Stump the Rector

Billy Crain asked if the statements in Genesis 1:29-31 indicate that both man and beast were intended to be vegetarians. While no one knows for certain, the fact that the Lord spoke only of seed bearing plants and fruit bearing trees as food, indicates that may be the case. It is always a risk to make an argument from silence. If God said, “Thou shalt not eat meat” then we could say with certainty. But it is a weaker case to argue that because meat was not mentioned in that passage about food that man was not intended to eat it. However, it would seem to fit, in a state of innocence, that acquiring food should not require the shedding of blood. After all, God did not create death, it came into the world through the sins of the ones who were to be stewards of the earth (1 Cor. 15:21). The fall changed man’s relationship with all of God’s creation. In the Kingdom to come, God’s original intention for creation will be restored and death will no longer be a part of life. So “the lion will eat straw like the ox, and the nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra” (Is 11:7,8).

That said, are we to be vegetarians today in an attempt to get back to the garden? Since “vegetarian” is Native American for “bad hunter” I would say no. (Okay maybe that last part is made up.) To be a vegetarian is more a matter of personal choice than it is a matter of theology. We read in 1 Corinthians a discussion of meat sacrificed to idols but the concern was not the eating of meat but the fact that the meat had been sacrificed (1 Cor. 10:23-33).

While St. Paul cautions not to use our liberties in ways that would cause others to stumble, he argues, “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.’” (1 Cor 10:25, 26). Add to this that he begins the whole discussion with the thesis statement, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor 10:23). So it is lawful to eat meat but if you do not find it helpful, then you are free also in Christ to abstain. The choice is yours. As for me and my household, please pass the A1.

3 thoughts on “Stump the Rector

  1. There is also a curious passage in Genesis 9. Just after the flood, there appears to be a shift in thought. “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” (Gen 9:3, ESV). Then follows the prohibition regarding blood. But it is noteworthy at the giving of the Covenant to Noah, that we see this shift, and an expansion of food. Of course when the Mosaic Law is given, meat is not prohibited per se, but only certain kinds and/or with certain conditions. So, pass the A-1 Father!

  2. Father Ray,
    It is once again time for stump the Rector.
    Will you please explain the significance of “slamming” the tabernacle door during the stripping of the altar during our Maundy Thursday service? Thank you!

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