Questions From Readers
● How can one tell if meat purchased from a butcher or in some other market has been properly bled? Also, how can one tell if cold-meat loaves, pastry or preparations sold by druggists contain any blood or blood fractions?—A. R., U.S.A.
This is of concern to God-fearing persons, because Jehovah God, in his law stated to Noah, which applies to all mankind, said: “Every moving 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.” (Gen. 9:3, 4) The first-century Christian governing body, too, being directed by God’s holy spirit, pointed out that it is necessary for Christians to ‘keep themselves free from blood.’—Acts 15:28, 29.
If the bleeding of butchered animals is not the regular practice in your locality, or you are not sure what is the customary handling of the matter where you live, the best way to find out if meat has been properly bled is to make personal inquiry. In most cases, even if the one who sells the meat does not personally do the slaughtering, he is acquainted with the men with whom he does business and he knows their practices or at least the laws that govern them. If he is confident that the meat is properly prepared, the Christian may feel free to use it. However, if the one selling the meat does not know, simply ask: “Who can give me the information? It is important to me for religious reasons.” Then write a letter, if that is the only way to get in touch with the one who can answer your question. If for some reason one does not feel that he is being told the truth, he can always do business elsewhere, or he can buy live animals and arrange for the slaughtering himself, if he feels that is necessary.
Simply the fact that meat appears to be very red or even has red fluid on the surface does not mean that it has not been bled. There may remain in the meat some very small amounts of blood even after proper bleeding has been done. Then, too, the fluid that runs out of the meat may simply be interstitial fluid. The important thing is that respect has been shown for the sanctity of blood, regard has been shown for the principle of the sacredness of life. What God’s law requires is that the blood be drained from the animal when it is killed, not that the meat be soaked in some special preparation to draw out every trace of it.
In the case of other products, a similar procedure may be followed. If you have reason to believe that a certain product contains blood or a blood fraction, ask the one who sells it. If he does not know, write to the manufacturer. Sometimes labels show whether a blood fraction is used, but not always. For example, a label may say that a certain product contains albumin. Does that mean that it contains a blood fraction? Look up the word albumin in a good reference book, perhaps an encyclopedia in your local library or even a good dictionary. You will learn that albumin is found, not only in blood serum, but also in milk and eggs. The only way to find out the source of the albumin in the particular product in question is to make inquiry of those who prepare it. However, if the label says that certain tablets contain hemoglobin, similar checking will reveal that this is from blood; so a Christian knows, without asking, that he should avoid such a preparation. Clearly, these are matters that each individual can best check on locally.
● How can we harmonize the Scriptural counsel, “Everything that is sold in a meat market keep eating, making no inquiry on account of your conscience” (1 Cor. 10:25), with the advice recently contained in The Watchtower, to make reasonable inquiry at places where one buys meat to be sure that it has been properly bled? (The Watchtower, September 15, 1961, page 557)—N. Q., U.S.A.
Both of these statements of counsel must be viewed in their context. First Corinthians, chapter 10, contains a discussion concerning foods that have been offered to idols. It points out that Christians cannot “become sharers with the demons” by participating in religious ceremonies in which the worshiper shares a meal in common with some demon god. (1 Cor. 10:18-21) In fact, it would be wrong for the Christian to eat the meat anywhere if he ate it “as something sacrificed to an idol,” that is, with any feeling of reverence for the idol. (1 Cor. 8:7) So it was to protect Christians from idolatry that the command was given to “keep yourselves free from things sacrificed to idols.” (Acts 15:29) However, the offering of food to an idol does not bring about any change in the meat itself that would make it unfit for use. So if part of an animal that was offered in sacrifice were sold in a meat market it would be just as good as any other meat. Certainly a Christian would never ask for this meat in preference to other meat, feeling that it was “holy meat,” but, on the other hand, he was not under obligation to make inquiry to find out if the source of supply was a religious temple or a regular slaughterhouse. So the point under discussion in 1 Corinthians 10:25 was the purchasing of meat in a market that obtained some of its supplies from a religious temple.
Christians are also commanded to abstain “from blood and what is strangled.” (Acts 21:25) The Scriptures do indicate that one may eat meat but that he must not do it as an act of idolatry; however, nowhere does the Bible say that believers may eat blood under any circumstances. Furthermore, the prohibition on the consumption of blood is directed, not only to those who do their own slaughtering, but to all “the believers.” Therefore those believers who do not do their own slaughtering may have to make inquiry to find an acceptable source of supply if they want to eat meat. If you know from your own experience or from inquiry that it is customary in your locality to drain the blood from butchered animals and from fowl killed for food, and you are doing business with a reliable person, then it may not be necessary to ask further specific questions on the matter when meat is purchased. However, one who purchases meat from worldly persons in those communities where Caesar’s laws do not specify that blood must be drained from slaughtered animals would not be able to avoid eating “blood and what is strangled” without making inquiry.
So the points of counsel are harmonious and are in agreement with the rest of the Word of God.
● In view of the Bible command on abstinence from blood, how are fish and insects to be prepared in order to be acceptable for food?—B. F., U.S.A.
Fish was a common food among the Jews. Jesus himself ate it, and on different occasions he directed successful fishing operations, both with a net and with a hook. (Num. 11:5; Matt. 14:17; 17:27; Luke 5:1-11; 24:42, 43) Some insects, too, were used for food. (Lev. 11:21; Mark 1:6) Of course, the amount of blood contained in these creatures may be very small, so that it is impossible to pour out their blood; yet that is what was required to make the meat of a creature acceptable for food. (Lev. 17:13) It was not required that the meat be squeezed or that it be soaked; simply that the blood be poured out. If there is not enough blood to pour it out, Christians are not under obligation to take extreme measures to be sure that some blood is extracted. Of course, if, on cutting the creature open, an accumulation of blood is clearly in evidence, this can easily be removed, and it would be proper to do so.
● Since the Bible forbids the eating of blood, how are Christians to view the use of serums and vaccines? Has the Society changed its viewpoint on this?—J. D., U.S.A.
The Bible is very clear that blood could properly be used only on the altar; otherwise it was to be poured out on the ground. (Lev. 17:11-13) The entire modern medical practice involving the use of blood is objectionable from the Christian standpoint. Therefore the taking of a blood transfusion, or, in lieu of that, the infusing of some blood fraction to sustain one’s life is wrong.
As to the use of vaccines and other substances that may in some way involve the use of blood in their preparation, it should not be concluded that the Watch Tower Society endorses these and says that the practice is right and proper. However, vaccination is a virtually unavoidable practice in many segments of modern society, and the Christian may find some comfort under the circumstances in the fact that this use is not in actuality a feeding or nourishing process, which was specifically forbidden when God said that man was not to eat blood, but it is a contamination of the human system.
So, as was stated in The Watchtower of September 15, 1958, page 575, “It would therefore be a matter of individual judgment whether one accepted such types of medication or not.” That is still the Society’s viewpoint on the matter.—Gal. 6:5.
However, the mature Christian is not going to try to find in this a justification for as many other medical uses of blood substances as possible. To the contrary, recognizing the objectionableness of the entire practice, he is going to stay as far away from it as he can, requesting other treatment where such is available.
● The Watchtower of April 15, 1961, on page 237, quotes Mark 13:19, 20, concerning the cutting short of the days of tribulation, and apparently applies it to a cutting short of Armageddon itself. Does Jesus’ statement here apply to the cutting short of the war in heaven in 1918, or to the cutting short of Armageddon, or to both?
Mark 13:19, 20 reads: “Those days will be days of a tribulation such as has not occurred from the beginning of the creation which God created until that time, and will not occur again. In fact, unless Jehovah [God] had cut short the days, no flesh would be saved. But on account of the chosen ones whom he has chosen he has cut short the days.” Five paragraphs after quoting this scripture The Watchtower says (in paragraph 8): “ . . . God executes judgment on the nations in this their judgment day, because this world or system of things must be destroyed; but God will not wipe out the whole human race altogether. God will save flesh that is not of this world, by shortening the days of the great tribulation.”
Regarding this same trouble Matthew 24:21 says: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” This is the great tribulation that comes upon Satan’s organization, which was centered in heaven, where Satan had his headquarters. It is this tribulation upon Satan’s organization that is cut short. By Jesus’ way of stating it he indicated that God had assigned a definite length of time for this great tribulation as a whole by dating beforehand its beginning and its end. A tribulation that is due to occur within certain fixed time limits can be shortened in three ways: (1) by not beginning the tribulation at the fixed date for the time period to start; or (2) by bringing the great tribulation to an end before the fixed date for the time period to terminate; or (3) by beginning and ending the great tribulation at the opening and closing dates of the time period, but lifting out or taking away some, much or most of the tribulation in between those two terminal dates. Thus the time period as a whole, “the time of the end,” “the conclusion of the system of things,” remains of the same duration but the continuance of the tribulation is cut short by a temporary interruption of it.
The fulfillment of divine prophecy indicates that the last way is the one by which the “great tribulation” is cut short. According to the Bible, A.D. 1914 is a fixed date. It was fixed for the ending of the “appointed times of the nations” and for the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens. (Luke 21:24; Rev. 12:1-5) The birth of the Kingdom in the heavens meant the start of the war in heaven against the Devil and his unholy angels up there. By this war in heaven against the Devil’s invisible organization the “great tribulation” began. Of course, it had its effects upon the visible part of Satan’s organization here on earth. The war resulted in ousting the Devil and his demons from heaven and confining their area of activity to this earth. Their keeping active about the earth was not prevented, for the Devil and his demons were not abyssed on being confined to this earth. (Rev. 12:6-17) Thus for the time being the great tribulation upon Satan’s organization was interrupted or discontinued. Evidently that occurred by A.D. 1918.
Now since God has a definite time for ending this “great tribulation” on Satan’s organization, the longer that he continues this interval in which his witnesses preach this good news of the Kingdom in all the earth for a witness to all nations, the farther back the time for the final part of the “great tribulation” is pushed closer to the terminal date of the time period, “the conclusion of the system of things.” This abbreviates the time allowed for this final part of the “great tribulation” to run. This final part is commonly called by the name of the battlefield mentioned in Revelation 16:16, namely, Armageddon.
Jesus likened this battle of Armageddon to the flood of Noah’s day and said concerning the battle’s outbreak: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36) So, whereas we know that we are rapidly approaching the battle of Armageddon, we do not know when it will begin, neither when it will end, and hence how long it will be. Till then we are under command to preach everywhere the Kingdom news, because then “the end will come.” Because of what we do now, some “flesh” will be saved and thus this earth will not be totally depopulated. This is therefore an interval vital to the salvation of those who will be saved and survive Armageddon. By this interval between the opening feature of the “great tribulation” and the closing feature, Armageddon, the “great tribulation” as a whole is shortened. This shortening operates for our salvation. The Watchtower magazine did not say that God will shorten Armageddon. It said: “God will save flesh that is not of this world, by shortening the days of the great tribulation.”—Matt. 24:14, 22.
● What is the meaning of John 14:30, which reads: “I shall not speak much with you any more, for the ruler of the world is coming. And yet he has no hold on me.”—B. R., United States.
In saying, “I shall not speak much with you any more,” Jesus was calling attention to the fact that this was his last night with them as a human, and it is true that after his resurrection he did not speak much with them. His appearances to them were few and comparatively brief.
As for the expression “the ruler of the world is coming,” the context of these words helps us to determine their meaning. Jesus had spoken of going away and sending the holy spirit in his place as a guide. So the coming of this world’s ruler was connected with Jesus’ going away or his death. The ruler of the world, Satan, was “coming” to Jesus in a special way: to apply the final test of integrity to him, even as he had “come” to him at the beginning of his ministry to apply a series of tests to him.—Matt. 4:1-10.
Regarding the words “yet he has no hold on me,” by this we are to understand that Jesus had not permitted Satan to gain any control over him whatever. In no way had Jesus compromised with Satan or allowed himself to become beholden to Satan.
● Would it violate any Christian principles to contribute to a United Givers Fund campaign conducted annually at one’s place of employment?—M. P., United States.
Whether a dedicated Christian will contribute to such charitable drives or not is something for each one to decide for himself. He may justly feel that he is already using all his available resources in a charitable work, that of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, and that therefore he is not under obligation to contribute to other forms of charity. He also might well reason that his money will do more good if spent in some other way, in view of the large overhead that certain charitable organizations have, the officers of some receiving extremely high salaries. So it would be a burden of responsibility that each Christian would have to bear himself as to what would be the best thing for him to do under the circumstances.—Gal. 6:5.