What the Bible Says About VEGETARIANISM
"Now the Ruach (Spirit) expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the emunah (faith), giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron... commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Tim 4:1-3, NKJV).
Many people today are rightly concerned about cruelty to animals. They are used in laboratories to test vanity products like makeup and shampoos; they are being subjected to horrendous genetic experimentation and manipulation; and they are being herded in factories for mass production and transported under horrific, cruel conditions. Man, in his greed to make more money and reduce labour, has learned to treat animals in an uncompassionate and God-dishonouring way.
The Bible is most particular about treating animals well and Yahweh-Elohim, the Creator, has made provisions for them (Ps.12:19; 145:15-16). The Torah requires that domestic animals are properly cared for. When found straying, they were to be returned to their owner. When crushed under a burden, they were to be relieved (Ex.23:4-5). They were to be worked humanely (Dt.22:10; 25:4) and they were to be afforded Sabbath rest along with men (Ex.20:10; 23:12; Dt.5:14). Dangerous animals were to be controlled or destroyed (Ge.9:5; Ex.21:28-29) and cross-breeding of different sorts was forbidden (Lev.19:19).
The Bible is consistent and harmonious in its view of animals. The man or woman who loves Yahweh is to see in animals part of Elohim's (God's) generous provision for them. They are to serve mankind as burden bearers, as sources of food and clothing, as sanitation agents, and as helpers in vital activities such as ploughing and harvesting. Their variety of form and colour provides delight for the eye, and their habits and instincts are an extensive field for inquiry into the marvels of Yahweh's creative work.
Other religions take a different view of animals. On the one hand, there are those religions who are entirely indifferent to their welfare and are not troubled by a lack of compassion for them. At the other extreme, there are those religions which virtually worship them, seeing them as being on essentially the same level as man. Some of these religions even worship certain kinds of animals as gods, and others declare that eating animal flesh is a sin on the grounds that such an animal may possibly be a reincarnated human being.
The Bible makes is very clear that all other religions have been enticed by seductive, demonic spirits (Rom.1:18-23; 1 Cor.10:20; 2 Thes.2:9-9-12; 1 Tim.4:1). The first two commandments (not making other gods, and not making idols) make it very clear that that Yahweh views sympathy or involvement with other religions as a grave offense against Him (Ex.20:3-4). All these religions are so laced with errors that would entice a devout follower away from the true Elohim (God).
Like it or not, modern Christianity has been influenced by oriental religions. A belief is that eating animals, or animal products, which has found its way into some Christian belief systems, is sinful, unloving, uncompassionate, and uncaring - what many Christians do not realise, however, is that this 'spirit' derives from an eastern religion which, whilst apparently showing 'compassion' for animals by telling its adherents not to eat or hurt them, has at the same time treated humans as little more than dung. This religion, before the influence of Christianity put a stop to its evil practices, believed that baby girls should be drowned in that religion's sacred river so that they could be reincarnated as boys, taught that surviving widows should be cremated alive with their dead husbands, originated and perpetuated gross discrimination and prejudice by creating a caste system which, if you were born into it, you had to remain there for the rest of your life, and taught that it is better not to relieve human suffering because that would be to interfere with human karma or fate.
This same spirit which exalts animals above humans has found its way into some 'animal rights' movements in the West, whose members think nothing of poisoning human food and committing acts of violence against humans in order to 'protest' cruelty to animals. It takes little discernment of spirit to know the demonic source of such behaviour.
The devotees of this religion accuse Christians of being 'murderers' by twisting the Bible teaching that we should not kill (Mt.5:21). Yah'shua (Jesus) was, of course, quoting from the Old Testament which He endorsed 100% (Ex.20:13), and from a book which He loved and quoted extensively from as the divine and immutable revelation of His Father Yahweh (Mt.5:17-19; 22:29-32; 26:31; Lk.4:4-12; 16:31; 22:37; 24:44-47; Jn.6:45). This book repeatedly records Yahweh commanding His people to eat the meat of sacrificed animals (Ex.12:3-8,24; Dt.12:20-22, 27-28; 27:7-10). And the holier the people were (the priests), the more meat (stripped of its fat) they were required to eat (Lev.7:14-16, 30-34; 8:30-31; 10:16-18; Dt.18:1-3). In fact, under Torah no vegetarian could belong to the people of Yahweh (Num.9:11-13), the point of animal sacrifice being that Yahweh was instilling the vital notion that an innocent must die for human sins, and that ultimately the innocent who dies for human sins must be human, which was the mission of Yah'shua/Jesus). By quoting and exalting the book that emphasises eating meat, Yah'shua was clearly speaking against murder - the killing of people, not animals. As would be expected, the rest of His life and teaching proves the same thing.
Indeed, Yah'shua instructed His disciples to eat anything that was put in front of them knowing that their hosts, being Jewish, were following a divinely instituted Torah diet (kashrut) that would involve meat-eating (Lk.10:5-7). Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself spoke approvingly of a man who slaughtered a cow for a feast and likened the man in His parable to our God and Father Yahweh-Elohim Himself! (Lk.15:10,22-23). Christ ate meals hosted by all sorts of people (Mk.14:3; Lk.5:27-30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1; 15:2), and even in a nation of unrestricted meat-eating, his unrestricted diet in that regard caused a stir (Lk.5:33; 7:33-34). He helped catch fish (Mt.17:27; Lk.5:4-9; Jn.5-8), cooked fish (Jn.21:8-13), fed it to people (Mk.6:41-53; 8:7-8) and ate it Himself (Lk.24:41-43). He also ate the Pesach (Passover) meal in which the main dish was lamb (Lk.22:7-8,15), an institution, along with the rest of Israel's feasts, that Yahweh decreed was to be in perpetuity (Ex.12:24).
When 'Christians' or 'Messianics' declare that eating animal meat is a sin, unkind, cruel, insensitive, unloving, and evil, they are accusing Yah'shua (Jesus) and Yahweh of the same things. And when they maintain that we are today more 'spiritually evolved', they are claiming that they are more advanced and holy than God Himself!
Followers of Yah'shua (Jesus) are not offended that their Saviour ate meat because they know that, contrary to the claims of many religions, there is no spiritual link between animals and people. There is no such thing as reincarnation. At the same time, they know that animals should be treated compassionately according to the rules laid down by God in Torah. There are proper and humane ways to slaughter animals. Moreover, not all animals may be eaten - Yahweh has forbidden the eating of certain kinds and ordained other kinds of animal for food - we can't just help ourselves indiscriminately (Dt.6:24; Ex.23:25).
The Torah, which Yah'shua (Jesus) taught could not be changed (Mt.5:17-20), where it has not been fulfilled in Yah'shua's death and resurrection, still applies to us today.
Those who maintain that eating animal flesh is a sin not only blaspheme the morality and ethics of Yahweh and Yah'shua (Jesus) but are setting themselves above them and claiming 'another gospel' which does not exist in the Bible. Indeed, the New Testament speaks of vegetarians as disadvantaged "weak" people (Rom.14:2). What compulsory vegetarianism is, however, is a 'spirit' which is anti-Christ that derives from pagan worship.
Are Christians 'insensitive'? Not at all - the Gospel of Christ is full of love and compassion. Indeed, we are commanded to be sensitive to others, like vegetarians who are new converts and are weak in the faith (Rom.14:20-22). There are other priorities, and whilst diet is by no means unimportant, basic salvation must take precedence. I am one of those persons whom vegetarians would rightly consider 'sensitive' - I have a great love for animals and can be very sentimental towards them. I do not believe we actually need to eat much meat, and that health-wise it is probably better not to these days. I do, however, eat meat in moderation. For a modern revelation on diet, see The Olive Branch, Section 236.
Any spirit that would persuade you that what God says is not sin is, by definition, anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti-Scripture. In short, it is from those demons who have inspired all New Age-type religions. Some Christians, unwilling to be bound by the scriptural revelation, have sought other ones concocted in hell, such as The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, which attempts to rewrite history by claiming Christ and His disciples were vegetarians. Not surprisingly, they incorporate many oriental heresies such as reincarnation.
Eating meat is not a sin provided it is eaten in moderation (the Bible is against gluttony), provided it is permissible (only certain kinds of animal may be eaten, namely, clean or kosher food), and provided cruelty is not shown to animals. It is right that Christians should stand against the cruelties that are imposed on animals in factory farms and research institutions provided it is done in a way that does not harm or threaten other humans. It is right that we eat natural food, meat as well as vegetable - I myself eat free-range eggs produced by my own chickens whom I try to give a good life. There is much we can do to reflect the compassion of Christ by producing our own meat and vegetables.
So many of the views espoused by Christians and Messianics on vegetarianism and veganism are emotion- rather than Scripture-based. What may seem compassionate and more loving, when it is contrary to the Word of God, is not necessarily so. And there is also a danger of mixing valid concerns (cruelty to animals) and invalid ones (vegetarianism).
When examined objectively, the principal ground of those who advocate compulsory vegetarianism is the belief that all kinds of suffering is wrong. Suffering exists only because of sin in the world. Indeed, we are to imitate the suffering and patience of Christ (Jas.5:10). On occasion we must suffer for one another. Animals were created for man - to serve man - not for themselves, and one of their rôles is to be food, within certain boundaries. That implies a certain amount of suffering too. We live in a suffering sphere of life.
Will we one day stop eating meat? I believe so, yes. Before the Fall, our first parents were undoubtedly vegetarians. And after the final consummation of history (at the end of the Millennium), there will not be a need to eat meat anymore, either in the festivals (which would have no meaning in an eternal, timeless sphere) or for the maintenance of the biological body (which will be immortal). Is it right to reduce our meat intake? Certainly. We do not need to eat half the meat that is served us. But we shall not set ourselves up above Yahweh, or to declare ourselves to be more holy or compassionate than Him by abstaining from meat altogether, or accusing other meat-eaters of being uncompassionate or sinners. Let each be satisfied in his own conscience and remember the ordinances, to do them.
This page was created on 22 April 2009
Last updated on 22 April 2009
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