Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is it okay to eat pigs?

A friend recently asked, if the Old Testament says:

Leviticus 11:7 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.

Then, why do Christians still eat pork?

Here's my response:

For one, we can deduce that because the early New Testament church did not constrain new believers with the Old Testament Jewish practices that we are similarly not compelled.

Second, there's an overwhelming theme throughout the New Testament of unseen virtue contrasting people's almost valueless external actions and rituals.

Then, there's the issue of moral versus ceremonial law. Many Jewish observances are contextually relevant to their culture or time and do not transcend to others.

An example of ceremonial law would be "don't wear clothes made of two materials woven together" and an example of a moral law would be "do not steal".

Cerimonial "laws" are basically regulations constraining cultural/contemporary activities to best serve and coexist with a given environment and circumstance.

Cerimonial laws are true for a time, moral laws are always true. For example, mixed material is foolishness today. It's purposes have past. But stealing is never right. You may "justify" stealing, but you could never "honor" it.

Nonetheless, this disenfranchisement of the Old Testament to New Testament believers broadly removes provisional, ceremonial requirements while maintaining moral law. When Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law but fulfill it, his meaning had more to do with moral law and prophetic fulfillment - not what we eat or wear.

By itself, though, that's not perfectly clear.

So, consider these verses (Colossians 2):

14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

No comments: