I am a vegetarian and I believe that slaughtering innocent animals is unethical, but the bible didn’t prohibit eating meat. Jesus ate fish.  What’s is your opinion? Do you think that killing animals is ethical?  Personally, I can’t understand how killing any living creature (unless I have no other choice, as defending myself or having no other food sources) just for enjoying their taste can be justified morally.


Personally, I was a vegetarian for the first six years I was a Christian. I find this to be an honorable way to use our bodies and the natural resources of the earth.  A strong case can be made for the fact that the eating of meat–and especially diets based largely on meat–is wasteful of the natural resources of the earth. In this case, one can argue that non-meat diet is more ethical. Besides, when Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abnedgo ate vegetables only, they were the most buff of all Nebuchadnezzar’s trainees.

But, you cannot prove from the Bible that it is either immoral or absolutely unethical to eat meat. We know that Jesus ate not only fish but also lamb at the Passover. God gave commands to the Jews in the Mosaic covenant to raise animals, to kill them in sacrifice and to eat them as well. Therefore, any attempt on your part to “prove” that the eating of meat is an unchristian thing is bound to fail. If you choose this lifestyle, as I did for several years before marrying a farm girl for a wife, this is a good way for you to express your personal ethical convictions. But Paul told us to keep such debatable convictions between ourselves and God.  There is much advice on debatable personal convictions in Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, 9 and 10.  There you will find permission to adopt this lifestyle, and to do so as part of your worshipful life as a believer, but not to force it on those who are not of the same conviction.

The Jews had strong convictions about compassionate use of and killing of animals.  This conviction came from God and from the commands about ethical treatment of animals, especially in Leviticus. The law about combining dairy products with meat was also about animal cruelty.  The kosher laws that Jews still use today are a logical extension of the Levitical commands about ethical treatment of animals.  But, from as early as Abel, through Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus, the eating of meat is not considered sinful.  We cannot torture animals.  When we kill animals for meat we must not cause unneeded pain.  The conditions under which many animals are kept on factory farms today is reprehensible and Christians may want to fight against this (and use it as a reason not to eat meat at all, perhaps), but to declare outright that the eating of mean is unchristian is simply not supportable from the Bible.  The death of an animal is not an evil thing.  God created a world where all animals die eventually, and in which carnivores are part of the environment.  He gave us incisor teeth and canine teeth which are useful for eating meat, as well as molars for eating vegetables (to oversimplify).

My suggestion is that you embrace your ethical conviction on this and even to share it with personal friends, but not to broadcast this as a more spiritual or better Christian life.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.