A Christian may or may not eat meat. That’s a matter of preference. But Vegetarianism and Veganism are religious worldviews set against the Biblical worldview. Those holding to these positions are attempting to enforce a religion of paganism upon those who do not share that view. Please view this animal rights video by Dr. Mealanie Joy, then consider my response, to a non-meat-eating Christian. Happily, the person to whom I addressed this note sees through the paganism of the video.
Re the Dr. Melanie Joy video.
I can understand there are health arguments against eating meat, as well as issues regarding cruelty to animals in modern farming. But the main argument in this video betrays a thoroughly pagan worldview. I’ll leave the health issue aside for now, but the worldview of the presenter worries me.
Shortly into the video, she refers to animals as “individuals,” a term in normal use is reserved for people. Yes, each animal is an individual animal, but not an individual person, as we usually use the word, by itself, of people. Her comparisons between pigs, chickens, cows, and human infants are jarring. This is the same approach to human infants that the pro-abortion movement takes—that the infant is no more than an animal. Ironically, the same people who have no problem aborting a human infant are very often opposed to any use of animals. I am 99% certain that she considers herself “prochoice.” What “heterosexism” has to do with vegetarianism and veganism is beyond me, but it rounds out my perception of her worldview.
The problem with a pagan worldview is that it reduces man to nature, and denies, first of all, the existence of a God who is an uncreated creator of all things. Paganism identifies nature with God—pantheism, so God is a part of nature and by extension, all of nature is a part of God. Secondly, paganism denies the Biblical teaching that man is uniquely created in the image of God, and by virtue of that image, man has dominion over creation (there are very important implications in this doctrine, read Genesis 1:26-31). Without this uniqueness, law, judgement, sin, salvation, and holiness are meaningless, because man is an animal with no unique stature nor responsibility before God.
Dr. Joy raises the issue of animal rights, a phrase which is rarely thought out. In the traditions of Western societies, humans have rights; and humans have responsibilities to animals. If animal rights were the case (and she brings the term “social justice” to her argument), then animals are a part of society such as a human is.
To speak of human rights, means that a human must not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. So if animals have rights, it means that an animal can never be deprived of its life or liberty without due process, that is, without a court order, such as is the case when a human is tried and found guilty of a crime. Nor can humans be used for slavery or experimentation, but these things are seen as inhumane (the Nazis and Planned Parenthood are modern examples of the horrors of such abuse).
If animals are afforded “rights,” it must be asked, “who grants these rights?” Is it God? Not in paganism. It is always man who grants rights in paganism, and as history shows, man can take rights away from those he deems unfit. Thus in pagan America and Canada, man has determined that the unborn have no rights and are not human.
Quite practically, if animals are given the same rights as humans, all elimination of disease-carrying pests must be made illegal: rats, mice, mosquitoes, etc., all have a right to life. Antibiotics are also forbidden, as they kill of entire populations of bacteria.
This may seem like an extreme example, but once rights are afforded to a class, the size, age, intelligence, or perceived value of that class must be deemed irrelevant. An animal is an animal.
This also holds true for animal testing for life-saving medications. While I think that cosmetic testing is cruel (and cosmetics don’t help most of those who use them anyway), I am in full favour of using an animal to test a drug or medication for effectiveness or harmful side effects. Pigs have been bread for the sole purpose of harvesting their skin for burn transplants. Paganism may see that as illegitimate, but it is illegitimate only if the Biblical doctrine of man created in the image of God is ignored.
So if one wishes to be a vegetarian or vegan from a Christian viewpoint, it must be done so without confusing man and animal. The Bible does teach, by the way, compassionate animal husbandry. The vegetarian does, however, have to deal with passages throughout the Bible that permits the eating of meat (and commands it in the case of the priests—see Leviticus and Deuteronomy). The Old Testament has strict limits on diet, as is well known.
In the New Testament, Jesus made it clear that the dietary restrictions were a thing of the past (note vss 18-19):
Mark 7:14–23 (ESV)
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
It might also be good to remember that Jesus served fish (John 6:9; Luke 9:16; Mark 6:38; John 21:9)!
Furthermore, when the Gospel is preached, food is used to convince a faithful Hebrew Christian (Peter) that if foods are not to be rejected as unclean, neither should people (Acts 10:9-16 and Acts 11). Galatians 2:11-14 only makes sense if we understand that Paul allowed eating any kind of meat. His prohibitions on meat eating in his other letters are about the unique sense of where the meat was purchased, that is, a pagan temple. He did not allow it if it violated a Christian’s conscience.
So in summary,
- The Biblical worldview says that man is created in the image of God, and therefore separate from animal, and any appeal to vegetarianism must not cross those boundaries.
- Animals, while under the care, stewardship, and dominion of man, do not have human rights.
- Advocating for animal rights is an act of sinful rebellion, worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18—32). In this manner, vegetarianism and veganism is very dangerous to the Christian.
- The Bible advocates the eating of meat, and does not forbid it. Therefore, vegetarianism or veganism cannot be made a law to which Christians are subject. It is a matter of Christian liberty.
I’ve attached a chart, from Francis Schaeffer, which explains the nature of the “chasm” between God and creation, and between man and the rest of creation. The first slide shows what the Biblical worldview teaches, that there is a “chasm” between God and His creation; that is, He is entirely separate from and not dependent upon, in any way, what He created. The second slide shows that there is also, within creation itself, a separation between man and all other entities, living or otherwise, in creation.
I hope this helps you in your evaluation of this video. Eating meat or not is a choice you can make. But to call oneself a vegetarian or vegan is to be aligned with a movement that is opposed to the Kingdom of God. This is by no means meant to be a rebuke, but a way to help you see the implications of the worldview of this particular presentation.
In the Lamb,