Debate about Old Testament food laws

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I posted a photo of Dutch frikandellen in an Adventist Facebook forum to draw out some discussion on Adventist dietary laws, with the hope that I could present, in back and forth discussion fashion, the material on my two blog posts “Clean and unclean meat“, Part 1 and Part 2.

It didn’t take much leading, and the nature of the Adventist argument was not completely what I expected – more low key and less antagonistic, but nonetheless avoiding addressing points made, or addressing them with verses from the Bible that really had little to do with their defence, both of which I expected. Had it been a different Adventist, it may have been more lively, with more diversion tactics, more irrelevant “evidence” provided.

But it was still interesting. I really hate these Facebook group debates, but they make people think, and that’s important. So I do them from time to time, and this one, having some sort of logical flow (albeit an absence of substance in the replies), is more easily copied onto a blog.

Here is the discussion; the person debating has been anonymised to Annie:

Original post:

Stephen Korsman:
Hmmm … sabbath supper anyone?

Dutch frikandellen

Dutch frikandellen

Discussion that followed:

Annie:
You’re roman catholic. Why post a Sabbath supper?

Stephen Korsman:
Why not? I eat on the sabbath.

Annie:
Hot dogs?

Stephen Korsman:
Dutch frikandellen. Sausage made from pork, beef, chicken, and spices. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frikandel

Annie:
Disgusting Stephen Korsman

Stephen Korsman:
Why disgusting?

Annie:
The bible says so. We shouldnt eat unclean meat, God wants us to be healthy. Why post this here? To tempt us?

Stephen Korsman:
Not at all. I thought it would be interesting to discuss.

Annie:
OK. Say what you want to say and Ill reply from scripture.

Stephen Korsman:
Annie, so why do you think it’s a health law?

Annie:
The bible says so. Right throughout Leviticus and Numbers. clean is healthy. Who wants to eat dirty meat?

Stephen Korsman:
Not all clean/unclean distinctions are about health, so you can’t assume that. Is giving birth to a girl more unhealthy than giving birth to a boy? Does that make the mother more dirty?

[KJV] Leviticus 12:2
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
[KJV] Leviticus 12:5
But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

Annie:
Thats got nothing to do with food.

Stephen Korsman:
It might not be about food, but it’s certainly about clean and unclean states, and in this case it has nothing to do with health issues.

Annie:
Giving birth leaves a woman at risk of infection so it is about health.

Stephen Korsman:
Giving birth to a girl? More than giving birth to a boy? And what makes the woman unclean to touch or have sex with, more so after giving birth to a girl?

Stephen Korsman:
How does a sacrifice take away the health risks and make someone clean?

[KJV] Lev 14:20
And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

Your turn now Annie. Please show me a verse in the Bible that clearly states that the laws regarding unclean food were given for health reasons.

Annie:
Leviticus Chapter 11 Deuteornomy 14 Go and read them in your bible and come back and show repentance.

Stephen Korsman:
I’ll look at those texts. I am curious – why do you capitalise the word “Sabbath” but not “Bible” or “Roman Catholic”?

Stephen Korsman:
Okay. Leviticus 11 explains what is clean and unclean, but it never mentions health as being the reason for the distinction. Deut 14:1-10 is like Lev 11 – it just explains what is clean and unclean but doesn’t say that health is the reason for that. Any other passages from the Bible you’d like to share?

Annie:
Exodus 15:26 And he said, If you will carefully listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His laws, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.

Stephen Korsman:
Exodus 15:26 – this talks about diseases, but the context is not about clean/unclean meat – it’s about the plagues of Egypt – you actually quoted this part. Any other passages from the Bible you’d like to share?

Stephen Korsman:
What reasons did God give?

Annie:
Daniel 1:12-15 I beg you, try your servants ten days. And let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our look be seen before you, and the look of the boys who eat of the king’s food. And as you see, deal with your servants. So he listened to them in this matter, and tried them for ten days. And at the end of ten days their faces looked fairer and fatter in flesh than all the boys who had eaten the king’s food.

Stephen Korsman:
Daniel 1:12-15 doesn’t state that the reason for the distinction is health-related; it just shows that what the king was feeding them was less nutritious than what they chose to eat. That could be for many reasons, and you’re jumping to conclusions that are not in the text if you say that it was purely because the king’s diet contained unclean meat. Any other passages from the Bible you’d like to share?

Stephen Korsman:
Let’s get back to the real reason for the clean/unclean distinction. After several chapters in Leviticus explaining what is clean and unclean, a reason is given.

[KJV] Leviticus 20:25
Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean

What reason was given in the verses prior to Lev 20:25?

Annie:
Stephen Korsman all those chapters talk about animals that are good to eat or bad to eat.

Stephen Korsman:
Ummm … no. This is the reason the Bible gives:

Lev 20:23-24
And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.

Stephen Korsman:
Lev 20 is the ONLY place in the Bible that gives the reason for clean vs unclean meat, and the reason is to remind them of the distinction between the gentiles and them as the chosen people of God.

The ONLY reason ever given in the Bible for the classification of unclean vs clean food.

This reason is removed in the New Testament – the gentiles are no longer unclean.

Romans 10:12 (KJV) – For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Galatians 3:28 (KJV) – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (KJV) – Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Do you agree that the gentiles are no longer unclean?

Annie:
Yes the Gentiles are no longer unclean because they can become Christian but their paganism is false and unclean. Revelation 21:8

Stephen Korsman:
I fully agree, but Paul is talking about the people, not their religion.

Acts 10 and 11 show that the gentiles are no longer unclean. And it links their previous uncleanness to the same explanation given in Lev 20 – gentiles are unclean, and therefore animals are considered clean or unclean to highlight that difference.

Acts 10:9-16 (KJV) – On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Annie:
You arent reading that properly. It shows that the Gentiles are acceptable to God, not unclean meats. Leviticus 11

Stephen Korsman:
Annie – the ONLY reason meat was classified as clean or unclean is now nullified in the New Testament. Is there any OTHER reason to continue classifying meat as clean or unclean? None is given in the Bible. Leviticus 11 – see above for my explanation.

Do you think God tempted Peter with unclean meat and then declared Gentiles clean and didn’t bother to explain that unclean meat was still unclean even though the ONLY reason God ever gave for it being unclean no longer applies? Do you think God would use lies and false doctrine to demonstrate a truth?

Stephen Korsman:
Did you know that Jesus declared all food to be clean?

Annie:
Jesus never taught that. The roman catholics teach that but it’s not in the bible.

Stephen Korsman:
Mark 7:18-19 (KJV) – And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

Do you see that by saying this, Jesus cleansed all meats?

Annie:
You don’t understand that verse Stephen Korsman. It means that eventually the meat would go down the toilet. Purged means go out of the body and down the toilet.

Stephen Korsman:
Actually, that’s not true at all, Annie. The Greek word is katharizo, and is NEVER used in the Bible to mean that. Katharizo is used twenty-nine times in the New Testament, and it ALWAYS means that what was “purged” or “cleansed” was *made clean*, and NEVER means that what was “purged” or “cleansed” was removed or eliminated. We are purified, sinners are cleansed, the leper was cleansed, cups are cleaned – we are the thing that “cleansed” acts on. In Mark 7:19, meat is what “cleansed” acts on – so it can only mean that meat was made clean.

I’ll list the 4 cases in Mark where this word is used:

1 – Jesus made someone clean (Mark 1:40)
2 – Jesus made someone clean (Mark 1:41)
3 – Someone was made clean by Jesus (Mark 1:42)
4 – All food was made clean by Jesus (Mark 7:19)

The KJV isn’t clear in its language there, in terms of modern English, but other Bibles translate it more clearly.

Annie:
Mark 7:19 It doesn’t affect his relationship with God because it passes into his stomach passes through his intestines then out of his body.

Stephen Korsman:
Where did you get that from? Which Bible are you using?

Stephen Korsman:
All Bible translations follow the same pattern:

First – not into the heart
Second – into the stomach
Third – out of the body
Fourth – he cleansed (purged, made clean) all meat

The fourth part is never a repeat of the third. I checked what you posted and it’s from the Adventist Clear Word (yes, I have one near my desk), which has actually changed the passage entirely to mean something else (the third part of the verse became the 4th, and a new 3rd part was inserted that no real Bible has in it). The CW is NOT a Bible, and it’s NOT a paraphrase – it’s a completely revisionist thing that an Adventist came up with that changes a lot in the Bible to support Adventist theology.

The katharizo of the meat in the 4th part of the verse cannot mean it was removed from the body. That already happened in the third part of the verse.

Annie:
OK. Ill have to look this up and study it properly.

Stephen Korsman:
So, Annie, let me summarise this discussion thus far:

1. You said that the distinction between clean and unclean meat was given as a health law in the Old Testament, but you couldn’t show where. I acknowledge that you tried, but those passages did not say what you wanted to prove. You can only infer your own beliefs, and that is eisegesis, not exegesis.

2. There are instances of cleanness vs uncleanness that are clearly not due to health reasons, e.g. the additional week of uncleanness when a woman has a baby girl. And uncleanness can sometimes be removed by a sacrifice, something not possible with health-related uncleanness.

3. The only reason ever given in the Bible (that we’ve jointly managed to identify) for the clean/unclean distinction in food is that Israel was to be distinguished as different and separate from the gentiles, a distinction that has been removed.

4. Jesus cleansed all meat, and the language used allows only for the meat to be made clean, not for intestines to be made clean by removing the meat via the toilet.

Annie:
What your claiming is not true. The bible teaches these dietary laws because God expects us to look after our bodies. 1 Cor 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Stephen Korsman:
Amen to that verse! We should eat in a healthy way. But that’s not what the laws about clean/unclean meat are about.

Annie:
You will suffer the consequences of disobeying God’s laws. I will answer more tomorrow and show Stephen Korsman is wrong from the bible.

Stephen Korsman:
Annie, see you back tomorrow then! I think this has been a very interesting and enlightening discussion. Would you mind if I posted it on my blog? You’d be anonymous, of course.

Annie:
Go ahead, use it. Someone will read the verses I gave and see the truth.

Annie:
Good night.

Stephen Korsman:
Thanks for the permission, and thanks for the debate. May God bless you, Annie. And please think and pray about what I’ve shown you, and what you haven’t been able to answer now. If you make a list of what I said and what you need answers for, and go and look for those answers, you’ll see the points I’ve been making. I’m looking forward to further answers from you.

Stephen Korsman:
And good night to you too … bed time for me as well.

Further reading:

Strong’s #2511: katharizo … Bible
Clean and unclean meat, part 1 … by Stephen Korsman
Clean and unclean meat, part 2 … by Stephen Korsman
Bible Quiz: Are unclean meats still unclean for Christians? … by Stephen Korsman
Vegetarianism and Adventism … by Stephen Korsman

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