Food in the Bible: Genesis 9:1-4

Genesis 9:1-4 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fertile, increase in number, and fill the earth. 2 All the wild animals and all the birds will fear you and be terrified of you. Every creature that crawls on the ground and all the fish in the sea have been put under your control. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be your food. I gave you green plants as food; I now give you everything else. 4 “But you are not to eat meat with blood in it. (Blood is life.)

We pointed out that in the beginning God only gave plants for food. The original intention was for a non-violent vegetarian creation. Here is where God allows for humans to eat “everything that lives and moves.” Indeed you can find cultures somewhere that eat just about anything that moves. It is interesting that in verse two God points out that all the animals will be terrified of humans. Our violence and sinfulness causes us to be disconnected from our rightful relationship with creation, based not on fear.

Based on this it seems clear that a vegetarian diet was God’s original intention for humans to eat. However, the Bible does not require that Jews or Christians eat a vegetarian diet. There are numerous effects of the brokenness and sinfulness of creation and humanity. This has created a gap between the ideal state of creation and the reality of the world we live in. For example, divorce is unacceptable except in the most stringent of circumstances. The reality of the brokenness of the world means that other accommodations have to be made.

I would argue that a vegetarian diet is one big way that people today can eat more ethically and move towards God’s intention for us in relation to creation. However, I don’t expect the world to become vegetarian and don’t condemn Christians or others for choosing to eat meat. The problem is that many people argue from “is” to “ought” (i.e. “This is the way the world is and therefore that’s how it should be.”). We should always recognize that much of our food choices involve compromises. We should try to paint a picture of the ideal just food system and hold that in tension with the difficult reality of the choices we make every day that do not measure up.

In many ways, this is the gospel in a nutshell. God fills in the gap between is and ought, and is in the process of ushering in a whole new reality through Jesus. There you go. Now you can skip the rest of the Bible.

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