Thursday, May 8, 2014

Does the Bible Say Pork Is Unclean? And Can We Eat It?

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As far as eating pork is concerned, I do not make a habit of eating it. In fact, I virtually avoid it altogether, mainly for health reasons. (Although, I must admit I am not certain how much
nutritional value there is in most, if not, all of the food that is commercially grown and processed – mainly, because I wonder if the soil has become depleted of nutrients. This, however, is another subject for discussion at another time).

As far as the health reasons are concerned, some have suggested (e.g., Dr. S.I. McMillan in his book, NONE OF THESE DISEASES) that the reason God had in mind for Old Testament commandments against eating (or even touching) certain things is because He had the Israelites’ physical well-being in mind (see the Leviticus 11 passage below).

However, it would seem that from a larger, entire Bible perspective, the Old Testament commands regarding eating/not eating and touching/not touching certain things also included a spiritual (and/ or, ceremonial) component. In other words, an Israelite would have been considered “unclean” (ceremonially or ritually defiled) if he/she ate (or, even touched) certain things.

Then Jesus came on the scene – and the emphasis He brought to the discussion pointed to
the deeper significance of the whole question. In effect, He taught that one is defiled (both
ceremonially and spiritually) not because of external factors (i.e., what goes INTO one’s mouth or touches one’s body), but because of the innate condition of one’s heart (see Mark 7:1 – 23 and the parallel account in Matthew 15:1 – 20; please note the parenthetical “commentary” on Jesus’ words added by the gospel writer – Mark – in Mark 7:19 – “Thus He [Jesus] declared all foods clean”).

From what Jesus taught (and from what the apostles later confirmed), “Life is more than [physical] food and the body more than clothing” (Luke 12:23). In other words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (see Matthew 4:1 – 4).

This does not mean that food (eating and drinking) is unimportant to God. On the contrary, as a Christian, I should be concerned that my food (and, perhaps, in our culture, my drink) choices do not cause another (weaker, less mature) Christian to stumble or be spiritually offended (see Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8 – 10). On the other hand, as a Christian, I am not bound to “man-made” rules regarding food and drink in order to be spiritually acceptable to God (see 1 Corinthians 8:8; Colossians 2:16; 1 Timothy 4:1 – 5; Hebrews 13:9). Rather, I am to pursue holiness in all areas of my life (Galatians 5:19 – 23; Ephesians 4:17 – 6:20; etc.), knowing that, ultimately, God accepts me because of what Jesus Christ has done for me (1 Peter 1:13 – 25).

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