Does Food Have Anything to do With Christianity?

 

Question:

Does Food have Anything to do

with Christianity?

 

 

“Some professing Christians have strong convictions regarding their food choices, while most people really have no convictions at all.  They just make their food choices according to taste or familiarity or possibly to lose weight.  What does the Bible say?”

 

Answer

 

As we examine the Old Testament, we are aware that God gave food regulations to Israel through Moses.  This became part of the Law of God (see particularly Leviticus 11).  The nation of Israel was to abstain from “unclean” foods but they were permitted to consume “clean” foods.  Of course, this pertains to ritual holiness and unholiness.  Some people surmise that God may have made such choices because of health dangers, but this is supposition.  More likely is the idea that these restrictions had to do with God’s desire to make a difference between His people and the surrounding pagan people on earth.

 

When we come to the New Testament, these kosher laws were taken away by God.  The Law-giver has the right to give laws and also has the right to take those laws away.  Mark says that Jesus “declared all foods clean” (7:19).  We also recall how the Lord give Peter a vision while he was in Joppa.  The Lord said to this apostle, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:9).  Paul also said that certain false teachers “advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3-4).  Apparently God removed foods from the realm of being ritually impure.

 

In answer to the question, we must admit that people often have one of two extreme views in regard to food.  (This seems to be the case in regard to many issues in life!)  On the one hand, some people feel obligated to perpetuate the Mosaic restrictions, thus they refuse to eat “unclean” meats.  Along with this, there are some who believe that it is healthier to be a vegetarian—consuming only plant foods.  One variation of this would be the lacto-vegetarians (they also consume milk along with plant foods) and the ovo-vegetarians (who add eggs to their diet).  Some go so far as to be fruitarians—for they only eat fruits!  We also recall that some religions impose food restrictions on their followers.  Seventh-day Adventists, for example, encourage their members to not only abstain from unclean meats, but they encourage them to be strict vegetarians, according to the counsel of Ellen G. White, their founder.

 

On the other side of the spectrum, most Americans (as well as others around the world) have no moral or spiritual convictions regarding food.  Some professing Christians may believe it is sinful to be gluttonous and become grossly overweight, but they would not attach any moral significance to food itself.  Rather, most people—whether religious or irreligious—freely eat whatever their taste or their customs dictate.  They are willing to die premature deaths because of their lust for foods that are known to rob us of health.

 

It is important for us to keep two points in mind.  First, God is the One who has given us our body and we must treat this gift with great respect and care.  Paul commands, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).  The apostle also asks, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Therefore, the true Christian is to give his body to the Lord as a living and holy sacrifice.  His physical body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and he is to glorify God in his body.  Furthermore, Paul says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

 

Second, while the New Testament mentions foods fairly often, nearly all of these references have to do with such questions as whether one is bound to the Mosaic restrictions on unclean meats, whether he should eat meats that come from animals sacrificed to pagan gods, and like matters.  None of them directly deal with matters of nutrition, caloric content, or other health issues.  When one cites a verse that says we should not at all restrict what foods we eat and uses a verse that has reference to kosher food laws and the like, he misuses the scriptures.

 

Since we are to be interested in our health for the glory of God, it is clear that we should be interested in the matter of nutrition since this is so closely tied to health and disease.  We should not simply eat what everyone else eats in this developed country since most people make food choices based on taste or familiarity—and not according to what is nutritiously healthy.  If we are to glorify God in our body, we should do all we can to enhance our health by what we eat.  If our body does not belong to us but to the Lord, we should ask what God would want us to eat.  If our body is to be a living sacrifice, then we should choose to offer to God the best sacrifice that we can give.

 

God is interesting in our healthy lifestyle and part of this will be His desire that we make good food choices that will promote good physical health.

 

Richard Hollerman

 

Presently, we are nearly completed with a booklet entitled, Helpful Hints on Health.  We hope to put this on the True Discipleship website soon.

 

 

 

 

Comments are closed.