Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 20, 1969
NUMBER 29, PAGE 7a,8

About Eating Blood — A Review

Leslie Diestelkamp

In the June 5, June 12 and June 19 issues of the GUARDIAN, our highly esteemed brother Jimmy Tuten Jr. who is regarded by all who know him as a fine preacher and an excellent student of the scriptures, had three articles refuting various arguments of the "Jehovah's Witness" people regarding their objections to blood transfusions. But I believe Jimmy has erred when he advocated that it is not now sinful to eat blood, but that it is only sometimes inexpedient when it would wound the conscience of a weak brother.

Jimmy's Valid Arguments In both his first and last articles brother Tuten argues quite effectively and scripturally that the Old Testament law forbidding the eating of blood always referred to animal blood, not to human blood. Jimmy points out that the "Witnesses" claim that the only difference between a transfusion and eating with the mouth is that a transfusion constitutes a faster method of blood consumption since it goes directly into the blood stream rather than into the digestive system first. But I think we need to point out, and emphasize that this is not the only difference. Transfusion and/or any intravenous feeding is not really eating at all. It is not a matter of eating by mouth or eating by transfusion. That which is eaten must utilize the digestive and the elimination systems of the body. Intravenous feeding utilizes neither. Let us emphasize that in the use of transfusions we are not subjecting blood to the systems of the body from which much of the substance of the food passes away as waste, but we are utilizing the "life" features of the blood to the fullest possible extent. Blood is thus not disregarded or desecrated, but it is indeed used to the fullest for its life-carrying quality.

Jimmy's Weak Points

Brother Tuten seems to agree with the "Witnesses" that the restriction against eating blood in Acts chapter fifteen is carried over from the Old Testament, specifically from the law of Moses. Then he reminds us that even the Jews were not able to bear the yoke of the law (Ac. 15:10, 11). I have to suppose that he means the Jews were not even able to avoid the eating of blood and other moral restrictions. But the Jews could have avoided such disobedience. However, "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23) and in sin there is condemnation (ha. 59:2; Jas. 2:10). For the Jew there was no pardon under the law — it was not a law of pardon but of discipline. But all faithful ones, in every age, can be saved by the grace of God — not by the imposition of the law of circumcision, which was the subject of discussion in Jerusalem (Ac. 15:10, 11).

But the prohibition against eating blood was not simply a matter of the law of Moses. God had said to Noah, "But the flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat" (Gen. 9:4). This was more than 800 years before the law of Moses. It is, in fact, quite obvious that the prohibition against eating blood is as old as that against fornication. It is as old as the human race. The restrictions were God-given for all people — thus included in the law of Moses as well as the law of Christ, but even also in the moral principles given to the patriarchs.

Brother Tuten says that the agreement reached at Jerusalem is not mentioned elsewhere in scripture and that therefore this means "that the decision was unknown for some time to a greater portion of the churches of our Lord." Well, it may be that many did not hear that Paul and Barnabas had gone to Jerusalem to verify this matter and to try to satisfy the Jewish brethren at Antioch, but this does not mean that all such brethren, everywhere, were kept in ignorance of the principles. It is more likely that Paul had preached this everywhere, especially among the Gentiles to counteract their idolatry and heathenism. But be that as it may, it is surely necessary to conclude that thereafter, at least, all gospel preachers taught it here, there and everywhere. There is nothing at all to suggest that the restrictions were meant for Antioch alone or that they were only for Gentile Christians who needed to maintain harmony with Jewish brethren.

In connection with this, Jimmy says that it was not necessarily wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols ( I Cor. 10:25-33). It is true that the people were told to buy meat in the markets without asking questions. However, they were forbidden to eat meat as a sacrifice to an idol (1 Cor. 10:14-22). It was not only wrong for a Jew, but for all people in every age. And eating blood is in the same category, and so is fornication. It is wrong to eat meat as a sacrifice to an idol, and it is wrong to eat blood, and to commit fornication. None of the three exclusively pertain to the law of Moses. All three pertain to all mankind forever.

Finally brother Tuten declares that "In Acts 15 there is no threat of damnation or destruction, only that the disciples would 'do well' to keep this necessary thing." But what can be more important than a necessary thing? And by what strange system of logic can we say that fornication is indeed a necessary thing (that is forbidden) but that the others are non-essentials and only advisory? The fact that fornication is forbidden elsewhere, and that blood is forbidden only once in the New Testament does not change the matter. The frequency of the Lord's supper is only portrayed once (Ac. 20:7) but that forever settles it. The inspired will of God does not have to repeat itself.


I believe it is a very dangerous business to advise Christians that they may partake of pollutions to idols, and things strangled and of blood just as long as it does not cause a weak brother to stumble. Just suppose the human wisdom that produced brother Tuten's conclusion is wrong. Just suppose, in judgment day we find out that God really meant what James said in Acts chapter fifteen, and that he meant it for all people for all time. After all Ac. 15:29 is just about as plain and as explicit as is Mark 16:16 and Ac. 2:38. And let us be sure that our desire to defeat the "Witnesses" arguments does not drive us or lead us to unsafe and doubtful positions. Our Bible plainly says that we should abstain from meats offered to idols, from things strangled and from blood, and the necessary inference that it means that we abstain from eating those thing, for that was the heathen practice that was being forbidden. In the case of eating blood, it was wrong because it desecrated the life-carrying element and thus it was immoral. It is still immoral.

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