Statement of Fundamental Beliefs -
GOD'S HEALTH LAW CONCERNING MEATS
Clean and Unclean Meats
Probably the best known and least understood biblical health laws deal with clean and unclean meats (see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14). These are often referred to as "Jewish" food laws because they are still followed by Orthodox Jews; yet Muslims and others also observe similar food restrictions. Many theologians assert that these biblical guidelines were not given for health reasons, but were merely cultic practices designed to separate ancient Israelites from other peoples. Others teach that these instructions were for people living under the Old Covenant and that Christians, who are under a New Covenant, are free to eat whatever they want. Some argue that biblical dietary restrictions are silly, old fashioned and merely limit human freedoms and pleasures!
These widely accepted ideas are based on ignorance. Most theologians have little or no training in biology, ecology, microbiology, parasitology, epidemiology or public health, yet knowledge of these fields reveals the wisdom behind the laws about clean and unclean foods. Many unclean animals are scavengers (e.g. snails, crabs, lobsters and gulls)—their ecological role is to devour dead plants or animals. Other unclean animals are filter feeders (e.g. clams and oysters)—their ecological role is to purify water in lakes, streams and estuaries. Other unclean animals are predators (e.g. lions, snakes and alligators)—their ecological role is to manage the size and health of other animal populations. There are very important ecological reasons why unclean animals that God created are not to serve as food for human beings. God designed them for another purpose!
However, there are also important health reasons behind these dietary restrictions. Many unclean animals carry parasites that cause serious diseases in humans. Pigs, bears, squirrels and raccoons carry trichinosis and other diseases. Scavengers such as crabs and crayfish can transmit lung and liver flukes. Human populations that consume these creatures on a regular basis often have high rates of parasitic infections. Filter feeding organisms, such as clams and oysters, may contain high concentrations of toxic heavy metals, pathogenic bacteria and viruses—making them dangerous for human consumption. When you eat these creatures, you are actually eating organisms God created to be nature's "clean-up crew." Would you eat the contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or your garbage disposal? Hardly! Yet many gourmet dishes are served in blissful ignorance of the risks involved.
Far from being outdated Old Covenant practices, the biblical laws concerning clean and unclean meats were inspired by a God who created all things for a purpose—a God concerned about promoting health and preventing disease! Avoiding unclean meats is a fundamental step in preventing major parasitic diseases that afflict millions of people around the world. When we violate these basic principles, we do so to our own detriment! Regrettably, modern theologians do not understand the value of these powerful public health principles—nor do many professing Christians!
If you would like to receive more information or have any questions please call our Canadian Regional Office toll free at 1-800-932-4264, or (905)814-1094 within Toronto, and ask to speak with a minister.