Understanding God’s Design: A Christian Perspective on Veganism

Posted in: Religion

Tags:

Preface

This is a topic that is very close to my heart that I have wanted to write about for some time. As I began researching, praying and brainstorming what I wanted to say in this thesis, I became aware of what I didn’t want to write before what I wanted to say became clear. First, to adequately portray my thoughts and convictions, I needed to write this from a totally honest and first hand perspective.  By that I mean this: I’m aware that a fair share of the people that read this will not be Christian, and will not share my faith in God and thus perspective on the world. With that being said, I cannot write this in a way that is objective, or intending to appeal to both Christians and those of another/no religious faith. This is written in a way that is representative of my beliefs, which is that God is real and that I believe in the core message of Christianity in that God saved humanity by sending of the Messiah, Jesus Christ his Son. I would not be satisfied with the product I would produce if this was written from an attempt to not treat the things I believe to be the literal truth as such. My intention is not to make anyone uncomfortable or upset by speaking this way, as I strive to respect the freedom of every person to believe what they want.  So let me start with the disclaimer that I am writing about this in the only way I know how, being open and honest as I talk about how my faith and religion ties into a vegan lifestyle, from a Biblical and personal perspective.

Introduction

A question I often get asked (after where do I get my protein) as a Christian Vegan is how do I reconcile my faith with my diet.  After all, “God placed animals on Earth for humans to eat, right?”  Animals were sacrificed to God because he likes the sight and smell of burnt animal flesh.” Veganism is this super extreme, secular movement that’s similar to a cult so how can I as a Christian live this lifestyle? Peter said that God has declared all things as clean to eat, so at the very least, it’s just my own personal choice and I should respect the fact that others choose to eat meat and dairy because at the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with it. “You know, everything is fine in moderation, right?”

So, right off the bat, I’ll concede that it isn’t a sin to eat meat; at least not on the surface in and of itself. But are we meant to eat meat? What does the Bible actually say about mankind’s role and relationship with the animal kingdom and the treatment of animals used for food? For that matter, how are we supposed to treat all of nature – animals, land, water and air? Are there answers to these questions in the Bible?

Let me start off with this. One of the things I hate to see in the Church is when people take the Bible, pull out a couple verses out of context and conflate those verses with a point they are trying to prove or demonstrate. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “1All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a]may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The context here is that Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage him and provide some instruction and counsel in his ministry (whilst Paul is currently in jail). The theme of II Timothy is that of having a purpose in God, and that purpose, broadly, is engaging a broken and fallen world, but individually as well as we are called according to our gifts and where God places us. In this endeavor, we need to build up ourselves and one another, and Scripture is a wonderful tool and full of God’s words of life and love and wisdom.

We also have to use it (the Scriptures) responsibly. Using the Bible for self instruction and collective study is, of course, vital to our Christian walk. At the same time, we have to recognize that throughout history, the Bible has been misused by those with agendas by taking small points and twisting them to meet their ends. Also, we can’t ignore the enormous responsibility of research and interpretation of a collection of books and documents written thousands of years ago in several different languages being written and rewritten – the Bible is God’s word but it has been the victim of unintentional or even sometimes purposeful and bad intentioned revisions by man. Even without the difficulties of language and numerous texts and interpretations, we have to place ourselves into the minds and the culture of people from a time so very different from our own.

This process is often referred to as Biblical Hermeneutics. In Robert Wayner’s “The Christian Basis for Veganism” (found on the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Advocacy for Animals), he defines Biblical Hermeneutics as “the study of deducing eternal biblical truths from texts which were written by authors at a specific moment in time, within a specific cultural and moral context, for a specific audience, and with a specific intent. Biblical hermeneutics analyzes all the historical factors of these writings and searches for eternal truths that last beyond the culture or time in which the texts were written.” So while I will reference the Bible in this thesis, I will not rely on just cut-and-paste scripture but rather, interpretation of the entire Bible and what God’s design and intention for us and the planet are.

Recall back to the beginning where I said right off the bat to throw out the idea of it being sinful to eat meat, but then I threw in the modifier “at least not on the surface in and of itself.” What did I mean there? Let’s go back to the concept of Biblical Hermeneutics. Let’s take something seemingly easy to identify as sinful – slavery. The Christian community is hopefully all in agreement that to enslave someone into servitude, even as a means to pay off a debt (an indentured servant) is to do harm upon them, which is sinful…right?

Well, not really if you take the Bible at face value. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a direct condemnation of slavery. In fact, slavery is only brought up in instances where rules are being spelled out as to how to treat your slaves. Keep in mind, slavery was fundamentally different in Biblical times compared to the slavery of today and the past few centuries, but you’d still be hard pressed to find a modern Christian teaching condoning someone owning someone else and making them work, regardless of how well they adhere to Biblical doctrine of slave treatment.  So…what gives?

Let’s take a historical view at slavery in America. The Bible was used by both those in favor and those opposed to slavery. The obvious arguments in favor were based in the undeniable presence of scripture that talked about proper slave ownership and the absence of any anti-slavery passages. So, what was the argument from those against slavery from the northern Christians?

Civil rights movements of the past two hundred years have often grown out of the Christian community, and it’s all based in Biblical Hermeneutics. Here’s Wayner’s explanation from the article I cited earlier. “Today one would be very hard pressed to find any church leader or scholar, brutally conservative, wildly liberal or anywhere in between, that would endorse the idea that one human being has the right to own another human being. (For that matter, I can’t imagine coming across any rank-and-file Christians who would endorse slavery, either.) While we no longer champion the validity of the institution of slavery, until a mere 150 years ago countless numbers of Christians believed otherwise. The dramatic doctrinal change that we now take for granted occurred gradually over the course of the last 1,500 years as biblical scholars hermeneutically wrestled their way to the conclusion that the overall message of the Bible, culminated by Christ’s atonement for all people regardless of race or gender, prohibits the ownership of one human over another, despite specific biblical passages that contend the exact opposite.”

Another hermeneutic transformation that has taken place in the Church is regarding the role of women. Again, most passages throughout both the Old and New Testaments concerning the issue relegate women’s role in the church to an auxiliary or nonexistent one. The apostle Paul on numerous occasions speaks quite bluntly about the subject. “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (I Corinthians 14:34-35). He reiterates the same sentiments in a letter to Timothy (I Timothy 2:8). However, over the course of the last 500 years, biblical scholars have taken into consideration the historical and literary context in which Paul was writing and began to come to a very different conclusion on the role of women in the Church hierarchy in relation to the overall spirit of the Bible, not the actual text of the Bible. Polygamy is another example of biblical hermeneutic change over the course of history.”

The application of Biblical Hermeneutics has been key in advocating change in our society, increasing liberty, justice, and equality among men and women of all races and backgrounds. Specifically in the Church, most scholars would agree that through Hermeneutics we have grown as a people in our understanding of God and have grown closer to him and more consistently represent Christ to the world. It helps us in our ultimate goal as Christians: becoming Christ-like, to be a blessing to the world.

Good to know, Jacob. Awesome. What does that have to do with being Vegan?

It is my solemn belief and conviction that God’s ultimate desire and design for humanity is to receive and reflect His love. God told Abraham in Genesis that through his descendants, God would use him and his family to be a blessing onto the world. The Bible also speaks about the creation and fall of man, and in the beginning we were created in His image. Before the fall is referred to as our “original design”, which was to be in perfect harmony and relationship with God, the Earth and all of its inhabitants. It is also mentioned many times, such as in Acts and in Isaiah, that at the end of days, there will be a restoration to what we were meant to be.

Here are two key passages – In the beginning, in Genesis: “”27 So God created mankind in his own image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”” 

Then a key prophecy about redemption and restoration from Isaiah: Isaiah 11:6-10, New International Version (NIV) The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;  and a little child will lead them.The cow will feed with the bear,  their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” So why is this important? Why as Christians should we be concerned with our original design and what the Bible tells us about Heaven and the Future Kingdom? Well, let’s go back to the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

The fall in the Garden separated Man from God. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are not only saved from sin but we are called to seek restoration of Man’s relationship with God, and to become more like him. It’s based on this premise of our original design and destined restoration that I rest my convictions and lay the main foundational argument for a Vegan lifestyle as a Christian, which is that we are meant to have compassion and a sense of duty/good stewardship towards the Earth and all life on it, and a special relationship with the animals that dwell here with us. In other words, we were meant to live in harmony with God, Man and Animals while simultaneously caring for our planet – A Vegan lifestyle, which is built on nonviolence and compassion, is an essential component of God’s original design for mankind.

So am I saying that in fact it is sinful to use animals for food?

Well, what is sin? That seems like a good place to start. Sin is rebellion against God, anything that is contrary to the law or will of God. So there’s some gray area here. There’s a strong argument to say it could be sinful because it’s outside of God’s original design. Take that in combination with the horror and terrible consequences of modern day animal agriculture and that we are called to live compassionate lives, and one could say eating meat could be considered sinful. I’m not going to go into huge detail about the evils and damage caused by modern day animal agriculture. I encourage you to read some other blogs, watch a few documentaries and do your own research on the topic. When you see the whole picture, even the most stubborn Christians usually concede that it can’t be pleasing to God to see humans abuse two of God’s creations, Nature and Animals. God is not glorified by the massive pollution of our air and water, the ongoing deforestation, or the wrecking of entire ecosystems; neither is he pleased at the mass production and horrific treatment of animals, in a system where they are treated as a commodity instead of living, breathing beings. It is also true that animal agriculture is a leading contributor to world hunger, and thus veganism isn’t only about compassion to animals but to the planet and to humanity, as well. Enough food to feed the world is grown today, but a large percent of it is grown especially to feed animals used for consumption, and sickeningly much of this food is grown in countries where the poverty and hunger levels are the highest! Supporting this system is not compatible with God’s instructions to feed the hungry.

Fellow Christians often tell me they don’t agree with factory farming, but instead of being vegan they obtain their meat, dairy and eggs from local farms.

The problem here is twofold; even some local farms treat their animals horrifically and treat the environment terribly, and this is because of the second problem – local farms can’t produce enough to satisfy the planet’s (especially America’s) demand for meat and animal products. Factory farming methods were adopted to increase supply to match demand. Local farms often employ similar techniques to maximize profits and increase their supply, and the ones who do things more ethically obviously produce less and often have to charge more. Factory Farming, as bad as it is for the environment actually uses less resources and land and produces more product. Therefore, to think that the solution is local farming is incorrect because to meet the current demand for animal products through these methods will actually hurt the planet more because you need so much more land and will use significantly higher amounts of water, fuel, feed, etc. Local farming would only help if demand for animal products went down significantly and as I said that’s still no guarantee of animal welfare (and the animals obviously still usually end up being killed.)

Does God care about animal welfare?

The Bible would answer yes! ChristianVeg talks on this point. “Jesus said that God feeds the birds of the air (Matt. 6:26) and does not forget sparrows (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew Scriptures forbid inhumane slaughter or cruelty toward beasts of burden (Exod. 23:5; Deut. 22:6–7, 25:4). Proverbs 12:10 teaches, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast,” and Psalm 145:9 reminds us that “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” The Bible describes God’s concern for animals repeatedly (Matt. 10:29, 12:11–12, 18:12–14) and forbids cruelty (Deut. 22:10, 25:4). Importantly, after the Flood, God made a covenant, stated five times, with animals as well as humans. All creatures share in the Sabbath rest (Exod. 20:10; Deut. 5:14). The Bible describes animals praising God (Pss. 148:7–10, 150:6), shows animals present in eternity (Isa. 65:25; Rev. 5:13), and affirms that God preserves animals (Ps. 36:6; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20). Animals and humans look to God for sustenance (Pss. 104:27–31, 147:9; Matt. 6:26; Luke 12:6) and deliverance (Jon. 3:7–9; Rom. 8:18–23).”

If the conversation was steered away from animals used for food and towards animals that are viewed as pets in western society, suddenly more Christians care about animal welfare. Most people put significant value on dogs and cats, and it’s also common to see people care for horses, birds, turtles, hamsters, ferrets, rabbits, various reptiles and even pigs! I often hear “But Bacon!” Okay…but pigs have been shown to have higher intelligence than that of a dog and, in aptitude, expression of feelings and establishment and understanding of social constructs and position. It’s clear that many Christians already realize that it is a morality issue to give proper care for animals….we’re just selective on which animals.

Final Verdict: Is eating animals sinful? Yes and no.

Whether or not we view it as sinful to eat meat isn’t important to me, but let me answer it. Ultimately what’s wrong with sin is it separates us from God. I wouldn’t go as far as to say meat eaters are separated from God. My view is that it isn’t sinful… unless you feel convicted about your dietary choices. James 4:17 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” We’ve all, in our walk with God, discovered or had revealed to us behaviors, attitudes and activities that when we were first saved didn’t feel like a big deal, but as we grew closer to God we became convicted of.  One goal of our walk with Christ is to strive towards that restoration, towards purification. Ultimately, my conviction is that while we can debate over whether or not eating meat is sinful, ultimately I do not see evidence that God is pleased by it, but rather that the opposite is true.

Addressing some final key points

Now, if I were to cover every detail, contention, objection (etc.) that exists on this topic, I would be writing a book by the time I finished. I encourage anyone who has questions to reach out to me after they read this or to research more on their own. I wanted the focus on what I feel are the most important arguments for Veganism and answers to the biggest objections. I will link some really good articles and links at the end that should fill in many of the gaps and answers to some more minute details and questions. Here are the last few topics I feel I need to specifically cover – animal sacrifices, why God gave Noah and mankind permission to eat meat, and finally, resolving with why eating meat/animal products is detrimental to our health, planet, our walk with God and our calling/mission.

Animal Sacrifices

If God wants us to be vegan, why in the Old Testament did he require animal sacrifices? This is a good question, and there are some good answers for it. First, here’s a really good contention from ChristianVeg.org that I want to highlight: “The Bible relates that God accepted animal sacrifices. Given the many biblical passages showing God’s concern for animals, one may conclude that the Hebrews’ need to relate to God with sacrifices was a more pressing need. It is possible that, since all ancient cultures sacrificed animals to their gods, the ancient Hebrews could not imagine approaching God without first performing sacrifices themselves. Interestingly, the Bible does not describe God demanding sacrifice–it only explains how sacrifice should be carried out if performed. Even Abraham’s sacrifice of the ram was Abraham’s idea, not God’s requirement (Genesis 22:13).”

A second point of contention on this is that with Jesus’ death on the cross, whatever need (whether manmade or not) for animal sacrifices went away because he was ultimately the final sacrifice; he who was without sin paid the cost for the entire sin of humankind. This highlights that ultimately God wanted to redeem humanity obviously, but he also wanted to end animal sacrifices. This is made clear not only in Jesus’ sacrifice, but in passages in the Old Testament from the prophets. Isaiah 1:10-17 “Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling off my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Psalms 51:17 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Jesus quoted these scriptures in the New Testament, and it’s clear the message is that God didn’t derive pleasure from sacrifice – he wanted and still wants humanity to grow and be clean and righteous! But humanity was wicked, and the process of redeeming mankind is not something that could be done very quickly (within the confines of free will.)

Permission to eat meat given to Noah

Okay, so animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore and weren’t even desirable by God in the first place. While it’s true that in the Garden God told Adam to eat only plants, after the Flood he gave Noah and mankind permission to eat meat. Genesis 9:2-4 New International Version (NIV)2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. 4 But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” So, there’s an obvious reason why now God gives permission to eat meat – this is right after the flood, so there’s really not that much to eat in the way of vegetation. This is pretty much universally recognized, but there’s never a repeal of that permission or any given time restriction for it. However, this permission isn’t given with an overwhelming tone of approval; quite the opposite, actually. Fear and dread of mankind fall on all living things, which is just a sign that man’s fall has now reached a whole new low. Also, there’s precedent in the Bible of God allowing mankind to do certain things not because of God’s favor towards them, but allowing it because of the hardness and wickedness of men’s hearts. Matthew 19:8 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Mark 7:21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,” Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” It’s clear that many things are allowable by God only out of his mercy and grace, because he knows mankind is fallen and will mostly act out on our selfish sinful desires. Throughout history and to this day we have been too wicked and too stubborn to want to live righteous lives; But we also know God doesn’t want us to stay in that place. He doesn’t want us to remain in our comfort zones and to live our lives according to the desires of the flesh, but rather that through Jesus we would walk redeemed and seek to reclaim what God has for us, and to live compassionately as he calls us to.

Getting to the end, I want to touch on some closing arguments. In my research, I came upon a blog written by another Christian Vegan attempting to reconcile veganism and Christianity. It’s a fantastic read and I will link it at the end, but I wanted to quote a key part of her post:

“While it’s true that God gave man the option to eat animals, the Apostle Paul later pointed out in regards to food at 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24 (NWT): 23 “All things are lawful; but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful; but not all things build up. 24 Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.””

Granted, the context surrounding this scripture was discussing a Christian’s ability to eat meat with a clean conscience in regard to whether it had originated as a sacrifice. But the principle given here with regard to our food choices is clear: just because God gave an option to do something doesn’t mean we have to, or that it’s the best course of action to benefit ourselves and others.

Consider whether eating meat is “advantageous” under today’s circumstances: greenhouse gases and pollution from factory farming severely damaging our environment; animal abuse running rampant in meat and dairy production; and the inherent cruelty of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). Moreover, if we’re seeking the ‘advantage of the other person,’ we have to consider the fact that the United Nations has named meat consumption as a major contributory factor to world hunger. Can a Christian in good conscience do something that’s harming the planet, causing the world’s children to die of hunger, and inflicting horrific animal suffering?”

Kasey Minnis brings up some great points, and I want to piggyback on a few of them. First is from the passage she quoted all things are lawful but not all things build up or are advantageous. Yes, Paul was talking about food and there was actually a historic divide in the early Church over vegetarianism. A lot of arguments from Christians against veganism actually stem from quotes from Paul in Romans, Corinthians and his other letters. Romans 14 is often used to call vegetarians “weak in faith.” But we need to look at what the context of these verses are. Paul was fighting against division in the Church, not advocating meat eating. Neither was Paul vegetarian himself, his message was that differences in diet shouldn’t get in the way of spreading the Gospel and building the early Church. The “weak in faith” statement wasn’t a reflection on vegetarianism but on the motives of the vegetarians, who did not have access to kosher meat due to political tensions between Rome and the Jews and therefore wouldn’t eat meat. This was because the only meat available for consumption was meat sold at market that was from animal sacrifices to pagan gods. Divisions among Christians because of diet unfortunately would continue, hundreds and thousands of years into Church history and even today. There’s definitely truth to saying that we shouldn’t let this subject matter divide us Christians – we need to stand together on the truth of Christ no matter what. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth or important to look into and discuss the merits of veganism to that of a Christian lifestyle, especially in comparison to modern animal agriculture. Again, lawful does not mean advantageous. While there are technically healthy ways to consume certain meat and live a healthy lifestyle, for the most part many animal products are linked to disease. We’ve already seen how eating animals hurts our planet. We see that God cares about animals. The original design and intent for mankind is apparent as is the foretold restoration of humanity, and yes, animals are included in that.

What should you do with all of this, then?

First, don’t take my word for it. Don’t take anyone else’s word for it, and don’t fall into the trap of being bound by the desires of your flesh. Ask God, read his word and ask him what he thinks you should do. My belief is that God will always lead us towards the choice that is the most compassionate, the most gentle, the most beneficial and into what is Christ-like. If you do not feel convicted to see animals in a different light, to be a good steward of God’s creation, no words from me can change that. I do not judge anyone who disagrees with me on this subject, or anyone who is conflicted and does not feel strong enough or courageous enough to make a change. But I will implore you again to pray and meditate on God’s word and God’s will. I believe I have shown through God’s word that we have a lot of work to do, we have an amazing promise and important call in Christ. Let’s reclaim that which was lost, and let’s choose compassion together.

Footnote

In my research and conversations with people on this topic after writing this, I have come across an argument/idea that I wanted to address. I addressed this thesis using a traditional interpretation of the Bible – meaning that while the use of Biblical Hermeneutics is important to deriving the meaning and presence of certain passages and ideas, that generally the Bible depicts an accurate, albeit likely incomplete, documentation of events from thousands and thousands of years ago. There are many in the Christian community who would dispute this entire thesis based upon one of two premises. The first premise would be that much of the Bible and especially events depicted in Genesis are less historical depictions and more allegorical tales that God gave humanity as a way to give early humanity a way to connect to God and understand the world without the advancement of the human mind and civilization that would happen over the next millennia. The second premise is that Biblical Hermeneutics is futile in this thesis, which can be claimed for a couple reasons. Basically, the reasoning is that there have been so many changes and translations that the idea that we can make accurate deductions on eternal Biblical truths is foolish, and to form a Hermeneutic perspective that makes claims that call for such drastic changes in diet and behavior is even more so improper. Or, perhaps that Biblical Hermeneutics might be appropriate in general applications but that in general we need to stick to the letter of the word.

This is my response: The Bible is true or it isn’t. If it isn’t, well there you go, it isn’t and there’s no Biblical argument for veganism. Of course, that means there’s no Biblical argument for eating meat or anything at all. Some Christians believe in God but partially or completely disregard the Bible. This results in either completely subjective and personal beliefs and views of God, morality and ethical issues, or just picking and choosing the parts you think are true and aren’t true, which is again completely subjective. If you are going to believe in God but completely or mostly discredit the Bible, then you’re left with your personal morals and secular arguments, and while that combination doesn’t automatically translate into being pro vegan, going off personal morals and secular arguments is certainly enough to make a strong case for veganism (secular arguments are broken into the following categories: value for animal lives, health benefits of vegan diets and harmful effects of eating animal products, and the environmental effect of animal agriculture and how it plays into world hunger).

If the Bible is true, you’re left with translating it literally or hermeneutically. It should be clear that literal translations of the Bible would be pretty harmful, as even the most devout and extreme sects of Christianity don’t apply 100% literal translations of scripture. Hermeneutics is clearly the proper way to interpret the Bible if you choose to believe it’s true, but acknowledge that taking it literally isn’t proper given the major culture gap, linguistic hurdle and historical variance/interventions that have taken place in the many different translations of the Bible.

In relation to the specific Hermeneutic view presented by Christian vegans I’ve quoted and myself, obviously I’m open to discussion and objections. Dialogue is something I value as inherent to seeking to accomplish the most good. In relation to one specific objection, that being that Genesis is either completely or partially allegorical, or that there are at least gaps in events and context and a certain amount of imagery or simplification to the account, I will give a brief response. I think that however we view Genesis doesn’t blur the specific truths that others and I have derived from it and presented in this thesis, or construe the overall message of compassion and care for all, including caring for animals and their welfare. That message is seen in commands for how we treat them and displays of God’s own love for his creations, and it definitely should apply to our decisions/beliefs pertaining to diet and animal agriculture.

Links

4 Comments

Brianna

I love this. It’s great to learn something that can be used when talking to so many people. I feel like Christianity is something that’s thrown at vegans so often, like “God wants us to eat meat!” And now I can show this to them give them a pretty solid “no he doesn’t”. Thank you Jacob!!

Reply
Holise Cleveland

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
Psalm 36:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Reply
Tina Wellington

This was a very thorough writing and gives one a lot of “food” for thought. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, research and your heart.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.