A Tripple-Mac! Burger part 3 (1 Cor 8 and 10)

Oh not! Not the burger again!

Just a quick one this time. A thought. What are the implications of Paul's line on eating food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8 and 10) to the ban on eating meat with blood in it? Both were forbidden to Gentiles in the Acts 15 Apostolic Decree so perhaps we can extrapolate from Paul's thoughts about idol meat to his thoughts on blood meat.

Of course, it depends in part on what you think Paul's position on idol meat is. I tentatively hold the following view.
  • Paul did not allow Christians to eat idol meat that was obviously idol meat (i.e., from the temples or the altar of demons).
  • But Paul said that if the meat was of uncertain origin (i.e., from the market or served at a meal at someone's house) then Christian may eat without asking questions. Obviously, if the host says, 'Did you know that this is idol meat?' then the Christian should abstain.

The food, said Paul, was not inherently problematic to eat - the idols are nothing. But its symbolic association with false gods was problematic and Christians should not knowingly partake in it.

So, on this interpretation, Paul did uphold the decree but his application of it in this specific context was somewhat 'liberal'. How might that apply to the blood ban? Here is a tentative suggestion:

Eating meat that you know has blood in it would remain forbidden (black pudding would be a Christian 'NO NO'!). Not because there is anything inhenrently bad in eating blood but because abstaining symbolically represents a recognition that all life belongs to God and not to us.

But eating meat that for all you can tell has no blood in it - especially if one is a guest at a meal - would be fine (even if, in fact, there actually is blood in it).

This would be a somewhat 'liberal' application of the decree.

Comments

Nate Long said…
personally, I like that application. I might quibble over why it is ok to eat meat that could possibly have some blood in it.

Having experimented with this myself as someone who takes seriously both the commandment not to eat meat with blood in it and avoids meat that God said was abominable, I've found that modern day, grocery-store beef actually has less blood still in it than technically kosher beef.

This can vary according to slaughtering methods, and is unique to midwestern America, but that's been my observation. Kosher beef content should be basically the same world over, but grocery-store beef can vary on the basis of the slaughterhouse.
Anonymous said…
I know this is old now, but you might find this interesting.

http://origin-www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Beef_from_Farm_to_Table/index.asp

It is probable to me that there is even less blood in today's beef than there would have been in meat that ancient Israelites ate. Do you think the decree to not eat beef in Leviticus could be more about God wanting His people to respect that life belongs to God? If so, I wonder if that would play more into our "ok-ness" with modern beef (some people would think modern slaughter methods don't respect life at all) than exactly HOW much blood is in it.
Anonymous said…
Sorry... that should have read, "the decree to not eat meat with blood in it" not "beef." I'm more than a little tired.
Robin Parry said…
Anonymous,

I eat beef occasionally but not often.

The decree about blood is all about respecting that the life belongs to God.

I agree with you that this more general issue does have implications for how cattle are reared and killed. My understanding is that it is worse in the USA than in the UK but I am no expert and may be mistaken.

Animal welfare is one of those things that we ought to pay attention to but our modern way of life (that puts a gulf between meat consumers and any awareness of the life of the animals they eat) makes this harder to keep track of than ever. MOst of us don't have the time nor the inclination to hunt down all the relevant information.

Our family sticks, as far as is possible, to free range meat than has some extra layers of welfare built into it. I think that this is part of respecting God's creation.

Not consuming blood can be a way to regularly remind ourselves of this principle.

Robin

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