In the pages of the Old Testament, we see God declare pork (and several other foods) as unclean. Any person that ate these foods would be labeled “unclean” meaning that he/she would be unfit for worship. But when we fast forward to the New Testament, we see God declare pork clean. Why?
Can Christians eat meat? Yes. Christians can eat meat because the Lord says all meat is clean and consuming it will not be a sin.
Can Christians eat pork and bacon? Yes. The reason why Christians can eat pork and bacon is that God declared all meat clean in the book of Mark.
Because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)Mark 7:19
Where the Diety Question of Dietary Laws Regarding Meat Comes From
In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites a long list (more than 600) of rules and regulations for them to follow. Most of the rules included a variety of food that they were not allowed to eat. These rules mainly consisted of pork.
For centuries Christians stayed away from pork and other unclean foods. When someone ate one of these foods, then they would be label as an unclean person. Then they were not allowed to participate in many activities including worship because they are declared unclean.
There were also different regulations about activities that the Israelites could not partake in because they could become un-clean with those events too. Being un-clean is a temporary phase in the Old Testament as it only lasted for a certain time period if they used one of the solutions to be clean again.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:27
In the Old Testament, it is obvious that we are not strong enough to follow every rule and regulation that the Lord sent to the Israelites. It is obvious that God set a moral law and humanity has broken that through sin. Christians have broken the standard that He has set for all believers.
It’s important to remember why God laid down all of these different rules and regulations in the first place, for the Israelites. There are several reasons why the Lord gave them these to follow. One of the reasons was the cause of God wanting His people to be different from all of the other people groups that were surrounding them. God wanted the nation of Israel to stand out to be different than all of the other nations in that region of the world.
The Lord wants His nation and His people to shine and be an example to point all of the other people back to Him. This has always been God’s desire, for everyone to hear His truth through His followers who follow and obey His demands, to stand out and be different.
Jewish Diety Laws (AKA Kosher)
The Jewish dietary laws explain the rules for choosing kosher animal products, including the prohibition of what is considered “unclean” animals and the mixing of meat and dairy. The laws also outline what are considered to be “neutral” foods.
To be considered kosher, animals must fall into one of the following categories, and meet certain requirements.
- Certain animals may not be eaten at all, including pigs, shellfish, rabbits, and reptiles.
- Mammals that have split hooves and chew their cud, (including cows, sheep, goats, bison, and deer) are kosher.
- Fish must have fins and removable scales to be considered kosher.
- Specific kosher bird species are listed in the Torah, but there is more ambiguity about the requirements a bird must meet to be considered kosher. Generally speaking, birds of prey are not kosher.
- Milk and eggs from kosher animals are kosher. Eggs must generally be checked to ensure they do not contain blood, which is not kosher.
Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten. Also, all blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
Meat and Dairy
Any meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Utensils that have come into contact with meat (while hot) may not be used with dairy and vice versa. In addition, utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food (while hot) may not be used with kosher food.
Kosher food is divided into three categories: meat, dairy, and pareve. The pareve foods are considered neutral and can be eaten with either milk or meat.
- All fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, nuts, beans, and legumes are kosher.
- Eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy.
- Grape products (including juice and wine) must be produced by Jews in order to be considered kosher.
Messianic Jews and Diety Laws
The biblical commandments regarding dietary practices are rather simple and straightforward. Generally speaking, scavengers of either land or sea are to be avoided. Mammals that both chew the cud and have hooves may be eaten. The consumption of blood is to be avoided.
Many Messianic Jewish people do continue to follow the basic biblical commandments found in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) given to the people of Israel.
Peter’s vision in Acts 10 clearly demonstrated God’s love for all varieties of human beings and His intention to bring Messianic redemption to those of every nation. Nowhere in Scripture are non-Jews expected to strictly adhere to the ever-evolving rabbinic dietary customs. At the same time, we must admit that Peter’s vision was not a certification for the eating of biblically unclean foods by Jewish people.
And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”Acts: 10: 9,12-15
What the New Testament Says About Eating Meat
In the New Testament, God declared all animals and foods clean and Christians are no longer able to be declared as clean or unclean people by their actions and diet. However, they are now labeled as clean and unclean by the state of their hearts. (I.E, if their heart has been regenerated and restored by the hands of God and if they have been born again).
It is clear that while Christians are not clean themselves, they cannot get themselves from unclean to clean until God has taken actions on their behalf to redeem them from their sins. Because of humanity’s sin, humans are labeled unclean, but Christ has done amazing things, and when a Child of God puts their faith in Him, they become clean and pure again.
In the book of Luke, Jesus blasts the Pharisees clean on the outside wickedness and greed. It is important to not live your life in a way where you make your outward appearance to look clean and pure, but inside, your heart is far from God. People’s behaviors and actions make them appear clean, religious and their love for God is real, yet their heart is far from Him. The same message is for us today.
And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.”Luke 11:39-40
What Food is Forbidden for Christians
Christians have no such restrictions. Some will keep to a version of the purity code listed out in the Old Testament, but most Christians do not think twice about eating whatever they want unless they give up a specific food for Lent. That does not mean that there is no wisdom in the purity code laid out in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In fact, the Old Testament purity code has some advice that is good for anyone to follow for a variety of reasons. Here are two forbidden foods in the Bible Christians should avoid.
Types of Birds
Leviticus 11:13-19 contains the longest running list of what animals are considered clean and unclean. Certain sea creatures are said to be off-limits, such as crustacean (crab, lobster, shrimp, or barnacle). Leviticus 11 also makes it a point to list which birds should not be eaten by the Israelites. (Owls, ravens, hawks, storks, etc.). Bats are also included at the end of this list.
Leviticus states that people can only eat various species of “locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.” Many insects and arachnids contain poisons that are toxic to humans. They are also excellent carriers of diseases.
“All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.Leviticus 11: 20-23
Christians generally do not pay much attention to the list of forbidden foods in the Bible. If it contains something that Leviticus listed as a forbidden food, it might be in the best interest of your health to politely say, “no thanks.” The Lord wants what is best for His children, and if He is saying no to these particular foods, there is a reason.