Ask Father Paul 08/11/10
Pastors get the most interesting questions from people in their congregations and people they meet. Here are a few that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: A very close friend of mine is a very dedicated vegetarian. She often urges me to adopt this eating style, but I love a good hamburger or steak. Does the Bible speak to this question? — No Name Please
Dear Friend: Whether or not we should or should not eat meat is not a moral or religious issue for Christians. The Bible does not specifically endorse or forbid one or the other.
Our good health, however, may be another side of this issue, as more and more medical evidence shows that we should, indeed, limit to some extent the amount of meat we eat, especially meat with a high fat content. As a life-long consumer (and lover) of all kinds of meat products, even I have to admit that all of us, to enjoy good health and longevity, need to be careful to not over indulge in eating meat. To that extent, your friend is right.
While I’m nowhere near ready to become a vegetarian, in the last few years (with my wife Judy’s help) I have discovered and come to love fresh fruit, and most days eat fruit for breakfast and for an evening snack. I’d encourage anyone to do the same and also limit the size of their meat portions.
This isn’t a new issue. It’s interesting that this was also a question in the early church. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman Church in Romans, Chapter 14, Paul points out that he understands that some in the Roman Church eat meat and some eat only vegetables ... and that he hears that there has been some disagreement between the two groups over the issue. He goes on to say that both are OK as long as both adherents first and foremost honor God with their lives. I think Paul got it just about right.
Dear Father Paul: Do Christians have to obey all of the Old Testament laws? — J.J.
Dear J.J.: Most of the literally hundreds of “laws” in the Old Testament were given to the nation Israel, not to Christians. For example, some of the Old Testament laws were to show the Israelites how to worship, how to have their sins atoned for (the sacrifice of animals) and how to remain a separate people ... laws of dress, diet and such.
Some of the laws God gave in the Old Testament, however, the Ten Commandments, for instance, were intended by God to be for all people, for all time. The Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses, are examples of this and remain the foundation of our legal system today several thousand years later.
When Jesus was asked, “what is the greatest law?’ He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. All of the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” I’d like to suggest that we all start with these few laws. If we do, all of the others will probably take care of themselves.
Do you have a question? Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer it in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia ...”the Ancient, Historic, Undivided Church For Today’s Generation.” More info, directions and service times are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com. Why not worship with us this Sunday?