Christians should NOT eat Pork?? No way! - Part 1
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When I first became a believer, joined a church, and really started reading and studying the bible, I was shocked by what I discovered. Like most new believers, I had no clue where to start reading, so naturally I began at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Creation, Adam and Eve, the life and obedience of Abraham, and all the rest of the details of Genesis. It was interesting, because I was finally interested. After a life of Atheism, I was finally taking the time to read the most popular book in the world instead of criticizing something I never even tried to truly understand. Believe it or not, I took something away from every page. Of course, a lot of things did not make complete sense to me in my first reading, but I will never forget when I read a clear passage in Leviticus that almost knocked me off my feet!
There I was, just taking time for my daily scripture reading, going through the commands in Leviticus, when I stumbled upon Leviticus 11. The title in my ESV Bible got me curious from the start: "Clean and Unclean Animals" -- what in the world does that mean??
I eagerly began to read the chapter...
And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. Leviticus 11:1-2
"Wait, what? We need instructions on what to eat?" Surprise creeping in, I continued to read:
Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you. Leviticus 11:3-7
WHAT?!?! Christians should NOT eat pork?? Why has nobody at church told me this?! Why did my Pastor not tell me this after I was baptized?!
I was blown away! Right here in scripture, we are clearly told not to eat pork! This made no sense to me! I had just eaten pork that very week! I LOVE BACON! Why didn't anyone tell me I should stop eating pork????
I was very upset to say the least. First of all, like any real American, I did not want to give up pork. But, more importantly, I did not want to offend or disobey God! I had been doing that my whole life and I was determined to stop. I wanted to be obedient to God, just like I saw Abraham accomplish in Genesis, and it made our Heavenly Father happy! I wanted my Father to be pleased with me. I wanted to be more like our Messiah, and I knew that he was an obedient son. After all, are we not called to be obedient children?
Immediately, I stopped eating pork and began obeying the rest of Leviticus 11. My mind was set: If our Heavenly Father told us not to eat pork, I wasn't going to eat pork. If our Creator said not to eat shellfish, he must have a pretty good reason for instructing his creation not to eat shellfish—so I was done eating shellfish. It was that simple for me. But, I was definitely going to talk to my Pastor and let him know he needs to tell new believers about this!
"Those are Old Testament commands, they do not apply to those of us under the New Covenant. Jesus declared all foods clean..."
After Sunday service, I marched right up to my Pastor, Bible in hand. I asked him, "Why didn't you tell me that Christians should not eat pork? Right here in Levit—"
"Sean Sean Sean, calm down. Those are Old Testament commands, they do not apply to those of us under the New Covenant. Jesus declared all foods clean..." he lovingly explained and began to give me the majority of New Testament scriptures that he explained the "food laws" were done away with and nailed to the cross. I learned that Acts 10, Romans 14, Mark 7:14-23 and the parallel account in Matthew 15:1-20, and 1 Timothy 4:5 are the scriptures that deal with this.
Whew! A sigh of relief is an understatement! That was ALL I needed to hear. The "food laws" were old news and the New Testament proved that these instructions were not in effect any longer, thanks to what Jesus did on the cross... WHEW! I thought to myself. THANK YOU JESUS!
" I really trusted my Pastor. Let's be frank, he knew way more about scripture than I did... and by the sound of it, he had already studied this pretty extensively..."
I wish I could say I really studied this out, but I was too satisfied by my Pastor's explanation: I could continue to eat the foods that I loved. Pulled pork sandwiches, bacon, calamari, bacon, shrimp, lobster, bacon, oysters, pepperoni, pork ribs—did I say BACON?? Like I said, I didn't need an elaborate study to prove that the New Covenant allowed us to eat whatever we wanted—I was taught that the New Testament proved that we are no longer under the law and those commands! That was good enough for me!
Besides, I really trusted my Pastor. Let's be frank, he knew way more about scripture than I did... and by the sound of it, he had already studied this pretty extensively. Looking back on it, the fact that I really did not want to give up those foods made me even want to avoid studying this particular topic. Instead, I chose to trust the instruction of my Pastor.
It wasn't until years later, after I decided to leave my career in Hotel Management and attend a Bible College in Tennessee, that this subject would come back and punch me right in the nose.
"Little did I know, this assignment would send me on one of the most testing and eye opening experiences of my life."
It was in my pursuit to become a Preacher and Teacher that I truly wrestled this topic out: Are the dietary instructions in the Old Testament still relevant in the life of a believer today?
It wasn't until one of my New Testament courses that I began to wrestle with Mark 7 and Romans 14 that I got my answer. We were studying the entire chapter and I was assigned to write about the overall message of each passage by comparing and contrasting them. I had already learned from my professor how to interpret these texts after going over them in class and I had recalled what my Pastor had taught me years previous. I wrote my paper explaining and defending why Jesus taught in Mark 7:14-23 that all foods were declared clean and that Apostle Paul helped educate believers on how to respectfully and lovingly handle those who believed that the dietary instructions still applied post resurrection in Romans 14. My detailed paper earned me one of the few A's in the class for that assignment, telling me that I truly understood this position (at least in the eyes of my New Testament professor).
Little did I know, this assignment would send me on one of the most testing and eye opening experiences of my life. Even though I thought I completely understood what Mark 7 and Romans 14 taught, my explanation just didn't sit right with me...
After studying the Word for years at this point, I had begun to get a glimpse of the character of our Creator. Not only did the New Testament now seem to have a contradiction or change from the Old Testament, the idea that our Heavenly Father would change any instructions did not seem to line up with what the Old Testament revealed Him to be... A solid unchanging rock (Malachi 3:6).
I began to question my previous conclusions of these portions of scripture, and eventually came to the realization that I was quite wrong. My paper actually deserved an F.
In fact, Mark 7 has nothing to do with changing which animals were considered "clean" and okay to eat. This passage actually illustrates Jesus breaking the Pharisee's oral law (Talmud) instead of changing the commands our Creator gave that are recorded in the Law (Torah) in regards to the washing of hands. Simply put, Mark 7 is about ceremonial hand washing and how "food" itself is not considered unclean if your hands are not washed according to the traditions of men (Talmud). Food is only what Yehovah tells us it is. In other words, for believers, food is only food based on Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Any scripture that mentions "food" is actually qualified by these passages and there is no question about it in the eyes of the Apostles.
I also learned that Romans 14 was actually about fasting and vegetarianism and had nothing to do with changing the dietary instructions. Specifically, it was about which days were more important to fast and which days were less important to fast, as well as vegetarianism.
This was just the beginning of what our Heavenly Father began to reveal to me...
Check out Part 2 where we break down Mark 7 further to gain a better understanding of what scripture truly proclaims! We will dive deeper into what Mark 7 actually teaches and what that means for believers today... stay tuned!
Sean is a former Atheist who was finally awoken to the reality of our Creator—which lead him to the one place he thought he would never step foot: “Bible College.” During his studies, our Heavenly Father flipped his Christian worldview upside down in order to reveal the Whole truth of His perfect Word. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), Sean encourages believers to deepen their faith, seek the truth, test everything, and be willing to walk in the true image they were created: the image of the Most High and his flawless son.
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