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Christianity and Animals: Vegetarianism
Scriptural Challenges to Our Message

 

By Stephen Kaufman

 

 

 
 

Contents

Good Stewardship

The Bible & Vegetarianism

Scriptural Challenges to Vegetarianism

Other Issues

 

 


Judaism & Animals

Islam & Animals

 

 

 

Peter is instructed to "kill and eat" all creatures
(Acts 10:13, 11:7)

Reading on, one finds that this passage is not a literal instruction to consume flesh. Peter, pondering this vision's meaning, concluded that he should preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:28, 11:18). However one interprets this passage, it does not recommend that we consume meat today.

 

"Everything created by God is good"
(1 Timothy 4:4)

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Paul condoned eating all foods received thankfully (see also 1 Cor. 10:25). However, modern animal agriculture is a human creation, and it harms humans, animals, and the earth. While we should thank God for our ability to enjoy food, we may also thank God for providing tasty vegetarian options. Indeed, many Christian vegetarians see each meal as a prayerful reminder of God's grace and goodness. Each vegetarian meal reminds them of Isaiah's prophecy that all Creation will live harmoniously at the end of time, as in Eden.

 

Vegetarians "weak in faith"
(Romans 14:1)

Paul wrote to the Romans that "the weak man eats only vegetables" (14:2). At that time, Jews were banned from Rome, and a kosher butcher would have been arrested. Unable to obtain kosher meat, many Jews abstained from meat altogether, for fear of eating meat that had been offered to a pagan god. Paul maintained that eating meat, even if offered to idols, was not a spiritual concern, which the "weak" failed to appreciate. Paul said that meat eaters should not condemn those who abstain, and vice versa (14:3), but this does not make all meat eating ethically neutral. Since the diet causes unnecessary suffering, vegetarian Christians suggest that meat is not a merciful choice.

   

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