Is donating blood bad? Is donating it sinful if someone needs it right away to live? What about donating organs when someone is in need? What about allowing the government to relinquish your organs after your death? This is a big problem within the confines of our youth. There are two sides to them, with an equal amount of supporters for donating and against donating. It's confusing me because we both present sound arguments, and yet none of us can come into a consensus.

The Jehovah's Witnesses make the argument that donating blood is wrong from the passage that says, "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well" (Acts 15:28-29). The argument is that donating blood is equivalent to eating blood. Over the years they have compromised on their position. Today they allow the use of blood products, such as globulin, clotting factors, and plasma, so long as whole blood is not transfused.

The problem is that the verse being used deals with the consumption or eating of blood -- not human blood but the blood of animals killed for meat. The blood of humans would not be even under consideration because the consumption of human flesh is cannibalism, which is already forbidden.

Animal flesh was added to the human diet after the flood, but with restrictions: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood" (Genesis 9:3-4). Human life, however, was consider sacred. "Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man" (Genesis 9:5-6).

The rule under the Law of Moses stated, "'And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.' Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.' Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.' " (Leviticus 17:10-14 ).

Into the Law of Christ this same basic rule is continued (Acts 15:19-20, 28-29; 21:25). Life is shed to gain meat. God asks that we respect that life by not eating the blood that had sustained that life.

However, none of these passages deal with the giving and receiving of blood from one human to another. The blood is not being eaten or consumed, it is being given. A life is not being forfeited in order to gain the blood, so it doesn't match in this case either.

Organ donations was never an issue until a few generations ago. The organs used are those from people who had recently died. The Scriptures teach that spirit leaves the body upon death (Ecclesiastes 12:7). What remains, the physical body, normal decays back to the dust from which we were taken. If the organs of that empty shell can be used to sustain the life of another for a few more years, it will make no difference to person who once owned that organ.

Some organs do come from people who believe they can function adequately with only half of their redundant system. For example, humans have two kidneys. It is possible to survive with just one though the capacity is less and if that one fails there no longer remains a back-up. Here the giving of an organ is viewed as a gift of love for a fellow human, allowing them a few more years on this earth.

Because no life is being taken and a temporary gift of extended life is being offered, I know of no reason to argue that donating blood or an organ is sinful. However, if a Christian has any doubt about the matter, he should not participate. "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:22-23). Though Paul is directly speaking of food, the same principle of confidence in our choices and actions remain.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Jehovah's Witnesses
Questions and Answers regarding Medical Practices