Monday, May 4, 2009

Eating and the Bible: A Closer Look

This issue I’ve been discussing in my last few posts has been much deliberated and debated by many, especially where the Bible is concerned. Some would say the Bible gives permission for such things as eating what we now know as pure filth.

The main thing to notice, however, is that in order to do so and to agree with such a thing, one must ignore all the facts laid out before them. Not only the love of a caring Father that wishes to protect us, but the truth of the matter, such as we’ve found with the pig. Why would God have given us permission now to change it, when clearly the pig itself has not changed?

There are a few places in the Bible that it is said tell us this. I would like to examine two of them with a perspective that follows along with all that we have learned up until this point, if I may.

I wish to make things quite clear however, that I am by no means saying that I know everything or that my way goes. I will be the first one to tell you that I am not perfect, and it is greatly possible that I over looked something in the course of my research. But, God's Word is perfect. All I hope to do is offer some things to consider -some options to weigh amongst the many. My desire for this post is to help aid you in making a final decision.

Two of the major ones I’ve come across are Mark 7:14-23 and Acts 10:9-16. (for the sake of space, I will not provide the verses in their entirety.)

*Mark 7:14-23

Let’s go back to the beginning of the chapter... I truly believe that context is so important when it comes to the Bible. (Read on context.) And this instance proves it.

Read verses 1-13. What do you find?

The Pharisees accused the disciples of not washing their hands before they ate. This is the main issue concerning these verses, not the food they were eating.

Also, what is it that Jesus talks about as being the real source of uncleanliness? The heart. Jesus is saying that all that we take in (be it with our eyes, ears, mouth, etc.) does not make us unclean and evil (notice the order -unclean leading to evil). The evil our hearts choose to do or follow is what makes us unclean (this is the correct order -evil leads to unclean). We are unclean by our evil, or sin, not evil by our unclean (in this case, the dirt we ingest). Boy, is that a brain twister. Did you follow all that? ;)

Otherwise, every poor and homeless person would be considered evil. And even thensome! I know some American homes and families that are not exactly the cleanest people even though they have the capacity to be. Does that sound right to call them evil for it? Goodness, no.

See, what the Pharisees were doing here was making it seem like the dirt on our hands is what makes us evil or 'unclean.' The Greek word used here for unclean even means defiled. But that is not so. Verse 18+19 (before the parentheses.. I'll get there in a moment) agree with this as well. It is saying that it does not go into the heart, where evil starts, so it cannot be the cause. It goes into the stomach and out of the body. Again, this is not talking about food because food doesn't go into our heart either. It's talking about the dirt on the disciples unwashed hands.

It seems odd to me for the parentheses to be here then. Reading it plainly, it doesn’t even fit with all that is happening and being said. The only thing you could peg on this verse is concerning washing hands. So, should the parentheses really be there?

I’ve read that in the original Greek the parentheses does not exist.

And check out the KJV version (this, I’ve read as well, is the closest to the original Greek) - It explains things much differently and not to mention has NO parentheses saying anything of this sort.

I think it’s safe to say that this is not talking about food here at all. In fact, the word food is not mentioned, say for once in verse 2 to tell us what the disciples were doing -"eating food..." That's it.

Jesus was merely talking about how our digestion separates the impurities -like dirt from our hands- in the stomach. This has been proven scientifically, has it not? This, then, agrees with the Bible. But, saying that all food is okay to eat by this section, does not.

This makes even more sense as we go on to the next set of verses...

*Acts 10:9-16.

Mark is before Acts not only in book but time period as well. From what we can conclude about Acts, the issue of food is still there. Meaning, the passage in Mark we just read did not do what those claim it did. It did not make all foods clean to be eaten. Read it, and you’ll see.

Peter makes it very clear that he has still followed the food laws and would never break them. If this was changed back in Mark, why would he have needed to?

Now, onto the verses... As I’m sure your Bible makes aware, this chapter is actually three parts, not just one. I will abbreviate it for you.

Verses 1-8 tells us of God coming to Cornelius and telling him to send for Peter, which he does.
Verses 9-23 tells us of God coming to Peter, before the men sent for him arrived.
Verses 23-48 tells us of Peter’s visit with Cornelius.

The last set of verses is especially important. There we learn that Cornelius was a Gentile. At that time, Jews and Gentiles did not associate with each other. It was law (verse 27). However, in verses 1-8, Cornelius is described as a “devout and God-fearing man.”

This is the cause for all that was said in God’s vision to Peter. God was giving Peter permission to go to a Gentile, not that he could eat whatever he pleased. Peter even says this when he gets to Cornelius’ House in verses 27-29.

How do I know this for certain? You’re probably thinking, the vision did in fact include food, did it not?

Yes, it did. But, think about this...

Up until this point, Peter and those like him all followed the food laws as he makes clear in verse 14. Back then, it was a big deal, hence why Peter reacted the way he did to the vision.

Now, if God had really told him that all food was now clean to be eaten, that would have been MAJOR news for the Jews. I mean, we are talking life changing here! Wouldn’t Peter have wanted to spread it? And fast?

But, he didn’t. As we read in verse 28, he links it to the issue between the Jews and the Gentiles. Nothing more.

In conclusion then, it appears that the Bible cannot be used to support this claim that we are free to eat anything we want.

I have seen the reasons why first hand in fact. My father left and divorced my mom, not only turning his back on God but on everything -his entire way of life, which included food. Since then, he has eaten and done anything he pleased.

Well, just recently, he had his Appendix removed. The doctors said it was so toxic that if he didn’t get it taken out, when it burst (not IF it burst), the mess would be horrible. Now my father is without his Appendix, which I have read is a big part of the immune system. And I have no doubt that the reason it got to be so toxic was because of what he ate -it was much more than pork, too.

Reason for not eating what the Bible says to stay away from? The evidence is hard to ignore.


~L. Pierce

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