Questions From Readers
● Are we to consider the injection of serums such as diphtheria toxin antitoxin and blood fractions such as gamma globulin into the blood stream, for the purpose of building up resistance to disease by means of antibodies, the same as the drinking of blood or the taking of blood or blood plasma by means of transfusion?—N. P., United States.
No, it does not seem necessary that we put the two in the same category, although we have done so in times past. Each time the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the Scriptures it is in connection with taking it as food, and so it is as a nutrient that we are concerned with in its being forbidden. Thus when mankind for the first time was permitted to eat the flesh of animals, at the time of the restatement of the procreation mandate to the Deluge survivors, blood was specifically forbidden. (Gen. 9:3, 4) In the law of Moses blood was forbidden as food, and therefore we repeatedly find it linked with fat as things not to be eaten. (Lev. 3:17; 7:22-27) And so also in the days of the apostles; it was in connection with eating meat sacrificed to idols that the eating of strangled animals and blood was forbidden.—Acts 15:20, 29.
The injection of antibodies into the blood in a vehicle of blood serum or the use of blood fractions to create such antibodies is not the same as taking blood, either by mouth or by transfusion, as a nutrient to build up the body’s vital forces. While God did not intend for man to contaminate his blood stream by vaccines, serums or blood fractions, doing so does not seem to be included in God’s expressed will forbidding blood as food. It would therefore be a matter of individual judgment whether one accepted such types of medication or not.
● In some countries it is the custom to show mourning for the dead by wearing black for several months or even years, depending on the person doing the mourning. Is that proper for one in the truth?—O. R., Cuba.
In Jesus’ day a sign of mourning was fasting. Certain persons noted that Jesus’ disciples did not fast and asked Jesus why they did not. Jesus told them: “The friends of the bridegroom have no reason to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, do they? But days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matt. 9:15) So while Jesus was with his disciples they had no reason to fast in a mournful way. When Jesus was taken away from them there was some reason for mourning and fasting on their part; but since Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and especially since his enthronement in Kingdom power, there certainly is no cause for his servants to enter into mourning with specific reference to the dead. The example of Christ’s resurrection gives us hope of resurrection of our dead ones; so we do not sorrow as do those without hope in the world: “Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death, that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope. For if our faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus God will bring with him.”—1 Thess. 4:13, 14.
It would seem, therefore, that a Christian who has advanced to a mature appreciation of these things would not feel called upon to carry on mourning along with the wearing of special types of clothing as an outward show. Even when some persons did fast, they were not to do so with an outward show of sadness. Jesus said: “When you are fasting, stop becoming sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, when fasting, oil your head and wash your face, that you may appear to be fasting, not to men, but to your Father who is in secrecy; then your Father who is looking on in secrecy will repay you.” (Matt. 6:16-18) Christians should not make a showy display of mourning and should not publicly sorrow as those who have no hope. However, when these points and Scriptural facts have been brought to a person’s attention, it is his own personal conscience that must guide the course he takes with regard to mourning and black clothes to symbolize it publicly.