Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Eat Pig

Why are Christians allowed to eat pig? This is something that bothers me a little bit. I've never really heard or read an explanation that completely satisfies me, although I have to say I love grilled ham and cheese, so for the most part, I ignore the issue. The fact that I enjoy eating pig should justify the fact that I do eat it, right? (that last sentence was sarcastic)

The Old Testament says:
Leviticus 11:7 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.
Deuteronomy 14:8 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

So, at the point in the history of the world where Moses was wandering around the wilderness with the tribes of Israel, it was really important to God that people not eat pig. God even doesn't want his people to touch the carcasses of pigs.

But, I am quite certain that many (most?) Christians eat ham. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if ham is the most common Easter meal, and I am pretty sure that ham is taken from pigs. Of course, the Old testament does not carry as much weight as the New testament with Christians, but for the most part, Christians are not taught it is acceptable to ignore the Old testament. This is more or less the same time that God told us, "Don't kill" and "Don't commit adultery". We, as Christians, take the 10 commandments as law, but for the most part we ignore the "Don't eat unclean animals" part of God's commandments.

I have come across the following New testament Bible verses that people use to justify eating pig (and other unclean foods as well):

None of these clearly say to me that the coming of Jesus allows us to ignore Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8. However, let's assume that some or all of these do say that Jesus condones abolition of the food laws. Here is what actually bothers me: if this is true, why did the Old Testament God make the special effort to tell Moses "Don't eat pig" ?

I have heard talk of "the Old Testament God" and the "New Testament God" as if they are two different Gods. The Old Testament God is described as angry and vengeful whereas the New Testament God is always kind, loving, and forgiving. But, although described as two separate types of Gods, there is only one God. Part of Jesus's mission was to re-connect humans and God, but God did not change between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. The separation was on the part of humanity. So, we cannot say that the "Old Testament God" condemns pork whereas the newer, kinder God of the New Testament says "that is ok, guys, eat whatever you want."

I suppose it is possible that when it came to the food laws, God was intending his words for the newly freed Israelites only. It would make sense that God was protecting his people from the many diseases that eating pig can cause. These are diseases that today are recognized and controlled well enough that we no longer need God's warning. That seems it could be a reasonable explanation, but it just doesn't seem quite right, does it? Shouldn't the Word of God be timeless?

It is also possible that Jesus came to help explain the intension of God's Laws, and in cases where people misunderstood the Old Testament, he came to set us straight. Maybe, in this case, God's people simply did not understand the commandment. This is hard for me to swallow, if for no other reason, Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8 both seem exceedingly clear. I just don't see where the misunderstanding would come in.

Practically speaking, following all of God's food laws would be exceeding difficult in today's world. My guess is that even those who claim to follow them are unable to do so at all times. Technically speaking, anything that touches an unclean food is itself unclean and should be destroyed. So, if I get a steak that was grilled on the same surface on which a pork-chop was grilled, I am breaking the law.

So, I am hopeful that at some point someone can explain this contradiction to me. I do eat ham. Usually I don't even think about it, but obviously I have enough doubts about God's intension that I spent the time to blog it. Maybe eventually I'll have to come to the simplest conclusion: God doesn't want me eating pig. I should stop. I hope not, because like I wrote at the beginning: I love those grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.


  1. Eating Pig is forbiden in islam ( in coran);islam explain why is Eating pig is haram ( forbiden ).

  2. Eric, in your honor I posted this blog entry: http://jerrynixon.blogspot.com/2008/12/is-it-okay-to-eat-pigs.html

    And, honestly, I thought you spelled it al-Quran, but I'm just an outside observer.