Inspired by this question, if we choose to allow a doctor to heal us, how far is too far?

In Lev 17:13-14:

13 “‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”

Some groups have gone far enough to say that they won't take blood transfusions or even transplants. Does the preservation of life supersede this verse?

And, although a bit Sci-Fi, does the above verse conflict with the idea of artificial blood?

I think it's fine, but I've been wrong about stuff before.


6 Answers 6


In Mark 3:1-6, Jesus heals a crippled man's hand on the sabbath:

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. 2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

I believe this sets a precedent that law wasn't created to destroy life but to give it.


When you read the Old Testament and find restrictions like this one what you need to realize is that most of these types of restrictions are reactions to what the other inhabitants of the land were doing. God didn't want His people to copy the pagan rituals that were going on, and some of it is just preventing the spread of desease. So if you have a doubt, look at the command and try to find out if it's in response to one of the pagan rituals, or if it's to keep them from danger.

  • 1
    This is a good point. This passage also seems to be related to sacrifices, which is no longer part of Gods law.
    – Jaguir
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 1:21

This idea assumes that having a transfusion is equivalent to eating blood. I find that idea a bit strange. If I were to take my food, put it in a blender for a while so it becomes nice and liquified, and then inject it into a vein, it would most likely kill me, even though the food itself, taken properly, is good for me, because I'm bypassing the digestive system entirely. So clearly there's a huge difference between eating something and injecting it.

  • 2
    Aside from not eating blood, some people think that you should not have other people's blood in your body. In the artificial blood article, a Jehovah's Witness didn't believe in receiving a blood transfusion. Nobody asked her to eat the transfusion.
    – user77
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 20:35
  • if your doctor tells you not to drink alcohol, will you inject it in your blood? Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 19:56
  • @Saher: No one drinks alcohol; people drink alcoholic beverages, and the same principle applies. Injecting beer directly into your bloodstream rather than drinking it would be a good way to end up in the hospital, if not the morgue.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 11:58
  • @MasonWheeler: that is not the point. When the doctor tells you to abstain from alcoholic beverages, the reason is that alcohol is bad for you at the time for some reason. Would you still want to inject alcohol in your blood stream? Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 5:05
  • Besides, why do you think God wants us to abstain from blood? God's view of blood is sanctified. Please Read bit.ly/godlyViewBlood Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 5:10

In the matter of how far is too far when allowing doctors to heal us, when what you do is in violation of gods commandments.

In Acts 15:28&29 we see that the command to have nothing to do with blood is still relevent:

"For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: 29 to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!”

What Luke is saying here is that we are to continue to follow those commandments of the old law. It was not just to not eat blood. We are told to abstain from it.

Abstain,Merriam-Webster.com,Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2013:

"To refrain deliberately and often with an effort of self-denial from an action or practice (abstain from drinking, consumption of a food or a drug or indulgence in sexual intercourse)"

If we are abstain from blood, then we reject it in any form. To illustrate, when your doctor tells you to abstain from drinking alcohol, do consume it in another form? Would you then inject the alcohol into your veins? If you have alcohol in you then you have not abstained from it. This is the same way with blood.

That is with medical reasons aside.

In the US, the chances of getting diseases from a blood transfusion are low, but are still possible. Why risk it when you can use blood alternatives that have no risk?

Transfused blood can take up to a full day to reach full oxygenation. A blood substitute can be fully oxygenated immediately. Natural replenishment of lost red blood cells usually takes months, so an oxygen-carrying blood substitute can perform this function until blood is naturally replenished.

Artificial blood is OK to use by that scripture. In some cases they don't even use plasma such as saline and Hyper-branched polymer-protected porphyrins.

"Often simple saline solution, Ringer’s solution, and dextran can be used as plasma volume expanders, and these are available in nearly all modern hospitals. Actually, the risks that go with use of blood transfusions are avoided by using these substances."

Insight from the scriptures shares with us many reasons why it is better to abstain from blood. It also has information an many different bloodless options available.

Here is another magazine one the topic. How can blood save your life?

There is of course another angle to this. What if you should die because you rejected and abstained from blood? We gain courage from Matthew 16:24-25:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and keep following me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

We have faith in the resurrection, so we know if we lose our life because we observed Gods commandments that he will give it back to us and add to it.


ACTS 15:19-20 (KJV)

"Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood."

Just remember that this was not the life that was meant for us. Sin came into the world and along with it death, disease and imperfection. We need to prove we are worthy of eternal life here on earth as perfect human beings by following Jehovah's word the Bible.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! Can you explain how you reconcile the idea of "proving we are worthy" with statements from Romans about how "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" and how "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners"?
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 17, 2011 at 15:02
  • Romans 5:12 shows we are all under sin and that is why we die. what he/she means by "proving worthy" is being worthy of everlasting life. the ones not worthy will die or perish forever John 3:16 and 2 Thess 1:9 (everlasting destruction) Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 19:54

The way I read that verse is, "If you're going to hunt animals for food then drain the blood and cover it with dirt" - essentially to honor its life. Transfusing blood is not an act of killing an animal for consumption, therefore it doesn't technically conflict with the verse.

  • transfusing blood is not abstaining from it. Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 19:45