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When Christians choose not to eat certain foods

Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - When Christians choose not to eat certain foodsLast post explained that food is amoral or spiritually neutral. There are no foods that – at least for spiritual reasons – Christians should avoid.

In determining how much to give some some Christians say, “God expected ten percent under the Mosaic Law, so that’s the guideline I use.” That’s fine (except that God expected much more than 10%), and many apply a similar principle to food: “God is wise. He forbid certain foods under the Mosaic Law, so it’s best to avoid them.” Again, nothing wrong with that. Pork is the most well-known prohibited food, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone saying, “Bacon is healthy. You should eat it.” 

If you do choose to  avoid certain foods, please accept these encouragements…

  1. Don’t tell people they shouldn’t eat certain foods, because the New Testament doesn’t tell them that. The New Testament tells people the opposite.
  2. Don’t let your restrictions lead to self-righteousness. When people think they shouldn’t eat certain foods, sometimes they look down on others who don’t share the same convictions. Interestingly, 1 Corinthians 8:9-11 describes people who feel like they can’t eat certain foods as being “weak.”
  3. Don’t let your restrictions be a distraction. Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Keep your focus on the “weightier matters.” Jesus described it as “straining out a gnat, but swallowing a camel.God doesn’t care what you put in your mouth, but He cares what comes out of your mouth. How you talk to your spouse, children, parents, friends is infinitely more important than avoiding certain foods. Why is this important to keep in mind? Because it is much easier to focus on the physical (food) than the spiritual.
  4. Don’t neglect the the Law of Christ trying to keep the Mosaic Law. Twice Paul said the Law is fulfilled in the word “love” (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14). People’s view of food makes them unlike Christ when they become contentious and hostile.

Two restrictions on food…

1. God doesn’t care what you eat, but He cares how much you eat

It’s surprising how much attention is given to certain foods, but how little attention is given to overeating. Gluttony seems to be an acceptable sin. The common argument is, “God said to avoid these foods because they’re unhealthy!” If we’re talking about health, what about obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc?

  • Proverbs 23:20-21 Do not mix with winebibbers,
    Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
    For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
    And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
  • Proverbs 28:7b A companion of gluttons shames his father.

Some people who wouldn’t consider a slice of bacon will gorge themselves at the table. The New Testament has a lot to say about self-control, and these verses apply to our appetites.

2. God doesn’t care what you eat, but He cares if fellowship is broken

When your liberty might stumble a brother or sister in Christ, then you don’t eat that food:

  • Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
  • 1 Corinthians 8:13 If food makes my brother stumble, I will [not] eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

If Christians feel convicted others should put themselves under the same restrictions in their presence to prevent offense. Take the spiritual high ground to maintain unity.

It’s wonderful how God’s Word provides instruction for maintaining health, joy, and peace in the body of Christ!

Discuss: What approach do you take to food? Do you apply restrictions based on the Mosaic Law? Have you had to restrict yourself for the sake of unity? Share below.

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6 thoughts on “When Christians choose not to eat certain foods

  1. Hey there! I agree with you on all your points about not making food (or abstaining from certain) our religion or offending others with your food choices. It is NOT what we eat or don’t eat that saves us but only through Jesus can we be saved…no amount of bacon or tofu will change that!

    But our greatest commission is to go and spread the gospel…to take Jesus’ love to the whole world. If we are weak, sick, tired, and run down from poor eating habits and lack of exercise we are not using our wonderful bodies to their fullest potential.

    If we are determined to do God’s very serious work then we need to be in tip-top condition, that means making wise food choices, both in what we eat AND how much.

    I’m sharing with you a Youtube video from the National Geographic Magazine that covers a few of the ‘Blue Zones’ of the world where people lead longer and healthier lives. The last group you will see, the only Blue Zone group in the United States, will be familiar to you from some of our conversations It is a group that combines their religion with their healthy eating habits. I will be curious to see what you think…btw it also talks about Sabbath keeping!

    1. Hi Kim,
      Yes, I agree with you. The care of our bodies is one of our greatest stewardships. And regarding that care little is more important than what we consume.

      Also, even though I didn’t mention it in the post, gluttony can affect our witness; we end up w/ less credibility b/c it’s clear we lack self-control.

      The point of the post was that foods aren’t forbidden, but even at the beginning hopefully you caught that pointed out the unhealthiness of bacon. Just b/c something isn’t prohibited doesn’t mean it’s healthy: “things are permissible, but not beneficial.”

      I watched the video, but it didn’t give any specifics regarding why people were healthy other than to basically say less processed food. Everyone pretty much agrees with that. Just a question of whether we do it. I think most people know what they should do. We just don’t do it.

      Yes, the Sabbath was mentioned. I hope you don’t think that because I don’t keep the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, that I think rest is unimportant. We make sure to take a day of rest each week. For me: Monday. Good thing the New Testament doesn’t command resting on the seventh day, or I’d be in trouble: that’s often my busiest day as I prepare for Sunday.

      1. I actually was excited about the video not because of a specific Sabbath Day, which I don’t think was the point at all…but that we do take a day off to commune with God and spend with our families. That taking a break from the every day is actually good for us in a quantifiable way!

        The video was more specific than just cutting out processed foods. It mentioned being a vegetarian, which is very specific about the foods we eat…along with no smoking, drinking, and exercise will and do lead to a longer life. As sited Adventists live on average 10 years longer than the general population. Which gives us 10 extra years to spread the gospel!

        Yet, being a vegetarian will never get you into heaven. It will just make your body healthier while we are waiting to get there!

        Kim

        1. Hi Kim,
          Since you mentioned being a vegetarian, the thing I really don’t understand about Seventh Day Adventists is they hold to the Mosaic Law, but the Law nowhere commanded avoiding meat. In fact, it did the opposite: consuming meat was part of the sacrificial system for both the priest and worshiper. How can SDA avoid meat when God commanded it in the Law?

  2. Hi what of blood then? The new testament says we should not eat blood in Acts 15:20 and 29.

    1. Hi Shane,
      Thank you for the question.

      The restriction had to do with Gentile believers not engaging in activities that would offend Jewish believers; the command had to do with the eating habits of Gentile Christians as opposed to the eating habits of all Christians. Though the Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law they were under the Law of Love, which according to Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8 meant they had to lay down certain liberties or rights if it would offend others. In this case their eating habits had the potential to do that and therefore were to be given up for the sake of unity.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please share!