Many people are confused about the stance that Jehovah’s Witnesses take when it comes to blood transfusions and other forms of medical treatment. For clarification, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in “faith healing” and are allowed to visit doctors and take medications as needed. However, the one form of medical treatment they are not allowed is a whole blood transfusion, or any type of medication that contains blood. This is true even for emergency, lifesaving treatment.
Recently some photographs appeared on Instagram of a young Witness who had just given birth to her first child, and because of complications the mother needed a blood transfusion. She refused.
If the thought of a young woman giving up her life simply for the sake of a religious mandate while holding her newborn daughter in her arms is sad and disturbing enough, it’s the comments of her friends and others on Instagram that are also downright sickening:
Yes, that’s right, a mother’s decision to refuse lifesaving medical treatment because some men in Brooklyn, New York, decided that this is what god wants from her is “faith-strengthening.” I might ask, faith in what?
Faith in what, god? You now have more “faith” that god does what, kills new mothers over a prohibition about blood, of all things? I could understand if the prohibition was to not take another life and the mother allowed herself to be executed rather than join an army and kill strangers, but blood? Blood given by a willing donor is so sacred to god that he wants this simple bodily fluid preserved more than he wants the life of a new mother preserved? Blood, which can easily be made again and again by a healthy person, is more important than the emotional well-being of a little girl who will never have another mother to replace the one she’s lost?
Exactly how does it “strengthen” anyone’s faith to see a new mother willingly die and leave her brand new baby behind? Jehovah didn’t do anything to rescue her, to save her life with alternative medical treatments. I don’t see anything in these Instagram pics where he performed miracles for the father and the newborn. So how is a person’s faith now “stronger”?
Sacrificing a Life to Preserve the Symbol of Life
Jehovah’s Witnesses will say that blood is sacred to Jehovah because it represents life. The book “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” states:
“…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.“
Note the point here; life is represented by blood. JWs say that blood must not be “misused” because it represents life, something that is sacred and should not be disrespected.
So then, where was the respect for the blood of this new mother, and for her life, for which blood is merely a symbol?
Think seriously about this point; Jehovah’s Witnesses will say that blood must be respected because it’s a symbol that represents life, even to the point where a life must be sacrificed … in order to preserve the symbol. The symbol of life is more important than the life itself.
Apply this thinking to any other scenario; if a fire breaks out in your home, which do you think should be saved, your children, or the family photos that represent your children? If a firefighter came out of the blaze holding photo albums and said they went right by the children’s rooms to get to the pictures because, after all, those pictures are sacred since they represent your children, would you agree with that decision? Would you congratulate that firefighter on his or her faithfulness to their job, and say that they did the right thing, because that’s what you want as a parent?
Flip-Flopping on Blood and Medical Issues
The emotional aspects of a mother refusing a blood transfusion and allowing herself to die just after giving birth may be difficult enough to comprehend, but it becomes even more so when you realize how Jehovah’s Witnesses have outright flip-flopped on this issue, and other medical prohibitions through the years. For a thorough breakdown, visit this site, but note a few highlights.
When the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses was first established, blood transfusions were allowed and their only prohibition against blood was eating animal blood, such as was found in blood sausages. In 1951, they were counseled against blood transfusions, but it was a conscience matter, meaning each person could decide for themselves. In 1961, a person could be disfellowshipped (excommunicated) for taking a blood transfusion.
In the year 2000, a major change to this policy was announced when it became acceptable to take major blood fractions, meaning that if white cells, red cells, platelets, or plasma were broken down into fractions, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses could take those.
Another question is, How can you claim to have direction from god if you need to change such an important teaching; was god giving you incorrect information all those years before?
This flip-flopping of teachings for medical directives was also applied to organ transplants; in 1967 they were forbidden as a form of cannibalism. In 1980, they were suddenly acceptable. The website listed above discusses that point as well.
The most disturbing question, when you consider all this information, is how many people have died due to this policy, who would have lived if they had faced their medical emergencies during a different time. I don’t know all the details of this new mother’s medical problems, but will Jehovah’s Witnesses change their stand on blood transfusions in the future and, if so, would she have been able to take some type of transfusion that would have saved her life then? The Witnesses who died a few decades ago; would they be alive today if they had been allowed to take blood fractions, as they are now?
Applauding Her Decision
Arguing the semantics of this confusing teaching is one thing, but when friends and other JWs applaud a woman’s decision to sacrifice her own life and leave her child without a mother because a bodily fluid is more important, that is an obscenity. Rather than taking this opportunity to really examine the issue of blood transfusions and see if Jehovah’s Witnesses have a belief supported by the bible, and questioning this ever-changing doctrine, they instead applaud the loss of a life. Not that any life is more or less valuable than another, but they also applaud a new mother who only got to hold her baby for a brief time before leaving her behind.
Sacrificing a life for a worthy cause I might understand, but sacrificing your life for a faulty doctrine determined by a group of strangers who have proven time and again that they have no special knowledge, wisdom, or guidance from god is unacceptable. Applauding this needless sacrifice is disgusting. As fellow advocate Bo Juel is fond of saying, Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Jonestown in slow motion, and while they may claim that they don’t believe in faith healing, throwing away a life based on faith in ignorant men is really no different. The men who dole out these beliefs without really understanding them or listening to a critical opinion are also no different than those who handed out the Kool-Aid at Jonestown. I don’t applaud those needless deaths, and can’t imagine why anyone would applaud this one.
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