The Soul Is In The Blood

Everybody knows that blood is necessary to live and according to the Bible it is sacrosanct. Some deny this and see no problem in eating blood sausages or the meat of suffocated animals. Most of us have heard horror stories about heathen drinking blood from skulls. But on the other side there are sects that forbid blood transfusion and then one can find natives in India that do not even crush insects as the souls of their ancestors might be in them.

I suspect that life styles such as vegetarianism and veganism originally have to do with philosophical ideas about the importance of blood and the fact that animals are creatures that have great similarities with humans. Think of the emotions pets can demonstrate and the intimate bonding that can grow with their owners.

Hindu culture considers cows holy to such an extent that during festivals their dung is smeared through the hairs of devotees. This may all show that attitudes and life styles concerning blood reflect a kaleidoscope of philosophies and theologies of cultures ancient and contemporary. It may be apparent that there is a worsening development on the right and on the left side of this spectrum, ranging from vegetarianism to the preservation of insects as bearers of souls, on the right and ranging from disregard of blood to drinking it, on the left. Head shrinking and fear of ‘insecticide’ are the two mutually opposing extremes at the very bottom of this circle.

It may be clear that there is nothing wrong with a life saving blood transfusion. The idea in the Bible is that when you use blood to sustain life by eating it, it is the blood of animals that is unnecessarily misused, whereas creation offers a smorgasbord of possibilities to help you live. A blood transfusion does sustain your life, but it is human blood that is shed for another. It is something unique and an exception and there is a vast difference with drinking human blood, which would be a degraded practice.

The Bible states that life is in the blood and the prohibition to use it as food infuses one with reverence for life. But one exaggerates this respect when one forbids the consumption of meat. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “He that is weak, eats vegetables.” Yet he points out that meat eaters should not despise the vegetarians and the latter should not condemn the former.

In the first council the elders in Jerusalem told the Christian followers from the gentiles that they should abstain from eating blood and suffocated animals. The latter, obviously, because the blood has not been drained out. I am sure it is an exaggeration to conclude that one should not eat beef as it still contains a few drops of blood. On the other hand sausages, in which blood is one of the key ingredients, should be discarded. For a slaughter house it is good practice to have the blood drain away quite completely.

As a Christian I am not at all concerned about forming an opinion about the ritual killing of animals. The New Testament explains that the animals sacrificed in the Old Testament, are all shadows of the real sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Golgotha, where He shed His blood for all of us. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” The whole legal system is grounded in the idea that wrongs should be righted and that damage inflicted should be paid for in one way or another. Now, the ultimate wrong committed by humans is the blatant disregard of God’s claims on us and that compounded by the neglects of and the transgressions against each other. The ultimate sin of autotheism, putting man in God’s place, requires the ultimate penalty. Only the sinless and perfect Person of Jesus Christ could literally foot the bill.

And this brings us to the real sanctity of life, the fulfilment of all reason and meaning in Him Who created us and bought us back with His precious blood. He is the grain of wheat that falls into the ground, dies and brings forth a hundredfold. He is the tree of life that fills us with the fountain of water (the Holy Spirit). He is the lamb foreknown before the foundation of the earth and sacrificed from the foundation of the earth. He will be the All in all unto all eternity!

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