Should Christians Eat Pork or be Vegetarians?

Should Christians be vegetarians or vegans or are we allowed to eat as much pork as we want?  Are we as Christians able to eat pork? Is there some sort of restriction or something going on in the Bible? I’ve read an Old Testament verse that says we shouldn’t eat certain foods, certain animals, certain foods with blood and so on and so forth. So in this video I want to clear all of that up by looking at three things. First of all, what does God have to say about this in both the Old and the New Testament? Second of all, what was Jesus’ teaching on it in the Gospels? And then finally, what was Paul’s teaching on it in the New Testament epistles?

First of all, what does God say about this? In the Old Testament, there were certain dietary restrictions that God had placed on the nation of Israel only and said “I don’t want you eating foods that are strangled with blood, certain foods that come from certain animals.” And the main reason for this was because God wanted the nation of Israel to be a set-apart nation, a consecrated nation, a nation that was unlike all of the other surrounding nations. And so there were all sorts of different restrictions and different laws rules and regulations that God placed specifically on the nation of Israel. Because we are not the nation of Israel and we’re also no longer under the Old Covenant, many of these restrictions no longer apply to us. What does that have to say about eating meat in the New Testament?l I want to encourage you to go to Acts chapter 10 and there’s an interesting story here that starts in verse 9 and it says: The next day, as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon and he was hungry but while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles and birds. Then a voice said to him “Get up Peter, kill and eat.” Peter was in a trance and he sees this sheet coming down with all these animals that he was prohibited from eating in the Old Testament but to his surprise, the voice from heaven said “Get up Peter, slay these animals and eat.” Now his response here in verse 14 says “No Lord.” Peter declared “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean” but the voice spoke again “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The spiritual reason behind this vision was to show Peter that even though in the Old Testament, Gentiles were considered unclean, because now we’re in the New Covenant, Gentiles are now clean and we should no longer regard them as unclean. But also there is a lesson here about food and God is saying “There should not be this division anymore between Jews and Gentiles and food should not be the issue. You’re able to eat whatever you want and don’t call something unclean that I have now called clean.”

Secondly, what did Jesus teach about eating meat in the New Testament Gospels? If you go to Mark 7:14-19, Jesus makes it very clear his position on this he says here in verse 14: Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Now it says here in verse 17: Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. They say “Jesus, I don’t quite understand what you meant by that. Can you break it down?” And Jesus says in verse 18: “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart but only passes through the stomach and then go into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)  Jesus is saying “It has nothing to do with what goes into your mouth that makes you clean or unclean or save your unsaved; it has to do with the condition of your heart.”

Finally, what was the Apostle Paul’s teaching on this issue of eating meat? If you go to Galatians chapter 2:11-12, there’s a very interesting story and interchange between the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter. Let’s pick up the story in verse 11: “But when Peter came, I had to oppose him to his face for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.” Now what in the world is Paul talking about here? Let me break it down this way. Let’s say you are Peter and whenever you’re hanging out with your Gentile friends, you’re eating bacon, you’re eating pork, eating all this juicy food, ribs all this other stuff but then when some of your Jewish friends come down and see you eating the same food that Gentile eat, you immediately remove yourself as if to say that is wrong to eat this food. This is what the Apostle Paul said: he had to oppose Peter to his face as “You are wrong in doing this because our gospel – salvation by grace through faith alone – has nothing to do with what you eat. It has everything to do with the condition of your heart.” To sum this all up, God the Father, God the Son and Apostle Paul are all saying the same thing: There is no spiritual value that is attached to food. It has no power to bring you closer to God or pull you further away.

There may be some times in your life where you may make the decision not to eat certain types of food and I want to give you a few of them right here. The first is: If you have some sort of personal conviction that God has shown you about eating meat, then for you, you should have abstain from eating meat. This is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in Romans chapter 14. It says “Accept other believers who are weak in faith and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance one person believes it is all right to eat anything but another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t, and those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.” He says “We’re living in the New Testament grace. So if you decide you do not want to eat pork, then that’s fine for you. You should look down on people that do and if you decide to eat pork, you shouldn’t judge people who don’t want to eat certain types of food because God will be the ultimate judge and God has accepted both of them. 

The second reason why you may want to choose not to eat certain foods is because there are certain dietary benefits and there are certain things that are in some of these foods that have been proven to be not very good for us in terms of our health and our nutrition. If you are somebody that’s very conscious about your health – which we all should – then maybe you should make certain decisions to abstain from eating certain foods. 

And then the final time where you may want to consider not eating certain foods is if it could possibly be a stumbling block to someone else. So let’s say you go out with somebody that is trying to abstain from eating certain foods and you are just eating up everything you could possibly get your hands on. And you know it could possibly cause that other person to also want to eat the foods that you’re eating, then in that instance, at that time, at that dinner, you may want to decide not to eat certain foods while you’re in that person’s presence so that you are not a stumbling block to those who are weak. 

So, hope that answers the question in terms of “Can Christians eat pork?” Yes you can. “Should they?” That depends on your personal conviction and position on that but the scriptures are very clear in terms of what God says, what God the Son says and what the Apostle Paul says.

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