What does the Bible say
about donating blood?
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Question: What does the Bible say about donating blood? Is it a sin? One large religious denomination uses one scripture to justify condemning it.
Answer: In regard to the Bible and donating blood, let's take a look at the principles involved in Acts 15, where James addresses brethren gathered in Jerusalem to discuss and debate whether circumcision was necessary for salvation:
"Therefore I (James) judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood." (Acts 15:19-20, NKJV and emphasis throughout)
It is widely recognized that a doctrine or belief cannot be based upon only ONE Bible verse, as this would be the case if blood transfusions were the issue here named. Acts 15:20 is not referring to blood transfusions at all, but to EATING or DRINKING blood, based upon:
"'This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall EAT neither fat nor blood.'” (Leviticus 3:17)
You may notice that out of four items named in the Scripture you are referring to, three concern eating: "things polluted by idols" (meats sacrificed to idols, see 1Corinthians 10:18-28), things "strangled" and "blood." The Bible says to abstain from them, meaning not to eat them at all. Some people fry blood until it solidifies and eat it. Others, even more grossly, drink blood. This is what God forbids. It has to do with eating and subsequently passing it through the digestive system, not receiving it directly through your veins or arteries.
Transfusion is an entirely different matter which the Bible doesn't specifically mention. In those days the medical technology was not available to perform blood transfusions. This medical practice isn't any more of a sin than having an operation, a root canal performed on one of your teeth, and so on. The first transfusions, directly from person to person, saved many soldiers' lives on the battlefield.
In regard to donating blood, it is also a relatively new advance of medicine that was unknown to the ancients. Although God's word is silent on this exact topic, here's a principle to consider if your are thinking about a blood donation. Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together to have their try at tripping him up. One Pharisee, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
"'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." " (Matthew 22:36-40)
If your neighbor’s life could be saved by a donation of your blood, does that not abide within what Jesus called the second greatest commandment? I think so.