>Christian Reasons for Vegetarianism: Part I

Posted: 03/10/2009 in Christian living, environment, food

>Opening Thoughts

I am not a vegetarian. I eat meat most days of the week, although I avoid red meat like I avoid soft drinks. I do not think that I will ever feel the need to become a full, strict, vegetarian either. I certainly could never become a vegan. I also do not believe that I am willing now, nor should ever be in the future, able to commit to a “cold-turkey” (no pun intended) instant cut out of meat from my diet.

Nonetheless, I believe that there are good reasons for Christians to cut back on meat consumption. I have, imperfectly, committed myself to refraining from meat on Sundays. I find that I am losing my need to eat meat and am fully satisfied with not eating it once a week. I hope to eventually take this into other days of week.

Scaling back and even eliminating meat from our diets is something all Christians should consider.

Why avoid meat when Scripture doesn’t say so?

To begin, here are some arguments I am not using in these blogs.

I am not, for instance, arguing from a perspective of animal rights. Many people argue against eating meat by virtue that animals are moral equals in the universe. While the points they bring up are often of great value, I believe that Christians are right to point out that many of the animal rights activists do not so much as elevate the moral status of animals, but rather bring down the spiritual status of humans. Humans, so said by animal rights activists, are very well evolved animals, but not above the animal kingdom or better than our cousins the chimpanzees. Whatever reasons people may have for this, I think it is right for Christians to reject these appeals on the grounds that we do believe that we are above animals via our special relationship with our creator.

Neither do I argue that eating meat is intrinsically wrong. Christians have often said that the raising of animals for slaughter, consumption, and obviously sacrifices cannot violate the laws of God. These things happened in scripture and received no condemnation from God and sometimes even his mandate. Many of the early patriarchs in the Old Testament domesticated animals and treated them as property. God also called for the sacrifice of animals. Several other passages, such as the famous example of eating meat before idols in the New Testament, could be added here. So the point is this: If God ever felt that the killing of animals by humans was wrong, and this includes eating them, then it would seem he has contradicted himself.

Furthermore, I am not arguing that we need an explicit, clear biblical command to refrain from meat in order to do so. Many things Christians do (like blogging) come not from a clear command in scripture, but rather from careful reflection on what the Christian life is (which includes scripture), and an application to our contemporary habits of living. Thus I would never say that vegetarianism is “Biblical” but rather that it is “Christian.”

There are few things that Christians believe that influence how we think about our diets. Likewise, there are some facts about the economy that we live in it that should make us think about what the real cost of a nice steak is. When two things are put together, I think it seems that Christians can be light of the world more fully if we, as the Church, pass on the capon when eating dinner.

Stay tuned for part II. It will be up by Monday.

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