The Christian Diet

What does God say about what we eat?
Note: I realize this post is missing a reference to Romans 14; I am in the process of turning this post into a series so that I can expand on the topic without having a book in one blog post. Please bear with me. In the mean time, I'm leaving this post up for reference.

Introduction

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Tanja Sund
The diet of a Christian is another topic the Church can't seem to agree upon. Many denominations abstain from alcohol. Mormons, also known as the Church of the Latter Day Saints, or LDS, abstain from caffeine in addition to alcohol. Seventh Day Adventists observe the dietary laws of Leviticus and encourage a vegetarian lifestyle, while many have no restrictions at all about diet. It makes sense that along with telling us what is proper and improper behavior, God would also tell us what is or isn't acceptable to eat.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?1 Corinthians 6:19 KJV
Just as God went through meticulous detail to explain to the Israelites how to keep the temple clean and pure for God's presence, He tells us how to behave and what to consume to keep our bodies—the temples of the new covenant—acceptable for Him.
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The Dietary Laws

"Leviticus 11-12: Clean and Unclean" covers the dietary law given to the Israelites by God, but are we still expected to follow these guidelines? Many denominations believe that the dietary law is no longer applicable to us. Those who believe this argue that Jesus abolished the law on the cross so we are not bound to uphold them. A rebuttable of this is given in "The Law"; in short, Jesus Himself said that He didn't come to destroy but to fulfill. His fulfillment lies in the fact that He shed His own blood in payment of our transgressions, not that God suddenly thinks it's acceptable to behave contrary to the law.

Isaiah 66

Isaiah 66 tells us that those partaking in sinful behavior, specifically those eating pork, will be burned in the wrath of God's anger. By reading the entire chapter, we see that this passage is not God talking about what will happen in Isaiah's lifetime, but a prophecy related to the end times. God mentions that His word will be spread amongst the Gentiles, which began shortly after Jesus' crucifixion. This alone proves that God never intended mankind to eat that which He forbade us to eat, however we will look at several verses and arguments to conclude that God expects us to keep the dietary law.
They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.Isaiah 66:17 KJV

Mark 7

The first "rebuttal" or explanation for Christians eating whatever they wish came from Mark 7:15. In this verse Jesus tells the Pharisees and the disciples that nothing external to man defiles him, it is the internal things coming out of man that defile him. From just this verse, many are satisfied that Jesus was saying eat what you will because it is not the food you eat that makes you unclean. There are a few problems with that interpretation however. For one, during the Exodus, when Moses told the people not to eat certain foods, was it really the food that made them unclean or was it their willingness to disobey God? Did the forbidden fruit actually harm Adam and Eve, or was it their willingness to disobey God that got them into trouble? Further, if you read all of Mark 7, to put the verse in context, Jesus is defending the disciples against the accusation of not washing their hands before eating bread. The bread was never said to be unclean and neither was the dirt! Jesus makes the point that the Pharisees were following man's traditions and laws (washing of hands before eating) as opposed to God's law. Jesus wasn't promoting eating unclean meat this passage. This is evidenced in Acts 10 when Peter is astounded and refuses to eat unclean meat in a vision. Peter adamantly denies ever eating anything unclean. Peter was with Jesus for the exchange of Mark 7, so we know that if Jesus was inferring that it was ok to eat unclean meat, Peter would not have been surprised or hesitant in the vision.

Acts 10

Which brings us to Acts 10, another passage people use to say it is now ok to eat unclean animals. Most focus on the end of the chapter, in which Peter has a dream that God tells him to eat all manner of beast, even those that are unclean. Peter vehemently denies, stating that he has never eaten anything unclean in his life. God then tells Peter not to call anything God has cleansed unclean or common. Many use this as evidence that God sanctioned eating unclean meat. However, they neglect the context. For instance, in all of the other visions God's people are given (think Daniel or John), the vision has to be explained: a beast is not a just beast. In many of the visions, beasts represent nations. Not surprisingly, the surrounding context of the chapter follows a man named Cornelius who is a Gentile believer. Cornelius is seeking to speak with Peter to become better acquainted with God. Cornelius shows up while Peter is pondering the vision from God, and God tells Peter to go to speak with him and his men. In verse 28, Peter tells us what he has learned from the dream, not to call any man unclean or uncommon. Prior to the years after Jesus' resurrection, Gentiles were considered unclean,[1] and Peter reminds us in this verse that it was illegal for Jews to mingle with Gentiles at that time. Peter specifies that God's vision taught him that no man is unclean; the unclean beasts in his vision were representative of Gentile nations. God cleansed man with Jesus' blood, where in the Bible does it say that Jesus died to cleanse the animals? In the following chapter (Acts 11) the Jews confront Peter about including the Gentiles and their quibble is that the Gentiles are uncircumcised, not that they eat unclean meats because the God fearing Gentiles already followed Jewish customs.[2] This means that neither Cornelius, Peter, nor the Jews angry with the inclusion Gentiles understood this to mean they could eat whatever they wanted. It is evident that they understand God's command to be in reference to the inclusion of Gentiles in the ministry.

Colossians 2

Paul tells us not to let any man judge us of many things, one of which is meat. People often cite this as well to defend the position that unclean foods are now clean. As with everything, I suggest reading the verse in context. Reading the whole of Colossians 2 and applying knowledge we receive from the Old Testament, we may see things a bit differently. Notice that Colossians 2:8 specifically points out that Paul is speaking against man's traditions—not God's.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.Colossians 2:8 KJV
Paul goes on to actually give us some instructions concerning these traditions of men:
14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 18Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,Colossians 2:14-18 KJV
If you study the Jewish law, you will find that the Pharisees added laws to what Moses listed in Leviticus; one such example is that to this day Kosher law dictates that meat and dairy cannot mix. This stems from God's command not to seethe a kid in it's mother's milk. To seethe is to boil, which means God isn't forbidding man from eating a burger and drinking a milkshake or placing a piece of cheese over turkey in a sandwich. Furthermore we don't get milk from chickens or turkeys and it is unlikely you use goats milk, so the only problem you would really face is boiling beef in it's mother's milk. Since beef cattle like Angus and Texas Longhorn do not provide milk (except when they are nursing) and dairy cattle are often not sent off to be slaughtered, it is unlikely you will seethe beef in its mother's milk either. Though, I could see the separation just in case. In essence, the Pharisees overshot this law to protect people from accidentally breaking one of God's commandments, but God's commandments are hard enough to keep without man's extra laws placed on top. Paul is talking about man's traditions being nailed to the cross. We see Jesus make "a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" when He corrects the Pharisees doctrine throughout His ministry. Verse 16 takes understanding of the Pentateuch to really understand. The holydays, new moon, and sabbath days he speaks of are the feasts that foretold Christ's coming. I am currently writing a post on how the Feast Days connect to Christ, which I will link here as soon as it is completed. All of the other items mentioned in this verse stem from the preparation for Christ's arrival, so are these meats and drink Paul mentions, the sacrifices (which remember, meat sacrifices are actually grain sacrifices and have nothing to do with meat). Or is Paul talking about meats sacrificed to idols? Gentiles converting to the faith would have family members who might sacrifice to a pagan god then offer the convert meat from the sacrifice. Is Paul saying it's ok to eat that meat? Or is Paul telling the Gentiles not to let their pagan friends and family judge them for no longer getting drunk and no longer eating unclean foods? Or is it as those trying to justify eating unclean food think and Paul is telling Gentiles to continue eating unclean food and ignore judgment? People often forget that Paul's duty was to preach to the Gentiles, who would have a different set of problems than the Jews. Just as preaching to a child from a Christian family will be different than preaching to a child from an atheist family. Further, if Paul is referring to unclean meant, notice that he said let no man judge you, he doesn't say God won't judge you; which is odd. Whatever he's telling them not to let man judge them for, it must already be established where God stands, and so far God stands against eating unclean meat. The biggest problem with the idea that Paul is telling the Gentiles they can eat unclean foods, is that it would contradict Isaiah 66:17. Paul is likely telling them not to let the Jews judge them for not upholding traditions such as sacrifices,feasts and the sabbath days of the feasts because they were placeholders for the Messiah, who has now come, rendering these things unnecessary.[8][9][10][11]

1 Timothy 4:1-7

1 Timothy 4:1-7 is the one of two of the only arguments that ever made the slightest bit of sense to me. Here, Paul is telling Timothy about some of the false doctrines that will appear in the end of days. One such doctrine is abstaining from meats. Paul goes on to say that every creature of God is good and not to be refused.
4Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.1 Timothy 4:1-7 KJV
Unfortunately, we still have a contrast with Isaiah 66—if all meat is to be received with thanksgiving, why are those eating pork (and mouse) consumed by fire at the end of days? One source points at the last half of 1 Timothy 4:3: "meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving."[12] In the beginning, no meat was made to be received with thanksgiving, it was only after Noah that we were allowed to receive meat. If you look closely at the story of Noah, you will see that God specified clean and unclean to Noah in reference to how many of each animal was to be brought on the ark. We are not given information on dietary restriction, but why would God reference clean and unclean animals for no reason to Noah? Was it merely for future reference, like "hey, Noah, you can eat this now but in the future I will forbid a subset of your ancestors to eat these"? We can't be certain about that, but we do know that the Jews of the New Testament were forbidden to eat or offer unclean meats. Those meats would not be considered "created to received with thanksgiving" from the perspective of the Jews.

The main difficulty of understanding what is written in the Bible stems from a lack of complete knowledge. Many things come into play when reading a particular verse: what did the original Hebrew or Greek say (is it a faithful translation)?, what do other passages in the Bible say on the subject?, what did the phrase or word mean in the time it was written?, what is the history/culture of the person writing this verse?, etc. For example, in 1 Timothy 4:3, Paul specifies that "forbidding to marry" is one of the false doctrines. If one was to pick up a Bible and jump straight to this verse, they may argue that forbidding alternative forms of marriage (such as homosexual marriage) is a sign of being on the wrong side of Christ. Yet, in Romans 1:26-27 KJV, Paul explicitly condemns homosexuality, and in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 KJV, he implicitly condemns homosexuality. Therefore, based upon knowing Paul's stance, we know that when he says marriage in 1 Timothy 4:3, he is referring to marriage between a man and a woman. We must use this same technique to determine what Paul means when he says meats.>
What is Meat?
Sometimes, such as in Genesis 1:29 and Leviticus 2:1, meat has nothing to do with flesh; in these verses meat is not the same as the primary meaning of the word we use today. Yet, we do see in Genesis 9:3 that meat is referring to the flesh of animal as we would expect today. In Acts 15:29, Paul talks about abstaining from meat offered to idols—though it is not specified whether this meat is unclean or clean.

In 1 Corinthians 8, the discussion of meat is around meat offered to an idol, again there is no specifications about clean or unclean. The verses here are discussing the fact that we know there are no other gods therefore idols are not real. Many believe this passage tells us that for this reason, we may eat food that has been offered to idols, but others disagree, particularly after taking into consideration Acts 15 forbids the eating of meat offered to idols. One person suggested that in 1 Corinthians 8 Paul was answering the question of why they could not eat meat sacrificed to idols (a stumbling block to their brothers) rather than explaining that they could.[17][18] Moving along in 1 Corinthians 8 we see that you are not worse off if you do not eat the food and that you should be mindful of weak-minded brethren. If it offends or causes confusion amongst your brothers you should abstain for their benefit (I would imagine this would be particularly applicable to parents with young children).
What Did the Original Say?
The New Testament was original written in Greek, in what is known as the Septuagint. The word that appears there which is translated to meat in the English Bible is βρωματων. Today this word means oats (according to Google Translate), but in ancient Greek, it meant "food (literally or figuratively), especially (ceremonially) articles allowed or forbidden by the Jewish law:--meat, victuals."[13][14] The word for unclean meat, however is akathartos.[15] The word in Timothy 4:3 is referring to ceremonial meat; that which was allowed by Jewish law were sacrifices to God (which were no longer necessary now that Jesus had come), and that which was forbidden by Jewish law were sacrifices to idols or things handled by pagans/Gentiles. The original is not specifying unclean meats.
Who is Speaking? Who is Being Spoken To?
Paul, the author of 1 Timothy, preached Christ to the Gentiles but he was born a Jew, and Timothy, the recipient of the letter, was born to a Jewish mother and a Greek father.[16] Both men would have been well versed in the Jewish customs; specifically clean and unclean meat. When two practicing Jews come together for dinner, do you think they ask each other if the meat is provided is that of a clean animal? Or do they just assume that as a practicing Jew, the other would not give them unclean meat? Do you ask your fellow Christians what they mean when they say God or do you just assume they mean the God of Abraham? When Paul said meat, it is likely he was referencing clean meat (he would naturally preface unclean meat based upon his upbringing).
1 Timothy 4:4
But then Paul says all creatures are good and nothing to be rejected... Note that once again Paul qualifies this with "if it be received with thanksgiving." The next verse adds that it is sanctified by God. Unclean meat is not received by God with thanksgiving, nor is it ever sanctified by God. Paul is not God so he can't sanctify the meat himself and no where in the Bible does it say that thus saith the Lord or Jesus in reference to unclean meat becoming clean. All creatures God created were good; this is true, we learned this in Genesis 1 and 2 however just because they were good did not mean God allowed people to eat them (Adam and Eve were vegetarians). Nothing was to be refused if it was received with thanksgiving, which likely is referring to food handled by pagans (Jews did not consume food touched by pagans or washed it thoroughly as they thought this made it unclean[15]).

Acts 15

In Acts 15, the apostles are adamant that of all the laws the converted Gentiles were to follow, the most important ones were to abstain from blood (which is commanded first to Noah, then to the Israelites in addition to the clean/unclean animals), meats offered to idols, strangled animals, and fornication.
28For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.Acts 15:28-29 KJV
This is an interesting list because meats offered to idols, blood, and animals not killed for sacrifice or in the acceptable manner for food are all discussed in Leviticus around the same chapters with the list of unclean meat. Yet, unclean meat is not specified here and fornication is, which has seemingly nothing to do with the other three laws. It seems to me, however, that even though they reference "laws" in general, they are speaking of specific laws mentioned to the new converts. I highly doubt the apostles found it more important to follow these commandments than Jesus' commandments to love God and love your neighbor (essentially reiterating the 10 Commandments). Perhaps clean and unclean was already understood, just as Jesus' commandments were already understood to be requirements.

If you continue in the chapter, Peter says they are speaking of commandments that even they (the Israelites) could not keep; but the Israelites kept the dietary law easily. Jews keep the dietary even today, and while it may not be as simple as eating without restriction, it is far from impossible. Now that I live in area with a high population of Jews, there are not only Kosher restaurants, but Kosher supermarkets as well. The things that were hard about the law that Gentiles would have been facing would be circumcision at a late age (specifically mentioned in the chapter), or arguing and being disobedient to parents (particularly if one's Gentile parents were not converts), etc. In this context, we see that meats offered to idols would be prominent on the tables in the mixed-faith families of the Gentiles. Also, their relatives would serve clean meat but not kill them as the Jews did, and thus blood or strangulation may be an issue. In that time period, it is possible the Gentile converts also butchered their own meat, but today, you can't buy meat that doesn't have blood in it unless you buy Kosher meat and you can't simply wash the blood away. They are still forbidding Christian Gentiles to eat blood, so we would still be restricted to Kosher meat. The Jews, while more careful with their meat, would have also struggled with this law, as getting all of the blood out of the meat was not an easy task. Similarly, the Israelites would have likely had many spats with their parents as well (who hasn't had a spat with their parent, this seems to be a key ingredient in growing up). These seem in line with laws Peter thought were difficult even for Gentiles. If this is the case, the apostles could have been picking from a list of laws handed to the Gentiles that may not have been inclusive of all laws. We can't know for sure, and even if we could say without a shadow of doubt that this is true, we don't know what the other laws were. The only law we are expressly told was unnecessary is circumcision.

Personally, I believe that more clear books of the Bible may have been written but were destroyed in the assault on Christianity during the early church. The directness of the Old Testament is replaced with implication and assumption in the New Testament. We also see several passages about the antichrist and false prophets deceiving believers along with the masses. If there was an explicit verse that said "unclean meat is still unclean meat," no believer today would touch unclean meat and it would be extremely obvious that interpretations of the verses mentioned here were not about unclean meat and vice-versa. If that were the case no one would attempt to purify themselves and eat swine at the same time as prophesied in Isaiah 66. Satan likely destroyed any manuscripts he could not twist and distort during the early days of the faith. God, looking out for us, left enough for us to be able to raise a red flag and figure it out (such as Isaiah 66).

Matthew 6/Luke 12

Jesus tells us not to worry about food at all. In Luke 12 and Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat.
22And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?Luke 12:22-24 KJV
25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?Matthew 6:25-26 KJV
No one has ever brought up these verses in an argument. I believe this is because it is rather obvious that Jesus is speaking about worrying where your next meal will come from. Just as God provided food for the Israelites in the desert, He will provide food for His followers now. Whether we are short on money or living in the end times where buying and selling is illegal without the mark of the beast, there is no need to worry about what is happening here. While God has a purpose for us in this life, He will provide for us and once we fulfill that purpose, death is only the next step toward our final destination in Heaven. Jesus isn't saying eat whatever you want so much as don't worry about where the food will come from (see Luke 12:24 or Matthew 6:26).
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Denominations

Most denominations hang their hat on Acts 10 (or one of the other chapters mentioned above) and justify eating unclean meat. Some denominations forbid alcohol consumption, while others believe that moderate consumption is ok. Denominations such as the Latter Day Saints (or Mormons) abstain from caffeine in addition to alcohol. Seventh Day Adventists practice the dietary law, and promote vegetarianism. United Church of God also practices the Dietary Law.
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Alcohol

I don't need to rehash the dangers of alcoholism; we know that too much alcohol is a bad thing. People often turn in to the worst versions of themselves after parking in too much alcohol. There's also the dreaded hangover that can follow an evening of overconsumption. These are logical conclusion with or without faith. The question amongst believers is how much is too much? Throughout the Bible, God condemns drunkenness—the first time we see drunkenness it accompanies Ham's betrayal of Noah. Noah obviously had too much, but is that one beer, three classes of wine, a shot? Many churches err on the safe side and argue that you should just stay away from alcohol all together. It seems like a logical conclusion, after all you can't over-indulge if you don't indulge at all. Abstaining from alcohol not only ensures you won't become a drunk, it also saves money. Of course, there are several passages that seem to support the idea of moderate drinking in the appropriate setting. In Leviticus 10:9, God tells Aaron neither to have wine nor a strong drink before performing his duties as a priest; note that He doesn't say never have wine or a strong drink. Similarly, a wine offering is given in Leviticus 23:13 and Jesus turns the water into wine in John 2. Before Jesus is crucified they try to give Him wine (mixed with myrrh) and He refuses.[3] So, what is God telling us to do?

There are those who argue that wine in the Bible is actually grape juice. Although wine is often listed alongside strong drinks, many believe it was not alcoholic.[4] Reference 4 has a detailed and unbiased discussion on wether the wine mentioned is actually fermented and alcoholic or not. As you research the idea, I would encourage you to think more-so about your motivation in drinking an alcoholic beverage. Do you drink beer because everyone around you is drinking it and you don't want to be left out? Are you drinking because you need a "pick me up?" Could you not just ask God to cheer you up? Seeking refuge from problems is a dangerous reason to consume alcohol. Or do you actually like the way it tastes? I attended a school known for its alcoholism and grew up in family that makes wine, so I've had my share of tasting alcoholic beverages. For me, straight liquor is disgusting; I'm sure God did not want me to take that. What God makes is good, and boy my tastebuds and throat do not think straight liquor is good. Now, that being said, raw beans aren't good either... I've had a few mixed drinks that taste ok, but not so good that I feel the need to pay $10+ instead of $2 for a Pepsi. Most wine does taste good, though I still prefer grape juice to wine. I can easily see someone saying that grape juice is better than wine (I'm referencing the governor in John 2 who proclaims Jesus' wine is better than the other wine). I can also see wine being considered of God as long as you don't over indulge. Part of the Nazarite vow required the Nazarite to abstain from wine, as evidenced with John the Baptist, though it seems a bit weird to make them abstain from grape juice. Why not orange juice? Or apple juice? Milk? What would be so special about grape juice? Wine, on the other hand, has the potential to cause intoxication. It does make more sense that He would forbid wine.

It is obvious that God does not want us to be drunk; for some drunk comes one glass in, for others it may be ten glasses later. If you drink, I suggest researching the arguments and praying on the topic. Also, I encourage you look at the motivations behind drinking. Think about whether you partake every once in a while for a celebratory occasion (like the wedding Jesus attended) or if you drink to fit in, or to feel comfortable, etc. (these would indicate deeper issues). Can you go without drinking indefinitely? If the answer to that question is no, then drinking is definitely not something you should participate in.
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Caffeine

Caffeine is considered a physcoactive drug often found in coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate. Though it is considered a drug, it is a naturally occurring substance that is found in the leaves or fruits of certain plants.[5] However, caffeine has the potential to cause addiction. While a person may not experience devastating withdrawal symptoms such as a person trying to quit a drug like heroin, symptoms such as fatigue or headaches do occur. For this reason some believe we are meant to abstain from caffeine as well. Denominations such as Seventh Day Adventist and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) see caffeine as a gateway drug and thus members of these denominations will not consume things that contain caffeine.[6][7]

What does the Bible say? The Bible doesn't specifically mention caffeine, though it does tell us not to be addicted to anything. We should never be in the position that we have to have something. Luckily, with caffeine is it easy to become "un-addicted." I use to be a very heavy Pepsi drinker, though I was always conscious that I was at risk for addiction (possibly because one of my best friends was Mormon and adhered to abstaining from caffeine). Throughout my life I would notice that suddenly Pepsi just didn't taste the way it had before, and then I'd stop drinking caffeine for a while—sometimes it was a month, sometimes a few months. Recently, I cut back to only one or two caffeinated drinks a week. I don't feel any different without the caffeine than I did when I drank 3 or 4 pepsi's a day. I would say that I saved money, but orange juice and grape juice (my substitutes) cost more than soda. I don't think that because you drink coffee you're going to suddenly go and try cocaine, so I wouldn't call it a gateway drug. I do think that there is risk in partaking in caffeine—we all know that person who is just horrible if they don't get their morning cup. I strongly believe God doesn't want us to be that person. I limit my caffeine intake, which is easy as the only two foods I consume that contain caffeine are soda and chocolate (I don't like coffee or tea). I don't eat much chocolate, maybe a piece once a month...maybe even every other month. So, really, I just try to keep my soda intake in check—often I substitute Sprite for my Pepsi. I haven't tried caffeine free soda, though that is an option as well. Like with all things, moderation is definitely the key. If you are an all or nothing type of person, then I'd suggest leaving the caffeine alone, but if you can have a little here and there without needing something all the time, moderation may be ok.
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Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is more popular than most would believe, and often has no roots in faith. Yet there are some who promote the idea of vegetarianism in Christianity. It stems from the fact that God created us as vegetarians in the beginning. This implies that in perfection, we would not eat meat. The Seventh Day Adventists advocate vegetarianism when possible.[7] God explicitly tells Noah we may eat meat, and explicitly defines for Moses which types of meat we may eat. This, however, does not mean we have to eat meat; simply that God allows us to. Brown University has put together some information on the benefits and risks of a vegetarian lifestyle, which can be found here. Benfits of being vegan (abstaining from both animals and animal byproducts such as milk or eggs) can be found here.
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Discussion

It stands to reason that if God never told us we could eat unclean animals, we can't eat unclean animals. God was very blunt and deliberate when He told Adam and Eve they could eat any of the green herbs that grew in the garden but could not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. God was very blunt and deliberate when He told Noah he could eat meat but not blood. God was also blunt and deliberate when He told Moses and the rest of the Israelites that they couldn't eat unclean meats. Why wouldn't He be blunt and deliberate in telling us we could eat unclean animals? I imagine if God were to allow us to eat unclean foods, in Acts 10, Peter's vision would have followed with him having a pork roast or telling the others that all meat was now clean—instead it stays focused on the cleansing of the Gentiles. Why? Because that was the whole of what God meant. Unclean meat is still unclean meat. Note that just because beef is clean does not mean a medium rare steak is—God also tells us not to eat blood. At the very least, I think it's a matter Christians should pray on and read more into.
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References

  1. Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Clean, Unclean'". Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 1997
  2. Long, Phillip J. "Acts 10 – What is a “God-Fearing Gentile”?". Reading Acts. February 2015
  3. Mark 15
  4. Patton, Michael. "Did Jesus Turn Water Into Wine or Grape Juice?". Credo House. November 2012
  5. "Caffeine". Better Health. 2015
  6. Armitage, Suzanne. "Word of Wisdom, Caffeine and Hypocrisy". Fair Mormon. 2015
  7. Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. "Christian Behavior". Seventh-day Adventists Believe ... A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines. 1988
  8. "Please Explain Colossians 2:14". Sabbath Truth. 2010
  9. Levy, Ralph. "Colossians 2:16-17: Does It Abolish the Law of Clean and Unclean Meats?". Life Hope & Truth. 2015
  10. United Church of God. "What Did Paul Really Say in Colossians 2:16?". Beyond Today. February 2011
  11. United Church of God. "God's Food Laws". Beyond Today. January 2011
  12. Nicholas. "Q and A: What does 1 Tim 4:4 mean?". Presents of God Ministries. 2015
  13. "Parallel History Bible: 1 Timothy 4:3". God Rules. 2015
  14. "Word: brwma". God Rules. 2015
  15. Montesinos, Rafael. "1 Timothy 4:3-5". DefensaAdventista. 2015
  16. Acts 16:1
  17. SRoper. "Comment on Acts 15 and 1 Corinthians 8". Puritan Board. November 2013
  18. Garland, David E. "The Dispute Over Food Sacrificed to Idols (1 Cor 8:1-11:1)". George W. Truett Theological Seminary. 2015
  19. Pastor Doug Batchelor. "How Does Romans 14 Fit With Biblical Direction to Avoid Unclean Meat?". Amazing Facts; visited 2017

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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