Clean or unclean
Qestion: I'm tired of all the confusion over food. Why? and can you give me a plain and simple answer?
(2Co 6:14-18) Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial (the Devil)? Or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the Temple of the living God; as God has said, I will live in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them (unbelievers), and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
There is the simple answer, not my words, but His. Simple? Yes, but then again, not so simple. If you accept the teachings of Scripture concerning food meant for human consumption and those not then it is a simple answer, because the Bible tells us exact in Leviticus just which meats the People of God were not to eat. First let’s cover what Paul is teaching in the verse above.
This verse tells us we should not be "unequally yoked together with unbeliever" -- "unequally" is the key word here. We would have to leave this planet in order not to have any associations with the world, or with unbelievers in general. We are called to separate ourselves for the very good reasons given by Paul. This would seem to be common sense for a believer but what is not so clear is how this is to be done. At certain times the Apostles teaching we should not have anything to do with unbelievers but not only unbelievers but also so those claiming to be believers but only acting the part. Paul had given the instructions we just read, above, and then did a near 180, realizing, we must assume, that he had given and unrealistic teaching. Reading the following verses we see he corrects this and makes better sense of our life on this earth while in the flesh. This is one of the reason, too, some trying to restore the Old Covenant, don't like Paul all that much, not because he is humble enough to correct himself, but because some want to make something of themselves by withdrawing from the world into communes or hideaways of some sort, which usually ends up poorly in some personality cult following.
Here is what Paul said in correcting the previous teaching --
(1Co 5:9-11) I wrote to you in an epistle (2 Cor 6:14) not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must you need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Touch no unclean thing and have no association with any unbeliever – this would be the ideal, but as we just saw Paul corrected his own teaching. He did not change the part about the “unclean”, however. So, what is unclean? The Bible gives us a clear picture of what our Creator created to be considered clean and unclean among animals. Man, technically is unclean in the flesh, so does Paul mean not to touch each other? Hardly, but when it comes to spiritual matters then we are to avoid brothers or sisters practicing things contrary to our Lord’s teachings. If brother and sisters continue to be idolaters, drunkards, liars, etc., then we are to have nothing to do with them.
These, however, are things of the world and surround us so avoiding everyone would be difficult but avoiding those that would call themselves our brothers while acting contrary to the Word is what we are set to do. In fact, we have to rub shoulders to some extent with unbelievers (not those saying they are believers but are not) if we are to have any work for us from our Lord in bringing others to the truth of His Word. Paul saw this when he sat down at meals with Gentiles – his own brethren accused him of breaking the Law but he pointed out that for the sake of the Gospel he tried to be all things to all men that some might hear and be saved. It was those who claimed to be followers but were not, that he had a real problem with and told us, then, to avoid them, to come out from them, to separate ourselves from them, while at the same time not becoming “unequally” yoked to professing unbelievers.
This does kinda leave us on the outside of everything but not barricaded up on some mountain top or hiding in a compound or some sort of self-imposed prison.
Still, as to the touching of no “unclean” thing would have to include meats and perhaps even animals that some are so fond of as pets. If we take this to mean just what it says, then we could not even touch ourselves. Paul does try to find the balance by his later correction. The simple answer would be the side of caution and the believer should endeavor not to do as the world does and to avoid unclean foods and any other unclean thing within reason of what we are capable of – like mentioned before, did he really mean not to touch our loved ones? I don’t think so, so we must use some common sense here.
As far as the food issue we have a list of animal kinds not meant for food in the Book of Leviticus and if these instructions were good enough for the flesh and blood people of Israel, also called the people of God, then they should be good enough for us. Some teach all meats were made clean and they teach this for the lust of the flesh, not from any serious religious reasons. Nowhere did our Lord or His Apostles command us to eat unclean meats. Nowhere was the unclean changed to clean. It is only the lust of men to do as the pagans and think their freedom in the Christ gives them permission to ignore or change the meaning of our Lord’s instructions for us, for our own good and wellbeing.
Millions died in what is called the Dark Ages from the polluted meats of the pig. Pork a food classified as unclean was being consumed by humans because they were easy to raise and control. They were never meant for human consumption yet today men have devised ways to eat this animal by certain measures, overcooking, salting, smoking and soaking to kill the parasite ridden pigs. Still, the person eating such animals may have killed the parasites and other things this animal carries in its flesh but the person eating this animal is still eating the dead worms and parasites along with the meat.
According to those teaching all meats are now made clean or made clean by prayer it would seem God forgot about the pig and other creatures on the unclean list. The animals listed as unclean are just as unclean today as then.
What harm can it do to you by avoiding the animals on the unclean list? None, right. Oh, some might say you are being self-righteous for making them feel guilty. Or some claiming to be believers might ignore you and try to get you to eat their unclean servings – another reason to not associate with such people claiming to be believers. Yes, it might make you stand out among others who might accuse you of trying to be Jewish but what harm will avoiding these unclean meats do other than that? None. What if you decided all unclean meats are not meant for food and you began to devour all the unclean meats you could, what harm then? It could cost you your life or at least a shortened life. But, of course, you would become a friend to the world and your fellow believers would be happy to have you sit at a pork roast or the ham dinner to celebrate the birth of their messiah.
Isn’t it ironic that the Christian celebration or custom has been a ham dinner on Christmas? They claim a Jewish Messiah then sacrifice a pig in his honor? Well, maybe to honor their messiah but not mine.
It has been my experience that you cannot go wrong in following the Word of God as a spiritual as well as a physical guide for life in the flesh. People may not like it, or ridicule you behind your back but then are they really your brothers and sisters then? In the end you have to do what you know your Heavenly Father wants you to do, to do what is right.
(Act 10:34-35) Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
(2Co 8:21) For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. (Rom 13:3)
In the end you must do what you know is right. Follow men or follow our Lord. Did our Lord ever sit down to a pig dinner or any meal filled with unclean creatures, bottom feeders like crab or oysters? He didn’t but the pagans had not such limitations being free to eat any foul thing they desired. So, you have to ask yourself, are we called to be like them, or called out from among them?
To completely avoid the “unclean”, as Paul pointed out later, would be impossible so long as we are on this earth so there has to be a common sense balance here, not one of making food a god, so to speak. Some super righteous have tried this and usually fail. Even those who succeed at being the most holy in their lives will one day have to touch themselves, themselves being classified as an unclean animal. So, the balance is to do what you know and feel is right in the eyes of our God, not the eyes of men. This could mean that we might disagree on some things, just as Paul and Peter and other of the Apostles disagreed. Certain things, however, are obvious. A brother continuing to engage in fornication, for example, is not a brother for long, or not one you should associated with.
Doing what is right in the eyes of other men, is a follow up of Romans 13:3, the verse above, and has to do with being a law abiding citizen of whatever country you live in. Obeying the civil laws of your country, city or state and most of these types of laws and rules actually dovetail into the moral laws and codes of your Bible and the teachings of our Lord and His Apostles.
Hope this helps in your search to the truth in your life. Your servant, Dan