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Eating Meat Or Vegetarianism

Updated on February 20, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

The start of meat eating

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the [a]sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. 3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.(verses 1-4)

Notice the bold words for they provide us with a lot of information. First, eating red meat is not unhealthy for you despite what vegetarians claim. All meat was given to us to eat, We did not rise up and demand this change nor did we usurp God authority and just take red meat to eat. God allowed us to eat animals and that makes the big difference.

Do not judge

Paul talks about eating meat in Romans and he says

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. (ch. 14)

Verse 3 is the key– we are not to criticize or judge those who do not eat as we eat. Vegetarians go too far in their condemnation of eating meat and need to get back under God’s direction because one style is not healthier than the other. God has allowed us choice in our diet thus we should not partake in those thoughts which divide the church. The one who eats meat is just as acceptable to God as the one who does not.

The problem in this issue comes in when we get to the following passage of scripture:

20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats [i]and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles (ch. 14)

Verse 21 is where the problem comes in as too many people use this passage to force their ways upon others. They are not even close to stumbling but simply do not like what someone else does. So they use this verse as a sledge-hammer to bring the other person into line with their personal views not God’s. I have seen this take place on a large-scale as in about my junior year at my undergrad alma mater. Students started to use the word ‘offended’ as a means to control other student’s behavior.

They were in no danger of losing their faith but merely used that verse to state their personal opinion that believers should not do certain activities. Like the secular Political Correct problem we face in this era, Students could not make a move without ‘offending’ someone. Discord and other negative emotions began to take hold and disharmony rose up until one student ‘lost it.’ Using scriptural words like ‘stumble’ or offended’ in the wrong way does not bring about the Christian harmony Jesus wants to see in his followers.

The misuse of scripture simply opens the door for evil to get in and work its destructive nature upon people who are to be the light to the world. Another example on a lesser scale took place in a restaurant where a party of 4 students had a little wine with their meals as the Bible directs. Unfortunately for them a professor was eating at the same restaurant at the same time and witnessed their actions. They faced expulsion the next day.

Trying to be spiritual

Sometimes when we try to maintain an image of spirituality we fail so miserably and do the exact opposite. We should not let fear dictate our response and by the word fear I mean that we do not allow the thought that the authority of the school and its staff would suffer because they acted in a just and merciful manner

This is what we cannot do when it comes to the issue of meat and non-meat eaters.We cannot mishandle the situation though at times many vegetarians do mishandle it. Their offer to bring their own food to a person’s house, after being invited to dinner, because meat will be served is mishandling the situation. One thing that vegetarians need to remember is that their diet is not divinely ordained and they will not be sinning if they eat meat in order to be polite guests.

Being polite

There are other ways of politely handling this situation but insulting the host by bringing your own food is not one of them. The following verse applies to vegetarians as well as meat eaters:

19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another

Insulting someone is not obeying this instruction. Sometimes a vegetarian will have to swallow their pride and eat meat to keep the peace and not offend another person. If one does not want to eat meat, then fine but they need to remember that their diet is not sacred and that the rules of the Bible apply to their dietary habits as well. They also need to remember that one diet is not greater than another (unless it is fast and junk food rich) and they need to put aside the sin of superiority and humble themselves just like meat eaters need to do.

We cannot let our diets bring sin into the church, causing division and ruining the ministry that local congregation has or could have. The issue is not about what we eat but how we remain sinless when we eat.

Unity in the Church

We need to remember that personal opinion is not divine nor the order for the church and we must learn to accept differences treating each other as Christ wants

The unity of the church helps us keep evil outside but that unity must be Christ based and not implemented by bullying others or forcing our different views upon those who disagree with us. As much as I do not like vegetarianism, those who practice it and have repented of their sins are believers like me and I will treat them just like that even though we disagree on how or what we should eat.

Unity in Christ does not mean unity in daily habits or personal opinion. It means obedience to God’s instructions even when we disagree on human things. It does not mean that we accept false teaching or unrepentant sinners to appear ‘inclusive’ but that we are united against sin as God has outlined it. It means we seek the truth and accept it when we find it.

There are so many things that do not doctrinally matter that have caused splits in different churches over the centuries and that is not the right way to go.

© 2019 David Thiessen


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