Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thoughts on Health Food and the Bible

It seems that today, many families are into the health food craze.  They tell us that we really must drop all processed foods and eat only organic food, only grass-fed beef, etc., etc., etc.   And they've all watched Food, Inc. it seems.

Well, that's all fine as far as it goes.  If you've got the money to buy food at your local health food emporium, go for it.  I'm poor, so I shop at Walmart, and so, . . . well, you get the idea. 

But what really irks me is when people begin to look down their nose at you if you don't follow them down the path of "eating responsibly."  Especially if they profess to be Christian.  In fact, you get the idea from some that if you're not eating "right" (according to the standards of the health food people) then you're just not cutting it spiritually.  I beg to differ.  In fact, I don't really think God cares about it that much.  Here's why.

Under the Old Covenant, God told his people Israel not to eat pork.  ("See!" the heath food people say, "God does care!!!")  Now, I won't debate that a juicy slab of bacon is not the healthiest for you (especially when it's only baked in the microwave for 5 seconds - let me tell you, that is gross).  But turn over to 1 Timothy 4 and you read this words:

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer." (ESV)

Note the words: "everything created by God is good" and trust me, this includes bacon.  In fact, it most certainly does, as the apostle is refuting the teaching of those who want to impose the restrictions of the Jewish diet on new Gentile believers who did not observe such scruples when it came to food.  The same point could be made from Acts 10, Romans 14 and 1 Cor. 8.  The food laws of the Old Covenant no longer apply.

However, if it were true that God really does care about whether we eat bacon or not, then it seems hard to see why God would not have told the early church: "Okay, no more sacrificing goats.  But you still can't eat pork."  God didn't say that.  In fact, the apostle tells us that you come along and tell believers that they can't eat certain foods, and that if they do they are disobeying God, then you are really carrying a doctrine of demons.

Now I understand that you can go overboard either direction.  Eating 12 packages of Twinkies a day is not exactly a sign of self-control.  But giving someone the impression that they can't be as holy as you are because they drink good-ol' homogenized milk is bad, too.

In the end, when it comes to food, I think God cares about two things: how much you eat (a matter of self-control), and why you eat it (a matter of worship).  1 Corinthians 10:31 comes to mind:  "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

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