Ways of Christ

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 Part 3 additional topics, practical and biblical questions

Jesus Christ, human nourishment and protection of animals.

The preceding events: The 1st Book of Moses (Genesis), 1,29 says: Then God said, "I give You every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food". This corresponds to the insight that man has mainly the teeth and digestive organs of a "fruitarian" being - eating fruits - (and not "omnivorous" - eating everything - as one might think, if one only knows the categories of animals "eating meat", "eating everything" and "eating grass").
However, after the Flood - archeologically known, e.g. in the middle-east - (Genesis 9,3-4) to Noe: "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you; ... But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it." Up to here everything relates to an era before that of today; so it did not only concern the later Jews - presuming it has been handed down correctly.
After the exodus from Egypt it became acknowledged and further details were added in the 5th Book of Moses (Deuteronomy)14,3-21. It seemsthat after the flood, the principle was to allow everything and to exclude only the most unsuited foods.** Some of these points can be found in dietetics too. Nevertheless, there were still cases in which the special value of vegetable food was stressed - without any binding regulations , see Daniel 1,8.

There often seemed to be a relationship between the many extensive rules concerning sacrifices and the eating of sacrificed meat - which is hard to understand today. The Prophet Hosea (6.6) already passed on the message: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice - and recognition of God rather than burnt offerings." With reference to this passage, Jesus said: "But go and learn what it means: ' I desire mercy, not sacrifice'" (Matthew 9,13 and 12,7). Concerning Luke 22,11, where Jesus asks, where he may eat the Passover (meat) – which does not occur during the following Last Supper at all - there are early Christian "apocryphal" scriptures (which were not included in the biblical canon around 400 after Christ) like the "Gospel of the Ebioneans". Here he says, answering: "Would I happen to desire to eat meat (of a lamb) with you this Passover?" The Aramaic language used fewer words for sentences like this, thus allowing various interpretations if the original intonation was not known. This led to various translations, destined to conflict with each other.
The former Judeo-Christian communities - later most of them were Islamized - were a true part of Early Christianity; in spite of the fact that there were some differences between them and other developing churches.

Acts 15,19 reports the judgement of Jacob, leading the Early Community, that "We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who turn to God (taught by Paul). Instead we should write to them, only telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood." But the early church's historian Eusebius, and apocryphal Apostles' acts and so on lead to the view, that Jesus, John, Peter, Jacobus ...  themselves usually lived without meat.
According to Matthew 15,11-20  and Mark 7, 17-21 Jesus stressed more "things that come out of the mouth", than "whatever enters the mouth"; however this was more related to questions of Pharisees concerning washing the hands before eating. The same relation of values is given in Jesus' wording about the "beam in one's own eye" and the "splinter in the eye of someone else". That means, it is better to start with one's own weak points, instead of with the fear of influences from outside. Anyway, the said passage does not say that one must eat meat.
In Luke 10,8 Jesus recommended the disciples to eat whatever is offered by their hosts during their travels. That does not automatically mean that this is an indifferent question. Still today, e.g. in the Arabic countries, a guest refusing offered food or drinks can produce the most incalculable reactions if he/she is not very skilled. Furthermore, the original disciples had been given the special ability not to be harmed by even very harmful substances (Mark 16,18.). So it is of no use to generalize about such bible quotes without limits outside of the context.

Religious Fasting shows even more clearly the purification which may lead to more openness to spiritual experiences. This was for instance a Catholic tradition - on Fridays, with reminiscences of Good Friday, and the Shrovetide in the weeks before Good Friday. This practice has not been taken very seriously for a long time, but now its significance has risen again, even beyond the Catholic context. People practise abstinence in many different ways, not only in the narrow sense of fasting. Additionally, they think of the many hungry people in the world. In this context some medieval and more recent Christian and other mystics from the Medieval Age up to our time had the deeper experience of living without food in general - Latin: "inedia". Some people in our own time named it "living on light". This is a hint that the spirit can handle matter better than has been explored in science. (This requires that one knows oneself guided by God, and is accompanied by a competent person to avoid danger. It is not meant as a recommendation to go that way.)

The body is a tool and a tool needs dealing with responsibly and ethically. 
And animals – in the biblical view - are creations of the same God; so they are not "things", as they are often still treated as today (limited by modern laws for the protection of animals.)
Considering this, one must finally decide oneself how one wants to live.

*) Who is seeking Informations about today's vegetarian forms of diet, finds it for example here: http://www.ivu.org (Ways-of-christ.net is not responsible for websites of others, and does not automatically support all changing contents.)
Due to health, ethical, environmental and other reasons resulting from increasing awareness, there has been a greater prevalence of whole-food nutrition practices, which have clearly developed through various efforts for more than 100 years now, and which have been recommended by health advisors, among others. (Such nutrition practices include the consumption of whole-grain products – ideally from organic farms – fresh produce, unrefined oils, etc.)

**) Such guidelines are followed still today, for example, by devout Jews when it comes to "kosher" foods (e.g. no pork, no blood, using special rituals for killing other animals).Similarly, the "Halal" food guidelines of Islam avoid pork in particular.


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