Answer by John Mackay
“I hear ye, but I wi’ nae take any notice!” said a little Scottish lady after someone at a meeting had asked me “Should we eat black pudding which is made from blood?” One Pastor in Scotland shared he had preached on this subject, and half his Scots congregation left the church. And there is one other country where this question can rouse a storm – the one that eats bludwurst – Germany.
Obviously this is a touchy subject. So let’s start from the beginning and get it in perspective. Genesis 1:29-30 says:
And God said, “I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Genesis clearly states that both man and animals were to live on a diet of plant food. In the original created good world, a vegetarian diet would have met all nutritional needs. A combination of green leafy plants, fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, all growing in newly created rich soils would provide sufficient carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals. It was therefore a world without bloodshed. There was no death by violence. So let’s clear up one principle to start with: God as the Creator has the right to tell man what to eat.
After man sinned by eating the forbidden fruit God cursed the ground. (Genesis 3). From then on thorns and thistles made their appearance, and growing and harvesting plants became increasingly hard work. But from the Fall of Man (Gen 3), to Noah’s flood ( Gen 6 – 8), there is no indication God changed instructions concerning the diet of man or animal. Since Noah is described as “doing all the Lord commanded him” (Gen 6 :22 and on), then Noah would have been vegetarian in obedience to God’s original instructions.
However, the flood ruined what remained of the perfect environment, and after the flood God warned Noah of a massive coming climate change with the prophetic words “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22) Whether Noah understood it or not, God knew from that time on, there would be places on the earth where is would not be possible to survive on an exclusively vegetarian diet. You cannot be a committed vegetarian Eskimo or Saharan Desert dweller. So God gave Noah and his descendants new instructions for diet when He authorised man to eat meat. This was spelt out clearly when God told Noah that “every moving thing” was in future permissible to eat, just as the green plants were from the beginning. (Genesis 9:2-3). Noah was not forbidden to eat pigs, horses or eels.
There is, however, one restriction in the post flood meat diet – eating blood was forbidden by God, and the stated reason is that “the life is in the blood.” (Genesis 9:4) Because this instruction was given to Noah and his family, who were the only surviving humans and not to any one racial or cultural group, it applied to the whole human race at that time. God has never revoked this instruction, so it still applies to the whole human race.
This rule about not eating blood was, many years later, restated for the family group descended from Noah, via Abraham, via the man Israel who gave rise to the Jews. The reason was clearly stated again “the life is in the blood” (see Leviticus 7: 26-7, 17:10-14). God also told his people not to eat strangled animals, nor animals that died naturally, as their blood would still be in them. So the only way to eat meat to satisfy this requirement it to cut their throats and drain them of blood, and since that’s good enough to satisfy Gods instruction, then don’t demand any higher standards.
When the Apostles pondered what food rules to give to newly converted Christian Gentiles they passed on the rule God gave to Noah, and told the non-Jews to not eat meat from strangled animals, nor to eat the blood. (Acts 15:28-29) Note, the Apostles didn’t send the Gentiles back to a vegetarian Eden, nor to the kosher rules of Jewish culture. The Holy Spirit is recorded as having led the disciples to only take the new converts back to the rules God gave to Noah, since Noah was neither Israelite nor Jew, but he was the ancestor of the very Gentiles under discussion. Therefore, any rule given to Noah applied to all mankind.
So what about blood sausage and the traditions in cold places such as Scotland where they claim they had to have it to keep themselves alive in a harsh climate, as well as to flavour a good haggis? And what advice do you give newly converted Christians from the Massai tribes in Africa who bleed their cattle for the same reason? The only consistent answer is “No,” and to remember the final principle is the same one we started with: God created man and the animals. The animals are His, and He has the authority to tell us to tell us we can eat them, but he also has the authority to tell us how we can eat them. The blood is His creation and he has the authority to tell us we can’t eat it, for any reasons He may have.
If Adam ate plants and God called it good, should we only eat plants to please God and stay healthy? Answer here
Kangaroos would be called unclean according to Leviticus, so was there only one pair on the Ark? Answer here.
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