Meat lovers versus vegetarians
Find out why it's not what we eat that matters, it's how we love.
Written by Olivia White
What does the Bible say about eating meat?
When God first created humans, he told them that they were allowed to eat any of the plants (Genesis 1:29-30). After the flood, God expanded their cuisine: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” (Genesis 9:3)
In Leviticus 11, God ordered limitations for the people of Israel on what they were allowed to eat. Certain types of meat were “unclean” and not to be eaten. This was to distinguish the Israelites as separate from other nations and set apart for God.
What about Daniel? Daniel, a young Israelite, and his three Israelite companions chose to eat vegetables instead of the food of the king’s palace when they were sent to Babylon. God “had favour” on them and kept them healthy; in fact, they was even more healthy and strong than the Babylonian youths who ate the king’s food. Their health was a gift from God to display his power to the Babylonians.
Did Jesus eat meat? Yes, Jesus himself ate at least fish (Luke 24:42-43) and lamb (Luke 22:8-15). Since Jesus was perfect and never sinned, we can be assured his eating meat couldn’t have been sinful.
In Mark 7:18-19 Jesus declared that what enters the body, food can’t defile that person; he declared all foods to be “clean”, thus abolishing the Levitical laws on food. Later on after Jesus’ ascension, he appeared to the apostle Peter in a vision, confirming what he had previously stated about all foods being clean.
Don’t be a stumbling block
Now, I could give you my opinions or preferences, but I don’t believe that would be very helpful to you. After all, we must primarily depend on what the Bible says about eating meat and not depend on what we think about eating meat. So let’s take a look at what the apostle Paul has to say.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. Romans 14:13-14
Paul is making it clear that those who are strong in their convictions, are not to harm those who are weak. Instead the strong are to refrain in whatever the weaker party struggles with, for their benefit. We are always to act in love. If we act without love we can contradict the love of Jesus. The main concern for us as brothers and sisters in Christ, is not what we eat, rather it is building upon the values of God’s kingdom. Demonstrating love in this way is pleasing to God and those who do so are seen as selfless servants of Christ (Romans 14:18-19).
Respect one another’s decisions
Some people will still believe that it is sinful to eat meat. Whether they are right or not, it would be wrong for them to eat it if they believe it is sin. Ignoring one’s conscience is sin in and of itself. So then, if you have a friend who is a vegetarian because they believe it is wrong to eat meat, don’t tempt them by encouraging them to do something that they believe is wrong.
If you’re one of those people that would like to eat bacon all day, every day, for the rest of your life, perhaps you could tone down your love of bacon when you’re talking to your vegetarian friends. We ought to be considerate of other people’s opinions and preferences even if they are based solely on physical reasons such as health benefits.
Remember that just as God has not forbidden meat for Christians, he has also not commanded us to eat it. Accept and respect other people’s convictions rather than judging them for it or arguing about it.