Eating Meat; September 25, 2021


Acts 10:13-15 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This is a very familiar story, but reading it just now something occurred to me I had never thought of before: this pretty well disposes of the majority of arguments against eating meat. The lesson to Peter and all his spiritual descendants was not to impose legalistic traditions on situations when God has said otherwise, but it starts with the very graphic point of slaughtering animals. Failing to take care of animals is inexcusable in my book, but making dinner of them, at the cost of their life, is very much part of how the world is laid out. The absurdity of some of the positions that are expressed reaches its peak, I think, in people who are against hunting and they state, “People who want to eat meat should just buy it at the store and not kill innocent animals.” (And yes, that has really been stated.) We are so far removed from the mechanisms of nature that we lose rational thought! Much has been made of the 6th Commandment, traditionally translated as, “Thou shalt not kill,” but much less of the 7th, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:13-14) The English word “kill” has been extrapolated incredibly, when the far more accurate word used by some more modern translations is, “You shall not murder.” And those who insist that making steaks out of a cow is murder really don’t understand the concept. When we apply distorted human reasoning (greatly encouraged in that by the devil, I believe) to the world around us, we lose perspective, proportion, and eventually, rational thought.

A very memorable early exposure I had to this concept was when the governor of Fukuoka Prefecture presented my family with two live turkeys, one for us and one for the missionary association, and my father was tasked with taking them from that condition to being ready for my mother to put them in the oven. I won’t go into details, but I doubt I will ever forget it! Years later, for a high school biology class, I did a presentation on comparative anatomy using photographs I took of dissecting a frog, a fish, a snake, and a chicken. The chicken didn’t start out live, but was rather a whole one from the meat shop that had simply been plucked after having its throat cut. The point is, with the chicken, my pictures progressed to the plate of fried chicken my mother made from it after the dissection, and then to a plate of bones after my family had eaten it very thoroughly. (I once cooked a snake, but my mother made me feed it to the dog rather than let me sample it, which I was eager to do.) I have always loved animals of many sorts, either as pets or as food! (I find horse tasty, but I’d rather ride them than eat them.) All that said, I still need to remember what Paul said about such things, not offending “weaker brothers” needlessly. (1 Corinthians 8) I have successfully hunted deer and I have taken a pig from the pen to the table, but I am not to make that my “public face.” At the same time, I am certainly not to look down my nose at anything God has cleansed.

Father, I certainly didn’t expect to write on this this morning! I pray that I would recognize what You are saying to me regardless of when or how You say it, so that I may walk in full obedience all the time, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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