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Oct 21 2009

Vegetarian and Christianity

Cattle

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. (Genesis 9:3)

 I was reading a website and the author was a Christian vegetarian.  The author attempted to portray that eating meat will “destroy human sensitivities that would enable us to develop the knowledge of God which would lead to a kingdom of peace here on earth.”  The author is incorrectly using Isaiah 11:6-9 to justify the above quote.  The author obviously has a heart for God’s critters.  That I applaud.  I too have a heart for animals, probably a bit over the top in some people’s opinion.  God did command us to treat the animal kingdom humanely.  I was a vegetarian for at least 15 years and have only recently started eating fish.  I became a vegetarian those many years ago because I was extremely uncomfortable with how animals destined for our dinner plates are treated. 

 

Despite this, can we lay a claim to being a vegetarian as a moral obligation?  And can we claim that moral obligation based on God’s word?  No, we cannot.  Eating animals is not a sin and it is not immoral.  (Genesis 9:3).  Prior to the flood, man did not eat animals and in fact, the animals did not have a fear of man.  He instilled that fear in them after the flood (Genesis 9:2).  Yet, prior to the flood, animals were slain as an offering to God (Genesis 4:4). 

God killed the first animal as a covering for Adam and Eve after the fall (Genesis 3:21).  Animals were sacrificed in the Temple daily as offerings to God.  The blood of the sacrificed animals were sprinkled on the alter.  The bible is replete with the slaughter of animals at God’s direction and command. 

A vegetarian lifestyle is a choice that a Christian makes but cannot use the Word of God to morally request that other Christians adhere to this lifestyle.  It is not a sin to eat the flesh of animals.  It is an incorrect exegesis of scripture to claim that eating meat will “destroy human sensitivities” for it is God that gave the moral and ethical right to eat kill and eat meat.  It is an incorrect exegesis to claim that eating meat will harm the “sensitivities that would enable us to develop the knowledge of God which would lead to a kingdom of peace here on earth.”  Any knowledge we gain as humans will not be bringing a kingdom of peace here on earth.  There is no scripture that even remotely supports this claim. 

The author’s argument would have a biblical basis if it was argued from the standpoint that the animals that we are slaughtering for food are inhumanely treated.  Animals have the biblical right to be treated humanely in their lives and in their death.  For the most part, man has taken away this right from the animals that are destined for our dinner plates and their lives and deaths are nothing short of cruel.  Christians and non Christians are slowly becoming aware of the plight of these animals and are either choosing a vegetarian lifestyle or are choosing to purchase their meat from sources that treat the animals humanely in their lives and in their deaths. 

Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple not because the animals were going to be slaughtered as an offering but because the money changers were making it a “den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13).  Jesus ate meat (Passover).  Jesus ate fish. 

To humanely treat animals is commanded by God and at best, a vegetarian Christian can argue biblically that we are morally required to treat animals humanely but cannot be argue that it is a moral and biblical obligation to refrain from eating meat.

 

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