Answering The Atheist
September 28, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 39
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
What kind of animals may we eat? Some texts say none at all (Genesis 1:29; Proverbs 23:20; Isaiah 7:14-15; Daniel 1:8; Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13), other Bible texts say only certain animals (Deuteronomy 14:7-8; Leviticus 11:2-4), but some say we can eat any animals (Genesis 9:3; Acts 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 10:25; Romans 14:2, 14; 1 Timothy 4:1-3). Is there a contradiction?
The answer to the questioner's inquiry depends upon what time you are living in. Prior to the flood (Genesis 1:29), men were given plantlife to eat, not meat. However, after the flood (Genesis 9:3), men were permitted to eat meats, with no restrictions given. Such was the case until the time of Moses, when the Lord gave His law for Israel. In this law, the eating of meats was still permitted, but restrictions were imposed (Deuteronomy 14:7-8; Leviticus 11:2-4). This would be the case until the time of Christ, when the new covenant given through Christ was given. Under this law, God again gave freedom for His people to eat any meat (Acts 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 10:25; Romans 14:2, 14; 1 Timothy 4:1-3). We today are under this law, wherein we have the freedom to eat whatever meat we desire to. It is not contradictory for there to be different instructions for different time periods. One might question why it is so, but certainly, a contradiction is not present.
Of the verses listed above which have not yet been referred to, only a brief explanation should clear up any misapplications. Proverbs 23:20 does not speak against eating meat entirely, but those who are "gluttonous eaters of meat." Isaiah 7:14-15 says nothing against eating meat, but simply speaks of the Lord eating of curds and honey. Take a look in the gospels, you'll see the Lord eating meat. Daniel 1:8 does not speak against eating meat, but tells us that Daniel did not take of the king's delicacies. Is it not possible that Daniel's vegetable diet was because the king ate the types of meat which the Jews were not permitted to eat? Paul's statements in Romans 14:21 and 1 Corinthians 8:13 are not outright exclusions of meat eating, but conditional statements. If my eating meat will violate the conscience of a fellow Christian, then I ought not do so. In context, Paul speaks of meats offered to idols and the difficulty some Jews had with leaving the restrictions of Moses' law behind.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible