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God’s Dietary Laws: Are They For Today?

Editor’s note: This story is part 3 in a 3-part series. Read the first two parts here and here. The views are those of the author. 

God's dietary law pigs restrictionsGod clearly wants what is best for all the inhabitants of the earth — both man and creature as well as for the earth itself. These are all part of His creation. The laws are simple, rational and affirmed by modern science. God truly knows what is best and indicated this long before mankind was able to investigate disease-causing microorganisms, the life cycles of parasites or issues of environmental concern. God revealed principles to our ancient forefathers that would protect all that He made if we would be willing to follow the rules.

So, the question remains … if these laws, which were clearly in the best interest of the Israelites thousands of years ago, are clearly still in our best interest today, why do so many people challenge that they have been abolished? Why are so many professing Christians leading this notion? The answer appears to rest in the interpretations of Scripture found in Mark 7 and Acts 10.

In Mark 7, Jesus was asked by the Pharisees why His disciples ate without washing their hands (which was a ceremonial tradition). Some translations (as seen below) add words to the answer that Jesus gave:

 …since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled? Mark 7:19 ( ESV) (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

However, it is important to note that the addition in brackets is not found in preserved Greek texts. What Christ was saying was that to eat dirt does not spiritually defile a person since it does not get to the heart and influence attitudes. This is the whole context of verses 18-23 but when it is taken out of context it seems to be talking about something else — especially when additional text is added.

If Peter had understood that the dietary laws regarding meat were abolished (in Mark 7), why was he still under the impression in Acts 10 that eating unclean animals was wrong? In Peter’s vision God was attempting to show the plans for the future Church and gave him a vision including a group of unclean animals which he was instructed to eat. God presented this group three times – and each time Peter said he would not eat them because it was wrong.

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Remember, Peter had been with Christ for over three years at this point, learning all of His ways, but he was still unclear of what the vision meant until three Gentle men came to his door to ask him to explain the Gospel. The vision began to make sense as these men would have normally been considered outside of the covenant community and Gentiles were seen as unclean. Clearly what God was showing Peter was that he could not call any man unclean and all were welcome in the Church of God.

And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. Acts 10:28 (ESV)

Weak evidence?

The biblical evidence that Christ or any of his disciples abolished the dietary laws is really non-existent. Apart from Scripture that has clearly been taken out of content or added to, it is clear that God did not withdraw these rules for eating. But if this is so why is there so much controversy around them? Some say that the reasons why talks of abolishment even began are rooted in social, political and religious factors that influenced second century church doctrine.

Early Christians appeared to continue to observe the laws of Moses but as more Gentiles came into the Church they were met with very strong anti-Jewish feelings that permeated the Roman Empire. Jewish customs were attacked by both Latin and Greek authors and many Christians broke their ties with Judaism.

Gentile Christians wanted to be different from the Jewish people and went way out of their way to make sure that they were distinct and separate from the Jews. New customs, borrowed from the surrounding pagan culture were introduced.

Unnecessary suffering

Humans have been eating animals that God declared unfit for quite some time and the result has been that many have suffered and died. Satan. The father of deception, would have us believe that it is OK to continue to consume food that God so lovingly and clearly directed us not to eat.

The good news is that when Christ returns, there will be a restitution of all things and everyone will see why God established laws and how well they work for our good when they are followed. However, you do not have to wait until the second coming to begin to reap all of the marvelous benefits of eating a clean diet and carrying out God’s request that we be the best stewards of all that He has given us to manage.

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Food-Shock

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12 comments

  1. This article jumps well over the line doctrinally. A lot is left out but I won’t expound it since this isn’t the forum.

    But Read Acts 11:5-9.

    But if you insist on instituting the dietary “law”, then you know nothing of grace not Christ’s purpose.
    I say this because you are so clearly wrong when you say, ” The father of deception, would have us believe that it is OK to continue to consume food that God so lovingly and clearly directed us not to eat.”

  2. I agree with you sir or miss you know the bible well I know it’s there I just can’t tell you were but thank you for pointing it out for others to find.

  3. Genesis 9:3 is all that is needed to refute legalism.
    Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

  4. Why is it that “christians” always have to argue or find excuses for what the writings state. They can never except what the creators state as truth and leave it as that. Man always can find a excuse to state what “he” believes as correct. Man states that he know better than the creators. And David do you know what a legalist is. As you call him “Jesus”. One who lives according to the instructions (bible) given to us by our father Yah. I would be proud to be called a legalist. I do every day try ( and don’t let this word upset you), OBEY what our father teaches.

    • why is it that legalistic people always have to take a single verse out of context and try to tell the rest of us what we should do?

      The dietary laws applied to the Hebrew/Jewish/Israeli people. Not to gentiles. It’s really that simple.

      • Why is it that non-legalistic, aka non commandment keepers, always think God’ laws were just for so and so and so and so…..The ONLY LAW THAT WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS WAS THE COVENANT LAW, OR THE LAW OF MOSES. It was not placed inside the ark of the covenant, by on the outside, b/c it was for a Stubborn People who WANTED TO MAKE EXCUSES!!!!

  5. Dietary laws in the old testament were meant for the Hebrews. They were to keep His people from eating things that were really bad for them. They didn’t know about germs, viruses and bacteria and would not have understood so God commanded that these were unclean and don’t eat them. Pigs, Shrimp, Oysters, catfish…..all taste good but they are nature’s cleaners. Shrimp, oysters, and catfish in particular are bottom feeders. They eat dead stuff and are filled with toxins. Pigs are filthy beasts and while I might like bacon the fat of a pig is filled with toxins. God simply wanted the Hebrews to stay healthy. DUH!

    But the fact is, that while those laws do not bind us the way they did Israel, the health risks remain just as valid today. I might add that the law of Moses came well afte the Genesis quote about everything in the Garden of Eden being food for Adam and Eve. We no longer live in the Garded of Eden and later commands directly from God to Moses trumps anything that came before anyway.

    If you look at the animals that are considered unclean by Hebrew law you will see that clean animals have cloven hooves, clean fish have scales and fins, etc. all unclean animals have the potential to make you seriously sick or kill you even with modern medicine. Seems like simple common sense to stay away from those.

  6. Forget ‘legalism’. Forget the dietary ‘law’. Forget ‘religion’. It is quite clear that, according to Scripture, the Creator did not create unclean animals for human consumption. It’s in the text of Scripture if one is willing to accept the Scriptures IN CONTEXT. So I suggest we all accept that and get over it.

    Now, while I personally don’t see the Law having been set aside (the Apostles kept it as did Jesus), I know that many of my Christian brothers hold to that notion. Fine. I’m not saying that you’re wrong about not being ‘under the Law’, just that I see it a different way.

    So, for the sake of argument, let’s all assume that the Creator did not create the ‘unclean’ creatures for human consumption, but that Christians are under no ‘legal’ prohibition and can, therefore, eat any clean or unclean creature they wish. Does that not bring us all back into harmony? While the unclean creature may not be good for us, we are ‘free’ to eat it anyway. Individual liberty, right?

    I will concede your ‘right’ to eat the ‘unclean’ creatures. I will not contest your ‘right’ to hold to any ‘doctrine’ you wish. But it seems silly to argue that just because one is no longer ‘under the law’ that one should eat creatures that even modern science confirms are not healthy for human consumption. It also seems silly to argue that the prohibition was only for Jews. Last time I checked, Jews and Gentiles are both ‘human’ and subject to the same adverse health consequences from eating bad stuff.

    I don’t believe anyone will ‘go to hell’ for eating pork chops or drinking drain cleaner, but since actions do, invariably have consequences, they might suffer health issues as a result. Just saying …

  7. Now, I am agnostic and have no vested spiritual interest in religion-driven dietary restrictions. However, it is not because I do not share your faith that I do not respect it or yourselves.

    But, having this more distant point of view, what I am seeing with these Biblical/Talmudic/Quran-derived food restrictions as an early form of food safety and inspection program. Basically, the men who wrote these books noticed what foodstuffs made people sick and identified them as being unclean and not to be eaten unless to prevent starvation.

    By including these public health notices into sacred texts, they were trying to ensure a long-term health plan for their people by effectively turning good advice into laws. Very smart, very effective.

    • Even if you are agnostic, if you look into these animals and shellfish “bottomfeeders” and the like, they are still extremely unclean! Go ahead and get you a toxic dose of mercury from those oysters!! Go ahead and get all types of toxic stuff from all of these unclean animals! And this my friend, is coming from a “Coon-Ass”! I grew up eating them and yes, they taste great, but when I learned what the Bible truly said about these animals, I decided not to eat them any longer. And guess what, I don’t have any problem what so ever in kicking the bad habit of eating, simply put, “GARBAGE”, aka “SH#T”!! I bet certain animal feces, if cooked properly, could be rid of certain bacteria, food-borne viruses, whatever! And I’m sure someone can even figure out a way to make it taste good. But that doesn’t change the fact that I know I would still be eating SH$T!!!

  8. last but not least

    okay I’ve read the articles and all the comments. Here is the simplest way that I can help make this clear to any friends of the faith out there:
    There is a fundamental difference between the polarizing concepts of Right/Wrong and Good/Bad. Eating pig is wrong, but it is not bad. Okay, so you are still going to heaven, thanks to Jesus, of course. Yes, that is right, you are still a good person in every possible way if you cut into some pork. Just remember that it is not your actions that make you good…. it is the single and ultimate action of Jesus.
    I am speaking as someone who has the “Law” written on their heart.. not in their head. Whilst I do plan on memorizing it someday to be more conversationally adept in these matters of faith.

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