the 1990s, with the advance of medical science, so many blood fractions were in use for various ailments that the Society had to get out their hair-splitting equipment and get to work.  The first word we had on this radical change in policy was that it was a conscience matter, although I knew a couple who chose to treat an Rh-factor issue with a blood fraction in the ‘90s, and it caused some congregation members’ noses to be put out of joint.

Needless to say, it came as a bit of a shock to long-time JWs, including me, that there was now a gray area in The Blood Issue.  What if you’d been a JW in the early 90s and needed one of these blood fractions to save your life or your child’s life, but you refused because of the understanding at the time?   To see an about-face in policy just a few years later would be galling, but as usual the Society used some slick reasoning to smooth all the ruffled feathers.

So, now the use of certain blood fractions is hunky-dory with the Governing Body.  But they still want you to face death if you are presented with the need for a blood transfusion.

Ah, but there are other ways to die at the order of the Watchtower Society.  More on that next week.

Note:  The Ex-JW community lost a member to suicide last week because of the harsh JW practice of shunning.  RIP Eric Reeder.


13 responses »

  1. Douglas Porter

    The blood Issue………………….Lost a couple of friends. Its not just wrong, but Evil,feindish now. And you Know, I think they the GB and many other rank and file know it too, they dare not say anyhting either. I remember back in the 90’s every year we would renew our socalled blood cards and important thing we would do by bookstudy groups. We had to have witnesses sign and all this. Carry your blood card at all times. I tossed mine about 8yrs ago. What amazes me most about the society is that when they find out there wrong about a doctrine, instead of admitting their wrong and appologizing, they quietly backpeddle, don’t say anything more about it. LIKE THIS BLOOD ISSUE. What happened to all the importance about our blood cards. Haven’t renewed them in many yrs. No instructions, or dvd’s or anything. I don’t miss that many meetings!!!! I think they just need to come clean on this thing. I ain’t no bible scholar. but I know this: THE MARRIAGE is more important than the RING. think about it. Just sad until the next episode. DUCES

  2. Hi.great blog.As u know i had a blood transfusion years ago because of an accident that nearly killed me and i have never regretted it since.Mainly because my 3 daughters were born after this incident where as without the transfusion i would most likely be dead now hence my daughters would never have been born.Its not just the blood issue that chills me about this but the fact that a JW child has the decision taken from them.I was talking to a woman a few years ago who was a nurse during the 60’s and she told me a story about a sick JW child that was being treated at her hospital.I think she says this little girl was about 10 at the time.What stood out to me most about this story is that this young girl was begging her Dad to let her live.Poor thing must have been terrified,however because they were Witnesses the father refused to let his daughter have a transfusion.As with a lot of these cases the poor child died and apparently the father was a broken man.How many other kids must die needlessly in this way?how many family’s must be broken and how many generations of people will never be born because some poor soul has made this decision because of this groups interpretation of the Bible?Once again keep up the good work.If just one person who reads this can begin lifting this veil and start asking the right questions then you have done an amazing service.Who knows,one day this blog could save somebody’s life.Thanks again:))

    • Native – Thank you so much for your comment. You made me tear up. It is my dearest hope that I can help someone find their way out of the cult or prevent someone from joining in the first place.

  3. crazysaneperson

    One interesting aspect about the blood issue that I didn’t see addressed here is: the animals used were KILLED. When one gives or receives a blood transfusion, the person isn’t being KILLED to access the blood.

  4. Good job explaining and I learned a lot. How are “blood factions” administered if not by transfusion?

  5. Where in the Bible does Jehovah mention blood fractions as acceptable? Profits before principle I guess. Too many pesky lawsuits.

    • If you can take parts of blood then my question is Where did the parts come from? You are not suppose to ask that. You are history if you do. If I need a transfusion I am going to take one period.

  6. My question is,hw can God support something that brings a chain of disease? Many people have lost their lives on so called-carefully screened blood transfusions and many other blood related diseases have being passed from one family lineage to another which the children of the recipient suffers throughout their lives only becos their father accepted blood transfussion.To me i can say they are right,since the instruction “abstain from fornication” means you should avoid getting yourself involve from anything sexual immorality,”abstain from blood” should also means you should avoid getting yourself involve from anything blood.Come to think of it,if you drink anything,it must surely get into your veins through circulation,injecting the same substance in the vein,is for fast and easy wether you drink or inject,from my dictionary i see them as the same thing.instead of us to crucify them,let us see the sense there,anybody who will die,when death comes wether transfusion or no transfusion will eventually die

  7. Remember that many marriage tides today have being broken because they did not value the meaning of that ring.God created every man and give him his own blood with the respective traits,God also create in human body what will help to manufacture blood inside you in case of blood lost,i have been in contact with the JWs,they dont do things without proper scrutiny of God’s word,because they believe that every chriatian life must be governed by the “principles” in the Bible.Jws even love their lives than any organization to the point that if possible they can go to great length to attain good medical care provided it does not violet bible principles

  8. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  9. ok this is a sore subject for me i was almost 18 my daughter was born premmie many problems long short of it i was told by drs to sign a paper allowing a transfusion a..At this time i was still a baptized member bu t hadnt gone to meetings in 2 years . I was alone at the hospita..I called my mom ,who at the time also was still baptized but not practicing..She told me if I allowed the transfusion she would disown me..I gave permission anyway and it was administered..4 mo later my daughter did pass due pnemonia I was told by JWs that this was my punishment for allowing the transfusion…

  10. The leaers of this Cult are murderers.

  11. when I was in this wt nonsense I carried a blood card but in my heart if I needed a transfusion then I would have taken one. Life is better than death.


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