Balute, Blood-Eating and Brethren in the Philippines

By Jady W. Copeland

In the May 8th issue of Truth Magazine (1975), I wrote an article on “Are Blood Transfusions Wrong?” The conclusion to which I came in that article included my understanding of Acts 15:19-21, namely that this is not a blanket prohibition of the apostles and elders to eat blood in all generations of time, but that it was prohibited then because of the strained relationship between Jew and Gentile. The four things mentioned in verses 20 and 29 were things common to the Gentile Christians as they often practiced them prior to their becoming Christians. However, they seemed to have offended many of the Jews and, thus, in cementing the relationship between Jew and Gentile, it seems to me that Peter and the apostles were telling the Gentile Christians to refrain from these things in view of that relationship. From 1 Cor. 8 and 10 we learn that the eating of meat that had been sacrificed to idols was not, in all cases, sinful so if Acts 15:19 is a blanket prohibition (even for us today), it seems to me that you have a contradiction. Therefore, after studying the passage further in Acts 15, I have come to the conclusion as stated above.

As many of the Filipino brethren take Truth Magazine and since I was in the Philippines last April along with Brother Harold Trimble, I ran into a number of brethren there who questioned me on my article. Eating balute (unborn chickens and ducks still in the shell, and cooked) is a common practice in the Philippines as well as the eating of blood in other forms. Thus, it is a much greater “issue” there than in the United States. The position of brethren in the Philippines has been, and is, what my position had long been with reference to eating blood-namely that it is simply wrong to eat blood in any form. And since it seems to have caused quite a discussion among Filipino brethren, I have decided to write this article concerning attitudes with reference to such things in the hopes that Brother Willis can print it.

Not only have I changed my mind on this passage, but many brethren in the states do not agree with me. It is one of those “issues” I suppose on which there is a great deal of disagreement, but has never caused much trouble since not many people in the states desire to eat blood anyway. I certainly do not desire to eat it (had no “hankering” to eat balute even in the Philippines) and do not make an issue on the subject with those people with whom I disagree. I do not think any less of anyone who disagrees with me on the matter and (as always) realize the possibility of my being mistaken on the matter. I am willing to be taught. But since it seems to have caused some discussion among Filipino brethren, I wanted to appeal to them, and to all, to study the matter very seriously, and be fully assured in his own mind (Rom. 14:5). It is surely not an issue that should cause hard feelings. I appeal to my many Filipino brethren that I met and love to study the matter, but if it is going to cause any kind of hard feelings, then as the apostles wrote, you should refrain from such. Out of love for one another, and the desire for unity such things can be resolved in practice without any trouble at all. It is not a practice (such as the institutional question) where it would involve the whole congregation, but is an individual matter on which each must decide for himself. But I would, in view of the situation in the Philippines, urge brethren there not to eat blood as it might cause a brother to stumble. Even if one there might decide I am right about it, I think (knowing the situation there) it would be in the best interest of unity and love among brethren to refrain from such a practice. As I told some of the brethren while there, this is my own belief in the matter. Study the question for yourselves, and cause no hard feelings or trouble in the matter. There are a number of things I have had a desire to do in life, but have refrained from doing them because I thought they might harm my influence or cause a brother to sin. I do not eat blood. I do not want to eat blood, and if for no other reason than to keep from leading my brethren into sin, I would refrain from doing so. I would not want them to take me for an example and cause them to do that which they believe to be wrong (1 Cor. 8:7-13).

Truth Magazine XXI: 42, pp. 669-670
October 27, 1977