Jehovah’s Witnesses are permitted most forms of medical treatment, but under no circumstances must they ever have a blood transfusion. Abstaining from blood is considered an area that identifies them as the only true religion.
It is also admitted that this ruling leads to loss of Witness lives.
“Jehovah’s witnesses do not argue that blood transfusions have not kept alive patients who otherwise might have died.” Blood, Medicine and The Law of God p.38
What is generally unknown is that over its history, the Watchtower Society has made a virtual 360 degree turn on their acceptance of blood products. The result is a stance that is:
- Scripturally Inaccurate – There is no Scriptural prohibition on Christian’s accepting a blood transfusion – see Blood Doctrine.
- Inconsistent – The Watchtower states God’s standard is that blood must not be stored, yet allows Jehovah’s Witnesses to use blood fractions derived from stored blood.
- Double Standard – Jehovah’s Witnesses use significant quantities of medical products derived from blood, but are forbidden from donating blood.
The Watchtower stance regarding blood usage has been inconsistent throughout the last 100 years. Just as the Watchtower revoked its ruling that organ transplants are wrong in the 1980’s, over the last few years it has made significant changes to the acceptable use of blood. Can such contradictions really be attributed to Jehovah’s direction?
Every Jehovah’s Witness should seriously consider the implications of the Watchtower making life and death doctrinal changes before deciding to refuse blood when lives are at stake.
Inconsistency with Current Blood Policy
Since 2000, a Jehovah’s Witness may not donate blood, may not store their own blood and may not have a blood transfusion. However, they are permitted certain blood fractions, such as immunoglobulin and hemoglobulin.
“Thus, Jehovahs Witnesses do not accept transfusions of whole blood or the four primary components of blood namely, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. They also do not donate or store their own blood for transfusion.” Kingdom Ministry Nov 2006 p.3
“The above material shows that Jehovahs Witnesses refuse transfusions of both whole blood and its primary blood components. The Bible directs Christians to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from fornication. (Acts 15:29) Beyond that, when it comes to fractions of any of the primary components, each Christian, after careful and prayerful meditation, must conscientiously decide for himself.” Watchtower 2000 Jun 15 p.31
This is an inconsistent stance, as can be understood by contemplating the following questions.
- If it is wrong for a Witness to donate blood, who do the blood fractions they use come from?
- If blood must be poured on the ground, where are the blood fractions they use derived from?
- If abstaining from blood does not allow taking a “major” fraction, why does it allow a fraction of a fraction?
- If blood fractions were always acceptable to Jehovah, who is responsible for the Witnesses that died refusing them, due to previous Watchtower policy?
The historical and current policy is discussed at Watchtower Blood Transfusion Doctrine, and why blood transfusions are Scripturally acceptable is discussed at Are Blood Transfusions Allowed Scripturally?