Questions From Readers
● Will persons who committed suicide to preserve the honor of the family name, or for some other reason according to the custom of Japan, come up in the resurrection? Also, will murderers be resurrected?—K. H., Japan.
The Jewish nation was in covenant with Jehovah God, and their law said: “You must take no ransom for the soul of a murderer who is deserving to die, for without fail he should be put to death.” Nor could a Christian commit murder and live: “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” Inasmuch as suicide is self-murder, the same view may be taken of it as of murder. So if anyone who has dedicated his life to Jehovah God sanely takes his life in suicide, or deliberately murders another person, it is doubtful that Jehovah would remember such a person in the resurrection.—Num. 35:31; 1 John 3:15, NW.
However, in the case of a person that did not know Jehovah’s law and was not a dedicated servant of God it would be different. If he died a suicide or as a murderer he would certainly die guilty of grievous sin; but there are many other grievous sins, and for them repentance is possible. At one time Paul wrote some Christians that they had once been extremely immoral and depraved, but had been washed clean because of their repentance of and abandonment of such sinning and their acceptance of Jehovah’s arrangement through Christ. Elsewhere the Bible speaks of murderers failing to repent, which implies repentance was possible for them under certain conditions. (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rev. 9:21, NW) The sins of suicide and murder need not be sins against the holy spirit, and, if not, would be forgivable. Sin is sin, regardless of what kind, and a resurrection for a suicide or a murderer not in the truth would depend more on how deeply he was steeped in paganism or demonism, on his ability to repent and be recovered from the depths of heathenism, than on the specific sin or sins committed previously. It is Jehovah God and Christ Jesus who will judge this capacity to repent and this ability to recover and who will decide whether to resurrect certain individuals or not. We are content to let the matter rest in their capable, just, merciful hands.
● Some think it is wrong to hunt and fish, while others see no wrong in such pursuits. Some who think hunting permissible do contend, however, that the game should be thoroughly bled immediately after it is shot to avoid violating the prohibition of eating blood. This bleeding is not generally done. What is the Scriptural view concerning these matters?—A. A., United States.
We must neither condemn what Jehovah approves nor approve what Jehovah condemns. The Bible speaks of “unreasoning animals born naturally to be caught and destroyed.” Some argue this applies only after the Noachian flood. But it was true in Eden, when “Jehovah God proceeded to make long garments of skin for Adam and for his wife and to clothe them.” Also, long before the flood Abel was approved for offering an animal sacrifice, whereas disapproved Cain did not engage in killing animals for sacrifice but offered bloodless field products.—2 Pet. 2:12; Gen. 3:21; 4:3-5, NW.
After the Flood man was permitted to kill animals for various reasons. The Mosaic law required the slaughter of different kinds for sacrifice, and animal skins or leather were properly used for not only garments but also such things as shoes, belts, containers, writing material and tabernacle parts and accessories. (Lev. 1:5, 10, 14; 13:59; Ezek. 16:10; Mark 6:9; 2 Ki. 1:8; Matt. 3:4; 9:17, NW; 2 Tim. 4:13; Ex. 26:14; Num. 4:6-14) If an animal killed a person it was to die: “In case an ox should gore a man or a woman and that one actually dies, the ox is to be stoned without fail.” If animals were destructive of man’s property or crops they could be caught and destroyed: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes, that are despoiling the vineyards, since our vineyards are in bloom.”—Ex. 21:28, NW; Cant. 2:15, AT.
Animals may also be used for food, with the exception of the blood: “Every creeping animal that is alive may serve as food for you. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to you. Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat.” During the wilderness sojourn Israelites wanting to eat animals suitable for sacrifice had to slay them at the tabernacle so the priest could sprinkle the blood upon Jehovah’s altar. When they had settled in the Promised Land and it would have been too great a hardship to bring animals suitable for sacrifice to the temple at Jerusalem, they could slaughter the animals at home and pour the blood out on the ground and cover it with dust. This was the same way the blood of wild game, such as the gazelle and the stag, was to be disposed of. (Gen. 9:3, 4; Lev. 17:3-6; Deut. 12:15, 16, 20-24, NW) Hunting for food was permitted, but the hunter was warned to bleed his game: “As for any man of the sons of Israel or some temporary resident who is residing for a while in your midst who in hunting catches a wild beast or a fowl that may be eaten, he must in that case pour its blood out and cover it with dust. For the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood by the soul in it. Consequently I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off.’”—Lev. 17:13, 14, NW.
If the hunter failed to bleed his game properly he was put to death, or “cut off.” To eat unbled game not only was prohibited to Israelites under the Law, but also is forbidden for Christians: “Keep yourselves free from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things killed without draining their blood and from fornication.” (Acts 15:29; 21:25, NW) Immediately following the instruction to hunters to bleed their game and that to eat blood will mean their death, we read: “As for any soul that eats a dead body or something torn by a wild beast, whether a native or a temporary resident, he must in that case wash his garments and bathe in water and be unclean until the evening. Then he must be clean. But if he will not wash them and will not bathe his flesh, then he must answer for his iniquity.” (Lev. 17:15, 16, NW) A body that dies of itself or of wounds inflicted by another animal would not be properly drained of blood, and hence was not to be eaten. Penalty for deliberate violation of the commandment to eat no blood is death, but in the last-mentioned case guilt could be erased by a ceremony of purification, which indicates it was a case where the commandment was violated innocently, unknowingly, as might happen when someone purchased or bartered for meat, or when eating as a guest of someone else. Now, as in Israel’s day, one who violates the command concerning blood accidentally, without knowing it, not doing so deliberately, can gain forgiveness by repentance and avoiding a recurrence of the trespass.
Basing our position on the Bible, we shall have a balanced view, neither fanatically opposing all killing of animals, nor wantonly hunting them for sport. Jesus ate meat, both fish and lamb. He directed a successful fishing operation using a net, and also instructed that a fish be caught with a hook. (Luke 24:42, 43; Ex. 12:3, 8; Matt. 26:17-21; Luke 5:4-6; Matt. 17:27) Apparently fish required no special attention in bleeding, since there is no instruction concerning them; but the requirements relative to game birds and animals are specific and must be followed by theocratic hunters seeking to vary their meat diet with some wild game. Bullet wounds of today, like arrow wounds or fang-and-claw wounds from beasts of prey during the time of application of the Mosaic law, seldom effect adequate drainage of blood. Hence the hunter must make it complete by using his knife, whether it spoils a trophy or not.