Questions From Readers
● In connection with Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the name “Dives” is frequently given the rich man. Where does this name originate? Did not Jesus leave the rich man without a name?—A. K., U.S.A.
It is true that Jesus Christ did not dignify “the rich man” in the parable with a given name but rather described him in order to portray the class of persons he represents. (Luke 16:19-22) Though the Bible does not give a name for the rich man, he has become known, over the years, as “Dives.” This is because dives is the Latin word meaning “rich,” and this word appears in the Latin Vulgate Version (“homo quidam erat dives”; “there was a certain rich man”). So the word dives is not strictly a proper name but a Latin adjective. However, in English literature, as early as the time of Chaucer, the word “Dives” appears in popular usage as the name for the rich man of the parable. Later, theological literature adopted the “name,” and its usage is now widespread. Yet the popularity of the word “Dives” does not contradict the fact that Jesus did not assign an actual name to this symbolic rich man.
● Is a Christian obligated to submit to a blood transfusion simply because a court orders it?—M. C., U.S.A.
The true Christian governs his life by the laws of God, obeying all human laws that do not conflict with God’s. (Mark 12:17) Of interest to Christians is God’s law to ancient Israel: “Be firmly resolved not to eat the blood, because the blood is the soul and you must not eat the soul with the flesh.” (Deut. 12:23) So God expected the Israelites to be “firmly resolved” not to eat blood, even if someone might try to force them to eat it.—See also Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11, 12, 14.
Is it any different with worshipers of Jehovah today? No, for the divine law regarding blood is still the same, just as stated in the Christian Greek Scriptures: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep yourselves free from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” (Acts 15:28, 29, 25) Please note that this prohibition on the use of blood to nourish the human body is linked with the prohibition of what amounts to idolatry. Well, would you commit an act of idolatry if ordered to do so by a court? If a judge ordered you to bow to an idol, would you do so? Or would you be firmly resolved to put God’s law first, obeying God as ruler rather than men? (Acts 5:29) The early Christians refused demands for them to perform idolatrous acts, even though it meant death in a Roman arena.
So dedicated Christians today must be just as firmly resolved to obey God as the faithful Israelites and early Christians were. However, it has been noted that in some cases in which courts have ordered blood transfusions there has evidently not been a firm resolve on the part of the one professing to be a Christian. Some have indicated to the court that, while they would not authorize transfusions, they would not resist them if the court ordered them. In one case, after such a statement, the judge ordered a transfusion, stressing heavily the fact that the individual seemed to indicate that, as long as he himself did not authorize the blood transfusion, it would be all right. But is this all right with God? Is this being “firmly resolved” to obey God’s law on blood?
It is true that the court bears the responsibility for what it does, if it orders blood; but if any Christian tells a judge that, while he would not agree to a transfusion, he would not resist if the court ordered it, he is in actuality cooperating with them in violating God’s law. Is that what he wants to do? If a Christian is firmly resolved to obey God’s law on blood, it is difficult to see how he could simply be passive about the matter. The extent to which a Christian will resist the administration of a blood transfusion in his case or in the case of a dependent is something for that person to decide and his congregation to examine.
The Christian firmly resolved to obey God can usually take steps to avoid anyone’s trying to force blood transfusions upon him. How? By discussing the blood issue with his doctor before registering as a patient in a hospital. Keep in mind that the cooperation of the anesthetist is often needed, as well as that of the surgeon. There is also a release that can be signed, requesting that no blood transfusion be given and releasing the hospital of any responsibility for their not administering blood transfusions. But that is not all.
When one enters a hospital, one will likely be asked to sign a statement granting the hospital the right to administer to the patient “whatever operative and medical procedures that may be deemed necessary or advisable.” When one agrees to a statement such as that, one is signing a general consent. Unless an exception is inserted with regard to blood transfusions, such agreement of general consent ‘for any medical procedure deemed necessary’ can be construed to include blood transfusions. A clerk at a hospital may believe that it is unnecessary to make such an insertion; however, such view is not the correct one.
In this time when disregard for God’s law prohibiting use of the blood of any other creature is ignored by the world in general, those who desire to please God need to be vigilant and firm for what is right.