How does God view life?
How does God view abortion?
How do we show respect for life?
1. Who created all living things?
“JEHOVAH is truly God,” said the prophet Jeremiah. “He is the living God.” (Jeremiah 10:10) Furthermore, Jehovah God is the Creator of all living things. Heavenly creatures said to him: “You created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) In a song of praise to God, King David said: “With you is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) Life, then, is a gift from God.
2. What does God do to sustain our lives?
2 Jehovah also sustains our lives. (Acts 17:28) He provides the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the land we live on. (Read Acts 14:15-17.) Jehovah has done this in a way that makes life enjoyable. But to enjoy life to the full, we need to learn God’s laws and obey them.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
SHOWING RESPECT FOR LIFE
3. How did God view the murder of Abel?
3 God wants us to have respect for life—both our own and that of others. Back in the days of Adam and Eve, for example, their son Cain became very angry with his younger brother Abel. Jehovah warned Cain that his anger could lead him to serious sin. Cain ignored that warning. He “assaulted his brother Abel and killed him.” (Genesis 4:3-8) Jehovah punished Cain for murdering his brother.—Genesis 4:9-11.
4. In the Mosaic Law, how did God stress the proper view of life?
4 Thousands of years later, Jehovah gave the people of Israel laws to help them to serve him acceptably. Because these laws were given through the prophet Moses, they are sometimes called the Mosaic Law. Part of the Mosaic Law said: “You must not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17) This showed the Israelites that God values human life and that people must value the lives of others.
5. How should we view abortion?
5 What about the life of an unborn child? Well, according to the Mosaic Law, causing the death of a baby in its mother’s womb was wrong. Yes, even such a life is precious to Jehovah. (Read Exodus 21:22, 23; Psalm 127:3.) This means that abortion is wrong.
6. Why should we not hate our fellow man?
6 Having respect for life includes having the right view of fellow humans. The Bible says: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:15) If we want everlasting life, we need to root out of our heart any hatred for our fellow man, because hatred is the root cause of most violence. (1 John 3:11, 12) It is vital that we learn to love one another.
7. What are some practices that show a disrespect for life?
7 What about showing respect for our own life? People normally do not want to die, but some risk death for the sake of pleasure. For example, many use tobacco, chew betel nut, or take drugs for recreational purposes. Such substances harm the body and often kill the users. A person who makes it a practice to use these substances does not view life as sacred. These practices are unclean in God’s eyes. (Read Romans 6:19; 12:1; 2 Corinthians 7:1.) To serve God acceptably, we have to give up such practices, even though doing so might be very hard. Jehovah can give us the needed help, and he appreciates the effort we make to treat our life as a precious gift from him.
8. Why should we keep in mind the need to be safety conscious?
8 If we have respect for life, we will keep in mind the need to be safety conscious. We will not be careless and will not take risks just for pleasure or excitement. We will avoid reckless driving and violent or dangerous sports. (Psalm 11:5) God’s Law for ancient Israel stated: “If you build a new house [with a flat roof], you must also make a parapet [or, low wall] for your roof, so that you may not bring bloodguilt on your house because of someone falling from it.” (Deuteronomy 22:8) In harmony with the principle set out in that law, keep such things as stairs in your home in good condition so that someone does not trip, fall, and get badly hurt. If you own a car, make sure that it is safe to drive. Do not let either your home or your car be a danger to you or to others.
9. If we have respect for life, how will we treat animals?
9 What about the life of an animal? That too is sacred to the Creator. God permits the killing of animals to obtain food and clothing or to protect people from danger. (Genesis 3:21; 9:3; Exodus 21:28) However, being cruel to animals or killing them just for sport is wrong and shows utter disregard for the sacredness of life.—Proverbs 12:10.
SHOWING RESPECT FOR BLOOD
10. How has God shown that there is a link between life and blood?
10 After Cain killed his brother Abel, Jehovah told Cain: “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) When God spoke of Abel’s blood, he was speaking of Abel’s life. Cain had taken Abel’s life, and now Cain would have to be punished. It was as if Abel’s blood, or life, were crying out to Jehovah for justice. The connection between life and blood was again shown after the Flood of Noah’s day. Before the Flood, humans ate only fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. After the Flood, Jehovah told Noah and his sons: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you.” However, God set this restriction: “Only flesh with its life—its blood—you must not eat.” (Genesis 1:29; 9:3, 4) Clearly, Jehovah links very closely the life and the blood of a creature.
11. What use of blood has God forbidden since the days of Noah?
11 We show respect for blood by not eating it. In the Law that Jehovah gave the Israelites, he commanded: “If one of the Israelites . . . is hunting and catches a wild animal or a bird that may be eaten, he must pour its blood out and cover it with dust. . . . I said to the Israelites: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh.’” (Leviticus 17:13, 14) God’s command not to eat animal blood, first given to Noah some 800 years earlier, was still in force. Jehovah’s view was clear: His servants could eat animal meat but not the blood. They were to pour the blood on the ground—in effect, returning the creature’s life to God.
12. What command regarding blood was given by holy spirit in the first century and still applies today?
12 A similar command rests upon Christians. The apostles and other men taking the lead among Jesus’ followers in the first century met together to decide what commands had to be obeyed by all in the Christian congregation. They came to this conclusion: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled [“what is killed without draining its blood,” footnote], and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:28, 29; 21:25) So we must ‘keep abstaining from blood.’ In God’s eyes, our doing that is as important as our avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality.
13. Illustrate why the command to abstain from blood includes blood transfusions.
13 Does the command to abstain from blood include blood transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but that you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we would not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins.
14, 15. If doctors say that a Christian must have a blood transfusion, how would he react, and why?
14 What if a Christian is badly injured or is in need of major surgery? Suppose doctors say that he must have a blood transfusion or he will die. Of course, the Christian would not want to die. In an effort to preserve God’s precious gift of life, he would accept other kinds of treatment that do not involve the misuse of blood. Hence, he would seek such medical attention if that is available and would accept a variety of alternatives to blood.
15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life. We are wise, then, to put our trust in the rightness of God’s law, with full confidence that if we die from any cause, our Life-Giver will remember us in the resurrection and restore to us the precious gift of life.—John 5:28, 29; Hebrews 11:6.
16. What do God’s servants firmly resolve regarding blood?
16 Today, faithful servants of God firmly resolve to follow his direction regarding blood. They will not eat it in any form. Nor will they accept blood for medical reasons.* They are sure that the Creator of blood knows what is best for them. Do you believe that he does?
THE ONLY PROPER USE OF BLOOD
17. In ancient Israel, what was the one use of blood that was acceptable to Jehovah God?
17 The Mosaic Law emphasized the one proper use of blood. Regarding the worship required of the ancient Israelites, Jehovah commanded: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have given it on the altar for you to make atonement for yourselves, because it is the blood that makes atonement.” (Leviticus 17:11) When the Israelites sinned, they could obtain forgiveness by offering an animal and having some of its blood put on the altar at the tabernacle or later at God’s temple. The only proper use of blood was in such sacrifices.
18. What benefits and blessings can we gain from the shedding of Jesus’ blood?
18 True Christians are not under the Mosaic Law and therefore do not offer animal sacrifices and put the blood of animals on an altar. (Hebrews 10:1) However, the use of blood on the altar in the days of ancient Israel pointed forward to the precious sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. As we learned in Chapter 5 of this book, Jesus gave his human life for us by letting his blood be shed as a sacrifice. Then he ascended to heaven and once for all time offered the value of his shed blood to God. (Hebrews 9:11, 12) That laid the basis for the forgiveness of our sins and opened the way for us to gain everlasting life. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) How extremely important that use of blood has proved to be! (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Only by means of faith in the merit of Jesus’ shed blood can we gain salvation.
19. What must we do in order to be “clean from the blood of all men”?
19 We can be so grateful to Jehovah God for the loving provision of life! And should that not motivate us to tell others about the opportunity to gain everlasting life on the basis of faith in Jesus’ sacrifice? Godly concern for the lives of fellow humans will move us to do this with eagerness and zeal. (Read Ezekiel 3:17-21.) If we diligently fulfill this responsibility, we will be able to say, as did the apostle Paul: “I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26, 27) Telling people about God and his purposes is a fine way to show that we have the highest regard for life and blood.
For information on alternatives to blood transfusion, see the chapter entitled “Quality Alternatives to Transfusion” in the brochure How Can Blood Save Your Life? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.