Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vegetarian.... To be or Not to be??

( WARNING: This blog is so long it may make your head spin!!)

After much research, contemplation, prayer, and long conversations, I've finally come to somewhat of a conclusion to my Vegetarianism question I posted last week. So here are my thoughts.....
As most of you may know, early chapters of Genesis clearly lay out that the killing and consumption of animals is wrong. Which of course makes sense. You see, before the fall, man lived in complete peace and harmony. No one killed anything or anyone, and instead every creature was thoroughly satisfied with a purely plant based diet."..God said unto them....have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.'"(Genesis 1: 28,29)But with the fall of man, came the Lord's permission for man to eat meat."Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." (Genesis 9:3)
Why the Lord gave his permission for man to become carnivores is unknown. Perhaps, and this is just my own speculation, the Lord knew that because man was now filled with sin, our desire to kill was inevitable. Regardless, it is clear that the Lord no longer considers the consumption of meat a sin. Although some may choose to believe that the killing of animals is murder, the Lord never says this is so.
Now fast forward to 2009. In a world where fast food restaurants and grocery stores are a way of life, its no wonder we pay little attention to our diet. Its hard to resist certain foods when they sit on a shelf perfectly packaged and ready to consume. Little thought goes into where it came from or how it was made. Instead we've made a habit out of blindly consuming products we know nothing about. That delicious steak you ate for dinner last night.... where did it come from? Who killed it? How was it killed? How was the cow treated before becoming top of the line medium rare sirloin? Do we ask ourselves these questions? Of course not. But why? I believe we fail to ask because we fear the answer. We don't want to know or watch how the animal was killed. Out of sight, out of mind. But think about this, if it makes you visibly uncomfortable to watch it, you should be visibly uncomfortable eating it.
Let me make one thing clear, in no way do I think eating meat is wrong. As a matter of fact, I happen to love meat. But I do think its wrong to mistreat animals and slaughter them in inhumane ways. We must keep in mind that cows, and pigs, and lambs, and chickens are all creatures of God. The Lord gave us specific instruction to rule over and care for creation...."Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Genesis 1:26)
Is eating meat inherently wrong? No. But then again neither is drinking alcohol. Here's a little something to chew on (no pun intended).....You see, in Biblical times, many Jews were vegetarians. These vegetarian jews believed meat corrupted your soul. Eating meat was permitted by God, but so was drinking alcohol. In fact, just like alcohol, they believed meat could make you "stumble", or corrupt your heart. For example, drinking alcohol to excess can cause poor judgment, sinful behavior, and slowly alters your views about what is acceptable and what is not. In the same way, eating meat could have the potential to harden one’s heart and change one’s views on what is permissible in the treatment and consumption of animals. Its possible that the simple action of eating meat is not in and of itself wrong, but with the continual over consumption, it has the power to change who we are, and can compromise our behavior. It even says in Romans 14:21, "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause any man to stumble"
I also find it interesting that there's great speculation regarding the fact that we will all be herbivores in Heaven. Why? Oh I'm so glad you asked! The prophesy found in Isaiah 11:6-9 states, "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, and their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
Maybe vegetarianism is a way some Christians have chosen to prepare themselves for the Kingdom of Heaven. After all, our life here on earth is our training ground for what is to come next.

Ok so if your still reading this, your probably seeing stars by now. I've essentially written a novel, but I swear I'm almost finished.... stick with me if you can.

I know your probably itching for my answer. Will I continue to eat meat or have I decided to go vegetarian? My answer is simple.....In every aspect of my life I seek balance. In relationships, in work, in finances, and of course in food. With my past history of bizarre relationships with food, I've found that balance is the key. I'm a strong believer that no food group should be eliminated. Unfortunately, Satan tends to use my weakness for food and twist it into something evil and painful. So to prevent Satan's stronghold, I eat everything in moderation. Nothing is "off limits". But I will say, the research I have done has changed my heart. Will I eat as much meat as I have in the past? Probably not. Will I seek to buy and consume meat labeled "free range"/"cage free"/"organic"? Absolutely. Will I impose my beliefs and preference on those around me and expect them to agree with me? Certainly not.

"the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).

"One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The mans who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him." (Romans 14:2-3)

For those of you who have battled with this issue, I encourage you to spend time in prayer and do your own research. The Lord speaks to all our hearts differently. Some may feel led to live a vegetarian lifestyle, and some may not. But whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

1 comment:

The Abram Family said...

Fascinating Emily, well said!