GOD'S MESSAGE/June 2005
I am a Catholic by birth but have attended Bible studies of Jehovah's Witnesses. I Have also read copies of your God's Message magazine and I have observed that your doctrines presented in your religious articles and your responses to questions in the Mailbox department are base on the Bible.
I just want to know your stand on celebrating birthdays, paying respect to the flag, and blood transfusion. Are they really against the will of God as what my friends claim?
Pablo M. Serrano
Baguio City, Philippines
There is nothing wrong with celebrating birthdays if it is done for the glory of God:
"Therefore, weather you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Cor. 10:31, New King James Version)
To regard our birthday as God's blessing and to thank Him during this occasion for all the good things that we have received from Him throughout the year that has passed is never wrong. In fact, the Holy Scriptures teach us to be thankful in everything:
"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (I Thess. 5:18, Ibid.)
Apostle Paul, however, admonishes Christians to get away from revelries and drunkenness because these are works of the flesh and those who practice such tings will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21 [19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.]).
Concerning the use of flag, verses of the bible show that the Lord does not prohibit it:
"May there be shouts of joy when we hear the news of your victory, flags flying with praise to God for all that he has done for you. May he answers all your prayers!" (Ps. 20:5, Living Bible)
The Holy Book even proves that God Himself instructed the ancient Israelites to use flags:
" ... The Lord issued the following instructions to Moses, ... 'Take a census of all the men twenty years old and older who are able to go to war, indicating their tribe and family. You and Aaron are to direct the project, assisted by leaders from each tribe, ... Each tribe of Israel shall have a separate camping area with its own flag'." (Num. 1:1-2, 52, Ibid)
Paying respect to a flag by saluting to it for instance or by standing at attention when it is being raised is but a gesture of nationalism. It is a form of respect and not of religious worship or adoration. Respecting something does not necessarily mean worshiping it. When we follow the commandment to respect our parents (Matt. 15:4), we do not necessarily worship them.
What the Almighty has prohibited since the time of Noah is the eating of blood of animals (Gen. 9:4 [4 "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.]; Lev. 17:12-13 [12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood." 13 " 'Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth,]; Acts 21:25 [25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."]). this prohibition by God can not be used as a basis for forbidding the medical practice called blood transfusion, for "eating blood" is obviously different from "transfusing blood."
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