Does the Bible really allow for a person to give blood or receive blood transfusions? It seems that the Bible is meticulous about putting a high value upon human blood. For example, we’re not to eat blood.
We must always be careful to place a certain value on something, when something else just as valuable or more valuable is at stake. That’s the case with the subject you raise. What is even more important than “plasma” is life itself. During His earthly ministry, our Lord came upon the man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1–6). The Pharisees reminded the Savior that it was the Sabbath. They argued that He shouldn’t heal the man, since the Old Testament prohibited any kind of work on the Sabbath. In their narrow view of things, they’d rather a person died than break their self-imposed rules. Jesus not only answered them but also healed the man. Verse 6 indicates they not only cared little about the impaired man but also became intent upon killing Jesus. They professed to care about the Sabbath (something God was in charge of and that belonged to Him anyway), but they didn’t place value on life itself, which God also created.
Here, I believe, is where various cults and others err when they forbid blood giving and transfusions. They place more value on their opinion than upon life. If they would consider the example of Christ in Mark 3, they’d understand that it is right to save life. Instead, they allow people, especially innocent children, to die needlessly through their opposition to a medical practice that could save them. It is difficult to understand how a parent would willingly allow a child to die simply because of what some cult says, even though we concur that, under God, a child belongs to the parents, not to the state.
It is interesting that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group that has adamantly opposed transfusions, apparently did not hold to this view from the beginning. Its founders were silent on the subject. Then in the 1940s an article appeared in their Watchtower publication titled “The Sanctity of Blood,” maintaining that blood transfusions are evil. As time went on, the cult became known for its position through news items in the media reporting on members who resisted blood transfusions, especially parents refusing them for their children. What is sad is that people blindly believe what someone tells them to believe instead of searching the Scriptures.
Concerning your mention of the eating of blood—it, of course, has to do with certain restrictions given to Noah and given in the Mosaic law. Genesis 9:4 reads, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (NKJV). Other passages to refer to are Leviticus 3:17; 7:27; 17:10–14; and Acts 15:19–21.
We need to keep two facts in mind here: First, these passages are dealing with eating blood, not giving or receiving human blood. They are dealing with the killing of animals for blood or sacrificial offerings, and humans are not to eat this blood. Second, the modern-day practice of blood transfusions did not exist in Bible times. Therefore, the procedure itself is obviously not addressed in Scripture.
The argument of the cults that transfusing blood through the veins is the same as consuming blood through the mouth does not support their belief. Eating blood in the sense of the Old Testament law not only violated ceremonial law regarding sacrifice, but it also threatened the physical health of the person who partook of it. A blood transfusion, as a practice per se, does not violate these considerations.
Having said this, we, of course, know that because of certain diseases, the practices of giving blood or receiving blood transfusions are not always as safe as they were decades ago. But that does not make the practices wrong in and of themselves.
Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.